"The flow of creativity feels like an avalanche of joy and wonder. Being open to that possibility creates connections with everything." - Feline Dreamers

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tools for the Transition

For various reasons, my "quiet, introspective time" between Samhain (Halloween) and the Winter Solstice wasn't as deeply quiet as I'd hoped. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret anything, and I've been learning a lot. So, since I've also been busy this week, which is normally a time for evaluating the year past and setting goals for the year to come, I'm continuing the process.

As a Virgo, I enjoy creating a plan for such things. Many times I even follow the plan, though I like to be flexible and go with the flow. I thought I'd share with you the tools I'm using for saying goodbye to 2011 and setting intentions for an amazing 2012. Here's my plan (with links where available):

1. Re-read personal journals from 2011, and look at last year's goals list.
2. Make notes and compile lists (Tarot cards I drew the most, how many books I read, what my favorite books were from 2011, successes and failures, ideas for the coming year).
3. Do "Completing 2011" worksheet by Lisa Work at Visionary Mom.
4. Complete the Year End Ritual process by Sarah Susanka (for the first time).
5. Choose a Word of the Year and do the Word of the Year worksheet by Christine Kane.
6. Continue to do the Freedom Family course by Tara Mauger. BlackLion and I are doing the course together, and we'll have more to say about it soon.
7. Write out list of goals and make vision boards.

I'll be working on this project over the next two weeks, and I'll share some of my results with you here on the blog. Enjoy your own process of transitioning into the new year and its wide-open energies!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Joy Amidst the Chaos

Hard to believe I haven't written since before Solstice. So much has happened, and I've certainly needed my mantra of "let in the light."

Our Solstice celebration was wonderful. Leading up to it, we did a lot of preparing and creating. ElvenTiger and I in particular have had lots of fun making things this holiday season. We baked peppermint chocolate cookies for a cookie swap, knitted scarves and dishcloths and a hat (the hat was her, not me), and decorated the house. Our candy-making, which BlackLion helped with, involved needhams, peanut butter cups, peppermint bark, and chocolate-dipped candy creams. We used nearly all five pounds of chocolate chips I'd ordered from the food co-op! Ocean brought luminaries, and the backyard was a beautiful garden of lights as the celebration began. ElvenTiger lit the Solstice fire at sunset, as Quester was still on his way home from work; it was her first time as official deputy fire-keeper, and she did fantastic!

It was rainy the night of the gathering, so our ritual was short and sweet, between rain showers. But for us, the whole night, sunset to sunrise, is the ritual. This Solstice was particularly slow and contemplative. The teens mostly hung out in Dryst's room together, with an occasional foray out for food and fire-gazing. Some of the younger folks hung out and we made paper snowflakes, chatted, and they played Minecraft and other computer games together. Some new friends joined us and stayed late to visit and craft with us. We had lots of fun!

The day after Solstice was mellow, as always. We slept the morning hours away, then got up and cleaned the house, munched on leftovers, and watched a holiday movie together. Friday we did a big last-minute shopping run, supporting our local music store as we purchased gifts for friends and family.

On Christmas Eve, we went to Mom and Dad's, the guys watching the Patriots football game, ElvenTiger and I helping Mom get ready for dinner that night with my brother and his wife. Aunt Peg stopped by for drinks and munchies so she could see them, since my brother and family planned to stay home on Christmas Day this year. She had to leave around 4pm to go home and finish getting ready for the open house she has each year for her friends. When my brother went out to his car just minutes later, he found Aunt Peg on the ground. She had fallen on the icy driveway and broken her leg!

She was rushed to the hospital, and we all congregated there in the ER. Our family has a bit of, ahem, a history of medical crises happening around Christmas. So we were able to joke about it; the plan for next year is to stay home and Skype each other, and my brother is getting some t-shirts printed up saying "Practice Safe Christmas." Quester, Mom, ElvenTiger and I had Christmas dinner at Amato's at 9pm (just before they closed), because we left the hospital once Aunt Peg was resting in her room, only to discover we were all ravenously hungry. Those subs tasted mighty good.

Needless to say, our Christmas was chaotic. Mom and Dad came to open gifts with us in the morning, but we were all kind of distracted. Aunt Peg had surgery at noon on Christmas Day to put a plate in her leg (the bone was rather shattered). She is the primary caregiver for her husband, who can no longer care for himself, so we created a plan for folks to take turns staying with him, including staying with him at night. Our Christmas dinner was fragmented, as we took food next door to him, and to my Dad, who went and ate and watched basketball with him. Then we rushed off to be there when Aunt Peg awoke from the surgery. Poor Mom was exhausted.

Things have calmed down a bit. We had our Christmas with BlackLion's Mom on Monday evening, and it was very relaxing and fun. She fed us a lovely feast, and after we opened gifts together we watched my favorite Christmas movie, "White Christmas." Aunt Peg comes home tomorrow, and her husband's daughter is flying in to spend a couple weeks helping them out. We'll be over there a lot, too, helping out in whatever ways we can. One of my friends offered to cook meals for them, and has been delivering all kinds of casseroles and goodies. She's so awesome!

My favorite, and a very unexpected, physical gift was a Kindle Fire, given to me by Mom and Dad! After a conversation on Thanksgiving where Dad and I were both saying we'd love to have one, and of course the side note that Dad actually wouldn't even know how to turn on a computer, I didn't think much more about it. Dad decided that he wasn't interested in getting a wireless network and learning to use technology that he'd never bothered much with before. But apparently he wanted to grant my wish to try an e-reader. And I love it! Don't fret, dear readers, I'm not giving up conventional books, by any means. But I am really enjoying the Kindle and all its cool features, and the ability to take a whole stack of books with me anywhere, in this tidy little package.

We got lots of other awesome gifts, too, including a very cool digital photo frame from BlackLion's Mom, who is an amazing photographer. She filled it with all kinds of wonderful family photos, which made it even more special! Aunt Peg had brought over her gifts earlier, and she made me an adorable kitty napkin-holder, with the names of all our kitties past and present. So sweet! I'm so thankful for all of this abundance.

I wish I had more photos of the festivities to share, but I did get the gift of a new battery for my beloved camera, so I promise to have more pictures featured in upcoming blog posts. We made a really cool Christmas cake, and I'll be putting up the final Cake of the Month post soon.

Last but certainly far from least, Merlin cat has been healing steadily and is doing well. He's become playful at times, and he does look longingly at the door once in a while, but he's made no serious attempt to slip outside. He loves having the roam of the house, and stays close by his people much of the time.

(Merlin was helping ElvenTiger check out the Kindle. Notice her living pillow - Star dog!)

Merlin will get his wires removed at the end of next week, which I'm sure will be a big relief to him.

Both of the cats' favorite things this Yuletide, even more than the yummy treats and organic catnip, are the various boxes that other gifts came in.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Keep Letting in the Light

This is the darkest time of year for those of us in the northern hemisphere, with the longest nights and shortest days. The sun is at its lowest point. This month, it's also the dark of the moon. The solar and lunar energies are at an ebb. Your energy level may mirror this, reflecting what's going on in nature. That's the paradox of this time of year - just when you feel most like hibernating and getting introspective, parties and gifts and holiday preparations demand your attention and time.

I woke early in the morning yesterday, while it was still dark. Worries and to-do lists whirled through my mind. I tossed and turned, wanting to return to sleep, but overcome by anxious thoughts. Reverting to my most basic practice, I steadied my breathing, focusing on the exhales, the inhales. My intuition spoke to me: "Just keep letting in the light," it said.

When a cat is in the dark, its pupils dilate wide enough to make use of whatever tiny speck of light is present. We can do that with the energy around us. When you wonder how you'll ever afford the holidays, let in the light. When you feel frenzied, trying to get everything done on time, let in the light. When you're missing loved ones who have passed beyond the veil, let in the light. When you're sore and tired, let in the light. When the bills pile up, let in the light.

Soon the sun will return, and the moon will begin to wax and glow again. The days will lengthen, and our energy levels will begin to rise once more. In the meantime, consider adopting this mantra, to help you remember to open up and enjoy where and who you are: just let in the light.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Taste of Freedom

We were finally able to let Merlin have free roam of the house. He still can't go outside for a few weeks, until the wires come out of his jaw, but he seems content to have more space to roam. He asked to go out once, rather politely, but was fine when we told him he had to stay inside.

He's been exploring a bit, and finding new places to nap. He and his brother did some snuggling, something they haven't done much since they were kittens. So adorable!

We're supposed to keep an eye on him and see if he seems sore or stiff, or limps at all, now that he has access to stairs. If he does seem sore, as the vet said, he goes "back in the hole for another week." I'm hoping he'll be just fine and can enjoy his greater freedom. Maybe he'll even sleep under the Christmas tree, like Percy does.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Tree is Up!

