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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cake of the Month: April, Part 1

I don't have a picture to share with you, as April's cake has yet to be made. We had planned a birthday gathering tonight for a dear friend who I'll call Ocean Mouse (because she lives near the ocean and loves mice), but she had to have a medical procedure done today, instead. I'm not sure when we'll be having the celebration, but we sent along a homemade card and a promise of cake with Quester and another friend who were going down to keep her company.

I do have some cake news, though, so I thought I'd share some tidbits to tide you over. First, the sad news - when we had our external hard drive failure early this month, I lost the cake recipes I'd created so far this year. Now, there may be a way to get our data back, or there may not. I'm taking it as a lesson in impermanence...and backing up things in multiple places. We already do that with much of our writing, so most of that stuff was saved, but recipes and photos took the hit. Ah well.

In other cake news, ElvenTiger and I recently started watching the show "Cake Boss" on Netflix. We love it! Not so much for the entertainment factor, although it can be pretty funny. But mostly to see the amazing cakes, and how they're made and decorated! I think we'll be doing some experimenting with fondant at some point. Some of the cakes they make on the show are just stunningly beautiful. And they look yummy, too! Actually, I got an idea from them that I may use for Ocean Mouse's cake (it's okay, she doesn't do online stuff, so it won't spoil the surprise). I think I'll make a three-layer vanilla cake, with the top layer bigger so that I can frost it to look like a giant cupcake (she loves cupcakes), and then (this is the part from the show) between the layers it will be stuffed with fudge chocolate filling and fresh strawberries. Sounds delicious, doesn't it? I'm thinking a pink frosting for the outside of the "cupcake." I hope I can pull it off!

And last but not least, I wanted to give kudos to my Mom for making an awesome cake she calls Holy Cannoli Rolly. She makes a thin sheet cake, spreads it with cream cheese filling and mini chocolate chips, then rolls it up and covers it with chocolate drizzle. She used a recipe but then adapted it to make it her own. The slices are gorgeous spirals, the flavor is melt-in-your-mouth delightful, and she assures us that it's fairly healthy. Or in other words, not as richly decadent as it tastes. Go Mom!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Poem for Joy

I wrote a poem for my friend Joy, based on her writing prompt. It seems this is National Poetry Month. So I reached within and captured this glimpse of where I am at this moment...subject to change at will!

Transforming, becoming, allowing, in motion.
Who loves creating, dancing, being.
Who feels open, inspired, overwhelmed.
Who gives comfort, smiles, and stillness.
Who fears chaos, anger, and loss.
Who seeks wisdom, peace, and understanding -
Alive, transforming, whole -
I am Starcat, Dreamer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Study: A Background

I’ve had a few readers ask about the notion of “unschooling my Masters’ degree” that I spoke about in an earlier post. After some thought, I realized that I’ve been doing so for years now, and just hadn’t recognized it as such. I’m still not sure exactly what to call my topic, but I thought I’d share some background in this post. I’ll write more about where I’m taking it next in a follow-up article. Oh, and by the way, this post also explains the origin of this blog’s name, Starcat’s Study. Sort of a play on words, you see. Heh.

In 1992, nearly 20 years ago, I wrote: “What is this thing that I am so glibly calling ‘The Study’? Well, it is a personal study of topics that could fall under other labels. The problem being that I wanted to avoid labels as being too limited and stereotypical. But for clarity, I’ll tell some I considered. One is ‘Spirituality,’ but that makes one think of organized religion or groups, and this is much more personal. Another is ‘New Age,’ but that has such a negative stereotype sometimes, of flaky consumers on the latest bandwagon. ‘Occult’ is also a word with negative stereotypes, but of a less harmless nature. People equate the word with evil. Since I’m chaotic good, I avoided that. Something that I have called myself is a shaman, but again my own meaning of that word is very different from typical ones.”

After quoting one of my new favorite authors at the time, Amber Wolfe, who combines shamanism, New Age spirituality, and Wicca, I continued: “I am an Aquarian shaman, but a reticent one, and perhaps more a scholar than a healer. One way I feel I can help people is through writing, as well as helping myself this way. As I accumulate all this varied knowledge, I’m not only learning myself, but collecting sources and backups for theories and ideas for later writing. I still don’t know what form or forms this writing will take, but I’m still in the passive, data-gathering stages, although passive may not be the right term. I’m fairly active at what I’m doing, just receptive as opposed to creating and putting out a lot of things. There is some sort of synthesis of ideas going on within.”

Here’s a further description of the process I was beginning to undergo at that time: “The Study includes all sorts of different reading material I keep notes on. It also encompasses the experiences I have that I may keep in my journal or dream diary or whatever. The work that I do with my altar is one example. I’ve developed it into a sort of good-energy altar table with rocks, crystals, incense, candles, etc. It is a bit harder to document the type of work done on inner levels, but I feel it is equally important.”

A commitment to doing the work: “I do feel that I need to devote more time to this Study, especially maintaining a routine of meditating and doing rituals.” And in fact, five years later, in 1997, I started a daily spiritual practice that has carried on through to the present day.

