Theory vs. Practice

When it comes to learning and implementing new ideas, I’m an enthusiastic scholar, but I’m often slow to put things into practice. I’m learning that part of this is thanks to my Human Design – I’m a Reflector, if you know that system. But I digress…

One of my favorite genres to read is self-help and personal development. Most of the time, those books have sections, often at the end of a chapter, where there are journaling prompts or exercises to do.

I confess: most of the time I read them but don’t take action.

If they’re particularly compelling or something I feel I really need, I stop and put the book down – but then it takes me a while (or forever!) to get back to it. In fact, I purposefully don’t add those types of exercises to my own books – at least not in the body of the text – because I don’t want to stop my readers in their tracks!

It was as if I could either do all of the prompts and exercises, perfectly, according to the instructions, or…nothing. Perfectionism is so limiting!

Recently, I’ve been changing this up. I joined Carolyn Elliott‘s WEALTH Alchemy course just over a year ago. I like to describe it as “witchy grad school.” It’s AMAZING. My personal magickal dream college, come true.

But – it would be impossible to do all of the practices, attend (or catch the recording of) all of the calls, read all of the suggested books. I’d have to have literally nothing else to do with my life. I’ve been forced to pick and choose, and that’s been really healthy for me.

I’ve discovered that I can make suggested practices my own, follow my intuition, and customize my journey.

Because the thing is, all the theory in the world won’t help you make changes. Until you actually start Doing The Work and trying new things, you’re stuck in old patterns.

This has been true for me with several things I’ve been learning over the past 7 or so years: how to be an entrepreneur and run my own business, becoming a conscious co-creator of my life, delving into Shadow work, doing yoga and meditation. I tend to read and take classes first, and then slowly, gradually begin practicing the techniques on my own.

I was inspired to write this post after working on my business this morning. I had a call with a copywriting coach to finalize a web page and promos for my August journaling retreat – and easily implemented her suggestions. I communicated with my new social media manager about some upcoming posts. I reached out to some prospective clients to check on how their writing is going and see if they needed any support.

While I took a break for lunch, I was remarking to BlackLion how easy and fun all of this work is, now that I’ve learned to get out of my own way.

What enabled me to get here, to the place of loving the work that I do and running my business joyfully? Practice. Implementing the techniques I’ve learned. Working with my personal Shadows and doing ancestral healing. Doing Law of Attraction practices every day. Being persistent and consistent with my efforts and offerings.

When all of this was just a theory, it was cool and all, but I’d still get stopped in my tracks, regularly. I couldn’t show up fully for the things that I needed to accomplish.

Let’s use some of my work this morning as an example. Old me: “Reach out to prospective clients and check in with them? No way! I’m bothering them. It’s salesy and sleazy. I can’t.” New me: “I care about helping these amazing people with their books and other creations. Of course I want to inquire about their progress and offer my assistance!

And guess what? It works. They often thank me for reaching out, some do join my retreats and programs (sometimes even months or years after our first conversation!), and I’ve literally never heard any version of “you’re bothering me, go away.” The worst that might happen? Someone never replies to my message. Big deal!

My business is thriving. I love what I do, and it gets results for people.

I don’t say this to toot my own horn, but rather to illustrate the amazing power of putting new ideas and things you’re learning into practice in your life. In my experience, it’s the best way to create the life you really want to be living.

I encourage you to try it, with something that’s meaningful to you. What have you got to lose?

Starcat’s Favorites: Summer Sunshine

At last, it’s here! Glorious summer!

I know, I know, it’s not everyone’s favorite time of year. So many people can’t tolerate the heat. But me? I love it! So, I’m celebrating.

Last weekend I attended my best friend’s daughter’s graduation party, at the beach. It was such fun! It’s so fun to be able to gather together in person once again. I made a silly appetizer (see the photo) – thank you, Pinterest, for the idea. Heh heh.

We also had a fun family cookout for Father’s Day. Last night, I went to a lovely Summer Solstice ritual with my women’s group. Again, so amazing to see everyone in person!

