reverence and joy

  • Happiness Is…

    rainbow coast GameDay OpenMic Sunset


  • 99 Mind-Altering Books to Awaken Your Spirit

    99BooksWant to expand your awareness? Create a life full of magick and enchantment? Open yourself up to daily experiences full of joy, love, and support? Of course you do!

    Start here, with this list of inspiring books, which itself was inspired by a social media meme. It’s not your ordinary list of the best works of world literature, or books that will help you ace your college entrance exams. These books will, if you let them, change your world by expanding your vision of what is possible.

    Perhaps you’ve read some of them already. How did they transform you? Do you have other books that need to be on this list? Please add them in the comments.

    Next, pick out a book or two or three from the list, the ones that call to you with clamoring voices. Be careful, though…you’ll never be the same again!

    Dive in. I dare you! Extra bonus points if you read them outdoors.


    99 Mind-Altering Books to Awaken Your Spirit: The List

    Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
    The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker
    Always Coming Home by Ursula K. LeGuin
    In the Shadow of the Shaman by Amber Wolfe
    Pronoia: The Antidote for Paranoia by Rob Brezsny
    This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart by Susannah Conway
    The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
    The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn
    Conscious Dreaming by Robert Moss
    Fire in the Head by Tom Cowan
    1491 by Charles Mann
    Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes
    Turtle Island by Gary Snyder
    The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
    A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
    The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson
    Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
    Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
    Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
    Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle
    The Last Coin by James Blaylock
    Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip
    The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw
    The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint
    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
    Illusions by Richard Bach
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
    The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You by Dorothy Bryant
    Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
    Drumming at the Edge of Magic by Mickey Hart
    The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
    The Collected Autobiographies by Maya Angelou
    Stardust by Neil Gaiman
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
    Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
    The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
    The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
    The Dreaming Universe by Fred Alan Wolf
    Earth by David Brin
    The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. LeGuin
    Walden by Henry David Thoreau
    Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien
    The Oversoul Seven Trilogy by Jane Roberts
    The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
    The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
    Infinite Possibilities by Mike Dooley
    Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
    Sara, Book 1: Sara Learns the Secret About the Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks
    Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
    Woman Who Glows in the Dark by Elena Avila
    Anam Cara by John O’Donohue
    Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
    Imajica by Clive Barker
    The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav
    Real Magic by Isaac Bonewits
    A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield
    Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh
    The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
    Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C.G. Jung
    Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain
    The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
    The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
    Otherland Series by Tad Williams
    Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
    The Self-Aware Universe by Amit Goswami
    The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot
    The Twelve Wild Swans by Starhawk and Hilary Valentine
    The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King
    The Odyssey by Homer
    Eureka: A Prose Poem by Edgar Allen Poe
    The Princess Bride by William Goldman
    Skellig by David Almond
    E-Squared by Pam Grout
    The Art of Uncertainty by Dennis Merritt Jones
    Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
    The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing
    Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith
    Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
    The God Stalker Chronicles by P.C. Hodgell
    Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
    A Separate Reality by Carlos Castaneda
    Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
    The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
    His Dark Materials Series by Philip Pullman
    The Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix
    The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
    The Nature of Personal Reality by Seth and Jane Roberts
    The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
    The Essential Rumi by Jalal al-Din Rumi
    Owls and Other Fantasies by Mary Oliver
    Loving What Is by Byron Katie


  • Starcat’s Favorites: Processing

    Summer is winding down, and along with a tinge of sadness in the air, there’s the excitement of autumn energies. Harvest in the gardens, fresh homemade salsa and pesto, and time to dive back into the creative projects that have been on hiatus during the more active, warmer months.

    Coming out of the intense busy-ness that is my August, I feel drawn to inner work. I’m relishing the stillness, the contemplation, and the re-organizing of my goals and priorities. I’m figuring out how to balance activities that help me make a living with those that I do for fun – even if they cost money rather than bring it in. It’s an interesting conundrum. I need and want to devote my time and energy to those things that help support our family – particularly the ones I’m still nourishing, like my writing career – and yet there are other things I enjoy that also call for my attention, like performing, and volunteering in the Pagan and unschooling communities.

    At the same time, I’m working through the next phase of my grief for my dear friend Jenn, who entered hospice care this time last year. I’m really missing Jenn a lot, and integrating the things I’ve learned from her and her journey of life and death. This work causes me to crave lots of down time. Some days I want to ditch the schedule and just walk on the beach by myself.