We decided on a theme this year - all of the ornaments are either homemade or handmade. Well, except for the candy canes we added, but I expect those will be eaten before too long. I love how it looks. So festive! Merry merry!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Merlin Report

We got a good report on Merlin cat at the vet this morning! His jaw is staying in place and healing well, so no further surgery is necessary. YAY!!! We just have to check the wire, which is around his bottom teeth, to make sure it continues to stay in place. He'll get it removed in four or five weeks.

His "cage rest" (bed rest) continues for another week, then after that he can move around the house. The doc said that if he seems stiff or sore after we let him roam around the house and use the stairs, then he should go "back in the hole" for another week. Heh. He seems to be moving around better now, so I think his pelvis is healing.

He was very feisty this morning and didn't want to be in the box heading to the vet. He had this adorable mew-growl thing going on, and was poking his paws out. He didn't feel well enough to do that before, so that's a good sign too.

Thanks SO much for all the prayers, good wishes, and healing energies for our beloved feline family member! I'm so grateful and feel so blessed.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Way Energy Can Linger

I have a tale to tell on this moonlit winter night. It's a true story, and it shows how connected we can be, the mysterious nature of life, and the way energy can linger. It's about my wonderful Mom, and she has kindly given her permission for me to share the story here.

Several years ago, my Mom was in a terrible car accident, four days after Christmas. She was in intensive care for nearly two months, had many surgeries and rampant infection, and was kept in a coma for much of the first part of her hospitalization. When she recovered, she had two more months of rehab, follow-up surgery the next year, and lots of complications that she lives with to this day. She's been called a miracle by more than a few folks, doctors included.

After she recovered, she had no memory of that year's Christmas, which we were told is not uncommon for people who have been through a serious trauma. She and Dad went to see the movie "Cold Mountain" the night after Christmas, but she didn't remember, and didn't really believe us until she later found the movie ticket stub in her coat pocket. Although Mom loved coffee before her accident, she hasn't had any since - she just doesn't like it anymore, at all. Our theory is that, since she was on her way to work at the time and always had a travel mug of coffee along on her commute, the smell of the spilled coffee must have a strong negative association in her brain.

Mom has always loved Christmas. It's her favorite holiday. Last week, she called me up and offered me a puzzle to figure out: since her accident, she's noticed, there is one Christmas task that she just can't stand. She used to love decorating her tree, but now it is something she puts off, and the feeling associated with it is one of dread and sorrow. She asked me if I had any idea why. She had also asked her sister the same question. So I started thinking about it.

The theory I came up with, upon reflection, is this: when she was in intensive care, I often did errands for Dad, who pretty much lived at the hospital during that time. After the New Year had come and gone, Dad said that he needed to take the Christmas tree out of the house, as the needles were getting really dry. He asked for help with the tree trimmings. So I went to their house, alone, to take down all the ornaments and the lights. I remember the feeling of that day. We didn't know if Mom was going to live or not. Christmas is her holiday, and I felt I might never get to share it with her again. As I put the ornaments away, recalling past holidays, I was sad and crying. I packed them away carefully, apparently along with a large dose of my sadness. I think Mom has been sensing that energy, and picking up on those feelings. She and I have always been close, and are often on the same wavelength. Long before cell phones and caller ID, we always knew when the phone rang if the other one was the caller.

Aunt Peg, who had noticed Mom's reluctance to decorate the tree, independently came up with the same theory, though she didn't recall who had put the ornaments away. She just knew that Mom hadn't done it herself, and that there was a lot of fear and sadness in the family just then.

The theory feels right to all three of us. This year, after the New Year, we're all going to gather and joyfully put away the ornaments, infusing them with new positive memories. I'll bring a smudge stick along, to cleanse the leftover sad energy. Isn't it amazing how energy can linger, and how people who are connected can pick up on each others' feelings, even many years after the event?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Being a Heart-Centered Entrepreneur

When I don't know how to do something, I study it. I've discovered in my studies of the past few years that there are many of us out here who are heart-centered entrepreneurs, creating purpose-based businesses. We want to help others, and to find ways to support ourselves and our families while doing what we're called to do. We're creative and inspired and passionate. This means finding what is known as one's "right livelihood." It also means finding new models of doing business, as the old ones just aren't a good fit for us.

But getting the word out about one's business still involves some form of the dreaded "marketing." The whole concept pushes my buttons a bit. It runs up against my long-held issues about being liked. I've released a lot of those concerns already, particularly as I entered my fourth decade a couple of years ago. Yet for some reason, selling my wares feels like a whole new level of vulnerability. I worry about upsetting my readers, my cherished audience, my "peeps." I don't want to be sales-y.

BlackLion and I are following the teachings of respected folks who teach about purpose-based business, like Christine Kane, Jonathan Mead, and Mike Dooley (we found some of Robert Kiyosaki's material interesting, but a bit too ruthless for our taste). We've been gradually working to build the trust of our readers and listeners over time, giving away lots of terrific free content, and creating products for sale that are targeted to the needs and desires of our niche audience.

Some people have told us that the economy just isn't good, that no one has extra money for luxuries like self-help kits. That may be true for some folks, and I certainly empathize, but it's not the whole story. Christine Kane herself, and many of her clients, are successfully making a living while helping uplift others so they too can live their dreams. We've learned so much from just the free material Christine Kane offers, and you can bet that when we have the spare cash, we're going to invest in her programs as well. We already have our own plans in place for how we'll continue to serve the community once our coaching services take off - a certain number of paying clients each quarter will be grouped with free and sliding-scale coaching that we'll make available. The plan is to make a good living in an ethical and caring manner.

Yet still I hesitate, which it comes to the part about asking folks to spend their money on us. It won't do any good to be well-liked if I'm out on the streets with no home in which to base my business - and those wolves seem to be getting ever closer to the door. In the survey we're doing, healing sessions are right up there in terms of valued services, yet I've had almost no response to my Reiki business. It really must be a matter of getting the word out more. If this sounds like I'm giving myself a pep talk, I am. But I'm not the only one who has these fears of self-promotion, particularly among the women I know.

I don't think Brent and I are overly pushy, and perhaps we're not even close to assertive enough. As the deadline approached for the initial discount we were giving on the 30-Day Core Belief Kit, I ramped up my courage and wrote direct e-mails to a few folks who I thought might really benefit from the kit. I was apologetic about even mentioning it, and one friend replied, "Whenever you worry about this, I hope you remember that some form of horn blowing is the only way to get the word out about this terrific resource."

I think people do understand that online contacts and social media are often used to promote small businesses. When I get free e-newsletters or read blogs, I enjoy the content, and the part where they make the sales pitch doesn't bother me. Many times I'd purchase the e-book or kit or whatever myself if I had the means. And I will, when I have the means. As Christine Kane points out, we're creating the new economy here, skipping the heartless big biz plastic products and selling to each other. Building ethical businesses, reaching out online, buying fair-trade and organic, shopping locally, and treating each other with respect. There must be room for positive marketing in this new, awakening world view.

Monday, December 05, 2011

It's Update Time

First things first - Merlin cat had his jaw repaired this morning. They are finished, and we're supposed to call back in a little while to find out when we can pick him up. Thanks SO much for all your good wishes for our sweet black kitten! Please keep the healing energies coming as he continues on his path back to full wellness.

I also wanted to update you on a new hobby of mine: knitting. My Mom and her sister are excellent at knitting (and sewing, crocheting, and many other creative arts). ElvenTiger learned how to knit when she was six (from Grammy, of course) and is co-teaching a homeschool knitting class. Me? I'd been convinced for a long time that anything involving thread, string, or yarn is beyond me. Not that I don't have my own crafty talents, mostly involving paper, pens, glue, and scissors, but I thought the gene for fiber arts had skipped me entirely. Or that my cat nature made me tend to tangle up string rather than organize it.

But ElvenTiger insisted that I keep trying, and now I must say I'm starting to enjoy knitting! I'm on my third project. I can't tell you what they are, or share any pictures, until after the holidays. But I'm merrily humming along making knitted gifts. They're not perfect, but they're made with love!

In other homesteading updates, BlackLion has been making our family's bread for the past couple of months. He has a wonderful sourdough starter that he's been nurturing, and I've gotten into the habit of buying flour rather than loaves of pre-sliced bread. His bread is far more delicious, and has less ingredients. A friend pointed out to us one day this summer that the "healthy" whole wheat bread we were buying had high-fructose corn syrup in it. Huh? That was when we got interested in making bread for the family once again.

