Starcat’s Favorites: Mindset, Mindset, Mindset

I’m practicing the art of consciously choosing my mindset, these days. I’m aiming for vibrant health, wealth, and joy. BlackLion chose the word MINDSET as his Word of the Year, and I’ve been seeing and hearing it everywhere. It certainly supports my own intentions for 2024.

I’m also enjoying expanding my horizons with new mini-adventures. The wintry weather has cancelled or shifted some of my plans. But so far this month I’ve gotten to co-host a Mermaids & Pirates birthday party (for 10 adults) at a local hotel with an indoor pool, attend a Silent Book Club at my favorite coffee shop, and hold a fancy High Tea with my Mom for some friends. Such fun!

Of course, I’m also getting plenty of time in the creative cave. I’ve been editing my own fiction, along with a couple of manuscripts for clients. I’ve been reading novels set in tropical places and daydreaming about warm sea water.

Here are some of the interesting tidbits from around the web that I’ve discovered this winter:

There’s value in solitude. We knew this. (Do people really “fear” solitude? Not me, says the introvert. But I can get distracted by devices, like most of us).

I love this article about rediscovering your personal power – and yes, it even mentions mindset – !

This blog post by a retreat attendee is absolutely stunning (I also have one of her books, and it’s fantastic). So inspiring. I hope that someday I’ll receive this kind of praise for my own retreats!

Back in September I shared a link to a post on boundaries, from the bullet journal blog. Well, it became a 4-part series on this valuable topic. This is the second article on boundaries, here’s the third one, and the final installment is over here. The whole series is excellent and well worth a read.

Oooh, I love this astrological timeline of your life from one of my favorite astrologers.

Speaking of astrology, here’s a list of books, one for each sign of the zodiac. Cool!

I can’t remember if I’ve shared this song before, but it’s powerful and always gives me the chills.

Setting some goals for 2024 and beyond? Remember to get into alignment and expect the best.

I love book lists. Here’s Leonie Dawson’s list of the best books she read in 2023.

I hope you’re enjoying the winter, with joy, good health, and prosperity. Blessings!

Starcat’s Best Books of 2023

Just what my fellow bookwyrms need during this wintry month: my annual Best Books post. Once again, I couldn’t pick just 10, so I’m featuring my 14 favorite books from 2023.

As always, please note that these aren’t necessarily books that came out in 2023, just ones that I encountered and very much enjoyed.

I read 84 books in 2023. Like last year, this is more than usual – in the past I’ve often averaged about a book per week. I’m not sure what made this such a great year for reading, but I’ll take it!

Here are the books that stood out the most and became my 2023 favorites:

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Last year I told you that Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is among my top favorite books of all time. Well, who knew? The Starless Sea is even better! Truly a masterpiece of lyrical prose. The writing, the characters, the setting, the world-building – all are perfectly exquisite. If I could only recommend one novel to you, out of all the ones I’ve read over the course of my life, it would be this one.

Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. Part of the reason I loved this book so much is that it’s written by authors, about their creative process. However, it’s also about travel, and aging, and relationships. If you like memoir and you’re interested in personal growth, you’ll enjoy these musings.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I didn’t know much about this book other than it was rather popular when it came out. What a story! It has one of those narrators that you don’t necessarily like that much, but somehow you end up sympathizing with them. I love books that take me along for a wild ride, and this novel certainly fits the bill. I also learned some new things about the art world, which was a bonus.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri. This is a heartbreaking book about the far-reaching effects of war. I’m amazed by the horrors and losses that we humans can survive. This well-written novel gives us a window into the experience of those whose world is destroyed, and what it’s like to immigrate to a whole new culture. Powerful.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I already liked Weir’s sci-fi writing, after reading The Martian. This one blew my mind! Seriously, it’s one of the best works of science fiction in recent memory. If you enjoy this genre and haven’t read Project Hail Mary, it deserves to be on the top of your TBR stack.

Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body by Tami Lynn Kent. I’ve been reading a bunch of books on menopause and related topics, and this is one of the absolute best. How is it possible that I’ve lived in this body for 54 years and I’m still discovering new things? One reason is that we are creatures of continual change. Another is that we’re still being fed a huge bunch of BS about being a woman, thanks to the legacy of the patriarchy. Kent’s book goes a long way toward healing deep wounds and dispelling old myths. This is one I’ll be returning to again and again.

Earth Alchemy by Glennie Kindred. In this densely-packed volume, Kindred takes us on a journey around the wheel of the year that she pairs with the phases of alchemical transformation. We get to witness her personal journey, as well as discover ways we can enrich our own spiritual work. A valuable addition to one’s metaphysical library.

Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Torzs. BlackLion got me this book for my birthday, and it’s right up my alley. Books, magick, mystery, romance… What’s not to love? It’s a delightful book that will keep you up late, turning just one more page. I’m looking forward to reading more by Torzs.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. I love Gilbert’s nonfiction. I didn’t expect to enjoy her fiction quite as much as I do; I’m not sure why. This was an excellent historical novel. Very enjoyable. I love how the protagonist evolves throughout the story.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. This book is intense, sometimes depressing, but absolutely brilliant. I’ve read other works by Butler, but this is my favorite so far. It’s set in a dystopian not-so-distant future, and is believable enough to be downright scary. I especially love the protagonist and her tenacity.

Dawnshard by Brandon Sanderson. This is actually a novella, set in between the longer volumes of Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive series. Another flawless tale, in a complex but believable world, that makes you stop and think. He’s on top of his game. I’m looking forward to reading his new series, Secret Projects.

Writers & Lovers by Lily King. It’s hard to describe this book. On the surface, it’s a tale of a young woman’s love, grief, and creativity. It could also be said to be about the heroine’s journey, the archetypal awakening to one’s true power. The writing, though, is luminescent, and it upgrades the whole experience. That’s the best I can do. You’ll have to just read it for yourself.

The Narrow Road Between Desires by Patrick Rothfuss. On the one hand, I’d rather Rothfuss put his creative energies into finishing the long-awaited third book of The Kingkiller Chronicles. On the other hand, this is an exquisitely-written faery tale. It brought me to both tears and laughter. Take yourself along on the amusement park ride that is The Narrow Road Between Desires. You won’t regret it.

What did you read last year that you loved? What’s on your to-read list for 2024?

Word of the Year 2024: Vibrant

We’ve entered through the portal into a new calendar year. How is your 2024 going so far?

Like last year, mine has been a bit slow to begin, energy-wise. I’m not quite as deep in the grieving process as I was last year at this time, but we did lose Merlin LoveCat this past summer, and 2023 felt like it was a bit harder than I’d wanted it to be.

While I’m still going through my old journals, and I haven’t felt called to do some of my other year-end rituals, I did pick a word of the year: VIBRANT. 

It’s a word that’s been with me in the form of intentions for a few weeks now. I am moving towards being vibrantly healthy, vibrantly wealthy, and vibrantly joyful. I’m already vibrantly creative. I also like how the word vibrant is related to the word vibes. I’m tending to my vibes this year.

I’ve led two vision board playshops over the past couple of weeks, so I’ve made two vision boards of my own. The first one, pictured above, is my traditional sort of board. For the second one, below, I went with how being vibrant feels to me.

How about you? Is your 2024 starting off with a bang, or are you still easing into it, like I am?

No-Cost and Low-Cost Resources to Take Into Your Creative Cave

It’s that time of year again, my friends: long nights, cold weather, and a desire for cozying up. It’s the perfect time to enter your creative cave. What does that mean?

To me, it means following the impulse to go inward at this dark time of year. It means embracing it, and leaning in, and seeing what creations emerge. It’s kind of like an upgraded hibernation for creatives.

There are useful tools you can take with you into the creative cave, ones that inspire, nurture, and comfort you. Yes, things like notebooks, pens, fuzzy blankets, hot cocoa, and art supplies are great, but you can also bring along tools from those who have more experience with creative flow and have crafted fun ways to share it with you.

During a recent Faerie Goddessmother mentoring call (yes, that’s really a thing), I discovered that part of what holds me back from having a wider impact and audience is my deep desire for inclusivity. While I need to charge money for my writing coaching – it is a business, after all, and my full-time livelihoodI don’t want to exclude those who can’t afford my services. I’ve felt it before, that desire to get support and do something exciting, but being limited due to lack of funds. It sucks.

I was inspired to create this post as an offering to those who want to go deep into the Creative Cave, but need a bit of support or some new tools – without having to pay (much or at all). 

Some of these offerings do require you to sign up for the provider’s email list. That might make you worry about cluttering up your virtual inbox. A life hack, in case you don’t know yet: when you’re done downloading your complimentary resource or want to reduce the number of emails you receive, you can unsubscribe by clicking the link which is conveniently provided at the bottom of the email. Easy-peasy!

Without further ado, and in no particular order, let’s dive in:

Are you an empath or sensitive soul? Does this impact how comfortable you feel sharing your creativity, or even making space for it in your own life? My friend and colleague (and Faerie Godmother mentor) Jennifer Elizabeth Moore has a delightful offering. Join her Empathic Mastery Circle and begin to reclaim your own energy field, for real.

