I did it… I joined Medium!

Follow me on Medium

I’ve been debating for a really long time if I should join Medium. I’ve decided to finally go ahead and do it. I promise that I am not a traitor to WordPress!

The thing about Medium is that is allows a much greater opportunity to get paid for your writing, but it also severely limits the amount of viewers who can see your content. However, most of what I will be posting on Medium will be reposts from my current blog.

Again, that doesn’t mean that I am abandoning this blog or WordPress community at all. I will be using both. However, I do want to express some frustrations I’ve had with WordPress in the past 1-2 years.

My blog views completely spiked during the lockdown, as slowly trickled down as things gradually returned to normal. Thank God the pandemic is over — but it’s been very frustrating watching my views go down every day, receiving less interaction, and so forth.

But the frustration comes from more than the viewers. The WordPress community has unfortunately become watered down by spam content. I struggle to keep up with my favorite bloggers because much of the noise is drowned out by bots and spammers.

And lastly, I’m frustrated with WordPress’s monetization program. I make about $1-$2 a month on ads, and they do not allow you to cash out until you reach $100. On top of that, there’s the fee for the premium plan. The plus side is that it provides great exposure — but that exposure is decreasing as time goes by.

My apologies for the little rant. I don’t want to sound like I’m trash-talking WordPress, I’m really not, I’m just expressing these frustrations — maybe if enough of us express it, they will do something about it. But until then, I’m going to see how Medium works out for me. I’m not assuming to make a living from blogging, but some spare change is all I’m hoping for. I’m also curious to see if I can find a strong sense of community there.

This is actually a huge deal for me. I’ve known about Medium for a very long time, and for so long did not agree with their system (paying to view posts, only allowed five views per month.) I also felt like joining it would be a betrayal to the WordPress community. But now I realize that my frustrations with this platform is perfectly valid and there is no harm in trying something new. Maybe I’ll love it, maybe I’ll hate it, there’s only one way to know.

So, if you have any experience with Medium, please be free to share!

And for those who are thriving on WordPress, what is your secret? How do you still feel a sense of community with the ever-growing spammers along with the dropout of so many other bloggers and viewers?

Age 28: Using tarot & astrology to look at my year ahead

I turned twenty-eight a few days ago. A lady never reveals her age, but there you go. Nothing to be ashamed of.

Recently, (by recently, I mean just last year) I’ve been using my solar return (AKA birthday) to take a moment and see what’s ahead for me.

Let’s start with tarot. Last year, at the start of 2022, I drew a tarot spread for the next twelve months. I thought it would be more fitting to do this on my solar return, rather than “the new year” which actually means nothing unless you were born in December or January.

Last year’s tarot spread ended up being scarily accurate. I had no idea what to expect — I thought everything would remain the same in regards to both romance and career. But the cards told me that a very new beginning was coming — an emphasis on “pentacles” which symbolizes either work or a committed partnership. There were also many major arcanas, which told me that something very significant and fated was happening. I ended up getting a new job!

This year’s spread is slightly different because I decided to use reversals. This makes the interpretation slightly more complex.

Overall, I don’t see as many major arcanas — only two, in July and September. July will be the most significant month because the moon card underneath shows significant change. It seems that I will be letting go of something toxic, releasing myself from someone or something. September shows the tower — if it was upright then I would say it’s something shocking — but seeing it reverse softens the blow, it can also indicate rebuilding something from scratch or recovering something from the past.

There’s a lot of queens, kings, and knights in the spread. Interesting how many are reversed. This symbolizes people, indicating a lot of people having significance in my life, with lots of communication. Also, the moon cards show an equal balance of full moons and new moons, so nothing stands out to me there.

What will be much more interesting is looking back as time goes on and seeing how it all plays out. It’s impossible to specifically say at this point!

Last year’s solar return chart was even more scarily accurate. A huge career shift was set for me in September/October, which is right when I started my new job after five years at my prior. A lot of other details were also very true.

27 is the profection year of the fourth house — this explains the “27 club” in which there is a scary trend of many celebrities suddenly dying from suicide or lifestyle choices. Age 27, for all, is very deep and dark — it’s the subconscious coming into light. It’s a lot of shadow work, going within, connecting to your roots.

Personally, I think I did great surviving this difficult age. I made a conscious effort to reconnect with my roots and learn more about my family history. I would say that the first month of this age was rock bottom for me. I would say that December 2021 was one of the hardest months I’ve ever lived through. And it was only uphill from there. The spring of 2022 was a rough patch, but it was like seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. This past summer and fall has had its challenges but I 100% landed on my feet. I faced a lot of harsh reality checks and wake-up calls, but that was so necessary for me to align with my highest path.

Age 28 brings me to the year of the fifth house, which is completely opposite of the fourth. It’s about fun, creativity, and joy! It’s very lighthearted and takes a sharp U-turn away from age 27. I’m really excited about it. It brings an emphasis on children, imagination, and expression.

More insights from what this chart predicts for age 28 for me…

  • Sun, Mercury, and Venus in the second house shows great financial improvement. It shows a lot of available resources and support from others. It shows a stable partnership, or many reliable friendships. There’s a good sense of security here.
  • Pluto in the fourth house indicates a huge transformation of my belief systems, it could also imply a huge transformation within my family or home life. Fortune is also in this house, implying these changes will be very blessed.
  • Jupiter in the sixth house shows that health will be prioritized; my health should be very blessed this year. Chiron also here shows great healing within physical, mental, and emotional health. Neptune here indicates using spiritual methods to heal myself.
  • Uranus in the eighth house is a really unique position — combining future technology with the hidden occult. So, this could show using social media/internet to dive more into occult practices. It can also indicate a relationship that goes against traditional values and societal norms.
  • Mars in the ninth house indicates a passion for higher learning, exploration, and traveling. This year could bring a big trip or a lot of new knowledge. Being retrograde, I feel that this definitely relates to “ancient knowledge” going back into the past. There could also be a vacation to somewhere I haven’t been since childhood.
  • Black moon Lilith in the tenth house is very interesting, as this house represents reputation. This can indicate having a very dark, rebellious, and edgy reputation. The moon is here too, which adds more intuition to reputation. Overall, this projects an image of something like “alternative spirituality” or someone who follows their intuition instead of logic and rules.

Looks like a great year, and I’m looking forward to it! My personal goals are similar to last year. I’d really like to maximize my Etsy shop and put more time and energy into it to bring greater results. I’d also like to read more books, especially more fiction. And perhaps I’ll have published another book by next year, or perhaps not, no pressure there. I don’t want to push myself to overly high expectations. Lastly, I am really fascinated in healing others.

Decoding “Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey

“Born to Die” is the opening track for Lana Del Rey’s debut album, “Born to Die” from January 2012. The song was recorded and released as a single in late 2011.

I see this song as having dual meanings, and that is what gives it so much depth. There are two ways to look at it. The first, is from the perspective of a romantic relationship. And the second, is more of an existential perception.

The first interpretation of the song seems obvious: a relationship that is destined to fail. This can be easily found in the chorus.

Don’t make me sad, don’t make me cry.

Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough, I don’t know why.

Keep making me laugh, let’s go get high.

The road is long, we carry on, try to have fun in the meantime.

There is a sense of gloom in knowing that the fantasy of romance also comes with a harsh reality check. “Sometimes love is not enough” is the phrase that really hits home. We like to believe that love conquers all; but the unfortunate truth is that it doesn’t. There are real challenges that get in the way: like money, different belief systems and backgrounds, material factors. You can be madly in love with one another, but are still split apart those things.

But the song is not one-hundred percent gloom: “try to have fun in the meantime.” In other words, enjoy yourself while you still can. Just because it won’t last forever, does not mean that you cannot appreciate the present moment in which love actually is enough.

And so, the song is about being in a relationship that you know will not last, but still enjoying it by living in the moment while you can.

The second interpretation of this song is far more big-picture and existential. When you go beyond the chorus and pay closer attention to the first and second verses, you can see that there is deep contemplation of the meaning of life.

