These last eight months have put nearly everyone in some kind of pinch point. The psychological pressures, strains, shifts in rhythms and patterns and the interruptions in resources—along with polarizing politics and the heightened push for awareness of human rights has left even the most logical and reasonable people at a loss for what to do.
Six months ago, I started a social experiment mostly out of curiosity, but also out of the desire to know the origins of what was coming across my feeds and why people were behaving so ridiculously on both sides. I wanted to know about the tricky algorithms on Facebook that were hijacking my news intake. Interestingly, the documentary “The Social Dilemma” released on Netflix a few months into my own experiment, which informed a shift in my engagements and helped me map the methods a little better.
I already knew I’d be dumping my Facebook account probably by the end of the year, but I wanted to know how the algorithms worked so I could use them later if I chose to market for one of my labels. Engagement was really the key.
Let me back up a bit to my first paid writing job. I was twenty years old when I was hired to write “rant/rave” columns. It was 1998, and I was so stoked to have a $30 check once a month for content that I didn’t ask any questions. (It turns out it was for an online porn magazine—which I discovered when I asked for a copy to put in my brag book) Anyway, I was hired to write (poorly) a column each month that would make people angry, argumentative, irritable, or reactive. “I piss people off every day! You mean I can get paid for it?”
I was paid to be a troll. I didn’t realize that’s what it was at the time. Mind you, we were still in the days of dialup and if I could make people angry enough to write in and stay online (seeing advertisements from the e-zine) long enough to spout replies—I was winning. True fact=I never once, not once, read the comments. Why? Why in god’s name would I stick around for that?
My job was to find trigger points, form an opinion, then drop the bomb and leave the room. That was it. Then I took my 30$ check and blew it on candy and movie rentals, since I wasn’t even old enough to drink yet.
I did it for about a year before the negativity really wore me down. It was exhausting trying to come up with a topic every month to piss people off—angry people, and being in a headspace to taunt them is tiring. I wanted to use my craft for more than trigger trolling. I wrote that we needed to legalize weed, tax the hell out of it and pay for education upgrades. I wrote that churches collecting tithing should also have to pay taxes. (And so on and so forth) All of it was aimed to polarize.
A year later I moved on to my first set of novels and the rest is history.
The point is this: word craft and storytelling are, by function, a form of connecting with the primal reactive points of the human experience. Whether that’s to educate, or control, manipulate or enlighten is really up to two factors; Intent and engagement.
Think of it this way. The dominant reactions will always boil down to FEAR and LOVE. It seems overly simplistic but there’s a plethora of fiber and energy in each one, right?
Love= trust, compassion, willingness, generosity, kindness, joy, fulfillment, openness, forgiveness and so on. Love embodies BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. Love also embodies the ability to empathize, see alternate viewpoints, and find compromise. Love attempts to understand, not control outcome.
Fear= distrust, withholding, stagnation, cruelty, unkindness, us vs. them, pulling back, anger, retaliation, being closed off, bitterness, stubbornness, anxiety, depression, rage. Fear embodies ASSUMED IGNORANCE and a baseline for battle readiness. Fear attempts to control outcome, not understand.
It’s simple, and yet not. Because we all have both within us at any given time on a number of topics; relationships, business, government, home, health, finances, and so on and so forth. PLUS, we bring to each argument the unhealed/unrecognized baggage of the topic from our previous experiences.
Remember the two factors that imbue communication—Intent and engagement?
Intent can be either love or fear and the resulting engagement will respond with either love or fear? Some of that is in response to the intent, and the rest is nearly 100% based a preconditioned emotional set-point.
As a paid trigger troll, my job was to find the language and set off that preconditioned set-point in order to keep people online longer, to keep them engaged. It didn’t matter if I made up facts. It didn’t matter if I pulled data out of my butt. The guy was paying me to write content that would keep people emotional. Dial-up = $$. Well, it did anyway. Now that $$ is in time spent scrolling, data mining and so on.
In 1998 it didn’t matter to me at all, at the tender age of twenty, that people were getting worked up, emotional or starting fights online over my content. It mattered that I had a paid writing credit, and that I could wander down to the market for candy and the lasted VHS new release. My thoughts were, “If they’re dumb enough to sit there and fight about it, that’s on them. I’ve got things to do.”
That experience was pivotal in later years as I learned yet more about emotional anchorage, and writing novels that pulled readers in. Toggling the love/fear switch in the human experience is what makes storytelling so gripping. If we don’t connect with the story, believe in the protagonists, get hooked into their adventure—it’s not a book worth reading, right? It’s not an idea worth championing. You put it down and walk away.