One of my clients recently mentioned a valuable insight she’d gotten from listening to author Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast. I love all of Liz Gilbert’s writing, including her book Big Magic, but I didn’t realize she’d done a podcast. You can find lots of creative inspiration in her Magic Lessons episodes.

Another favorite author and blogger, Susannah Conway, offers a process to wrap up each calendar year and prepare for the new year. I do this every winter, and love it. Her prompts are deep and juicy and her designs beautiful. Get your copy of the Unravel Your Year workbook.

Susannah Conway recommended a planner from one of her writing colleagues, and I trust her recommendation enough to pass it along to you. It’s called the Your Writing Year 2024 planner.

My partner Brent and I offer a fun way to get ready for the new year: our 4th annual Vision Board PlayShop. It’s such fun to craft vision boards in community, from the comfort of your own cozy cave. Also, I’ve been hearing from readers that my new book, The Elements of Creativity, is a useful guide to have by your side.

You might say that cultivating a yoga practice isn’t especially creative, but I find that it helps me get centered and ready to create. Many of us creatives live in our heads a lot of the time. It’s super valuable to begin (or return to) listening to your body regularly. I’ve been doing yoga every day this year, mostly through the (excellent) Yoga with Adriene channel, and it’s been a powerful way to support my writing and other projects.

Another creative person I’ve been following for years is Leonie Dawson. She has a whole page of no-cost offerings, and there are many gems to take into your creative cave. Some of my favorites include her My Ocean Retreat Journal, the Things I Need to Thrive worksheet, the Creating a Mini-Retreat e-book, and her You Have Permission guided meditation. These are just a few of the items on her long list, with a variety of topics. Oh, and if you want to try a low-cost offering from Leonie, her My Brilliant Year goal workbooks are fantastic.

This random writing prompt generator, called Writer Igniter, is super fun, especially if you’re writing fiction. It’s the creation of author and writing coach Gabriela Pereira and her team. I also highly recommend her book, DIY MFA.

Need a bit of help with the whole idea of self-care and nurturing yourself? Want it delivered with colorful, adorable artwork? Check out The Self-Love Rainbow, which is the creation of author and artist Dominee Calderon. I have her brand-new workbook and I’m loving it.

I know I’ve mentioned The Energy Almanac by astrologer and artist Tam Veilleux and her team. I love this product so much that I’m an affiliate (which just means that I get a small commission at no extra cost to you if you choose to buy using my link). It’s a valuable guide, with weekly and monthly wisdom based on what’s happening in the cosmos. I keep mine handy throughout the year.

There’s a very cool, delightfully conscious organization in Canada called Firefly Creative Writing, and I love their Life Cycle of Creative Projects. It also contains lots of links to other resources you can take into your cave – bonus! They also offer a useful list of resources for Decolonizing the Writing World.

I talk a lot about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, which takes place in November each year. But they also have other, year-round offerings that are valuable – and since they’re a nonprofit organization, they’re offered at no cost! Check out the Writer’s Resources tab on their website.

Here are a couple of my own no-cost offerings that you might not know about yet. If you’re wanting to write a book but aren’t sure how to begin, get your copy of Write the Damn Book! Your Free Guide to Getting Started. Do you want to try some channeled writing? I’ve created this short video training to help you get started.

I’ve found that when I try other forms of creativity, especially when I do so playfully, it feeds my writing (which is my main creative love). One of my favorite things to play with is art. The artist Marney K. Makridakis created Artella Land, where she has workshops, books, and other offerings. I’ve taken some of her workshops and they’re wonderful. There’s also a fun quiz! Check it out right here.

Are you tired of the lack of money holding you back? It’s sort of a catch-22 solving prosperity issues and upleveling your finances, because most of the courses cost a LOT. I just joined a program, My Million Dollar Experiment, which starts in January, runs for the whole year, and is only $25. Total. That’s it. I haven’t worked with the person running it directly, Joanna Hunter, but she comes highly recommended by close friends in the biz sister community. So I thought I’d pass the info along. Also, you can become an affiliate and make back your $25 if 2 people join, which is what I did. It’s a self-led course with a FB group and looks like it’ll be super helpful. No pressure at all to join, but if you want to check it out, here’s the link. Let me know if you decide to join – it’ll be fun to play along together and compare notes!

I hope this list of no-cost and low-cost resources comes in handy for you this winter. Enjoy your time in the creative cave.

