The Power of Dreaming

I’m caught up in the throes of NaNoWriMo, dreaming up a novel that won’t be finished this month, though I will make the 50,000 word count by November 30th. So for today’s post I bring you a thought-provoking quote on dreams and creativity, from one of my favorite author duos, Seth and Jane Roberts. Enjoy!

“The waking state as you think of it is a specialized extension of the dream state and emerges from it to the surface of your awareness, just as your physical locations are specified extensions of locations that exist first within the realm of mind.

“The waking state, then, has its source in the dream state, and all of the objects, environment, and experience that are familiar to you in the waking state also originate in that inner dimension.

“When you examine the state of dreams, however, you do it as a rule from the framework of waking reality. You try to measure the dimension of dream experience by applying the rules of reality that are your usual criteria for judging events. Therefore, you are not able to perceive the true characteristics of the dreaming state except on those few occasions when you ‘come awake’ within your dreams – a matter we will discuss later on in this book. But in a manner of speaking, it is true to say that the universe was created in the same fashion that your own thoughts and dreams happen: spontaneously and yet with a built-in amazing order and an inner organization. You think your thoughts and you dream your dreams without any clear knowledge of the incredible processes involved therein, yet those processes are the very ones that are behind the existence of the universe itself.

“Also, in a manner of speaking, you are yourselves the ancient dreamers who dreamed your world into being. You must understand that I am not saying that you are passive, fleeting dreamers, lost in some divine mind, but that you are the unique creative manifestations of a divine intelligence whose creativity is responsible for all realities, which are themselves endowed with creative abilities of their own, with the potential and desire for fulfillment – inheritors indeed of the divine processes themselves. Spontaneity knows its own order.

“I have said that many times. The world’s parts come spontaneously together, with an order that basically defies the smaller laws of cause and effect – or before and afterward. In that regard, again, your dreaming state presents you with many clues about the source of your own lives and that of your world.

“Computers, however grand and complicated, can not dream, and so for all of their incredible banks of information, they must lack the kind of unspoken knowing knowledge that the smallest plant or seed possesses. Nor can any amount of information ‘possessed’ or processed by any computer compare with the unspoken knowing knowledge that is possessed by the atoms and molecules that compose such an instrument. The computer is not equipped to perceive that kind of knowing. It is not equipped for such an endeavor because it can not dream. In dreams the innate knowledge of the atoms and molecules is combined and translated. It serves as the bed of perceptual information and knowledge from which the dreaming state arises in its physical form.

“You are subjectively ‘alive’ before your birth. You will be subjectively alive after your death. Your subjective life is now interpreted through the specialized state of consciousness that you call the waking one, in which you recognize as real only experience that falls within certain space and time coordinates. Your greater reality exists outside those coordinates, and so does the reality of the universe. You create lives for yourselves, changing them as you go along, as a writer might change a book, altering the circumstances, changing the plots. The writer only knows that he or she creates without understanding the spontaneous order with which the creativity happens. The processes occur at another level of consciousness.

“In the most basic of ways, the world is formed from the inside out and from dreaming reality into the physical one – and those processes happen at another level of consciousness.”

- Seth through Jane Roberts, from the book Dreams, “Evolution,” and Value Fulfillment, written in 1980

5 Ways to Break Your Curses

Have you ever felt like you were cursed? Like there are these old patterns that have you in their grip, and they just won’t let go?

I have a friend who is having what she calls “a string of bad luck” right now. She feels like an old pattern is recurring in her life, one of being the unpopular one, the outcast, the kid who is always picked last. She describes this state as “being cursed,” and wants some help breaking it.

For the record, yes, this is an actual friend, not myself in disguise. Though I have felt this way many times in my life, too, so I can empathize.

Well, then, how did I get out of it? How can you break your own curses, those issues in your life that seem to come back like a bad penny? I have some suggestions.

Before I share them, it’s important that you know that right now is the perfect time for breaking a curse. We’re in the waning part of the lunar cycle, and the dark of the moon is upon us. It’s also the time of the waning sun, and the days will continue to grow shorter until Winter Solstice. This is a time for letting go, for releasing those things that you really don’t want around anymore.

