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

Monday, January 31, 2011

No Problem

"Whenever possible, minimize the importance of a problem. Forget a problem and it will go away. Dumb advice, surely, or so it seems. Yet children know the truth of it. Minimize impediments in your mind and they do become minimized. Exaggerate impediments in your mind and in reality they will quickly adopt giant size." - Seth through Jane Roberts

Sunday, January 30, 2011

On the Big Screen

Last fall we bought a big computer monitor-style TV from our friend Sash - it's hooked up to a computer, not cable or anything like that. But we can watch DVDs and Netflix on it, so it works well for family movie nights. Since we're still in the depths of winter (*tiny sob*), we've been curled up on the couch with some popcorn lately, watching movies and some TV series. Here are a few of our recent favorites.

- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You may be surprised to hear, if you know how much I like fantasy and sci-fi, that I had never watched any of these shows until last year. I didn't have TV when they came out, and the ultra-useful Netflix hadn't yet been invented. BlackLion is a huge Buffy fan, and now he's got ElvenTiger and I hooked. We're in the middle of the third season, and loving it. This is an awesome and amazing series. Wow. Funny, touching, scary, smart, and addictive.

- Corinna, Corinna. ElvenTiger and I watched this with a friend just last night. Whoopi Goldberg plays the lead, and she's terrific as always. I loved the story. It sparked great discussions about the social mores of the 1950s. Very good film.

- The Secret Garden. ElvenTiger read the book for her book club, and she watched the modern movie version and enjoyed it. We watched the old BBC movie version together, and I thought it was well done. I loved the book when I was a kid. ElvenTiger said she liked the newer version of the movie better, but she did appreciate how the BBC one seemed "more old-fashioned."

- Dirty Dancing. After enjoying watching Jennifer Grey win "Dancing With the Stars" with my Mom, we decided to get this classic 80s film. It's one of my favorites. The kids liked it, even Dryst, and it showed them another glimpse of American history and culture. It makes me cry, too, every time.

- Physics: The Elegant Universe and Beyond. Brian Greene hosts this series which explores quantum mechanics and string theory. It's really well done, and explains concepts in a clear way that all of us can understand. A fun way to delve into abstract science.

- Family Guy. Okay, I admit I don't get this one. I really don't find it funny. But I thought I should share some stuff that Dryst has been enjoying. It cracks him up. Several of his friends love it, too. And I can see the appeal - the show makes fun of, thus acknowledging, all the taboo subjects that usually remain hidden in our culture.

- Wizards of Waverly Place. The kids both like some of these "teen sitcom" shows. Again, not something I sit and watch with them, but I've seen enough to get the idea. Seems formulaic to me, but I think they're really checking out the teen scene. And this one has magic, so hey, that's cool, right?

- Psych. Another series that Dryst found and is enjoying. It's a crime drama, so again, not my thing. But the premise is based on the photographic memory of the main character, which is so unbelievable to most people that instead of explaining it, he pretends to be psychic. Pretty funny. And again, a catalyst for diverse conversations around the homestead.

- Eat, Pray, Love. Definitely too "girly" for Dryst, but ElvenTiger, my Mom, and I enjoyed it. It wasn't as in-depth as the book, which I enjoyed quite a bit, but that's to be expected with movies. We liked it and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes "chick flicks" (which BlackLion does, so you don't have to be a girl!).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yes, It's Still Winter

These Maine winters can be, well, long. I mean, it's only the end of January, and we'll probably have snow at least through early April. Think about it. I'm already tired of the cold. The appeal has even worn thin for ElvenTiger, who loves snow. Every day lately, it's been either very bitterly cold, or actually snowing. This afternoon, though, the sun is shining and the snow on the trees looks incredibly beautiful. As a friend said, it's more fun to have a "real Maine winter" than a snow-less, brown and dreary landscape. I agree.

What have we been up to? Well, let's see. Here's a sampling of our indoor projects for the cold and snowy days: making origami animals, creating new Indian food recipes, reading to each other, baking, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (though Dryst prefers Family Guy...which I just don't find funny at all), having sleepovers with friends, chatting, playing Webkinz (yes, even the adults), having pillow fights in the living room, playing board and card games, sleeping late, and playing with the (rather bored) cats. Dryst wants to learn Spanish. ElvenTiger hosted the girls' book club on Tuesday. BlackLion and I interviewed one of our young unschooly friends, AresRules, for our PawedCats Podcast. We're also writing a new e-book. Quester has been busy working and snow-blowing. This weekend it's our turn to host the monthly family potluck. The theme this time is A Warming Winter Brunch.