Sending you big sparkly blessings!

Starcat’s Favorites: 2023 Mystical Holiday Shopping Guide!

Hey friends! No doubt you’re getting the same onslaught of Black Friday offers and other holiday sales as I am – from, well, every direction. It’s kind of gotten out of hand. Many of us are choosing to instead focus on supporting local businesses, entrepreneurs, and other magickal offerings this season. 

Since I know so many amazing and magickal entrepreneurs, I thought I’d offer this holiday gift guide as an alternative to the mainstream holiday flyers. Plus, it’s all electronic, so nothing to recycle. I can also add to it as I find new inspiring gifts!

I also want to encourage you to gift yourself with something special this season. You are a magickal being and deserve to embrace your deepest desires.

A couple of these offers are affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Most of them are not; they’re all people whose work I love and who are totally worth supporting, this season and always!

Without further ado, your magickal Starcat-curated holiday gift guide.

The Dream Witch

The Dream Witch speaks: As the Dream Witch, I often hear people tell me, with surprise in their voice, “I’ve been having the most intense dreams lately!” 

Which makes sense…after all, we’re living through some intense times. As extraordinary as our dreams can be, however, we tend to dismiss them in favor of “doing something” – whether that’s posting on social media or calling representatives or even buckling down to be more productive.

I mean, why bother doing dreamwork when the world is on fire? 

It’s simple: our dreams bring us a bounty of gifts that not only help us identify the core material creating unworkable patterns in our lives (not to mention on a collective level), but also the creative solutions to transform

Whether you feel stuck in a recurring pattern in your personal life or are wondering how to be part of a solution to more global problems, Somatic Dreamwork can unlock the material in your unconscious mind to give you ingenious insight and direction.

For a limited time, I’m offering Private Somatic Dreamwork sessions for $99 (a 40% discount). You can purchase as many as you want at this price – for you or as gifts – to schedule anytime in 2024.

Click this link to purchase as many Private Somatic Dreamwork sessions as you want. After your purchase I will email you the links to schedule your sessions (which you can pass on to those you may be gifting them to).

Julie Balderrama is the Dream Witch and uses her training in somatic coaching and dreamwork to help people dismantle oppressive internal systems so they can give themselves permission to live life on their own terms.

Readings with Ineisha

Ineisha says: If there’s anything that is true about me and the Tarot, it’s that I like to see the whole picture.

I like to discover all sides of any curiosity or confusion, shedding light on the tiniest of detail to the most panoramic views of life’s journey. And so, I have sharpened my skills with precision in illuminating the unseen aspects that may be holding us back from stepping fully into our potentiality at any moment.

Whether you find yourself searching for something that hasn’t materialized into form yet,

Seeking answers to specific questions and requiring clarity on your life’s purpose,

Or simply wish to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and what you may be overlooking,

I offer you the silver lining in a session with me. I will make sure to give you clarity as clear as day and tap into the part of you that shines brilliantly and help it radiate outwardly!

Treat yourself and your close ones with a 50% OFF Gift Certificate through the end of the year and receive an hour Zoom session with me for $55 dollars and book through June of 2024!  Schedule Appointment with Sunshine Readings (acuityscheduling.com) 

Ineisha discovered her gift for perceiving the world through energy and has since nurtured this skill. Her ability to listen and provide insightful advice led to the realm of divination, where she now offers transformative tarot and oracle card readings. Ineisha helps clients rekindle forgotten parts of themselves and brings them peace of mind. Ineisha demystifies the spiritual realm, bringing inspiration and reinvigoration back into the spirits of her clients.

Ineisha – Psychic Intuitive – Sunshine Readings 

The Energy Almanac

Manage your future with the 2024 Energy Almanac! I love this annual guide so much.  With its coil-bound construction and zodiac-based astrology predictions, this book is perfect for planning ahead and making sure you’re ready for whatever the heavens throw your way

Know the best timing for your next retreat or vacation. Understand which skills you’ll be practicing in 2024. Don’t wait for the beginning of every month for the next horoscope articles to drop. Stop checking your app and start knowing ahead of time exactly what moves to make and when.

Apply astrological insight to help you stop striving and start THRIVING. The Energy Almanac for 2024 is your go-to one-stop-shop for the coming 12 months. With eye-catching art worthy of a frame, you can see in a jiffy where you should be directing your energy.

The astrology of the year ahead has been decoded and wrapped up into one beautiful book to keep at your bedside, desktop, or altar. Don’t guess anymore! Plan according to the planets.