Feet don’t fail me now

Take me to the finish line

Oh, my heart it breaks, every step that I take

But I’m hoping that the gates, they’ll tell me that you’re mine.

This is a metaphor for growing older and moving forward in life — choosing to stay alive, to keep on living, rather than give up and die. Your heart is breaking with every step — as you age, you suffer from more loss and heartache, you face more challenges and hurdles, and everything only gets tougher.

The gates” refer to Heaven. You are hoping for sweet relief after the heartache of living. The gates of Heaven are being compared to romantic attachment — “the gates, they’ll tell me that you’re mine.” So, there is hope that a relationship that cannot survive the material world can flourish in Heaven, which is devoid of all material challenges.

Walking through the city streets

Is it by mistake or design?

I feel so alone on a Friday night

Can you make it feel like home, if I tell you you’re mine?

It’s like I told you, honey.

This next part represents the contemplation of a divine Creator and “God’s plan” verses randomness and meaningless. The question is asked if everything happens for a reason and there is a higher purpose for all.

The feeling of being alone is revealed, and it represents the fact that we are all alone. Relationships can create an illusion that you’re not alone, but that is only an illusion. You came into this world by yourself and you will leave the world by yourself.

Lost but now I am found

I can see but once I was blind

I was so confused as a little child

Tried to take what I could get

Scared that I couldn’t find

All the answers, honey

Here, the second verse is less gloomy. There is a feeling of being found, looking back on one’s childhood in which there was so much confusion and fear.

I see this part as finding acceptance: that we will all die someday, and there is peace in that, because there will no longer be suffering. In the second verse as opposed to the first, there are no questions or pondering. There is just acceptance.

And this brings us back once again to the chorus.

Come and take a walk on the wild side

Let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain

You like your girls insane.

So, choose your last words, this is the last time

Cause you and I, we were born to die.

This second part of the chorus is about wanting to take a risk in life, because life is so short and precious that it shouldn’t be wasted. You should be young and crazy while you still can.

Basically, the message of this song is that life is full of pain and heartbreak, so we try our best to focus on the positivity and pleasure as much as possible. In the end, all of us are going to die, so we should focus on the good as well as take risks and be a little crazy before our time is up. Instead of overthinking the meaning of life, we can accept our fate. Try your best to live a fun and exciting life, but remember that pain and grief is inevitable, yet someday your suffering will be relieved.

The song begins with questioning the meaning of life, and the song ends with understanding the meaning of life: to die. This is a truth that the ancient Egyptians knew — this is why they lived their lives revolved around the concept of death. In modern times, we spend our entire lives running away from this concept and pretending it doesn’t exist, which only prolongs our suffering.

Sure, it’s a very dark and gloomy song. Absolutely. But there’s also a great sense of peace and hope — in an extremely dark and gloomy way, of course.

Rest In Peace Aaron Carter

My heart breaks for the sudden passing of Aaron Carter, only 34 years old who was found dead in his bathtub by his housekeeper this past weekend.

Aaron Carter was a core part of my childhood, which makes this news feel very personal to me. Some of the most vivid childhood memories I have involve listening to his music. I remember listening to his first cassette tape with my sister in the playroom; I remember listening to him with my best friend and her older sister in their bedroom; I remember hearing his music play on the radio during car rides with my mom; I remember when his second album came out and I somehow convinced my mom to buy me his CD which was twice the price of cassette tapes; I remember all of the kids in my second grade class talking about him and his music; I remember watching him on Nickelodeon and Disney channel; I remember flipping through his album artwork and admiring those photos of him swimming with the dolphins; I remember being on a family vacation and waking up before everyone else to put on my headphones and listen to his CD; I remember going to see the Jimmy Neutron movie with my best friend and hearing him on the soundtrack.

It seems kind of silly feeling so connected to someone who never knew me, and having that illusion that I knew him so well. I actually did not really have many celebrity crushes as a young girl, I wasn’t one to hang posters on the wall of famous boys like most girls my age would. But Aaron Carter was my absolute favorite!

Aaron’s music brought so much joy to the world in the early 2000s. As a child star he had so much positivity and enthusiasm bursting out of him. I’m sure that behind the scenes he was completely overworked and taken advantage of for his money, thrusted into fame before he could legally consent to it. It tragic to think of how dark his life was, yet for a moment in time he was this super bubbly, silly, always-smiling boy who everyone was in love with.

Aaron Carter was the younger brother of Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. I always preferred him over the Backstreet Boys. Much of his music was a theme of having these big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of Nick. Oddly I felt like I could relate to him in that way, not that my older siblings were huge superstars, but that as a younger sibling you look up to your older siblings like idols and you feel a lot of pressure to meet the standards that they set in your parents’ eyes. I was also the youngest of most of my cousins on both my mom and dads side, so I could really relate to that feeling of trying to keep up with the big kids and wanting to prove yourself.

He seemed to fall off the face of the earth by the mid-2000s, and I believe that’s when his struggles truly began behind the scenes, with drugs and alcoholism. I found a recent interview of him explaining that his parents told them they were getting divorced just moments before he had to put on a happy face for an MTV show. Later, around 2012 was when his younger sister died of overdose, and in the following years he made claims that she abused him, and that his backup dancers abused him, all when he was just a child. In later years he had a very messy public feud with Nick. And up to his final moments on earth, he was receiving hateful messages from strangers online telling him to k*** himself every day. Hollywood and the industry, his parents and family, and online bullies were attacking him, as well as the dark entity of addiction, and he was fighting this battle that never gave him a fair chance.

I stopped keeping up with him at that point, but throughout the years, through my teen years up to recently, I would still occasionally play his songs. I knew he’d gotten deep into drugs and alcohol, but I never imagined just how deep. I know he had so many psychological demons. Knowing what has happened, I would’ve tried to show support… he was still making music… he was still actively online… he was still checking his messages from people, and so much of it was hate and disgust. I had that ability to reach out to him online and let him know how much happiness he brought to me as a kid. If he was reading all of these hate messages, he probably would’ve seen my support message.

I actually feel guilty as a mere stranger who used to be one of his biggest fans; I can’t imagine the guilt of those who he actually knew. I blame his parents, I blame the music industry, I blame the fame and money, I blame the disgusting losers who bullied him while hiding behind their phones/computers. How did so many other child stars make it out alive? How did kids like Justin Bieber who essentially copied his career somehow land on their feet? How did he pave the way for so many young singers and end up taking the brunt of it all? How did so many of us forget his enormously positive impact on the world until it was too late?

We can’t speak for the reason of his death. Even after an autopsy is released, no one can provide the truth. You can’t say if it was an accidental overdose or an intentional suicide; you can’t say if drugs or alcohol were to blame or if they were only secondary to why he died. And nobody can say that this was his fault when he was thrown into a world that he never had a say in, born into a family of addiction, of parents who pushed him into fame and then stole the money that he earned. I pray that his spirit has found peace.

As my solar return approaches…

This year for Halloween, I dressed as Bee from Bee and Puppycat, my new favorite TV show. It premiered on Netflix only about a month ago.

I went to Peddlers Village with my friend and I got recognized a few times, which I totally did not expect! The absolute highlight was when this mother walked up to me, told me that Bee and Puppycat is her daughter’s favorite show and said her daughter wanted to take a photo with me! It was so adorable. The little girl was so shy but I could tell that she was really excited. It was so pure.

I hope everybody had a fantastic Halloween! Halloween marks two weeks until my birthday. So, I’m definitely feeling more reflective, especially over this past year since my last birthday.

This was certainly a life-changing year. The biggest change, being my shift in career. I was starting to think I’d stick with my prior job forever, but it really hit me last spring that it was time for something new. I became super burnt out. I was really content with my company, but I knew I couldn’t be an animal care tech any longer. It wasn’t my ultimate path, but it was still a vital stepping stone.

In the past year or two, I watched many great coworkers leave, people I considered best friends of mine (even if we didn’t always talk every day, even if we didn’t do anything together outside of work.) It’s always upsetting when someone close to you leaves, but ultimately I have to be grateful for that. If certain people never left my department, then I never would’ve left either, and that would’ve held me back. You shouldn’t base your career path off of other people, especially when you know that you’re meant for something else.

