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

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Favor to Ask

Hi there! If you're reading this, I have a favor to ask. You see, I've moved my blog to my new website. You can get the same quality writing, fun photos, and other joyful silliness over there, I promise!

So, the favor: will you please click over and "follow" me at my new home?

If you're already a follower of this blog via Google or the RSS feed, please make the update now, while you're thinking about it. The new address is http://www.starcatscorner.com.

If you're seeing this on Facebook via NetworkedBlogs, I hope you'll follow me there.

Thanks so much in advance! I look forward to seeing you over at Starcat's Corner. Pour your favorite beverage, settle into a comfy spot, and let's get caught up. Blessings!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I've Moved!

Hi there, faithful reader. I have a cool surprise for you. This blog, Starcat's Study, can now be found over on my brand new website, Starcat's Corner! Find it here: http://www.starcatscorner.com

The reason for the move is that with my new book, Starcat's Corner: Essays on Pagan Living, coming out soon, I thought it should have its very own home and direct link.

I hope you'll come visit, follow the blog, and join the community! Upcoming posts over there include: this week's Starcat's Favorites, the story of how we got the awesome new banner photo (which involved an afternoon feline photo shoot!), and how I'm learning to receive the gifts of the Universe.

I'm so thankful to BlackLion for building the awesome new site for me, and teaching me how to update it. Also my thanks go to Merlin Lovecat, for cooperating with the impromptu cat photo shoot, and to ElvenTiger for helping with that process. Thanks, cool cats!

See you on the other side!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Starcat's Favorites: August Craziness

August is often a very busy month for our family, and this year is no exception. We're busy with Dryst's soccer pre-season, birthday party preparations, working, getting ready for our autumn activities (yes, the planning process has begun), making fresh salsa, creating music, being present for some folks who need our help, grieving and healing, and of course, sneaking in a swim in the pond whenever we can.

I've still managed to keep up on my reading this week; much of it is inspirational, which helps keep me going when I start to feel overwhelmed or exhausted. Here are some links worth sharing.

This article addresses that feeling of getting overwhelmed, and offers ideas on how to create space for yourself within the chaos.

You can embody kindness by being more open, and letting go of fears that hold you back.

Sometimes we just need to go beyond our comfort zone, and seek out the types of adventures that wake us up to our passions.

Especially during a busy time, it's important to love what you do. Even when you don't.

For further help on living and loving life, check out these tips that keep you on your toes.

What can your body tell you that you might not be aware of consciously? This video has interesting information and an intriguing exercise on behavioral kinesiology.

And finally, if you can take a few moments to relax, even during a busy week, the stillness will help you recharge and restore your energy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You Are Part of It All

Are you feeling lonely? Fearful? Disconnected? Yearning for something but you know not what?

Step back for a moment, retreating from your feelings, just for the time being. Take a longer view, seeing the bigger landscape laid out in front of you.

You are made of the same stuff as the stars. You are a beloved child of the multiverse. Whether you can feel it or not, you are in deep connection with all that is: lakes and rivers, mountains, valleys, trees and rocks, soaring birds, crawling beetles, the sun, the moon, music, art, and yes, your fellow human beings, who also yearn for love and connection. You are worthy of love, just as you are.

Let a glimmer of hope arise within you. Nurture it. Fan its flames.

As you move slowly back into your present situation, let that little flame of hope grow. Allow it to move freely within you, lighting up your joys and passions, igniting inspired action. Feel its vibrations resonating throughout your being, and then follow where it leads.

Adventure awaits. Go forth and meet it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Starcat's Favorites: Life and Death

My husband Quester's Dad passed away this weekend. He'd been ill for much of the spring and summer, and so we got to visit him several times (he lived 3 hours away from us). Quester and his siblings had a chance to say their goodbyes, but of course it is still a hard thing. I'd known his Dad since I was a freshman in college, which was when Quester and I first started dating. I'm glad I got to say my fond farewells to him too, and to hold space for Quester and his older sister as they went through the process of letting go. Life is such a mixture of joys and sorrows, love and loss. I'm grateful for all of it, and for the words of wisdom that we humans share along the way. Here are a few for your perusal this week. Blessings!

The thing is, we really don't know exactly how things are going to turn out. And it's okay.

I agree with much of this sweet manifesto. Even if you don't resonate with everything on it, it might inspire you to create your own list.

Loved this wisdom on how to reframe when things aren't going your way.

This poem might bring a sigh, or even a tear. Truly lovely.

I've been doing a lot of drumming lately. This article about the healing powers of rhythm is excellent!

If you're an artist or creator in any way, check out this TED talk. Fantastic.

Maybe you're feeling ready to add some adventure to your life. Here are some new tools that can help! I love her website, too.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Home Again, Home Again

I've been away much of this week, spending some time with Quester's family, and it's been pretty intense. More about that later, when things are more fully resolved. For now, I'll just say that there have been many moments of sadness and tears, as well as those of joy.

Alongside these family matters, I've been continuing to work through my process of transformation. This includes releasing old patterns, rediscovering my self worth, and starting to explore some new mysteries. It's also intense, but rewarding. Since the festival, I've been filled with more confidence and power-from-within than I have in many months. I'm glad, because I'm able to use that energy to help my loved ones through some major challenges, as well as to fuel my own growth.

I returned home to a very full e-mail inbox, and so I've been sifting through, reading and replying to messages. I thought for now I'd offer you, without further comment, a few quotes that I've discovered waiting for me upon my return to home base. Enjoy, and blessings.

“Maybe being powerful means to be fragile.” – Ai Weiwei

"Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you." – Wayne Dyer

"The best career advice to give the young is, find out what you like doing best and get someone else to pay you for doing it." – Katherine Whilehaen

"What would it look like to stop trying so hard, and start trying softer instead?" – Tara Wagner

Monday, August 06, 2012

A Festival of Inspiration

Blessings of August, and big Happy Birthday smooches to my lovely Leo friends, including of course my dear BlackLion, whose birthday is today! This past weekend he and I attended an amazing music festival. We went with the Dark Follies troupe, and had a fantastic experience there. The vibe was joyful and inspiring. After a very stressful week, it was great to be outdoors in a beautiful setting, playing and listening to music with a delightful group of people.

I'm going to skip the official Starcat's Favorites post this week, since the week is well underway at this point, but I do have a couple of links that I wanted to share with you. One is a song that seems to capture my experience of the festival. It's not even the type of music that was being played there, but it feels right as a description.

The other is something I've been working on for a while, but am now really feeling in my whole being. I'm finally (again?) coming to the point of understanding that I feel best when I follow my heart. I am often drawn to pleasing others, and find it enjoyable, yet to rely on the approval of others for my own joy is a recipe for depression. I am still delighted by doing things for people, yet my self-love is growing, and I'm no longer dependent on their attention. It's a good place to be in, particularly as I face some challenges along my path. The truth that it is indeed my path, and that I am the one in charge of it, is such a huge help. The other piece that is falling into place is that it doesn't have to be lonely. I can be fully in my personal power, and still connect with kindred spirits. Actually, that's the best way to connect, when I'm feeling uplifted and free.

It's a work in progress for sure, and I'm sure I'll still stumble now and then. Yet for the moment, I'm feeling empowered. Many blessings to you on your path!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Our Fun Feline Fae Tea Party!

So, when I found out about the fantastic Mad Tea Party being hosted over at A Fanciful Twist, I knew it would be a perfect thing to become a part of. Why, you might ask? Well, for several reasons. First, on the very day that it starts, we had already planned our annual Big Backyard Bash! And believe me, do we ever have some whimsical, fae, phantasmagorical, mad-in-a-good-way friends! Second, I have just been researching in my journals in order to write the preface to my book, Starcat's Corner: Essays on Pagan Living (you just knew I was going to sneak in another book reference, didn't you?). The time I was diving into was when I went to Vermont Witch Camp in 2005, and the theme was....drumroll please...Through the Looking Glass! So obviously it was all cosmically meant to be! So I present to you, for your viewing pleasure (whether or not you made it here in person)....Our Fun Feline Fae Tea Party!

First, we happened to drink some delicious potion...I guess that's how it begins sometimes, right?

Here is BlackLion enjoying the Stargazer lilies that are Quester's pride and joy:

We had some lovely fae feline folk show up for the gathering...

And even a Mad Hatter type!