    My parenting journey is also shifting and changing as the kids get older. Their needs are at once simpler, as they can do a lot for themselves, and more complex, as they seek guidance in learning to navigate their worlds as young adults. It’s all good, and I’m blessed to have two wonderful kids. Still, change means an adjustment.

    It’s a lot of inner processing, even for an introvert.

    Along the way, I’ve uncovered some fun reading to share with you. Enjoy!

    Here’s a useful look at two different mindsets on life-long learning and success. Do you tend more toward a fixed mindset, or one of growth?

    “Sit There, Then Do Something.” We need both stillness and action in our lives. An excellent perspective.

    There are many different ways to learn and study. Some folks study how we study!

    This article was one of the posts written just after Robin Williams died. Very intense and poignant. Warning: there is some strong language.

    Here’s an article about the biggest SCA event (historical re-enactment) in the U.S. I’ve attended once, and this post had me cracking up laughing. Another prolific swear word warning. I guess that’s a thing this week.

    A well-written and engaging article on unschooling in a fairly mainstream magazine. Woo hoo! Here’s another positive unschooling article, from a newspaper in Montreal.

    Enjoy your weekend!


  • Currently, I Am…

    OK, I confess. I’m suffering from a bit of blogger’s block. I have a whole list of blog post ideas, but none of them seem to appeal to me at the moment.

    So I did what seemed best – googled it. I looked up blog prompt ideas, and immediately gravitated (Virgo that I am) to lists. Here’s what I came up with.

    Currently, I am…


    • Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
    • Practical Prosperity Magick by Ellen Dugan
    • Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain
    • Rock Your Plot: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel by Cathy Yardley
    • Vegetarian Times magazine


    • Arrow (based on a comic book series, cheesy but fun, with lots of hot guys)
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • Doctor Who – I’m only on the 2005 season, so no spoilers please! ElvenTiger finally persuaded me that I’d love it. I do.

    Listening to:

    • NPR
    • Michael Franti & Spearhead, the All People CD
    • Whatever cool dubstep EDM music my teens happen to be playing. It’s fun to dance and hula-hoop to.


    • Nothing at the moment.
    • I’m drinking a homemade iced chai. It has decaf chai tea, almond milk, and maple syrup.
    • The last thing I ate? A koku seaweed rice cake with tahini. Don’t judge.


    • Some down time. I’ve been so ridiculously busy lately!
    • To put more focus on my own projects, like plotting my next novel
    • To practice my hula-hooping


    • Lots of quiet time to read, write, and reflect
    • Chocolate
    • More money


    • My dear friend Jenn
    • Hot weather (but I think it’s coming back this week, yay!)
    • My Subaru

    Now it’s your turn. Want to play? Enjoy having fun with lists? I’d love to see YOUR answers to these questions. Leave a comment and let me know what’s currently going on with you. Thanks!


  • The Side Effects of Yoga

    Did you know the practice of yoga has plenty of side effects? The cool thing is, they’re all good for you. I’m starting to notice them re-emerging in my daily life.

    This spring, around the beginning of April, I decided to recommit to my yoga practice. Since then I’ve been doing yoga at least 4 times a week, often more. I do my own routine to music, for the most part, though occasionally I’ll break out one of my yoga DVDs for inspiration. My goal was to get to the point where I’d feel good about taking classes again in the fall, at the intermediate level. I feel ready. My muscles are much more toned, and I’ve regained most of my flexibility. I’m still making steady progress.

    So far I’ve lost a little bit of the weight I’d gained, but that wasn’t my main goal for my yoga practice. It’s helping me indirectly in that regard, though, because I’m now more tuned into my body and mindful about what I’m eating. I’ve returned to eating a mostly vegan diet, which feels best for my body. I’m still fine-tuning the eating part, and learning to let go of using food for comfort, but I credit yoga with the ability to notice all the subtle changes in my body and emotions.

    I picked up another fun new way to move my body thanks to yoga – after years of trying, I can finally hula hoop! I love it, and it’s such great exercise. It was an analogy to the core strength needed in yoga (in the abdomen, around the solar plexus) that enabled me to finally “get” hooping. Not that I’m perfect at it, yet. Engaging my core and remembering to breathe are what help, though. Sure sounds like yoga!