This weekend, there’s a rare occurrence: Quester and BlackLion are both away, so I have a bunch of extra “me time.” While I love their company, I’m excited to do what I want for the whole weekend. I wonder what kind of mischief my mermaid friends and I will get up to…

Here are some fun reads to accompany you on vacation or as you lounge by the water or in a hammock:

Check out my guest post about the arrival of the Summer Solstice, and not missing any of the outdoor fun.

These outlaw nuns are my role models! Busting the patriarchy from the inside out.

Writing collaborations are so inspiring. Check out this interview for more great role models!

I have a ring I’m wearing that I blessed in a talisman workshop, so I was fascinated by this article on wearing rings to boost your manifesting game.

I’m so drawn to pretty things! This woman’s art lights me up (and I’ve met her, too; she’s very cool). She also posted this myth about the Sun Goddess that is super interesting.

I’m laughing out loud at this story. Pick your battles, indeed.

How do you tell why you’re procrastinating? Is it resistance or intuition? My beloved biz coach shares her wisdom.

BlackLion and I have been enjoying doing yoga with Adriene Mishler via YouTube, and honestly, part of the attraction is her dog Benji, who is now a celebrity in his own right.

Never mind the guilt. Life CAN be good.

Wishing you lots of goodness this weekend and beyond!

I Don’t Mind

 

There’s a quote that’s been rolling around in my head for a few months. In his later years, the Indian sage and spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti gave a talk in which he offered to share his secret to living a joyful and fulfilled life.  “This is my secret,” he told a rapt audience. “I don’t mind what happens.”

I’ve been embracing this non-attached approach to experiencing life, and it really does make more space for joy, and for equanimity.

As I release my own little petty attachments, I’ve noticed how silly some of them were. I observe people in my life getting upset about little things: the coffee is burnt, the milk was spilled, the car broke down. To me, these are nothing. They’re just the happenings of life.

It’s even true – or perhaps especially true – in the realm of games. I’ve never really cared if I win a board or card game or not. It’s not really the point, to me – I’m playing in order to spend time with people I like, and to share laughs together. When someone gets upset about not winning, it kind of sours the energy that could still be flowing freely.

I’ve seen an acknowledgement of the “I don’t mind what happens” philosophy in the realm of radical unschooling. Unschooling parents don’t tend to impose lots of arbitrary rules on their kids. You know, like bedtimes, grounding, allowances tied to chores, that sort of thing.

The reasoning behind this is that life already holds plenty of natural consequences to learn from. There’s no need to impose random ones on your kids, in order to “teach them a lesson.” Life will do that. I’m an advocate of letting kids learn by doing, with the exception, of course, of things that threaten their safety, like playing in a busy street.

I fully realize that this approach of not minding what happens can be much harder with the big things in life. When someone you love dies, or you lose your job unexpectedly, or there’s some other kind of crisis, it’s more challenging to “not mind.”

Even in those situations, though, there is usually a lesson or meaning behind what seems to be a random event. You may not discover it until much later. In these situations, be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the space and time to grieve.

If you can cultivate that sense of loving non-attachment as you move through life, even when it feels hard, you’ll be crafting a much more fulfilling life. Start with the small things. You spilled the oat milk? So what? Clean it up and drink something else, or give thanks that there’s more in the fridge.

Little by little, release your tight grip of control and allow life to unfold as it will. It’s going to anyway – and when you go with the flow, you’ll have a whole lot more fun. The sage was right.

Starcat’s Favorites: Retreats!

I absolutely LOVE retreats. I love leading them. I love attending them.

This week I attended my biz coach’s spring retreat. It was virtual and ran for three days. The picture is my space as I got ready for the first day. Yes, we use Tarot cards and candles at our biz retreat. You know I wouldn’t go for one that’s not witchy in some way!

Retreats are a perfect way to zoom out and get a big-picture view of a subject, whether it’s your business, your writing project, or just life in general.

If you get a chance to attend a retreat, whether virtual or in-person, go for it! We can all use a little break from the day-to-day to gain a new perspective and some inspiration.

Speaking of inspiration, here are some links for you to enjoy.

Is there such a thing as TOO much self-help? If it distances you from your own inspiration, then yes. Here’s what to do about it.

