Starcat’s Favorites: Extra Self-Care

It’s that time of year – the winter blahs have set in. Yes, the days are longer and there is the promise of spring. At the same time, at least here in northern New England, it is still quite cold and damp.

The perfect time for extra self-care! I’ve been practicing compassion for myself and taking extra down time when I need it. So far (knock on wood) I haven’t been sick – I think because I’m being mindful of treating my body well.hotcocoa

Sometimes this looks like drinking extra water and doing my hula-hooping. Other times I cozy up with a book and some hot cocoa or tea.

When looking back over the links I’d saved for you this month, it seems like there is a bit of a self-nurturing theme.

So let’s go for it! Grab some inspiration and settle in. You deserve to relax when you need to, and dance around when you feel like it.

In search of some inspiration? Watch Oprah Winfrey’s speech (again, if you’ve seen it already). “Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool that we all have.” Yes!

As of this writing, we just went through the powerful energies of the Full Blue Blood Supermoon with eclipse. Phew! It’s a perfect time to upgrade your beliefs. (Need some help with that? Feline Dreamers has you covered). It’s also Imbolc, when we take time to celebrate the first stirrings of spring and honor the Goddess.

Self-care and bullet journaling? Yes, please! Here is some wisdom and a challenge. Ready to go deeper? These shadow work journal prompts are a useful tool.

Here’s a simple explanation of some of the most basic types of meditation.

Why holding space for one another is some of the most sacred work you can do. Here is a beautiful story about how to do just that.

Weaving the Cord

I’ve been having some fantastic in-depth metaphysical conversations lately – it must be the time of year. Winter seems to hold more space for slowing down and going deeper. BlackLion and I are leading a series of calls over at Good Vibe University called “All Things Woo-Woo.” On yesterday’s call, we were talking about spellcasting.

It was so uplifting to speak with a group of New Age conscious co-creators, most of whom are spiritual but not religious, about the practices and ethics of the Pagan faith. I think people from both camps would be surprised at how well they line up, actually.

One of the spells that I’ve done for years is invisibility. Years ago, I once used it when walking home from work, a trip of about a mile along a busy street. Quester came home early and thought he’d pick me up along the way. He drove up and down the street several times, knowing the route I normally took, but was unable to see me as I walked along the sidewalk.

A friend and I were talking about invisibility recently, and he framed it in a way that made total sense. Normally we attune our vibration with our surroundings – not necessarily on purpose, but because we’re in the flow of that place.

If you think of this vibration as a waveform, then making yourself invisible means changing your waveform just slightly, enough so that you’re not quite as obviously there. You’re moving out of  sync with the coherent waveform that forms the visible input of the people around you. It’s destructive interference, where you’re cancelling out your appearance.

It’s not the opposite of the dominant vibration, but just a little bit off, so you’re sort of slipping between the waves.

I shared about it on the call, and then today I mentioned to the same friend about how much fun it was to connect these two different-but-similar ways of approaching life. We talked about the importance of practice.

Using your will to purposefully affect your experience starts out like a line, a thin thread that you reach out to affect events. As you practice, you’re adding other lines over time, and weaving a cord of magick that you can use to create change.

Brigid'scrossI thought that image was apropos for today, which is the eve of Imbolc or Brigid, the Celtic holy day celebrating the first stirrings of spring. Traditional crafts for the holiday include weaving Brigid’s crosses out of reeds and creating a corn doll that represents the Goddess.

Just as we craft these items of connection to the Divine, so our practice of magick helps us weave a cord that we can use as we make our way through the cosmos.

We can use our gifts and skills to create the change that we want to see in the world.

May it be so.

Why Pessimism Is Lazy

I’ve been noticing lately that some of the most intelligent, creative, and spiritual people I know, when talking about the future, suddenly default to pessimism. This is the case whether they are talking about their personal prospects or the fate of the Earth and her inhabitants.

On some levels, it’s understandable. We’re bombarded by a news cycle that’s centered on all the things going wrong. We’re trained by our culture to look for the problems in our lives, even if they are just 5 percent of the whole picture.