    Another positive side effect is that I’m more able to center myself. When emotions flow through me, I can more easily recognize that it isn’t a permanent state, but just what is happening right now, in this moment. I can focus and find my edge. Putting your attention on the breath is a great way to support waves of strong feelings, just as it supports a challenging hold.

    Often in yoga practice we focus on surrendering to what is. That’s another side effect that I’ve carried off the yoga mat and into daily life. Lately I’ve been more able – and willing – to let go of the things I just can’t control, even during a busy and chaotic time. I’m surfing along through life, rather than clinging to the tiller.

    These days, when I’m having a tough time, I’ve noticed that the things I crave are changing and shifting, too. Sure, I still desire chocolate or nachos after a rough day. But I also want a good yoga workout, to dance around to loud music, or to simply rest in quiet meditation.

    I can live with these kind of side effects.


  • Kid Interview Redux

    SwordplaySiblingsI’m not sure what made me remember this kid interview I did 3 years ago (interestingly, it was almost exactly 3 years ago). I had borrowed the idea from the Ordinary Life Magic blog. The idea is that your kids answer questions about you, and you get some insight into their perspective. Although I think it’s intended for younger kids, it was fun to interview my two teens. Give it a try with your kiddos; you might be surprised at some of their answers!

    Dryst, age 17 (well, 18 in just one week):

    1. What is something I always say to you?
    I love you.

    2. What makes me happy?
    Uh, um, love and family.

    3. What makes me sad?

    4. How do I make you laugh? 
    By being a goofy mother.

    5. What was I like as a child?
    Uh, a quiet bookworm.

    6. How old am I?
    Oh God, actually, this is really hard. 43? Is that right? (laughing) No? That’s just ‘cause you look 43.

    7. How tall am I? 

    8. What is my favorite thing to do? 
    Read books.

    9. What do I do when you’re not around? 

    10. If I become famous, what will it be for?
    Uh, writing a series of adventure novels.

    11. What am I really good at?
    Lots of stuff. Anything involving intelligence.

    12. What am I not very good at?

    13. What do I do for a job?
    Part-time at the radio station, and book-writing stuff.

    14. What is my favorite food? 
    I really don’t know, I feel like it changes too much for me to know.

    15. What makes you proud of me?
    You do a great job of being a mother. (Me: really?) Why not?

    16. If I were a cartoon character, who would I be?

    17. What do you and I do together?
    Drive places. I dunno.

    18. How are you and I the same?
    We’re both Virgos, and therefore have Virgo personalities.

    19. How are you and I different?
    I’m a boy and you’re a girl. You’re middle-aged and I’m young. I’m less Virgo-y than you. There’s too many answers to this. I’m more outgoing.

    20. How do you know I love you? 
    Because you say it all the time. And because you love me.

    Is there anything else you’d like to add?
    I love you.

    ElvenTiger, age 15:

    1. What is something I always say to you? 
    I don’t know… I love you? That’s kind of an obvious one.

    2. What makes me happy?
    Lots of things, like conferences, and hanging out with really cool people.

    3. What makes me sad?
    People arguing.

    4. How do I make you laugh?
    Um, you make jokes! (laughs)

    5. What was I like as a child?
    I didn’t know you when you were a child. Shy.

    6. How old am I?
    45? Did you just turn 45, or are you just about to? (Me: about to). So, 44.

    7. How tall am I?
    Five-two, well, about that.

    8. What is my favorite thing to do?
    Write and drum.

    9. What do I do when you’re not around?
    Read. Yoga.

    10. If I become famous, what will it be for?
    Your writing, and your performing.

    11. What am I really good at?
    Um, your writing, drumming, other stuff.

    12. What am I not very good at?

    13. What do I do for a job?
    You write.

    14. What is my favorite food?
    You don’t really have a specific favorite food. You like lots of different interesting foods.

    15. What makes you proud of me?
    All kinds of stuff! I’m not gonna be specific about that. All the stuff. Being the loving, crazy, creative person you are!

    16. If I were a cartoon character, who would I be?
    The Cat in the Hat. He’s mischievous, smart, and I dunno… The Cat in the Hat, you know!

    17. What do you and I do together?
    Lots of things. We go to interesting unschooling conferences and music festivals.

    18. How are you and I the same?
    (Laughing) Well, when we’re thinking, we both tip our heads to the side (which we had both just done). We’re creative, fun-loving free spirits.