What is the meaning of life? You’ve always wanted to know this….

Have you heard of the “creative cliff illusion?” I hadn’t either, but this article is quite interesting.

A friend shared this song from a musical, which deals with how we can fall away from pursuing our dreams, but then return once again to our original inspiration.

This is a longer-form video offering (30 minutes or so) on the principles of success. I haven’t watched all of it yet, but I’ve found it thought-provoking so far and decided to share it here.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Sovereignty & Synchronicity: Some Thoughts

My Word of the Year for 2020 was SOVEREIGN. I know we’re in a whole new year (my Word for 2021 is MAGICK!), but I’ve still been experimenting with the concept and practice of sovereignty.

To me, being sovereign is about being centered in your own experience, and leading from a place of grace and equanimity. I know that historical sovereigns, both kings and queens, have done awful things to their “subjects.” That’s not what I’m going for with my exploration.

A true queen is a servant of her people. As I step into bigger leadership, particularly as the head of a collective, I want to keep the positive aspects of sovereignty at the forefront.

I’ve found a lot of synchronicity and magick surrounding my exploration and practice of sovereignty. An example: after reading Autobiography of a Yogi, I was telling Quester one day, as we walked in the woods behind our home, that I wanted to learn Sanskrit. Part of the reason I cited was that I want to study the philosophies of yoga via the Hindu sacred texts directly, without the layers of sexism and patriarchal language that make it less palatable.

Quester remarked that I probably didn’t have to learn Sanskrit to do that. “Surely there’s a feminist scholar who’s already written what you’re seeking?”

One of my clients, who has also become a friend, knows that I’ve been working with the concept of sovereignty – though we hadn’t talked about my interest in Hindu texts. The very next day after Quester said this on our walk, she posted a book that she thought I might be interested in: Sovereign Self by Acharya Shunya, a female teacher in a long lineage of gurus! Thanks, Universe…

The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far from practicing personal sovereignty has to do with boundaries. As I wrote to a friend recently, referring to some angst on the part of mutual community members:

An earlier version of me would have been running around trying to fix everyone and everything. I don’t do that anymore unless asked for specific help. It’s not my Work unless I’m told by the Goddess that it is. I do send prayers and good vibes and tend assiduously to my own energy field. I know that I’m joyful now because I do that inner work on the regular.”

I’ve heard that whole “put on your own oxygen mask first” metaphor many times, and I understand that it’s the only way you’re able to truly help anyone else. But now I’m also learning that even when you have plenty of oxygen and someone else is choking from the lack of it, you can only help them if they want you to. You can’t live someone’s life for them, nor should you.

That’s a metaphor – I understand there are times when we help those in physical danger even if they’re unable to consent to it (yet). In terms of less obvious crises, though, the only thing we can do is offer. Sometimes it’s better to wait and be asked for help.

I feel like being a role model for managing my own energy and emotions is often the best way to be useful.

Sure, there’s a bit of guilt involved sometimes, especially when I’m feeling joyful while others suffer. But how would my suffering help them?

I’m still in the process of working with the energies of sovereignty. I’m sure there will be further lessons to share!

Do As You Like

Have you ever considered only doing what you like?

Aww, come on, Starcat, you might be thinking, that’s just a pipedream. Have you seen my to-do list?

Bear with me, dear busy reader. Let me tell you why this is not only possible, but will help you live a happier life!

I learned about this technique from a few different Law of Attraction teachers – Jeannette Maw and Mike Dooley among them. I’ve been practicing it for a while, and I’m going to put it into my own words to share with you.

Only doing what you like requires a creative, strategic approach. I’ve noticed three main categories of things that we do in our lives.

In the first category, you’ll have those things that you genuinely love to do. For me, the list includes things like sleeping, reading, daily spiritual practice, journaling, cuddling cats, and spending time with my loved ones. These things are no-brainers.

The second category includes things you sometimes love, sometimes like, and sometimes don’t feel like doing. My list includes cooking, yoga, showering, and doing marketing for my business. You can use mindful time management for these items. In other words, doing them when you DO feel like it!

