An EASE-Filled 2019

This year’s word of the year was an easy choice – yeah, I confess, that’s a pun, but an incidental one.

You see, my word for 2019 is EASE. If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that I’ve been working with the concept of ease & connection for several months now.

In a July post, I promised to let you know how it’s going. I’m delighted to report that my practice of ease & connection has been rocking my world! I’ve been letting go of old beliefs around money, work, and self-worth. Those beliefs had me buying into the false notion that anything worthwhile must include struggle and strife. It’s taken a while, but through practice, I’ve come to see that my work is much more productive and valuable when I approach it from a place of ease.

The same holds true for life as a whole. Even the tough parts are better approached with ease than with tension.

That doesn’t mean that work – or life – is always “easy,” but it does mean that when I’m in a place of struggle or angst, I pause. I use my tools to get centered before moving forward again. It involves processing and releasing stress, and then approaching any given situation from a grounded and connected place.

Contrary to what we’ve been taught, it really works!

Thus, I’m continuing this practice into 2019, and I’ve chosen EASE as my word for the year.

If you take a peek at my vision board, you might notice that travel is something I’m planning to do more of this year. I’ve discovered that, while I’d make a horrible nomad (I love my home and recharge here), I do really enjoy exploring the world. When I travel, I bring back loads of inspiration for my writing and my work. 

So, my Big Vision for 2019 and beyond is to offer luxury writing retreats 4 or 5 times per year. Some will be here in lovely Maine, and others in various places around the world. When I’m not leading retreats, I’ll be writing. I’m currently working on three books – yeah, at once – with more in the queue.

I’ve already signed the contract on a retreat venue for July 2019, in mid-coast Maine, on the ocean My first transformational luxury writing retreat is happening this year! I’m so thrilled. I love how ease and connection – and the support of my amazing biz coach and her community of inspiring women – have already allowed me to step into my callings in a more powerful way.

Here’s to EASE, connection, and inspiration in 2019!

I Am Hiding In My Tower

I Am Hiding In My Tower: A Prose Poem (for my Shadow)

I’m really good at being unseen.
I can walk down the street in broad daylight and not be noticed, if I want to.
I can slip through a crowd with barely a ripple.
I am the observer, and I see all that goes on, but I don’t make any waves.
I don’t make a sound.
If they don’t see me, they can’t hurt me.
They can’t bully me or pick on me.
I’m just another middle-aged hippie in a state of live-and-let-live, down to Earth people.
I don’t have to pay a bunch of taxes.
I can do what I want and get away with it.
I drive exactly five miles over the speed limit, and never ever get stopped by the cops.
I go with the flow.
I don’t bitch or complain.
I don’t send the food back if it’s cold or wrong.
I don’t want to make a fuss.
When things go wrong, I go to my room – my sacred space, my tower – and deal with my shit.
I don’t call a friend, even when I want a sympathetic ear, because, well, they’re all busy with their own stuff, and I’ll get over it soon.
I have tools.
I’ve got this.
I don’t make waves.
I want praise, not blame.
I’m a Good Girl. Right?
I do want to share my wisdom.
I want people to read my books.
But I hate asking them.
They should just be able to find it on Amazon or something.
I would rather clean up cat hurl than go ask bookstore owners to carry my books.
That feels like a unique form of torture.
If you can’t see me, you can’t tell me NO.
I can’t be rejected if I don’t ask.
I don’t want to bug you for help – even when I’ve paid in advance for the support.
You must be busy with other clients, who need you more than I do. Right?
If I deserve the readers, the clients, the support, or a friend’s listening ear, why then, the Universe will send them to my door.
Never mind that my place is hidden behind that invisibility spell, obscured by trees, guarded by a pittie mutt and two fierce cats and a houseful of tall strong men.
You can’t reach me in my tower.
But hey, where are you?
It’s kinda lonely up here.

Fun With Fitness

Writing, as I’ve mentioned before, is a pretty sedentary career. I know, because I’ve gained some weight over the past few years, as I focus more on my writing and book midwife work.