You can do this! Try one of the ideas below, or hey, why not try them all? Your personal curse won’t stand a chance.

  1. Burn it up. Write down your curse, in detail. Draw an illustration. Pour your feelings about it into this piece of artwork. Energize it with all your angst and hurt and anger. When you are finished, burn it! I probably don’t have to tell you to do this safely, but a reminder is nice. As your paper burns, take a deep breath in and then exhale forcefully. You’re done with this crap! The curse is broken!
  2. Rewrite your story. Whenever you let something go, it’s crucial to put something new in its place. The Universe doesn’t like blank space. So, since you’re letting go of this curse, who will you be instead of the cursed one or the victim? Tell a new story. List your positive attributes. Using my friend’s example, tell yourself how others in your life want to spend time with you, they admire you but were too shy to say anything before, and you’re about to be chosen for an awesome new adventure!
  3. Help someone in need. Nothing distracts you from your own problems more quickly than helping someone who is suffering. This might mean volunteering for a soup kitchen, raking leaves for an elderly neighbor, or being a good listener for someone who’s having a terrible day. Look around you and you’ll see that just about everyone suffers in one way or another. How can you offer your help? When you’re engaged in helping them, you’ll be distracted from your own problems, and more likely to focus on the blessings in your life.
  4. Embrace your desires. I’ve heard this basic spiritual advice from so many different sources: to live the life of your dreams, focus more on what you do want than what you don’t like about your life. Feeling cursed doesn’t have to stop you from learning what you do want. In fact, it can provide the contrast to send you in a new direction. If you keep getting sick and feel you’re cursed with poor health, then what you do want is to feel well and healthy. Think about and focus on health, and the things you can do to encourage it – even if they are just small baby steps. Honor your desires by taking the steps to fulfill them.
  5. Ask for help. Sometimes we struggle along on our own and feel like we’ll never get out of this cycle we’re in. Asking for help from a friend can be just the boost you need. Her perspective could be a breath of fresh air, helping you see the situation in a new way. You might discover that she’s felt the same way, or that she knows someone who has. Or at the very least you’ll have a fun night on the town, laughing about your problems and devouring a huge hot fudge sundae together. Laughing at a curse is guaranteed to reduce its power over you.

The fact that you’re even aware of the curse or old pattern is a great first step. Awareness is key. Action is next. So get to work, and banish that curse! You’ve got this.

How to Release Your Mean Inner Critic

One of the things that all humans have in common is our non-stop thinking. Our brains almost never stop their chatter, except for when we fall asleep at night. The quality of that mental self-talk can affect us profoundly. You might never have noticed the things you tell yourself, day after day. And yet that mental chatter affects the quality of your life. How?

Think about what happens when someone compliments you. You might immediately discount the compliment, saying to yourself that they are just being nice, or they don’t know the real you. You may feel embarrassed and say something to try and defuse the praise. Perhaps you physically look away, overcome by the feelings of shame that might accompany the notion that you are receiving something for which you’re unworthy.

Ask yourself what underlies your discomfort with compliments.

Why wouldn’t you simply look the person in the eye and say “thank you,” acknowledging what they are praising you for? Why aren’t you able to praise your own skills, talents, and accomplishments? You can’t take these compliments to heart because your own mind has convinced you that you don’t deserve them.

This self-doubt also extends to the choices you make in your life. What happens when you have a dream or big goal that you’d like to pursue? You might talk yourself out of it before you begin to take action, stopping yourself in your tracks. Perhaps your fear of failure causes you to put the brakes on your most cherished projects.

Failure is something that self-confident people are comfortable with, for they know that it is one of the ways they learn new things. Yet when you’re convinced that you don’t have what it takes to succeed, you might worry that failure is the only sure outcome.

This fear of failure is particularly strong when you’re trying something brand-new. When your mental chatter is negative in tone and you doubt your basic competence, that energy is increased once you begin to create change. Your patterns of fear and unworthiness become threatened – perhaps your new venture will succeed, rendering them obsolete. Your ego mind ramps up its negative self-talk, wanting to hold you back from following your dreams.

