On my 23rd birthday I saw my first astrologer. Maryann was the first to read my birth chart, which is an experience that I recommend to everyone—whether you believe in astrology or not.

The reading of a birth chart is a metaphor all about you. It is the description (vis-à-vis the angles of planets in signs in relationship with each other) of the major distinct points of your character and personality as you were born—it’s an amazingly sharp tool for self-development. Like anything in life, you get out of it what you bring to it, and if you bring a thirst to better understand yourself, then that’s what you get.

Sitting in a warm, stuffy room in a non-descript stucco strip office complex in Phoenix with a red tile roof, Maryann revealed many things that have made even more sense with time and reflection; after all, we only become more of who we are. One thing I’ve hung onto was her naked assessment: “You go too far, and you do too much.”

It’s so damned true. (My friends and family reading this will lovingly chuckle and agree.) When I plan to do something, my tendency is to over-do it. My nature is to over-commit and over-deliver. When I love someone, I really want to *LOVE* them, even if that’s not what they’re ready for. And, ultimately, I feel a need to remain on course with things/people/relationships/progress simply because meeting one milestone is not enough—it has to be everything in order to be merely okay. Anything less is failure.

Or so it would seem.

Living in  a world of gray, a world of “I don’t know”—and feeling good about it—is relatively new.

After all, a birth chart only describes the influences a person was under at the time of her birth. It doesn’t describe the person she’ll be, or if she’ll be able to overcome those challenges in order to be something more; it simply describes what those challenges are.

Talking with Stephen tonight, I felt good about letting go of pursuing the Fulbright scholarship in Italy, which I’ve been eyeing—and agonizing over—for months. I don’t have time to do it, I’ve put off actually acting for months, yet I couldn’t let it go. Even though the timing is off, I subconsciously refused to allow myself the space to say that it’s not something I should pursue right now. (After all, it’s on my 36 at 36 list!)

What I realized comes back to The Pause exercise that I completed last summer with CityLab7 down in Portland. This experience that I’m about to have in Civita hasn’t happened yet, and I need to stand there and let it happen without thinking about what happens next.

If I keep my eye on the future, I will miss what is happening in the present.

Truly, whatever happens down the road with my career and my relationships—and what I learn in Civita—must happen on their own time and without being shadowed by anything else. Planning is one thing, but being too busy with what might happen as a trade off for what is happening is a mistake, especially in this rare opportunity.

It’s hard to make these decisions, to say no. It’s difficult not to over-do things, or not to grasp for things that seem in reach—if only I had more time, were “more motivated,” or could think a little harder. I realize now that this is the old model of thinking and acting, and I’m beyond it. A more abundant model is one that incorporates a lot more gray in between the black and white.

One might say that such a world, with fluid, molten lines, ever-moving and in flux, blending and changing with each other to create something that cannot be frozen into black or white, is much more Italian.