Yet I believe that being pessimistic about the future is just plain lazy thinking.

Why? On a personal level, unless you’re out in the cold, homeless and worrying about your next meal, or sitting in a hospice facility somewhere – and in either of those cases, you’re pretty unlikely to be reading this – you’re doing well.

As BlackLion says, you’ve overcome every challenge you’ve ever faced in your life, up until this very moment.

In the big picture, we’re living at a time where, globally, there is less disease, poverty, and violence than ever before in human history. Look it up. Actually, even in the crucible that was 2017, so many amazing things happened to improve life on our lovely Earth (my thanks to Rob Brezsny for the link). Awareness and compassion continue to grow.

Are there problems in this world? Absolutely. There is plenty of backlash against the progress we’ve made. There are environmental situations that have the potential to make life on Earth more challenging. There are diseases, war, abuse, death, and taxes.

Yet we are here to learn and grow. When you neglect all the things you’ve learned, and default to the cynical babble that you hear on TV, that’s lazy thinking.

You’re unnecessarily giving away your power when you do that.

So how can you be more proactive?

My favorite tool at the moment is awareness. Listen to yourself – the way you speak about the future, in particular. Pay attention to the words you use when you talk to friends, post on social media, or even think to yourself in the privacy of your own mind.

Don’t judge yourself. You’re doing the hard work of breaking what’s probably a very old pattern.

But I challenge you to listen, and notice, and then begin to make the shift.

Bonus homework: stop paying such close attention to the news cycle. I promise, you can stay informed – and eliminate a bunch of toxins from your psyche – by only tuning in to it once a week.

What the world needs most from us – the dreamers, the activists, those who work our conscious magick – is our faith, optimism, and inspired action. Focus more on what you do want than what you don’t, and let your words (and deeds) reflect that sacred focus.

We’ve got this.

Starcat’s Favorites: Greeting a New Year

I remember when I used to hate winter. I don’t so much, anymore. Granted, the cold, ice, wind, and snow are not my favorite things to be out and about in. But the landscape certainly is beautiful, and I like slowing down during this time of year and going into my creative cave.

Thankfully, I’ve crafted a life where I can do just that.

For someone who loves writing, reading, editing, and learning, doing so in the comfort of my warm home while winter does its snowy thing outside is quite lovely. Here are some links I’ve discovered to share with you.

As I cozy up during winter weather, I’ve learned the delights of hygge. That’s just one of the cool things we talked about with Kimberly Moore of the MotherHouse of the Goddess on a recent PawedCats Podcast episode. She’s amazing!

Here are 10 new things to try in 2018 – cool ideas to add to your plans for this next go around the sun.

As of this writing, Danielle LaPorte is giving away digital copies of her book The Desire Map – which is completely fantastic! If you haven’t read (and worked through) it yet, I highly recommend it.

This article says it all: “Maturity, as it turns out, is not really about filing systems or intricately maintained calendars. It’s about showing up in your imperfect form over and over and over again.”

It’s not often that I’d consider linking to a review for a book I haven’t yet read. This is one of those times, as the review itself is well-written and informative. I can’t wait to read the book!

Some really good advice in this article on how to avoid being “miserably successful.”

Happy 2018! I wish you love, joy, creativity, wellness, and abundance.

Allowing the Flow of Life

visionboard2018I had a really big year of change in 2017. I know, I know – we all did, really. On global, national, regional, community, and personal levels. It’s been crazy!

Change is the only constant, as the saying goes.

But, seriously. It was intense. I have a friend who is an astrologer, and he predicted it just about perfectly in a reading I had with him last January. (He says 2018 will be smoother sailing for me, and I trust it will be so).

Even though some really heavy stuff happened in my personal life, I feel like I was actually much more joyful this year. I was centered, for the most part, even in times of grief, sorrow, or fear. It’s kind of strange to think about it, actually.

