RE-POST from TBQ July 2017 > Re-posting this because it seems relevant as I prepare to step back into the fray of the human world...I'm fighting the suction to tuck back in. this discomfort and fear will pass. It's not real--but I do want to keep this old post handy as a reminder.
There are things I forgot while living in the city; things I’m only just now remembering after a year and a half in the woods.
The sound the stars make when the moon is dark.
The music of running water along the rocks.
The burnished gold light of noon through the canopy, and the subtle stretch of foxglove toward the sky.
Cotton puffs from seeding fireweed.
The slow lumbering wisdom of the herd passing through territory.
Blossoms on a newly fruiting tree, delighted to check out the wonder of this world.
Stillness when a predator has entered the clearing.
I forgot these things, though I knew them in my childhood in Alaska. It seemed back then that it would be impossible to forget the sound of wolf song, or lichen creep. It seemed impossible I’d be out of synch with the tides, the snoring mountains, or glacial tones. But somehow, I lost touch.
Somewhere in the crush of bodies on the sidewalk, angry car horns, the stink of asphalt and harried, stressed out people on their phones to either side of me at a crowded market…somewhere in that window of decade I forgot to notice the sound of a predator entering the clearing.
I forgot to look up at the full moon and sing back.
I forgot to smell new blossoms.
I forgot to acknowledge wisdom as it lumbered by.
I forgot to wish upon puffs of fireweed cotton.
Somewhere in that decade I learned only the breathless rush of survival. The elbowing jostle to get by, stay above the water. The ceaseless spinning to go nowhere.
Somewhere in that decade I forgot the sound of my own voice, the syllables of my own name. Over time it all became a constant, droning tone-deaf buzz.
But tonight, the stars are singing. Ancient lights from across time space glow in my wooded Skybowl. The river dances, and the scent of damp earthen forest soaks my skin. There is no city glow, no electric noise.
Only the soft crooning of the Elder Glade’s lullabies and promises of sweet dreams.
It’s good to be home.
Sheesh. This month hit like an ice-road trucker turning into a skid. I came out of January with so much momentum and with so many intersecting deadlines scheduled to hit at once that I’ve been on high burn for three weeks to try and get ahead of what is about to be a pileup. Trying to mitigate the impact zones and coordinate some stagger if possible.
It might look pretty gnarly through March and part of April—but afterward it should level back out.
The Life Erotic Week Two: Nibbles went live last month. I’m happy to report the feedback I’m getting from male readership is especially encouraging. So far, the most powerful emails have been requests from people asking how they can inspire their partners to be more comfortable and to feel free to be themselves in the bedroom. Huzzah!
While I doubt I’m the most qualified person to answer such questions, I’m happy those questions are being asked. Folks who are openly, and willingly on the legitimate path to discovering those answers are in for some delightful intimacy with the ones they love—and I can’t help but be excited for them. YAY!
The branding merge of my two author names under one site and banner is nearly complete. My works under B. Unbidden were easy to transfer on the digital side. That does leave the question as to how to go about putting The Life Erotic into print format. A trickier process.
My original fears about people being confused and accidentally purchasing the wrong name and ending up with porn when they think they’re getting fantasy fiction appears to have been an unnecessary worry…so that’s a relief. Now I feel a little silly about fighting the merge for so long. Alas.
As far as my small publishing label, BlissQuest Publishing goes, this merge will make it significantly easier to manage business and needs without needing to jump back and forth on different platforms. It will also enable readers to find all my work in one place, rather than me sending them to multiple locations or shopping cart checkouts.
Speaking of checkouts—yes, the next upgrade to the site will include the storefront for book purchases, sculptures from my polymer studio, and the membership lounge. It’s coming.
The Coming Out:
No, I’m not gay, but it would be a huge relief to my dad if I were. No, my coming out is entirely related to preparing to step out of the forest. Eeek. I know. But I’m so happy all tucked in up here, right?
Yes, I’m wonderfully happy and fulfilled. However, the time has come to get in front of my work and speak for these characters. It’s time to give a platform to their voices—so, I can’t keep hiding. I’ve had three blissful, relaxing, beautiful years of solitude and rejuvenation. A cocoon, if you will.
Coming out of that cocoon is scary and uncomfortable, but necessary. The new form I’ll be taking is still in flux. I need to pick the skin that will feel the strongest, most supportive, and flexible to achieve the goals I’ve set for this emergence. There will be plenty more on this transformation on the VLOG and on my Instagram account.
So far, the coming out transformation includes some basic upkeep to my body that I’ve neglected for too long whilst in the happy glow of a three-year writing spree. Yes, that means losing weight, toning up, reconditioning my breath, and re-learning makeup and hair for public presentation. Day one in the camera made me feel like a Baba Yagga forest witch that stumbled out of the underbrush and onto a highway.
Stay tuned…and please feel free to offer some advice or ideas. I’m open to feedback.
The Elder Glade:
Spring is coming six weeks early. I’m really worried about the delicate leaves and blossoms trying to shoot too soon. If we get a late frost we’ll lose whole crops this year. Tillamook County has also endured massive flooding this winter, which has put large swathes of farmland under water.