Each Wednesday we have homeschool group, and even though it has snowed the past three Wednesdays in a row, we've ventured out anyway. We've got the trusty Subaru, and the other families seem to agree that it's worthwhile braving the weather to hang out with our friends. Last night we had enchiladas, played Zombie dice, talked about a wide variety of subjects, the boys played X-Box together, and the girls went to the mall (to give some fashion advice to one of their tribe who wanted to get some clothes with her birthday money).

So, we've been keeping busy and having fun. And, of course, dreaming of spring. I'm off to curl up in the sunlight with a book. Meow!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Loving My Self

“You can never love another person unless you are equally involved in the beautiful but difficult spiritual work of learning to love yourself. There is within each of us, at the soul level, an enriching fountain of love.” – John O’Donohue

Since quitting my day job a couple years ago and following my calling, I've been focused on creating the life I want. I've been revamping old beliefs, learning to trust that the universe really will provide for me and mine, and becoming more fully myself. My specific wishes - for a steady income, an addition on our home, travel, and the like - have been refined to an overall desire to be happy. I've learned that when we focus on being happy, the circumstances we want will naturally flow to us.

Yet somehow there has seemed to be a blockage, something holding me back from the full expression of my creativity and happiness. Something that prevents me from allowing my dreams to come true. Just this week, I read the words of a woman who, in the same situation, had decided to focus on self-love. She wrote, "I didn't have to concentrate on being happy too much because I already was. I found, however, there was another factor in the equation. Unless you really love yourself and believe yourself to be a worthwhile and wonderful person, you will sabotage your happiness." Aha!

Self-love isn't something that comes naturally to me. I was a shy and awkward child and I absorbed a lot of that "I don't fit in" energy, and felt bad about it. These days I value the fact that I'm a weird and funky person. And yet I still tend to criticize myself a lot and wish I could do better - which works well for urging me to grow and change as a person...but can be harsh. And, apparently, can block the very growth I'm looking for. The author went on to describe how she had changed her beliefs about herself by writing up a series of positive statements about herself and reading them each night before she went to sleep. I'm going to try it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter Photo Essay

I thought it was time to share some images of what we've been up to so far this winter. Here goes!

We've been partying with our friends.

The boys won the New Year's Eve competition, hands-down, with their hilarious skit.

We've been playing lots and lots of games: board games, video games, card games, dice games, and role-playing games.

The cats have had a bit of cabin fever.

We've been reading (individually and together), crafting, cooking, baking, and writing.

We went sledding.

We celebrated some birthdays, including ElvenTiger's.

Sure, it's been cold, so we've been on the computer a lot.

But we've also been out taking walks.

Along with, of course, the usual dinner discussions, watching movies together, chatting with friends, sleepovers, and well, life. Hope your winter is full of fun and friends and learning, too!

Darkness and Poetry

Here's a poem I wrote recently. I went back and forth on whether to post it, since it's kind of dark. I fully realize the need for balance, and the value of darkness. But there's already a whole "news and entertainment" industry set up to spread that message. Anyway, I decided to share the poem after all, since my Word of the Year is "create," and creativity can be inspired by a wide range of emotions and experiences.

To the Angel

Being human is not for me.
Is it too late to reconsider
This experiment in
Blood & flesh & bone,
Tears & fears & sorrows?
Yes, I know it is,
For me, caught in these
Everyday dramas,
Cautious creations,
Resplendent yearnings.
At night I dream myself home,
Back in the realm of
Light & joy & brilliance,
Where the mysteries
Are familiar,
The love is felt, always,
And I am not so
Desperately alone.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cake of the Month: January, part 2

The second Cake of the Month for January, ElvenTiger’s birthday cake, was quite a success! I created my own recipe, after doing a bunch of research online and in cookbooks. My Mom, BlackLion, and ElvenTiger all helped out in various ways (and thanks to Jen-Mom for two of the pictures, below!). The recipe is called Caramel-Chocolate Layer Cake. Not a very clever title, but it describes it well. And it was delicious!