Plus hoopers, dancers, and some of our musician friends.

There were people spread all through the backyard, near the fire pit, the tribe of kids playing football and having an epic battle in the field, a couple of visiting dogs, and endless dishes of delicious foods and drinks!

We even had a sighting of our friend Godzilla, though I don't have a picture...

Here's Dryst enjoying himself (and hamming it up):

I received some very cools gifts, even though it's not my birthday. One had a lizard friend on it!

This fae feline version of a Mad Tea Party really rocked!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Starcat's Favorites: Preparing and Awaiting

This week I was awaiting the return of Quester and ElvenTiger. I was preparing for our annual Big Backyard Bash. I was meditating on my self-worth, friendship, nurturing, and lots of other ponderings. I was drumming and cleaning and polishing and reading and writing and lots of other ings. And lo and behold, it's the evening before the big party, and both of my dear ones are home safe. We celebrated with quesadillas and a game of Mexican Train Dominoes.

Here this week's gleanings:

You know those crazy things you'd like to do but are kind of afraid to, or just never quite get to? Do them! Go for it!

Supportive community is a wonderful thing.

Mercury is retrograde. I could kind of tell. Yes, I am indeed a Virgo and a writer.

I'm not really a photographer, but this sounds pretty fun. I might even play along.

After the party will come the quiet. I plan to revel in it.

I'm off to bed now, to dream the gathering into existence. I'll have a very special party post to share with you tomorrow or the next day. Blessings!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Blast From the Past

In the process of writing the preface for my book (yeah, it's Starcat's Corner: Essays on Pagan Living, hope you're not sick of hearing about it yet! hee hee), I was looking back over my journal from 2005, getting back in the mindset of my adventure at Vermont Witch Camp, which was when the book was first inspired. I decided to go back and read that entire journal, as it seemed to have been a time of great transformation and inspiration for me. I feel like I'm on the cusp of that type of radical positive change once again. I'm wrapped in my chrysalis, sometimes doubting I'll ever truly be a butterfly, but still catching dream glimpses of flight and deep blue skies.

So, this particular passage seemed especially relevant, and I thought I'd share it here. I even looked up the Rob Brezsny horoscope that I reference in the journal entry (thank you Rob for your awesome archives!).

Virgo, 10/6/05, by Rob Brezsny:
In his "MuseLetter," Richard Heinberg writes that Jesus "taught renunciation of ephemeral desires, fearless and carefree public behavior, and contempt for riches." This happens to be a precise prescription for those of you who hope to put yourself in maximum alignment with cosmic rhythms in the coming week. I suggest you suspend your pursuit of the relatively trivial goals that soak up an inordinate amount of your attention, and instead intensify your devotion to your single most important reason for living. This should help you lose your unnecessary inhibitions. It should also free you from any delusions you might have that greed is normal or that you need more than enough of anything.

Journal entry, 10/6/05, by Starcat:
My Brezsny horoscope for this week tells me to let go of distractions and focus on the primary reason I'm here. To which I was like, what? I have to choose just one?! Five of them immediately came to mind: to give and receive love (not just among humans, but all beings), to project positive energy to help with the birthing of the new reality, healing/Reiki, writing, and music (dancing, singing, drumming). How do I focus in on "the" thing, then? Or maybe the primary thing is my attitude, the way I am in the world, my mindfulness practice. I tend to get distracted by connection points, by relationships with other people, especially new people. But I should just be myself and do my Work, and let the rest take care of itself as I go. Which is, I guess, what Brezsny was saying.

Last night I was dreaming that I was soon to die, and I knew it. I was doing fine with it until I met some new people, one of them who, I think it was a guy but he was very androgynous, turned me on. Then I was talking to my Mom in the dream, telling her it was so unfair that I was going to die, because I couldn't make plans with this guy (and his friends) and get to know him/them. So even my dream was focused on that, on the balance between doing my Soul Work in the time I have, and being in relationship with others. The Work I'm called to do has elements of both, which is good, because I believe in "moderation in all things."

The things that stuck out from the entry were that the very things I listed as my "primary reasons" are now what I do much of the time! Writing, music (drumming in particular), and Reiki are a big part of my life, and the work I do for Feline Dreamers is all about helping bring the new consciousness to fruition. It feels good to see how I've been able to manifest my calling on so many levels. Sometimes it still feels like I'm only beginning. The other thing that I noticed is that I still feel this tension between relationships and inner creative work. It's one of the things I'm really working on intently lately.

I'm thankful that I keep these records of and for myself. I would never remember all this stuff otherwise. And I'm also grateful for the inspiration to do a bit of "journal mining," which comes from an excellent book I read recently, Harvesting Your Journals: Writing Tools to Enhance Your Growth & Creativity by Alison Strickland and Rosalie Deer Heart. Blessings!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Curiosity Informs the Cat

One of the (many) things I love about cats is their innate curiosity. One night at a Dark Follies band rehearsal, the man who was hosting the practice at his home had some friends stop by, a bit earlier than they'd said they would. They'd brought their big dog with them. The friends and the dog hung out in the kitchen until the end of the rehearsal, which was being held in the living room. The host has a couple of cats, one of whom is a yearling male named Timothy. Apparently this was Timothy's first encounter with a dog, up close and personal.

First, he backed away, tail and fur bristling, eyes wide. He streaked through the living room and hid upstairs. Before long, though, he returned, looking a bit calmer, and sneaked cautiously out toward the kitchen door. He saw the dog, and POOF! there went the fur again, and again he backed off. This time he only retreated to the living room, hiding under the skirts of one of the band members and peeking out. This back-and-forth process was repeated a few times, until Timothy could remain quite calm upon seeing the strange canine intruder.

The look on this adorable cat's face when he was moving forward toward the kitchen said it all: "It's scary, yes, but I just have to know! What is it?"

Timothy shows his curious nature...

Sure, I know curiosity sometimes gets cats into trouble, but more often than not, it probably entertains and informs them. It does me, anyway. I love to learn new things, and will often follow up with some research on an intriguing tidbit I've read or heard about. Even when I'm drawn to learn something that seems a bit on the frightening side, like performing music in front of an audience, most of the time I'm willing to put my discomfort aside and see what the situation has to teach me. And often it's very rewarding.

I think curiosity is an integral part of creativity and education. Without that wondering, that pondering - "How can I solve this problem?" "How can I craft something unique?" "What would happen if I...?" - there wouldn't be that strong drive to create something new. Inventors, scientists, and artists are motivated by this inner need to figure it out.

Without the desire to know, learning becomes rote and boring. Forced learning is an awful feeling. Just ask any kid sitting in a classroom, watching the clock while filling out repetitive worksheets. It's not that they don't want to learn; it's just that this wasn't where their curiosity would have taken them today.

Do you follow your own inner curiosity? The subjects that we find intriguing are different for each of us. Follow your intuition, stalking knowledge and wisdom like a persistent feline. When something captures your interest, follow up and learn more. See where it takes you. Let your curiosity lead you on a delightful path of life-long learning and joy.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Toward a Broader Awareness

"Political awareness can become a tyranny of its own, not least because it locks us into the issues and perspectives of a particular time. But when we are looking at questions of the sacred, we move beyond time. To create the changes in consciousness needed to transform society at a deep level, we need insights broader that the issues of the moment can provide." - Starhawk

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Starcat's Favorites: In the Heart of Summer

Here we are in the heart of summer! We've been having a heat wave here in Maine, which I always enjoy. I suspect I might be the only one, though. Most folks were huddled up miserably with air conditioners and fans. I'm strange, I know, but I love being very warm! Some of my other lives must be nearer to the equator.

Our family's summer is going pretty well. We've been having lots of fun swimming in the ponds and river. Dryst went to a day-long concert with his friends, and ElvenTiger is getting ready for summer camp. The super hot weather has passed for now, but it's still sunny and pleasant. I hope you're enjoying yourself this lovely July!

Here are some links for your weekend amusement.

If you're looking for a fantastic novel to read this summer, I very highly recommend this one. I couldn't put it down until I was done.

We're getting ready to host a big party next weekend, so I started thinking about some deep cleaning and organizing. This post brought a new level of thoughtfulness to the process.

BlackLion has been doing some transformation, and is seeking out some additional joyful community to enrich his experience.

