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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Course of Study

I'm doing an impromptu course of study, mostly of Buddhism but also other systems of examining the mind and emotions. I've mentioned here how I enjoy reading epic fantasy and other types of fiction. But I usually also have some kind of non-fiction, usually spiritual, book going as well. The last three that I've read have had a huge impact on my life and spiritual journey. They offer philosophy that resonates with me, backed up with super-useful practical tools to use in my daily life.

BlackLion has joined me in this latest venture, perhaps because it's spontaneous rather than planned. He says it's helping him a lot with his grieving process. Tonight I announced with a smile that the next book in our study is the one I'm reading now (by Jack Kornfield), and held it up. Quester looked a bit confused, and asked who we were doing the spiritual book club with, and I laughed and explained that it wasn't really a book club, just serendipity.

Here is the book list thus far, in case you're curious. I recommend all three of them highly!

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears by Pema Chodron
The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology by Jack Kornfield

Monday, June 27, 2011

Those Who Are Left Behind

Death comes in many ways.
Sudden as a hawk
Swooping down.
Long and painful,
A drawn-out parting.
Or soft and gentle
As the tide ebbing out.

Those who are left behind
To puzzle things out
Are never ready.
Not ready to say goodbye,
Even if we keep faith
That we'll be reunited.
Yes, even then.

We wish one more day,
An hour, a moment,
With our beloved one.
We want to see them smile,
Just one more time,
Or ten, or twenty-three,
And to give them our best blessings.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Getting the Word Out

I'm a writer. I write mostly non-fiction articles, essays, and books on spirituality and learning to live consciously. And that's how I want to earn a living, or at least contribute to my family's financial needs. It sounds simple, huh? I even have confidence in my art. I've been practicing for a long time, I have interesting things to say, and I think that lots of people would like to read what I write.

The thing is, how do I get the word out? The traditional "submit to a literary agent or publisher" route is one of my avenues, certainly, although it's well known for only being rarely accessible, and the online world has changed everything. For our Feline Dreamers business, BlackLion and I are trying various social networking, viral marketing type ventures, but we don't really know much about marketing, so we're mostly feeling around in the dark. We'd like to increase our audience from the low hundreds to, oh, millions, ideally! Most of the "write online articles for money" gigs that I've found are only interested in topics I either know nothing about or sound deadly boring. That's a sure way to kill creativity.

Just recently, I've had two magazines interested in having me write an article for them. Not huge magazines, but respectable and hip. So that's the next step. After mulling ideas over in my head (always my first step), I'm in the process of sitting down to create the first drafts. This could lead to something big! It's another step towards my writing goals. What am I afraid of?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

300th Post!

Welcome to the 300th post on this blog! I started with the first post back in January of 2006. My thanks to JWL for helping me set it up, and for hosting it on the Freakwitch website for the first few years. I enjoy blogging, and having a place like this to share my personal musings and our family's adventures is a lot of fun. I've discovered summer is a bit of a busy time to keep up with a blog challenge, but I'm going to do my best to blog frequently anyway.

So, what's up today? We had some weekend plans, but for various reasons they were postponed. I was disappointed at first, but the book I'm reading has helped me just be present with what is. It's a fabulous book, "Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears" by Pema Chodron. I highly recommend it, and for those of you who don't have much reading time, it's only 100 pages long, so go for it! I've been doing some introspection this week, and feeling the beginnings of a new transformation at this turn of the seasons. This blog entry by T. Thorne Coyle asks some of the questions I've been asking myself lately.

Our new e-mail list, Making Your Life a Masterpiece, has already taken off and is blossoming. Please join us if you're inspired to explore spirituality in a fun online community. Not much else to tell, I guess. We enjoyed some strawberry picking this week, as part of our celebration of the Summer Solstice, and I think today we're going to make some strawberry gelato. Thanks for reading my blog! I hope you find it enjoyable! Have a fun and interesting weekend, all.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Arrives With a Fanfare of Clouds and Sunshine

Every Winter Solstice, for many years now, I stay up all night and greet the Sun at dawn. This has become a tradition for us on the longest night of the year. This year, BlackLion and I decided to stay awake all day on the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. I'm a confirmed night owl, so sunrise isn't something I see very often. And when I do, I'm usually hustling off to do something else, like getting to the radio station in time to fund-raise during Morning Edition. So this was a special treat.