A vision for the future: “There are certain elements that many different ‘magical’ or ‘religious’ traditions have in common, especially for inner work. A synthesis of some of these elements, as well as my own growth and enlightenment through practice and hard work, are what The Study is all about. It has already definitely helped me, and I feel that if I can eventually help others with it all the work will be really worth it. Not only that, but to me it is really enjoyable. Learning is one of the things I like best, and one of the things I feel I do best.”

And, prophetically, looking ahead to the journey of the next two decades: “ I realize (or think I do) what a big undertaking this is, and that there’s no way I’ll ever see all the related and vitally important information concerning it. But that’s all right. Guided by my intuition and guides, I will get what I need for it to continue to be successful for me as I need it. Making my own path, my own religion of one that fits me ethically, morally, and spiritually, is perhaps the best thing I can do for myself and the Universe.”

These days, I’m still on my personal path, and I’m now in a more active mode. I’ve made my writing and related creative projects my right livelihood. Through Feline Dreamers (with my partner BlackLion, who contributes his own wisdom from his journey), I have a venue to share what I’ve learned. I feel thankful and blessed, and I’m so excited to still be learning new things every single day. Perhaps this is more of a Doctorate program.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy Sunny Friday

It's a lovely sunny day here in Maine. Not that warm, but breezy and sunny enough to get the clothes on the clothesline dry and smelling fresh. Today Dryst went to work with his Dad doing landscaping; they were both eager to spend the day outdoors. ElvenTiger, BlackLion and I, along with Star dog, went on a wonderful nature walk this afternoon, down along a nearby stream on a path that we hadn't know about before. We found other paths and areas to explore in future walks, and had fun watching the stream burble along, merry in its Spring fullness. We talked about geology and fish and faeries and how dogs navigate by scent.

On the way back I found an old glass Pepsi bottle on some tree roots right by the stream, completely unharmed. That used to be my drink of choice when I was younger - up until I was 25, when I had a "Quarter Century Party" for my birthday and gave up my caffeine addiction. So it seemed like some kind of message. By the shape of it, it looks like a really old bottle. Not sure what the message is yet, but it was a cool treasure to discover.

Then we came home and visited next door at Aunt Peg's, where they have an informal Friday afternoon knitting circle. Mom was there, and some friends of theirs, and there was much laughter and fun. At times like these, I'm so thankful for the relaxed schedule that unschooling allows us. ElvenTiger is still over there, knitting with and informally learning from her elders, who she absolutely loves to hang out with. Dryst is enjoying some Dad time as well as getting physical activity, learning useful skills, and making some spending money. No one has given them a test today, or made them write a paper, or stay indoors. But I have no doubt whatsoever that they're learning, growing and expanding. Just a simple Friday, nothing unusual, but blessed, nonetheless.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Whole Is Good

I'm tackling another writing prompt, this one from a blog called Re-Minderz. The idea is to journal or write about this quote: "I'd rather be whole than good." - Carl Jung

My first reaction is that, while I understand the intention behind the quote, I would think that if we were whole, we would also be good. I guess it depends on how you're defining "good." If it means "well-behaved," then yeah, that's just conformity and trying to please others. True wholeness brings an independence of spirit that probably doesn't fit with society's expectations of the model citizen (or consumer).

I guess the Jungian concept of whole would mean that we've integrated our shadow side. Although, again, once we've done that work, I think a certain intrinsic goodness would prevail, in the higher sense of the word. But if I just had to choose between the two, I guess at this point in my life I'd go for wholeness. I mean, that's what I'm working on, really. I'm learning to be whole unto myself and not rely on external conditions in order to be well. And that includes not relying on other people for my happiness.

Yet sometimes that concept leaves me feeling a bit sad and lonely. Perhaps I just don't have the lens adjusted quite yet. I want to be able to feel wholeness in my heart, to really mean it with my whole being when I say that I'm just fine on my own. I do feel it, to a great extent, yet I guess there's still a part of me that wants to be cherished and nurtured. But that's my job, not someone else's.

I think when I say it's "my" job, I need to expand what I mean by "my self" to go beyond the ego or conscious self and to include playful child self, deep self, soul, Source. That is what being whole means - that I'm deeply connected to my place in the multiverse, and thus to all other beings. Then I can act and feel and be from that wider space. When I do, it feels good. It might appear, from an outside perspective, that I'm not being "good" (well-behaved) and doing what I "should," because instead I'm following my individual path, moment by moment, in a place of harmony with All That Is. Whole is good.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Networking in My PJs

Yesterday I spent some fun time networking, while sitting here in my comfy home, still in my pajamas. For a few years now I've belonged to some online groups that I really enjoy, my favorite being Danya Martin's Radical Unschooling with Law of Attraction (RU-LOA) e-mail list. I'm also a part of Faerie Nation, as well as a local homeschooling e-mail list. I follow several blogs on various topics that I'm interested in (unschooling, creativity, food, spirituality, sustainable living).