    19. How are you and I different?
    You’re more intellectual and I’m more, well, I like doing things. I mean, the way we learn.

    20. How do you know I love you?
    For one thing, you say it every day. So, yeah, that’s a pretty obvious one.

    Is there anything else you’d like to add?



  • Starcat’s Favorites: Running Around

    lakesideWhat a busy summer it’s turned out to be! I shouldn’t be surprised, really. August is always a really crazy month for us. We have lots of family birthdays and gatherings, perform at festivals, and Dryst’s summer soccer season ramps up.

    On one level I’m really disappointed that we’re not heading off on our road trip at the end of the month (finances and a dead car caused us to cancel). But in another way, it will be nice to have more time close to home as summer starts to wind down. Some folks will be heading back to school, and we’ll be hitting the beach. I’m hoping for a warm and sunny month!

    What have you been up to this summer? Are you taking any time to relax and lounge around? Or are you, too, busily running around to lots of different events?

    Here are some good reads to keep you company at the beach or when you collapse into bed at the end of the day.

    How do you heal those parts of you that are wounded and bitter? Simple. Love them.

    The art of living, and how to master it. Hint: drop your expectations.

    This tips in this article on 22 Things Good Dancers Do Differently can easily be applied to almost any creative endeavor.

    Are you a visionary? Do you sometimes feel like becoming a hermit? Here’s some good advice.

    My friend wrote this thoughtful article about being a witness for the Earth.

    Enjoy the rest of your August!



  • The Crones Don’t Care

    WP_20130805_031I’m blessed to have a bunch of amazing crones* in my life. I’m surrounded by creative, talented, gorgeous older women who live their lives in their own way. They value community, are giving and loving, and continue to grow and learn.

    And they don’t give a crap what other people think of them.

    That’s something I’ve struggled to learn.

    I’ve gotten much better about it over the years. I walked away from a few friendships that were full of judgement and (non-constructive) criticism. I wear what I want. I’m more able to just be myself, rather than trying to say or do what I think those around me expect.

    But it’s still hard, sometimes.

    Why do my crone friends and relatives** seem to disregard others’ opinions with such ease? Perhaps because they’ve realized that you can never really please anyone else, and that life is too short to waste on trying. I mean, of course they care about people. They are some of the most generous and kind folks I’ve known. But if someone has a negative view of them, they understand it’s not their own problem, but that other person’s.

    jeannieThey also all seem to have a great sense of humor about it. They don’t take themselves seriously, and are able to smile when someone thinks they’re a “crazy old lady” or a “left-wing hippie.” They shrug. “So what?” one of the fabulous crones might say. “As long as I’m being true to myself and living by my values, I don’t need to worry about it.”

    I love it.

    I already wear purple. It’s my favorite color. When I’m an old lady, I’m going to do whatever I want, without regard for public opinion, or even that of my own family. Hold on, why wait? I think I’ll do that now. Wanna join me?


    * I use the term “crone” in a positive way, purposefully setting aside the negative connotation it can have in modern culture. In the Pagan community, it is a respectful term for a female elder.

    ** I don’t think my Mom quite knew what she was getting into when she agreed that I could put photos of her in my post on crones. But she’s one of the ones that seems to be having the most fun. Can’t you tell? Love you, Mom!



  • Falling Down and Getting Up Again

    PantherPondEveryone is writing about depression today because of Robin Williams’ passing. I’m writing about it because I’ve been feeling low myself, these past couple of weeks. I don’t always show it, as I’m an introvert and I tend to keep my strongest feelings close to my chest. But it’s there. And I’m not the only one.

    I love this quote a friend (and fellow blogger) wrote:

    “Don’t ever assume that the person who seems to have everything, to have it so together, doesn’t also carry great burdens. The face one projects and what goes in inside our very private minds can so often be wildly different.” – Spinster Jane

    At first glance, the dip in my energies and mood seemed to be circumstantial. I paid about $225. to get my laptop fixed, using money that I’d received as an advance on an editing project. Then I had to struggle to meet the deadline for the editing while that same laptop crashed repeatedly.

