Yang Girl

“You have been pushing too hard, you’re always going, going, going. Too much yang is burning up your yin.”

These were the words of my acupuncturist as I lay down on the exam table, needles inserted at the meridian points on the top of both feet, hands, forehead and heart.

Before leaving, he turned off the lights to the exam room, told me to close my eyes, relax and try to take a nap. He would come back in 20 minutes.

I was there to be treated for my first bout of shingles, which came 27 days after my 60th birthday. On top of the prescribed regimen of antivirals from doctors at Kaiser, I took the double precaution of going to my acupuncturist to root out underlying problems.

He said, “You have too much yang (fire) and not enough yin (water). You’re burning up your immune system.”

And he was right. I have been a seeker of creative fire all of my life: from being a little girl who drew pictures before I could speak; lip synching to my aunt’s opera records; reading Shakespeare out loud to myself; and having weekly, personally written science fiction short story exchanges between me and my best friend in high school. I graduated with a degree in Fine Arts and headed right out the door of the university into the theater. I have been there ever since.

I was born with my Aquarian Sun in the 12th house. My uniqueness and electrical spark was bubbling incessantly, contained yet constant, hidden and needing release. That release came through my Sagittarian 10th house. Picture me and my creative expression as a fire coming out of the smokestack of a large factory. That pillar of fire and smoke was the pen; the written, spoken and sung word; the paintbrush and the voice.

And yet, here I was at the acupuncturist’s office, fighting to reclaim my health and healing the shingles attack that ironically erupted on my actual smokestack — my crown and forehead. Instead of napping like I was supposed to, I was examining my very existence. Why was I here if not to create? What was wrong with doing what I have been doing the last 60 years?

The shingles attack came at the worst possible time for this Yang Girl. I was forced to confront containment of my creative fire when I needed it the most: production was about to start on our main stage play, a play that we had been working on for three years. We were about to reach the finish line. First curtain was in four weeks.

The Universe has interesting ways to speak to us, and its timing is, as always, impeccable. Thus, this Yang Girl was forced to contain and manage her fire.

“You need to rest more. You need to stop eating spicy foods, eat plenty of water-filled vegetables and fruits, and you need to be near water as much as you can.”

We were four weeks until opening night. Until that time I was burning energy at both ends. My own female energy was exhausted. I had lived beyond my body’s capacity to cope. Much to the incredulity of the entire theater company, I told everyone that I needed to not be at rehearsal for ten days. With the high contagion possibility of shingles, especially in the early days of the disease, my absence was out of concern not only for my health but theirs.

I slept through the first five days of my recovery, a sleep that I did not realize I needed to save my own life. I had to learn to say no to requests that required my mind’s creative fire. I had to turn off my mind to replenish and re-activate my internal water. I had to say yes to my body.

It’s been close to six months since my bout with the shingles, and my encounter with the dark side of my Yang Girl existence. Yet, with the balancing of the female water residing inside me — the Yin Woman — the two sides of me fused back together.

This year has been a year of balancing these two, so one side does not overwhelm the other. I have been walking more than I have in years, grounding the fire energy from the base of my feet. I try to make at least one of the five walks I take per week to be by a body of water.

I look at the fading shingles scars on my forehead as both a reminder and a crown. I thank the Yang Girl who earned this crown, because she has worked diligently all my life to forge me into the artist I am. Her ‘burning’ me with shingles was a wake-up call to recognize the Yin Woman, who I discovered living inside me all along.

It is she who cooks, walks, smells the jasmine and acacia on the streets in the Oakland hills and the salty air of the San Francisco Bay. She’s the one who helps me sleep deeply enough so that I can dream. I love exploring to define her existence inside me, and her nurturing ability has great creative potential for expression as well. It looks like the next chapter of my life is starting to get written.

I will always be the Yang Girl and Yin Woman, both providing me the impetus to see and experience the world and create in it, and to do this with a body and spirit grounded in the earth and water. At this half-way point in this year of discovery, I am happy and grateful to know that I have these twin females inside me — a fiery mind and a much healthier body. I fully intend to use them.

This entry was posted in Fe-911, Welcome on by .