Up in the glade I got a lot of rain, and the creek swelled, swallowing the island and overflowing the dam. Luckily the wellhead stayed safe, but there will be a lot of cleanup this spring when the sun starts to come back. I have a lot of downed trees and branches to clear.
I’ve also had to make some tough choices about which projects I take on this season. Namely, the beehives.
I’m going to be crushed by deadlines in the next six weeks, and will have to be really selective about my project load and finances—so ordering new bee colonies may have to be pushed back. Sure, you can order and house them after the season—but you run the risk of them not being able to establish before the winter, and there’s just not enough bloomage in my part of the forest to give them a mid-summer cache.
While going through The Elder Glade project load for the next six weeks I realized I’m going to have to triage some things off the list. It will be so sad to skip bees this year. I really love making the honey into mead and having a booming raspberry crop from the extra local pollinators, but, well…time.
Anywhoo, I’ll keep you posted on land updates again soon.
Thank you for all your continued support and encouragement! See you next month.
Apologies for posting this a bit early. I'm about to be avalanched by three intersecting deadlines--so if I don't put the video out now, it might not get posted until summer. So, here are the goings on in The Elder Glade and beyond for winter 2019/2020. I will try to back fill into the gap next video.
The previous seasonal videos made for patrons can be found in the gallery.
As the videos on my VLOG come out about my transformation there are some things to cover.
I have not always been clueless about beauty routines and polished speaking performance. Those skills are way back in the old pool—the archive, so to speak. They are perishable skills, however, and I’m a long way gone from having those memories or practices handy. This remodel will hopefully pull some of those old skillsets to the foreground so I can remember how to use them. Something as simple as being able to twist the curling iron the correct direction while looking in a mirror—who knew that was a perishable skill? Or speak at a podium without chewing my lipstick off.
The fun fact about hermitage is that you get all the focus time you want and need. My time in the wild has done exactly what I needed it to—anchored, re-wired, gave me inspiration, peace, and tremendous amounts of personal joy and fulfillment. In doing all that, I also dropped skillsets, habits, and practices that would have kept me in an old frame of mind. I needed a new, fresh, unencumbered way to think and write.
To that end, I really stopped paying any attention to my face or body. I made minimalism look extravagant. Living fully in the riotous joy of spirit and creativity meant, not caring a fig what I looked like while doing so.
Coming back to the real world is heart-wrenching, scary and exciting all at the same time. I did my first video and got the first real look at myself on camera after a three-year hiatus from care. Wow. I look like I’ve been living with wolves, really chubby wolves. Chubby wolves with no concept of moisturizer.
On the bright side, I’m in such rough shape it should be easy to see progress fairly quickly, so, small blessings. I know, appearance is such a shallow metric—I don’t disagree. But bringing forth the interior lightning to wear on my external persona will, I think, add a whole new level of maturation to my evolving human story. So, I’m looking forward to what the end result will be.
There used to be a time in my life when I was comfortable in a slinky red evening gown at a black-tie dinner on a Friday night, then camping in my Sorrels and the mud on a Saturday night. I didn’t struggle switching back and forth. Then I mostly fell into the camping in the mud and it’s been three years. I’m not sure I’d even remember which fork to use at a fancy dinner.
October 2020 will reveal the transition from inner to outer—and I’ll go from there.
The questions I’ve been getting are inevitably around my hermitage. Sequester was a choice. I have made efforts to actively participate in human interactions at least three times a week. Part of that was to ensure I wouldn’t isolate to detriment. I can easily lock into my imagination and forget to come up for air.
These are the most common questions about my situation.
“Don’t you get lonely?”
Not really. I have a fabulous extended community to reach out to when I need connection. I have a house full of animals, and a forest full of creatures. I also have a brain packed with twelve books worth of imaginary characters who visit frequently. Right, Liam?
On the rare occasion that I do get lonely—rarely. I make a call to catch up with a friend, or go into town.
“Don’t you need internet or cell phone service?”
Yes, and no. I need internet to put my work on line, and manage my communications—but I drive to town to handle that. I need internet on a functional level—but I don’t need the internet to feel connected. I certainly don’t need the time sink that is sitting for hours on end surfing aimlessly at filler videos when I should be getting chapters written.
Do I miss aimless surfing? Hell yes. But giving up internet access in home has allowed me to write four new books. I miss streaming services for television and movies, that I truly miss.
No cell service is a bummer for sure, especially in the world of texting and snapchat when I want to touch bases with people I love. But a landline works, and gets the connection job done.
“How do you live without electricity?”
I have electricity. I have all modern amenities minus cell phone signal and internet. Oh, and cable. And before anyone asks, yes I also have running water and flushing toilets.
“How do you date or meet people if you live that far out?”
I don’t date, but not because of distance. That’s a whole other post for another time, but part of it does tie into the very nifty filter of not having cell phone service. On the bright side, lack of cell access very quickly weeds out the non-contenders. It’s brilliant. Had I known the “I only know how to have a relationship by text” guys would be so easily deterred—I’d have dropped cell service even when I lived in the city. It’s been a huge relief not to have to deal with those fellas.
Still, lack of services and my distance are not actually what keep me from the dating pool. I’ll have to be well into my third glass of wine to have that conversation, though.