Yesterday ElvenTiger and I made laundry detergent, something we learned at our homeschool co-op. We added some lavender essential oil to make it smell lovely. I'm very pleased with it. We were gifted with a bunch of late-season apples last week, and Quester made applesauce. Almost everyone is getting into the homesteading thing - except Dryst, who isn't much for cooking or arts and crafts. He's a teenage boy, though, so he's an enthusiastic consumer of all the foods we make! Last night we made Indian food, sort of a nav rattan korma (mixed veggies), which everyone loved. I made my own curry blend, but of course I just did it on the fly, without measuring or writing down the recipe. It figures that would be the one everyone likes best! Perhaps I can replicate it, if memory will cooperate.

The cutout cards are coming along nicely, and I've started thinking about what edible goodies I'll make for the holidays. Quester has been working on candles, and BlackLion is contemplating some cordials. Oh, and we just released a new e-book over at the Feline Dreamers site. We're feeling rather creative around here! Hope your holiday preparations are going well, too.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Making Holiday Cards

Yesterday ElvenTiger and I went to my Mom's to make holiday cards together. In the spirit of the Saturday's Artist project on the Ordinary Life Magic blog, I thought I'd share some pictures of the results. Yes, I realize it's Sunday so I'm a day late, but that's just the way I am. And the actual crafting was done on Saturday, so maybe that counts!

Mom and Aunt Peg have gathered a wonderful collection of stamps and papers and cutting tools and ink and all kinds of other terrific stuff. I'm so glad they're happy to share it with us. We were laughing about Mom needing to add on a whole new room in her house just for card-making supplies!

Here's a sampling of the cards ElvenTiger and I made together. I apologize for the not-so-good photo quality. My camera needs a new battery, and the one I was using (BlackLion's) isn't as familiar to me.

First a couple of Winter Solstice cards. I love this one, although the photo doesn't really do it justice. To get the sparkly effect, we stamped and then embossed.

For this one, we created the 8-pointed star using origami paper and a technique a new friend just taught us.

Here's a Christmas card we made using the embossing technique, stamps and some ribbon.

My Mom got a cool new jingle bell punch. I wish I had photos of some of the great cards she's been making with it! Here's a holiday card I made with it.

And finally, here's me having some fun with a more contemporary look and a snowflake punch.

Making cards is so much fun, and an awesome way to get your creativity flowing. It was especially joyful hanging out with Mom and ElvenTiger, and enjoying a yummy lunch break (make-your-own sub sandwiches, salt and vinegar Kettle chips, and sugar-free apple tart for dessert) in the middle of our day of crafting.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Survey Says...

As a Virgo, I love filling out surveys. I know, it's kind of odd. I even love those just-for-fun survey type things that get passed around on e-mail every so often. It's just about the only type of e-mail forward I'll take part in, unless I'm feeling insecure and pass one along to avoid the curse that comes with some of them. I wish they wouldn't do that. But I digress.

So imagine my excitement now that BlackLion and I have just created our first survey for Feline Dreamers, using Survey Monkey! What's even better than taking a survey? Creating one and then checking out the results!

If you're interested in personal growth and spirituality, and enjoy filling out surveys (or perhaps don't mind giving up a couple of minutes of your time to help us out), please click here. We're using the replies to craft the offerings and wares we create for you in the coming weeks and months.

Thanks! And blessings to you whether you play along or not. No curses here!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Journal Writing and Self Expression

I've been teaching a journal-writing class at our homeschool co-op. I've been a journal keeper for years and years, and have written about it a bit, but never taught a class before. It's been a lot of fun putting together the classes and exercises. I'm thinking of teaching the class for a potentially larger audience, maybe as an adult-ed offering first, to fine-tune it further, and then perhaps as an online course. The topic matter would be an easy one to do online. I could make videos and provide worksheets and readings (and a playlist for the class where we wrote to various types of music, which the girls seemed to enjoy).

It's a topic I know a lot about, and have experience with, and one that I don't really need credentials for, other than my years of hands-on practice. What do you think? Would any of you be interested in such a course? Leave a comment or drop me a line.

I'm still gaining experience as a heart-centered entrepreneur, and want to find things that will serve a need as well as help me with making a living. I really want to make this work! I have no shortage of ideas, it's just a matter of 1. finding topics that fill a need, 2. finding the people who are interested in them, and 3. making time to create them. I can handle #3 with no problem. I'm still working on the others. In the meantime, I'm letting my creative energies flow.

P.S. Thanks for all the good wishes, prayers, and energies for Merlin cat! I truly appreciate it and am very touched by the response. He is doing well today and sleeping a lot. He loves it when we cuddle him and give him Reiki. Sweet cat boy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Healing for Merlin Lovecat

We've been having quite an intense time in the family since I last wrote. Merlin (who can be seen in the picture at the top of this blog) apparently got hit by a car this weekend. He was acting weird on Saturday morning, moving slowly and not eating, but not crying or mewing. That night and on Sunday, he stayed inside and slept a lot and still wasn't eating, and we thought he was sick. We brought him to the vet first thing Monday and discovered that he has a broken jaw and a very bruised up pelvis and liver (and maybe heart)! Monday morning passed like an eternity, while they were doing x-rays and blood work to see if more than his jaw was broken, and if he'd survive the trauma he'd been through.

I felt like such a bad cat Momma for not seeing how messed up he was, and for not knowing he'd been in an accident. He doesn't usually go near the road, since we live rather set back from it. And this cat, by choice, is a very outdoorsy fellow, almost a barn cat. We usually only see him outdoors in the warm weather, unlike his brother Percy, who (again, by choice and temperament) is more of a house cat. Since Merlin is so very independent, how could we have known? Thankfully Quester was in the barn on Saturday morning and disturbed Merlin's nap, and Merlin then came home to rest. Otherwise we may not have known something was wrong for even longer. He apparently also has a rather high pain tolerance. I knew he was a tough kitty, but wow. I guess we'll never know the story of where he was and what happened - he's not talking.

Merlin was very lucky that more wasn't broken, they said at the vet's office, and he has to have "cage rest" (i.e. bed rest) for 4 weeks. It's already become very challenging for this outdoors-loving cat! They said a small room was fine, just no stairs or outdoors, so we have him in ElvenTiger's room. He's eating okay now (very soft wet food) and sleeping well. We're hopeful he'll recover fully, as he's young and healthy. We've been providing lots of snuggles and Reiki (I have him in my bedroom tonight, and he's snuggled up against my leg as I type this on the laptop).

He has to have jaw surgery next Monday, as they wanted to give his liver and heart some time to heal before surgery. Please send some healing energies Merlin's way.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Little Epiphanies

I was having an interesting conversation with Quester this morning. We were talking about how some folks prefer to socialize one-on-one, some like small groups, others enjoy large gatherings, and various combinations of those options. He mentioned a good friend of ours who said she would rather be either with one or two friends, or at a big party where she can focus on just one or two of the other guests at a time. Small or medium sized groups, on the other hand, seem way too chaotic and confusing to her.

This was a new idea to me. I have a couple of introvert friends who prefer to gather one-on-one, and I'm familiar with that concept. But I'd never really thought of the fact that a small group, like a family, could feel intimidating.

Personally, I prefer those small to medium sized groups, like a family setting or an informal gathering of friends, and it's even better when it's in my own home or backyard. While discussing it with Quester, I suddenly realized why. I was thinking of how I like to incorporate my friends into my family life, or gather with a few of them at once. And it came to me that the way I deal with my introverted self, especially as someone who has partners and kids who I live with, is to group my social interactions together. "Geesh," I told him, "if I had to go see each person individually, that's one day for her, and another for her, and another for him, and on and on, and I'd just never have any time to myself!"

This little epiphany made me laugh. And it was cool to realize that, within the labels of "introvert" or "extrovert," there are many varieties of experience and ways to live a balanced life. We continued our conversation, and went off on a bunch of other fascinating tangents about personal preferences and living in community. Not bad for a day when Mercury is in retrograde, eh?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

"I don’t care if you are a hardened cynic, entrepreneur, techie nerd, or froo-froo floaty vegan meditating skateboarder, practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to open up to abundance and prosperity. Gratitude is saying yes. And yes opens us up. It makes us more receptive. We say, 'I already have these gifts.' Then we keep attracting gifts because all of our power is saying yes." - Christine Kane

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let's Talk About the Food

People like to read about, and talk about, food. At least, that's true if my Facebook status updates are a good indicator. I put up a post about having seen tons of ads and mentions of Nutella lately, so many that I felt like I ought to try it, and got a ton of comments. Forget spiritual techniques or what's happening with the kids, bring on the chow! So, let's talk about the food. What better week for it?

We just made the final (we're pretty sure) batch of salsa using fresh tomatoes from this season. Our local farm store has had salsa tomatoes for far longer than I recall from past years. We have a friend who works there, and she kept letting us know when more tomatoes became available. So this is the third "final batch," and it's really very tasty. We may be getting just a teensy bit sick of Mexican food around here, though.