And actually, this past year there were a few prior coworkers I reconnected with after they already left the job. These are people who I would never see outside of work. But no longer seeing your friend almost every day, gives you that motivation to make a point to see them again. Like, for example, going to the Lunar Faire with my friends Christine and Rachel. So, I’m grateful for people who left because 1) it allowed me to move forward on my own path and 2) it actually made us closer, because it gave me the motivation to reconnect.

Anyway, my new job is going really well so far. I feel that sense of belonging in which I know that this is the right path for me. I like how I was able to stick with the company, but work in a completely new environment, in a different lab with new people. I’ve met some incredible people so far, who are kind and funny, and that’s another aspect that helps me move on from all of the people I’ll miss from my prior job. Although, I still occasionally run into my old coworkers, which is awesome.

I love mixing and measuring things, it feels very witchy, like I’m concocting potions! I love how much focus it requires; it’s like a meditation in which I can drown out the world and zoom in on a single detail. I love working in a lab and being on my feet, but balancing time at my desk/computer, so I’m getting exercise without overly exhausting myself. Today, I had to walk back and forth between buildings a few times, and it weather was so nice and it made me so happy.

And of course, there’s going to be complaints about every job. Work is work. But I am genuinely happy. It’s been almost two months, and I’m at the point where I can work independently on many things. However, I still have so much to learn, and will still be in training for several more months.

Now, besides work…

  • I did a lot of research into my family history; I connected with many distant relatives through my family history blog posts — who I’ve never met, or who I haven’t seen since my childhood.
  • I published my second novel.
  • I saw Dillon Francis and Yung Gravy in concert with Connie; we also saw Alt-J and Portugal the Man.
  • My brother got married!!! I have a new sister! We traveled to the Dominican Republic for the wedding!
  • I promoted my two books through Instagram book reviews.
  • My Guinea pigs, Skull and Bones, passed away. Rest In Peace.
  • I completed the 30 day yoga challenge.
  • I made many tarot videos on YouTube and one went viral, currently 4.4k views (I know that’s not much for some, but that’s A LOT for me!)
  • My mom’s assisted living home opened up and eased Covid restrictions, with more family events happening more often.
  • I got a second round of goat yoga!
  • For the first time in six years, I got to see my best friend from high school again!
  • I read many books. Not as many as I was hoping for (I set a very high expectation), but still many, many books!
  • I learned the basics of Latin language, and hope to keep moving forward with that.
  • I took a Shibari healing class.
  • I learned palmistry and completed the level I and level II courses through zoom classes. I meet some cool classmates and had the honor of being taught by Mack and the Zodiac!
  • I know we’re not in the clear, but everything regarding the pandemic has significantly improved since this time a year ago — last December was probably the worst of it.

And I’ll wrap it up with this. This past spring and summer I made a deep connection with someone. I’m not sure what the future holds for me. I am a very open minded person. Sometimes I get easily frustrated with people but I don’t hold onto my anger. I feel my feelings in order to release them. I’m thankful for all the people who come in and out of my life, and just because endings are sad doesn’t mean that new beginnings aren’t twice as exciting. I do believe in setting people free, even though I can struggle with that, but we are all meant to go down our own paths. Sometimes that path leads you back to someone and sometimes it doesn’t. I hope that bravery can help me make my highest choices in life.

This is me one year ago:

Horoscope for November 2022

October has been intense, full of many changes and forward movement. We haven’t even reached the peak yet — which comes after the first week of November. No one leaves Scorpio season without being completely transformed — for better or worse. For some, the sudden thrust of darkness is too overwhelming; and for others, it’s dangerously thrilling. But for all of us, it’s absolutely necessary. Like “The Tower” card in Tarot, our structures have been dismantled, in order to build a much stronger foundation.

It all comes full-force with the lunar eclipse on the 8th. This full moon takes place in the sign of Taurus, paralleling the height of Scorpio season. In the midst of depth and intensity, this full moon materializes all that has been bubbling beneath the surface. Attention is drawn to money, resources, and who or what we can count on. And keep in mind that this is no ordinary full moon — the lunar eclipse brings significant change. The universe is revealing who you can lean on for real support, verses who’s only pretending.

Mid-month, we have Venus entering Sagittarius on the 16th, with Mercury joining Sagittarius on the 17th. At this point, we first begin to breathe out of out Scorpio season and feel the initial effects of lighthearted Sagittarius season, which comes on the 22nd. And then, comes the new moon in Sagittarius on the 23rd. Although this energy is brighter, Sagittarius is still incredibly fierce — determined, passionate, and goal-oriented. Sagittarius season is about innocent curiosity, experimenting with new things, and going along for the ride.

Lastly, on the 23rd, Jupiter turns direct! This is an extremely lucky and blessed transit. The end of November is sure to bring a big dose of expansion in some particular area of your life, with a great streak of fortune.

Check your sun, moon, and rising signs!

The lunar eclipse highlights your money and resources, indicating major change surrounding finances and material possessions. This could be in the form of a lavish gift, bonus paycheck, or pay raise. Consequently, be aware of sudden financial loss, worst case scenario. The latter half of November, for you, revolves around travel or higher knowledge. It’s an excellent time for taking vacation with your loved ones, or diving extensively into a niche topic. Bond with your sweetie by going to a museum or watching a fascinating documentary together. Concluding the month, your intuition is heightened and you could receive a very important, telepathic message.

The lunar eclipse is all about you, Taurus! You may find yourself going through a severe identity shift, redefining your sense of self. A new chapter in your life is unfolding. Halfway through November, a dose of mystery and taboo pops into your life. Suddenly, you’re very drawn to all of the things that you were once afraid of. Some of you may experience some deep intimacy in the latter half. Wrapping up November, there is some kind of expansion within your community or friendship group — perhaps new friends, teammates, etc. Social situations will treat you well as your popularity is boosted.

A sudden ending could come to the forefront around the lunar eclipse. Pay attention to your dreams at night during this full moon, because a very important message is coming through. The second part of November places importance on a partnership — for many of you, this is a beautiful romance — for others, this could refer to a best friend or business partner. You will find that giving to the person you love feels even better than receiving. Just be sure to continue taking care of yourself as well! The finale of November could possibly serve you with a fantastic promotion at work, or the landing of your dream job — at the very least, finances are sure to improve.

Coming into November, the lunar eclipse brings change within your social circle. Expect to switch things up among coworkers, teammates, or your closest friends. Possibilities include meeting new people, losing some people, and/or an overall change in your dynamic with others. The latter half of the month brings a focus on your health and daily routines. Some of you may feel inspired to workout more or eat healthier, or could find yourself spending more time on your skincare ritual. And at last, you’re concluding the month with a new experience on your hands that results in a new, broadened perspective of consciousness.

Many Leos are beginning a new job, or at least taking on a different role at work, starting November. You are sure to receive a generous dose of attention and recognition during the lunar eclipse. Creativity and imagination takes center stage during the latter part of November. You’re feeling more carefree and experimental — embrace your uniqueness at this time! Some of you are spending more time with kids, or a child, or feeling like a child again yourself. Wrapping up the month, expect a great blessing — perhaps money, deep admiration, or a burst in power.

The lunar eclipse directly shakes up your perception. It feels like, suddenly, you are seeing all things from a much higher perspective. The first part of November is an excellent time for traveling to new places, or intensive studying on a niche topic. And then, the second part of November places attention on your home. You may feel more compelled to stay in and cozy up on the couch with a good movie, rather than going out. There’s a lot of harmony surrounding your family, too. In the final week of November, there will be forward movement within a partnership — whether romantically or strictly business.

Libra, the lunar eclipse brings many changes for all — but it will be extra transformative for you. Expect the unexpected, as your curiosity for the dark side is heightened around this day. Anything from a moment of deep intimacy, to the involvement in something taboo, could truly rock your world. In the latter part of the month, there’s a lot of energy surrounding a small group of yours — your siblings, neighbors, peers, etc. You could find yourself learning a new skill — don’t be scared to be a beginner! Socializing is highly beneficial for you in November’s second half. Finally, Jupiter blesses you with miraculous health, as well as harmony in your day-to-day life.