So for my birthday in September, I told my son I was interested in getting a fitness tracker, and he gifted me one. You know, the watch-like devices you see people wearing on their wrists?

I’m enjoying it so far. Especially while I was on vacation.

While we were in Colorado visiting ElvenTiger, we did a LOT of walking. The standard goal for these types of trackers is to hit 10,000 steps per day. That was easy to do out there. Some days we accomplished 17,000 or more without thinking about it.

Coming back home and back to my work, it’s been a bit harder. 10K steps takes some time – like, a couple of hours of walking! That’s a chunk out of the day, particularly on weekdays, when I’m trying to get work done.

I’m also not much for exercise for its own sake. In the suburbs and city of Denver, there were so many places to walk to and so many sights to see. Out here in rural Maine, there aren’t really that many destinations within walking distance, and although the area is undeniably pretty, well, I grew up here, so I’m kind of used to it.

Also, winter is coming. Yes, really. And I don’t like to be cold. Or wet and cold, especially. Bleah.

So my challenge for myself is to fit more walking into my everyday life. We have a treadmill in the basement, and I plan to avail myself of it in cold and icy weather. The cool thing about using the treadmill is that I can multitask. I can listen to podcasts while I walk, and accomplish some learning as well as exercise. That’ll hopefully keep my interest.

Also, enlisting other friends and family members (four-legged as well as humans) to walk with me makes things more fun. Aine dog and I took a lovely long walk this week.

I need to manage my time more carefully, so I can get plenty of movement in each day.

I’m loving having this new tool – the fitness tracker itself – to help me stay on target with my exercise goals. We’ll see how it goes in the months to come. Wish me luck!

It’s All One Thing

Lately I keep dreaming of girl babies. In the first dream, my daughter was a tiny child, and she was upset and crying. Most of the dream was about trying to find out what was wrong, and to soothe her. (I called my daughter the next day, just in case, and she’s fine).

In the next dream, I was taking care of a fussy baby (I don’t think she was mine), and in order to get her to sleep, I fell asleep with her. I woke up (within the dream) to discover that the baby was gone!

I was very upset, and kept finding random kittens curled up in the blankets as I searched – but no baby.

In the third dream, I was once again taking care of someone’s baby, trying to get her to calm down. I was in a conference or retreat setting, and we were trying to get the baby to settle before our next group meeting. I was confident that I could help. I did all the usual things one does – rocking, singing, feeding, checking the diaper – but to no avail. Toward the end of the dream, another woman offered to try, so I handed the baby off to her.

Between the dreams, I’ve been trying to figure out what they might mean. I came up with a few ideas, but since the theme has continued, I’m not sure any of them fit just right.

I even looked up the topic in a dream dictionary, which I normally avoid as too generic. The suggestions I received there were things like not wanting people to see my vulnerability or weaknesses, a reminder to reconnect with a forgotten aspect of myself, and hearing from a part of my psyche that feels deprived of attention.

My own ponderings include the baby being my relatively new book midwife business, which I’ve been quite focused on this year. It could be one of my books – I have a few in the beginning stages. Or perhaps it’s my new status as a Mom with adult kids who have grown up and flown the nest.

After talking about it with a wise friend, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not just one aspect of my life that’s showing up as a baby in my dreams. My mantra all summer has been “ease and connection.” In other words, no matter what I’m doing, my intention is to approach it with these qualities.

It’s one of those things that sounds simple, but takes a bit of practice to actually do.

Now I’m thinking that maybe my Younger Self, the baby in my dreams, is reacting to this new facet of my inner work.

She’s showing me the places in my psyche where I’m not yet at ease, the ones (like the dream dictionary suggested) that need more attention.

As much as we like to divide up the areas of our lives into work, family, self-care, and so on, it’s really all US. It’s all one thing.

Your life is your ultimate creation, a work of art that you’re always crafting. As we learn and grow, we continue to refine our creation. Our dreams, intuitions, and the clues life leaves in our path can help us to see the big picture, when we pay attention to them.

I’m listening, baby girl. I’ve got your back.