Not to worry, though, it's just in time for Thanksgiving, with its own particular recipes. Last week we attended the Maine Wholeschoolers' Thanksgiving, and our contributions were wild rice & mushroom-stuffed squash (both butternut and acorn), vegetarian gravy, and a pumpkin pie. The gravy was surprisingly well received by the other families, who all eat meat, but some of whom chose our gravy over the turkey one. And then the pumpkin pie was gobbled up, too, though I don't think anyone knew it was vegan. To the one Mom who asked me about what was in it, I leaned over and whispered "tofu!" She just grinned and kept eating, not letting on to the kids.

For our own feast this Thursday, which we host each year, we'll be making seitan (a vegan meat substitute), the veggie gravy again, and some non-meat-touched stuffing. BlackLion's Mom will contribute the traditional turkey version of all these. Then the rest of the clan (including us) will help provide the mashed potatoes and squash, peas, pearl onions, rolls, homemade cranberry sauce, and my family's traditional "pink salad" (much yummier than it sounds). And of course there will be pies! My vegan (shh!) pumpkin one, Mom's yummy low-sugar apple pie, and Aunt Peg's delicious chocolate cream.

Hungry yet? Don't worry, just three more days to wait. May your celebration be blessed!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Balanced-Rock Equilibrium

Last night, for some reason, I was feeling sort of down and discouraged. I'm not sure where it came from, but I was feeling disappointed about things in general. I convinced myself that I was going right into a downward spiral, and that this morning I wouldn't even want to get out of bed.

It wasn't true. I woke up to a lovely sunny day, feeling hopeful and pretty much like my usual self. When I did my daily journal writing, I did a bit of exploration of what the feelings were, and what they were about, just in a curious sort of way. Sometimes I find that my emotions can be a mystery. This being human thing is so complex and unfathomable.

I want to share a couple of passages from my journal entry with you: "I am a balanced rock, teetering a bit between discouragement and empowerment. Last night I wondered, 'What if the Universe really doesn't want me to do this?' - this being my calling, our Feline Dreamers stuff, the life of the imagination. And how would I tell?" Followed by, after more exploration, "Now that I've been writing it out I feel better, but in a strange sort of way, like I am in that balanced-rock equilibrium, and it feels somehow right. I like it. It's weird. What an odd creature I am." When I drew my Tarot cards for the day, sure enough, one of them was the Equilibrium card. I wasn't surprised.

I decided to give myself the day off. I've gotten really caught up lately in getting the word out about Feline Dreamers, trying to make it successful, and as they say, when you own your own business you don't (necessarily) have days off. Today has been a day of playing games (Skip-Bo, Set, and a SuDoku board game), having a lovely lunch with BlackLion's Mom, doing cut-out cards, making salsa, and watching a couple episodes of Glee, which I'd never seen before. Quiet family time is a delight. I'm resting my soul, and it's all part of the balancing act.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Life is Creeping In

I thought November was supposed to be a time for rest, reflection, and renewal. Now I'm feeling busy again, and wondering what on earth happened! I knew we'd have a lot to do for Feline Dreamers this month, as we had our big CBK launch and all. But it seems that lots of other things are clamoring for attention, too.

The challenge is, all of these things are fun and interesting, like drum rehearsals, social gatherings, and soccer banquets (okay, those aren't so interesting, but they're for the kids). This week we're attending a homeschoolers' Thanksgiving feast, and hosting the monthly family potluck at our home. Both things are fun, but require a lot of extra grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning.

I'm still longing for some "me time," and looking for ways to integrate it into my days more often and more smoothly. I want to revitalize my yoga practice, and spend some time on some personal writing projects, and daydream. I want to take walks before the snow pushes its way in for the season. I want to sit by the fire and gaze at the flames. I'm doing well with my daily spiritual practices, and I'm feeling pretty good overall, but at this time of year, I'm drawn to more. More introspection, more relaxation, more unstructured time. And to magick - our Full Moon ritual last week was so restorative for me!

Luckily (knock on wood) my calendar toward the end of the month isn't quite as full as this week's and next week's. Thanksgiving weekend is pretty wide open. I'm going to keep it that way, I hereby resolve. And I'm going to add "my stuff" to the big to-do list in my notebook. So be it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Big Day!

Today I have realized one of my long-held goals: we released the 30-Day Core Belief Kit! And while I slept, we sold our first Kit to a woman in Germany who I know from an e-mail list (thank you R!). So it was fun waking up to such delightful news.

Now we're focused on getting the word out about the Kit, and on moving on with our next set of projects. A lot of my energy has been freed up, just by the powerful act of finishing the Kit and releasing it into the world to share. And I'm inspired to use that energy creatively, focusing on projects like our next e-book and our coaching services. I've already started the e-book, which is about developing and sustaining a daily spiritual practice.

I feel excited and thrilled about where things are and the direction I'm headed. I'm thankful to all the folks who will purchase the Kit, and excited to see where it will take them! I want to work with people for mutual benefit. If you're interested in the Kit, please visit the website and check it out, and share the link with your friends. If you'd like to review the Kit on your website or other media, get in touch with me. And if you're inspired by the notion of personal spirituality coaching, stay tuned! Have a joyful day!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Audio and Video

BlackLion is putting the finishing touches on the guided meditations for the 30-Day Core Belief Kit. They sound so awesome, especially now that he's added the music! I'm pleased with how professional they sound. Our little home-studio in the basement is working out quite well for us. It's actually Quester's band space, but he's between bands right now, so we're making good use of it for our Feline Dreamers stuff. I wonder if we should put up one of the meditations as a sample...

We're also getting ready to do our second video. Ocean, who studied videography in college and worked in the field for a while, is going to help us with our video projects, on an ongoing basis. A friend of ours gave us a hand-held camcorder, and we just need to find a way to get it to talk to the laptop (we suspect the cord needs to be replaced). We want to be able to do regular videos, as lots of folks enjoy that medium. I don't normally watch videos that much, though there are some exceptions, but lots of folks love YouTube and sharing things they find there.

This afternoon, along with making a fresh batch of salsa, our plans include a final listening session of all the guided meditations. I bet I'll be really relaxed after that! Great for a Saturday afternoon. Purrrrr....

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Bounty of Gratitude

I thought of several things I wanted to post about this week, but never quite got around to sitting down in front of the keyboard. So I thought, instead, that I'd share them in the form of a gratitude list. These are the things I'm thankful for as this week ends.
  • I'm thankful for a new skill I've learned recently, which is using html code to format a web page. Mind you, I'm not yet at the level of creating pages or sites. But I'm very thankful to take some web maintenance off BlackLion's list by not only writing the copy, but formatting and posting it as well.
  • I'm so very grateful that we are releasing the 30-Day Core Belief Kit. This has been a journey of creation over the past four years, and we've poured our hearts and souls into it. I'm really pleased with how it came out, and so excited to share it!
  • I'm thankful that my kids and their friends like to hang out at our house. We took Dryst and four of his buddies to the midnight release of a video game called Skyrim that they were all so excited about. Three of them came back home with us and played most of the night, and this morning (well, closer to noon) we made them brunch before they headed home. When I posted about this on Facebook, one of my brother's friends asked if it reminded me of how the crowd hung out at my parents' house. I guess I'm carrying on a tradition!
  • I'm grateful for my feline friends. Merlin is sweet and beautiful and always smells good. Percy is loving and purrful and slept on my lap today. Purr!
  • I'm so thankful for my wonderful Full Moon circle. We had such a beautiful evening. Every time we celebrate together I learn more about myself and about life. I'm so blessed to have these wonderful folks to do magick with. I feel whole and holy.
  • I'm thankful for my parents. They have both been sick lately, and I wish them continued healing. They are amazing and awesome! Aunt Peg is, too. Aren't I lucky?!
  • I give thanks for all the many blessings in my life. Happy 11/11/11!
I'm also thankful for you, my readers. Thanks for being here!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Our First Feline Dreamers Video!

We made a video this morning to promote our upcoming release of the 30-Day Core Belief Kit (also known as CBK). I'm so excited!

We'll have more details up on the website very soon. The release is next Monday, November 14th.

Last night we watched some Christine Kane videos to get inspired. I dreamed of the CBK all night, and got up this morning and wrote a bunch of copy for the website and other places. When BlackLion suggested making a video, I was ready!

If you want to help us publicize the CBK, let me know. Also, if you'd like to review it on your blog or website, we can probably arrange for that. Did I mention I'm rather excited?! This is our biggest and most powerful project so far!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Family at Rest

We've been enjoying a quiet weekend at home, and I'm thankful. After our busy October, we've needed to be here and reclaim the house, de-clutter, and do some extra cleaning. We've also made enchiladas, and more sourdough bread, and I'm about to put on some spaghetti sauce for tonight's dinner. There's laundry in process.