While others may be struggling with the intensity of Scorpio season, surely, you are thriving! The chaos and darkness of late October and early November makes you feel right at home. The lunar eclipse takes place in the exact opposite of your sign — highlighting your shadow self. In fact, you may be surprised to find the dark parts of yourself manifesting as your best friend, your coworker, or your romantic partner. Towards the end of November, the focus shifts from yourself to those around you. There could be an important friend or partner in your life who you’re totally wrapped up in. Also in the latter half, your mind is on your money — negotiating skills are heightened, so use that charm to benefit your bank account! Finally, your creativity bursts in the final week of November — make the most of it through an imaginative hobby or business venture. A select few of you could hear news of a new baby in your life.

You may be feeling a bit lethargic coming into November, but a burst of energy is sure to return by the end. The lunar eclipse at the start of the month brings change in your health or your daily routine. It’s a powerful time for quitting an addictive habit. Take great care of yourself around this time, in order to avoid an accident. Later on in November, you’re feeling lucky! It totally feels like the world is revolving around you. Do not feel ashamed to put yourself first — you deserve it! Jupiter, your ruling planet, will bless you in the area of your home and family. Some of you are expanding your home, moving somewhere larger, or adding a new addition to your family. You will be feeling more spiritually connected to the universe.

While this lunar eclipse may be scary for some, it is likely to be very fun and adventurous for you. There could be a creative breakthrough. If you have a child, or kids, in your life, then there will certainly be a change within your relationship — hopefully for the better! Another possibility is that you could hear news of a pregnancy. In the latter part of November, you may find your energy decreasing, so be sure to rest up. You will likely be feeling more intuitive, spiritual, and receptive. You can thrive in the second half of November by simply going with the flow — there’s no need to control things at this time. Concluding November, there’s a major expansion in your social life — among peers, classmates, coworkers, or neighbors. Engaging in a low-pressure hobby will bring great fulfillment.

A major change is happening in your home, or your family, during the lunar eclipse. You could be moving homes or doing some serious redecorating. Or, there could be news of an addition to your family — a baby on the way, a new in-law, or maybe a new pet! In the latter part of November, you’re spending a lot of time with your friends, and feeling more social than usual. It would serve you well to become more involved in your community at this time. Alongside, you’re focusing hard on the future and making plans for what’s to come. The end of November could certainly bring you financial blessings.

For you, the lunar eclipse will be a very social time, indicating change within your peers — classmates, coworkers, siblings, neighbors, or close friends. Or, there may be some changes within your town and neighborhood. The second part of November draws great attention to your career. You may receive a promotion, or at the very least some overdue recognition from your boss. People are noticing you more in the latter of November, paying attention to your reputation and accomplishments. And finally, your ruling planet Jupiter, turns direct in your sign — making you feel like the luckiest person alive — and you will definitely be the luckiest zodiac sign during this moment!

Wife of the Dark Lord (chapter 12 – the finale)

There was a letter at my door. It was addressed from Olivia. I hadn’t heard from her in quite some time, so I eagerly shredded the envelope open, unsure of what to expect.

“Dear, Valerie. This town is small, so I don’t know if you’ve heard the news yet. I’m hoping you haven’t, as I wanted you to hear this directly from me. I have fallen in love. I know, I don’t believe it myself, either. His name is Quail. We had a very small and secluded wedding ceremony — close family only. I’m sorry you couldn’t be there, but it was sudden, and we wanted to keep it hush. I am expecting. I have quit the coven. Life can change in the blink of an eye.”

My jaw dropped. I was in shock. I scanned the handwriting a little closer to make sure it was actually her — surely, this must be a joke! The note continued, telling me that she wanted to meet up at a certain time and place in order to catch up — before her baby would arrive, and who knows when she’d have time to see me again after that point.

I let out a heavy sigh and dropped the letter on the floor. Of course, I was excited to see her again. But, Olivia? Marriage? A baby on the way? It all seemed so unlike her. There had to be more to the story. It couldn’t have “just happened” as she seemed to imply.

My heart sank when I spotted her glowing face. We were meeting up for tea. I ordered a cup of chamomile to ease my nerves at the discomfort of who my friend had transformed into. Her stomach was sticking out tremendously — she was much further along than I had pictured.

I wanted to be polite, I really, really, wanted to be. I wanted to give her a forced smile, and cheer her on with that cliché, “I’m so happy for you!” And if she was someone else, like Annabella for example, I certainly would have. But this was Olivia. This was the most honest, straightforward, and blunt woman I’d ever known. Surely if the roles were reversed, she’d be doing the same.

What happened!?” I blurted out.

“Crazy, isn’t it?” She smiled.

“No — this is beyond crazy. Seriously, what happened, Olivia? You’ve never wanted to be married, or have children. You’ve always wanted to stay in the coven. This wasn’t supposed to happen to you.”

She paused for a moment, and then with a shrug, answered, “these things — they just happen.”

“No, they don’t,” I refused, shaking my head.

“I didn’t plan any of this.”

I placed my hand on her shoulder, looked her deeply in the eyes, and stated in the most serious tone, “we’re witches. We plan every single detail of our lives.”

She let out a tiny smirk, “there’s a force that stronger than all of us — even witches.”

“What is this ‘force’ that you’re referring to — is it God, or is it society?”

Now, she was growing frustrated, “look, I didn’t meet up with you to be belittled. I wanted to catch up and reconnect.”

“I’m not belittling you,” I defended myself.

Before I could say any more, she continued, “I know it’s scary, Val. I get it. Did I ever expect myself to go down this path in life — no. What about Annabella’s separation from her husband? Did anyone expect that — no! I’m still a witch, and I’m still me… sometimes, you’ve gotta go where the wind takes you.”

“So… you’re saying, you were walking down the street one day and accidentally just slipped into the arms of a perfect man and then found a baby growing inside of you?”

“Not literally, but… metaphorically… yes.”

I sighed with an eye roll.

“How about you!?” She eagerly changed the subject, “what have you been up to? It’s not all about me, after all.”

“Working long shifts at the bakery,” I moaned.

“What else? Have you met anyone?”

I paused to take a deep breath. “Well… sort of.” I didn’t want to tell her that this ‘man’ I met was a god — a lord — the dark lord. “It’s complicated,” I added.

“That’s great!” She cheered. “What do you mean, ‘complicated’?”

“Um…” I stalled, “basically… he was obsessed with me — like, borderline stalking me. And he was also threatening any man who tried getting close to me. But he was always hiding from me. So, I had to confront him. We sort of got somewhere… but as soon as I returned interest in him, as soon as I told him that I wanted to be together, he ran away from me,” I let out a sarcastic chuckle and an eye-roll, “isn’t that always the way? A man will chase after you until you chase him back — then he runs for his life.”

“Oh, heavens,” she widened her eyes and shook her head, “a real man doesn’t do that.”

I let out a slight giggle to myself, because he wasn’t a man at all, but a god. I debated telling Olivia that, in that moment. Would it make the story sound any better, or far worse? I decided against it, to keep that little tidbit to myself.

“When is the last time that you saw him?” she asked.

“It’s been months,” I pouted, “but I’m working on something.”

“Working on…?”

“I’ve continued my witchcraft study, in solitary, ever since I left the coven a while ago. I’ve almost perfected the love potion. I’m going to use all of my powers to bring him back to me.”

“Careful, Val,” she shook her head in disapproval, “you of all people should know that love potions and spells are the most dangerous of all. Why don’t you stick with protection spells?”

I looked down in slight shame, “it was just a thought. I probably won’t go through with it.” And now I was the one who was eager to change the subject — “have you seen Arthur lately?”

“Yeah!” She nodded, “he’s married now, too.”

“That’s incredible,” I half-smiled.