So what was the point of all this?
If I played the engagement part of the algorithms on Facebook correctly, my posts should now be showing up on 75% of my Facebook friends’ feeds. That was a lot of clicking, sharing, pushing, and triggering.
IF you are one of the friends who normally never comments on politics, or otherwise but somehow felt compelled to weigh in on my feed at some point in the last 6 months—chances are you’ve been stuck with my feed since. Gotchya! Not gloating…but maybe a little gloating.
If you’re one of the people who don’t believe intent/engagement are the primary factors of communication or that the love/fear part of the underlying motivations, or that it’s too oversimplified—keep in mind I’m now showing up on your feed because you responded to something I posted…good/bad/otherwise. You are part of that 75% matrix by design.
I will fully admit this was a shitty play. Not the way to use the Kung Fu magic of storyteller energy. However, in my paltry defense I’ll say this:
The surface appearance of cultural division in America is not quite as drastic as it may seem. In fact, this experiment has renewed much of my faith in my community and in humanity. I’ll get into all that in other posts, but for now I just wanted to let folks know, there was a reason to the madness.
Thank you all who trusted me to explain the strangeness. Thank you to all the private messages, notes, and emails expressing frustration and concern over things people were saying on my feed. I really appreciated the feeling of knowing I wasn’t an island. Thank you to all who took bait, weighed in, commented, chewed their own fingernails, bit back retorts, and generally held on for the ride. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your patience.
I sincerely hope the following posts expressing what I learned about our wider community and political divisions will be worth the strain and high blood pressure for you all.
As an aside: if you want OUT of the feeds and to block any further posts from my now that you know what I was up to there are two ways to shift your algorithm.
However, if you’re curious what I discovered or want to go a little deeper, just like, share, subscribe. It’s silly. I know—I’m using the same engagement principles to keep you reading as I did to get bumped into your news feed.
I never worried about the people who really know me wondering about what I feel, think, or believe. They already know me. They already know my general and consistent intentions. They already know my life’s work to this point.
But a few months of digging, triggering, pushing, and sitting in some pretty uncomfortable positions has led me to believe—as a whole, humanity is still pretty fucking awesome. I know it doesn’t seem like that when you’re burning through the scroll—but bear with me. Hang in a little longer, and if you’re able, grant me the benefit of the doubt.
My intent from this point forward is to show the love—if you can trust in my intent, let me show you what I’ve discovered.
To be continued….
This is also an excellent time to plug Gideon For-mukwai's book 'The SCIENCE of STORY SELLING".
Creativity Challenge Week of September 23, 2020
Your creativity mission, should you choose to accept it is: Alter just one pattern in your life for two days.
What does this mean? If means if you brush your teeth with your right hand, use your left hand for two days. If you wear the same jacket every day, wear a different article of clothing for two days. If you usually drink your coffee out of a special mug—use a different mug for two days.
Pattern interruption creates innovation gaps where new processes and energies can breathe into a new space.
What does altering one habit for two days do to you? Is it a major inconvenience? A breath of fresh air? A complicated challenge? Discovering how baked in your patterns are will reveal whether or not you feel locked out of new creative energy and mobility.
Respond by Monday the 29th at Noon PST with a written explanation of your attempt at shift and the result, if any, and receive 5 tickets to the giveaway cauldron!
It’s been a hairy month already, so I don’t have much to coherently update. Right about the time I put words together and makes sense of one thing, something else knocks me off balance. That said, I am okay. My home in the Elder Glade in Oregon is okay. The fires are a safe distance away, although the air is thick with smoke and it is sometimes a challenge to breathe or blink. (My eyes are raw from the air quality.) The power is back on, and air filters are running full time in the house.
I have been very lucky. So very lucky.
Dakota, Buttercup, and Furiosa are all okay. Unfortunately, my other cat, Pandora has gone missing, and I suspect the coyotes that have been coming into the yard. The wildlife has been confused, embolden and shifted in range by the fires.
This update is short and I’ll add more when I can. Please be safe out there, folks.
The morning chill means the autumn equinox is not far away. The change in light and the shift in bird song also means my creative season is here. It’s been a difficult year, and I’m not alone in the struggle. So, I’m hungry for the creative window, the time in studio and the healing that comes from building with my hands.
I suspect the challenges of this year will greatly influence my art and outputs, and I’m more than a little curious about what that will look like.