SNATCH UP THE COIL-BOUND EDITION WHILE YOU CAN! Supplies won’t last long – and then it’s paperback or bust! You can lay your book flat and write in it. (Yes, we recommend that!). 

These make amazing gifts for your mystical and witchy friends, too.

Get your copy right here

Illuminate: The Unschool of Witchcraft

Get Certified as a Badass Powerful Witch that is an expert in psychic divination, magickal spells, and energy healing.

Illuminate: The Unschool of Witchcraft is the #1 hands-on, unschool of mystical knowledge that will give you the skills and experience you need to step out into the world as the psychic medium, high priestess and healer that you are meant to be.

My friend Sunshine is your expert guide on this amazing journey.

https://www.sunshinereadings.com/illuminate-2/

Your very special holiday price is just $2222. for a whole year! If you’re interested in joining for that price and don’t see it on the page, email sunshine@sunshinereadings.com and let her know Starcat sent you. 

Self Love Rainbow Workbook

I’m enjoying the Self-Love Rainbow Workbook by Dominee Calderon.

I bought this workbook because I love the author’s work – both in terms of her advocacy for mental health wellness and for her absolutely adorable illustrations. What I’ve quickly discovered is that it’s perfect for anyone at any part of the inner journey.

My second book, written nearly 9 years ago now, is called Cultivating Self-Love. So yeah, I wrote the book on this topic – well, one of them anyway. But living one’s life with self-love and compassion isn’t something we just check off the list and move on from. Although self-love is something I’ve been learning and practicing for years, I’m discovering new things and enhancing my journey as I make my way through this inspiring workbook. It’s the perfect companion at any point along the winding path of self-discovery.

Face it, even when we know why we should, most of us don’t take enough time for ourselves. We might think it’s selfish, or silly, or we’re just too busy and overwhelmed.

This workbook guides you through the process of learning to treat yourself with kindness and compassion – regularly!

And the artwork is adorable. Give yourself the gift of this powerful self-love tool. Gift copies to your friends as well! Very highly recommended.

To dive into the Self-love Rainbow Universe, check out:

🦄 Shop: http://store.selfloverainbow.com/

🌈 Etsy: http://etsy.com/shop/selfloverainbow

📖 Book: https://a.co/d/6MP51Ay

Joanna Hunter Presents: My Million Dollar Experiment

Thriving Artists – you know how it’s sort of a catch-22 solving prosperity issues and upleveling your finances, because most of the courses cost a LOT? I just joined a program, My Million Dollar Experiment, which starts in January and is only $25. Total. That’s it. 

I haven’t worked with the person running it directly, Joanna Hunter, but she comes highly recommended by close friends in the biz sister community. So I thought I’d pass the info along to all of you. 

Also, you can become an affiliate and make back your $25 if 2 people join, which is what I did.  (No, it’s not a pyramid scheme or anything like that, just a way for them to get lots of new participants and help people get prosperous). 

It’s a self-led course with a FB group and looks like it’ll be super helpful. No pressure at all to join, but if you want to check it out, here’s the link

Let me know if you decide to join – it’ll be fun to play along together and compare notes!

The Elements of Creativity

Have you had an idea for a book – or another long-form project – that’s floated around in your head for a long time? Do you hesitate to begin writing it because you just don’t know where to start? 

My latest book is your sacred map to actually writing your book.

The Elements of Creativity lays out a path, following the wisdom of the five elements, to writing your book with a lot less stress and struggle. Learn to harness the power of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit to create your masterpiece.

I am your experienced guide to unlocking your innate creativity. Not only will you write your world-changing book, but your creative insights will ripple throughout your life, bringing you more joy and peace.

Get your copy of The Elements of Creativity and start your writing journey now. Or get one for a friend and give the gift of expanded creativity! 

 

Of Patterns and Projects

I’ve been writing a series of contemporary fantasy books for about nine years. Yep – nine years! During that time I’ve also written and published several nonfiction books. But the fiction has mostly stayed on the back burner.

Recently I’ve gotten inspired to change that. My new plan is to begin publishing the series next fall, in 2024. I thought I’d share a bit about the status of these novels, which were mostly written during National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo).

The series is called Patterns. The first book, Patterns in the Void, is pretty close to done. I’ve sent it out to a group of beta readers, who gave me lots of useful feedback. I’ve been gradually incorporating the feedback and editing the book. Currently it’s 118K words in length, which fits within the fantasy genre, if a bit on the long side.