The ego-mind wants you to stay in the comfort zone, doing the things you’ve always done. Truthfully, this comfort zone probably isn’t all that comfortable. And yet, for the most part, you stay there. The reason is simple: habits require a lot of energy to shift.

Like water that flows in the same channel year after year, habits follow the path of least resistance. Sometimes it takes an obstacle to change the flow, or a strong desire for change.

When you’re faced with a crisis, or finally grow tired of following the same path over and over again, then your intention becomes strong. Your ego-mind is not the entirety of your consciousness. Your observer self can step back and see the patterns you’ve fallen into. That is the part of yourself you can tap into when you want to release the negative inner voices that are holding you back. It will require practice and strength of will, yet you are uniquely able to transform your own harsh words into supportive encouragement.

Transform Trash Talk to Encouragement

The best way to begin the process of retraining yourself away from negative mental chatter is to notice. Tap into your inner observer. This is the part of you that watches, with a clear and open eye, what goes on in your life. You might think of it like a loving older friend or mentor, one who is removed enough from your day-to-day life to offer wise words of counsel.

When you open to it and allow this voice to come through, it can help you to see beyond the negativity that has become a habit of mind.

Start by taking just one day to observe what goes on inside your head. Perform this observation without judgment. Be as objective as possible. When you speak negatively, whether aloud or in your mind, notice and affirm that you have noticed. As life coach Josha Grant likes to observe, “Isn’t that curious…”

Here’s an example. You get up in the morning and head for the shower. As you undress, you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. Your first reaction is “ugh, I’ve really got to hit the gym and lose those extra pounds.” Pause, and notice. Say to yourself, “Isn’t that curious, that I’m feeling bad about the way my physical body looks?” Be as objective as possible in the language you use to observe.

Don’t scold yourself for it, or try to change it. Simply pay attention.

When you begin this practice, devote an entire day to it. Set an intention for the process, such as “Today I notice my self-talk” or “For today, I am the observer of my mental chatter.” Remember that you are new to this way of being. There will be a learning curve. If you forget from time to time, simply bring yourself back to the moment when you do remember. Some people like to create a physical reminder, like post-it notes or a bracelet that you shift from one wrist to another each time you observe negative self-talk.

You can choose to keep track of your observations, or simply let them flow through your consciousness. If you enjoy journaling, write about your experience at the end of the day. If external processing is more your thing, choose a trusted friend and share how it went. Keep track of your observations in your own way. You might wish to expand your process of observation, continuing it for a few more days or even a week. Do what feels right to you.

NOTE: The above is an excerpt from my book Cultivating Self-Love: Your Path to Wholeness. I’m delighted to announce that as of this week, the book is available in paperback! Get your copy today, and welcome more self-love into your life. It also makes a great holiday gift for friends or family members. Blessings!

Inspiration for the Journey

Writing a novel in a month is, let me tell you, quite a journey. But no matter what projects you’re working on right now, you probably look for inspiration in other areas of your life. Everyone has their go-to music, or books, or TV shows when they’re looking to be inspired. Hopefully they change over time, and you find new things to motivate and/or relax you.

What, you don’t think relaxation and distraction are a part of the creative process? For me, they’re essential.

So, while I’m working on my newest novel, with the working title Patterns In the Void, here’s a list of some ways I’m finding inspiration.

What I’m listening to:

Shakey Graves “Dearly Departed” (featuring Esme Patterson). I’ve been hearing this tune on the radio and I absolutely love it! I didn’t even realize until just now, when I was looking for links to it, that the performers are so freaking adorable. Wow. Awesome.

Bat for Lashes, Two Suns. The whole album (apparently everything really is available on YouTube). Quester put the CD on one day when I was writing, and it just fits my story so well. So atmospheric -and creepy-in-a-good-way.

Radio Paradise. I enjoy hearing tunes I’ve never heard before mixed with classic stuff and obscure stuff and new releases and different genres. This is always a great mix.

Some other books on my "to read" shelf.

Some other books on my “to read” shelf.

