When Challenges Arise…and They Will

It seems like a lot of people I know are having quite the challenging winter so far. I’ve been sick with a cold, with its lingering cough, for more than a month. This week it decided to ramp back up, complete with revolving issues like sore throat, earaches, and of course the cough. Not fun. In fact, I’ve taken some time off just to rest and recover, and haven’t been online much at all. This post started out as a Facebook status update, to say I’m back and to offer some support, but now it’s grown into its own thing.

You see, after having a really positive several months, with lots of cool changes and upgrades and a feeling of deep joy that buoyed me up even through the difficult times, it feels like the stuff has hit the fan. Besides the ongoing cold, I have family members in hospital (and hospice, in one case), financial crises, a beloved being taken advantage of, and a business that’s not progressing as smoothly as I’d hoped. It feels pretty crappy.

So this pep talk is as much for me as anyone who might resonate with it. It comes after taking a few days off to just be, to rest and read and not work on anything at all – which is something I rarely do. In looking back over what’s been going on just since November – holy change, catwoman! No wonder this little Earth sign is feeling a bit overwhelmed.

So, here’s the course of action I’m suggesting to myself, and perhaps to you, if it feels right.

1. Accept what is. Start right where you are. Maybe things aren’t as you wish – that’s probably so, in at least one area of your life. By accepting what is right now, though, you plant yourself firmly in the present moment. That’s the place of power, from which you can create great change. Do some meditation. Allow some time to just be, and reflect. Accept your life and circumstances, just as they are. This week, I called this step “surrendering to the process,” and even though it was hard to let go, it has helped.

catbrothers2. Find your joys. Turn your focus, next, to the people, things, and experiences that you really love. Notice the ones that are already part of your life – hugs from a loved one, really good books that transport your imagination, snuggly cats or dogs, unexpected bursts of laughter, warm blankets, the sunshine making tree shadows on the snow, a friend checking up on you. Feel your gratitude for these delights. Feel it deep in your innermost being. Express it, and love it up. Love your unique joys with all your heart.

3. Turn toward your dreams. Whatever it is that you feel is missing in your life – money, health, authenticity, success – is a desire. Desires are the catalyst for co-creation. Visualize how you’d love things to be for you. Look to the outcome, the end result, letting go of how you’ll get from here to there. Love up your dreams as strongly as you have your joys.

4. Take baby steps. Now, with your desired feelings and outcomes in mind, take some tiny little steps toward what you desire. Say a prayer for your ill loved one. Reach out to a potential ally in getting the word out about your business, and ask her to have coffee with you. Drink a vitamin-C laden fruit smoothie. Take out your journal and make a list of creative ideas.

5. Know that you’re not alone. You are loved, deeply loved. By your friends and family and beloveds, of course. By your pets, unconditionally. And also by unseen guides and Divine forces – or at least that is my experience. When you can open yourself to the feeling that you’re not doing this life thing all by yourself, even when you feel most alone, you’ll tap into a creative force to be reckoned with.

Go ahead and feel your feelings, let yourself sink down into the situation you’re in, even if it’s so hard you just want to cry, and sleep. So, go ahead and cry! Get some extra sleep. Then, when you’re ready, take some steps (whether these or your own version, it doesn’t really matter) that will lift you back up into your power.

Challenges are a part of this life, and they often serve as the contrast that will boost us into, ultimately, even more joy and love and light. Rather than curse them, accept them and then use them to catapult you forth into the places where you really shine.

You’ve got this.

Manifesto for Daily Being

notebooks2016This month I’ve been doing the Infinite Possibilities 30-Day Project from Mike Dooley, which has been fun and awesome. As I wrapped up the final session today, I was looking back through the notebook I’ve been using for it, which is also my “Starcat’s Book of Positive Aspects and Processes.” While I was reading what I’ve written, drawn, and doodled in my notebook, I re-discovered a Manifesto for Daily BEing that I wrote last summer during the Yescapades retreat with my Play Nexus friends.

Re-reading the manifesto was inspiring, especially when I paused to realize how much of it I’ve already incorporated into my daily life.

I’d like to share it with you. I hope it inspires you to come up with your own manifesto on how you wish to live your life!

Manifesto for Daily BEing
by Starcat

It doesn’t matter what others think of me, or even my own judgment. There is only the flow, and whether I’m in it or not. When I’m not in my authentic flow, there’s no way I can help anyone else, or the world, or fulfill my purpose.

When I am in that flow of pure beingness, then I can change and uplift not only my own world, but all the worlds.

