Waisted Wishes

I am a self-proclaimed Astrological Agnostic. I am not certain if that is a bona fide category in the DSMM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Metaphysics) or if I just made up the term the same way I just invented the DSMM. Either way, there is something elegant about the fact that the word agnostic is tidily tucked away inside the word diagnostic. As a word person, that is just cool.

So how do I define an Astrological Agnostic?

  • Someone who is skeptical about Astrologers’ claims that Astrology is an efficacious system of categorizing personalities and predicting possible events in the future.
  • Someone who needs statistical proof to eradicate their skepticism about these claims.
  • Someone who wouldn’t be particularly surprised to find that the claims were legitimate.
  • Someone who doesn’t judge others who do believe the claims are legitimate.

My cousin, Ralfee Finn, writes a very well-known astrology column called the “Aquarium Age,” (No that is not a typo, it really is Aquarium not Aquarius) and she is sought after far and wide for charts and readings. I find her columns filled with words of wisdom and enjoy reading them, although being the A.A. that I am, I tend to ignore the astrological references. I suppose there is a possibility that if Ralfee looked at my chart she would find that the configuration of “my” planets at the time of my birth is classic for someone who is an Astrological Agnostic.

We could set up a study and interview all of the people who have their suns in Sagittarius with Capricorn Rising and Moons in Aries, etc. and ask them to describe their opinion of the validity of astrological claims. We could then aggregate and analyze those data, accounting for intervening variables and making sure we have a good control group. Then we may find that there is a statistically significant outcome of Astrological Agnostic responses, e.g., “Well, if someone provided me with proof, etc.” associated with those birth charts the findings may add to the current body of research. Let me be clear that I have no plans on conducting this research, my dissertation long behind me, however, I do occasionally wonder about the month of December.

Drawing of a centaur with a bow and arrow surrounded by snippets of Arabic writing
The Archer: Symbol of Sagittarius (from the ‘Kitab al-Bulhan’)

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about December being a challenging month for people who tend to suffer from the Holiday Blues. What I didn’t mention was December is also the month filled with the birthdays of most of my friends. With over a dozen births to celebrate, could there be any astrological meaning to this? I am not talking about my family’s birthdays. I am talking about close friends I have chosen or as Armistead Maupin wrote about in, Tales of the City, my “logical family” not my “biological family,” all of whom have birthdays in the same month. Is there a reason why I am drawn to people who are considered Sagittarians?

I have no idea. I wasn’t planning on talking about astrology at all, so let’s put the zodiac aside, and talk about birthday wishes.

Having just celebrated hug-fuls of birthdays with my December friends, I found myself noticing the moment of wishful blowing. Men and women alike seem to take this traditional candle blowing-wish making moment very seriously. I honestly cannot think of a single person who had a nonchalant or laissez faire candle blowing approach. Each person paused, closed their eyes, and solemnly reopened them, inhaled and then exhaled with the intensity of a dragon. (I don’t know if making a birthday wish before blowing out the candles is an international cultural tradition and I’d be curious to hear from my readers who were not born in America about that.)

But here are some observations.

Even the most germ-phobic people do not seem to care about the germs and spittle that are being spread over the cake in the process.

The people waiting for the cake to be served, without any authority figure telling them to be quiet, take on a supportive silent stance in the wish-making pre-candle blowing moment.

A young boy wearing an orange crown blowing out the candles on a colorful birthday cake
Wishful Blowing

The only exception to this is if someone is documenting this momentous moment with a photo and asks the birthday boy/girl to wait a moment so they can prepare the shot.

And of course the ultimate rule,


This rule is so ingrained in all of us that no one even asks you what you wished for. Well I am here to tell the world (okay, that’s a bit grandiose) I am here to tell my wonderful readers that not saying your wish out loud has NOTHING to do with a wish coming true. If that were the case I would not have wished the same wish year after year after year. It would have come true and then I would have had the chance to create a new wish each subsequent year. Yet somehow during the 364 days that elapse between opportunities to manifest anything my birthday heart desires, I forget that it hadn’t worked the year before.

Each year I would remind myself not to waste the wish, not to blow it on something superficial and unimportant. After all it would be another year before I had this much power in my corner. And yet in the final moment”¦the game-making play”¦the moment of truth”¦the birthday genie beckoning, without exception, I would wish…

to be thin.

Exhale. Done. No take-backs.

Wishing to be thin trumped:

  • World Peace
  •  Unlimited wealth
  • Happy healthy life
  • Happy healthy kid
  • Successful career
  • Cure for AIDS
  • A new car

My inner critic berated me not only for selecting a wish that was primarily about my appearance, but for being totally inconsistent. After all isn’t it the ultimate Agnostic Hypocrisy? How could I fervently continue to believe in the magic of birthday wishes despite the preponderance of proof that they did not come true and still be an Astrological Agnostic? This pattern continued for decades, until sometime in my fifties I gave myself permission to do two things. First of all, I proclaimed I was allowed to be inconsistent; after all isn’t that what being open minded is sometimes about? More importantly, I gave myself permission to love my body as it is and stopped wishing it would be what it wasn’t.

As my birthday approached I wondered if I would be able to, in my own private thoughts, accountable to no one but myself, follow through with my newly found key to manifestation. Candles lit, room quiet, eyes closed, I wished that my son would get into the college of his choice. He did! The next year I wished that a close friend of mine would make it through her 5th year being cancer free. She did!

This is a good trend; and no, I don’t really believe my wish had anything to do with the outcomes of the two examples I just gave you. After all correlation is NOT causation. But for some inexplicable reason I feel a twinge of sadness when I think back on all of my birthday wishes wasted. For what? To be thinner-waisted? What a waste. As I am writing this, my birthday is about a week away and soon it will be time to blow out the candles on my cake with my loved ones gathered around. I will have another chance to tap into the magic of the birthday wish. And while I can’t tell you what I will wish for, I bet all of you know what I will NOT wish for!

Photoshop collage of a laughing older man and a chocolate cake with candles that spell out "Happy birthday"
Magical Wishing










What’s your sign? Wink

Til next time!

Dr. Deah

By Dr. Deah Schwartz

Dr. Deah Schwartz, clinician, educator, and author specializes in Expressive Arts Therapies, Eating Disorders and Body Image. Deah is the Co Author of the NAAFA award winning Off-Broadway Play, Leftovers, and its companion DVD/Workbook Set. An outspoken “New Yawker,” Deah believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to point out and eliminate size discrimination even when it means battling the mainstream media, and even worse, family members! To find out more about Dr. Deah’s work or to book a session visit her website at

4 replies on “Waisted Wishes”

Hi Ella, first of all, I am a huge fan of Moomin so I love your profile picture! Re: the Wasted vs Waisted it is more of a play on words than an in joke. I wasted many wishes wishing for a smaller waist that I just switched up the spelling. It’s similar to piece I wrote re: Americans weight problem which I labeled a wait problem because so many people wait to live their lives until they lose weight.

Leave a Reply