What I’m reading:

Maeve Binchy, Chestnut Street. This is a collection of poignant, funny, and touching short stories, published after the author’s death. Her character-building is fantastic. She can give you a complex picture of a human being in just a few short pages. Really impressive.

Joel Zaslofsky, Experience Curating: How to Gain Focus, Increase Influence, and Simplify Your Life. I can’t possibly begin to explain this book. It’s lighting me up, though. Apparently I’m already a curator, and now I want to upgrade my systems. If you want to know what the heck this is about before getting the book, listen to this interview.

Alice Grove. It’s a new web comic by Jeph Jacques. Quester gets credit for this one, too. I’m not usually much of an online comic reader, but this is great.

What I’m watching:

SpiritScience. You know how I mentioned my novel has the word “patterns” in the title? Yep, sacred geometry plays a part in the tale. This series, SpiritScience, is not only hugely educational, but also fun to watch, thought-provoking, and inspiring. And I’m not normally much of a video-watcher, so that’s saying something.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Sci-fi, superheroes, and Joss Whedon? I can’t resist. I love the storytelling here as much as the cool powers and alien artifacts. It rocks.

Doctor Who. Believe it or not, I’m a new viewer. I’m only on season 2 (of the modern incarnation of the show). So no spoilers, please! You know who you are.

Extra credit:

My friend Brigid posted a cool question on her blog, and it intrigued me.

Her question: “The scene, an empty stage. The spotlight shines on you and you cannot see the audience. You are wearing a red sequined dress standing before a microphone. What song do you sing?”

After giving it some thought, my answer is “Mystery” by the Indigo Girls. I’m not really sure why – but perhaps it will tell you something about me.

Your turn! What are you enjoying for inspiration these days? Please share with us. I, for one, am always looking for new things to inspire me. Blessings!

A Little Extra Sunshine for Your Spirit

Here in the northern hemisphere, it’s late autumn. The leaves have fallen from the trees and Mother Nature is ready for her long winter’s nap. In the U.S., daylight savings time means that it now gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon. Yeesh. I don’t know about you, but that can make me want to curl up under my blankets with a book and call it a day.

sunflower

If you have things to do and you can’t just hibernate every evening, then what do you do to uplift your energies? How do you keep going when the days are short and cold?

Here are some ideas from my own playbook. Please feel free to add yours in the comments section!

  • Treat yourself and your family to some cut flowers. They brighten up the house and remind you of warmer days.
  • Take your vitamins. I started my winter regime of vitamins C and D a couple of weeks ago. They boost my immune system and help avoid seasonal depression.
  • Cancel events. No, really. This is a good time of year to get some extra rest, to stay home and relax. Remember, saying no to social gatherings can mean saying yes to your own most cherished projects. Speaking of which…
  • Get creative. I don’t know about you, but when my external energies are low this time of year, sometimes my inner world expands. When you stay home, dive into a creative project that sounds like fun. Make some gifts for the upcoming holidays, write a book, or knit something cool.
  • Make soup. It will warm the body and nurture the soul. Think of your favorite kind, and make a big pot of it. If you have extra, freeze some for later meals.
  • Get moving. You may not be outside as much, unless you’re a fan of winter sports, but be sure to keep yourself in motion. My favorite thing to do in the winter is to put on some great music and dance around the kitchen. ElvenTiger often joins me and spins her practice poi or does some hula-hooping.
  • Check in with your larger goals. Late fall and winter are the perfect times to delve deeply into your soul’s purpose. Assess your progress with your biggest goals. How’s it been going over the past year? Have things shifted and changed? Maybe your goals need to be updated. Now’s the time to clear the slate and set new intentions.
  • Spruce up your nest. If you’re home more during this time, look around. Do you have some clutter to get rid of, things you no longer use? Is it time to change up your artwork? Beautify your space so you and your family can enjoy it during those long winter nights.
  • Go easy on yourself. This time of year can be hard. Cut yourself some slack. When you’re feeling low, carve out some time for solitude or time to spend with a close friend, whatever energizes you. Be gentle.

What Is Your Foundation?

What are your most important priorities in life? The really super big ones?