Starcat’s Favorites: Sun & Water

It’s no secret that I love summer. This one has been especially hot and humid here in Maine.

Most people I know have spent time complaining about it.

Not me.

It’s actually a joy to me to feel super warm. I know, I’m strange.

After a rough winter and spring, though, this summer has been a balm to my soul. We had an awesome two-week visit from ElvenTiger and her soul mate (who now live in Colorado). I’ve been swimming in the ocean, river, and various lakes and ponds. I’ve traveled to one of my favorite spots in the world, Acadia National Park. My Mom and I have been having fun beach adventures. I’ve had lots of fun with family and friends.

I also released some kick-ass new content for the aspiring authors in my book midwife community (if I do say so myself – and I just did). My new nonfiction book is underway, though I have lots of research yet to do for it, and I’m making plans to get back to my fiction after somewhat of an absence.

So, all in all, life is good.

Here are some good reads for your weekend. I hope you’re enjoying time in the hammock, by the water, or just cuddled up in bed.

Here’s a little hint about the topic of the new book I just began writing.

I love this woman. Preach it, sister!

Summer isn’t over yet. Oh, no it’s not.

This thoughtful piece is all “about the way death and life, grief and joy, dance nonstop with each other around the world, day and night.” Where’s your growing edge?

Not one, but two, inspiring pep talks from the amazing author Neil Gaiman. The first is on how to be a successful artist, and the second speaks to authors in the middle of a novel – the point where most everyone feels stuck.

On reading and empathy. And how to make being empathic work for you.

Want to be a better leader? Some words of wisdom.

A delicious meditation from a lovely soul.

Enjoy, and savor the rest of your summer! (Or, you know, winter, if you’re down under).

Wellness Isn’t Linear, Either

Me and my good friend Steve hamming it up on a road trip this summer.

I love the quote about the creative process not being linear. Finding the original quote has proven impossible (I’d love to credit the author, so let me know if you know), but you get the gist. I find that to be true.

In my experience, improving one’s physical wellness also follows a rather meandering path.

Over the past several years, thanks to a combination of sedentary work, peri-menopause, and aging (yes, and most certainly my beliefs and expectations, too), I’ve gained weight. I’m actually quite healthy overall, but I felt the urge to get more fit.

I tend to hang out mostly in my mind and spirit, and I wanted to pay more attention to my physical body and nurture her better.

In February 2017, BlackLion and I started a “movement challenge.” The idea was to do something to move our bodies for at least 20 minutes a day. My favorite go-tos were dancing, hula-hooping, walking, and swimming. On days when we inevitably didn’t get to our 20 minutes, we’d just double the time the following day. We kept it up for a whole year! I didn’t actually lose much weight, but that wasn’t really the point to begin with.

In late February of this year, we purchased monthly memberships at an amazing local yoga studio. After several years of not practicing, it feels SO delightful to be back to doing yoga on a regular basis. We’ve been going to classes three times per week since then. My flexibility has improved, and it feels terrific.

But since then, I’ve dropped focus on those daily movement sessions, and actually gained a few more pounds. Hmm.

I do exercise more than pre-2017, but I still feel like my fitness and energy level could be better. Recently I’ve returned to my “low-dairy” eating habits, as I am lactose intolerant, and had gradually begun to rely more on dairy products for protein (I’m a longtime vegetarian). This feels better.

Though still no weight loss.

In the meantime, I had some weird symptoms that I decided to get checked out. It turned out to be a “veinous hum,” which is harmless. It just means that I hear a whooshing sound in my left ear at times, which can make me feel a bit dizzy when I first stand up.

My blood pressure is fine. My cholesterol is fine. I’m not diabetic. While looking at the results of an imaging test, the specialist even told me, “your arteries are particularly clear. No plaque buildup at all!” Thank you, vegetarian diet.

In late July, I did something to my left shoulder. It feels like a pinched nerve, as the pain travels down my arm. It’s been gradually healing. I had a chiropractic adjustment, which helped a lot. You know what else helps, besides the heating pad? Yoga. Swimming. Taking regular breaks from working on the laptop.