The cake itself was very tasty, although I found it a bit too dry. I’m going to increase the amount of liquid and try it again. The Caramel Filling, which went inside, was amazing, though my recipe made too much. We ended up making the leftovers into a drizzle for the top of the cake by adding melted chocolate. We still have some drizzle left in a jar in the fridge, designated as an ice cream topping. The Caramel Frosting came out perfect – it has the Caramel Filling as one of the ingredients. I hope to improve my cake decorating skills over the course of this project, but I thought it looked funky and cute with the candles, and ElvenTiger loved it.

The leftover Caramel Frosting topped some brownies I made for a friend’s birthday party the following night. They were well received, particularly by the female party guests, although BlackLion thought they were a bit too intense. Hee hee!

By the way, this cake is by no means low-calorie or vegan! It has eggs from a friend’s farm, real butter, cream, and plenty of sugar. If you’re watching how much of those things you eat, don’t worry – some of my future cakes won’t be quite so rich and decadent. I can also make some rather tasty health-conscious creations.

I’m still tweaking the recipe, but if you’d like a copy, contact me and I’ll send you one when it’s ready. You can reach me by leaving a comment here on the blog, through Facebook, or via the Contact page at http://www.felinedreamers.com.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside

"The appreciation that Source feels for you, never-endingly, will wrap you in a warm blanket of worthiness if you will allow it." - Abraham through Esther Hicks

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Riding the Waves

A dear friend of mine recently posted this quote on her Facebook status: "It's okay to not be okay." - Robin Benwa. On the day I read it, it was something I really needed to hear. Since the Winter Solstice, I've been noticing lots of ups and downs in my day-to-day emotions and stress levels. Other people have mentioned feeling intense energies recently, too, and it may have to do with the astrological tides or other phenomena.

On a personal level, I think I'm still recovering from the holidays and all the social events, and all the hard work I put into getting ready for the festivities. I'm an introvert, so even though I very much enjoy parties and gatherings, I need down time to recharge afterward.

The thing is, I'd felt so positive and strong during the dark time of the year, when I was focused inward, that for some reason my recent lulls felt like a problem I needed to fix. We humans often do that - if we don't feel happy and positive, we start to feel like something is wrong with us. We think we need to take action, to make immediate changes, to "get better."

Actually, our emotions are there to guide us, but perhaps not in the way we might first assume. Rather than rushing around trying to comfort ourselves, or making sudden, not especially well-thought-out changes, what if we just abide where we are? We can just sit and feel the feelings, and notice what associated thoughts they bring up. Rather than judging the feelings as "not okay," what if we just let them happen, riding the waves of our emotions? What if we just have a good cry when we feel like it?

I find that when I stop and listen, and take some time to meditate, the unpleasant storm of emotions begins to still. My feelings are released, rather than stored or blocked. If I let them go, it's easier to move forward. My usual state of optimism naturally re-emerges. Then I have the space to come up with inspired actions, from a centered state of being.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Cake of the Month: January, part 1

My original plan for January's Cake of the Month was to make ElvenTiger a special cake for her 12th birthday. She requested a layer cake with chocolate and caramel, and I've started doing some research. For the most part, I plan to create my own cake recipes, so I can share them on the blog and perhaps write a cookbook at some point.

In the meantime, a friend had decided to organize a surprise baby shower for the lovely founder and hostess of our local Red Temple group. So, when we started planning the details, it seemed obvious that I would make her a special cake! Our founder, you see, has been a big fan and supporter of all my creative efforts, which I really appreciate. And she also expressed a strong interest in helping out with the cake project...by tasting the results, of course! Plus, she's just an all-around wonderful person and caring friend. So here is the very first Cake of the Month, pumpkin chocolate-chip cake with vanilla frosting!

Unfortunately, I can't share the recipe for this one. I co-wrote it, and I'm under a legal agreement with the co-authors of the cookbook it will appear in, so I can't publish this recipe. However, stay tuned, because January will have two cakes! I'm going to create the recipe for ElvenTiger's birthday cake, and I'll share it with you later in the month. Bon appetit!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Tarot Tracking 2010

“Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice.” – E. M. Forster

I'm definitely a chronicler of life, as posts like this one prove, but I've also delved into practice. In this case, a daily spiritual practice which includes a three-card daily Tarot reading. I note the day's cards and events, keeping track of how many of each card I draw over time. At the end of the calendar year, I like to return to the cards I drew most often to evaluate what they meant for me that year.