Merlin cat obliged me by waking me up at 4:30am. Apparently he and his brother also had plans to greet the emerging day. Out they went. Star-dog and I sat in the living room and enjoyed the birds' songs and watched pink clouds through the windows. When BlackLion joined us, we went outside to the circle of oaks and soaked up the experience of dawn.

The clouds paraded by, their tops lit by the rising sun. The cats followed us, curious what we were up to. We could see the moon, high in the sky. The birds continued their serenade to the waking earth. A squirrel passed by, way up in the trees. We greeted the Summer in our own quiet way, and it was lovely.

Ideas for today, once the kids are up: strawberry picking, swimming, a picnic, and perhaps even a fire, later, when we begin to wind down with the longest day. Happy Summer Solstice!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Making Your Life a Masterpiece

BlackLion and I have just started a new Yahoo group and would like to invite you to check it out and join us if you wish. We wanted to create a place for people who are walking their own spiritual paths but are looking for community and support.

"Making Your Life A Masterpiece" is a place for those of us who are following our own unique joyful spiritual paths. Living consciously is a creative journey. You are the artist, and life is your palette!

The vision for this new community: We share our thoughts, ideas, tools, quotes, and other resources. We give and receive feedback on our day-to-day challenges and triumphs. We help inspire each other to new heights. We create space to unite our strengths and work together on projects. We help each other brainstorm new ideas and creations. We share our energies, and have lots of fun in the process! Everyone has something to offer.

Come on in and join the party! Live the life you’ve intended for yourself and your loved ones, while celebrating with friends in a spiritual community that values reverence and mirth. Let's create!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Why I Love Facebook

Facebook has become an extremely popular social networking tool - which in itself is a fairly new phrase to describe relating to other people online. Yet despite the large number of people using it, I hear a lot of complaints about Facebook, too. Some people are afraid that their personal information will be stolen or co-opted for some nefarious purpose. Others find it to be a "time-waster," or complain about how other people use it.

I have to admit that I actually love using Facebook. Why? Well, the main reason is that I like to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances without having to use the phone. I really don't like phones much, and never have. I'm a writer, so it makes sense that I'd prefer the written world of e-mail and even (gasp!) snail-mail letters (yes, I do have two or three people I correspond with using pens, stationery, and stamps). Facebook seems to be a mutually convenient way to keep in touch, even for those who aren't drawn to long written communications. And photos are fairly easy to post, thus allowing us to share glimpses into each others' daily lives.

Also, because I own my own business, which I'm trying to expand, Facebook is a great way to network. I can post blogs, send out meaningful quotes, and let folks know what's going on. And if they're not interested, they can just breeze right by it, without having to delete stuff like they would an e-mail.

Facebook has also sparked my creativity, many times. I have a diverse group of friends, and often they'll say something or share a quote that I might not have run across otherwise. It helps inspire me with new ideas and send my thoughts off in previously unknown directions. Photos, links, videos...and all for free, and collected in one easy place. I'm not one for surfing randomly around the web, but this way I can still discover lots of cool things pretty easily.

And finally, I can connect with people all around the country and the world who share my interests. Some of the things that I love just aren't part of the mainstream, like unschooling, vegetarianism, and Pagan spirituality. But I can find plenty of others to talk with about those passions, and make connections that I can follow up on later with a face-to-face meeting. It's a lot of fun! Come on over and befriend me if you like - my Facebook name is Nikki Shields, and I'm from Maine. You can also find me through our Feline Dreamers page on Facebook. Chat with you later!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

One Word

I saw this on Zenmomma's blog and wanted to play, too. Having a mellow rainy evening here. Skip-Bo, nachos, and e-town on the radio.