I’m also eager to get back to Aria and re-open Plague of Gargoyles and Tangle of Mermaids. I left my characters in such predicaments as to keep my brain hooked on processing their arcs even when I’m not writing. After months of hiatus and COVID19 worries, my brain is back onto the cliff hangers where I left some of my dearest in a state of impending doom—now I can’t wait to get back in there and in true storyteller fashion…make their situations even worse.
There is defiantly a case to be made that writers are really the villains of any story, since we must think of all the awful ways in which to torture our best characters for the entertainment of the masses (and ourselves).
Still, as Plague of Gargoyles and Tangle of Mermaids finally opens the throttle on The Pillars of Dawn series the volume and speed, the sheer force of the story is making it difficult to shape into narratives one book at a time. This has required me to open several works in progress simultaneously. It’s been a great, thrilling pleasure to open a new document titled: Chord of Leviathans. This will be the WIP (work in progress) I tackle this year for Nanowrimo 2020.
I once went horseback riding when the prancy energetic steed I was gingerly perched on (I am not a seasoned rider and the horse definitely knew it) decided to break away from the group and go for a blazing gallop toward the woods. I should have jumped—it would have been the wise thing to do. I panicked, dropped the reins and clung desperately to the pommel. Luckily, the lead rider of the group came to my rescue and raced to catch my horse.
After being whipped by branches, and saddle bruised and my heart thundering to the point of nausea—I was saved. By the time I slipped out of the saddle and sat heavily on the ground, legs shaking, I decided…that was a shit ton of fun! I didn’t walk right for days, and haven’t ridden since, but the rush of adrenaline and the feeling of flying makes me think fondly on that moment when I dropped the reins and just held on for dear life. That glorious moment when the future was out of my hands, but I was still along for the adventure.
That is how I feel when I’m writing The Pillars of Dawn. As these next two books pick up the arc and make a bolt for freedom, I sit at my desk, drop the reins and the story just---flies.
I’ll be saddle sore and breathless, maybe even shaky when it’s all over, but goddamn…what a fucking ride! I dearly hope readers will feel the same when they finish my books.
Anywhoo, I hope this update finds you all safe, well, and healthy.
Let the 2020 creative season begin.
Finally! The Patron-style memberships are open and live again HERE.
I tried to schedule a tier for every budget and need. Please feel free to leave feedback or suggestions. I'm excited to get back to collaborating with you all!
P.S. The Cauldron Giveaway for September is this adorable little driftwood and clay sculpture from my studio. If you sign up for a membership before September, I'll double your tickets in the cauldron for the giveaway.
42nd Note to Self
It would take a dozen pages to catch up the events of the year. Instead, I’ll just get to the good stuff. The priceless gem of learning for last year was this: you can’t plan for shit.
Don’t feel too bad, though. You were caught in the COVID19 roller-coaster loopy-loop along with seven billion other folks who all got motion sickness from the about-face, “pivot”, plot-twisting pretzel that has been the last six months. Good times. Pass the yammy bucket, will ya?
Add to that a much-needed, long overdue governmental uprising against injustices for POC and voila…powder keg meets long banked embers brought to life by months (generations, actually) of failed leadership and strained collapsing global paradigms.
The word for this year is “Woosh”. That is the sound of the old world dying in a blaze of innovative transformation and the necessary release of everything that’s no longer working.
Just like that—whoosh—the new stage is being set. Change is coming in whether you or the generations before you are ready for it or not. All you could say was, “It’s about goddamn time.”
Change--the only constant. The only truly reliable element of story, of life, and of this world.
Change is the only measure of how far we’ve come, and what we’ve made of ourselves.
You can plan for change, or change can be thrust upon you, but change will happen. A stagnant character is a dead character. A stagnant infrastructure is an outdated infrastructure. A stagnant government is a relic that only realizes its antiquated worn-out relevance at the pace of revolution. History is a jagged path of this very truth—evolve or perish. Change with the need and times or become a passing footnote.
Athena, you don’t really fear change. Change usually brings with it a flush of excitement, a burst of new inspiration, a glimpse of glimmering possibilities that will push a vision one step closer to reality. Sure, it took a while to get to this level of comfort with change, but now you can see it for what it is.
Change is the life breath of story, and love is the impetus of that change.
(Fear is the antithesis of change; fear of discomfort, fear of evolution, fear of losing privilege/power/wealth/or standing. Fear breeds stagnation. Fear emboldens the grip, energizes the hold and forces ego to dig deep and put up the dukes to fight for the status quo.)
