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!

Vulnerability in Writing

This past weekend I attended a workshop called the Gateless Writing Salon. I loved it SO much. It feels so good to be held and led when it comes to writing, as most often I’m the one facilitating.

We were led into a guided meditation, and had a one-word prompt at the end. Then we did 25 minutes of writing. We had the option to share our writing on the call, which I did. It felt vulnerable and scary and thrilling and joyful, all at once.

So I thought I’d share what I wrote with you. NOTE: There are swear words, but I’ve translated them, The Good Place-style. Fork stands for another four-letter F-word, and shirt is that four-letter S-word. And if you haven’t seen The Good Place, go watch it right now!!!

LISTEN.

The Muse is a quiet presence, dancing just beyond my mental reach. She says nothing, eyes me sideways, emanates an expectant aura. I smell lavender, and sense the soft swirls of her hair as it cascades down. I long to please her. I sit with the blinking cursor, wishing for the perfect phrases to come to me. 

I want to be her lover – no, that’s not quite it – I want the Muse to be my lover. To court me. To gift me with prose like living crystals, and send floral arrangements made of captivating stories. But she is silent, with a buoyant, teasing energy.

So I begin. Something was said about criticism and the wounds it makes within the creative soul. I still have the scars. That one creative writing professor in college – in hindsight, she probably hated her job and didn’t like having to talk about the craft with self-centered young people who mostly just wanted a credit. Her harsh red slashes on my tentative stories cut me deeply. It took years to write, and even today, as a self-help published author who feels genuinely proud of her books, writing fiction scares me.

The Muse is grinning now. Is she mocking me? No. She teases. Is she flirting? What is she pointing at? Oh, right. The couple hundred thousand words of fiction, poured out each November at NaNoWriMo time, that sits on my hard drive, mostly unshared.

But, I whine, it’s Not Good Enough yet. It’s not polished. It’s not perfect.

The Muse tosses that lavender-scented hair – I long to run my fingers through it – and snorts at the notion of perfection. Fork perfection, I hear her say. 

Right. Fork perfection. I’m sweating. Is this another hot flash? Shirt. I have to read this in front of some amazing witchy people. What am I doing?

Fork perfection. I’m ambitious as fork. I’ve written all these books. I’m just gonna say it – they’re good. Especially the Goddess one. When I read it back I think, did I write this? Squirmy as that is to admit, I want to let it give me confidence. Especially with my fiction. Look, I live and breathe stories. So what if some snooty professor thought my short story about miscarriage – which, I admit, I’ve never experienced, then or since – was a “tempest in a teapot.” So what? Fork perfection. I have tales to tell. SO many tales to tell. I might as well carry on with it. 

The Muse is smiling and nodding, now. She reaches down one slim well-manicured hand, caresses my flushed cheek. I’m overcome. Her touch is cool and encouraging.

I let my eyes float closed. Characters crowd in. Stories pour from the wellspring. Those words from the hard drive clamor to be revised, refreshed, and shared. The endless ideas that constantly tap at my inner portals? I fling open the doors and let them in. They nibble at the appetizers, pour the sparkling wine, make themselves at home. 

Relief flows over me. I’m listening, I say to the Muse, my beloved, my sweet. She recedes from my awareness, leaving behind a fleeting scent of lavender.

Starcat’s Favorites: Self-Acceptance

Hey there! The title of this post, self-acceptance, is around feeling some guilt (I know, Mom, “no guilt”) about not posting here much lately. I’ve had lots of ideas, but haven’t yet taken the time to sit down and share them with you.

The acceptance is fairly easy, actually, because I’ve been doing lots of other fun stuff, and I generally do what I want. I’m now fully self-employed, so I’m the boss of me!

What have I been up to? Reading a lot. Hosting Parallel PlayDates, my writing group, and a virtual writing retreat. Lots of yoga! Playing games with the family. Writing (including a new story about my latest D&D character – a wild mage – and her escapades). Cooking. Playing with the granddog. Petting cats. More reading.

You know, the usual, for winter.

Shows I’ve been enjoying this season include Schitt’s Creek, The Crown, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Legend of Korra.

I’ve got a huge stack of books that I’m reading, but apparently I haven’t been on the internet as much as I normally am. Still, here are a few links for your reading pleasure.

Confused about the difference between goals, intentions, and resolutions? The creator of the bullet journal has some useful thoughts.

I heard about these astrology workbooks and I so much want to order a set!

As the calendar turns to March, I’m ramping up the self-care. No, it’s not frivolous!

I started a weekly series of videos that are 1-minute book reviews. Follow me on Instagram to see them. No, that’s not why I haven’t been blogging!

I’ll be back soon. If the boss lets me.

Starcat’s Favorites: Hibernating with Books

Here we are at the tail end of January, and it’s my first post here in the new year. Yeah. I’ve been following my intuition, and the message has been to take it easy. Rest. Hibernate a bit.