For example, I don’t like showering first thing when I get up, especially in the winter. I just got out of bed, and I’m freaking cold. The solution is easy – shower later in the day, once the house has warmed up. Solved.

The third category involves things you actively don’t like, or perhaps even detest. For me, this includes things like housecleaning, budgeting, paying bills, doing my taxes, and socializing at events that are all about surface-y small talk.

Category three requires getting creative. Here are three ways you can handle these items.

  1. Delegate. I have the option to hire someone else to do my taxes, or to ask one of my housemates to do the parts of cleaning the house that are my least favorite.
  2. Release. Just don’t do the thing. There are very few muggle social occasions that I’ll say yes to, these days. My time is valuable, and I don’t want to waste it on small talk.
  3. Transform. This involves changing your attitude. Doing the dishes used to be on my most-hated-chores list. I’ve entirely transformed my view of it. Now I make doing dishes a regular part of my day. It provides a movement break from sitting at the computer, I can daydream about book ideas while I’m washing, and I love the look of the cleared-off counters and empty sinks.

You can also use these three techniques on some of your items in the second category. If I really don’t feel like doing yoga on a particular day, I can skip a day (release) or I can remind myself how good I’ll feel afterwards and decide to just do it (transform).

It’s important not to muscle through and do something you can’t stand – at least, not too often. Once in a while you just have to take out a smelly bag of trash. But in general, be sure you’re using these techniques to help you focus on doing things you actually enjoy, or learning to enjoy the things you’re doing.

Also, if you delegate or release something, let it go. Fully. Don’t feel guilty about ditching it. Don’t try to micro-manage the person you asked to do the thing. Let. It. Go. Now go use that time to do something you actually want to be doing.

I realize that for some readers, those who are doing work they can’t stand or living in a situation that’s less than pleasant, embarking on this method could lead to the need to make big life changes. If that’s you, know that you’re worth it. You deserve to enjoy your life. Period.

Get some support, because transforming your life in a big way is challenging. But don’t avoid necessary changes. This is your life. You are worthy of living a life full of fun and pleasure. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Starcat’s Favorites: Dreaming Big

I’ve been busy dreaming BIG over here. It’s lighting me up in new ways, and I’m harnessing the energies of Spring to support my expansion. I’ve already written about that, though.

Here’s what else I’ve been up to recently.

What I’m reading: Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline. Apparently some people weren’t a fan of this sequel, but I love it! Sovereign Self by Acharya Shunya. I adore this look at the Hindu wisdom tradition so much. It’s very deep and simple all at once. Cosmometry by Marshall Lefferts. It’s a challenging read full of quantum physics, sacred geometry, and music. It feeds my craving for metaphysical philosophy.

What I’m watching: The Crown on Netflix (I’m just starting season 3, so no spoilers, please!). Historical fiction is fascinating. Nadiya Bakes, also on Netflix. I love her sparkling personality and her creativity in the kitchen. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney. I’m a Marvel Universe fan (the shows and movies, not the comic books) and this series is exciting and cinematic.

What I’m listening to: Arlo Parks – she’s amazing! Michael Franti, of course. Radio Paradise, always a household favorite. My own lunar phases playlists on Spotify – making them is a fun hobby that brings me back to my mix tape days.

What I’m creating: Flash fiction for the video game my son-in-law is creating. My book on creativity. A bit of poetry here and there. Yummy dinners. A vision board / mind map for my new big idea. My next virtual retreat – it’s gonna be so juicy and inspiring!

Last but not least, here are some links for you to peruse as you dream your own big dreams.

I’m all for positive thinking, but not the shallow kind. Feeling your feelings is key. So is releasing attachment to your goals.

Supporting yourself deeply – sound like exquisite self-care to me!

Learning to deal with rejection by making it a game. Such a cool idea.

A big YES to this blog post on embracing joy, now.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends!

The Tidingdale Literary Collective

Spring has finally fully arrived, here in northern New England. I’m feeling the urge to emerge from hibernation, at last!

That’s still a bit complicated, thanks to the pandemic lingering and so forth, but that’s okay. I’m good with a mindful rollout.