“What kind of wildlife do you have?”
I have a herd of elk that pass through the yard regularly. A racoon. Several obnoxious blue jays, hundreds of birds, including a large heron, and an eagle. There are trout and salmon in the creek, coyotes in the den up the ridge, a black bear down the road, and I’ve seen several wolves and a cougar as well.
This area also has beaver, pack rats, rabbits, deer, all sorts of squirrels and mice and gophers. There are nutria, mink, great Pacific Northwest lizards, garden snakes, newts/salamanders, and dozens of types of spiders and crawly critters.
“Would you ever live in the city again?”
Good question. I won’t say never. The beauty of being a writer is that I can do it anywhere. I choose to work out here because it’s peaceful and has minimal interruptions.
My options are always open. I don’t think I’ll ever willingly give this place up, that’s for sure. Even if I split time in a city—this will always be my sanctuary and retreat. It’s haven.
“What is your next big project at The Elder Glade?”
Putting in the new chicken coop and the bridge across the creek. Those are my big projects for the homestead this year. I may only get one or the other this spring and summer—but we’ll see.
After that it will be leveling land and planting the orchard. I’m really looking forward to the day I can pick my own peaches and eat them on the deck overlooking the water.
“What’s the hardest part of living out in the woods?”
There are constant new sets of challenges. Keeping the house and animals safe. Navigating Mother Nature’s curve balls (land slides on the road, storms ripping trees down onto the power line, critters causing structural damage, and so on).
Aside from the Mother Nature challenges, I think convenience of access to amenities has been the toughest. Being an hour from anything means you have to do all your big shopping in one trip. If I forget something, say, dishwasher soap. Then I get all the way home and realize it’s a two-hour round trip to go get it. So I try to keep a fully stocked supply cabinet. If I forget dishwasher soap, I throw together a powder mix of baking soda, and Borax to hold me over until my next trip to town. Worst case scenario, I run back to town…like if I forgot the limes for a margarita. That’s worth running back to town for, right?
Getting ready to set out on my nine month re-configuration. Stay tuned!
And while you're at it, check out some of Mabelyn Baladez's amazing body products at MB Botanicals.
If the origin of the series and the foundation of the principle behind this series is interesting to you, then read onward, my friend.
I began writing erotica twenty years ago as I was hell-bent on discovering and owning my personal empowerment sexually/emotionally/physically. I struggled with the dichotomy of being a woman and thereby over-sexualized, and I was working through sexual trauma, shame, oppression, and so on. What a strange society we live in that provides such conflicting messages as overt sexualization and abuse-mixed with shame and oppression.
I started writing short misadventures of my attempts at discovery. Those eventually turned to heartbreak, and then were relegated to shame. I posed for Suicide Girls, then declined the contract. I picked up roles in film, theater, and in literary clubs that opened the conversations further by choosing erotica groups or taking on roles that required sexual expression. I even spent a year interviewing strippers in Portland, Oregon. Oh, the stories!
But throughout, I was writing shorts, poetry, and Letters to Lovers I’ve Never Met. I called them tidbits, landing points, and curiosities. These snippets were collected on napkins, spare sheets in notebooks, and scribbled on the backs of menus, or in the margins of my journals.
The tipping point came when I met a catfish. Yes, a catfish. It happened online, and the opportunity was ripe for a series of conversations around the topic of unfettered female sexuality—no holds barred—no shame—no judgment because there was literally nothing to lose. We’d never meet, so we could discuss everything in great detail.
For several months we spoke daily, and I sent him clips from the notebooks, journals, and tidbits.
An amazing thing happened. The collections of stories began to take shape. The language I’d struggled to find, the words I’d longed to target began to pull together. Finally, what I’d been trying to say for twenty years began to coalesce.
The conversations with the catfish came to an abrupt halt, as most of those stories do; when I wanted to meet him, he was gone like morning mist. Poof. All the better, I’m sure. What I’d needed was complete and it was time to sit down and pull my works together, catfish or not.
The resulting curation of all my erotic works coming out of the closet, so to speak, was the introduction of the Nome deplume, Blush Unbidden.
Blush is able to articulate the complexity of female sexuality and yearning in a way that is utterly different from male-centric porn, or slush factor sleaze. (Not to say that male-centric porn, and slush factor sleaze don’t have a place—only, it’s overdone, and lacks the feminine element.) Blush speaks in emotional anchors, very human vulnerability, humble curiosity, and unabashed wonderment. She’s real; both fragile and powerful,
and oh so very hungry to know all the delights of the world.
In the process of redefining the voice I would give Blush, and what type of journey or arc I’d throw her into, I had to sit down and truly frame out what erotica meant to me as a woman and an author.
What does erotica mean? What does female sexual empowerment mean? How does that work in our modern dating/relationship dynamics? What guardrails for health and safety need to be mentioned or respected? Where will I refuse to go? As an author…what is my writing safe word, as in, where will I reach the edge of the adventure?
It ended up being a much more in-depth process than I’d expected. By the time I was done putting the framework in place, #metoo was in full force and the media attention and backlash against women speaking out about sexuality and sexual abuse was so intense I stepped back. I was too tired to take the topic head on in the middle of the storm, but I fully acknowledged that if we’d had a better understanding of female sexual empowerment, female erotica, and autonomous voice fifty years ago—we might never have needed a #metoo hashtag.