The two of us spent the next hour or so catching up on family, and some little things. After parting ways, I had this bittersweet aftertaste in my mouth that I couldn’t get rid of.

I began reflecting on my younger days, how Annabella and Olivia sorted their way through life. Annabella had rushed to get married at the tender age of thirteen, only to separate several years later with many kids, turning to schoolteaching to bring her joy and satisfaction. Olivia had stuck with the coven for quite a while, only to find herself trailing down the expected road of marriage and motherhood, a bit later in life.

And what about me? I lost my parents at the beginning of childhood, only to never find their ghosts. I lost my aunt at the beginning of adulthood, forced to leave the coven and make a living for myself. I never expected love, and then I found it, only to lose something that was never even mine to begin with.

Was Olivia right, about not trying to control every single outcome in life — including the really, really big ones? Was it wrong of me to attempt witchcraft on the Dark Lord in order to win his affections for good?

No — I decided — she was wrong. I had to do this.

It was the strike of midnight. The kitchen was dimly lit with candles. I held a tall, black candle in my hand and waved it in clockwise circles, chanting, “come to me, Dark Lord!”

After repeating myself thirteen times — there he appeared on the opposite side of the room. We faced each other from the two sides of the long table.

My heart was racing faster now, but this was no time to be cowardly.

“You came,” I whimpered with tears of joy.

“I was here the first time you said it — but I wanted to hear you say it twelve more times.”

I couldn’t help but giggle, unsure if I should be upset or amused.

“Oh,” I moaned in relief, “can I meet you in my bedroom? I’ll prepare us some drinks.”

He walked right up to me until we were only inches apart, he lifted my chin so that I was looking at him directly in the eyes, towering above me.

“You’re a funny, little human,” he smirked.

“What?” I blushed.

“You really think you’re powerful than me?”

“W-what do you mean? Of-of course not,” I stuttered, completely taken aback.

And then he stroked my cheek like I was a baby.

“I know what you’re planning to do.”

“I’m-I’m not… I’m not planning to do anything,” I gasped, a little bit terrified for my life.

Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God, he knew. His demeanor was calm, but was he angry, bubbling up underneath the surface? Was he going to punish me? Was he going to kill me?

His hand was still on my face, and now it was moving down towards my neck. I felt myself quivering.

He simply let out a soft smile, “I’m not mad, you know. I think it’s adorable.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked, still trying to play dumb, even though it was definitely useless at this point.

“I don’t think you understand,” now his hand was on my arm, and I could breathe a bit again. “Trying to make me fall in love with you — I’m already in love with you. I’d play along, but I’d rather save you the time and effort.”

I furrowed my eyebrows, “I’m confused.”

“Exactly,” he nodded, “like I said — you don’t understand.”

“Make me understand.”

“You never should’ve confronted me, Valerie. You should’ve let me remain in my cave with my crystal ball, or hiding in the corners, invisible. The line between god and human is never meant to be crossed — most especially this dark entity, me. I could’ve watched you safely from a distance, and you could’ve continued to pretend not to see me. I don’t care if you’re a witch with superpowers, you’re still nothing but a mere human. What nerve did you have to confront me!? How dare you!? And now my feelings for you have grown even stronger, but you’re still nothing but a little girl.”

Tears streamed down my face. And now his hand that had traveled from my face was gripping my wrist tight.

The Dark Lord pulled me in tight, and then I felt my vision go blurry. He spun me around until the room began to melt, and I stood still and speechless as my vision sharpened once again — but I was no longer in my kitchen — I was in another world.

And then I saw myself. But it wasn’t me, it was another version of me. She was dressed in all black. Her face was covered too. She was walking hand in hand with the Dark Lord, it looked like they were walking through town. No one was allowed to see herme. My body, my hair, and my face all covered in a black veil.

I was isolated from the world. I worked at a candle-making shop, and he stood right beside me, always watching me. I wasn’t allowed to speak to any other man. This was the only time I could leave home — to work. We had all of our groceries and necessities delivered to the house.

We lived deep, deep in the woods, where no one could find us. We never left home — again, except when I went to work. We were reclusive from society. But we had many cats… and soon, many kids too.

This was my life as wife of the Dark Lord. It was intense and all-consuming. I was imprisoned. Was I happy? — I wasn’t sure.

I opened my eyes, alone in bed. That was no dream; that was a visit to an alternate reality. The Dark Lord was gone, and it was likely that I may never see him again.

He had left me with an odd sense of closure that created more questions than answers. I found peace knowing that somehow, in another dimension, we were together. But this was no ordinary marriage — I was his prisoner. He didn’t want anyone else touching me, talking to me, or even looking at me. He was so possessive that I was no longer allowed to be my own person.

I thought I seemed happy, being so devoted to him. But maybe he only chose to show me the good parts. Maybe, in this alternate reality, my obsession for him fades, and I begin to feel oppressed and abused. I mean, realistically, could I actually give up my identity for love? Is that real love, or is it abuse — to rip away your partner’s freedom due to your own insecurities? Or is it a freedom in itself, to give yourself up completely to one person, and turn your back on the rest of the world? There’s a thin line between love and abuse, between devotion and oppression, between partnership and slavery.

Olivia’s words continued to haunt me — that you can’t live your life trying to control every single outcome — most especially the big, big ones. Maybe it was time to let go.

Shortly after that night, I decided to quit the bakery, sick of feeling overworked. I used my savings to jumpstart a business, where I sold potions and charms, and provided spell magic for costumers. My only regret was that I hadn’t launched my business sooner, but I had never fully believed in myself until now.

It was a dark, starry night. I looked up at the sky, finding more stars than usual. And then — I couldn’t believe it! — There they were! My parents were up in the stars! They were watching over me this whole time. Their vibrations were too high to visit this world as ghosts. I still could not physically see them, or hear them, but in that moment, I felt them like never before.

I wish I had gotten the opportunity to prove to the Dark Lord that I could’ve been his wife, no matter how extremely unyielding that life would have been. For the rest of my life now, being the wife of the Dark Lord would only be a fantasy. And maybe that was his ultimate way of keeping me captive to him.


Scorpio season (October 23 – November 22)

Scorpio is the eighth sign of the zodiac. In numerology, the number eight represents power, control, and money. It represents the “boss figure.” It also is connected to the eighth house in astrology, which relates to all that is mysterious and transformative: sex, death, the occult, and so forth. The eighth house is also connected to vulnerability — the secretive parts of us that we only reveal to our trusted, loved ones. And lastly, the eighth house can also be tied to taxes and inheritance. Put this all together, and you have yourself very intense and powerful energy.

In ancient astrology, Scorpio is ruled by Mars, the planet of war and passion. Scorpios are very passionate people, who like to take action and fight for their desires. They can be hotheaded, aggressive, and overly competitive at times. But they are also fiercely loyal and do not give up easily. In modern astrology, Scorpio is also ruled by Pluto, the planet of unexpected transformation. Just like the smallest planet, Scorpios are often underestimated, unnoticed, and looked down on. Yet out of nowhere, they can shake you to your core, and surprise you in the most shocking ways.

Scorpio is symbolized by the “scorpion,” which reveals their solitary nature. It also resembles how, just like the scorpion, you will not notice them creeping up on you until you’re screaming because they’ve stung you. The sting can represent their vengeance, but it can also relate to their extreme effect on others, for better or worse. The Scorpio will make you scream — either in pain or pleasure — regardless, you will never be the same after meeting a Scorpio.

As a water sign, along with Cancer and Pisces, Scorpio is sensitive, emotional, and highly intuitive. They rely heavily on their feelings and sixth sense for navigation. Cool, calm, and quiet on the surface, they have far more depth underneath them than meets the eye. What truly separates Scorpio from the other water signs is their Mars influence, which makes them more physically oriented than Cancer and Pisces. In contrast, Scorpios may be more sexual, more vicious, and more determined to take action.