It’s okay to pause for a moment and get philosophical. This is late autumn, the dark time of the year, a chance to go inward and seek what is most meaningful to you. Take your time. When you’re ready, pick two or three top priorities. These priorities represent your most deeply cherished core beliefs about how to live “the good life.” They’ll be different for each of us.

When you’re living in tune with yourself and who you truly are, those priorities form the foundation of your life experience. Each day, you can use them to make decisions about how you’ll spend your time and energy.

I’ve been thinking about my own foundation, and it turns out to be a triangle, or perhaps a pyramid. I have three key core beliefs about what’s most important in my life: love, learning, and fun.

I’m grounded in love, and that’s an important component of my life’s priorities. Love of self, love of my beloveds, love of family and friends and pets, love of my surroundings and the things I do, love of the world and life itself. Love given and received freely. Gratitude is also part of it. I’m so thankful for the love in my heart, and for all these opportunities to share it. When I focus on that love and connect with it, amazing things happen.

With ElvenTiger at the Abbe Museum this summer. Fun and learning with someone I love - a win!

With ElvenTiger at the Abbe Museum this summer. Fun and learning with someone I love – a win!

The second part I’m calling learning, but this includes using my creativity. I love to read, and I’m good at learning that way, but my other favorite method is learning through doing. Currently I’m learning how to write a novel by participating in NaNoWriMo for the second time. I’m learning to play the Middle Eastern drum (called a doumbek or tabla) by fumbling around and playing rhythms I already know on my djembe. I’m learning zentangling by practicing it, making pages in my art journal. I also learn a lot about the world by being in nature, and I learn about myself through my spiritual practices.

The final side of my triangle-shaped foundation is fun. I’ve come to believe that if I’m not having fun, then what’s the point? I don’t mean that every single moment of life is fun. Sometimes things are tough. But in general, I strive to enjoy what I’m doing and to spend time doing the things I most enjoy.

It’s your turn. What are your life priorities? What forms the foundation of the life you wish to live? Leave a comment below and share what you care about. How does your daily life reflect these core beliefs?

The next step is to create a life where those priorities are fully in focus. Where can you let go of things that don’t contribute to the life you desire? How can you take steps, right now, today, to bring more of your priorities to the forefront? I dare you to take action.

You’ll learn something new, you’ll most likely have fun, and chances are you’ll love it!

Or is that just me?

 

Saying No Means Saying Yes

I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Renaissance woman, someone who likes to dabble in many pursuits rather than focus on just one. The main challenge with this is that I’m living here on the Earth plane, where there only so many hours in a day. Ah, the restrictions of space and time and mortality. The other thing that becomes an issue is that most everything sounds like so much fun!

When I’m asked to attend an event or help with a project, I really love saying yes, especially when it’s something that sounds like it will be enjoyable or will make a difference. I love to be involved, and of course I don’t want to miss anything great!

But I’ve been down that road before, and it can lead to frustration and stress.

When I say yes to too many things in a given week, my own passions get put on the back burner. That doesn’t feel good at all. My creative work, my family, and my spiritual practices form the foundation of my chosen way of living.

November is a particularly key time for being aware of this. I’m writing a novel in a month. That takes a lot of focus and, you guessed it, time. Right after that is the winter holiday season, when my family and I already have a lot on our plates. Plus, this time of year the call of hibernation is strong. It’s not too hard to practice saying “no thanks” or “not right now.”

Saying no to something that could potentially be amazing means saying yes to the things I’m already committed to.

So when someone sends me an invitation, or BlackLion comes up with a great new idea that he thinks I’d enjoy too, or there’s a series on Netflix that ElvenTiger wants me to watch, I pause. I remember my creative projects and how much joy they bring, and think of the time commitment I’m being asked to give. I might look at the calendar and see what else is up that day, and what the week as a whole looks like. I put this potential new activity into context with the rest of the things I wish to devote my time to right now.

Saying no used to feel like I was letting someone down, or missing out on all the action. But now, saying no can mean saying yes, and I like that feeling. I remember, when I decline getting involved with a new project, that I have several already underway that will bring new growth and understanding. I cherish the time I spend with my family and close friends. I think of how much more centered I am when I have time to do yoga and meditate.