Aside from status quo being woefully overrated, you already know that love is the key to long, healthy, vibrant social collaboration and meaningful evolution.
So while all this is going on in the outer world beyond your bubble—you’ve had to rethink, re-wonder, re-balance, re-work, and re-imagine what you can bring to this newly shifting world on the other side of your forested tree line.
What can you contribute? What can you bring to the new table? What can you offer to the cause of change? What do you have in you to give?
But it doesn’t stop there—what have you been reluctant to change in your internal world as well? What have you hung your heart/ego/identity on? What have you clung to out of fear?
You sat with these questions for a month before writing the 42nd Note to Self, and the answers surprised you; because all change begins from within.
To bring in the love, the change, the evolution—you must first allow it in. You must first cultivate it within you.
But the global COVID health crisis, a massive movement to support a change in leadership, support people of color and end police brutality, the supply chain food imbalances, education malfunctions, wealth imbalances in times of extreme hardship, attacks on the most vulnerable citizens of your extended community, and even the fucking toilet paper shortage were like…OVERLOAD.
You’re not alone. Overload has hit millions of people, and the election is just a few months away. People, including yourself, are buried by all the feels and distress of 2020 blowing up like a campground outhouse.
And what did you do during this time of empathic, emotional, mental overload—you decided to start dating. Woman, what the hell is wrong with you? People are dying. People are being hit with gas canisters for chanting peacefully against the Gestapo—and you decide it’s time for some romance?
Maybe you decided romance is the best way to balance out all the ick, the hate, the raw disgust bubbling up for the human race? Maybe it’s that you need a bright point in your life to outshine and guide through this sense of impending darkness and an overload that is threatening to pull you under. I don’t know, Athena, your love life timing has always been a tragic comedy, even in the best of times. So, I’ve stopped asking about your reasons when matters of the heart and romance pop up for evaluation. It’s always as if the Universe lobs a Valentine’s box of chocolates in your general, but not specific direction at the most inappropriate moments. The joke always seems to be on you, Lady.
Anywhoo, whether your romance clock is related to this farcical shit-show or you’re desperately trying to find some part of the human story to relate to, connect with, and hold on to—something worth saving—you’re suddenly finding yourself in a discombobulated dreamy adoration of the concept of love while the city you adore is under government siege just over the mountain.
I’ll say it again, your timing is a goddamn mystery.
You’ve started doing weird shit, like, buying yourself bouquets, clearing out a space in your closet for “his” clothes (whoever the hell he is AND whenever the hell he is), practicing your favorite recipes to share, and planning a set of exploratory adventures…sure, you’ll do all those adventures alone if you must, you’ve done it happily solo for more than a decade. But this feels different. You’re consciously making space. Actively preparing room. You can feel him coming toward you, like the advanced wake from a boat in the lake. It feels like you don’t have much time left, right?
From the outside it seems like you’re bound and determined to find something, someone worth adoring when you’re losing faith in humanity by the second. What is that about? Is this some Jungian transference? Also—it’s not fair to put that kind of pressure on another human being—the—show me people are worth saving pressure. Remind me that we can be amazing together when we choose to do things consciously, fairly, and in partnership.
Who’s fucking got time to be your reminder, your spark, Athena? Every person on this rock is carrying their own overload. If you haven’t noticed, the world is breaking.
This is your 42nd Note to Self, your annual birthday letter.
Athena, do it yourself. BE THE SPARK YOU’RE LOOKING FOR.
Stop waiting to be stirred into the memory of humanity’s greatest capacity to love—and BE the one who gives it. Share it. Put it out there. Be the light.
Don’t wait around for someone else to re-kindle your faith in people—go be the fucking ignition point for others.
You don’t actually need to be reminded. If you think about it, you already know that humanity is amazing, and has the capacity for the most incredible feats of valor. One of those super-human abilities is to LOVE IN A TIME OF CRISIS, to bond in a time of emergency, to build in a time of collapse, to unite in a time of disparity.
This mystery timing of your heart awakening, trying to build a space for romance is really just your humanity TRYING TO COME FORWARD. You’re acting out a space, making room and reaching because you deeply desire to be your best self, to be the best capacity of human you can be—and it’s manifesting in this romantic hunger to connect in order to bring you proof not of your faith in humanity being justified but FAITH IN YOURSELF, in your own magical frail vulnerability.