While we're on the topic of community, here's a great article on why women (and men too, I suspect) thrive more in tribes.

It's summer, traditionally a time to relax, yet often we still push ourselves to be productive. How do you find a balance?

Here's one for my fellow introverts, and those who love them.

Have a super fabulous fun week!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Camp Ponderings

My beloved 13-year-old, the beautiful ElvenTiger, is going to summer camp in a couple of days. It's her first significant time away from family; she'll be gone for a week. She's going with her best friend, who she's known since she was three, and whose idea it was that they go together this time (her friend went last year and loved it).

Lots of thoughts and emotions are swirling around in my psyche. I remember how terribly homesick I was the first time I went away to summer camp...and how much I ended up loving it by the end of the session. I know that ElvenTiger is more poised and confident than I was at the same age, and that's reassuring.

I will miss my girl all week. I call her my "follow-cat," as she follows me around in that feline way: "No, of course I'm not following you, I'm just doing my own thing. So, what'cha doin'?" We do a lot of fun things together, and she's very helpful with the everyday tasks of life, like shopping and cooking and deciding what to do next. We enjoy a lot of the same things, like baking and swimming and crafts and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Quester went up north to see his parents for a few days (his Dad's health is not so good). When he left, he and ElvenTiger were saying goodbye, and noted that they wouldn't see each other for ten days, the longest they'd ever been apart. When she turned away, ElvenTiger was in tears. Quester was the kids' primary caregiver for many years. I wondered if her feelings were tied in with worries about going away, but when I asked, she said it was just that she'd miss her Dad.

She's growing up, and it's a joy to see her blossom. At the same time, I'm a Mom, so I worry. She'll be fine, though. She's a magickal, fae being, full of creativity and verve. She has her own life.

I will miss her, and she will miss home. We will both learn from it. And that's as it should be.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Exploring Alternate Lives

One of the exercises in the first week of The Artist's Way is to answer this question: "If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them?" The answers probably could be very elaborate, but the author lists some examples, most of which are professions (firefighter, rock star, surgeon, and the like).

I believe in reincarnation. Yes, I'm fully aware that although this belief feels right to me, I have no way of truly knowing what happens after death until it's my turn to die. I'm comfortable with that. The Mysteries are just that...a mystery. A couple of other existences that have come to me quite vividly include a Native American man in the Pacific Northwest, and a life as a priestess somewhere in the British Isles (where my Mom and I were sisters).

But anyway, rather than calling these "past lives," I prefer the term "alternate lives." That's because, after reading and studying the Seth material and other channeled work, I've come to also believe that, looking at the big picture, time is simultaneous. Yes, here on the Earth plane we're immersed in a world of linear time, yet I think that's only one thin slice of the bigger reality that is the Multiverse. So I see the other lives I'm connected with personally as all happening at once. I can consciously tap into and learn from them, if I choose. Or I can simply learn from them through our subconscious connection, and perhaps visit some of them in dreams.

Those beliefs affected the way I approached the exercise, though the instructions did say not to overthink it, so I simply wrote down the first few ideas that came into my mind. Here, then, are a few of my alternate lives: a dancer, a yoga teacher, a massage and polarity therapist (aka healer), a librarian, and a Buddhist nun.

The librarian one is a no-brainer. I actually feel like I serve as one of the many librarians in a huge multi-cultural center (Alexandria? A future place where space travel is common? Someplace big). I find it interesting that the majority of these five lives are very much centered on the physical body, which is an area I felt challenged earlier in this life. I found my physical strength and grace as an adult, after feeling very awkward in my body as a child and teen, and I have learned that I most enjoy pursuits like swimming, hiking, and yoga, rather than competitive sports or gym workouts. I can totally see the dancer thing; when I dance, though I've had no formal training, I'm transported to a whole different level of awareness.

So, try this exercise yourself. What would you do if you had five other lives to play with? You don't have to be restricted to listing careers. Imagine yourself as a different gender or sexual orientation. What would your life be like? Would you choose to have kids, or not? Where might you live? It's a fun way to begin to explore your alternative lives, and to give your imagination a good workout.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Starcat's Favorites: Digging In

Well, hello there! I guess I haven't written anything here since last week's favorites. I've been digging in deep this week, working on a few projects that kept me busy. This Wednesday was the kids' end-of-year portfolio review, so I got to look over all the things they did this past year, and see how things are going on our unschooling journey. The short answer is, very well indeed! In the process of creating portfolios, talking with the kids, and meeting with our certified teacher, I also got lots of ideas for things they'd each like to pursue beginning this fall. Which brings more work to do, but it's fun putting together resources and ideas.

Also, BlackLion and I were immersed in our first week of the twelve-week course The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I'm loving it! I did even more journal-writing than usual, and I plan to share some of it here on the blog. And of course, I've been working on my book, Starcat's Corner: Essays on Pagan Living. I received the copy edited manuscript and have been reviewing it and answering some of the publisher's questions. All of that, plus lots of swimming during the heat spell we've been having. Fun!

I did have time to find some lovely tidbits to share with you this weekend, though. Happy clicking!

Found this great new blog to check out - and I love her post on imaginal cells and surrender. Mmmm.....

There are benefits to being shy. Who knew? Well, I guess I did, but not back when I was younger and at the peak of my shyness and anxiety.

Three little words that will uplift your spirits...they might not be the ones you're thinking of, either.

I love this yummy post about making your life into an abundant garden. Tasty and nutritious!

Here's a rather intense, but excellent, article about the deep need for poets, dreamers, artists, and thinkers. We truly need the power of the imagination.

And in case you're feeling a bit overwhelmed this month, check out this energy report for July. Big doings!

Have a relaxing weekend...

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Starcat's Favorites: Encouragement and Rest

How is your July going so far? What types of fun things have you been up to? This week, I've been taking some extra time for rest, as I let my body heal and recover. I've also been swimming quite a bit, with the kids (we've been to the lake, river, and ocean, all in this one week!). I love to swim, and to spend relaxing time outdoors.

I've also been giving myself some encouragement, as this week's links will show. Sometimes you just need a little boost, to realize that you really are on the right path. Enjoy this week's findings, and have a blissful weekend!

Why is it that we so often think about how far we have to go, rather than celebrating where we've been? Here are some wise ways to recognize your progress.

Are you following your calling in some way? Are you sharing your talents with the world? Whether you are or not, here are some key questions to ask yourself.

We often think of education as something done in a classroom. Truly, you are learning in each moment, and from the things you choose to focus on. And so is everyone else.

Here are some seemingly simple, yet profound, ways to improve your life and have more fun in the process.

Do you love inspired quotes? You can probably tell that I do. Here's a collection of some awesome quotes to fire you up!

I love metta (loving-kindness) meditation, and I incorporate it into my regular spiritual practice. Here's a lovely guided metta meditation that will take you less than ten minutes. Try it and see what happens!

Blessings to you and yours, always.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Giving Myself a Boost

My back is feeling much better, thanks for asking! The all-natural cure included time, gentle yoga, rest, Reiki, heat and cold, and swimming. ElvenTiger gave me a great massage, too. She's got the healing touch, for certain. I'm really enjoying July thus far. I overdid it in June - I just had too much running around to do and too many events. It was fun, but simply too much. July is proceeding at a much more enjoyable pace. I'm resting, and healing (on several levels).

That's not to say I'm completely in vacation mode. I'm actually very excited about having stretches of time to work on my writing and other creative projects. And being a Virgo, I love to plan and organize. I've been intrigued by a writing challenge that one of my online friends is involved in. It's called A Round of Words in 80 Days. I was thinking of joining, but I just missed this particular round (which started July 1st), so I'm going to wait and see if I feel like leaping in this fall.

In the meantime, I just started reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, and immediately fell in love with the whole idea. The daily journal-writing practice that I already do is adapted from this book, and the whole thing is a 12-week course on writing and spirituality, two of my favorite things! I'm in.

I think it'll give me a boost and open up my creative channels even more. It'll also help me with prioritizing my creativity. Often I get caught up in the cycle of the kids' activities, housework, cooking, outdoor fun, my part-time money-making gigs, etc. and find my craft on the back burner. I want to bump it higher up on the daily priority list. So be it!