With books, of course. This stack contains my current reads. Does it seem a bit over the top, even for me?

I’m okay with that.

Of course, even with my nose continually in a book (just like my childhood!), I’ve also found a few interesting things online.

Here are my favorites from the past month or so:

Speaking of books, here are some awesome reads to add to your list.

What happens when a dream almost comes true? Is it “close enough?”

A gorgeous poem about, well, everything.

My favorite astrologer, Rob Brezsny, gives his forecasts for 2021.

And here’s an invitation to check out what I’m up to in the next couple of months: a virtual writing retreat and a vision board playshop, plus the weekly Parallel PlayDates. Come play with us!

I’ll be back soon, with my favorite reads from the past year, among other musings.

Meanwhile, I’ll be in my super-comfy reading chair with a cup of chai tea.

Magick is Afoot!

BlackLion and I hosted a Vision Board PlayShop this week on the Full Moon, via Zoom. Seventeen of us gathered in (virtual) sacred space to craft our visions and intentions for the new year.

It was so powerful doing this in community with these wonderful co-creators and Thriving Artists! What a blessing.

This is my vision board for 2021. I’m absolutely in love with it.

My word for 2020 was SOVEREIGN, and although the year didn’t go as planned, which is true for pretty much everyone, I did really tap into those energies. In some ways, I feel like more of the queen of my own realms than ever before.

In fact, I’m not really done with SOVEREIGN, and plan to bring more of it into my life this coming year. At the same time, I wanted to embrace a new word. So I picked one that feels very complementary: MAGICK.

MAGICK is how I’m approaching my sovereignty. One of the good surprises of 2020 was receiving a membership to the WEALTH Alchemy community. My studies there – it’s like a witchy grad school, totally the best for this Ravenclaw! – are all about bringing the power of magick into everyday life.

So here we go! Magick is afoot, in my own life and in the collective realms. My astrologer friends assure me that this is a time of powerful positive transformation in the cosmos. I’m in!

I’d love to hear about your process and how you’re moving forward into the new year. Comment here or send me a message. Happy New Year!

Writing the New Myths

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today there’s a grand conjunction that my astrologer friends tell me is all about moving into a new era, the long-awaited Age of Aquarius.

If that’s the case, then it falls to us, the Thriving Artists, the co-creators, the writers and dreamers and crafters, to offer up the new stories that will carry us forward.

I don’t know about you, but I’m weary of the dystopian fantasies that have captured our collective imagination.

Zombie apocalypse? Yawn.

Winter is coming? It’s here, baby.

We’re all gonna die! I mean, yes, we’re mortal, so that’s a thing. But it doesn’t have to be coated with a broad grey stroke of a collapsing society.

I get it – a story gets a little boring without some kind of conflict or challenge, so where are the tales of the scientists and farmers bravely responding to climate change?

The parents who are advocating for their kids to experience more inclusive, creative, liberating forms of education?

The brave humans rebelling against centuries of racism, sexism, homophobia, and all those other awful ways we humans treat each other?

Let’s tell those stories.

Today marks the arrival of winter. Now is the time when we’re in a bit of hibernation mode. Here in the creative cave, what sort of visions will you dream up?

We can be the ones who are writing the new myths that will accompany humanity on the next leg of our epic spiritual journey.

Isn’t that exciting? Perhaps even inspiring?

We have the opportunity to harness these grand cosmic energies and literally write ourselves into a new future.

The world yearns for your epic poetry, your deepest wisdom, your perspective on the authentic challenges we face. 

Want to know a secret? Building a new society is actually a whole lot of fun! Or it can be, if we choose our attitude carefully.

The artists have always been those out on the frontlines of the human imagination. We get to paint our dreams, our visions, our values onto this fresh canvas.

Release your attachment to mundane dramas and old patterns. It’s time to craft our ideal society, together, story by story.

Curl right up in your cozy cave and dream up a faery tale to inspire the generations to follow. You’ve got this!

Join a community of Thriving Artists who are doing this very work, right over here.

Starcat’s Favorites: An Introvert Holiday

My holidays usually involve hosting a Winter Solstice celebration, followed by gatherings of my extended family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This year, because of the pandemic, things are different.

So even though I’ll miss hanging out with family and friends, I’ve decided to make the best of it. Among the silver linings: my daughter and her husband are living with us. We haven’t spent Christmas with them for the past three years, while they were living out west, so this is a treat!

Another silver lining is that, hey, I’m an introvert – so having more quiet time on my holiday vacation isn’t a problem. Books, PJs, hot chocolate, and some favorite Christmas movies are all on my list of things to enjoy over the next couple of weeks.

Here are some ideas to help make your own 2020 holidays a delight, even though some traditions might have to be set aside for now.

I’m more of a bookworm than a binge-watcher, but I love this clever list connecting TV shows with books to read.

Speaking of books (which I often am!), here’s a list that will keep you reading for a while, from my friends at Maine Calling.

Last but not least on the book front, a new-to-me tradition that sounds amazing!