About Fe Bongolan

Planet Waves writer Fe Bongolan lives in Oakland, California. Her column, "Fe-911," has been featured on Planet Waves since 2008. As an actor and dramaturge, Fe is a core member of Cultural Odyssey's "The Medea Project -- Theater for Incarcerated Women," producing work that empowers the voices of all women in trouble, from ex-offenders, women with HIV-AIDS, to young girls and women at risk. A Planet Waves fan from almost the beginning of Eric's astrology career, Fe is a public sector employee who describes herself as a "mystical public servant." When it comes to art, culture and politics, she loves reading between the lines.

19 thoughts on “Yang Girl

  1. Fe Bongolan Post author

    I owe a special debt of thanks to our friend Len Wallick, who counseled me through my health crisis. Thank you, Len!! This one is dedicated to you.

    1. Len Wallick

      Fe: Thank you for being so kind and generous. Truth is, i owe you far more for your artistic counseling and and for you believing in my potential than you could ever owe me over many lifetimes. Years ago, when things looked dark, you advocated for me and lit my way. Additionally, you have more than once been receptive to my good faith efforts to apply astrology in a useful way to your personal situation. Were it not for that receptivity and your indomitable will, my interpretations of the skies would have been for naught. This particular piece demonstrates the level of sophistication which you have brought to applying will. It is indicative how how your soul has evolved toward the divine. You are one of the better examples of that level of evolution that i know of. i’m seriously considering writing you in for President.

  2. Michael Mayes

    Wow, great story, a crown, that’s lovely. Yes, we must take care of ourselves. I don’t want to be saying, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” I was hit with type 1 diabetes at 30, which is rare, and I’m actually between type 1 & 2, so I can control it some through diet & exercise, but I still have to take insulin everyday. We gotta keep keepin’ on!

    1. Fe Bongolan Post author

      Whoa, Michael! That’s some pancreatic load you’ve got. Do other members of your family have it as well?

      My family mostly had Type 2, and that came from the diet of being here (new immigrants), having more access to rich American foods and the everyday stress of living in America while brown.

      I am trying to avoid their legacy by being active and eating right. I told my doctor – no meds when I’m in my 80s, and I mean it! And he calls me on it. Every visit he dares me to do it right – are you exercising enough? What’s your diet? This time around I plan to “surprise” him with more weight loss and great lowered blood pressure. Good to have partners in the quest for good health.

  3. Barbara Koehler

    Fascinating isn’t it Fe, the way we learn to balance our elements. It isn’t all just mind-over-matter is it? I hope you aren’t suffering anymore from the shingle stuff and want you to know how much I appreciate your story.

    Today I was thinking about how “we are all alike” in that (from an astrological view ) we all have equal water, air, earth, fire signs and houses, and we all have the same planets that lean toward a particular element. However, it is how they are assembled in each person’s chart that matters.

    For example, you have a water house (12th) overlaid by an air sign (Aquarius) in which is housed a fiery planet (Sun). In your references to your childhood I could see a couple of the elements at work. Not so much the water part though. That’s why you were in the acupuncturist’s dark office with the door shut, very 12th house symbolism.

    We astrology folk learn early that fire signs and houses and planets are inspirational. They inspire us to move forward immediately where other elements would advise caution (water) or recall similar experience (earth) first, or mentally mull over options (air). It would seem then (on the surface of it), that your natal Sun had prepared you for this life by dampening down (12th house) some of his inspiration, and re-directing it toward more intellectual pursuits (Aquarius). It would also seem then that the soul has had other priorities.

    So often the human beings that we are can only learn through physical hardship on this planet of physical reality. Trying to match our desires to that reality is something only Saturn can do with any finesse. He who is Earth, through and through symbolizes the wisdom of the earth plane; something the fiery planets and signs are not so clever at. He who is master of patience and practicality can be such a drag on inspiration, but he knows the way of this world and our flesh and blood bodies.