Scorpio is a fixed sign, along with Taurus, Leo, and Aquarius. This quality makes them extra stubborn, focused, and dedicated. While they struggle with taking the first step, and while they struggle with letting go, Scorpio is best at keeping things in motion and following through on previously established habits. A fixed water sign is perplexing, as water itself is fluid — so think of Scorpio in this way: when you put a large rock in a creek, the water does not stop flowing, it simply steers itself around the rock. In other words, Scorpio uses its permeable nature in order to fuel their stubborn desires instead of giving up on them. They bend, so that they can’t break.

Scorpio season is a dark and intense time, full of many changes that lead to rebirth. It represents “The Underworld” of time — our souls go beyond the material realm in order to dig beneath the surface and reveal all that is hidden. It is the time in which the veil between the physical and the spiritual world is at its thinnest, when spirits and ghosts can connect to us more easily from the other side.

Your personal sign:

(check sun, moon, rising)

Scorpio: A new chapter, a sense of renewal and focus on yourself, burst in energy.

Sagittarius: Closing up a cycle; self-reflection, lower energy and seclusion.

Capricorn: Hope for the future; a focus on your friendship circle or team.

Aquarius: Focus on career, your talents and ambitions are being recognized.

Pisces: Traveling or extended education, expanding your mindset and major growth.

Aries: Digging into mystery, exploring the taboo, connecting with your dark side.

Taurus: Spotlight on a partnership — in romance, friendship, or business.

Gemini: Working on your fitness, creating new daily rituals, picking up on the details.

Cancer: Imagination and creativity is heightened, your inner-child comes out to play.

Leo: Prioritizing routine and structure; spending more time at home / with family.

Virgo: A social time; important conversations. Local travel, new hobbies.

Libra: Focus on money, resources, and possessions. Working hard and making important purchases.

“Midnights” by Taylor Swift | track by track review

Taylor Swift released “Midnights” on October 21st.

I wasn’t sure what type of sound to expect, since she is known for switching her tune on almost every new album. I prepared myself for something totally different; a lot of people were suspecting a rock record. The promo photos had a 70s, vintage aesthetic, which sparked rumors of a 70s-rock-ballad genre.

Taylor actually stuck with a very familiar sound that she has been doing for the past few years. I was surprised to hear such a strong resemblance to “Folklore/Evermore,” her indie, cottagecore, pandemic albums. There’s also a similarly strong resemblance to 2019’s “Lover.” It’s definitely pop, with upbeat haziness of “Lover” in addition to the melancholy and nostalgic vibes of “Folklore/Evermore.” You could also say that there are slight traces of “Reputation” as she plays with vocal pitch and electronics, as well as a tiny hint of “1989.” But it’s fair to say that she has left her country era long behind her.

Upon announcing the record, Taylor explained that “Midnights” is about sleepless nights that she’s had throughout her life, full of torture and turmoil. This reveals that each track can be described as a snapshot at a certain point in her life that still stands out to her today. While the songs could be written from the POV of Taylor from a previous time, it’s also telling that she wrote all of these songs just recently — unlike re-releases or from the vault tracks that came from “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Red (Taylor’s Version.)”

Much of “Evermore” and “Folklore” was written from the perspective of others — both factual and fictional people floating in Taylor’s head. But now with “Midnight,” the audience gets to feel more personally connected to Taylor’s real life and deepest feelings, bringing back the intimacy that her pandemic albums were missing.

Track by track review

Lavender Haze

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“All they keep asking me is if I’m gonna be your bride. The only kind of girl they see is a one-night or a wife.”

I like how the first song begins with the line “meet me at midnight.” The term “lavender haze” is a popular phrase from the 50s, describing the honeymoon phase of a new relationship. This track is about yearning to stay in that phase, without the pressure from society of moving forward to get married, which she calls “the 1950s shit they want from me.” This can certainly be compared to her current six-year relationship, and how people keep asking why they aren’t engaged yet.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

“The mark they saw on my collarbone, the rust that grew between telephones, the lips I used to call home. So scarlet, it was maroon.”

This song definitely makes me think about her “Red” album from 2012, which was re-released just last year. I think that this song could serve as a closure or wrap-up to the process of re-recording the entire album and living through all of those emotions again. It also shows that even after so many years have passed, there were feelings that can never be forgotten.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

“I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror. It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero.”

I really love the beat of this song, but it’s definitely the lyrics that stand out the most. It’s self-loathing and self-critical. It’s very much, “I have to be perfect, but I will never be good enough.” This reveals her tendency to put herself on a pedestal and then inevitably become disappointed about not reaching those heights. It shows a strong distrust towards others, but then realizing that you are actually your own worst enemy.

Snow on the Beach (ft. Lana Del Rey)

“Your eyes are flying saucers from another planet.”

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This song is really magical and reminds me of Christmas, colorful lights, and the first fall of light snow. It’s a pure song about two people falling in love with each other at the same time, no obstacles getting in the way. It feels like a miracle, hence the snow on the beach. A lot of people are upset that Lana Del Rey only sings backup vocals. I do wish that she could’ve gotten at least one verse to sing by herself. But their voices do blend nicely together, which was unexpected because they have such different voices. Well, I guess, it’s like Taylor is the snow and Lana is the beach!

You’re On Your Own, Kid

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“I hosted parties and starved my body like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss.”

It seems that this song takes her back to her childhood and teen years, before fame, facing an unrequited love. And then it flashes forward to post-fame, where she is yet again dealing with unrequited love, likely with other people now. It’s a prevailing theme in her life, that she keeps chasing after fame and money, but there is always this void that she believes will be saved through romance, or friendship, or overall the love and validation of others. There will always be someone who leaves you, or dislikes you, and your life should not revolve around fixating on those people. Ultimately, all you have is yourself, and there is peace in accepting that.

Midnight Rain

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

“He was sunshine, I was midnight rain; he wanted it comfortable, I wanted that pain; he wanted a bride I was making my own name, chasing that fame.”

This song is looking back on a prior relationship: he wanted to get married and settle down and live a comfortable life, she wanted to focus on her career and be a star, despite the hardship that it comes with. In the end, they both got what they wanted — of course with other people. He is likely married with kids, living a steady and simple life. And she, Taylor, is obviously rich and famous, but that doesn’t mean that she never looks back in occasion and wonders what could have been.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Do you wish you put up more of a fight?”

There is quite a resemblance to “Out of the Woods” from her 1989 record. “Out of the Woods” was about the anxiety of wanting to end a relationship, now “Question…?” is about questioning the past, perhaps having regrets over ending things so soon. It’s not necessarily a yearning for the past, but an innocent curiosity.

Vigilante Shit

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Draw the cat eye, sharp enough to kill a man.”

Easily, this song can be summed up in one word: revenge. It’s a great villain song. It can be about getting revenge on someone, or simply fantasizing about it.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

“And when I meet the band, they ask ‘do you have a man?’ I can still say ‘I don’t remember.'”

I think this song is about being treated badly by your man, and in turn deciding to get dressed up and go out and feel good about yourself. I like the tune and the sound, it’s very “shiny!”


Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Uh oh, I’m falling in love again. I thought the plane was going down, how’d you turn it right around?

This song is really haunting, in a positive way, though. It’s about the shock of falling in love when things go right, when you’re expecting things to go wrong. It’s really the same message as “Snow on the Beach.”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Karma is a cat, purring in my lap, cause it loves me!”

I think this is my favorite one on the album! I like how she compares karma to all of these happy things in life: a relaxing thought, the breeze in your hair on the weekend, and so forth. It also has that “shiny” sound that Bejeweled has, I don’t know how else to describe it!

Sweet Nothing

“I find myself running home to your sweet nothings.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I like this song, but it doesn’t fully stand out to me! The message is nice, it’s about being complacent with a relationship all for its simplicity. It means not expecting much out of someone, just being happy in their presence. I just feel like this is a repeating message in most of her recent music.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

“What if I told you none of it was accidental.”

This song basically says, “I had to scheme for us to be together. It wasn’t fate, it was me and my mastermind.” I think it’s a clever song, but it’s also extremely unromantic, like you had to trick someone into falling in love with you. Personally, it’s not my favorite.