So the key thing to do in my life is to continually find my way into the groove in each precious and unfolding moment. By doing this, I am setting the tone for the life I want to inhabit, being an awesome role model for my community, and becoming more deeply enchanted by my life’s purpose.

I am here as one of the fae Earth angels who are helping to ramp up the vibration of human consciousness and to bring more harmony, magick, and love to this beautiful planet. This work happens not on a grand scale, but moment by moment, day by day, creative spark by creative spark.

In service to this Muse of Pure Beingness, I devote myself to living each day in the Vortex.

1. Begin the day with intention. Waken slowly, remember my dreams, do my daily spiritual practice.

2. When I commit to waking up before I’m done sleeping due to some fun event, awaken with extra self-care and nourishing. Ask for help when I feel the need.

3. Accomplish household chores with a light heart. Play in the kitchen, dance at the clothesline, find my joy there.

4. Devote a chunk of focused time to the creative project that has the brightest glow to it. Play my way in, and then let the creative flow state have its way with me.

5. Remember to move my body the way she likes. Go outside. Walk, swim, hula-hoop, hike, play with the dogs, dance, do yoga.

6. Be awake and aware about what I’m putting into my body. Eat with perfect love and perfect trust, just the right amount, just what I feel best nourishes all of me.

7. Do email, social media, blogging, and other such correspondence with a sense of fun and openness. Only give attention to these tasks when it feels fun and playful.

8. Relate with my beloveds from the heart. Show them how I truly feel about them. Listen more. Give more hugs. Say “I love you” more often.

9. Honor the ebb and flow of my daily energy tides. When I’m done with a thing, put it down. Feel my way into this.

10. Let each day be different, yet always with that feeling of deep inner relaxation.

11. Do my blissful nighttime ritual. Read before sleep, snuggle, set my intentions for dreaming and for the next day, mentally list my gratitudes, enter my dream tower with an open heart. Rest passionately.

By living each day, no matter what I’m up to, with this soulful flow, I’ll be so tuned in to my life’s purpose that I’ll reach new heights, ones I never thought possible, and bring the dream to life, right here on our beloved Mother Earth.

So mote it be! Blessed Be!

On Work and Play

workandplay1Over the past year or so, I’ve devoted myself to crafting a life where I enjoy (pretty much) everything I’m doing. I’ve done it partly by choosing to do the things I love, and partly by adjusting my own attitude. I mean, who loves doing housework? (Yeah, I know there are some of you out there who do, but that’s just weird). But when you cultivate an attitude of being present in the moment, you can authentically enjoy doing the dishes, folding the laundry, or whatever task you’re focused on.

Lately, though, I had a realization about an old core belief that was keeping me from more fully integrating my work and play. As I thought about it, I realized that in my family of origin, work and play were kept quite separate.

I’m blessed with a really fun extended family. I mean, we can make each other laugh in the Emergency Room when someone’s bones are broken and we’re waiting for the doctor. Not kidding. They’re awesome.

Work, though, is a whole different matter. If you’re doing something that is considered work, which in this world view means you’re being paid for it by an employer, then it’s serious business.

But in my case, I blur the lines all the time. I’m not saying that one way of looking at this is superior to another way. What I’m saying is that my new way is different, and thus I’ve had to reconcile it with the old beliefs that I picked up over the course of my lifetime.

workandplay2In my world, I work a lot of the time, but it might not look like it. I’m often writing, blogging, coming up with ideas for creative projects, spreading the word about my projects and offerings, learning about topics that will help me in my business, networking with fellow biz tribe members, or reading books about how to make a living as a writer. This is the fun stuff, to me. Right now I’m most inspired by learning to be a successful heart-centered entrepreneur.

Because I’m not working for an employer for a defined amount of money, though, it’s not really work – at least in that other worldview. On the other hand, I do receive compensation for the books people buy and the courses they take from Feline Dreamers. Not enough to make a living, yet, but we’re working on it.

Why do I love the sometimes very slow and painstaking process of building this business? Why am a so drawn to being a part of this new economy of online businesses and independent authors? Because to me, it really is a whole lot of fun.

So does that mean it’s not worthwhile work, because it feels like play?

I don’t think so.

I want to integrate my work and my play more fully, so that it’s all one. It would be nice if others recognized it, but that’s not really necessary. As I build a successful career doing what I love, the results will become obvious.

It’s been good food for thought, though, to work on changing the way I see work and play. I’ve been asking myself about what areas of life still feel like they could use more playfulness. Doing the taxes? Filling out paperwork? Setting up newsletter posts in MailChimp? I want to discover how I can bring more joy into the tasks that seem mundane or frustrating.