    But it’s all about learning balance on this planet isn’t it? Saturn can also stagnate and stultify the creativity of fire, air and water elements we human beings have been blessed with. Even earth creativity can be hampered by too much Saturn. Fire symbolizes the gift of inspiration ( or sometimes the devil made me do it), Water symbolizes the emotional and intuitive gifts, Air symbolizes the mental gifts of communication and logic, Earth symbolizes the gifts of nature and awareness from experience we learn by living on this planet. We all come into this life overloaded in one or more areas, and deficient in other areas. Alas, none of us is perfect.

    So while in (on) this school of hard knocks, we all stumble. And who do we turn to? Our fellow human beings. Perhaps your acupuncturist is super-loaded with water and earth gifts that compensate for your yang overload, pulling those elements back into a semblance of order. Using those 12th house/Pisces feet helped too. You in turn provide us with your wisdom gained from that dreadful experience. We, in turn, are most grateful for your sharing, for how else can we learn? We are all one after all.

    1. Fe Bongolan Post author


      As usual, I so appreciate your heartfelt analysis.

      My ascendant is 1 Pisces in the first, my natal Saturn is in Scorpio in the 9th and both Jupiter and Uranus are in Cancer in the 5th.

      Water has been everywhere but my “crown” which was the “mind” over the matter, so to speak. That and my Aries Mars nearing the edges of my first into the 2nd house.

      In fact, it was Len who I believe said it was Mars that was doing the literal “burning” (inflammation) of my body. The water part of me had to take over, thankfully I had enough to balance.

      1. Barbara Koehler

        So then your soul DOES have other priorities. . especially if your Jupiter and Uranus are conjunct, that makes you part of the manifestation of that brand new cycle. If your Saturn in the 9th house of belief systems is also trine the Jupiter-Uranus in the 5th house, it would seem that theater and other creative endeavors are your way to open the heart (5th house) and feelings (Cancer) to revolutionary new concepts regarding faith, mankind and higher power.

        It also points to re-defining the nature of Aquarius (that being your sun sign) as part of the new concepts project. Jupiter expands and Uranus breaks down barriers previously set regarding the parameters of Saturn-ruled Aquarius. A natal trine between Saturn and Uranus, and another trine between Jupiter and Saturn would be a remarkable mandate to fulfil Fe. As key aspects in 2 different cycles (Jupiter-Saturn and Saturn-Uranus), as well as a 12th house Aquarian Sun, that’s a lot of responsibility for one person to take on.

        I remember a story you told on your blog about the stone fire pit your mother cooked on; about as basic as it gets. It kind of reminds me of Vesta and her hearth fire she always kept going, so as to keep the community going. Your work reminds me of a Vesta like purpose (and she was a workaholic!) so maybe you have a native Vesta that was being compromised at the time of the shingles episode. I agree with Len that you are one of our more evolved souls (but I wouldn’t wish the Presidency on you no matter how bad things get!)

        1. Fe Bongolan Post author


          My Saturn, Jupiter and Uranus are two degrees apart from each other, Saturn 20 Scorp, Jupiter 22 Cancer retro and Uranus 24 Cancer retro. As if the barrier breaker was coming to meet the big expander in its exaltation and both headed for Saturn the maker of walls. Going back to break down old structures has always been my natural inclination. Even here writing for Planet Waves!

          My natal Vesta is 16 Gemini retro in the 4th. I think I need to peruse the transiting and progressed chart to see their placement at the time of the shingles event. A shake up about my boundaries and how much energy I was losing was probably part of the mix. Letting the fire get so hot it was burning my “home” down!

  4. Tana

    Fe, this article was like a mirror. In the last 31 years my personal Yang Girl has run the show. I shoved my Yin Girl in the closet because I had to fit in at work. Now, in the last year every area of my life has had a major change. 4 days ago I was laid off after working for the company for 31 years. On August 28th I have a spinal tap to determine whether I have ME that accounts for the dying areas of my brain. The Universe has needed to use a BIG Stick over the last year to Stop my Yang Girl

    I’ve never taken time to know me without my covers — lawyer, employee, daughter, caretaker. A good, 40 year friend paid forme to fly yesterday to Kauai. I woke up physically about 1 hour ago. It’s time for me, solo, sans cover to venture forth. I can now venture on remembering the knowledge of another, you, who has bridged this transition that 60+ throws at us. We are mortal after all, and it’s likely the Universe has a plan for me that needs some Yin.

