Starcat’s Favorites: Greeting a New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allowing the Flow of Life

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

Change is the only constant, as the saying goes.

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

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

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

But I am okay. 

Better than okay. I’m thriving!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starcat’s Favorites: Transformation and Witchery

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I am busy, and happy.

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

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

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

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

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

I love this essay on dreaming yourself awake.

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

Evolving Spiritual Practices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starcat’s Favorites: Wake Me Up…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you emotionally intelligent?

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

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

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

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

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

Play Powers Creativity

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

How very boring!

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

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

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

And you know what powers the creative spirit? Play.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starcat’s Favorites: The Soul of Summer

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

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

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

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

I’m all for celebrating the ordinary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sisterhood Is Essential

womenfriendsI’ve written here before about friendship, and particularly my friendships with women. At this point in my life, I feel like any old wounds I had in this area have fully healed.

I absolutely adore my circle of women friends.

These past couple of years, I feel like I’ve been able to delve even deeper into sisterhood. Through my business coach, who works with women entrepreneurs who own heart-centered businesses, I’ve become part of a tribe of women who lift one another up. We offer each other unconditional support, encouragement, and laughter.

These sisters are amazing. They really get me and my interests! They understand my struggles and celebrate my triumphs. It’s been amazing to find a new place where I really fit in.

Where I feel like I truly belong, despite – or perhaps because of – my unconventional beliefs and lifestyle. It feels so fantastic!

Last month I was a presenter at a festival called Where Womyn Gather, in Pennsylvania. It was much like a witch camp (yes, that’s really a thing – there’s even one in Maine now), with workshops during the day, shared meals in a dining hall, and big community rituals in the evening. It was amazing!

The gathering is made up entirely of women and girls. It was such a powerful space to be in. Not only is the venue lovely, but just the energy of being in a community of women – about 500 of us, only a couple of whom I’d ever met before – was magickal.

You know that I love men. As lovers, friends, and partners. I’ve probably had more close male friends over the course of my life than I have women friends (up until recently, anyway).

Yet at this point in my life I also seek out women-only spaces on a regular basis. I find it refreshing, nourishing, and enlivening. There’s something about the shared experiences, the empathy, the collaboration, that feeds my soul.

Quester described the wild women beach gathering he attended – we open it to partners and families from time to time – as kind of uninteresting to him. He said, “It’s all blah blah blah, splash splash splash.” (He forgot to mention the gales of cackling laughter).

But for me, talking about our experiences, laughing together over our stories, and splashing around in the sea is powerfully healing. Yes, even though I’m mostly an introvert, I get energized in these sacred women’s circles.

I’m so very thankful for all of my dear sisters: the mentors, my female relatives, close wild women friends, heartfelt entrepreneur acquaintances, longtime friends, brand-new evolving friendships, my awesome biz accountability partner, new connections I made at the gathering, and more. Those I see often, those who I see rarely or who live far away and interact with me online, momentary friendships with women I might not ever see again. The maidens, the mothers, and the crones. All of the sisters.

You are so inspiring. I bless and value your presence in my life. Sisterhood is essential to my well-being. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Starcat’s Favorites: That’s More Like It

catgardenspringI’m loving the beautiful month of May. It’s been so nice to be able to be outdoors without freezing! I’ve been biking, walking, and hula-hooping, and also sitting in the sun with my journal. Ooh, maybe it’s time to put up the hammock.

This weekend we’re celebrating a half-century family birthday, I’m facilitating a marriage ceremony for some dear friends, and we’ll be attending the annual Beltane on the Beach gathering. Lots of fun stuff to do! Though I’ve been grateful for the rain we’ve been getting, I hope it holds off a while so our outdoor celebrations will be relatively dry and warm.

Here are some links for you to enjoy this weekend, or whenever you feel the urge:

Doing yoga everyday – or in my case, meditation – can change your life. Looking to add a daily practice or healthy habit yourself? Here are some useful tips.

From one of my favorite websites, Kind Over Matter, what to do when people don’t “get” you. She linked to one of my guest posts, too!

10 ways to stand up for yourself.

Call me a New Age dreamer or sci-fi geek if you want, but this is just so freaking cool! Along these same lines, check out how to reprogram your subconscious mind. A longer article, but well worth the read. Here’s a quote: “while many of these approaches were initially passed off as ‘new age’, science is now revealing rapid, measurable and lasting results.” Yes!!