I recall my priorities, and the reasons why they are so important to me.

And if, in that pause to evaluate, the invitation sounds truly too good to pass up, I can always say yes.

 

Starcat’s Favorites: Writing a Novel

Happy National Novel Writing Month! (aka NaNoWriMo)

Last year was my first time doing this, and BlackLion and I collaborated on a novel together. It’s a good story, especially for a first effort, and we’re still (very slowly) editing and adding to it. More about that in the months to come.

In the meantime, it’s November again, and this time I’m writing a novel all on my own! BlackLion is writing too, but he’s doing sci-fi, and I’m doing a sort of urban fantasy-mystery hybrid.

I’ve got lots of ideas, and I’m feeling very inspired and creative. So, here goes!

In the meantime, here are some inspiring links for your weekend. You know, if you’re not too busy working on a novel of your own. Have fun!

Words of wisdom: “To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.” – Thomas Merton

One of my latest favorite art inspirations is zentangling. Be warned: you’ll love it.

Have you checked out Remarkably Human Radio yet? It’s an incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking podcast. This is my favorite episode, but they’re all terrific.

Oh! And I can’t forget SpiritScience. Wow. Just wow.

Well, given that I’m all psyched up about NaNoWriMo, you had to figure that some of the links would center on writing. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been reading on the subject. Creating a writing nest for yourself can help sustain you. There are lots of ways to get ready for NaNoWriMo. If you want to get really in-depth, here are some useful ideas for establishing a writing practice. And of course, writers need cats. Makes sense to me!

A Contemplative Samhain

Greetings. Blessed Samhain and Happy Halloween to you! Joyful salutations of the Celtic New Year!

I’m celebrating in a quiet and mellow space this year. Our Dark Follies gig that was originally scheduled for tonight was cancelled about a month ago, and I told ElvenTiger I’d give rides to she and her friends on Halloween, wherever they wanted to go. They ended up choosing to have a bonfire at our place, so I get to stay home and feed the teens. I love it.

samhainnightIt’s delightful being at home, in my own space, on this sacred Pagan holiday.

My altar is up and running.

I got my laptop back today, so I’m getting everything ready for NaNoWriMo, which begins tomorrow (I’m very excited!).

The fire is burning, the moon is shining, and some sweet friends dropped by to say hello. We made salsa today, from the last of the local tomatoes. I’m in my comfy clothes, rather than a costume. Candles are lit and candies have been shared.

I’m thinking of my dear Jenn, and others who have crossed over. Not in a highly sorrowful way, though, but more contemplative. Lots of memories. Lots of ideas and thoughts and images. So much love.

So much dreaming to do in this dark time of year. I am content, here in the cat cave.

Many blessings to you and yours!

 

Recovering From Mercury Retrograde

Well, that was certainly dramatic!

Mercury’s most recent journey through retrograde took place from October 4th through the 25th. These times of Mercury retrograde are when communication gets messed up – whether via technology or simple face-to-face relationships. We also have a couple of eclipses thrown into the mix for good measure.

So…. how was your experience this month? I noticed a lot of people around me, especially those involved in group endeavors, having huge emotional outbursts. People were personally offended by the words or actions of others. Those being accused were sideswiped, feeling like their good intentions had been misunderstood. I was watching mostly from the sidelines, in a support role, and I could clearly see how it really was all about miscommunication and misunderstandings.

This time I wasn’t riding the emotional roller coaster myself – probably because I had my own emotional breaking point back before the Mercury thing – but I did experience ongoing issues with technology. The tools I often use for my work weren’t reliable. My phone went wonky, I couldn’t print documents without some kind of snafu, and my laptop…well, it’s still in the shop.

Paper and pen still seemed to work fine, thankfully.

So, how do you recover from such an intense time? I found this terrific astrology article that not only explains the energies we’ve been experiencing, but also gives a forecast for the coming months. For me, this validated what I already knew to be true. Check out your forecast. What amazing possibilities are opening up for you as the wheel continues to turn?

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be here in my creative cave, happily writing, drawing, drumming and dreaming. It’s hibernation time, baby.