I believe that merging work and play is the way of the future. Certain tasks will be automated, and it will free up time for more people to be devoted to their genius work. Faced with huge blocks of leisure time, most people will want to do something meaningful with their lives. I see it all the time in the lives of unschoolers. Sure, with complete time freedom, you could sit around being entertained all day, but sooner or later the creative impulse arises, and you want to contribute in some way. You find what lights you up, and you start doing that, and then your work becomes your play.

What do you think? Are you ready to do what you love, and love what you do? Are you drawn to merging work and play in your life?

Starcat’s Favorites: Inner Enthusiasm

snowday16Last weekend I had the chance to go to Play Church, which is a new offering from the Play Nexus crew. Their playshops are full of energy, joy, expansion, and high vibes. After some pondering, I decided I wouldn’t go, and BlackLion seemed to think that meant I was feeling low-energy, or not well in some way.

I explained that I was actually quite high-vibe, but in an inner way.

Sometimes my zest for life expresses itself quietly. A morning at home in a comfy chair, with warm clothes, hot tea, and my journal, was what felt the most “YES!” for me at the time. From the outside, it might have looked like I was being passive or quiet, yet my inner world was chock-full of color, ideas, and joy. I wanted some time to unwrap and play with my visions, all on my own.

This time of year feels perfect for exploring your inner enthusiasm. What are the passions that you hold close within your heart? What does your intuition whisper when you get really still and listen closely? What is your imagination brewing up, deep in the wellspring of your soul? What’s lighting up your inner landscape?

It’s an ebb and flow. This weekend, I’m heading off to Play Church, ready to dance and laugh and explore in the company of other joyful seekers.

What’s your weekend looking like? Here are some links to explore as you take time to relax.

Have you chosen your Word of the Year yet? Mine is AUTHENTIC. It’s feeling really good so far. Also, if you haven’t gotten your Leonie Dawson planner yet, what are you waiting for? Seriously, just do it; you’ll love it!!!

Check out these 16 Gentle Practices for Thriving in 2016.

In past years, I had a hard time loving winter. I feel more fondness for it now. If you need some help with savoring the cold and dark season, this article has some good suggestions.

I love this article about having relationships without expectations. It really resonates with my own approach to life and love. “It’s not, in the end, about polyamory at all. It’s about human connection in whatever shape it may take.” Yes!

So much yes to this. “Whole and holy.”

Wisdom from Kris Carr about sugar and what forms of it belong in one’s diet.

Interesting food for thought for entrepreneurs, about following your own career passions rather than settling for someone else’s.

I think this article explaining unschooling via cookie baking does a good job of comparing different approaches to child-led learning.

Enjoy your day, lovely one!

Transform Your Life

I just realized I hadn’t shared with you one of the big projects I’ve been up to as we begin the new year. BlackLion and I have been updating and improving our Alchemy of Core Beliefs online course, and it’ll be starting January 25th. If you’re looking for a way to transform your life in 2016, here’s an amazing set of tools that will be uplifting and life-changing. Join us!

alchemyimage

When an old, hidden core belief is holding you back, you know it. It feels like an inexplicable struggle, like trying to get unstuck from a bad habit, like you’ve tried everything and you’re at your wits’ end, like pushing that same damn boulder up the hill, again and again. It’s time for some deeper work.

In the Alchemy of Core Beliefs: Unearthing Your Hidden Framework, a 6-week online course, we’ll guide you through the process of uncovering, then transforming, the core beliefs that are preventing you from thriving. Learn the tools for digging deep and receive the caring support you need to finally make the changes you’re yearning for. Sign up today!

Use the promo code ALCHEMYNOW (in all caps) to get an Early Bird special price at checkout, now through January 18th.

Give yourself this gift and make 2016 the year you break through and finally start living the life of your dreams!

Starcat’s Ten Best Books of 2015

City of Refuge photo from starhawk.org

City of Refuge photo from starhawk.org

It’s that time again! Here are my ten favorite reads from last year. As always, please note that these aren’t necessarily books that came out in 2015. They’re just my top favorites of the 53 books I read during the year.

Oh! And before we get started, I wanted to mention the book I’m reading right now, because it’s just that good. If you get a chance, grab your copy of Starhawk’s City of Refuge. It’s the sequel to one of my all-time beloved books, The Fifth Sacred Thing. I so very highly recommend these novels. Inspiring, magickal, uplifting, deep, funny, poignant, thought-provoking… Okay, let’s get this post written so I can go back to City of Refuge. Did I mention it was also a bit addictive?