I like this take on why some of us choose to use the word “witch” despite the negative connotations.

Another worthy gem of truth about being an introvert. I very much resonate with this.

I need a new swimsuit and I am totally getting one of these. Okay, so I guess I am a New Age geek. And I love it.

Live long and prosper!

An Abundance of Love and Support

Who’s ready for some wisdom from the Tarot? As part of our (very) occasional series on Tarot, let’s examine the 10 of cups. Today we’ll look at the topic of love and support from community through the lens of this bountiful card.

I’ve been doing a New Moon reading for myself each month for a few years now. This past month, one of the cards that showed up was the 10 of cups. It reminded me that despite my current experience of lack (in the area of finances, specifically), that I am blessed with an abundance of love and support in my life.

Let’s take a closer look at the 10 of cups. Here’s the card from the traditional Rider-Waite deck (click on the image to see a larger version).

10ofcups

Notice the happy exuberance on display in the imagery. The cups spread abundantly across the sky, enmeshed in a rainbow. The couple welcomes this bounty with open arms, while children dance merrily. The landscape is lush and green. There is flowing water, and a building that indicates people live nearby. This cozy picture tells a tale of blessings being received by the community.

Among the traditional meanings of the 10 of cups is the notion of being “at home” with yourself and others. This card is also an affirmation of the joy and wholeness in your life. The 10 of cups indicates the blessing of a happy, loving family and group of friends.

In other words, abundant community.

I have long been blessed with a very supportive and loving family, both in terms of the family I’ve created and in the extended family I came from. What I’d like to talk about in this post, though, is my community of friends, especially my women friends.

Early in my life I was very shy, and thus slow to make friends. I often felt isolated and left out of the groups and cliques I saw at school. In college, I was able to find people who had similar interests and to expand my group of friends. Still, I never really found the circle of women friends that I saw others enjoying.

As an adult, I had a close female friend who was my “best friend” for quite a few years. In retrospect, it wasn’t a very healthy relationship. Most of our activities were things she wanted to do, and I kind of went along for the ride. She kept pushing me to change, but not in ways that grew organically from my evolution as a person; I think she wanted me to live my life her way. I grew to dread seeing this friend’s number pop up on my phone. When I was going through a personal crisis, she chose to lecture me harshly about all the things I was doing wrong, rather than provide the loving support I was seeking.

After that I broke off the friendship, which was a good choice, though it left me feeling lonely.

For a few years I mostly hung out with some of the other homeschooling Moms in my kids’ community. While they were wonderful people, the only thing we truly had in common was that our children were friends. I started feeling left out again, and wondering why none of them shared my passions, or even showed much of an interest in what I was doing, creatively.

At first I tried to figure out once again what was wrong about me, why I wasn’t included in the core group of Moms. This was about the time I was discovering greater self-love. I realized that there was nothing wrong with me, or them. I just hadn’t found my tribe.

I set an intention to develop stronger, more authentic female friendships, probably about 3 years ago. Getting back to the 10 of cups, tens are about completion, results, and rewards. When I pulled this card in my recent reading, it reminded me of the amazing community of women friends I’m now surrounded with. I’m blessed with a true abundance of women who share my passions and interests. My intention has certainly come to pass.

The 10 of cups is a water card, and water is associated with emotions and feelings. The love of my tribe of women flows freely. We’re about fun, support, and personal growth. We’re not interested in judging one another, or playing the comparison game.

Our gatherings do tend to be very watery. The can mean literally gathering on the beach in the summer to skinny-dip and play in the sand, but I also notice it in terms of flow. As a group, we tend to go with what’s needed in each moment. We share our deepest fears, and also our funniest stories. We hold space for each other’s emotional moments. We encourage one another to be wild and free, and to try new things. We also meet each woman where she is, and respect each individual journey.

The 10 of cups also encompasses the notion of gratitude. I’m so thankful for the abundance of love and support I feel from the kick-ass amazing women in my life. I hope that you have a tribe that uplifts and nurtures you, as well.

Leave a comment with your experience with supportive community, your ideas about the 10 of cups, or whatever floats your boat. Blessings!