We've been listening to music, including this week's wonderful bluegrassy episode of A Prairie Home Companion. We've played Skip-Bo and Rummikub, and Quester has been cleaning up the yard a bit, with help from ElvenTiger. I've gotten some work done for Feline Dreamers, as well as some further food planning for the next family potluck. Dryst and I are planning the next round of academic work he wants to do. There's definitely been some sleeping in, as well, and some reading, and X-Box playing, and watching movies on Netflix.

BlackLion and I have a drum rehearsal this evening with the rest of the Dark Follies Orchestra. Other than that, we're all just taking it easy this weekend, a family at rest.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Diving In

Wow. I guess I'm diving in deep to the dark of the year. I set my intention to turn inward, and boy did I! I'm not complaining, but things that are part of my normal routine have been seeming very intense this week.

I hung out with my friends at homeschool group last night, and while I did have fun, I came away feeling sort of psychically bruised, just from all the different energies and opinions and views. Today our homeschool co-op, which I also love, was particularly overwhelming. 65 families with over 150 kids can do that to anyone, but I guess usually I'm better prepared. Simple errands and household tasks seem a bit over the top, too.

I think I dropped the filters I'd been using during my Freaking Busy time. Or maybe it's that it's day three of my giving up sugar. I haven't been craving it at all (which is different), but it might still be affecting my emotions somehow.

The really good thing is that I've been able to easily re-center myself when I notice I'm frazzled or stressed. A few deep breaths, a bit of time writing in my journal, and just a reminder of inner relaxation ("let go of the clenching" "all is well") have done the trick. And these feelings of being overwhelmed aren't the whole story, either. I've also felt more inspired to be creative, and have been having a blast focusing on various projects. It must be almost time to start the cutout cards!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Something Cool I Found Today

A few years ago I went to the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, and since then (well, before then, too, I guess) I've been on their mailing list. Today in my e-mail inbox was their November e-newsletter. I don't always read it, but the title caught my attention: "Beginning Your Not So Big Life." It refers to the title of a book by author Sarah Susanka, who also wrote the newsletter article. I'm not sure why it was so intriguing, but I read the related article, which led me to visit the author's website. The article had said to click on the Chapter 11 tab when I got there.

The first thing I saw when I got to that sub-page was a poem by Rumi. I recognized it immediately as the poem that had been made into a chant by the teacher of the Iron Pentacle workshop I took last November. With the music playing in my head ("don't go back to sleep, don't go back to sleep") and a buoyant feeling in my heart, I downloaded the .pdf file, figuring if there was ever a positive sign from the Universe, this was it! I mean, Iron Pentacle was such an amazing experience, as was my trip to Kripalu. They both contributed greatly to my spiritual growth, and brought me a lot of joy in the process.

I love these chains of synchronicity that lead to cool new tools! I haven't tried this one yet, but it sounds like it'll be right up my alley. And it's just the kind of thing I was looking for, to use for this quieter, more reflective time of year. Thanks, Universe! I love you!

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaBloPoMo Success!

Huzzah! I did it! Even through a very busy and active month, I posted here every day! It wasn't really a burden. I had fun. I needed to be very conscious about remembering to post, but perhaps now, 31 days later, it's become a habit. We'll see how that goes. I hope you've enjoyed reading about my life and my thoughts.

The NaBloPoMo theme was "between," and that's where I am right now. It is Samhain, and thus begins the darkest time of the year. The space between Samhain and Yule is time that I set aside for renewal and a particularly strong focus on my inner life. Over the course of the next couple days I'll refine what that will look like, this time around. I know I'm going to do my usual sugar fast, starting tomorrow. But there will no doubt be other intentions to focus on during this between time.

For tonight, we've figured out our Halloween plan. Dryst is going to the zombie walk and movie viewing with his friends. ElvenTiger is going to become Wednesday Addams once again, and do some trick-or-treating. Then we'll head over to Mom's for some soup, treats, and our Monday night viewing of Dancing with the Stars. It'll be fun and mellow and suits me just fine. Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Start Turning Inward

The final Dark Follies show last night went very well, and we ended our run with a group photo session and then going out for a drink together, as a troupe. I'm thankful to be working and playing with such wonderful folks! After that, even though we were having a big snowstorm, we went to the annual Halloween party of some friends. I had a fabulous time! When the electricity went out, the hosts lit candles and we all stayed a while longer before venturing home. The roads were messy, but we just drove slowly and our trusty Subaru got us home safe. Our electricity was down too, but we were headed to bed anyway.

We got up around mid-morning when the lights (and heat) came back on. I took a delicious hot shower, and Quester made us all a big brunch around noontime.

The plan for today was to head to some friends' place this evening for a beautiful and intense (and I know this because I was in on the planning) Samhain ritual. Mother Nature had different ideas. The ritual was planned for outdoor space, and with six inches of wet mushy snow, plus the re-freezing of everything tonight, it was decided to cancel the event. I think it was a wise choice.

And thus my day has been one of doing some house-tidying, making a big batch of salsa, playing Set and Skip-Bo, and getting some quiet relaxation time. I think after I finish this entry, I'm going to take a nap (or at least lie down and read) while the guys are watching football.

My Freaking Busy month is waning, as is the year. The moon is waxing, and the energy it brings me is the impetus to turn inward once again, to enrich my connection with the heart of things. Over the next three nights, I'll take time to honor my ancestors, release what I no longer need, and divine my new course, all things we had planned to focus on in our group ritual. We can try again next year to share the Work with others, and in the meantime I'm happy here at home, nestling down into Samhain-tide. Many blessings to you and yours!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Eye of the Storm

I'm sitting here at the laptop with my cup of decaf chai tea (with soymilk and honey, mmmm) and taking a few moments to write today's blog. I'm really psyched that I've almost made it to the end of the month, and have posted every day! Especially given the fact that I've been so very busy. It's been fun, though! And at least one person has said that she hopes I'll continue to post every day (or at least close to that). We'll see what happens.

After this we're off to the final Dark Follies show. It's been so much fun! We have some friends coming tonight to see it, plus a cast party afterwards. Apparently we might get some (more) snow tonight. That's OK, the show must go on! I'm tired, but not exhausted. I think I've been pacing myself pretty well. I'm not one of those people with vast amounts of energy (activity-wise), but I have very good endurance and stamina.

Our vending at the Gorham Art Fair (for the Maine Wholeschoolers) went well today. Tomorrow morning I can sleep in (oh joy!!!) and then have time to prepare for the lovely ritual I'm helping lead. And next week will be a lot more reasonable as far as commitments and running around goes. I'm pretty pleased, overall, and hope you all have a lovely evening.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baking Day

Well, it's baking day today around the homestead. We got snow last night and now it's sunny, but chilly, so it'll be nice to have the oven going. I did a big kitchen cleanup this morning. I may have been letting things go just a bit, having been Freaking Busy (a friend gave me this official term) for the past, well, let's just say many days. We also went to the grocery store to stock up on baking supplies.

BlackLion is now working on his latest round of sourdough bread. He's very pleased with the starter that our chef friend gave him, and has been feeding it assiduously. He even gave some to another friend, so the yumminess is spreading! Anyway, he's making four loaves today, two for the household and two to sell at the bake sale.

What bake sale, you may ask? Well, the Maine Wholeschoolers will be offering all kinds of baked goodies tomorrow at the Gorham Art Fair. We'll also be providing sandwiches for lunch. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year. This afternoon, ElvenTiger will be making her prize-winning Oatmeal Chocolate- and Butterscotch-Chip cookies. They are literally prizewinners, at last year's Cumberland County Fair. Plus they're delicious.

I'm going to make some other kind of baked good as well. I haven't decided yet - I stocked up on a bunch of baking supplies, so I could leave my options open until the last minute. I'm thinking either no-bake cookies or something that combines peanut butter and chocolate.

Oh, and we're also going to make some neo-American chop suey for dinner, before we head off to the Dark Follies show. It's basically the vegetarian version of that dish, with veggie burger crumble in place of the hamburger. The rest of the ingredients are standard, but yummy: macaroni, sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, some spices. It's BlackLion's recipe, and we like it, especially when we're on the go and can make it a bit ahead of time and let folks munch when they're ready.

I think I'd better pick a recipe. It's almost my turn for the kitchen!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recovering Perfectionist

Last night, after a fun and successful dress rehearsal for the show I'm in, I dreamed I could fly. It was the most vivid and exhilarating flying dream I can ever remember (and I don't have a lot of them). It felt great, like I was soaring above it all, having a fantastic time, trusting myself to the air currents and my amazing flying powers.

The kids both stayed overnight at our friend's house (the awesome one who hosts the homeschool group week after week after week) last night after the Halloween party. So I was a bit relaxed about getting to the homeschool co-op today, especially since it was the end-of-term review and party.