Right about that same time the photographer I’d booked to work with for artistic nudes to accompany the next release passed away. Simultaneously, I’d received several emails from readers of the first installment of The Life Erotic, stating that the material had made them weep.
“I ugly cried.” One reader told me.
I was devastated. No one wants an ugly cry in the middle of their sexy time. It was so not what I had aimed for that I thought for certain I had botched the series horribly. I boxed up the notes, put the manuscripts in the archive and locked it all away.
FIVE YEARS PASSED
I continued to write shorts, tidbits, and Letters to Lovers I’ve Never Met, but I tucked them in the archive and focused all my energy on my other series under my given name, Athena. The Pillars of Dawn is a fantasy fiction series, which not unsurprisingly has quite a lot of adult sexual content in it.
Then I had an unexpected conversation with a reader who finished Scold of Jays, and who had also read The Life Erotic Week One: Reawakening.
In a nutshell she said something along the lines of, “I love how you write Fable’s scenes. The sex is so hot, and it’s so powerful. It’s part of the story, not just put in to be porn. She has no shame. I can’t remember what it’s like to have sex like that with no shame. It made me ask myself and my partner some hard questions. It made me think of that other series you write about the erotic stories. When is the next one of those coming out?”
I told her I’d stopped writing The Life Erotic because they apparently made people cry. I was more than a little frustrated with my inability to hit the right emotional note.
She seemed surprised, “Really? That’s what I loved about it. It made me have an emotional release AND a sexual release. I cried because it made me believe again.”
If I said I was stupefied, it would still not adequately express my feeling that moment. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t believe what she was saying. When she left the coffee shop I sat mindlessly at my laptop, dazed.
Believe is such a powerful word. Too powerful for my simple little short stories. Too powerful for my little provincial clutch of tidbits.
Then I got hung up on the word “Shame”.
Gah. Shame. The destroyer of intimacy. The bane of connection. The foul stink in the rose garden of…well, you get it.
Shame has no place in erotic content, or in intimacy, or in relationship dynamics that are reliant on trust. I could go on for a thousand pages on the damages of shame in the context of sexuality—instead I will say this:
Shame is a control mechanism. It is only used by a partner to destabilize or disempower—and it is only used by ourselves to repress or subvert impulses, desires, or wantings. The only purpose shame has in the world of adult content is to curb, corral, or alienate.
(The only appropriate form of shame I can endorse is as a form of punishment for abuse, criminal behavior, or to enforce standards of ethical boundaries, as in—shame only when ethics are violated.)
Shame is a punishment. Period. And not to be a ghostly or even weaponized force in the most vulnerable and exquisite parts of our relationship dynamics, and use of our bodies.
Wherein consenting adults participate, there is no room left for shame because the pleasure of such unfettered freedom and shared ecstasy leaves no oxygen for the cruelty that is mortification.
Her conversation spurred me to go back to the source material. I pulled all The Life Erotic boxes out of the closet, and opened the digital archive. I was so motivated by the idea that women out there are still held back from their most liberated sexual expressions by shame (and a plethora of other topics) that I dumped all the work on my living room floor and started sorting the notes.
Shame as a whole goes against literally everything Blush Unbidden stands for. All that she is is reliant on willingness, freedom, wild abandon, acceptance, and joyful curiosity. It’s impossible to be a hedonistic sybarite if you’re bound by shame.
It wasn’t just my frustration for my fellow ladies that spurred me on to revisit the material. It was my sadness for how this viral toxin that is shame affects men as well. The global and cultural disconnect around the autonomy of the female body, the lack of acceptance of all shapes and sizes, the confusing yet glorious profusion of differences in our sexual desires and expressions, genders and identifications has made the idea of finding true intimate connections a prospect with less viable probability than winning the Megaball.
I hate to say it, but I think sometimes men are flummoxed about how to date in this new arena. Without the traditional binary standards to comply with, AND what is perceived as a minefield of danger, they get squeamish around the feminists, and flinchy around anything that doesn’t smack of reliably traditional (Even though most of them will heartily agree that the traditions are already mostly obsolete). They still struggle with how to navigate in these new waters.
They don’t want to be accused of #metoo, or #rapeculture, or #creepers – but unfortunately, many of them simply don’t know HOW to approach women without setting off all the alarm bells, and they are petrified of being mislabeled and never recovering from the stigma or the shame themselves.
So where does that leave all my fellow ladies? High-centered and sexually frustrated. It’s no wonder that the Fifty Shades of Grey books were so fantastically successful. The conversation of female desires, and yearnings were at least being approached (well or not is debatable) These proclivities that were, to some, shame based--were finally topics of mainstream conversation. (To be clear, bondage and BDSM are not meant to be shame based or toxic, there are actually very healthy outlets in those sexual genres). It was an exciting, titillating, panty-soaking explosion of a feminine dialog that had been too long withheld.
For my take on it, Fifty Shades was a start, but it’s still miles from being a healthy, holistic, and fully liberated approach to female/male sexual empowerment AND an enriched human partnership within the realm of sexy vulnerability and trust. Still, it was an icebreaker, so, good on ya, E.L. James.