Facepalm. Woman, you always seem to go about it all backward….
You want someone to give all this to, someone you can pour the last best pieces of yourself into before you disappear, washed away by the change in tides.
Well, now I see the timing thing. It’s primal. The timing is terribly inconvenient. The urge to make tribe, summon your pack, build unity, encapsulate the elevated and beautiful parts of relationship before you feel like it can all be buried by the darker aspects of the human race’s egregious, active examples of their worst traits---those are not good enough reasons to suggest a romantic entanglement, are they?
To build a pocket of something charmed and wondrous? To tuck into another human with the same sense of justice, the same sense of responsibility to do better, be more, create with more compassion, awareness, and courage. Is it wrong to want to weave your strengths to someone else’s strengths to make something even more powerful?
No, it’s not wrong. It’s human. You’re realizing that you’ve been an island for years; many many years. This turmoil in the world is reminding you of your breakability—and you want to use your humanness to its designated best capacity…loving another human being.
You want to release your fear, and embrace change. This willingness to find true partnership is where you’ve held back, resisted, found excuses, skirted the possibilities or flat out run away from connections. Nearly every Note to Self for the last fifteen years has begged you to take this risk…and you’ve kept dodging it. You’ve kept finding reasons to delay.
Now, when the chips are down, you are realizing that your strongest human trait is the very thing you’ve avoided for years. Ah, shitballs, of course it had to be the one thing you’ve been stepping over to get to your goals for the last fifteen years.
So, forty-two, huh? I guess now is as good a time as any…world on fire and all that….
Athena, you fundamentally understand that love needs to be cultivated within in order for it to be expressed. So, do some of that. You understand that choosing a single human to shower your love upon is wonderful, yes, but love can also be showered upon a cause, a people, a community, a craft, and a tree.
Bring the romance, sure. But give it away…all of it. If he’s not stepping forward to match you in the dance, your true match—put all that energy into the space you have been preparing for him. Put all that energy into your community, your family, friends, readers, and so on and so forth. If he’s not showing up—radiate what you’re building within, because there are people out there who need it as badly as you do. Go ahead and summon your pack, build your tribe, unite your like minds and create together.
Who knows, he might just be caught in traffic. He could be held up in a line at the flower shop. Maybe he doesn’t know you’re talking TO him, FOR him, ABOUT him. Don’t sweat it. He’ll figure it out or he won’t. Your mission goes on whether he’s in step with you or not.
Keep to the mission.
And the mission is to be the light, give the light, share everything with the world as if your world is your lover, partner, best friend and dearest collaborator.
Only when we treat each other with the passionate acceptance and loving care we’d give our other half, ourselves, and our family are we going to see the shift in global community that is so long overdue. Only then will faith in humanity be restored.
People can be magical. Be magical. Humans can be courageous. Be courageous. Humanity can be noble, kind, loving. Be everything you want to see, feel, know about the species that you are.
You are a born lover, Athena. Stop running from it, and put your heart into it. I suspect even you, a highly imaginative writer, will be surprised by the outcome—even you won’t be able to make that kind of enchanting story up.
P.S. That feeling of the wake coming toward you, ripples in the ether of a boat on the lake…maybe that’s just your ship finally coming in. Maybe it’s not about another human being at all, but about you reaching another elevation in your self-expression, your work, and your connection to the world. Maybe that ship has been headed your way for decades and you’re just now sensing that you need to be able to take your learnings and prepare to board for a new journey. It’s easy to mistake that for feelings of love and romance—but who’s not to say they aren’t one and the same? You’re coming to harbor within yourself—which transforms you into an anchorage for others. It’s been a long time coming so, enjoy it.
P.P.S Hey, just an idea, but maybe next year we can work on having a shorter learning curve, and a more concise letter? Food for thought.
It seems weird to be doing a mid-month update of intensely personal evolution even as the world is burning with much larger and more important issues to tackle. That being said, I don’t have the energy today to dig into those larger issues, so I’m updating with the lighter more frivolous goings on.
I realize this will come as a shock to longtime followers, but I’ve decided to start dating again. I know. Long story short, I started to peel the Band-Aid back, then figured…to hell with it, the world is on fire. So, I just ripped the bandage and…whoa, the flood gates opened.
Go figure. The most action or interest I’ve had in five years happens to be during a worldwide pandemic and under self-quarantine orders. It just goes to show my love life has the most epic crap timing. Then again, if you’ve been with me since the BlissQuest days, you already knew this. Also, turns out, dating via zoom is not awful. It’s rather nice, actually. So much less strain or stress involved. I dig it.