Friday, June 29, 2012

On Imagination

"The world of imagination is the world of eternity. It is the divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death of the vegetative body." - William Blake

"It's like what Jung meant by the 'collective unconscious.' Only in my mind it not only takes in the past and all of human knowledge, I think it takes in the future. I think it takes in other worlds. I think it takes in the language of trees and animals. What's important about that is the imagination is a real place. We simply have to learn how to enter into it." - Deena Metzger

Starcat's Favorites: Slowing Down

I'm sitting in a comfy chair, hot water bottle on my lower back, laptop on my lap, summer breezes caressing me through the open windows. It's a very slowed-down version of the Friday I had planned. Yesterday I hurt my lower back. This is a new one for me. I know lots of people who have back troubles, but mine has been blessedly healthy until now. I'm not even sure what happened. I went strawberry picking, but I sat down in the rows to pick, rather than bending over, so why would that do something to these core muscles? I think perhaps my body is just enforcing the message it has been giving me recently: it's time to freaking slow down. Seriously. So now I'm informed, in a very emphatic way. I'm listening.

Here are my favorites from this week. Despite a fairly busy week (up until today), there are quite a few to share. I hope you can take the time to slow down, receive, and be inspired, in whatever way you please. Have a peaceful weekend!

Love this treatise on how to actively adore yourself. Go you!

The title and opening lines of this one cracked me up, and then its deeper message sank in.

Being you. That's what it's all about.

You're doing your best. And yes, that is marvelously enough.

When you're in an especially busy patch, that's when you need even more nurturing. Here are some suggestions.

Ooh, I totally want to declare a Dream Day! Anyone else drawn to this?

For my fellow writers and artists, here's an article about the new way of getting the word out.

How to follow through on a meaningful goal. Keep on keeping on!

And last but not least, 100 Things to Do Instead of Procrastinating on the Internet. Ironic, eh? Heh heh.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Half-Year Check-In

Is it hard for you to believe that we're already halfway through 2012? It is for me. So I thought I'd do a check-in on how I'm doing with my goals for this year. Not in a judgemental way (or at least, I'll try not to be that way), but more to see what's going well and how my focus could be fine-tuned for the rest of the year.

Air: I'm doing awesome with my writing! In particular, my book is now in production (I still just love saying that). That said, I have many more writing projects that want my attention. I want to put more focus on those. My music (which I'll put here, with creative stuff) is going well. Drumming with Dark Follies is fun and such a terrific learning experience. I took a cool art class at our homeschool co-op this spring, and want to do more with it. We have our homeschool portfolio review in a couple of weeks, and I think things are going pretty well in that area. I haven't gotten to the prose poem or studying yogic texts yet this year, though my studies in general are going along well.

Fire: I would say that I'm definitely making progress with my callings. As noted above, becoming a published author is going along well. I also secured a spot as a guest blogger on a very popular spirituality website; my post will appear in August (the first of many, I hope!). We're still working on getting the word out about Feline Dreamers; I get discouraged sometimes with the slow progress, but most of the time I just keep on building towards it. I'm definitely working on my self-love, though I am reminded to dive back into the use of affirmations, which I haven't been doing as much. I'm also doing well on releasing things that don't serve me. I think there is a teensy problem with the idea of only agreeing to things which feel like a passionate "yes!" - there are just too many of them! I need to slow down a bit and try not to do so much.

Water: Here's an area where the slowing down will help me to go deeper. I want to pay much more attention to self-nurturing, intuition, and connection to my guides. I do have a dream journal project planned which is going to be really fun (more on that in another post). I have been using my empathy to help community members in various ways, mostly in one-on-one settings, so that's going along well.

Earth: I've been loving the time I've spent out in nature this spring and summer thus far! Very grounding and energizing. Barefoot hiking is just so much fun, and so is doing my journal-writing practice outdoors. I have been bringing in little bits of money from my calling, but mostly it's been other work-for-money. I still need to make a big leap in the area of abundance. The same with health. I've made some progress, but then I revert to old habits (comfort food, for example) and forget to really listen to what my body is telling me. Some work to do here, for sure.

Spirit: My spiritual practices are going pretty well. Sometimes I forget. Don't we all? But for the most part, connection and presence are part of my daily life. I've been able to spend lovely time in sacred space, particularly with my Full Moon circlemates. I haven't done much yoga lately, and I want to get back to it. Shrines, altars, and the Wheel of the Year project are some other things that want my attention.

Well, that sounds about right as a mid-year update. I think the idea of slowing down and putting my focus on the quieter elements of water and earth will be helpful as I move into the second half of the year. I'm feeling the groove starting to shift, and connecting with those deeper energies. Mmmm. I like it.

How are you doing with your personal goals and intentions for 2012? How can you build on what you've been doing so far? What adjustments will help you be your best self?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Time Being Relative

I had an interesting experience with time today. We had a Dark Follies Not Just Rhythm Orchestra band practice this evening, outdoors in a lovely grassy park near the ocean. The group was working on learning a new song, and the drummers were asked to hold the beat while the guitar, violin, and accordion players figured out the melody and how it all comes together. It was a fairly simple beat pattern, one that we use for another tune, yet they wanted us to play it more slowly. This was surprisingly difficult!

I've been complimented by other musicians on my ability to "keep good time," which has seemed like sort of a cheat as it's something that came naturally, and also because I'm so new at this whole musician thing that I don't know if it's even true. For me, time and rhythm shows up as a feeling in my body (which does include my head, but not just in my mind, if that makes sense). I could tell that I was speeding up the pattern, and it felt like my hands just wanted to play it at the tempo we normally use. Yet if I slowed down on purpose, it sounded wrong or off or something.

When I expressed how hard it was to keep the riff slower, our music director nodded and laughed, like he'd been there before. Then he pulled out his phone and started up a metronome. I'd never played with one, but soon figured it out. What a revelation! Obviously, it kept me (and the other drummers) to a steady tempo. But the really interesting part was how it illustrated so clearly the subjective experience we each have with time.

Sometimes it felt like the tempo of the metronome was changing, like it had slowed down. It hadn't. Why did it seem that way, then? Maybe because of something I was hearing in the rest of the tune being played all around me. Perhaps my mind wandered off (a sample: "Wow, this metronome thing is so cool! It would be great to use in yoga, when I'm counting breaths in a longer hold...I wonder how variable each breath is, really; I mean, it works out to six deep breaths being about a minute, but perhaps that's just an average, blah blah blah..."). For whatever reason, I occasionally became distracted from the groove.

Now bear with me here, as I try to draw some parallels to life in general. When we're in the groove, feeling our own rhythms in tune with those of nature and the world as a whole, we cruise along, keeping good time. Yet when we get distracted, perhaps by those around us (the other musicians), or even by our own stories (mental chatter), we fall off the beat. Our timing isn't spot-on. And I'm not saying it always has to be. In life, as in the most creative musical collaborations, we can mess around with our own riffs and then merge back into the stream of shared time. The metronome is a guideline, not a law.  In one of our other tunes, I was told I was holding too firmly to the beat, and not letting it "swing." And I could, on reflection, feel what they meant.

Perhaps keeping good time has to do with knowing when to hold the line and when to go with the flow, feeling your way along so that you know when you've fallen out of sync. It also takes a lot of practice, so you can, as our director says, "internalize" the rhythms. Much like life.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Starcat's Favorites: Summer is Here!

Happy summer to you! This week has been one of sun and performances and work and trying to fit in regular life stuff, like housework and healthy meals. Saturday brings two more Dark Follies shows, and then, most likely, a bit of a crash as I reset back to normal mode. No worries, though, it's just part of the cycle of a creative life. Here are a few links to brighten your weekend.

One of my favorite Pagan authors (and my namesake), Starhawk, posted about the arrival of the Summer Solstice this week.

I just discovered this online magazine, Pagan Living, and am loving their summer issue. A lot of the photos are from the charming hostess of the delightful fae blog A Fanciful Twist. Enjoy!

Last weekend I did some barefoot hiking. I was reminded in part by running across this very cool (and free!) barefoot manifesto recently.

In the summer you might be feeling the urge to go a bit wild. Here's your very own permission slip!

Love that wild self of yours! Embrace who you really are.

Last but not least, here are a couple of different takes on how to be yourself with grace, yet without apology.

Have an enchanting day!

Centered Amidst Chaos

It's summer! Our Summer Solstice here is Maine was accompanied by a lovely heat wave, so it immediately began feeling like the height of the season. I'm loving it.