Book two is called Patterns of Regret, though I might actually change the title, as the focus of the book shifted while I was writing it. Only a couple of people have read this one so far. It needs some more editing, and then I’ll be sending it out for beta readers. The length is currently about 120K words, and I’ll probably pare that down some as I do the next round of edits.

Book three is titled Patterns on the Sea. I’d written 30K words on it during NaNoWriMo 2019. I recently went back to it, as part of preparing for this year’s November writing marathon. Imagine my surprise when I found that I’d also written 50K words during NaNoWriMo 2020! I’d completely forgotten that fact. I guess I can blame the weirdness of that year in general, or just my sketchy memory (it’s not an aging thing – I’ve always been this way, which is one reason why I keep detailed journals).

Does it seem weird that I’d forget an entire swathe of one of my own novels? Yeah, it does to me too, but I’m rolling with it. So book 3 currently stands at 80K words, and is still in really rough draft form. The story isn’t finished yet, and that’s what I’m going to be writing this November.

I’ve been trying to decide whether to keep this to a trilogy, or if I want to write more books in the series. Right now I’m leaning towards adding more, as I really like the characters and their evolution, and it’s a fun world to write about.

One of the reasons I’ve been taking my time with fiction is that I learned that, when self-publishing a series of novels, it’s best to have more than one ready when you begin publishing them, so readers don’t have to wait long periods of time between books (more about the other reasons in a moment). This is my current plan: get all three of these books ready to release by next fall, then begin publishing them, with short spans of time between. One cool thing for me about doing things this way is that I can go back and add some foreshadowing to the earlier books, as I discover more about how the whole series is unfolding. I like the ability to hint subtly at what’s to come later.

I have three other reasons that it’s been taking so long. The first is kind of a true confession: I still have doubts about my ability to write good fiction. I don’t want to release adequate or boring stuff into the world. But I’m doing just what I tell my writing clients: becoming better at anything means practice, practice, practice.

Other reasons I’ve had this stuff on the back burner: the necessity of paying bills means that I’ve wanted to get my coaching business up and running, and solidly supporting me and my family, before devoting large amounts of time to this passion project. The business has been growing slowly and steadily, though with the usual entrepreneurial rollercoaster rides up and down. I feel like it’s time to bring more of my own creativity to the fore.

Finally, I know that promoting books isn’t my forte. I haven’t been able to afford a book publicist up until this point. I’m hopeful that 2024 is the year, and will begin looking for someone to hire. I want to make a big splash with the Patterns series!

That’s the update. Best of luck to all those who are getting ready to dive into NaNoWriMo! I’m right there with you.

Starcat’s Favorites: Portals and Compassion

It’s that time of year when the veils between the worlds are thin. Personally, I feel like I’ve been going through a series of portals, starting with the eclipse at the New Moon. I’ve been noticing more ease and less struggle in my own body, mind, and spirit. My creativity has been flowing even more strongly than before, and my emotions feel lighter. I’m thankful.

Yet I’m aware that there are also wars going on in the world. And then comes another tragedy, a mass shooting, this one closer to home, here in Maine. It reminds me that everything happens at once: the joys and sorrows, creativity and rage, health and illness, birth and death, hope and despair.

There is always something horrible going on in the world, simultaneously with the beauty that is unfolding.

What helps me most is to tune deeply into compassion. It’s especially useful when feeling helpless. In this instance, I feel deep sympathy for the victims and their families, gratitude for all the amazing people lending their aid, and yes, also sorrow for the perpetrator, whose mental instability and who-knows-what life experiences led him to such awful choices. Embracing compassion and sending light, prayers, and healing can help us to become settled in our own energy systems at times of tragedy.

While political activism, donating to charities, and other outer-world actions can certainly help, it’s also key to honor your inner wellness. Feeling our feelings about things is essential. Then it’s time to release them and turn back towards the ways we are contributing each day to the goodness in the world.

Take good care of yourself. Use your somatic, magickal, and spiritual tools to tune in to your connection to the Divine. You’re a beloved child of the Multiverse.

Here are some interesting things from the web that I’ve discovered this month:

What does water have to do with manifesting? Check out this video.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Here’s a useful article about setting up a bullet journal to support you this November.

Have you ever heard of a “commonplace book?” I ran across a couple articles about them recently: one is connected with bullet journaling, another is specifically for visual artists. Intriguing…

Speaking of visual images, I get inspired by looking at interior design blogs and layouts. Not necessarily inspired to redecorate my own home, but just in general. I adore this room in particular! I can imagine one of my book’s characters, Winnie, loving this space…

Did you know that inspiration is perishable?

I’ll leave you with a comic about grief that I find rings quite true. Take good care of yourself out there.