The Catswold Portal by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. This is an older fantasy novel that a good friend gave me, I think because of the feline connection. It’s a fantastic story set in a captivating world that lies beneath our own. I was left loving the ending and still wanting more.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. There was a bit of controversy about this book among fans of Rothfuss. I think the main problem people had with it was that it isn’t the much-anticipated third book in his Kingkiller Chronicles, but it’s also true that it’s an unusual sort of story. I loved the imagery, the lyrical prose, the feelings evoked by this simple tale. Very inspiring indeed.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This is another one I’d describe as lyrical, or poetic. I’ve also heard it called a faery tale for adults, which I think rings true. It was a really good read, and absorbed me fully into its world.

Tantra for the West: A Direct Path to Living the Life of Your Dreams by Marc Allen. This is a reissue of a book from the 1980s. I wouldn’t have read it back then, when I was just a kid, but I’m glad I did this past year. It’s one of those books that seems to encapsulate all the wisdom you need to live a magickal life, but at the same time doesn’t lecture or condescend. Allen offers you tools, anecdotes, and suggestions, and lets you get on with the work as you choose.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My sister-in-law told me about this novel one night at camp this summer, then proceeded to find a used copy while we were out shopping the next day. It was wonderful, and not just because it’s centered around books. A terrific story, told in a captivating and powerful voice.

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. This one was a gift from my Mom, who knows how much I love Judy Blume. It didn’t disappoint. What a great story! Her characters are still unique, enchanting, and universal all at once.

The Afterlife of Billy Fingers: How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved to Me There’s Life After Death by Annie Kagan. Does it sound weird, or weirdly appropriate, that this one was recommended recently by my friend Jenn, who died in 2013? My polarity therapist passed along the recommendation during a session, and I’m so glad I followed it. This was such a powerful read, and confirms a lot of things I believe in. It’s also a really awesome story.

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan. I guess I’m into lyrically-written adult faery tales these days. Not all that surprising. This language in this novel is just stunning. I was drawn in, and it drifted through my dreams for all the time I was reading it. Lovely. I want to write like this.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. You’ve probably been hearing about this one everywhere; I know I have. I really enjoyed it and found it inspiring. I didn’t actually agree with everything she says about the creative life, but I found it all very good food for thought. If you identify as a creative person at all, check it out.

The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-create Your World Your Way by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. I discovered Dr. Dyer’s writings this year, after he passed away. I mean, I knew who he was, but I’d never actually sat down and read any of his books. I’m glad I did, finally. This book was fabulous, and I’m looking forward to devouring more of his well-thought-out and insightful works.

To An Authentically Amazing 2016

visionboardjan16

Last year, my word of the year took a while to find. This year, it came to me in early November, during a guided mediation at a retreat.

This past week I’ve been reading back over my 2015 journals, something I do every year in order to jot down notes on creative ideas, themes, or other things I’d like to follow through on. I’ve found several references to this word becoming important to me. I love it when the Universe gives me hints!

So, AUTHENTIC it is, then! Here’s the vision board I created today. I look forward to a year of becoming even more my authentic self, the part of me that’s fully connected to the Divine creative forces, and to sharing that self with you, here and through books and courses and gatherings.

Thank you for reading this blog! I’d love to hear from you. What’s your word of the year for 2016? What are your intentions? How can I support you in living your dreams?

 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Our table just before Christmas dinner, with a glimpse at the new paint job.

Our table just before Christmas dinner, with a glimpse at the new paint job.

I love the winter holidays. I really do. I’m blessed with a loving family and a community of terrific friends. At the same time, though, the last part of the year, leading up to Winter Solstice and Christmas is always super-freaking-busy for me.

This year, that was even more true than usual. Along with all the holiday preparations, I was finishing up my new book (a month or so later than I’d originally hoped), planning some new offerings for Feline Dreamers, and taking a biz coaching program. Oh, and giving our home a reboot (de-cluttering, rearranging, and painting the walls). Yikes!

Once the festivities were done and the deadlines were all met, it felt nice to relax into my upgraded space and just be.

This year I’m realizing how much I truly enjoy the time between Christmas and the start of the new calendar year. There’s a certain lull in our usual activities. There’s time for musing and planning and dreaming. The whole world seems to pause and take stock.

Today, there’s snow – the first real snowstorm where I live. We’ve had unusually warm weather here in Maine this fall and early winter, with rain instead of snow. But now the ground is covered in white, and the landscape has that hushed feeling.

There’s still work to do, but my pace feels slower. I’ve built in plenty of time for visioning this week. I’m working on my Shining Life and Shining Biz planners, and writing lists of celebrations from 2015. I’ve chosen my word of the year for 2016, and I’m making exciting plans for the new year.