Recently, I've increased my involvement with online networking. Part of my motivation is to find ways to creatively and ethically market my business, Feline Dreamers, and to learn more about how to get the word out. But I also find a wealth of inspiration by interacting with many different people and groups online. While I start with topics that interest me, I often find out about all kinds of things I wasn't aware of or new perspectives on topics that spark new ideas and fuel my creativity. So I thought today I'd share a few of my newest discoveries, in hopes of sparking your interest.

While reading "Notes From the Edge Times" by Daniel Pinchbeck for my book club, I discovered and joined his alternative social network: evolver.net.

My online friend and blog sister, Wild Zen Mama, has just started an awesome online tribe: WildZen Tribe: A Soulful and Inspiring Grassroots Community.

Another great online community is the one being put together by The Organic Sister. You can join her to be included in her new plans.

There is a new wiki page for unschooling entrepreneurs and small business owners. I tried to link to it, but I guess you have to sign up for wikispace first. Contact me directly if you'd like more information.

And of course there's The Unschooler's Emporium, which has had a special link here on my blog for a while. We just added our e-book to their list of items for sale.

I also joined a mastermind group based on small businesses, that a few folks from the RU-LOA list are starting. It's a small private group, but I'll let you know how it's going as it gets up and running.

If you feel inspired to do so, share some of your own favorite websites or groups (or ones you've created) in the comments section. Thanks!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Thinking About Mastery

Leaving aside for a moment the obvious (to me) concerns about the word itself (with its connotations of sexism and racism), I'm pondering the concept of mastery. The word arose as part of a bigger discussion about oversouls and channeling, and was framed in the context of creativity. According to Quester, mastery involves a lot of practice, a thorough understanding of what you're doing, and putting your own unique spin on it. When I asked for examples of people we knew who were "masters" of something, he cited a drummer, a guitarist, and a mead-maker.

To this definition, I would add that mastery of something involves joy in doing it. It's something you pursue because you love it, not for a particular reward. You may have a long-term goal, but you continue to practice and study and do because you couldn't imagine your life without this particular thing. It might be writing or music or sewing or dancing or building or acting or cooking or drumming or photography or knitting or gardening or healing or any number of other things. Mastery integrates discipline with joyful creative flow. The discipline and creativity come from within, even when you choose to take classes or lessons. Mastery means that you've made something your own, and that you alone are responsible for your choices and actions with regard to it.

That which you choose to master becomes an integral part of your life and your spirituality. It is intimately related to your calling. This connection might be very clear for some people: if you feel called to be a singer, you practice with your instrument, mastering the process of using your unique voice to express your music. For others, it may be more complex. If you're called to be a healer, you might work with various modalities, eventually discovering that you've mastered herbalism and polarity, enjoy a working knowledge of anatomy, and have dabbled in aromatherapy and massage.

Mastery of something doesn't necessarily mean consciously setting out to do so. You may love to make jewelry. Thus you're naturally motivated to practice, to seek out new materials, to study and read and watch videos and window shop, and to visit and learn from other artists. You do these things as you follow this exciting passion. One day you might turn your hobby into a thriving business. Or you may continue to make jewelry for friends and family in your spare time. Mastery doesn't require external recognition or fame.

Where in your life does mastery come in? Is there something that comes to mind immediately? Or do you have to dig deeper to identify your mastery? I've had some insights about my own relationship with mastery and will be writing more about that soon.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Powers of Positivity, Activate!

"Quite simply, a belief in the good without a belief in the evil, may seem highly unrealistic to you. This belief, however, is the best kind of insurance that you can have, both during physical life and afterward.

"It may OUTRAGE YOUR INTELLECT, and the evidence of your physical senses may shout that it is untrue, yet a belief in good without a belief in evil is actually highly realistic, since in physical life it will keep your body healthier, keep you psychologically free of many fears and mental difficulties, and bring you a feeling of ease and spontaneity in which the development of your abilities can be better fulfilled. After death it will release you from the belief in demons and hell, and enforced punishment. You will be better prepared to understand the nature of reality as it is. I understand that the concept does indeed offend your intellect, and that your senses seem to deny it. Yet you should already realize that your senses tell you many things which are not true; and I tell you that your physical senses perceive a reality that is a result of your beliefs."

- Seth through Jane Roberts

"In my work I have chosen the positive approach. I never think of myself as protesting against something, but rather as witnessing for harmonious living. Those who witness for, present solutions. Those who witness against, usually do not - they dwell on what is wrong, resorting to judgment and criticism and sometimes even name-calling. Naturally, the negative approach has a detrimental effect on the person who uses it, while the positive approach has a good effect. When an evil is attacked, the evil mobilizes, although it may have been weak and unorganized before, and therefore the attack gives it vitality and strength. When there is no attack, but instead good influences are brought to bear upon the situation, not only does the evil tend to fade away, but the evildoer tends to be transformed. The positive approach inspires; the negative approach makes angry. When you make people angry, they act in accordance with their baser instincts, often violently and irrationally. When you inspire people, they act in accordance with their higher instincts, sensibly and rationally. Also, anger is transient, whereas inspiration sometimes has a life-long effect."

- Peace Pilgrim