    I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this timely article.

    1. Fe Bongolan Post author


      Your response has really touched my heart. You are lucky to be in exactly the right place to recover your Yin girl. I sense she will thrive as you awaken more to her. Your friend is truly to be treasured for their gift of this journey for you. May you find that Chapter 2 in your life is full of health, productivity and fulfillment.

      And please, keep us up to date on your physical journey. The metaphors that you are living and experiencing are helpful to all of us making this transition into the Wise Woman path. You’re safe here.

  5. Gwen

    Blessings to you Fe and thank you so much for the timely reminder to acknowledge my Yin Woman. And thanks to everyone else who responded with their additional words of wisdom.
    My Yang Girl is also 60 now, and still trying to burn the candle at both ends…time for Yin Woman to hire a handyman and stop trying to hang blinds in the window at 3am!

    1. Fe Bongolan Post author


      By hanging blinds at 3am, you have won my medal for the day. I only hung my blinds at 11:00pm, with battery driven drill et al…!!

      I have since then enjoyed asking the twenty-something members of my familia to pitch in. Though I think I have to write another post on “Asking Dumb Questions about Complicated Technology–a Primer for Mature Hippies and their Millennial Children”. The eye rolls themselves are priceless!!!

  6. Alaine Grant

    Fe, thank you for your story…I always enjoy your commentary on politics etc…Len has me doing homework till we talk again later this year, but there’s so much information from BE and others here, and it all seems so relevant to where I’m at at 64.
    This summer, thrust into being caretaker& ‘go-for’ for my dance-big-brother who started chemo this month! all of it happening as our dance company has it’s annual season of dance – he’s the artistic director. The Company is in major transition as we lost our very illustrious founder/director, cultural icon of the Caribbean less than 5 years ago…I’m writing this after only one reading tho’, so process time tomorrow for what’s in my chart that’s reflected here.
    I switched to whole houses after my first session w/ Len and that made more sense of me than the intercepted Pisces situation using Koch/ Placidus. My birth chart is fairly balanced tho’ thank goodness! 3 fire and 3 earth, 2 each air and water. As a Aries Sun, Aquarius ASC, there’s an awful lot going on in Leo now where my Moon [opp.ASC] & Pluto are, w/ my Saturn in Virgo! (Len has me focussed on my upcoming Chiron 12th house return)
    One more bit to mention for now – been having hot flashes for almost 14 years!!! and live in Kingston, Jamaica! I have a handle on it most of the time – nighttime used to be really bad, just now it’s the summer heat and what seems perennial drought here…I’m surprising myself coping with it all. Len and all at Planet Waves are like family in my life! 🙂

    1. Fe Bongolan Post author

      Thank you Alaine. And whatever you’re working on with Len, you’re in kind and capable hands. Trust the journey he is leading you on.

      As for the ahem “Private Summers”, how’s your diet? Refined grains and sugars (including, unfortunately, white wine for me), were always a main culprit. Couldn’t sleep for hours at night. And usually never under the covers. This was in Northern California. It took a while for me to get a handle on it. It can still be a struggle sometimes when my diet or eating schedule goes off the rails.

      You also live in one of the most amazing fresh food countries, regardless of the heat, though I am not sure how you’re settled in in Kingston. I’ve only been to touristy places in JA.

  7. Alaine Grant

    Fe…I haven’t trumpeted Len’s skill and wise gentleness enough yet!
    Born in town with the heart of a country girl. Sleeping and eating much healthier since I stopped teaching and dancing full-time – not addicted to all the fast food franchises the US has sent us! The drought has been deleterious for farmers and produce – more imports just continues to deepen our massive debt. One US dollar is currently going for $117JA…….

    1. Fe Bongolan Post author


      Been reading about how El Nino could have a devastating effect on the southeast of North America, which would include the Caribbean. I hate seeing Jamaica undergo such economic pressure. It is a place for respite for me and my extended family and is a holy place as is all of the Caribbean.

      Good we share a background as country girls. Its a grounded place to come from, literally and figuratively, isn’t it?

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