BlackLion and I got on the road by 10am, which is when the event starts. I said to him, knowing that we still needed to stop and get gas, "it's okay if we're late, right?" His reply was, "well, you're usually the one who's worried about that kind of stuff." "Oh. Well, I'm okay with it. Right?"

My phone rings. It's ElvenTiger, calling on her friend's cell phone from the co-op, and she wants to know where I am, and if I have her baskets (which she made during basket-weaving class). I do have them, but I'm still just leaving. She says they're about to show them off, and I realize I won't get there in time. Cringe.

We stop at the store, and while BlackLion pumps the gas, I pull out my planner and take a look, just to make sure I'm on track. Most of my stuff is on our online Google calendar, but I also have a paper planner that I can take along (my ancient cell phone won't do that stuff. It's from, like, 2006. Yes, really). I realize that Tuesday was my parents' wedding anniversary, and I forgot to send them a card, or even wish them a happy day. Even though I did talk with my Mom that day. Cringe again.

"Wow," I quip, "I'm in trouble with both generations! What a rebel!" Of course, there's no trouble. I call my Mom, and she's fine with it. She tells me my brother didn't call that day, either. "Well," I tell her, "but he's the prodigal son, and I'm supposed to be the good one." Laughing at myself and all the pressure I put on myself to be perfect. And aside from an eye roll, ElvenTiger doesn't seem to mind that her baskets arrive late, and as they sit on the table all day, they do get lots of admiring comments from other Moms.

As I tell a group of the co-op Moms at lunchtime, when we sit chatting about all sorts of interesting things, I'm a recovering perfectionist. We all commiserate on feeling that way. Many women do. We can get 25 compliments and one mean-sounding comment, and we'll remember the negative one. Why? We want to fix it all, have our lives be perfect...or at least appear that way to all our acquaintances and colleagues. But that's what keeps us distant from each other, at times. It's when we get real, admit our fears and flaws and failures, that we can empathize and really feel for each other. That's when friendships are made or cemented.

And trying to be perfect is often just a recipe for stress. Face it, no one can be all things to all people, not even (or perhaps especially not) our kids and our parents. That's why I've given up perfectionism. It's when we let go that we can really soar. I'm now a recovering perfectionist. How about you?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cake of the Month: October

This month, ElvenTiger, BlackLion, and I collaborated on the cake. This morning BlackLion and I baked a chocolate layer cake and a batch of pumpkin chocolate-chip cupcakes. Then I made some frosting, and ElvenTiger and I did the decorating for the Graveyard Cake. This creepy cake is for tonight's Maine Wholeschoolers' Halloween party. Here it is!

I also frosted the cupcakes, which are for tomorrow's homeschool co-op Autumn Party. I didn't color or decorate these because, with so many families in the co-op, there are lots of different food allergies and sensitivities. But I must say, they taste delicious. The frosting is a simple vanilla frosting. These are also dairy-free, although they do have eggs in them.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Evolution of Halloween

It's nearly Halloween, also known as Samhain, and today we've been finishing up some of our preparations. We're a Pagan family, and we've always celebrated the secular Halloween as well as our spiritual observance of Samhain. Both of these have been shifting and changing a bit over the past couple of years, although with some of our old traditions still intact.

For Halloween, since the kids were small we've taken them trick-or-treating, usually with friends. Now they're getting older, and are on the border of perhaps growing out of it. Last year we drove them to a nearby town with a suburban area where they and their friends could all walk around together, without parents. Four of us Moms hung out together in a local restaurant and chatted about how strange it was not to be walking around with them anymore. This coming Monday's plans are still ambiguous, and I'm just waiting to see what, if anything, they'll want to do.

The focus now is the annual Halloween party that our homeschool group puts on. There are costumes, yes, and prizes, and lots of yummy food, and sometimes even a dance party. Our friends who host it are great about decorating their house elaborately. Kids and adults both dress up and enjoy hanging out together. Today we went out to get a few last-minute items we needed for our costumes. ElvenTiger is going as Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family, from the movies (she loves the original show, but Wednesday is closer to ElvenTiger's own age in the second movie). Dryst is going to be Charlie Sheen. Yup, really. Teenagers...

For Samhain, we either host or attend a ritual, often focused on honoring our ancestors. This year BlackLion and I are helping co-lead a ritual at the home of some dear friends. Quester, Ocean Mouse, and ElvenTiger will all be attending, as will some other friends who we've done magickal work with in the past. Dryst isn't sure if he wants to go. There won't be many (or perhaps any) people his own age there, and recently that's who he wants to hang out with. I don't think he's focused on his spirituality right now, and that's fine. He's going through a lot hormonal changes, and figuring out who he is, especially with his peers.

It's interesting and fun to see the evolution of the holidays in our family as the kids grow up. I was just saying to my Mom last night how fun it was to buy toys for the kids for Yule and Christmas when they were younger, and that we don't really get to do that anymore. But there are new traditions to explore, and some old ones that we all still enjoy. Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain to you!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Spirits of Vaudeville

BlackLion and I are performing this week with the Dark Follies. We'll be part of a Halloween-themed show called "The Spirits of Vaudeville," at Lucid Stage in Portland this Thursday through Saturday evenings (we have to miss the Saturday matinee due to a previous commitment).

We'll be drumming with them as usual, but we'll also be appearing in our...ahem...feline forms. Oh yes, we're cats!

If you're local to the southern Maine area, click here to find out about ticket information. It's a very reasonable price and promises to be a really fun show! Come check it out!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Calm in the Chaos

As you may be able to tell from yesterday's post, we're having a very busy October! Sometimes when I get into the midst of a busy time, I get stressed out about making sure to get everything done, and I don't feel grounded. This time, though, at least so far, I'm feeling really great and enjoying just being part of the flow of events.

I think part of it is because I knew ahead of time that this was going to be a crazy time period, and prepared myself. We keep a Google calendar for our family, to keep track of all our events and appointments and plans. I look at October, packed full of stuff, and then flip to the November page and give a sigh of relief. Not that we won't have things to do next month, but it's certainly a bit calmer than this one, with more room to breathe. Another part of my calm is my recent transformation, the lessons I've been learning about how much better my life is when I go with the flow. Rather than worrying about the next moment, or hour, or day, I enjoy the present moment and let things unfold.

Perhaps because I'm not worried or anxious, things seem to be running smoothly, too. Yesterday morning I was supposed to go to a cake decorating class, but on Friday they called to say it was going to be postponed. So that gave me a chance to have a more relaxed morning, and center myself before jumping into the day. I'm feeling calm in the sometimes chaotic waters of daily life, and most importantly, I'm having fun.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ElvenTiger's Week

I've mentioned before how my daughter ElvenTiger, who is 12, isn't really academically inclined. By this I mean that she's not the type to learn by sitting and doing worksheets or writing reports, although she has done those things. However, she does love to learn, and she's always learning new things. Her preferred style of learning is hands-on, active, and relevant to her life.

So I thought I'd give a glimpse of the types of things she does by talking about what she's been up to this week. Monday we had a birthday party for her Dad and Grampa. ElvenTiger helped me make the veggie pot pie, including the crust. We ran some errands while her brother was at soccer practice, and she chose and purchased a gift for her Dad from money she had earned doing some yard work for her Grammy. We went to the party and spent time with family. We also did our usual Monday ritual of watching "Dancing With the Stars" and critiquing the dances.

Tuesday was a quieter day. On her own time, ElvenTiger has been knitting, watching "The Addams Family" on Netflix, getting her Halloween costume ready, reading to me, and playing outdoors.

Wednesday was our weekly homeschool group. ElvenTiger not only hung out with her friends, but also went to an improv theater class with some of them. She got to participate in the class, and had a fun time. When they all came back, we played some dominoes and chatted. She also did artwork, making bookmarks with a friend. She stayed overnight with her friend and they did some more work on their costumes.

Thursday is the day for the new homeschool co-op gathering. ElvenTiger made a beautiful small basket in her basket-weaving class. She hung out with friends at lunch, and then in cooking class she learned to make four different kinds of cheese. She usually brings her knitting, and has helped a new friend with her knitting projects as well.

On Friday ElvenTiger and BlackLion went on a mushroom foraging expedition with a bunch of other homeschool families. A mycologist came and taught them about the different types of fungus they had gathered. ElvenTiger found a type of mushroom that glows in the dark! After that she had soccer practice. In the evening we had a fire, which she enjoyed with her Dad, and later we listened to jazz and played some Skip-Bo.