Yes – we’re back to movement.

The lesson? I feel better when I move my body more.

I’m still “overweight,” yes, but so what?

Healing is a meandering journey. I am moving more. I make an effort to do it every day. I try to eat well and minimize dairy and sugar, which has always helped my body.

As I listen to my body and her wisdom, I’m sure I’ll probably even lose those extra pounds. But if not, I’m happy anyway. The healthy journey is what counts.

Ease or Struggle?

Offered the choice between ease and struggle, most of us would be like, “Duh! Of course I want ease!” But is that really what you’re choosing?

I’ve been asking myself this recently, in my journal. I just finished a huge project, a 31-day email course on writing that I poured my heart and soul into. It felt like an epic task.

Actually, the writing part wasn’t a struggle, really, as much as it was a hefty project that I set out to polish until it shines. Word-count-wise, for those who keep track of such things, the content of this course is the size of 1/3 of a whole book!

With BlackLion’s amazing tech wizardry help, I not only wrote and formatted it, but also set it up so that when students sign up for the course, they are automatically sent each day’s email, so they can begin whenever works best for them. The plan was to finish it before my daughter ElvenTiger’s visit home (she lives across the country now), and I did it!

I decided that for the two weeks she’s here, I’ll only work a couple of hours in the morning on weekdays – getting the word out about my offerings, working with clients, and interacting with the students who are taking the new course. I’ll spend the rest of my time, and the weekends, enjoying doing fun summer things with my girl and her boyfriend, and the extended tribe.

The vibe or intention I chose for this two-week time period – and ideally, life as a whole – is EASE.

Yet earlier this week I found myself wondering to my biz coach, “Is this okay? Do I really get to have ease?”

Being the powerful priestess she is, she immediately asked a bunch of questions, which became my fuel for writing about this whole ease vs. struggle thing.

Why is is that I harbor doubt that I “deserve” to have ease in my career? What are the beliefs behind it?

You see, we are surrounded by the cultural belief that we have to work hard, stress ourselves out, and even sacrifice our health or relationships in order to “succeed.” I think that’s an outdated belief. We human beings have a lot of those, and we like to hang onto them tightly.

In actuality, even with all the work facing us in terms of rebuilding our society to be more just, improving our treatment of the natural environment, and letting go of our unhealthy habits – even in the face of all that, there is room for ease. We need it.

In spite of what you might think, when we cultivate ease (and its companions: compassion, creativity, self-care, generosity, connection), we are actually more productive. We do better work. We have more of ourselves to give: to the world, our communities, our families, and ourselves.

When we find ease, we are coming from a place of love and caring, rather than fear and desperation.

That’s the vibe we want, both for our own sake and for the sake of the new, more conscious society we’re building.

And yet… Our monkey-minds default to the stress and pressure and go-go-go mentality, even if the conditions of our lives really don’t call for it. So, I’m deliberately grounding myself in ease.

Ease in my work, ease in my play, ease in my relationships, ease in household tasks and finances. A working staycation with those I love most. Lots of time in the river and the lake. Live music. Corn on the cob. AND success in my business.

This summer, I’m choosing ease, over and over again. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

I wish you ease, too, and the ability to choose it.

(For curious writer types – I realize I kept the course kind of mysterious in this post. Here you go.) 

Starcat’s Favorites: Summertime, Summertime

As I write this, it’s less than two weeks until my daughter and her boyfriend come home for a visit. I haven’t seen my dear ElvenTiger since January, so I’m very much looking forward to it!

Although I’ve been missing her, summer has been lots of fun so far. I’ve been swimming a lot, spending some time in my hammock, enjoying cookouts with family, and finally reading Gone With the Wind. I’ve also been working, but I’m doing what I love, so that too is lots of fun. Helping people write their heartfelt books, while also working on my own, is totally my thing!

I hope your summer has brought you lots of joy so far. If it hasn’t, choose something you love to do and make it a priority this weekend!

While you’re lounging on the deck or by the water, here’s some uplifting reading for your day:

Why does yoga feel so good? I mean, really, at the end of yoga class I’m often rather blissed out. Science has some ideas about why.