Starcat’s Favorites: A Rollercoaster Ride

No, not a literal rollercoaster, although I do enjoy those. What I’m referring to is that I’ve been having quite the adventure this month! 

It was my birthday, and I had fun celebrating with family and friends. Some wonderful witchy folks also gathered with me for our 7th annual ritual for Yemaya’s Feast Day.

Then there was my book launch for The Elements of Creativity. What a wild whirlwind of a ride! I’ve received so much delightful support from my creative and entrepreneurial community. I’m thankful. The responses I’ve been getting about the book so far are overwhelmingly positive. This book is part of my mission to help other creatives bring forth their stories and wisdom, so it feels great to know that it’s now out there doing its sacred work. You can check it out and get your copy over here.

We’ve also reached the one-year anniversary of my Dad’s death, so I’m feeling tender and vulnerable (as is the rest of the family, especially my Mom). I found the perfect quote from Brene Brown, in her book Rising Strong, to sum up my experience with grief over the past year: 

“Owning our stories of heartbreak is a tremendous challenge when we live in a culture that tells us to deny our grief.” – Brene Brown

This goes for my grief for my sweet cat brothers, Percy and Merlin, as well – maybe even more so, as many people only acknowledge grief for humans who have departed. Cats are family, too, for me, and I feel their absence deeply.

Ah well. Life goes on, with its joys and sorrows, and before I know it, I’ll be hosting my next virtual writing retreat, Never Write Alone. Then we’ll have Halloween/Samhain, and be well into autumn. 

I’m grateful for the rituals and holidays that guide me around the Wheel of the Year, and the blessings of my beloved community to share them with each year. 

Here are some of my fun or interesting finds from the internet this month:

Speaking of grief, did you know that there’s a kind of grief that happens when you finish a big project?

I think perhaps we all need this WTF Tarot Spread.

On boundaries and how to protect your “inner garden.”

A friend told me about this “most beautiful twins in the world” article, and I found it inspiring in terms of imagining characters for my fantasy fiction.

More inspiration came from this look at the indoor decorating “color of the year.” So pretty! Along those same lines, this look at Erykah Badu’s studio was fun to watch.

How many steps do we need to take in a day for optimum health? Maybe not as many as you might think.

My wonderful biz sister wrote this terrific post about my new book (and why she gets support with her writing projects). The book also got a glowing review over here. Check it out!

Enjoy!

Starcat’s Favorites: End of Summer

I know, I know, I always go on about how much I love summer. It’s true, I do. But I also adore autumn. So the end of summer brings more loveliness.

This year it’s all a bit tricky. Not only because the weather has been weird, making for less swimming and other outdoor activities than usual. There are also lots of unpleasant anniversaries coming up, relating to my Dad’s death last September. The first family reunion without him, my first birthday without him, the date of his passing, and on and on. 

Also, our beloved Merlin LoveCat has disappeared. He’s 14 and a half, and has always been an independent fellow with a deep love of nature. We tearfully suspect he went on a walkabout over the rainbow bridge. Maybe he’s with his brother Percy, reunited in the Summerlands. I’ll write more when I can. It’s hard.

We all know it: grief is a bitch. A friend told me about compounded grief, which is what happens when you have multiple losses. After last year and this year, I think I’m under its spell. 

Even so, I’m blessed with a delightful family, the best friends ever, and a community of Thriving Artists who make me smile every day. I have books and Milton Lovecat and work that I truly enjoy. I’m endlessly grateful.

I’ve also got a big book launch coming up, which helps me divert my attention from my grief when I need a break.  

So yeah, I’m welcoming the final gorgeous days of summer and leaning into the autumn energies. Can you blame me?

Here are some recent finds on the web, in case you’re looking for some distraction of your own:

We finished watching Jane the Virgin and I absolutely loved it. I hadn’t realized that she’s a writer, too. I want to write a telenovela! Besides Jane, Rojelio is my favorite character.

There’s a lot of talk about AI (artificial intelligence) right now. Here are some thoughts about using it to support your manifesting practices.

I’m daydreaming of tropical vacations. Here’s an article about visiting Bermuda.

I’m reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower right now; it’s fantastic. Here’s a list of book recommendations for fantasy and sci-fi fans.

The Chani Nicholas astrology app is now available for Android and I’m super excited! I’ve been reading it every morning. Love it.

In September I’m going to join a few other witchy biz folks doing the Garbage Post Challenge. This is the podcast episode that describes what it is.

Sending you lots of love on your journey, especially if you’re under the spell of grief. We can do this.