3am edition:

At 3 AM, we were surprised with an additional seven tracks! “The Great War” is about surviving hardship in a relationship, which in turn gives you more confidence and faith in one another, because now you know that you can handle anything together. “Bigger Than The Whole Sky” is slow and sappy, it’s touching and heartfelt. “Paris” is sweet; getting away from the world and imagining that you and your honey are in Paris together.

“High Infidelity” was a bit of a shock to hear; seemingly a confession of cheating and not necessarily feeling that remorseful about it. “Glitch” is about the miracle of falling in love and a the same message of “Snow on the Beach” and “Labyrinth.” “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” is about regretting a relationship from a very, very long time ago — the anger will still not go away. As she mentions being 19-years old at the time, it’s not too difficult to figure out who she is specifically referring to. And finally, “Dear Reader” is an anthem of wisdom.

Final thoughts

I believe that what makes Taylor Swift so successful is her ability to create intimacy with millions of fans who have never once met her, yet feel like a close friend of hers, because her lyrics share such personal details. She genuinely pours her heart out on her records, despite her value of privacy. This is what separates her from many other pop singers, from actors, from reality stars and other famous icons — that she can admit to the whole world, little details of her current relationship, along with intense regrets about her past relationships, plus dynamics between her and her friends and family. I think that singing is pretty easy, writing lyrics is not that hard, but revealing such vulnerable parts of you takes enormous strength.

Lutz / Shaeffer Family History

I have written a post covering my father’s side of family history, now I will be discussing my mother’s.

My mom, Cynthia Kellogg, was born from Edgar Lutz (Gramps) and Lorene Schaeffer (Gram.)


Beginning with the Lutz side — the oldest “Lutz” I was able to track down (through Ancestry.com) was “Christopher Lutz,” born 6 Nov 1766, died 21 Jan 1839. He was from the Berks County of Pennsylvania area, which can be said for the absolute majority of the Lutz (and Shaeffer) history.

The furthest back I could go on the Lutz side (through Ancestry) is all the way into the 1500s. These names include George [Jeorg] Schneider (born 1597, Switzerland); Hans Peter Gerltzenleuchter Stork Roth (born 1544, Switzerland); and Hans Martin Mould (born 1530, Germany.) The absolute majority of Lutz ancestors come from Germany, with a select few from Switzerland, France, and Hungary.

Around 1600s-1700s is when most migrated to the USA. It seems that the entirety of American Lutz’s resided in Berks County, Pennsylvania from the seventeenth century into the twentieth. So, that makes for three-hundred years of Pennsylvanian culture engrained into this family.

Henry & Lovina Fisher: ~1800s

Miraculously, I was able to find a Lutz photo from the mid-1800s. This is possibly the oldest surviving photo of this family line.

In this photo, is husband and wife, Henry Weaver Fisher and Lovina Keller Fisher. They were both born in Berks County, PA, where they spent their entire lives. Lovina was born in 1818, and Henry, 1817. They gave birth to Maria Fisher in 1845 — records of other children are currently unknown.

Henry and Lovina are Lammas’s great-grandparents, and Edgar’s great-great grandparents. That also makes them my mother’s 3rd great-grandparents, and my own 4th great-grandparents.

Lammas & Mabel, Edgar’s parents

Edgar’s father (my great-grandfather) was Lammas N Lutz. Lammas was born August 2nd, 1892, from Nathaniel H Lutz (1868-1923) and Louisa F Sunday (1867-1945). Louisa’s mother is Maria Fisher, whose parents are Henry & Lovina from the earlier photo. And her father is Hiram Jacob Sunday.

I found this to be very interesting — Louisa’s father’s last name is “Sunday,” but going back to her great-great grandfather, his last name is “Sontag.” Johan Henrich Sontag was born in Germany in 1710, but died in Berks County, PA in 1776. The word “Sontag” in German translates to “Sunday” in English. This is yet another example of immigrants from this time being forced to change their last name into the English language.

Lammas had many, many siblings: Ammon, Elmer, Eva, Anna, John, Ada, Norman, and William. His parents also had an infant son, who died before baptism and therefore was never given a name.

In 1929, Lammas began operating the watermill known as “Sunday’s Roller Mill.” The mill was run solely by Lammas and his brother Norman. It had been built in 1820 and originally ran by Jacob D Sunday, his grandfather.

Here is an article that was written about Lammas and the watermill, from 1956.

“Down by the old Mill Stream…” That old, singable song stirs romantic memories among many in the older generations. For the present “rock ‘n roll” generation, the romance of milling “down by the mill stream” in North Heidelberg Township could be unfolded for their utter amazement.

Sunday Eagle Magazine, 1956

Lammas married Mabel Hartman (born June 25, 1891). They had four children: Laura May (1916), Jennie Mary (1918), Kathryn (1923), and Edgar, the youngest (1926).

Above is a photo of Lammas and Mabel, Edgar’s parents. Below, is a photo of Edgar and his three, older sisters in their elder ages. (Laura, Jennie, Katheryn, Edgar.) This photo was likely taken around 2000.

And here is the gang hanging out on lawn chairs…

Laura May Lutz, Edgar’s oldest sister, married Lloyd and they did not have children. I am named after her; she is my great aunt.


Now, moving into Lorene’s (my grandma’s) side of the family…

The furthest Schaeffer lineage I could locate was Hans Fenner (1616-1680) and Eva Valetin (1616-1673), both from Germany. From what information is given, the only other country that appeared besides Germany was France — Sarah Coquelin was born in 1727, and moved to Berks County, PA at some point in life before her death in 1786.

It seems that the Schaeffer story is nearly identical to the Lutz: the majority of relatives from Germany, migrated to Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA in the 1700s, and remained there for the following two or three centuries.

The truly last known Schaeffer is Michael H Schaeffer, born July 28th, 1829, in Upper Tulpehoken, Berks County, Pennsylvania. He passed on April 17, 1829. His father was John (Johann) Schaeffer, but there is little known about him.

Michael Schaeffer was Lorene’s great-grandfather. He married Anna Maria Brossman (May 13, 1831 – Jan 15, 1899), Lorene’s great-grandmother.

The next few parts in this lineage is very tragic.

John was born in 1858, and Elizabeth E Bordner in 1868. These are Lorene’s grandparents, and Curtis’s parents.

In the fall of 1911, John hung himself in his barn and passed away. This is an incident that was not spoken of much in the family, so the details surrounding it are unclear. My mother had theorized that it had to do with poverty and possibly feeling like he was a failure to his family for not being able to provide for them.

Curtis & Mabel, Lorene’s parents

Curtis Michael Schaeffer was around 19-years old when his father committed suicide. In young adulthood, he fought in WWI. According to my mom and her sisters, Curtis refused to speak about his time in war. When they asked him about it, he would tell them, “all I did was peel potatoes” and would not explain any further. Curtis would also sing a lot of soldier’s songs with his thick, PA Dutch accent in his elder age.

Curtis married Mabel Esther Klopp. This Mabel is not to be confused with Mabel Hartman — that’s right, Edgar and Lorene both had mothers named “Mabel” — what are the odds?

Below, is Mabel’s family portrait. This shows her parents, grandma, and siblings. Mabel is standing between her brother and sister. The little baby in the photo is also her sibling — there is a large age gap!

Mabel attended school up until the eighth grade. She was forced to skip high school in order to start working on the farm and helping her family with money. At that time, it was not uncommon for girls to miss out on high school, but Mabel would have finished her education if she could. Below, is her eighth grade graduation diploma.

And here is a certificate of Mabel’s baptism when she was a baby…

Here is a photo of Mabel and Curtis on their wedding day. Notice how her wedding dress is black!

Curtis Michael Schaeffer was born Nov 29th, 1892 and Mabel, July 22nd, 1904. They had three children: Arlan, Elizabeth (Betty), and Lorene. Shortly after Arlan finished high school, he was recruited to fight in WWII, and passed away shortly after. He lived from 1925 to 1944, only to the young age of nineteen-years old. Curtis and Mabel had lost their child, and Lorene and Betty lost their brother.

