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

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.