So where does this all lead The Life Erotic?
Merging brands and coming out from behind the pen name is a risk on lots of levels. However, the topics of female sexual empowerment, feminine gratification, and erotic freedom are very dear to me as a person and as an author. These concepts bleed over into my other series and genres. It’s a platform I can’t seem to avoid, and wouldn’t want to even if I could. It’s time to talk about it.
In the last twenty years the world has changed significantly around the topics at hand, but in many ways we are still stunted as a culture, and backward in our ways of understanding women, pleasure, and desire. It’s probably safe to say men try to legislate the female body BECAUSE of this disconnect.
Coming out of the closet is a step toward my own freedom, and the freedom of my fellow ladies as well. And let’s not dismiss the very real truth that when we as women are truly free to be ourselves in the bedroom and in relationships, and in the eyes of the law—then so too are the men in our lives freed to be themselves without the weighty burden of imbalance.
Dear men of this world,
Wouldn’t you love to know the woman in bed with you is there because she wants to be, yearns to be, aches to be filled by you—as deeply as you can go? Wouldn’t you love to know she feels freedom, from her sinew and helix all the way to her toes, and in that awareness—she longs for you? No doubt. No questions. No hesitation—she wants you? In the moment, she is yours because she gives herself willingly and would fight to prove that willingness if anyone questioned your motives? Would you sleep better at night knowing the woman you love would ferociously protect the quality of your nobility just as fearlessly as you would protect her from harm?
It boils down to engaging in the dialog. Blush Unbidden and The Life Erotic is here to create conversation. When women told me The Life Erotic Week One: Reawakening made them cry, I had to do a lot of questioning to tease out that snag.
It kept coming back to trust, vulnerability—and being seen. Let’s be totally honest—those three things alone are like the hottest aphrodisiacs on the planet.
I don’t mean, “you have pretty eyes.” Or “You’re so hot.” NO.
I mean being seen, truly seen, all the way to your pulsing aching center kind of seen. Yes, I have cried with relief and pent up pain when I felt seen for the first time in a very long time. (Made for a super awkward date ending to be sure).
Blush sees her lover this way. She also sees herself this way, and in the course of the series arc realizes she doesn’t like what she sees in herself, and sets out to correct the parts of herself that she doesn’t want to live with anymore so she can be a more independent woman, and an even better lover to the man she adores.
The tenderness she shares with her lovers; the unbridled passionate hunger, and her trembling timid courage fueled by desires make her an excellent mouthpiece to tell the story of coming into an unfettered female sexual freedom in a world where the rules are literally legislated against such profound independent and personal feminine sovereignty.
The sybaritic platform is the perfect stage for B. Unbidden’s explorations of liberty, autonomy, and thirst for life in all its gritty and glorious experiences. She is both a poet and a warrior, and I am profoundly blessed that her Muse has allowed me to attempt to scribe Blush’s journey.
I can only hope I do her stories justice. I deeply hope I can entertain, inspire…and arouse. So, without further ado….
The Life Erotic Week Two: Nibbles
It’s been a pleasure to watch you growing up these last few years. It’s been a privilege to watch your parents sort out the larger humanitarian questions and fundamental concepts around your spiritual and emotional education. You’re a beautiful young man, with a wicked dry sense of humor and a glowing compassionate heart. You. Are. A. Treasure.
What can I possibly say on the matter of becoming a good human being? What milestone is the metric to which that comparison will be made again and again as you go out and participate in the world at large?
I worry that claiming my version of “good” will imply all others are “not good” so from now on I won’t call it good or bad. I won’t intend male or female binary statements in the qualifier of the following, but will say instead; we are all, all of us, attempting to live our most noble lives and achieve our best character expressions with what we have been given or have learned.
The first step, I believe, is discovering and empowering your personal nobility, which is neither male nor female. It is neither good nor bad. It is however, yours and yours alone. It is specific to you. Some will call it honor. Be wary of that label, honor. It is steeped in toxic gender histories and a multiverse of religious interpretations. One person’s banner of honor is another’s claim to cruelty or oppression. (See honor killings, war, female sexual oppression, familial obligation, and so on—all falling under someone’s claim to honor).
Honor and personal nobility can be similar in nature, but your personal nobility is self-made. It is neither inherited, or absorbed by conditioning. Neither is it subject to the control dynamics of others, or the baggage of obligation. It is yours, designed by you, practiced by you, owned entirely by your own will. Personal nobility is able to evolve, learn and stretch to include those new learnings. Honor can be rigid, breakable, and it is often flawed by near-sighted logic failure.
Another way to look at the difference is that personal nobility requires questioning, upkeep, and at the very least occasional evaluation from which new personal revolutions emerge.
It should also be mentioned that while someone may attempt to impugn your honor or place value statements on what they believe your honor should be—no one can impugn your personal nobility, save you. You are the only judge and measure by which your nobility is quantified.
It is similar to integrity. It is inherently intertwined with the fabric of your character and will, if you choose, never be totally separate from your decisions, actions, and the weight of your convictions. The answers will always be what you can or cannot live with. What you can or cannot abide by. What you can or cannot affiliate yourself with. What you can or cannot own to be a part of.