I started saying yes. I started reaching out to those I'm interest in. I dipped my toe in the water and my leg wasn’t chewed off by piranhas, so I guess I’ll keep saying yes for a bit and see what happens; see where it goes.
With all that, there’s a lot to unpack in the shift from considering leaving the woods for human relationships again. I won’t be leaving the woods for anything less than fucking spectacular, obviously. Yet I do recognize that my self-imposed hermitage is coming to an end. It’s in the air, the stars. I feel it when I’m casting. There’s a shift in the tone of light. It’s time.
It’s been tough to explain to men why I opted for hermitage. Either they assume I’m a man hater and was driven to isolation and seclusion by some awful experience and I must be damaged in some way (don’t worry, if I pick up that vibe from them I just quietly move along), or they seem to lump me into a female Unabomber category and stupidly ask if I own a gun. (Yep, I move along from those as well.) No less than five dudes in the last 30 days have asked me if I own a gun. Seriously guys, fuck off about asking a single woman who lives alone in the woods if she’s armed. It's hella creepy.
So, explaining hermitage seems like it should be relatively simple—turns out, it’s been more of a hurdle than I imagined. While I’ve explained myself more than I should or need to, it boils down to this statement that I’ve finally just made my go-to phrase to stop the question from being a thing: “I live where I have absolute peace and creative freedom. The world doesn’t come to me, I go to the world when I want something.”
I can see the glazed, blank expressions, and can usually tell right away if that made sense…and if it doesn’t, we’re not a match on the level of expectations for quality of life. I say thank you, and move on.
It’s been illuminating, really. Less so about men in general, most men are what they are, but mostly about what MY actual intentions are. Up until recently, I had no intentions around dating and or relationships. I had my hands and brain full of creativity and craft, and surviving the forest, there wasn’t time/energy/interest in dancing around the relationship topic. It started around January; a slow creeping shift in the season of quietude. Huh.
Stranger still, it became more urgent just before the quarantine. Then, woosh…the sensation of readiness to engage became a space of intense forced reflection. Serious self-reflection and deep shadow work. The kind of #shadowwork I haven’t dug into in a decade or more, so I was long overdue. I’m grateful I had the time to reflect that deeply in a space that allowed the kind of safety to really go into the realms. When I finally came back up for air the truth was a bright, burning glare.
My continued expansion, growth, and evolution is now at the point where true partnership and reflection in a union is the next phase of personal evolution.
The truly shitty part of this is, I can stay happily fulfilled, full of joy and freedom and bliss out here in my bubble, but I recognize there will be a limit on my expansion. It will be a level of happiness, true. It will be joyous and I’ll love it, true. But I am unlikely to go beyond this point of blissful expansion in my heart or energetic realm by myself.
BUT I’M SO HAPPY! So, what’s the harm in just staying as I am? Staying happy? Staying Free? Staying creative?
There is no harm in maintaining this contented space. Happiness has been a hard-won prize, it came at great cost, but I know now that I will always have it. I can always obtain it on my own. What I don’t know if I can do yet, it obtain it while in a partnership…that’s a bit trickier. Furthermore, as I work to understand personal story, community story, tribe and relationships in general—how do I deepen those understandings if I am approaching them from the place of being an island?
Gah! I feel stretched between two worlds. I suppose that’s what coming out of the wood and into the light is, really. One foot in the ethereal realm of creative immersion, driven by the urge to finally connect, share, grow—but reluctant to give up the security that is self-reliance and personal connection to being a wholly empowered individual.
My brain says, nope! My heart says, yes please! Bring the adventures! There’s a lot of wobbling back and forth between yep-nope-yep-nope-yep-nope.
Essentially, I don’t expect to be good at this right away. I’m flinchy and a little feral. I’m struggling to make sense of the scope this toe-dip will make to my story as a whole. I can’t see the big picture completely, yet. I’m still defining what I want and what I’ll willingly engage with. So—to practice, I’m saying yes to invitations. I’m sending invitations out. I’m sifting through the experiences to decide what will make my heart and mind align in a solid forward momentum toward a true partnership.
I’m looking for that connection that will excite me enough to release that last bit of stubborn grip on this old phase and charge forward delightedly to the next adventure with them.
I already know that nothing less than a sense of true partnership will interest me. I’d rather just keep my stasis in the woods and maintain my happy space. Only a leap for something beyond that is going to lure me out, so I’m trying to understand what that will look like so I can articulate it well, and look for it specifically when asking people out.