    My Subaru, which I knew needed lots of work and had been nursing along until the inspection was due this month, died. I mean, died as in “it’s not worth the amount of money we’d have to put into it to fix it.” I couldn’t just go out and get another car, even a used one, the next day. Despite it being the height of summer, our family’s finances – which due to Quester’s seasonal work are usually best this time of year – have been lower than expected. As a result of all this, the trip that BlackLion, ElvenTiger, and I had planned, which would have been a return to the awesome Rethinking Everything conference – had to be cancelled.

    I reached out to my Dad for some car advice, and he did help, but also passed judgement. Apparently, on a financial level, I’m doing everything wrong. I’m fully aware that he means well, and that “following your calling” isn’t part of his world view. But even after doing lots of work on self-love and not caring what others think, who wants to hear that, especially from someone you love?

    So, yeah, I’m bummed about all that stuff. But in talking it over with Quester, he said that he thought that having financial security wouldn’t necessarily alleviate my periodic brushes with depression. My first thought was, “what?!” But after pondering it further, I think perhaps he’s right.

    Sometimes it seems that the overwhelming emotions come first, then they attach themselves to some reason for feeling that way.  As I wrote in a recent article for Kind Over Matter, the work that I do to improve my personal experience of life involves a concerted effort.

    The practice, for me, takes a lot of inner work. It encompasses letting go of fears, embracing my shadow, being kind to myself, practicing gratitude, learning the delicate dance between desire and non-attachment, doing yoga, seeking ways to help others, breathing mindfully, and setting daily intentions.

    Guess what? When the car died, it coincided with a very busy week, travel that was a bit stressful, and not much time for my spiritual practices. And when the despair kicked in, I didn’t always take the time that I usually do to focus on those things that support me in feeling good.

    The result? I fell down. And now, here I am, getting back up again.

    When we’re down on the ground, or below it in a dark hole, it feels like that will always be our experience. That might even be true for some of us. But if you can just remember to do the things that have helped you before – reach out for help, go back to your most cherished spiritual practices, meditate, talk with a friend, see a therapist, or whatever it is for you –  then the chances are good that you’ll feel better. Maybe not right away, but you’ll be back on your path.

    I wish everyone had the support they need to keep on keeping on. But I can’t know what they’re going through. I don’t fault Robin Williams or anyone else for deciding they’ve had enough. My belief is that life continues in another form even after death, so it’s never truly the end.

    As for me, I’ve stumbled back onto the trail and I’m ready to see what’s around the next bend.

    Blessings on your journey, wherever it takes you.


  • The Secret Worth of Boredom

    ohsoboredDo you ever get bored? How about your kids? You must have heard that mournful cry: “I’m booooooooooored!” Followed by you proposing an increasingly inventive list of options, none of which appeal to them one bit. Sigh.

    Boredom actually has a lot of value, though. When you’re bored, there’s not one thing you want to do…so you’re forced by circumstances to just be. That can be precious in our go-go-go world.

    Being bored can spark your creativity, whether in the moment or later on. You might decide, like ElvenTiger, to draw fake tattoos on your arm with markers. This could lead to using those doodles to design a real tattoo, logo, or other artwork. Or you could just lie there and stare out the window, letting your thoughts drift. Did you know you’re meditating?

    Boredom leads to daydreams, which can deliver original ideas for a story, an invention, or a themed road trip.

    As a bookworm, I find that I’m not bored very often, as I simply pick up a book. That’s another valuable thing about being bored – more time to explore your imagination through the things you choose to read. If, heaven forbid, I get bored with reading itself (rare, but it has happened), I close my eyes and imagine new worlds of my own, filled with fantastical creatures.

    Or you might drift off to sleep, and extra rest is a good thing.

    Kids who are bored might learn to rely on themselves more, especially since parents never seem to have any useful ideas in that situation. They might try something they hadn’t thought of before, and getting out of your normal routine can spark all kinds of interesting food for thought and exploration!

    See, boredom is good! It’s a valuable state of being for creative people – which is all of us.

    Next time you feel bored, go with it. Don’t just do something, sit there!


  • My Books

    Cultivating Self-Love: Your Path to Wholeness

    Get your copy today at Amazon and Smashwords (in multiple formats).

    Want to live a more joyful, fulfilling life? One of the best things you can do is to learn to love yourself. Most of us have been taught to treat ourselves with disdain and criticism. Yet within you is a wellspring of love that, when you discover how to tap into it, will increase your compassion, creativity, and joy. This book will lead you on a gentle journey to greater self-love and confidence.

    Starcat's Corner: Essays on Pagan Living

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