One of our vehicles died completely. We ended up in some serious financial crises. Our elderly dog, Star, passed away in the late summer. Our beloved daughter ElvenTiger moved to Colorado. The pump for our well quit working.

But I am okay. 

Better than okay. I’m thriving!

One of the things that I attribute it to is my philosophy over the past several years of going with the flow. Which, interestingly, coincides with the increase of my passion for all things water.

When I began to think about my Word of the Year for 2018, the word that kept coming up was SURRENDER. It’s part of one of my regular affirmations. But it just didn’t feel quite right as my Word of the Year.

It was a bit too passive. I feel like 2018 is going to be in the flow, yes, but also quite active.

When BlackLion and I were talking about picking words for each month, which is something we do over at Feline Dreamers, one of the ones he said was ALLOW.

That immediately resonated with what I’d been mulling over for 2018. ALLOW feels empowering and active, but also part of going with the flow.

I allow abundance. I allow connection. I allow creativity. I allow wellness. I allow change.

So, that’s my word. I’m also very grateful that my family’s 2017 challenges have helped me (us, really) to upgrade and grow stronger.

Even before 2017 was quite done, our finances improved. My new book midwife business is doing well. We have a brand new well pump. Our temporary “junker” car is working fine, and we’re making plans to get a better vehicle this year.

We have some exciting travel and business plans in the works, including conferences and festivals. If you look at my vision board, you’ll see some of the cool places I hope to go.

Best of all, ElvenTiger is coming home to visit, one week from today!

Starcat’s Favorites: Transformation and Witchery

samanthaandmeWow. What an autumn it’s been so far. I’ve been undergoing a huge transformation – which seems to be a theme for many of us, lately. I like to think that the Universe is helping us spiritually-focused types to “level up” (to use a gaming term), so that we can continue to help with the expansion of human consciousness. It feels very intense, overwhelming, and powerful, but also exciting and inspiring!

My lovely daughter ElvenTiger has now settled into her new home in Colorado. She’s got a “bridge job” at a clothing store, and is making art and preparing herself to go to art school next year (or that’s the current plan). She seems to be thriving, and I’m delighted for her.

Even while missing her a LOT. Especially as the holidays approach swiftly.

I’ve been continuing my journey of working hard and learning TONS in the realm of career and money. My new business as a book midwife is flourishing already. At a recent conference, my coach asked us to declare what developmental stage our biz would be if it were a child. My book midwife biz, although still an infant, is definitely an old soul. Much like my daughter.

Feline Dreamers is trucking along well, and we’re getting ourselves out into many new communities, including our local yoga studios as well as online gatherings, via our PawedCats Podcast.

Oh, and this month I’m also doing my third NaNoWriMo, writing the second book in my contemporary fantasy series.

So I am busy, and happy.

I’ve gathered some links for you – ones that reflect our collective desire for more meaning, more magick, and conscious change. Enjoy!

The second in a powerful series of articles on walking your talk. So many of us are “recognising that being devoted to Spirit means being devoted to social justice.” (If you missed it, here is part one).

Why the term “witch” is no longer an insult.

How to keep from procrastinating on your big goals and intentions.

Life gets hard sometimes. Here are some ideas for extra self-care. Also – I always knew that reading is good for the soul!

I love this essay on dreaming yourself awake.

Let me know how your transformation is going, and what you’re taking from these links. Leave a comment below!

Evolving Spiritual Practices

autumnwalkThis summer I celebrated an unusual anniversary: 20 consecutive years of daily spiritual practice! Yes, really. My practice, as you might imagine, has evolved quite a lot over the last two decades.

Recently, my morning practice involves 30 minutes of silent meditation followed by bullet journaling. The meditation itself includes a chakra clearing as well as other energy work. My daily bullet journal session includes (among other things) making a list of things I’m grateful for from the previous day.

In addition to this practice, I’ve added a couple of other daily (or near-daily) activities this year. One is that BlackLion and I started a “20-minute movement challenge” in February. The idea is to do something to move your body, daily, for at least 20 minutes. We started with dancing, and moved on to flow arts (in my case, hula-hooping).