I've been really busy with the Dark Follies show this week, with rehearsals, tech nights, dress rehearsal, and now, shows. Last night I sat on the floor in the big shared "green room" (dressing room) and did a bit of meditation before the opening night show began. All around me, I could hear the sounds of people getting ready for the show: the accordion player's snippets of tunes as she warmed up, dancers chatting about their acts, some of the other performers joking around as they nibbled on snacks. I let it all swirl around me as I reached inside and found my center. Connecting to my inner source, I drew upon that deep wellspring of energy and let it emerge into my body and my consciousness. I found it surprisingly easy to center myself, even in such a chaotic setting.

It seems like a good tool for daily life. No matter what is going on around you, just take those three to five minutes to just close your eyes (no, not if you're driving) and let whatever is happening, happen. Just let it be for a few moments and tune in to what's going on inside.

Interestingly, I found this harder to do this morning in a quiet house. My fears and worries seemed to grow a bit larger, and louder. I had a good cry, which is cleansing, and then was more able to drop in and be present. We are all constantly changing, so it will be harder sometimes than others to connect with your inner self. It's still important to show up and try. Be soft with it. Let go of judgement. Just be yourself. Just be.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Starcat's Favorites: Being Gentle With Your Self

I'm a bit late with the favorites post this week, as I've been away. A break from computers and other responsibilities was lovely, and I soaked up the refreshing energies of nature as I hiked with Quester. Now I'm back and getting caught up with my online reading and correspondence, plus some writing. I'm also doing a lot of prep for the Dark Follies show coming up later this week!

One of the themes I've noticed recently, especially since I'm so busy, is being vigilant about taking time for self-care. It's important to keep yourself replenished; otherwise you won't have anything to share with others! Here are some links to inspire you to be gentle with your lovely self as you start the week.

I just had to share this quote. It speaks for itself.

Seeing yourself in the mirror of how others treat you can be startling. It's worth exploring.

Here's a great article on what kindness means, especially in terms of being kind to yourself.

What does self-care mean to you? Here are the thoughts of a couple of cool women who have been diving into this subject recently.

If you'd like to go deeper and discover more about where you are on your path right now, check out this Tarot spread.

Have a wonderful week, and enjoy the Summer Solstice!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Work and Hiking

Today, thanks to a conversation with a friend who asked just the right question, I reserved the domain name for a new website. I was telling him about my book contract, and he wanted to know if I had a website for it yet. Aha! I didn't, but I soon will. I reserved www.starcatscorner.com (don't visit just yet, it's still a blank canvas) as soon as I got home. One of BlackLion's favorite tools for living your dreams is that if you have an inspired idea, act on it right away, even if it's just a small step. So I did! As well as a place to promote and sell the book, I'm thinking I'll also use that site to host this blog - once I get it built, that is. It's starting to take shape in my head already. I'm no graphic designer, but I do have a feel for what sort of "look" I want. It'll be fun to dream about it for a while.

Book work this week has consisted of asking for endorsements. You know, the blurbs on the back cover that entice you to open the tome? Or at any rate, entice bookstore owners to put the book on their shelves. I have three authors who have said yes, and a couple more very promising contacts. I'll tell you more once things are firmed up. It's been so exciting to do stuff towards the book! It's like, now that my childhood dream of being published is underway, the opportunities to succeed as an author are multiplying! I think I blasted past an old belief, into a whole new realm of possibilities.

So, next is some time in nature, with one of my favorite people. Quester and I are heading up north to celebrate our anniversary, starting tomorrow. Last weekend I had a chance to sit in a lovely park full of oaks and do my journal writing for the day (while waiting for our outdoor drum practice to get underway). It was so refreshing and delightful, and it reminded me that perhaps I've been indoors too much this spring. This week we're going to do some hiking, probably sit around a campfire, and just enjoy nature and each other's company. I'm very thankful!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Starcat's Favorites: Rising to the Challenge

So you'd think I'd be riding high on the waves of having submitted my book manuscript, feeling uplifted and happy - and part of me is. And yet the end of this week, after the Venus transit, proved to be pretty challenging. My thoughts and feelings have been all jumbled, and I feel out of place (and even invisible) in my daily life. I'm finding the energies emerging from the recent astrological events to be kind of a bumpy ride. I'm working on smoothing it out.

Meanwhile, here are some of my favorites from the week, things that helped me get through. If you're having a bit of an internal crisis, too, perhaps some of them will inspire you.

You can deal with conflict compassionately, even when you're feeling awful. Slow down and try these tips.

Getting overwhelmed? Walk away from the to-do list. Even if only for a while.

The Law of Attraction works. But it might not always feel that way - it takes practice.

If you're not in the mood for tips or tools, how about some poetry that speaks to the heart full of longing?

I'm very excited for another blogger and author whose new book is now out! Check out her amazing story (just follow the links in her post).

I guess that's it for now. Let me know how you liked the links, and whether you have some of your own to share, in the comments. Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mid-Week Missive

I'm just stopping in to say hello. It's been a full but fun week so far. Our Full Moon gathering last night was fantastic! Our circle members honored the Venus transit across the sun, as well as celebrating the Full Moon. We plumbed our depths and listened to the voices of our intuition. Mine had a lot to say, and it was useful advice about the flow of my life, enhancing my creativity, and balancing all the plates I have spinning in the air right now. I thought it was very cool that it started to rain just as we were diving into our personal waters, and then by the end of circle it had cleared off enough to see the moon!

This morning, besides doing my daily practice, I've been making split pea soup with Quester (it smells SO good), creating a card for a friend who's recovering from surgery, and brainstorming with BlackLion to come up with some new ideas to implement for Feline Dreamers. I'm thankful for all the inspiration and support I'm receiving right now. And still so jazzed about the book!

I hope your day is filled with simple pleasures and huge bursts of love.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Gems from the Past

In the process of writing the preface for my book, Starcat's Corner: Essays on Pagan Living, I went delving back into an old journal. I was looking to immerse myself in the experience I had at Vermont Witch Camp (VWC) in 2005, which was where the seeds for this book were first planted. I found what I wanted for the preface, and so much more!

There were things that I'd obviously brought forth from that time, like the book, but there were others that I hadn't realized were connected. One of those is music, and the drumming I heard that week has manifested as the drum performing I'm doing this summer. Unexpectedly, there were other glimmers of ideas that lit me up when I read them. There are a few that I'm pulling forward into the present. I decided to also read back over my journal entries from my 2008 yoga retreat at Kripalu, to see what else I might uncover.

Ultimately, time is an illusion, so there are connections within us to all phases of our lives. And in those significant moments when we are especially focused on our oneness with spirit, we may be blessed with many creative inspirations, so many that we can't handle them all at once.

Think back: do you recall a positive, transformative event that sent many ripples outward into your life? It might have been a retreat, but could also be your childhood, a vacation, falling in love, your wedding, having a child, or simply a time period when your inner world seemed to open up and flood you with energy. If you have journals, letters, blogs, or other writings from that time, read back through them. Look through your photo album. Place yourself back in the moment, and see what you intended. What goals did you set? What did you wish to carry forward? Have you followed through on those things?

If there are any goals or even seeds of ideas that capture your attention now, focus on them. See how they fit with the person you are today. If it feels right, work with them. Let these gems from the past infuse your present moment with their light. Let your inner self shine.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Starcat's Favorites: An Experiment

I've noticed that several of my favorite blogs post a weekly (or so) post with links to things that they've been enjoying. It gives you further reading on topics that might resonate with you, and allows the blogger (me) to share some cool things I've encountered over the past week. So as an experiment, I'm going to try it. Here goes!

Saying yes! to the things that really matter. Mm-hmmm.

Living life as a spiritual practice. I'm saying yes! to this one, for certain.

If you consider yourself a life-long learner, check out how to design your own curriculum. I love this idea!

This coming week's Full Moon also includes a rare transit of the planet Venus across the sun. What does it mean? Here is an astrologer's perspective. Teri at Starsdance Astrology is also writing about the celestial events of the coming week.

I drum for a Vaudeville troupe called Dark Follies. We're doing our our own Kickstarter campaign. Help make it a success! You can get cool free stuff, including tickets to our stage show. Check out the adorable video, too.