So now you’ve got Personal Nobility, your molten metal core. Now what?
I’d like to tell you the world is a safe and peaceful place. Instead, I will tell you it is magical, dynamic, exhilarating, terrifying, and gloriously inconsistent. It is breathtakingly diverse, magnificently unpredictable, and there is nothing quite like drawing breath each morning and knowing the profound gratitude of having this blue planet playground to explore. What are you waiting for?
With personal nobility as your axis of gravity, all else is moving. There is no right or wrong moment to engage, except those dictated by your core. The complexity of this world is so fierce, so passionately interwoven—it is nearly impossible to take a step, draw a breath, or blink in the rain without causing an action upon the quantum reality in which you are trying to become fully realized—so the trick to being a human….is to remember that we are all human. We are all in a perpetual state of becoming.
I’ll step inside here to say, as a writer I get to bring a million types of characters to life with my words. I get to paint with broad, flat strokes the images we think we humans make—but the truth is, humans are so immensely complex, so infinitely faceted, that you could spend a thousand summers trying to understand them, and they will still surprise you in the most unexpected ways. Some will break your heart with cruelty, and others will destroy you with raw beauty—and you may end up thanking them both in the end. See? Unpredictable.
I can only say from my own experiences, but in matters of human complexity my experiences with evil, bigotry, -isms, hatred, xenophobia, and all the darker aspects that we are both capable of, and exposed to simply by being—do not stem from a vacuum of goodness. No, they exist, flourish, even thrive on fear.
Fear seems to be the inception point where the darkest qualities of humanity emerge and wreak havoc on communities, evolution, relationships, nations, and the greater part of our shared collective experience. Fear is the primordial goo in which our primitive selves have still not learned to grow legs and walk. You could say fear is the root of all evil—but I would argue that it is the stew of all HUMAN darkness.
You are not exempt. I am not exempt. No one is exempt from fear. It may manifest as narcissism. It may show itself as violence. It may bloom into being through control dynamics, toxic behavior patterns, and oppression. You have the capability of being in fear, and the capacity to spread fear.
The antithesis of fear is love.
Love may be the most courageous thing you will do in your entire life.
Loving even those people who don’t seem to deserve it, is an act of courage.
Now, let’s be clear—loving those foul bastards who commit grievances, acts of cruelty, fear, and violence—loving them doesn’t mean you have to invite them over for brunch and serve them on your best china. I mean, it might. That’s up to you. It’s a call your inner nobility will make.
What I mean by loving those who do us injury is, not reflecting their fear back to them.
Does that make sense? Love in the most powerful acceptance of totality is knowing they are flawed, terribly, awfully, pitifully so—and not letting that knowledge rip you up inside. It’s about not letting their torment in. Love them but LOVE YOURSELF MORE, and they will take their fear and go elsewhere. Reflecting their hate, or fear, or violence will make them more powerful, like condensing a sunbeam through a magnifying glass onto an ant---only you’d be the ant and you wouldn’t even know it.
That same reflection process can be used in love and acceptance for a similar, often more potent effect.
How you ask? Well, I’ll let you know when I get that part nailed down. See? I’m still human, still working on my process too. I still yell at the asshole who cuts me off in traffic—so, all I can say on the matter is it’s a theory in progress, but the greater practice as a whole shows exciting promise.
I will tell you this though, the part about love being the most courageous thing you will ever do—that part is 100% true. Strangely, one of the most difficult people to love is ourselves. How odd, right? I mean, we are wired for survival—and love is part of survival. We need love, and yet the vast majority of this human population secretly (or not so secretly) loathes their own company. Most people hate their body, their hair, their voice, their actions. How heartbreaking. We live in fear of ourselves, and reflect that fear upon anyone and everyone in our immediate circle.
I might go so far as to say the most radical act of courage left on this planet is genuine self-acceptance and love. Even I don’t have that courage yet, but writing to you makes me realize I need to get on that.
Love in romance, partnership, community, family, and friends. Love for your world, your animal companions, the stars and the sky, the oceans and forests—it all has the ability to blow your mind. The first time you stare into a person and see them, really see them, and love them for all their flawed imperfections, in fact, because of their imperfections—the first time you fall into that kind of love it’s like seeing the face of divinity. If you don’t believe in god/goddess—that moment might make you question what infinity really is.
Perhaps the answer is that love IS divinity? But we’ll wax long and theological someday when you’re old enough to have a dram with me and ponder the nature of totality.
Until then, I truly wish you the greatest adventures on the quest for your own answers around the living expressions and experiments in Fear and Love. I wish you compassion, curiosity, an open-heart, and a willing spirit. Good luck, Firefly.
As to any nuggets for the journey I will throw in these gifts from my teachers.
Learn and understand the differences between moral, ethical, and legal. Your inner nobility may look like an elaborate knotwork between them all. You make your own lines. They are yours to draw now. That’s what becoming an adult human is. You draw your lines, live in those lines, then reevaluate and draw them again.
Ethics uphold the rights and autonomy of all involved to the best possible degree.