Here is a photo of Arlan:

For my mom and her siblings growing up, Curtis and Mabel were known as “Pop pop” and “Grandma Shaeffer.” It’s astonishing to think about how heavy their struggles were and how much tragedy they both experienced, but family stories of them always highlight their boisterous sides.

Curtis (Pop pop) was known to have a big, warm personality. I recall my mom’s family telling stories about him, imitating his extremely thick, PA Dutch accent. And Mabel had a wild sense of humor, was known for dressing up as a clown on occasion. She was very theatrical; she really enjoyed singing, dancing, and music, as well as playing the organ. When Lorene and Betty were young, they would have the neighbor kids over and play records.

For how much they went through, it’s incredible to know that their joyful and silly personalities prevailed. Perhaps all of the difficulties taught them not to take life too seriously. You hear of people becoming resentful and bitter in their old age — this most certainly did not apply to Curtis and Mabel (Pop-pop and Grandma Shaeffer.)

Curtis passed away in 1979, and Mabel passed on when my mother was less than three months pregnant with me in 1994. Just prior to announcing her pregnancy with the family was right when it happened.

Edgar & Lorene

This brings us forward to Edgar Lutz and Lorene Shaeffer: my mother’s parents, my own grandparents. To me, they were known as “Gram and Gramps.

The two were both born in raised in the same, small town in Pennsylvania. They married when Lorene was twenty-six, which was considered “old” during that time. Lorene was very much a free spirit, who had received a marriage proposal from a high school boyfriend, but she denied him because she felt too young to settle at the time.

To get a better picture of just how small her hometown was, here is a photo of Betty’s (Lorene’s sister) graduating high school class — seven students, Betty being only one of two girls. Betty said that she really did not like attending such a small school!

Here is a glamour shot of Lorene…

Lorene graduated high school and had some different jobs throughout her life, including secretary work and teaching children. She sang in the choir and played piano. In her youth, she had a beloved horse named “Blackie.” One day while riding Blackie, she lost control and the horse took her riding into town. Thank goodness, they were halted by “Monkey Messner,” the town’s mechanic, who saved the day!

Edgar served in WWII, although according to the stories I’ve been told, his role did not involve much fighting, or something along those lines. He certainly did a lot of traveling. His most memorable moment was crossing the equator, which was a major event. In this letter written to his parents, he describes quite the wildness of it all!

Edgar attended Penn State University, where he earned a degree as an engineer. If you know anything about engineers, then you can infer much about Edgar’s personality, as he completely had the stereotypical “engineer’s mind.”

They would go on to have a total of five children: Nancy, Cynthia (Cyndy), Deborah (Debbie), Arlan, and Mark.

People are surprised to hear that my mom actually never lived in Pennsylvania — considering how heavy this state is in her family background. Her and her siblings had to move around a lot because of Edgar’s job situation, living in different parts of New Jersey as well as Massachusetts at one point.

I have many lovely photos of Edgar and Lorene, in both their younger and elder years…

I also have some great photos of Mabel (AKA Grandma Shaeffer!) Her smile is so absolutely precious!

Early 2000s & 2010s

Edgar (AKA Gramps) passed away when he was in his mid-seventies, in the summer of 2004. I was nine-years old at the time. He lived the end of his life with Alzheimer’s disease. I may have not been able to get to know him the way he truly was, but I do have vivid memories, and I could still feel his personality despite this disease.

I can see myself around the age of kindergarten, the rest of the family in the kitchen chatting or playing board games, while Gramps and I are in the living room. I’m playing the pre-recorded music on the piano and dancing for Gramps, who is sitting back on the couch. Each time he begins to space out or drift away, I scream, “GRAMPS! Look! Look at me!” And he snaps out of his daze and lets out a soft chuckle. And then, when he has drifted too far from reality, I grab his face and bring him back into the world, gently shouting, “pay attention, Gramps!”

Gramps was a quiet man, who really, really, loved kids. He was never one to become overly aggressive or shout at his kids when they were young. But he loved to roughhouse. He would “play horse” with his kids as he stood on his fours and let his children climb all over him. He would also get into “wrestling matches” with his goats!

Lorene (Gram) lived much longer, up until August 2019. I wrote a post here about her when it happened. I was very close with Gram, which makes it impossible to describe her in a mere few paragraphs. The best way to sum it up is this: a spunky, free spirit, with an overflowing amount of empathy. In many ways I saw her as not a grandma, but a close friend of mine.


In the last part of his life, Edgar/Gramps moved to an assisted living home. While Lorene visited him, there was also a man named Cliff, visiting his wife in the exact same situation. Through their shared grief, the two of them developed a strong bond. Later on, Lorene and Cliff had a marriage ceremony — not officiated by law, but “in the eyes of God.” And so, there are no marriage records because it was not a legal, but a spiritual marriage.

Cliff became a huge part of my life and was there to support me through my time in high school and transitioning into college. He passed away shortly after I graduated university. He was such a warm, polite, kind man who always had a smile on his face. He was quite the perfectionist who needed everything to be clean and tidy at all times — and Gram would always tell me with an eye roll, “it’s not easy being married to someone who’s perfect.”

PA Dutch Tradition

My mom’s side of the family comes from Germany. But during the time that they lived there, it was not yet called Germany — it was the Holy Roman Empire. Therefore, modern-day German culture is practically irrelevant — what’s more accurate is to call it “Pennsylvania culture” or “Pennsylvania Dutch” — which refers to those who resided in Germany and moved to the USA in the 1700s, before the United States even became its own, independent country.

The Pennsylvania Dutch did not speak German, rather, they spoke an unofficial, “slang version” of the language. Modern-day German speakers do not understand the Pennsylvania Dutch language at all, because they became so far removed from one another.

When immigrants migrated to the USA in the 1700s, they were forced to let go of their traditions and customs (ex: forced to speak English, forced to change their last name into something more “English-sounding.”) And unfortunately, to this day, immigrants are still treated the same way — expected to forgo their ancestral culture.

However, the Pennsylvania Dutch, being extremely stubborn people, clung to their heritage with more force than most. They refused to convert to English-speaking, and instead maintained their own language. But with schools not formally teaching their language, PA Dutch wound up becoming a very informal, unstructured, type of language with practically no grammar rules. Kids went to school and learned proper English, and then came home to their informal, PA Dutch-speaking families.

The “Schnitzelbank” is a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition that has been passed on through the generations. Anyone with PA Dutch background may be familiar with this song. We used to sing it at almost every single family event, then over the years, only on special occasions.

Thank you for reading about the family history of my mother’s side. I want to especially thank my aunt Nancy who really helped me gather all of this information, as well as helping me get in touch with distant relatives who I hadn’t been in reach with for a very long time. Thank you to everyone on both the Lutz and the Shaeffer side for sharing your stories, photos, and artifacts.

Learning about your family history is so important, and this is something I did not realize until I grew older, until I could understand the preciousness of life — the stories, the traditions, and the people who you imagine will be with you forever, until they’re not. I wish that while my older relatives were still living, that I could’ve sat them down and asked them more about their lives and where they came from. But it’s never too late — your aunt or uncle, your mom or dad, your cousin, your second-cousin and so-forth may have more gems to share than you’d think!

I think that most of us take our place in life for granted. You would not be here today if it wasn’t for the past. The money that was passed down to you — and even more importantly, the values, the beliefs, and the morality — was passed down to you through the generations. Your ancestors worked through long days, through intensive farm labor or toxic factory conditions. They fought through wars, through human rights, through the grief of their loved ones and perhaps even the grief of their own child. You are here today because of their hard work and strength.

You have far more in common with your great-great-great grandparents than you could even imagine. Your past can piece together and explain the mysteries of your present — why am I the way that I am? Why am I drawn to certain types of people, places, or things?

So, I want to honor and give thanks to all those who came before me. Family history ain’t nerdy, or stupid, or useless. It’s everything.

(P.S. There is so much more to uncover here; I will be writing more about family history, including more about the Kellogg side as well. If you have anything to share, please let me know in the comments!)