Yes, I do the asking when I’m interested. I’m not a wilting violet waiting breathlessly to be chased. I’ve got shit to do, and worlds to build. I get on with the getting it on. That’s adulting at its finest, yo. (Also, true partnership recognizes initiative is taken by whomever gets there first, right? Or…whomever rolls the best on 10D….)
DM never said “roll for initiative” but really meant, only guys can take that initiative. So, if I’m stepping out-- I’m doing it with my hands on my dice pack, and my chin up.
Like I said, a weird mid-month update considering the world as it is. For folks who’ve been following for some time, I imagine this is something you knew I needed long before I did. Thanks for not rubbing that in. I’m getting to it in my own sweet time, apparently, and by my own unorthodox strategy. (I even signed up for a matchmaking service. I know. I know.)
As I mentioned on Instagram, I usually don’t post the deeply personal nature of shadow work or my sketchbook where I work these concepts out. But in the spirit of this world needing what feels like a bit more acknowledgement that shadow work needs to be done, and deep personal development is both vulnerable and difficult—these are the two sketches from my notepad that define this internal transition as I’ve come to the awareness of being open to possibilities of partnership and creative emotional collaboration.
The first: The Hanged Man/ Hermit tarot card prompts of retreating to the woods to do the work. Chrysalis.
The second: The Sun/Death/Judgment tarot card prompts for returning to the world to collaborate with community, lovers, and friends. Grow Forth and Collaborate with Magic
Essentially, by the time I finished the second sketch, my mental/emotional reality had shifted and I knew the hermitage phase was closing out even though I have no idea what the next phase will actually look like or how it will come about.
Shadow work leaves you raw and exhausted, that’s why it’s work. But the final product is relief, optimism, and a new sense of freedom. It just so happens in this case, that freedom is dancing with the idea of combining superpowers with another human being.
#shadowwork #tarot #elderglade #dating #gettingbackoutthere
I know it’s not your usual birthday Note to Self, but the world is a bit of a tipsy dervish, and you’ve managed to get yourself turned about. You’ve been shuffling around in your worst pajamas, the set you wouldn’t even let your sisters see you wearing. You’ve been going in circles. You hate circles.
Four weeks of trying to buck up, make the best of it, pull up your big girl panties has resulted in a puffy wine face and a salt hangover from snacking your way through the uncertainty. Woman, seriously, get ahold of yourself. You have work to do.
I’m going to get real with you, because I know you can take it. You smell funny. Like dankish fear and propped-up optimism, mixed with Pringles and a vodka chaser. You look like hell, and your house is a mess. Go brush your goddamn teeth. Then get back to your desk, you’ve got work to do.
If a planet hurtling through space at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour could hit a pothole and knock our global heads against the dashboard, Earth did just that about a month ago. Sure, there were signs posted and a flagger waving, “Slow Down!” but we won’t get into that just now. A bad case of collective whiplash and a devastatingly harsh body count later--we’re all feeling it. The galactic pothole, COVID19 was scheduled for maintenance decades ago, but due to budget constraints had been declassified to a low probability nuisance.
But that’s the way it is with the things we choose to believe will not catch up to us, right? Centuries of crimes against the environment and mistreatment of the very planet that sustains us. Hundreds of years of financial inequality, disparity, mis-distribution of resources, wealth, and opportunity. THOUSANDS of years of inhumanity against our fellow man.
Mankind has been scheduled for a renovation for millennia—and we are being asked to start paying up, or be prepared to forfeit our long-term plans. That includes you, Athena.
Understandably the sudden loss of routines, of “normal”, of security and what we thought we knew about our world has been shocking. People, like yourself, wandered around in their underpants for weeks. Not hours. Not days. Weeks. The scope of the shift was just too much to process any faster. Be kind to them, and to yourself. They’re working it out as fast as they can.
Healthcare workers are throwing themselves on the grenade of our collective willful ignorance, our refusal to face the possibility that our history would repeat itself while we were busily setting up a house of cards, and placating a mad emperor. Nurses and doctors are taking the full force of the impact so that we can plan our return to the way things were…any day now.
But Athena, you already know you can’t go back. Maybe that’s why you bumbled around in your super hero underroos for a few extra days. You can never go back. You already know it. But you don’t know exactly how or where to go from here.