Morals should be ethical, but often are not. IE: It was once morally acceptable to own and keep slaves. It was also legal, because the moralists who believed in slavery, legislated it. But it was never once, even in the smallest fraction ethical. See?
And you would think that legal would be both moral and ethical, but it is not always the case. The law has a lag time, and is often affected by moral judgements or honor pronunciations of religious affiliations that are long out of date. IE: It was once legal for a man to beat or rape his wife—it was also morally acceptable. But it never was, nor will it ever be ethical.
Knowing the differences in these codes will help you define your own. You get to be the one who decides if you are moral, legal, or ethical so long as you keep in mind you are working with humans, and we are all trying to get to a better version of ourselves. We don’t have it all sorted just yet. Be patient. Work on your own nobility, and let others design theirs.
In the words of my old DM in the RPG group I played with. “You’re either lawful, chaotic, or neutral. Unless you’re Athena, who decided to write in ‘None of the Above’.”
To be fair, I think the exact wording on my character sheet was, “N/A. These over-simplified tropes fail to accommodate for the complexity of character range in a myriad of complicated opportunities. I refuse to be forced into a cardboard character profile…” Or some such similar rubbish like that.
Anyhoo, the point I’m trying to make is this:
You are not only one or the other. You are not only this or that. There is no you or them. You are a human, and therefore contain multitudes. You become what you do. You become what you say. Your actions define your character, over and over again, and your character is defined by the nobility you design for yourself. You do the best you can as often as you can. And when you can’t, you don’t. Then you try again the next day.
You’ll mess up. We all do. I mess up all the time. I lose my temper or get scared and snarly.
Say you’re sorry, and try to do better—that alone will put you miles and decades ahead.
The good or bad of it is only what you allow yourself to own, and what you resolve to improve upon.
When you leave your parents’ home, you can no longer claim their nobility or flaws as yours. When you join society as an independent, you can no longer blame, shame, or give away your responsibilities.
That part when you pick up your own baggage and make your own way…that’s the part when you get to decide if you are a good/bad/ man/woman/person or N/A.
Adulthood is only earned when you realize you can’t blame your upbringing anymore. Adulthood is only earned when you step out from what you were taught, and decide for yourself what the answer should be—then remake yourself accordingly. That might mean making amends, apologies, or requests for forgiveness. Adulthood happens when you are grateful for what you were given, appreciate the foundation upon which you were begun—but you’re ready to take the human story farther than those before you were ready or able.
Your journey into adulthood begins, but it may take years for you to realize the feeling of being “adult”. In the country we live in, boys and girls are sent to fight and die in wars declared by men who’ve never bled. Adulthood isn’t stamped upon you with an age verification license, and access to a military grade semi-automatic rifle.
Adulthood is granted when you ask, think, question, and consciously CHOOSE for yourself. Others might not agree with your choice—it is yours all the same, and your right to it just as sacred. The right or wrong of the choice, the good or bad of it—that’s for your nobility and the ethics committees to sort out. The point is, adulting is making the decisions and standing prepared for the feedback.
Adulting is actively exercising your autonomy. Good or bad is up to you. I happen to know you, and have utter faith in your version of what good means, so I won’t lecture on that. Know you have my confidence, and you also have my respect and compassion when that goodness tilts or wobbles, because it might. I will adore you anyway, and your community will help you sort out a wobble if it happens. As hard as it is for some people to be honest about, I will be blunt and say—humans wobble. It is part of the journey.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten all the important things. I’m guessing I’ll think of something suitably useful and marginally brilliant only after I hit the send button, but that’s just how these things go, I guess. I hope you’re able to find some of this useful. Keep what works, and discard the rest. You know how to reach me for chats when there’s more talking to be had. I’m part of your community, always.
Perfection is overrated, and often at the expense of originality. Aesthetic beauty can be bought. That which is genuine has no price. Compassion and forgiveness neutralize nearly all inner turmoil. Dreams and visions are just realities that have yet to materialize for those who will love them into being. So, keep dreaming, keep loving.
And at the end of the day, this Universe is spiraling toward entropy—so don’t take it all so fucking serious. The joke is totally on us. Enjoy the ride.
Good luck to you, Firefly. Thank you for being ready and willing to take on the world for us who have so blithely bungled the whole of it. On behalf of all of us, I’m sorry for the mess you’re inheriting. That being said, I hope with all my heart you find the adventure of a lifetime in the process.
There is still room to sign up for my 2020 Planning Workshop. Class starts at 10am on the 19th, and includes lunch and supplies. We’ll be mapping out your goals and setting up an easy step method to get you to your dreams.
Shoot me an email for reservation information. email@example.com
In other news, I have already mapped out my year, and created continuation goals for the next three year. As most folks know, I LOVE JANUARY! Here’s a previous post on my adoration of mapping and goal setting.
I’m a geek for challenges and organization—so this month has been a deep dive into what I really want in the next few years, and how to go about achieving it all. I’ll post more on this after the workshop.
Also, stay tuned for more information on The Elder Glade Market.