Yourself: chillin'
Your partner: loving
Your hair: longish
Your mother: amazing
Your father: funny
Your favorite item: journal
Your dream last night: flowery
Your favorite drink: water
Your dream car: hybrid
Your dream home: larger
The room you are in: dining
Your ex: who?
Your fear: loss
Where you want to be in ten years: happy
Who you hung out with last night: family
What you're not: done
Muffins: raspberry
One of your wish list items: money
Time: plenty
The last thing you did: read
What you are wearing: sweater
Your favorite weather: sunny
Your favorite book: many
Last thing you ate: nachos
Your life: good
Your mood: relaxed
Your Best Friends: awesome
What are you thinking about right now: writing
Your car: Subaru
What are you doing at the moment: thinking
Your summer: grateful
Relationship status: complicated
What is on your tv: WoW
What is the weather like: misty
When is the last time you laughed: earlier

The Sixties Reborn

“When in the flow of human events it becomes necessary for the people to cease to recognize the obsolete social patterns which had isolated man from his consciousness and to create with the youthful energies of the world revolutionary communities to which the two-billion-year-old life process entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind should declare the causes which impel them to this creation.

“We hold these experiences to be self-evident, that all is equal, that the creation endows us with certain inalienable rights, that among these are: the freedom of the body, the pursuit of joy, and the expansion of consciousness, and that to secure these rights, we the citizens of the earth declare our love and compassion for all conflicting hate-carrying men and women of the world.” – The editors of the San Francisco Oracle, 1966

Monday, June 06, 2011

Proving the Rule

Well, they say the exception proves the rule. I guess if my blogging challenge was a rule, then the past week was the exception! I was so busy over the past couple of weeks that blogging wasn't the only thing that fell by the wayside. My yoga practice suffered, as did my daily journal writing. And it's just today that we've reclaimed the house from its somewhat, er, messy state.

Luckily, we now have a working camera, so we can share a couple of photos with you. The most exciting thing we've been involved with was the handfasting and wedding of a lovely couple who are dear friends of ours. I don't want to share any photos of other folks without their permission, but here are a couple with only my family appearing in them.

I called Water in the handfasting ritual, and ElvenTiger was my helper. Note the matching outfits! We're standing in the West, and you can see an example of the pretty dyed silk ribbons that decorated all the quarters of the circle. We helped dye the ribbons for Earth.

And here we are playing the drums for the procession. This photo shows us as we're about to exit the circle. From left to right, that's ElvenTiger, Quester, myself, and BlackLion.

We had such a marvelous time! It was a great joy to be able to share in the celebration of such a magickal and beloved couple. I'll write more later, but just wanted to say hello and share a glimpse of what I've been up to. I hope you're having fun, too!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New Moon in June

Happy New Moon, and month of June! Around here, the weather has been just lovely this week, after a bunch of rain. We have some fun gatherings to attend (and host) this month. The first one is coming up this weekend, which is the wedding of a very special couple. I'm delighted and honored to be participating in the ceremony. I'm calling Water, but I'll be careful not to ask for rain, since the handfasting portion of the day is being held outside.

The new moon brings the energy of new beginnings and exploration. According to Starsdance Astrology's blog, this particular new moon is a good time to explore one's deepest desires. And according to my Rob Brezsny horoscope, the coming weeks are a perfect time for me to do things which I've been told just can't be done. Which is what? It's quite obvious, in my case - I've been told repeatedly that I can't make a living as a writer, and I had the misfortune of believing it. I guess I'll be focused on submitting more of my writings this month. I'm trying various avenues: looking for a literary agent, sending letters directly to publishers, and submitting articles to magazines. Time to ramp it up!

Hope is easier to find at this time of year, and as the moon waxes. I'll polish off my finest literary gems and share them with the world, as well as carefully cutting some new ones. In between, of course, gardening workshops, a big anniversary, family potlucks, a milestone birthday celebration for an old friend, and a fireside gathering or two. Summer's here! Who wants to play?

P.S. Here's a little more inspiration, for the road. Enjoy!