Hope you enjoy the links. Post your own in the comments if you like, or give me some feedback on this new feature.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's Manuscript Day

Today's the day I'm finishing up my book manuscript (Starcat's Corner: Essays on Pagan Living) and submitting it to my publisher. It's my deadline, not theirs. The publisher said that whenever I get it to them, they'll start there and get rolling on putting it into production. But I know myself, and if I don't have some kind of deadline, I can procrastinate indefinitely. So I decided to finish the book in May. Which means, today being the 31st, that I'm frantically working on getting all the details straight (or I will be, once I get home to my laptop, clean the kitchen, and get dinner made).

One thing that's been surprising and rather pleasing is that, throughout the process of putting the essays together and editing them (multiple times), I still enjoy reading them. I'm proud of these little creations, and glad that they're book-worthy. I'm so much looking forward to sharing them with you! And despite the title, I'm sure that the book will appeal to a wider audience than those who consider themselves Pagan. In fact, I think anyone who is looking to deepen their personal spirituality in the midst of day-to-day life would benefit from reading it.

Of course, I'm also beyond thrilled to be on this path to fulfilling a lifelong goal! I'll soon be a published author. I'm loving it already! And believe it or not, I'm already thinking ahead to my next book, and the one after that, and...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Honoring Creative Expressions of All Stripes

BlackLion and I have recently, through our drumming with the Dark Follies vaudeville troupe, gotten involved in the steampunk movement (click here if you'd like to learn more about what that means). We attended the Steampunk World's Fair in New Jersey last weekend, and had such a fun time! If you link up with me on Facebook, you can see my photo album. The costumes are so creative and fantastical that I could have sat in one place, just people-watching!

Not only did we enjoy performing and hanging out with the troupe, we also got to connect with some unschooling friends.When we returned from the trip, I was looking through Facebook at the pictures other people had posted. My friend Dayna, who was there because of her son's passion for all things steampunk, had posted a picture of him in his costume, which included a replica of a flintlock gun. I noticed there were a lot of comments, and started to read them. I was amazed to find that a couple of people were objecting to seeing a young teenager in a "warlike" costume, and even offended that she would "let" him be part of this type of event. They seemed truly offended by the photo.

Why was I so astonished? I'd attended the full three days of the festival, and despite the presence of weapons as part of some of the costumes, I'd seen nothing at all to indicate violence or conflict. The vast majority of the folks at the festival were polite and jovial. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the shows and vendors, and although alcohol was being served and consumed, I never witnessed any fights or altercations. The festival attendees were there to have fun, show off their creations, and connect with others.

I'm a very peaceful and non-violent person, and it never occurred to me to look askance at the stories that were being spun as part of the steampunk genre. ElvenTiger and Dayna's son hung out together at the festival, and part of their play was having mock battles. In fact, when we were getting ready to leave, they said farewell by staging a "big final battle," which took place on the midway, with BlackLion providing a dramatic drum soundtrack. They were so clearly playing, having fun exploring ways of being in the world, that it never triggered any fears or worries that they would bring real violence into their experience. They, like the other attendees, were exercising their imaginations.

As someone who values peace as well as imagination, I strive to honor creative expressions of all types and stripes. I don't think that playing violent video games, re-enacting historic battles, or role-playing swords and sorcery leads to more violence in the world. In fact, I see these as healthy ways to channel the natural aggression that we brought forth from our earlier days as humans. We are evolving, and by expressing ourselves creatively, we unlock new ideas and ways we wish the world to be. Rather than fearing the actions of those who act or dress differently than we do, particularly teens and young adults, let's look deeper and honor their unique self-expression. We teach by example, and what better lessons than living our ethics and valuing the diversity of human experience?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why Drumming Helps With My Writing

Feline Drummers at the Watch City Festival in Waltham, MA
photo by Jennifer Wright Owen

Elven Tiger and I are taking a drawing class at our homeschool co-op, based on the book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards. At this point in my life, I've done lots of meditation, yoga, and other practices that enable me to enter the alpha state at will. So I'm finding it relatively easy to slip into that right-brain mode as I draw, even though I'm far from an accomplished artist. I'm having fun sketching, with no expectations about the outcome.

In recent years I've become pretty pleased with my writing ability. (It still makes me squirm a bit to even say something like that - but I've got a book contract, so I guess I can toot my own horn just a bit). Of course, there's always room for improvement, and that's part of the fun of the writing craft. Interestingly, the thing that has had the biggest impact on my writing lately is my drumming.

I started playing the djembe a few years ago. Self-taught (aside from a couple of workshops here and there), sitting round the fire, groovin' in a hippie drum circle sort of way. Then BlackLion and I got asked to drum for the first Dark Follies street performance in 2008. At first playing with Dark Follies was perfect for our improv-style messing around, but then some of the dancers wanted something a bit more traditional. Other drummers came in, and one excellent drummer, Stephen, became the lead musician. He's done a lot of training and practice, and it shows. The quality of Dark Follies' music improved. At that point BlackLion and I almost quit, both because of our lack of experience with the more traditional tunes, and also because we got busy with other things, like writing and creating offerings and wares for our business.

BlackLion had done more drumming than me, so he wasn't really intimidated. I was frustrated with my seeming inability to remember the various beats by name. "We'll play a slow maqsum, then transition into masmoodi" sounded Greek to me. My left brain just wasn't getting it - but if they could show me the riff, I could play along with no problem. With BlackLion's urging, and being drawn in by the cool folks in the troupe, we got more involved again last year.

This fall, our fearless leader decided that we should form a real band, and add melodic instruments. Thus we became the Dark Follies Not Just Rhythm Orchestra. It's been a truly incredible learning experience! I love playing with a band. I've never considered myself a musician - that was always Quester's realm, and BlackLion's. But now I'm feeling it. And the lessons I've learned are invaluable in boosting my other creative pursuits - including my biggest passion, writing. How?

Well, what I've struggled with most in becoming a "real" drummer is the connection between the left brain and the right brain. Both are needed in this gig. The right brain stuff is easy for me. I can keep the beat and get into the groove (Quester tells me that keeping a steady beat is a fairly rare talent, but I just feel it in my body and go with it). The left brain connection to that has been a challenge - learning the various beats by name, primarily. When I say a challenge, I mean one of those fun brain-bending "I can do this, I know I can!" sort of challenges. And it seems to be working! The connection with writing is that it's becoming easier for me to move from the idea phase, where I'm imagining a piece and brainstorming its components (right brain), to the actual execution of it (left brain).

I feel like I'm a symphony, sometimes, as I open up and creatively express what's in my heart. And whether my composition is made up of words or drumbeats, I'm in the moment, awake and aware, yet deeply immersed in the flow. I have a long way to go with my music, but again, that's part of the fun of the craft. I'm excited about the expansion and discovery - and delighted that all parts of my life are being uplifted in the process.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cleanse Complete!

Oops. I guess I've wandered away from the regular updates about the raw food cleanse! Well, it was a busy but fun week, and it's been going well. Now we're on day ten of ten, so I guess it's pretty much complete.

On Monday, I got a bit bored with the food I was eating, but just shrugged and went along with it. My Mom was so sweet. I had asked if we could have a big salad when we came over for dinner, and not only did she do that (along with making soup, rolls, and pudding for the rest of the crew), but she also made me a lovely and delightful fruit plate for dessert. Asian pear, Grannysmith apple, Empire apple, and red grapes. She's awesome. But I knew that already.

Tuesday and Wednesday were fine, and I made up a new recipe. I was making our usual spaghetti sauce for the family and some friends, so I also made a raw version for BlackLion and I. It had tomatoes, onion, garlic, olives, mushrooms, a touch of olive oil, and spices. I put it in the food processor, then chilled it for a while so the flavors could merge. Because of the black olives, it looked like some kind of raspberry sauce! We ate it over spiralized zucchini, and it was delicious. We had the leftovers on Wednesday.

Today was co-op, and I was busy running around. We had a smoothie in the morning, and for lunch we brought dehydrated kale chips with a tahini-based dip, and some dried fruit. For dinner I had an avocado and some leftover raw strawberry pie that BlackLion made.  I'm eating a lot less than I used to, both in terms of calories and actual portion sizes.