I don’t actually do my hooping or dancing every day. But in typical Virgo fashion, I keep track of my movement and do the equivalent. In other words, if I miss a day, I make sure I catch up the following day by doing at least 40 minutes – or an hour, if I’ve missed two days. You get the idea. I’ve also noticed that I’ve been adding more movement to my days, even outside the challenge – like walking and swimming.

I’ve noticed the positive changes in my body. Hula-hooping is great for core strength, and while I haven’t yet lost much weight, my body is definitely changing. I’ve also gotten much better at hula-hooping, and learned a few simple tricks from my daughter. I’m keeping this movement challenge, as it’s a positive thing for a writer – my work is mostly sedentary, and so getting moving regularly is good.

Over the past year, I’ve also been working on upgrading my personal prosperity. As a family of self-employed adults, and as part of the legacy of living on one income while we were homeschooling, we’ve been struggling with poverty for what seems like far too long. I’m more than ready for a change.

So along with taking courses with an excellent business coach, I started a daily practice which I’ve been calling “money mindset.” This can involve anything from starting a budget and keeping track of expenses, to reading books on money and prosperity, to journaling on my old beliefs about money (either on my own, or guided by prompts someone else created), to taking online workshops.

As this particular practice has evolved, I’m realizing that it’s not really all about the money, per se, but more about my mindset in general. I find it extremely valuable to pay attention, in some way, to my mindset each day. It ties in with the spiritual studying that I’ve returned to throughout my adult life. I’m learning so much! The tools I’ve added to my tool kit from this new practice are helping me to grow and evolve in all areas of my life.

I like to tell people that your daily spiritual practice will seep out into your daily life in surprising ways. It’s so true! It’s all interconnected.

If you don’t yet have a daily spiritual practice of your own, I most highly encourage you to start one. If you’re looking for resources to help you get started, check out our video and my book on the topic. You can also comment below with your questions or the challenges you face. I look forward to hearing from you!

Starcat’s Favorites: Wake Me Up…

bridgetbeanbootIt’s hard for me to believe that summer is coming to an end. This is an especially poignant time, as my beloved daughter ElvenTiger is moving to Colorado in less than two weeks (on the day before my birthday, as it happens). I’m so thrilled for her, to be launching herself into adulthood in such an adventurous and fun way.

I’m also really sad, because I’ll miss her regular presence in our household.

Yesterday we went out, just the two of us, to walk along the beach, play some Pokemon Go, and enjoy some Pier Fries (delicious french fries found at a very touristy local beach spot). On the way there, since it was the first of September, she played one of our favorite songs on her phone. I admit it – Green Day’s Wake Me Up When September Ends had me crying.

At the same time as this huge personal change, I’m also working on launching a brand new business venture. It’s called “Nikki Starcat Shields: Book Midwife.” (Garrison Keillor fans, think “Guy Noir: Private Eye”). I’ll be helping fellow writers and aspiring authors realize their dreams of birthing their book into the world. It’s very exciting, and I’ll have more to share about it soon.

In the meantime, if you have a book in you, take my simple survey and share feedback about how I could support you in the process. Thanks!  (And yes, I’ll still be doing Feline Dreamers as well. This is an additional business. What can I say? I like to be busy.)

Even in the midst of an insanely busy summer, I’ve gathered up some yummy links for you to enjoy during the waning warmth.

This post, in the wake of the white supremacy protests in Virginia, spoke to me very powerfully.

Mothers must guard their own solitude. It’s a radical act.” I feel so strongly about this! Doing my daily spiritual practice, even when the kids were tiny, was one of the best things I’ve done for myself – and for my family. The whole point of spiritual practice is connection, which this article articulates beautifully.

Are you emotionally intelligent?

I love this post about how meditation expands time. I’ve had this experience with my writing, too. Meditation can also help us overcome the human tendency to be dissatisfied.

After 8 months, I’m still loving my bullet journaling process.