Today we went to a cemetery tour that my Mom was hosting. While Mom made a speech about the family who was buried there and their history (it was a small cemetery on a local farm), ElvenTiger, BlackLion and I provided the atmosphere. We dressed up in costume and walked around in the background, as if we were the ghosts of the family. We put our improv skills to use, and also provided some music, with drum, flute, and voice. It was fun, and we learned local history while helping out the local historical society.

Now we're off to ElvenTiger's soccer playoff game. Of course, woven in and around all this activity is a bunch of other stuff, including lots of conversations about a wide variety of topics. ElvenTiger plans to make some applesauce this weekend, from some local apples we were given. We have a family potluck tomorrow, as well as more soccer. Life is full and rich and educational...and fun! I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into the life of an unschooled 12-year-old. Now I'm off to chauffeur her to the game!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Inanna, Sisters in Rhythm

My Mom and I went to a wonderful concert tonight. The performers were Inanna - definitely check out their website if you've never heard of (or heard) them. We've seen them before, most notably in 2004 just after my Mom got out of rehab after her major car accident. I remember that show particularly because Mom was still in a wheelchair then, and the concert was outdoors at an orchard, so I had to wheel her up the hill and through the grass. The drumming they do is so healing, though, it was definitely worth it.

Tonight's show was superb, as always. They are so inspiring! I love that they focus on encouraging women to play drums. And their new compositions are lovely - a bit more meditative and spiritual. Though they also played some of their upbeat get-you-dancing tunes, of course.

They are finishing up a new CD and are doing a Kickstarter campaign (the details are on their website) to help them raise money to finish it. If you haven't heard of Kickstarter (aren't I just a font of information tonight?), it's a very cool way for groups to raise funds (though, fair warning, there is apparently some controversy about how they choose their projects). That was how Starhawk raised the initial funds to get started with making her wonderful novel The Fifth Sacred Thing into a movie. But I digress. Check out Inanna, and support them. You can get a CD, be blessed in their prayers, wear some of their beautiful clothing that one of the members creates, or any number of other cool things, just for helping out. Drum on!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hardy Girls, Healthy Women

Last night I attended a gathering of about a dozen homeschooling Moms who are interested in learning more about empowering their pre-teen and teen daughters. It was held at the lovely home of a woman I'd "met" online. She runs an e-mail list for homeschoolers in my area (a great resource), and she's also a devoted reader and fan of this blog (which, dear readers, is very flattering indeed!). And, in one of those "Maine really is a small state" moments, it turns out that I worked with her brother for years! They're both smart, witty, kind, and really fun folks.

Anyway, she hosted a talk by a young woman named Megan from Hardy Girls, Healthy Women (HGHW), a group founded by author and activist Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown. It's based in Waterville, Maine. HGHW has been around for 11 years now, and their mission is to empower girls to be strong and confident in the face of a mainstream culture that urges them to focus primarily on their looks and the latest fashions.

The first part of the talk was sobering and disturbing. Despite the feminist activism of the past 40 years, some things are getting worse for girls and women. Recent research by the American Psychological Association shows in detail how the sexualization of girls in the media is increasing, and the damaging effects it has on their still-forming world view and self-esteem.

The empowering part was that research also demonstrates how these negative effects can be dissipated when girls learn to think critically about media images and gender stereotypes. This is particularly so when they work together with peers and with mentors close to their own age. HGHW has a whole list of programs that put girls together in groups (run by these same girls, and young women a bit older), not only to help them understand and deal with these cultural biases, but also to empower them to become activists themselves and work to make changes in their communities. They also have a whole lot of fun in the process.

It looks like the hostess of last night's gathering, who is very involved with HGHW, will be starting a group for girls ages 11-14 (or so), and I'm going to see if it's something that ElvenTiger and her friends would enjoy. She's adapting it a bit from the usual school-based programs, so it will be more useful to homeschoolers. The program will most likely be art-based, which is right up the girls' alley.

I'm so thankful I went to this event, not only because this is valuable and fascinating work, but also to finally meet the hostess in "real life." There were four or five of us Moms in attendance who are part of the new Thursday homeschool co-op, too, including the Mom of one of ElvenTiger's new friends, so that was cool. I'm also grateful for the work that Megan and the others at HGHW are doing. I've included some links in this post, in case you want to check it out for yourself and the young women in your life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Soup

Did you ever have one of those days when you have to make some food to take to an event, and you're having a busy day, and you haven't been to the grocery store? Yep, that was me, today. And yet the soup BlackLion and I made, which I'm going to call October Soup (because Leftover Soup just sounds icky), came out fabulous! It's really yummy! Here's a sort of recipe, though I don't know if it can really be duplicated.

October Soup
by Starcat and BlackLion

We started by putting a big pot on the stove and setting some water to boil, perhaps 10 or 12 cups. To the water, we added 1/4 cup of Braggs' amino acids (you could use soy sauce or tamari) and 1/4 cup of the red miso I just got from the new food co-op, and stirred them in.

Once it was boiling, we added our leftovers: 3 cups of cooked basmati rice, 1 cup of corn, 1/2 a cup of peas, and some tomato paste (probably equivalent to a 12-ounce can's worth).

In the meantime, we baked two squash that a friend gave us. We split them in half and put them face down in a baking dish with a 1/4 inch or so of water, baking them for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. They were an acorn squash and a small spaghetti squash. When they were done and had cooled, we added them to the soup.

We also added the spicing (amounts are approximate): 2 cloves garlic (crushed), 2 Tbsp. chives (chopped), 1 tsp. chipoltle hot sauce, 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. coriander, and 1 Tbsp. onion powder. We let the soup simmer for about half an hour, and then it was done. ElvenTiger had some for lunch, and proclaimed it delicious!

We brought the October Soup to homeschool group to share. I had to leave during dinner time for another event, but I'm told that it went over well, and that our chef friend even had two bowls! Huzzah for leftovers, and for necessity being the mother of invention!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

End of Soccer Season

Today Dryst has his final soccer game of the season. He's been playing on the junior varsity team for the local high school. Dryst has been playing soccer since he was six. He loves it with a fierce passion, though he's getting tired of playing in this school district, because his team rarely wins. I think it's a combination of being a rural area with less population than some of the surrounding teams, and being in an area that focuses heavily on the other kind of football. He's making the best of it, though, and wants all the playing time he can get. He'll be starting indoor soccer in a few weeks, which will take him through the winter. Then there's lacrosse in the spring, and perhaps spring soccer if we can find a team.

ElvenTiger had her last scheduled game this past weekend, though she may still have a playoff game or two (not many, as she too is in the aforementioned district, though on a travel team, not a school team). She's played since she was five, following in her brother's footsteps, and her interest in soccer is winding down. I think this may be her last season. She said she isn't interested in indoor soccer over the winter, and declined to play for the school team this fall because soccer every day was too much. ElvenTiger likes playing, but it's never been her passion, just something fun to add to her other activities. This winter she's going to be taking swim lessons - she's a great self-taught swimmer, but wants to learn the various strokes. She wants to become a lifeguard when she's old enough, too.

I've never been a sports person, and when the kids first started getting interested in team sports I was dreading having to watch all those games. Surprisingly, though, it's been fun (for the most part) going to the games and cheering them on. And since I'm only there for the kids and supporting their enjoyment, it's mystifying why some of the parents get so wound up about the games and scores! Amusing, though, most of the time. But I guess I'm a soccer Mom - the supportive kind, that is. At the end of each season I get a little sick of it, particularly all the driving we have to do for practices and games. So I'm glad to see this soccer season end, and perhaps just a wee bit sad that ElvenTiger is probably finished with it for good. On the other hand, it'll be exciting seeing what cool things she does next, and I always enjoy watching Dryst play his various sports, pouring his heart and soul into it every time he's on the field. Go team!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blogging for the Ballroom

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may know that this radical chick has a few kinda mainstream pleasures. One of them is watching Dancing With the Stars with my Mom. Yep, it's a Monday night family tradition for us. Since we don't have TV at our house, we go and watch with her, and we usually have dinner together first.

A lot of the celebrities aren't that familiar to us since we don't really keep up with all the pop culture stuff, but perhaps that means we're better able to judge them for their dancing and for the way they act on the show itself. Also, Mom calls us each Tuesday night with the scoop, after she checks out the results show. I'm actually glad to miss the part where they make a big drama over who's getting eliminated next. I think it would stress me out. Heh heh.

So, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the current dancers and their chances to win. Here goes:

David Arquette - He kind of creeped me out at first; I'm not sure why. But he's got style and can perform the character of the dance quite well. He's also gotten more confident with his dancing. I think he's got good potential, if he keeps up the hard work. He actually was kind of handsome in his last couple of dances.

Chaz Bono - I'm glad the fans have kept him coming back thus far. As my Mom said, it's good to see him stick around, to show the people who protest his presence on the show as a trans-gendered person that not everyone is a bigot. On the other hand, he can't really dance very well, and the show is about dancing. He has shown some improvement, and I admire his courage and tenacity.