I've lost five pounds over the ten days. I'm not ready to commit to going all raw food, mostly because it's a lot of work, especially when the family isn't eating the same way. But I'm definitely going to keep a lot of raw food in my diet, and will continue to eat less in general and focus on healthy eating. I've been reading "Three Steps to Incredible Health" by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and learning a lot about nutrition. I'd say this has been a successful cleanse. Thanks for reading along!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

A Blessful Weekend

Well, I was going to write either "blessed" or "blissful" in the title, and ended up combining the two. I think it works well as a description. I've been having lots of fun!

Saturday BlackLion and I celebrated our anniversary, and also Cinco de Mayo! We started our day with a yummy green smoothie. We did a bit of shopping for fruits and veggies, then headed down to Exeter, NH to the Grand Opening of the Good Karma Cafe! It's a new vegan and raw cafe that is just delightful. BlackLion and I are going to blog about it tomorrow over at the Feline Dreamers website, if you'd like to know more. Suffice it to say that we had a very tasty raw Mexican-themed lunch (with a decadent raw dessert), and then walked all around the adorable town of Exeter.

We came home and hung out with the kids after that, and had some light raw snacks for dinner. We watched the movie "Green Lantern," which was fun. We've been enjoying the superhero movies lately, and are looking forward to going to see "The Avengers" soon.

Today was the annual Beltane on the Beach celebration at Popham Beach State Park. The whole family went. We had a fabulous time enjoying the wonderful people, the gorgeous sunshiney day, and some groovy drumming. There was also a bardic circle, and we got to see a lot of folks we haven't seen in quite a while. I was happy to see that, alongside the pasta salads and desserts, a lot of folks had brought fresh fruits and veggies to the potluck. We brought a green salad to share. After a whole day at the beach, BlackLion and I had rehearsal with the Dark Follies troupe. Also fun, but after such a busy weekend I'm feeling like I need some down time!

Having just about completed day 6 of the raw food cleanse, I'm feeling great. Took nice walks both yesterday and today, and had plenty of energy. I haven't kept track of my water consumption, but I feel like I've had plenty of liquids in general. I'm off to bed to rest and read. Sweet dreams to you!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Am I Rusty?

Woke up to lots of rain again today. The trees and plants are loving it! I enjoyed giving a Reiki session this morning, followed by doing some chores and then working on my book. The cats were in and out, and Percy came and snuggled on my lap for a while when I was writing. Rainy day bliss!

Later in the day I felt a bit physically weak, like I was perhaps low on iron. Perhaps my iron doesn't like the rain - maybe it got rusty. Anyway, I snacked on some dried fruit, and had a spinach salad for dinner, and that helped.

We had a lovely Full Moon ritual tonight, even though we had to be indoors and couldn't actually see the moon's light. We'd made a yummy fruit salad to share, so that's what we had afterwards, along with some almonds and dried apricots. The bread and cheese that were also available looked good, but I chose to stay raw. Oh, and by the way, I've already lost four pounds! Off to bed. We have a fun day planned for tomorrow, but you'll have to wait and hear about it later. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Resting Today

It's day 3 of the raw food cleanse, and you might be sick of hearing about it already, heh heh. This morning I woke up feeling a bit dizzy and not really ready to face the day. But it is Thursday, which means our homeschool co-op day, so I got ready and we headed out. I was feeling very low-energy for much of the day. Some of it is probably due to the time of the month (sorry if that's TMI), as well as detoxing because of the cleanse. Or perhaps it's just the combination that got me down. I was in good spirits for the most part, just moving more slowly than usual. Breakfast was a smoothie, and lunch was salad and a banana. It wasn't even a big salad, but I felt super full after eating it, and even a bit nauseous. I'm not sure what that was about.

After a busy day at the co-op, I came home feeling very tired and hungry. BlackLion made me a smoothie, and then I took a nap. When I woke up, I did some meditation while I was still lying in bed. Then I got up and made vegetable curry for the family. It wasn't hard to cook it and not eat it. It smelled good, but I didn't really want any. Brent and I had kale salad and a piece of a raw frozen pie that he created. It was good. It tasted kind of like oatmeal with fruit. It was one of those nut-and-date crusts, with bananas and strawberries as the filling. Yum!

I was revived a bit after that, and did some stuff online. I don't think I drank as much water today, but I was already feeling pretty liquidy, so I think that was fine. It's been nice having an evening of rest. Leave a comment and let me know what you think of the daily updates. It's a different format for me, but I'm finding it fun to blog about the process I'm going through. Blessings!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Cleansing is Going Well

I had the thought that the raw food cleanse might be hard for me to do. But so far, it's been easy and wonderful. I think my body was really ready. All of the foods I'm eating taste so delicious, and I'm feeling perfectly full even though I'm eating a lot less than I have been. I had a salad for dinner. It was spinach, tomato, cukes, avocado, red onion, and olives, with a homemade dressing, and it tasted like the most fantastic thing I'd ever had!

The water drinking is also going just fine. Yesterday I had 64 ounces, and today I easily drank the whole 100 ounces which is sort of a goal ("sort of" because if I don't do it, no big deal). Yes, I'm visiting the bathroom a lot (the tiny bladder thing), but I figure that means I'm getting rid of a lot of toxins, so that's fine.

Emotionally I've been doing well, too. Yesterday I felt great all day and got a lot done. Worked on creative projects, did housework, all kinds of stuff. I felt joyful and light. This morning I woke up feeling energized and positive. I had a busy day of house stuff and errands, which all went smoothly.

Tonight was our weekly homeschool group. It was a bit overwhelming being around lots of people, but nothing I couldn't handle. Lately I've been better able to stay true to myself in a crowd than I used to be, anyway. Being an empath, I used to absorb a lot of the energies of others and be drawn away from my center. But for the most part I've learned not to do that, and now I enjoy hanging out with friends in groups. It does take energy to maintain, though, so as I write this, I'm feeling a bit tired and ready to chill out for the evening (especially since I have homeschool co-op tomorrow, so even more people!). I thought I might feel triggered about food, since we do a big potluck dinner on Wednesday nights and everyone would be enjoying various cooked and sweet foods. But that was no big deal at all, and as I mentioned above, I loved the salad I brought for myself. That's all for now. Good night!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Crafting a Spring Cleanse

Today is Beltane, or May Day, which I think is a rather auspicious day to begin a spring cleanse. What cleanse am I doing? Well, one that BlackLion and I are making up as we go along, of course (we invited Quester to join us too, but he politely declined).

When we went to the Life Rocks! conference, we encountered a whole lot of folks who are interested in healthy eating, with a focus on raw foods in particular. We'd experimented a bit with raw foods a few years ago, but not for long, and not in any big way. At the time, it had felt like a huge commitment, with lots of rules and judgement, extra work, and hefty financial costs. I just wasn't up for that. But now I'm realizing that, like anything, we can take on raw foods and cleansing on our own terms, in our own way. So we're going to do just that.

We're starting with a cleanse of ten days. We'll eat raw foods - veggies, fruits, nuts - with a particular focus on liquids - smoothies, fresh juices, water, perhaps some raw soups (warmed to 105 degrees in the dehydrator - which will be an experiment). We don't have a high-speed blender, but we do have some other cool stuff, like a nice dehydrator (purchased used during our first raw food foray), a veggie spiralizer, and a good food processor. I also plan to drink a bunch of water. One person recommends 100 ounces of water per day, but that seems like a bit more than I can manage with my tiny bladder. We'll see.

My goal is to bring my physical energy into better alignment with my whole being. I gained quite a lot of weight over the past three years or so, and much of it was due to emotional crisis. I've moved beyond that set of feelings (which centered around the transformation into following my calling, and releasing related doubts and fears) and my life is a lot of fun, full of creativity and joy. So I want to release those old toxins, patterns, and pounds. I figure a cleanse will help jump-start the process, and then I can move forward with healthier eating habits from there.

I believe that the physical realm is one aspect of the wholeness of my spirituality, so there are other things I'm doing to support myself during the cleanse: yoga, continued meditation practice, reading inspiring books, listening to my affirmations, speaking kindly to myself and others (the being kind to *me* is the hard part, sometimes), and getting plenty of rest. Wish me luck!

Oh yeah, and here are a couple of links to blogs that I'm using as inspiration:

The Macro-Raw Foodist
Raw Envy with Dayna Martin

I'll be posting updates on how it's going, so if you have particular questions, please leave a comment! Blessings!