How to overcome the negative talk that surrounds us, particularly in the realm of money.

I might have posted this one before (or something quite similar), but I find it to be very useful when working with the Law of Attraction processes and especially the emotional grid.

Enjoy the transition of the seasons, and may your life bring you great joy!

Play Powers Creativity

beachrosesIn the society we live in, it can be tempting to take things oh-so-seriously. I mean, that’s what the news media (and the advertising embedded within it) is all about. It’s jam-packed with fear, things going wrong, and how to plan for the worst case scenario. It’s based on doing The Right Thing and following the herd.

How very boring!

Those of us who are more playful by nature – you know, the artists, rebels, and black sheep – don’t fit into the mainstream notion of what it means to be a responsible adult. You know this. You’ve probably struggled with it to varying degrees throughout your life – wondering why you’re just not satisfied with what’s considered “normal.”

Your wild ideas, crazy daydreams, and deep longings constantly beckon you forth. You lose your keys, forget to put gas in the car – but you just had to stop and get that picture of the clouds that looked like a herd of centaurs! You often stop and smell the roses – literally – whether or not you’re on time for that appointment.

Nope, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re attuned to one of the most powerful forces in the Universe: creativity.

And you know what powers the creative spirit? Play.

Play is how human beings learn, at the very beginning of life when we’re exploring the world. Babies never have formal lessons in crawling, walking, or laughing. They explore and discover, through playing, how they can best navigate the landscape. As we grow, we often forget this.

Adults in our culture don’t play enough. Even our leisure time is taken quite seriously, and scheduled to death. When we do get to play, or “party,” we’re supposed to “need” alcohol or drugs to loosen up enough to dance or get silly. That’s so ridiculous! I mean, I suppose it’s better than no play at all.

But imagine if we freed ourselves enough to incorporate regular play time into our daily lives. It would certainly make us less stressed, and we could enjoy each day instead of living for the weekend.

So rather than chastising yourself for your impulse to be silly and follow where your imagination leads you, embrace it! Allow playfulness to seep into all aspects of your life.

Quester, BlackLion, and I recently went grocery shopping with a friend of a friend, who hates to go and stock up on food and other necessities. As we usually do, we goofed around as we shopped – putting weird items in each others’ carts, making puns, smiling at other shoppers. Our new friend found that she actually had a good time!

You can bring your playfulness with you wherever you go. If serious adults give you a frown or the stink-eye, so what? You know you’re having a lot more fun than they are in that moment. And your playfulness if most likely inspiring a lot more folks than you know!

Play powers your creativity, and makes for a much more fulfilling life experience. In the big picture, taking time to be joyful will make you more productive and centered. Goodness knows we need more of this energy in our go-go-go society. Be a play ambassador!

Starcat’s Favorites: The Soul of Summer

PantherPondIf you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I absolutely LOVE summer. So here I am, in my glory! Picnics, swimming in the lake, fresh strawberries, journaling in the hammock, playing Pokemon Go, hanging out with family, beach time with friends, and attending outdoor concerts.

Ahh, this is the life. Remind me of it, please, when I’m bemoaning living in Maine next winter.

Are you taking some time off to sit on the deck, relax at the beach, or chill in the hammock? Here’s some inspiring reading material for your down time!

Mental health habits of happy women (I especially liked the “anti-drama” one).

I’m all for celebrating the ordinary.

A big YES to these summer wellness hacks. Good stuff!

I learned about The Friendship Force from a participant in a workshop I taught in Pennsylvania last month. Sounds like something our world really needs!

These are terrific tips for easy manifesting mojo, from BlackLion’s awesome life coach.

I’m a huge fan of Leonie Dawson, and love how she tells her story in order to inspire others. Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, check out her article “The Highly Sensitive CEO.”

How do the messages about money you were given as a child still affect you today?

And finally, check out our new Feline Dreamers video on creating a daily spiritual practice – why you’d want to, and how to do it even when your life is full-on busy. Enjoy!