I like this alternate take on leap and the net will appear. It’s about “recognizing your role as the co-creator of your life.”

Taking self-love seriously. Right on.

This summer recipe sounds so delicious! I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my list.

In despair about some of the horrible stuff going on in the world? Here’s an excellent description of how you can help create a better society. What if you get paralyzed by overwhelm? This article has some ideas. Also, here are some inspired words from Toni Morrison about the role of artists in challenging times.

Here’s a practical and profound way to help our world: donate to charity:water. If nothing else, watch Mike Dooley’s inspiring video about it.

Last but not least: Ooh! Shiny pretties! (My fae self just couldn’t resist).

Spreading the Love – The Joys of Snail Mail

This past spring, when I was feeling very shaken from all the crazy stuff going on in my personal life, a good friend made a wonderful suggestion.

We were both attending the same biz retreat (we have the best coach!). In a small group, we were asked to talk about things that were holding us back.

I confessed that when crisis hits, I tend to hide. At a time when it would be useful to reach out for support, my tendency is to pull inward. My friend’s idea was that we gather a few close friends and write each other love letters, which we’d then keep on our own altars until we were having a rough time, but reaching out might not occur to us, or might feel scary.

Then we’d have the letters to open – and reading what our friends love most about us would allow us to feel supported, even if we were hiding.

Last week was the full moon, and my wild women sisters and I had planned some time at our favorite beach. As the day approached, though, the forecast was for heavy rain and thunderstorms.

So we instead gathered at our favorite coffee shop. We sipped chai tea, chatted, and wrote love letters to one another. Several people who usually attend couldn’t make it (even my friend who came up with the idea), but we wrote them letters, too.

I loved doing this so much! There’s something about writing what I love about each woman that feels delicious to my soul.

When I got home that evening, I sat down and wrote a few more letters. I wrote them for new friends as well as longtime ones, and even for the women I’m just getting to know, there was plenty for me to love about them, and to share with them. It was fun mailing them off to find their way to the women’s homes.

Each letter had one sentence in common: “You are beautiful, both inside and out.” It’s so true. Each friend is a lovely soul, and it shines forth – body, mind, and spirit.

I put the love letters I received on my altar, unread. They’ll wait there until I need them.

In the meantime, I’m ready to write some more love letters. I’ve missed letter-writing, and it feels good to know that these love missives will brighten someone’s day.

What about you? Do you still send snail mail? Try spreading the love to those you care about. It will nourish your spirit – and you might just get some love letters in your mailbox, too.

Summer Solstice Dreaming

Last week was the Summer Solstice, and this week is the full moon – between the two, my dreams have been super crazy. I mean, even crazier than they normally are! Anyone else?

In one, I was rollerblading in endless circles through this huge mansion with hundreds of rooms with wooden floors, and trooping down staircases with my feet sideways…until I was caught, in a startling way, and woke up.

In another, I offered to help someone by breastfeeding their baby, just casually, you know, no big deal. Not that I’d have an issue with that in general, but I don’t even think I knew them before that moment!

I’ve been participating in wars against demonic-looking aliens, trying to start a love affair with a man I worked with years ago, and tasting plum cocktails.

And those were just from the past few days!

My emotions have been kind of dynamic, up and down like a rollercoaster, in waking life, too.

As I wrote this, I started wondering what was going on in the stars, astrologically speaking, so I took a peek, and sure enough, there’s a lot happening. The same is true on the world stage, where some of the ugly underbelly of humanity is in the spotlight.

As an empath, I guess I’m getting caught up in those tides. Sometimes being a space-holder involves energies that are bigger than usual.

In the dreamtime, as in the waking world, I’m using my spiritual superpowers to the best of my ability. I still firmly believe that the more compassionate world we’re building, the rise of the Feminine Divine, the awakening of human consciousness – all of those things are real, and on more levels than just the Earth plane.

Keep the faith, fellow humans, and follow your dreams. Create change in your own way, with as much joy and grace as you can muster. We’ve got this.