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Busy-ness

Over the past few weeks, I've come up with a bunch of ideas of things to post here, but haven't actually sat down to write them up. Why? I'm busy. I know, lame excuse, everyone's busy, you hear it all the time. This isn't the type of busy I've had in the past, though, where I was stressed out and overwhelmed. For the most part, it's been stuff that I want to do, creative and fun things that keep me on the go. This movement fits well with the energy of spring, and feels like it's part of the forward momentum that we've been enjoying in regard to Feline Dreamers and living our dreams. So what exactly have I been up to?

Unschooling: I've been spending time with my kids and their friends, which also includes some of my friends. We hosted last week's homeschool group (since our usual hosts are traveling), and have been teaching a cooking class with BlackLion at our weekly co-op. I'm also taking an art class with ElvenTiger at co-op. With teens, there's also a lot of chauffeuring them around. ElvenTiger has her weekly swim class, and hangouts with friends. Dryst is now in a very busy lacrosse season, with practices and/or games every day but Sunday. He's also been to a couple of concerts with his friends lately, Seether being the most recent.

 Writing and editing: I've been working on putting together my book, which I'm still extremely thrilled about! As well as writing articles, keeping journals, and editing scripts for our guided meditation CD. I'm thankful for all the creativity that is flowing through me!

Drumming: My involvement with Dark Follies has really ramped up. We have lots of rehearsals and gigs, plus my own drum practice. I'm a bit intimidated, as I still don't feel like a "real musician" sometimes. But I'm learning so much, and really enjoying the process! BlackLion and I are even creating a skit for the June stage show - faeries will be involved. Tee hee!

Socializing with family and friends: Aunt Peg is doing much better, and I'm so thankful! We've still been helping her with laundry and other tasks. It's also fun to visit with her more often, and we plan to keep it up. We do our weekly evening with Mom and Dad, which is always fun, plus lately we've hung out with my brother and his wife for a birthday gathering, and we have some regular role-playing games that we're a part of as well. And cats to snuggle, of course!

Cooking...and uncooking: Inspired by some friends at Life Rocks!, BlackLion and I have been adding more raw and living foods to our diet. It feels challenging to fit this in with the desires of the rest of the family (for their usual meals) and adapt to the high cost of some of the items. I feel like if I was just preparing foods for myself, I could easily eat all or mostly raw foods. But I'm taking my own advice and practicing "vibe first, then act," setting an intention to eat more healthfully and letting it unfold naturally.

Healing: I have a new Reiki client, and really enjoyed working with her at my home. Usually I make house calls to my clients' homes, but she prefers coming to me, and it's working well.

Radio: I've been doing some on-air shifts at the public radio station, helping them out when people need time off and earning some extra money in the process.

Connecting: Even though I've been busy, I've been making an effort to get on Facebook and make contact with folks there. I have lots of ideas that I'm excited to share! And I'm giving attention to my various daily practices that help connect me with the energy of the Divine.

Even so, there is much correspondence unfinished, a long-intended visit to a friend and her baby that hasn't happened yet, and new plans in the works for our Full Moon circle. I'd also love to do more yoga and walking, moving my body more deliberately. And I'm ready for more prosperity to flow in and help us with our monthly bills. Overall, though, I'm thankful for the busy-ness of a fulfilling life. Bring it on, world, I'm ready!

What about you? What have you been doing so far this spring?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shining From the Inside Out

Note: I wrote this article a few weeks ago, as a "guest blog" submission for Kind Over Matter. I haven't heard back from them yet, so I decided to post it here instead. I haven't given up on posting for them - I love that site! - but I'll craft something new when the inspiration strikes.

I have a bit of wisdom to share, but it might not be something you want to hear. I know I had some trouble accepting it, and still do on some days. But nevertheless, here it is: kindness begins with being kind to yourself.

I know. It's easy to be kind to other people, much of the time anyway. But to myself? I tend to take myself for granted, or worse, focus on all my flaws, unfulfilled potential, and the things I should have done. Even in the realm of self-care, there are often more "shoulds" (as in, I should have done my yoga today, I should have planned more down time this week so I wouldn't be so frazzled, I should take my vitamins) than there are moments of actual nurturing.

Still, I am discovering that kindness that doesn't start with love for yourself simply isn't sustainable. It's a matter of learning to see yourself as a blessing, to appreciate the beauty, wonder, joy, and love that are at your core. We are not taught to do this. We're urged to "for goodness sake, tone yourself down and be more like everyone else." We're taught to rely on others for validation of our inherent worth.

But that just doesn't work, not in the big picture. What happens when you rely on someone else to fill your cup? Even if they love you, they're caught up in their own experience of life, and they may not see your need. Even if you ask, they might not be willing or able to give you just what you want, when you want it.

And the asking can be hard. Recently I've noticed how easy it is for me to ask for help on behalf of others, and how quickly that falls apart when it's for me. Last week we had a huge early-March snowstorm, after a fairly light winter. I had no problem asking my husband, the next day, to drive to my parents' house and clear their walkways. I was about to go get groceries, and I didn't feel like clearing off my car and getting all snowy. He noticed that I was sighing about it, and posed a very simple question: "why don't you just ask me to do it, on my way out?"

Why not, indeed? If you're like me, though, you don't want to have to ask. Why can't someone just know what I need? Well, guess what? Someone does: me - my own inner voice, my intuition. And I can avoid all the expectations and disappointment by getting clear about my needs, providing them myself when that makes the most sense, and asking for help when I want it. It sounds simple, right?

Really, even in the closest of partnerships (with lovers, friends, family, or colleagues), isn't it best to come to your loved one from a place of joy and sharing, rather than one of neediness and lack? When you feel needy, go within. Stop what you're doing and just listen. That deep longing is a sign that you're disconnected from who you truly are. You've gotten cut off from your powerful inner source of energy and love. Don't fault yourself for it. We all do it. We're human.

"You can search far and in hungry places for love. It is a great consolation to know that there is a wellspring of love within yourself. If you trust that this wellspring is there, you will then be able to invite it to awaken." – John O'Donohue

No one's perfect. Being kind to yourself takes lots of practice. You'll fall down, and get back up again. There will be days when you wish Prince Charming would ride in and whisk you away, or your Faery Godmother would just show up and take care of all this crap, already. You'll feel like you don't deserve your own tenderness. But other times, you'll notice your cup is overflowing, and your light is shining especially brightly. You'll have more creativity, love, and kindness to spread around. You'll feel lighter and less guilty. Be patient with the process. Teaching yourself, gently, over time, to return again and again to your inner wellspring is the kindest act.

Friday, April 13, 2012

This Week

Well, hello there! I've been away from blogging for a couple of weeks, which included our amazing journey to the Life Rocks! Radical Unschooling conference. That was a very joyful, uplifting experience, and I plan to post more about it, and about some of the new ideas that inspired me while I was there. But this post is about this week in particular.

It was a busy one, and there were three things that I was primarily focused on. A past version of me might have said they were things I was feeling nervous about, but instead I'll just say that I wanted to make sure they went well. Here they are, in chronological order (although this means the order of importance is reversed).

The first one was running the audio board for a live call-in show on my local public radio station. I worked full-time for the station for 16 years, and then in 2008 I left to pursue my passions (unschooling, writing, creating my own business, and more). Just recently I've started doing some occasional work for them, filling in for other folks. They moved into a new studio, with all new equipment, so I've had to learn the new systems. It's a fun intellectual challenge, and my most recent test was to make sure things went well during my first time helping with the call-in show. And it was fine!

Next was the Dark Follies gig we had this week. We've been practicing all winter to come together as a musical ensemble, and the show went very well! I feel like I'm learning so much by playing with the group, and my drumming has improved. We have many more gigs this spring and summer, so it will continue to get better and better! I'm excited about learning some more new tunes. Here's a picture of BlackLion and I after the gig, taken by my Mom.

Finally, and most important, my beloved Aunt got some good news today at her doctor visit. Her health is her business, so I won't share in detail, but she's been going through a long healing process since Christmas Eve, and I'm delighted to say that things are very positive. I've been including her in my daily visualization practice, and I hope that and the Reiki have helped boost her healing energies.

I'm so happy and thankful for such a successful week! And now this introvert gets to rest and recharge. I'm curled up with Percy cat, the laptop, and jazz on the radio, and enjoying the chill time.