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…

Starcat’s Favorites: Inside the Creative Cave

As much as I (used to?) talk about the cold time of year not being my favorite, I’ve come to appreciate this season we’re entering. It’s the ideal time for holing up inside the Creative Cave.

Besides writing (which gets intensified during NaNoWriMo), I have some other favorite creative pastimes.

My favorite hobbies include papercrafts (making cards, collages and scrapbooks), music (in the form of making playlists and hand drumming), cooking, and of course READING.

What do you love to do when the days get short and you’re sheltering at home?

Here are some fun resources I’ve come across recently. Enjoy!

The strange year that is 2020 is still taking its toll on many of us. Here are some ways to help you keep from getting too overwhelmed. Also, tuck this pandemic permission slip into your back pocket.

Speaking of permission slips, here’s one from the Good Vibe coach, Jeannette Maw, on practicing what you prefer.

Here are some tips for strengthening your intuition.

Letting go can be hard sometimes, but being willing to surrender is a key part of living a happy life.

I love chocolate. I want to try this recipe for hot chocolate chai, and explore some of these delicious chocolate shops.

My first radio gig was Quintessential Jazz, a show I hosted on my college radio station. Mind you, I knew very little about jazz when I started, and learned as I went, with Quester’s help (he was a music major at the time). Jazz is still one of my favorite genres. This article gives new insights on the history of jazz and the contributions of Black artists.

Another longtime musical favorite of mine is The Indigo Girls. Check out their insightful interview with Krista Tippett.

Ready to dive deep? Here are a couple of longer-form articles to inspire you. The first is about freeing yourself from distractions (swear word warning here!). The second one features techniques for becoming grateful.

Here’s an invitation especially for you: join us, a circle of Thriving Artists and co-creators, for the (virtual) Vision Board PlayShop!

New Habits: NaNoWriMo Days 20-24

NaNoWriMo, November 2020, DAY 20 – 2137 words

Dear Diary,

Today BlackLion and I ran our second Writing Sprints Session on Discord with a couple of my book coaching clients.

It was fun introducing them to the power of sprints!

I also got a lot of words written today. That felt good.

DAY 21 – 1391 words

Dear Diary,

Brent and I did some sprints this evening. It went well.

I got caught up to par, in terms of staying on track to make my 50K words by the end of the month.

I’m still kind of making up the story as I go along, which is very different from having target plot points to aim for, but I feel pretty good about it.

DAY 22 – 1786 words

Dear Diary,

Today we made a delicious Indian food feast. It’s one of our family’s favorite types of food. BlackLion made his homemade naan. We also made nav rattan korma (mixed vegetable curry), chana masala (chick peas & tomatoes), and a recipe we hadn’t tried before, palak aloo (with spinach and potatoes). It was all so yummy!

After dinner, on very full tummies, we did some writing sprints. It feels like this is becoming an evening habit.

I say this every November, but perhaps I’ll incorporate more fiction writing into the other months. We’ll see if it actually happens or not!

I write non-fiction all year round. But for the most part, I’ve done the bulk of my long-form fiction writing during November, each year for the past seven (holy cow!). But I’d like to make it a more regular thing during the other months.

DAY 23 – 1270 words

Dear Diary,

We did a short session of sprints before dinner, as BlackLion had an online gaming session this evening.

It felt good to get it done early, although I didn’t get as many words as usual before Quester announced that dinner was ready.

This evening I did a bunch of reading, from four different books. I picked up one that I’d read part of and then abandoned. I really enjoyed it!

I hadn’t read a writing craft book for a while. This one is DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community by Gabriela Pereira. I recommend it for anyone who wants to write fiction.

DAY 24 – 1330 words

Dear Diary,

Once again we wrote a little earlier in the day, this time as part of the co-writing session I hosted for my clients on The Sacred Path.

I made it to the word count for the day to stay on track, which means I have less than 10K words to go, in about a week! This is do-able.

Though I’m not sure if the book draft itself will be finished. I still have the book’s climax to write, and then a lot of loose ends to tie up. Plus, I don’t yet know the ending. Ah, pantsing…

In the Groove: NaNoWriMo Days 16-19

NaNoWriMo, November 2020, DAY 16 – 1733 words

Dear Diary,

It’s Monday, so BlackLion had his online RPG. I tried to join a sprint with others, but no one was around. I tried sprinting on my own, but something was messed up with the bot, or more likely, with my internet connection.

Failed sprints. 

However, I still wrote my quota for the day, on my own. Then, since I’m often tired by the end of a Monday, I just read and went to bed fairly early.

DAY 17 – 2063 words

Dear Diary,

I had fun this evening, doing sprints with BlackLion and another friend on our new server. It really is more enjoyable with other people. I tend to stick with it longer and get more done, too.

It feels like I’m getting into a groove. I like the sprints with others best, but even when that’s not happening, I’m in the habit of writing in the evening.

However, I still have no idea if this book will come together in a coherent whole. That will all be determined later. In the meantime, I’m continuing to fly by the seat of my pants!

DAY 18 – 1466 words

Dear Diary,

This morning I woke up with a download for my next non-fiction book!

I guess all this focus on writing is inspiring me.