How about you? Can you slow down and take the time to wrap up the year gone by and plan some juicy, yummy things for the one just about to begin? What would you like 2016 to feel like?

It’s still officially the holiday season, but all the shopping and baking and wrapping is done. It’s okay to slow down and take some time just for you. Enjoy!

Starcat’s Favorites: Nearly Winter

As I write this, it’s nearly the Winter Solstice. We’re getting ready for our annual Solstice gathering, and for the family Christmas festivities after that. The moon, when it peeps out from the clouds, has been so gorgeous this week. We’ve been having rain rather than snow, which isn’t quite as festive, but makes for easier driving.

Last night a friend and I went to a Winter Solstice ceremony that another friend, a yoga teacher, was offering. It was lovely to relax into some restorative yoga, meditate to the sound of the singing bowls, and set intentions for 2016. It was a really nice break from the holiday preparations.

Here are some links for you to explore, whenever you get a chance – once the holiday gatherings are done, curl up with a cup of tea and enjoy. There’s so much wonderful stuff happening as the new year begins, and many ways for you to nurture yourself. Remember to take some time for self-care in the meantime!

I may have mentioned once or twice (ahem) that Kind Over Matter is one of my favorite websites. Well, now it’s even more gorgeous and amazing! Check out the new site design. It’s delightful!

This website has some really good information about how to work with the phases of the moon. Concise and useful.

Here’s a review of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I know is showing up everywhere, but through the lens of unschooling. I loved the book, and this take on it is pretty cool. Here’s a talk by Gilbert that’s really good, too.

This talk by Brene Brown (I know, another popular author who’s everywhere you look right now, but hey, they’re good!) on trust is well worth your time.

Centered In Spirit Front Cover_finalAre you a planner? I’m a bit obsessed with them, I admit. This self-love planner from Blessing Manifesting is completely awesome. And of course there’s Leonie Dawson – her business bundle is on my wish list for Santa (that one’s an affiliate link – how could I not be on her team? She has mermaids and unicorns!).

Last but not least, I want to let you know that my third book is now available! I’m so excited! Get your copy of Centered In Spirit: Crafting Your Daily Practice, in paperback or for Kindle, on Amazon.

Enjoy your holidays!

When You Need It Most

On Thanksgiving morning, I woke up in a bit of a panic. I’d forgotten to set my alarm, and had overslept. We were hosting a family gathering, with Thanksgiving dinner at noon and people arriving as early as 11am. No, I wasn’t responsible for making all the food – everyone contributes. However, we did have cooking to do, and some cleaning and tidying, and setting the table.

I felt stressed. So, I sat down on my bed, crossed my legs, set a timer, and did my 20-minute meditation.

Just like I do every morning.

When I was done, I felt much calmer. I went downstairs and started my preparations. The guys joined me and started cooking. I finished the cleaning I had to do, my daughter helped set the table, and everything was just right when the rest of the family showed up.

Our dinner was delicious, there was lots of laughter and fun, and I didn’t need to stress out at all.

My daily spiritual practice came through for me yet again.

For many years I’d heard the Zen proverb “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” Now I totally get it.

I’ve been doing daily spiritual practice since 1997, and it has helped me to become more centered, joyful, and purposeful. The silent meditation piece is fairly new, though. I feel like a beginner in that regard. But already it’s having a profound and far-reaching effect on my life. Not because I’m good at it – but because I’m doing it. Every day, whether I feel like it or not.

The thing is, feeling peaceful or compassionate or stress-free isn’t just something you learn once and you’re all set from then on out. It’s a continual process. It requires practice.

In my view, having a daily spiritual practice isn’t really a luxury. It’s a true necessity, especially if you want to live in a way that’s connected with the Divine and with your deepest inner knowing. Spiritual practice is something anyone can do – you don’t need money or supplies or leisure time or a room of your own. It can be as simple as pausing to breathe deeply and intentionally.

Your practice can – and should – be unique to you. Your spiritual practice should feed your joy, your desires, your passions.

When you practice your connection with the mysteries every day, it will be there for you when you need it most. It’s like any skill – the more you do it, the better you get, and the more automatic it becomes. So on those days when you wake up in a panic, or someone you love is in the hospital, or your car breaks down, you’ll have access to a deep well of inner wisdom and support.

Centered In Spirit Front Cover_finalIntrigued? I wrote a book about how you can custom-design a daily spiritual practice just for you. Centered In Spirit: Crafting Your Daily Practice is available on Amazon (as of this writing, the e-book is for sale now; the paperback version will be up in a few days).

(That’s my lovely daughter on the cover!)