During the late Winter and early Spring, much of my creativity has been channeled into a big, bold, expanded vision.

Introducing…. the Tidingdale Literary Collective (TLC) – a “one-stop shopping” service for thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, professionals, healers, and people in the transformational and coaching business who want to write a book with full-on support. Getting their book into the world will help them to spread their message, increase their audience of people to serve, and change the world!

We’ll start with authors at the very beginning stages, like “I have a book idea but don’t know where to go from there.” Or you can come in and pick & choose which services you need, a la carte.

It’s become obvious through publishing my own books and my work with clients that the rigid gatekeeper model of traditional publishing doesn’t serve most of us wild, creative souls.

Self-publishing has become a much more viable option in recent years, yet most writers don’t have the time or inclination to take on all the roles needed to produce a book.

I desire to create a literary collective that provides comprehensive services to independent authors – from coaching and writing retreats to editing and proofreading to cover design to publicity – in a manner that is collaborative and empowering.

The mission is integral to the Collective’s success. It’s still in the works, but definitely dovetails with my own vision, which is a vast network of empowered, creative people who are embracing the rise of the Feminine Divine and the awakening of human consciousness in this new aeon by sharing their deepest wisdom and most inspiring passions. Together we are changing the world by collaboratively building a more conscious society, in all aspects of human life and beyond.

The TLC’s core values will include: diverse, inclusive, social justice oriented, feminist/humanist, and ecologically-minded. It needs to be non-hierarchical and not have rigid gatekeepers – to differentiate it from the traditional publishing model. But at the same time, it will need to have strong leadership and to filter out non-aligned clients.

I don’t want this expanded idea to detract from my core business. My primary role will still be as a writing coach and retreat leader. Rather, the TLC will enhance my work and broaden its impact. There will be project and team managers who help run the day-to-day operations. We’ll probably need a Board of Directors, like a roundtable of wisdom.

This whole vision has been guided by my spiritual calling and my guides, and will continue to be created that way. It’s how I do business.

Of course, the inner wisdom of others will be added to the mix. It’s a Collective, after all.

I’ve been envisioning the TLC Dream Team. My desire is that all TLC staff members need to love what they do and have a magickal mindset. Magick needs to be part of this from the very beginning. This is not a muggle enterprise!

BlackLion and I recently made a cool vision board / mind map (the pics shown in this post are pieces of what is a big posterboard creation), to capture the ideas and various aspects of the business, as they’ve been revealed so far.

The location for the TLC will be pretty much wherever your laptop is, though we will still have oceanside retreats around the globe. Our charitable giving arm will focus on contributing to ocean cleanup, among other worthy causes.

I’ve also been talking to potential collaborators and Dream Team members. I even applied for the opportunity to make a pitch to a magick-friendly angel investor for startup funding! Go big or go home, right? Heh heh.

That’s what I’ve been busily conceiving as the seasons change. Reach out and let me know if this sings to your soul – I’m in the process of talking with potential collaborators!

Starcat’s Favorites: Signs of Spring

Dare I say it before the month is really over? This March has been easier than I’d expected, given my rocky history with the transition from late winter to early spring. Maybe that’s because I’ve gone all in with my exquisite self-care.

It could be the signs of spring. We’ve had some nice weather since the Spring Equinox, although it’s Maine, so I’m sure it will snow again at least once. We have snowdrops in our yard. The birds are singing their hearts out.

I’m feeling inspired in my creative and biz work – and in life as a whole. It’s all intertwined, for me. I feel like I’m fully embodying the life of a Thriving Artist.

These days, I’m able to see the results of all the inner and outer work I’ve been doing over the past several years. It’s satisfying. It also inspires me to go further and higher and do more! What can I say? I’m ambitious A.F.

Here are some of my favorite finds on the internet from this month.

Love this article on self-love. I fully agree, it’s an ongoing practice for sure.

The Modern Witch Tarot is going to be the next deck in my collection. It’s so gorgeous!

Ready for 11 motivational minutes that will bring on the tears and goosebumps? Watch this magnificent speech by Lisa Nichols!