New Elder Glade Menagerie Member: Dakota
In other news, I adopted a large German Shepherd/Husky mix this month. Her name is Dakota. She’s such a great animal; super patient, affectionate and gentle. Unfortunately, she’s currently at the vet with a series of issues. I’ll blog more on this as I’m able. It’s been a very emotional, stressful event, and I’ve been having a hard time finding words that are somewhat neutral and compassionate around the details.
Please say hello to Dakota!
This update is just a short and sweet check-in to get back on track. Please feel free to write in with requests for future content.
Have a lovely 2020, folks! Be safe—but dream big.
November this year brings a crisp morning chill, and the strange feeling that I’m forgetting something. Oh, right…I keep forgetting that I’m supposed to be taking a year off from Nanowrimo. You wouldn’t know it, but I really am taking this year off from the National Novel Writing Month. After fifteen years of participating, my writing clock still kicked in, and I find my fingers twitching for the keyboard. Although I’m not adhering to the Nanowrimo word count, I’ve been sitting down for regular writing session. As soon as the weather turned chilly, and the autumn sunrises took on a golden rosy hue…my internal programming triggered and story just had to happen. I’m not fighting it- I’m just going slow.
Taking it easy this year was a difficult decision. It was a much-needed slowdown and I’m really glad I’m not pushing myself to any breaking points on word count. That being said, with a lighter touch to the content caching I usually do in the month of November, I’ve been able to do some other projects and get caught up on a backlog of to-do items. Not to mention I was also able to spend some time outside, make a trip to Portland to see some of my Alaskan family, and put in some time at the sculpting table.
So, this month’s update is photo heavy. Here’s a gallery of goings on since my last update:
That’s all for the November 2019 mid-month update! See you next month, folks.
Well, it’s been a rough six weeks, but I’m back on my feet. It started out as a cold, then became a bronchial infection then walking pneumonia. Combined with external stressors it totally kicked my arse. Though I was down for the count for a full week of not being able to get out of bed at all, I was able to get some minor survival functions done on either side of that downtime.
Although I’m back up and moving, occasional coughing fits are still expelling demonic sludge from my lower lungs. Gross.
The good news is that I’m back to my regular schedule, and in the process of trying to get caught up on all the things I couldn’t stay on top of for the last month. The catch-up game sucks, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Today is the first day I’ve woken up feeling somewhat refreshed and human. And I can breathe!! I even made it through a shift yesterday without cough suppressant. Huzzah!
Anywhoo, enough about the slag.
While I was down for the count, I had plenty of time to think about my current predicaments. Narrowing survival down to one breath at a time will certainly put some things in perspective. Primarily, I kept wondering why I was trying so hard to fix problems that aren’t really my job to fix, and why I’ve somehow lost my creative perspective yet again.
Damnit all. How do I keep allowing my creative mission to be waylaid by minutia?
So I had a few days of being stuck in bed and grappling with the realization that I need to hand some things over to professionals and step back, then double down on my creative pursuits and get back to my healthy center and self.
What does all that mean?
In a nutshell, a re-org on my creative life, again. I do feel like each time I hit a refurbish and reorg point, I get a little closer to the nirvana of being a fully sustainable creativity engine. This time around I’m leveling up to a new support system. Simply having reached the point that I can no longer be an island of output—I need more of a team.
This is a massive development. A terrifying and big step in a growth direction.
Although I’m not sure what it will look like just yet, the probability of bringing on an intern or an assistant for my publishing and creative works is a real discussion.
Though the assistant conversation is bumping around in the noggin for the moment, there are more urgent needs to resolve first, such as getting fully healthy and back into the winter creative rhythm.
I wasn’t able to sit at my sculpting table very long the last few weeks, but I was able to pull my laptop in bed with me and knock out some work count. Almost fifty pages on the Xabien storyline made me realize the shift in weather is ratcheting up my writing urges. Sixteen years of settling in to bust out word count starting at the Autumn Equinox has developed an almost Pavlovian response to the autumn light change and the need to write feels pressing.
This brings me to a difficult decision: I will not be participating in Nanowrimo this year. It breaks a fifteen-year long streak, but I just don’t think I’m up to the stress and pressure of it this time around.
I’m still able to write and put out volume, but with everything on my plate—I just don’t think my health can take the strain. Too much going on this year.
Instead, I’ll be spending November getting caught up on editing and doing chapter splints on Plague of Gargoyles. I’ll be reading, resting, and getting my health back in line. I will likely still long into Nanowrimo.org and cheer on my peeps – but I won’t be going to write-ins or posting counts. Alas. It does make me a bit sad, but it just is what it is this year.
Since I’m not doing Nano, I did agree to participate one day at the Mooksville Book Festival in Tillamook, Oregon. The book fair is held annually at the Tillamook Museum. I'll be there November 16th, 2019. Stop by! I’ll see you there.
All in all, getting back to full-steam has been slow going, and to be totally honest, I don’t know if I want to be that level of full-steam anymore for a few months anyway. I’d kind of like my health and sanity to be a priority for a while. So, I’m making peace with the reality that this winter might not be as productive as my other winters. This might just be a slow, non-productive hibernation. Then when spring comes, I may need to hire help to level up and launch into a new creative platform. It’s food for thought, and I’ve got a few months to chew on that nugget.
I hope this mid-month update finds you all doing well, and enjoying the seasonal shift!