Nancy Grace - So far she's shown herself to be an adequate dancer. She's okay, but not great. Also, her aggressive attitude seems kind of negative - I guess that's what she's known for on her own show, but I've never seen it. It's kind of off-putting to me.

Rob Kardashian - It's been fun watching him learn to dance and gain self-confidence. I know really nothing about him, but I've watched him go from looking like an awkward kid to tonight's dance, where he was sexy and powerful. He has great potential if he can keep up the good work.

Carson Kressley - He's another dancer whose fans have kept him in the competition so far. He's tremendous fun to watch, and is a natural entertainer. I don't want him to go, but again, it's really about the dancing, and he's still rather awkward and missing a lot of steps, at a time when the competition is heating up. We'll see.

Ricki Lake - She's doing a wonderful job. I love the way she portrays the stories of the dance, and her technique is also high quality. I think she can make it to the top. She has, besides her own good qualities, two great things going for her: her partner is Derek, who I think is hands-down the best teacher and choreographer on the show, and she's in love (she mentioned it in one of the episodes), which helps her shine even more than she might otherwise.

J.R. Martinez - He is an excellent dancer - tonight his dance was just top-notch. His story is really amazing, and I think since he found the will to overcome adversity (he was burned and injured severely in a war), he can do anything he puts his mind to. He'll most likely be at least one of the top three, if not the winner of the competition.

Hope Solo - Athletes do really well on the show, and that's because they make a living working with their bodies, like dancers. I think Hope's doing a great job! She definitely has the potential to win. Her partner, Max, can be a sort of grouchy teacher, and tends to have some drama with his students (he's the sexiest pro, in my opinion, but not the best teacher). But if they can overcome that, she can do very well.

There you have it, a very non-expert view of the ballroom from my parents' living room!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Aha! We've Figured You Out, Percy.

Several times each evening, Percy comes in, gets petted or perhaps has a few bites of food, and goes back out. We call him the "in and out cat." Eventually he'll (usually) come in for the night, and find a place to sleep on someone's bed or in various other warm and cozy places.

This evening I had a headache. I've had a weird persistent cough, and today it seemed to be associated with an achy head and neck. I made some honey-mustard dipping sauce, got the sweet potato "fries" in the oven, and then asked Quester to take over the rest of the dinner preparations. I just had to lie down for a little while. He kindly agreed, and I went up to my room, snuggled up in my bed, and crashed for a while.

Part of the way through my little nap, Percy showed up. He purred and cuddled up close in one of those lovely cat circles. He and I slept a bit more. When ElvenTiger came to wake me up for dinner, she said that she and Quester had come up with a theory. Perhaps the reason Percy comes in and out so much is that he's checking out what everyone is up to, and hoping he can get a good snuggle. So imagine his surprise and pleasure when he showed up at 6:30pm and his Mom-cat was already in bed. Come to think of it, he did seem a bit disappointed when I went down to eat. And he has since been out, and just came back in. Maybe I'll go to bed early. You just don't want to disappoint a stripey purring cat!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday at the Homestead

After a whole lot of rain in a fairly short amount of time, the moon came out last night. I saw its pretty light from my bed, and then woke this morning to a sunny and windy October day. Got some sheets out on the line to dry; that is, if they don't blow away!

Dryst's soccer game was canceled, so Quester took him to run a few errands. Dryst got a nice haircut, and reserved his Skyrim X-Box game. I'm taking he and some friends to the midnight game release in just a few weeks. He also set up some time tomorrow for some friends to come and visit. We haven't seen them at homeschool group for a while, as their Mom is away visiting family and their Dad works full-time.

ElvenTiger had a soccer game today. She rested up for that, had chili for lunch, and watched some old episodes of The Addams Family on Netflix. She's gearing up for Halloween, as she wants to be either Wednesday (the older version, from the movies) or Morticia.

With some input from both Quester and BlackLion, I finished the next round of editing for a magazine article and sent it off to my editor. BlackLion and I also created a "punch list" for what we need to finish for the Core Belief Kit. I'm so excited that we're almost done, at long last! We had the idea several years ago, but for various reasons (including some inner blockages that we've both had to work through), it got delayed. But now we're ready and very psyched to be able to put it out into the world! And at the same time we'll be launching our new personal spirituality coaching service. So it's a very creative, busy, and fulfilling time for Feline Dreamers. Yay!

Right now it's time for A Prairie Home Companion, with awesome bluegrassy duo Gillian Welch and David Rawlings as the special guests. Spaghetti sauce is simmering merrily on the stove. We're ready to relax, and perhaps play some games. Tomorrow, there's more soccer in store for us, and some extra teen boys hanging around. Should be fun!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cuddly Cats for a Rainy Friday Evening...

What do I do when I can't think of anything I want to write about? I post some cat pictures! That will keep everyone occupied for a few minutes, going "aww!" Then no one will recall that this post didn't contain much actual written content. That's my nefarious plan...mwahahahaha! Enjoy these beauteous felines!

Sir Percival Lovecat, aka Percy

The brothers enjoying a post-picnic nap

Cuddy brother cats!

"Dude, you make an excellent pillow!"

Merlin Lovecat, aka Merles, decked out with a mohawk

Our kitten cousin, Cali

Our dear beloved friend Huzzah, enjoying the sunshine (he passed away as an old man of 18-and-a-half in late 2008)

My Mystick - I still miss him (he died suddenly at the young age of 3, in 2009)

What? She's a cat!

OK, Star's not really a cat. But she's adorable!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It Sounds So Simple

Okay, I'm going to share a profound bit of wisdom that I've discovered this fall. Are you ready? Here we go: when you stop trying so hard, release a bit of control and clinging, and let go, then things flow more smoothly your way. Sounds so simple, huh? And yet I don't think I'm alone in having to learn this particular bit of wisdom, by experience, again and again...and again.

I wanted to make some new friends this fall, ones who share my interests, laugh with me, and enjoy being with me. I also wanted the same for ElvenTiger, who had been growing apart from a couple of her friends, as they become teens and the one- or two-year age difference seems bigger. Guess what? The new homeschool co-op we joined has brought us both delightful, budding new friendships. I relaxed about my intention, and the universe offered us this vibrant new community.

I've been working to unite my career, my creative callings, and my prosperity, as longtime readers will know. I did a fabulous program of affirmations this fall (more about that soon, as I'm going to be writing a testimonial for the amazing woman I've been working with). Much of it was focused on letting go of old programming on money and allowing things to flow. And guess what? Some old blockages have melted away, my business is in an exciting stage of releasing new products and services, and while I can't (yet) say that my bank account is overflowing, new energies are stirring.

BlackLion and I had been talking about adding personal spirituality coaching to our services, without yet mentioning it to anyone outside the immediate family. A day or two later, a friend contacted us to ask if we did coaching. Why yes, yes we do! Now she's helping us to refine our process of coaching, while she (hopefully) gets the boost she's looking for.

For me, it's true that if you ask, you will receive. It's the part about allowing the answer to manifest that many of us seem to get hung up on. Why do we make it so complex? It's really very simple. I'm hoping I can remember that, but if I don't, I'm sure the lesson will come around again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Must-Have Music

Today is (was) Quester's birthday. When I'd asked him for suggestions for what he wanted for gifts, he gave me a list of CDs, being quite the music aficionado. The one I grabbed turned out to be the most excellent new music I've heard for a long time. The band (as well as the album) is called Superheavy. The all-star performers? Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart (of the Euryhthmics), Joss Stone, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley (yes, of THE Marleys), and A.R. Rahman. I most highly recommend it. I mean it. Buy this record!

And thus ends this rather short post, because I had one of those "oh crap, it's almost midnight and I haven't posted yet for today!" moments. Happy Birthday my dear Quester!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Brown Thumb Guilt

Confession time: I don't really like gardening. I love the idea of gardening. I enjoy being outside. I don't mind bugs and worms that much. I compost. I love how the plants look and smell. I adore vegetables - I'm very happy being a vegetarian, and I love trying new veggies. I love to cook them. But growing them...not so much.

I thought I'd like it. Well, though, there is my theory about being either an animal person or a plant person. And I've always been an animal lover, so... I do feel bad about my gardening lack of joy. And I'm not even sure what I don't like about it. Perhaps it's mostly just not knowing what I should be doing, or how to listen to the plants, or whatever. Maybe if I take a class, or learn from a friend, or just keep trying... And I will.

In the meantime, I do what I can to support those who love gardening. Such as: shop at local farm stands, ooh and ahh over beautiful gardens, offer space here on the land for them to use. Perhaps some of those among my family and friends who enjoy gardening will just grow my fruits and veggies for me. I promise to cook you many lovely and delicious meals!