I knew I was going to be writing a book on creativity, and writing, but that was all I had. In the dream, I was given a title, The Elements of Creativity. I also saw that the sections of the book would be organized into the five elements (earth, air, fire, water, and spirit). I love it!

This often happens – getting more book ideas while working intently on a particular project. 

BlackLion and I did sprints on our Parallel PlayZone server in the evening. It’s becoming a new habit!

DAY 19 – 1717 words

Dear Diary,

This afternoon was the weekly Parallel Playdate. There were six of us on the Zoom call.

I did my writing during the session, though it felt early in the day.

Actually, even though I’m the facilitator, I got a bit caught up in my writing towards the end and was a couple minutes late for the final check-in. That’s gotta be a good sign, right?

Hey, if you’re hoping to get some writing done before this strange year is over, check out my new video series on Writing Through the Holidays. You can get it by jumping onto my mailing list.

It’s An Experiment: NaNoWriMo Days 12-15

NaNoWriMo, November 2020, DAY 12 – 1583 words

Dear Diary,

I’m still not sure if I like this pantser approach (you know, just writing by the seat of my pants without knowing where the story is going next).

On one hand, it can be fun. I’ve come up with some cool ideas on the fly that are actually quite a hoot to write.

Then again, on the other hand, sometimes the well runs dry at the wrong moment and I’m stuck in the middle of a scene, or between two scenes, not sure where to go with it next.

Yet I still haven’t taken the time to come up with plot points, so there you go.

I’m gonna just consider it an experiment. Everything else about 2020 is different, so why not my approach to NaNoWriMo?

DAY 13 – 1721 words

Dear Diary,

Tonight was the Parallel PlayDate, so I did my writing then. I made some good progress.

The story was flowing today. I keep putting my main character into the astral plane, which is fun and kind of wild to write.

Sometimes during the PlayDates, while my writers and creatives are doing their thing, I just mess around and answer emails or whatnot. It was nice to actually join them and immerse myself in my craft.

DAY 14 – 1996 words

Dear Diary,

Today was Saturday, and we had a really fun day.

BlackLion and I went on a beach walk, then did some backyard crafting (with hot tea, because it’s chilly out!) with two of my best friends. We made pentacle wreaths from vines and sticks and hot glue.

Then I had time to read and study – my favorite leisure activity. BlackLion made dinner, and I brought some to my Aunt Peg, who lives next door. I also worked on some decluttering in my bedroom, which is an ongoing project.

We did our writing in the evening, doing sprints in our Parallel PlayZone channel, then watched The Good Place before bed.

DAY 15 – 1221 words

Dear Diary,

We had our first official Writing Sprints Session on Discord today. Two of our writer friends joined BlackLion and myself.

We had a lot of fun!

I totally blanked during the last round, and didn’t write a word – because I didn’t know where the story was going next. I did come up with a clue, and made a couple of notes for my next writing session.

Like I wrote before, this pantser thing is an experiment. Some days it works better than others.

That said, even though I wrote fewer words than usual, I passed the halfway mark today, in both words and time! 25K, baby! That feels good.

Want to join us for some writing sprints? Reach out to me at nikki at nikkistarcatshields dot com

Slacker Manifester: NaNoWriMo Days 8-11

NaNoWriMo, November 2020, DAY 8 – 2074 words

Dear Diary,

BlackLion made us a new Discord channel, the Parallel PlayZone, for my writing community. So naturally we played with it this evening, and did sprints with our own “CatBot.” It was fun.

I’m going to be running a couple of Writing Sprints sessions in our channel, for my current clients and subscribers to the Parallel PlayDates. They’ll be happening this Sunday and next Friday.

I’m super excited to introduce this way of writing to my peeps!

Mostly because I love it so much, myself.

DAY 9 – 1747 words

Dear Diary,

When I sat down to write today, I had no idea where the story was going. So I just went with it. I wrote 1747 words in just three 15-minute sprint sessions!

That was surprising.

One thing I’ve noticed is when I’m writing from my main character Cassie’s point of view, I write faster. I suppose that’s because she’s part of me in some ways.

I’m enjoying the process, for the most part.

DAY 10 – 1810 words

Dear Diary,

One of my mentors, Jeannette Maw the good vibe coach, talks about slacker manifesting. It’s the idea of giving up trying to bring about what you want, and instead letting it happen.

I’ve been half-heartedly trying to plan some plot points for Patterns on the Sea, but at this point, a third of the way through the month, I give up. Not in a resentful or guilty way, either. It feels like my creative inspiration is to just write this one as I go and see what happens.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m a slacker manifester!

In this today’s sprints, I manifested 1810 words. Not bad for not really feeling like writing when I first sat down.

DAY 11 – 1594 words

Dear Diary,

BlackLion and I decided to take an hour in the afternoon to do some sprints on our new channel. Once again I rocked the word count, accomplishing my goal in just three rounds. Woo hoo!

It feels good to just do the writing without worrying (much) about where it’s going.

What’s the worst that could happen? It might suck. But I’m confident if that happens that I can fix it in revisions.

I’ve noticed I’m embracing this “slacker manifester” approach in other parts of my life, too. It feels like a sigh of relief. Good stuff for this recovering perfectionist.

Want to join us for some writing sprints? Reach out to me at nikki at nikkistarcatshields dot com