It’s a bit late for this year, but I’m inspired by this post about prepping for a stress-free holiday season.

Is the winter season a struggle for you? Here’s how to bring some light into the darkest time of year.

Compassion for yourself is connected with kindness to others.

Looking to bring more money into your life? Along with the physical-world actions, try including some manifesting magick from Jeannette Maw.

Have you ordered your Energy Almanac yet? This was my number one favorite magickal resource in 2020. Can’t wait to check out the new one!

What are you dreaming up for 2021? Join BlackLion and I for the Vision Board PlayShop, Tuesday, December 29th at 4pm Eastern, via Zoom!

We Are All Interdependent

This year has been quite a wild ride for most everyone I’ve talked with (yes, I realize that’s an understatement).

My Aunt, who is in her 80s, fell and broke her femur in late September. She had to navigate surgery and recovery during a pandemic, which is very different than just a year ago.

It was stressful.

Like many of our elders, she was worried that she’d lose her cherished independence.

Quester’s answer when she shared that fear with him was, “well, none of us are truly independent.”

It’s true. We’re interdependent. 

Even those who live alone rely on farmers, food producers, grocery store workers, delivery service people, and others to provide things they need each day.

Many of us do share our homes and lives with other people (including four-leggeds!).

We like to think that we’re independent, individual beings, particularly here in the modern Western world.

But we’re not.

You help others in your life: partners, children, parents, friends, neighbors, pets, employers, employees, acquaintances, and sometimes even strangers.

That part of the equation is easier to accept for many people. You want to feel useful, competent, and like you’re being of service.

That’s only part of the picture, though.

You receive help from these other beings, all the time – as much as you will allow it. That’s not even counting the non-physical realm: angels, spirit guides, animal totems, and the unseen others who guard and guide us.

And you’re also interwoven with all the plants, animals, insects, birds, waters, and minerals that make up the Earth.

Acknowledging your interdependence is key to thriving.

It is the interplay of giving and receiving that forms the main steps of the dance of life.

Even if you’re in a place where you’re not able to see your loved ones right now, they are there for you, as you are for them.

Give thanks for interdependence, and the web of life that allows us to continue to live and grow and experience life on this amazing planet Earth.

Wrapping It Up: NaNoWriMo Days 25-29

NaNoWriMo, November 2020, DAY 25 – 2177 words

Dear Diary,

Today after I was done with my biz work, I started making food for tomorrow, which is Thanksgiving.

I made cranberry sauce, stuffed butternut squash, honey-mustard Brussels sprouts, and non-dairy pumpkin pie (with pumpkin that I baked and peeled myself, and homemade crust, because that’s how we roll). Brent made the stuffing.

We had takeout burritos for dinner. I burned my finger when a potholder slipped. But the food all came out great, and I’m that much closer to being ready for tomorrow’s meal.

Then BlackLion and I sat down to some late-evening sprints. I was pleasantly surprised to get so many words after such a long day! 

DAY 26 – 0 words

Dear Diary,

I took the day off from writing in honor of Thanksgiving Day.

That said, it was a fun day, but not particularly restful. I got up and started cooking again! Garlic mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, and carrots, this time. My other housemates were cooking up a storm, too.

We had a lovely quiet (and delicious!) feast with just those of us who live here, and delivered food to various relatives at a safe distance. I missed being able to eat with my extended family. Stupid pandemic.

Then I worked the evening shift at the radio station.

Came home and rested. What a day!

DAY 27 – 2195 words

Dear Diary,

Today I could really feel how close we are to the end of the month, and this wild endeavor!

BlackLion and I did sprints before dinner, and got a nice chunk of writing done.

We also worked on making holiday cards, which is super fun. We played holiday music while we were crafting. I’m getting in the spirit!

DAY 28 – 2256 words

Dear Diary,

I wrote a really fun scene today, where my main character met with an archangel on the astral plane. The words just poured out!

This was one of those scenes I probably wouldn’t have planned in advance. I’m thankful for this “pantsing experiment.”

We wrote in the morning today, during the Parallel PlayDate and for a little while after. We’re both getting so close to the goal!

DAY 29 – 3564 words and A WIN!!!

Dear Diary,

BlackLion and I decided that today would be the day we finish NaNoWriMo. We wrote together, doing sprints in the morning after breakfast.

He wanted to stop for a while to watch football, but I was in the groove and determined to finish while I had the momentum.

So I cruised ahead, and finished my 50K in the early afternoon. It feels great!

I’m about 82K into this novel draft, which is about 3/4 of the way done. For now, though, I’m taking a break.

Lessons from this year: I still love sprints for drafting my fiction. They’re my favorite technique, and I’m so glad we first tried them last November!

I’m glad I tried being a pantser, but I think overall I’m happier with my usual plantser middle-ground. It’s good to know, though.

Maybe next year I’ll try being a full-on planner and outline the entire book, scene by scene.

But probably not…