Here are my most significant cards for 2010:

1. The Hermit: solitude, inner exploration, shining my light in the darkness, introspection, seeking, a time to observe but keep silent, spiritual advancement

2. Knave of wands: (knaves are catalysts, taking risks, the need for study) adventurous, seeking new directions for self-growth, uninhibited

3. 10 of cups: (tens relate to completion, satisfaction, and responsibility) the blessings of family and community, joy, optimism, thankfulness

4. 5 of swords: (fives are about struggle, confusion, and change) being challenged, seeking answers to questions, mental angst

5. 4 of pentacles: (fours describe stability, order, a desire for security, and inward focus) establishing order, material concerns, home and hearth

6. 6 of pentacles: (sixes are about sharing, generosity, and expression) exchange of energy, giving and receiving, sharing resources

7. King of pentacles:(kings are concerned with mastery, authority, power, and being limited by one's own rules) established roles, being practical, concern with security and quality, being slow to change, material well-being

Compared with last year's cards, there is still quite a strong earth influence here, but there are also changes and new self-understanding. Money issues were still a big focus this year, yet the ways I've dealt with the stresses surrounding them have been evolving. I'm thankful for all the help I've received. I feel like 2010 was spent establishing the foundation for success in that arena.

Self-exploration and contemplation were a huge part this cycle. After a major conflict with a friend during the first part of the year, I began questioning who I am and how I relate to others and the world in general. The loss of the friendship sparked a lot of mental angst, but the questions raised were of great value. I took time to delve into these questions in a positive and thorough way, observing and learning more about myself. I was also able to turn that light back out, sharing some of my findings through writing and teaching.

I continue to be blessed with amazing family, friends, and community. My gratitude for these blessings overflows. My natural optimism is buoyed by my loved ones and their support and love. My home is my sanctuary, and being able to share it with my favorite people has been a joy this year. In these ways, I am wealthy beyond measure.

This year has found me ready and willing to take on the adventure of being more fully myself. I've discovered that there are those who love me unconditionally, just as I am. And I've also found that trying to please those who don't is a worthless pursuit. I've always been introspective, yet the second part of being The Hermit is key - to share my discoveries, to turn the light outward and shine it freely. No, not everyone will be interested, but there will be those who are, and I can help uplift them. As we share our wisdom with each other, we all benefit.

In 2011, I'm ready to create an even more exciting and powerful life. As I follow my callings, walk the path of the spirit, and honor my creativity, I can't help but succeed!

Goals for 2011

I've been musing on my goals for 2011, and a few weeks ago I came up with my Word of the Year, which is CREATE. This word will be my touchstone for the year - all of my other goals are steeped in it. Today I sat down with my notes for various things I want to create, but I wasn't sure how to put it all together. Based on BlackLion's creative suggestion, I'm going to organize them into categories based on the five elements, which I find very appropriate given the focus I had in 2010. I've been doing a lot of in-depth study of the elements and the points of the pentacle, and this way of grouping my goals feels right. Some of them could probably fit in more than one element, but these are the associations that worked best given my intentions. So, here they are:

Air: I write and publish books and articles. I explore paper arts and crafts, such as collage, origami, and scrapbooking. My Cake of the Month project involves creating or finding a recipe, baking and decorating a fancy cake, and posting the results on my blog (with pictures) each month.

Fire: I am increasing my self-confidence and power-from-within, thus creating myself anew. I agree to participate in events and projects only if they feel like a passionate "yes!" to me. I discover and take the next steps of self-exploration and activism based on my work with the Iron Pentacle.

Water: I cultivate positive relationships with my favorite people and make new friends who I enjoy spending time with. I remember and record my dreams and use the imagery for my creative and spiritual projects. I use the Voyager Tarot to deepen my intuition.

Earth: I make a living by sharing my creativity with the world. I drum in sacred space and see where it takes me. I take regular walks and hikes, exploring the world around me as the seasons change. I help create a vibrant vegetable garden and share the harvest with my family and friends.

Spirit: I gather with others in circle to explore spirituality in community. I attune my body, mind, and spirit through the regular practice of yoga. I explore the non-physical planes through out-of-body travel and I have full recall of my adventures. I bring back wisdom to help me on my spiritual path.