7 Reasons to Love Luna Lovegood (she’s my favorite Potterverse character!).

What do you do after a breakthrough? My biz coach calls this a visibility hangover. Here are some wise words from Danielle LaPorte. She also shared this article about the power of changing your mind.

A post about link posts, in my monthly link post. So meta!

May your days be sunny and your nights filled with stars.

Starcat’s Ten Best Books of 2020

It’s a bit belated, but I’m delighted to share my ten favorite books that I read during past year. As always, please note that these aren’t necessarily books that came out in 2020, just ones that I read and enjoyed.

One would think that I’d have read more books than usual during a pandemic, and that’s somewhat true. But I also love to write, coach others who are writing their books, walk in the woods, and lots of other fun stuff that can be done from my cozy homestead. So it wasn’t a LOT more.

Without further ado, here are my favorites:

The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman. I was introduced to the The Magicians TV series through a friend, and I adore it. I’ve watched it through twice now. The books, of course, were even better – although, be prepared, the plot and characters are significantly different from the series. This trilogy, to me, is contemporary fantasy at its best. The twists and turns are wild and captivating. The characters are fascinating. The endings are unexpected yet (mostly) satisfying.

A Happy Pocket Full of Money by David Cameron Gikandi and Bob Doyle. I read this book as part of my ongoing study and practice of prosperity consciousness. It was recommended by my biz coach. I loved how the book itself is a sort of magickal working; the phrase “I am wealth, I am abundance, I am joy” is woven throughout the text. That’s what stuck with me most, but I enjoyed the book as a whole. It’s an inspiring and thoughtful contribution to the Law of Attraction conversation.

Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System by Anodea Judith. This is a book that I’ve been reading and studying very slowly, literally over decades. I decided that 2020 was the year to finally finish it. “Keeping your chakras tuned up” sounds super New-Agey, I realize, but it’s also helpful for living an emotionally healthy life. Judith knows her stuff, and this book is full of timeless wisdom.

The Witchwood Crown and Empire of Grass by Tad Williams. I love this author and his works of epic fantasy. I’m actually unclear whether there will be more books in this new series, but it doesn’t matter. I very much enjoyed reading these two. They’re great for when you’re ready to escape into a long, deep-diving quest full of magick and danger.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle. I know, I know, this book is super trendy. But there’s a reason for that – it’s well-written and powerful! Read this if you’re looking for some inspiration and perhaps some validation that you’re not the only one who feels like a round peg in a world of square holes.

Existential Kink: Unmask Your Shadow and Embrace Your Power by Carolyn Elliott, PhD. I’m taking a yearlong course with the author right now, which is best described as a witchy grad school experience. The course is Changing. My. Life. in such amazing ways! This weird and wild book is a heady glimpse into working with your shadow to free up vast amounts of energy with which to realize your dreams. I can’t recommend her highly enough.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This is one of those books that followed me around until I read it. I heard about it from several different sources. My Mom actually got it from the library and handed it to me. I devoured it in a weekend. I’m not really a “plant person.” However, this deep, delicious book of essays broke open my heart in new ways. It’s not just about plants; it’s about life. I loved it.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. This was a gorgeous faerytale of a book. It has that lyrical quality that marks my favorite writing style to read. I wasn’t just reading the story, I was immersed in the world that Wecker creates. It was delicious and left me wanting more. Apparently I’ll get my wish; there’s another book with the same characters coming out this year.

DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community by Gabriela Pereira. I don’t usually add writing craft books to my best-of list, but this one is a gem. I love Pereira’s holistic approach to becoming an author. A lot of it resonates with how I teach my own writing clients. Well worth a read.

Becoming Supernatural by Dr. Joe Dispenza. I adore metaphysics – the place where cutting-edge science meets spiritual practices. This dense, hefty book took me a while to read and absorb. I love that some scientists have finally stopped dismissing magick and have started studying it. Dr. Dispenza takes it even further and puts his studies to practical use, teaching us how to implement the findings in our own lives. Take your time with this book and try out the exercises. I’ve integrated many of them into my morning meditation time.

What books have you most enjoyed during the past year or so? Are you reading more these days? Leave a comment and share your recommendations!