Are You Missing Out on an Essential Nutrient?

I see it all the time. Friends and acquaintances whose lives are heavily scheduled, extremely full from sunrise to bedtime, and yet they feel like something is missing. Their routine is crushing their spirit under its heavy load. They almost never have time for self-care. They might try to fill that hole of need through alcohol, TV, or ice cream sundaes. They harden themselves and keep going, not sure how to get out of that rut.

Does this sound like you? You might not even know what you’re longing for.

What’s missing from the lives of so many people in our culture? It’s one of the basic nutrients for a healthy life: exercising your creativity.

Creativity is essential for optimum health, like brushing your teeth and eating your veggies.

At this point I can hear the protests begin. “I’m not really creative,” you might say. “That’s fine for artists and writers, but I just can’t do that stuff. I’m not talented.” A friend of mine, while in the midst of an amazingly creative conversation in which she reveals the fascinating workings of her Gemini mind, will routinely play the “I’m not creative” card. I’m not buying it.

Sure, you might not write novels, act in plays, or knit sweaters, but I’m positive that you’re creative. We all are.

Creativity is a part of being human. Whether you’re consciously aware of it or not, you’re creating your life all the time. Your problem-solving abilities, your likes and dislikes, the way you dress and decorate your home – these are all expressions of your innate creativity.

When you repress that part of your psyche, or devalue it, it’s like going too long without a good night’s sleep. You’re just not on your game, and you know there’s something more you need.

When you consciously make creativity part of your daily life, you notice the difference. Being a conscious creator is exquisitely fulfilling. Increasing your creative nutrition has benefits in all areas of your life – actively expressing your creativity is good for your body, mind, emotions, and spirit.

Expressing your creative side will keep you feeling and acting young. This can have a positive effect on your body. If you feel young, you’re more likely to skip, to dance, to take a swim in the lake. You’ll feel good about saying yes to playful activities that also involve physical exercise.

Creativity helps your mind stay nimble and flexible. You might have seen the recent studies showing that the most beneficial activity to prevent dementia in old age is dancing. Not just dancing by following rote moves, but freestyle dancing – which involves a whole lot of creativity, often in a split-second improvisational manner. There are many creative activities you can do that offer that type of thinking-on-your-feet, and they’re good for your mind.

Expressing your creativity also helps you surf the waves of your emotions more skillfully. You’re human, and you’re going to feel anger, grief, sorrow, disappointment, and other “negative” emotions. Whether due to fear, lack of time, or not knowing how to handle them; from time to time we simply push our strong emotions down, thinking we’ll deal with them later. Creativity is a healthy way of expressing stored emotions and moving through them. You can pour your most potent feelings into your chosen art, releasing them from your psyche.

Creativity helps you to be more connected with the spiritual side of life, no matter your belief system. Artists often acknowledge that their most potent creations seem to come through them. When you’re immersed in the moment of creation, you fall into a timeless space where things seem to just flow. You feel like you’re part of something bigger than your ordinary consciousness, and you are. You’re tapping into the energies of the cosmos, and you take that feeling with you back into your everyday life.

Creative expression brings more joy and laughter into your daily life, too. Playing is good for us, and it’s something we do too rarely. Finding a creative practice that you adore gives you an excuse to play, to laugh, to really enjoy yourself. This is a good thing. You can really feel those creative nutrients seeping in when you have yourself a big belly laugh or a fit of the giggles.

When you stop to think about it, you probably already have creative activities that you enjoy doing, or ones you’ve always wanted to try. What are the hobbies that you wish you had time for? What were your favorite things to do when you were a young child? Maybe you don’t even need to think about it, because you already have something in mind. Good!

Now that you know creativity is an essential nutrient for good health, there’s no excuse. Get started today! Find a creative activity that you can add to your day, and devote some time to it.

If you don’t know quite where to begin, enlist your imagination as your partner in the process. Start by playing some creative games, sketching or writing about a dream you had, or spending some time playing with a young child. You can ease into this, getting your creative muscles back into shape slowly.

Don’t worry about the outcome of your creative practice. You’re not taking that pottery class to come up with a new set of dishes, or making a scrapbook to impress your neighbors. Don’t take dance classes just so you can rock the recital (you might still do that, but it’s not the point!). Immerse yourself in the fun of being creative, the immediacy of the moment, and let your joyful feelings be the reward.

Trust that, over time, your creative expressions will help you feel better. You’ll thank yourself later. For now, allow yourself to enjoy your creative playtime!

(This article first appeared on Kind Over Matter).