You’re not alone. Millions of people on this planet have been jogged; tooth-rattling, brain-jiggling, make your eyes water, and your heart rhythm skip kind of trauma.
Lives have been lost. Money, jobs, careers, relationships, families, residences, present and future plans, and even dreams are lost in the shakeup that is forcing yourself, along with every living and aware human on this globe to ask—what do I actually value? What is worth saving?
In the last four weeks you’ve seen hundreds of stories of human brilliance, kindness and ingenuity. You’ve witnessed creative problem solving, epic spiritual and emotional transformations, borderless unification of peoples, sharing of content, supplies, funds, efforts, and a scale of community support that has, to date, only been imagined in the cinematic performances and portrayals of the human potential to rally against adversity at its very best.
It’s no longer the fictional stuff of movies—proof that humans are capable of coming together in a dazzling presentation of real-life collaboration has been staggering, beautiful, and inspiring.
A good three days were spent on your couch weeping, and marveling at how fucking amazing people can be. Gratitude for the kindness friends and family showed to you. Gratitude for the love and care others were showing for each other. Gratitude for all the things. Seriously. You wept over all the things because the gratitude truck ran you over, then backed up just to make sure it got you a few more times.
But now the shock is wearing off, and the gratitude has soaked into your bones, and you know you can’t go back to the way things were.
Prior to COVID19 you were just a waitress, a storyteller, and a homesteader. You were a hermit in the woods with a dream of one day being self-sustainable not because you thought you’d need to be, but because you wanted the challenge to see if you could do it. You thought homesteading and serving beer part time would give you the room you needed to finish your books.
But suddenly the way forward seems murky. What seemed terribly important two months ago seems so foolishly irrelevant now.
You’re not the only one going through an identity disruption. Millions of people are asking themselves why they were in jobs they hated, relationships that drained them, health patterns that were slowly killing them, and why, why, why did they give all their joy away to someone/something/a way of being that didn’t actually make them happy.
Millions of people are suddenly asking themselves what they truly want.
You knew you were lucky before, and more so now. You also know with that kind of luck comes the responsibility to reach out, give back, do what you can.
Writing and storytelling will never stop being part of your life. You’ll still be working your books and land because you love it so damn much. But HOW you do it has to change.
Athena, you and everyone else on this spinning rock are going to have to elevate. You’re going to have to innovate. You’re going to have to find better ways to do things, safer, more ethical, more conscious, more humane, more aware ways of participating in this community that is now, inarguably, one people.
You can’t pretend it doesn’t matter anymore. You can’t pretend you don’t have time, or energy, or will. You can’t use the excuse that you don’t know better—because now you do.
Athena, this Emergency Note to Self is to tell you that you must evolve. (And for the love of God, go take a shower.)
Evolve and elevate. You can no longer push along, get around to it, wait for the opportune moment, plan for it after a vacation window, or do it when there’s a good alignment in the sky.
Your alignment is now. It is right this very NOW.
You might not have a clear plan yet, but one is forming. It’s okay to not know exactly what to do. It’s okay if you’re not precisely on the mark the first few tries. What’s important is that you start trying, start doing things a little different. Try a new method, sort out the values.
Throw those ratty old pajamas in the burn bin and don’t look back. Get up. Go to your laptop and write. You’re a storyteller, it’s what you do. It’s what you LOVE to do. Do it because it’s the thing in your life that’s worth saving—the only thing you’ve really got of value to give to whomever needs it.
There is always room around your campfire, always enough room for one more. Put another log on the embers, and pass out the drinks. Then do what you do best.
Just put your hands on the keyboard and love.
Too much time alone in my head is drumming up old, long-buried memories and daydreams. The world is struggling to breathe, literally. I’ve been looping in my mind, as I’m sure many folks have. Looping, puttering. going in circles, grieving, ranting, drifting helplessly, firing off ideas, trying to reach out, then crawling back under the covers to stare at the ceiling.
Old daydreams. The fantasies that sustained me when I was a girl are bubbling up. It could be the shift in planets, or the restless mental wanderings—but much of what I thought I’d forgotten keeps blindsiding me at the most random times.
My plan in the early years (at age 15) was to travel the world and write. At the time I was a teenager in love with my high school sweetheart, and I assumed that future would include him somehow. I told him wild yarns of how we’d buy an old castle in Scotland, and raise a bunch of orphans. He was in, too. Like, he totally went along with my ramblings and ideas of setting up an orphanage in the Highlands where I could write my books and he could work on his music. We’d travel and explore (probably finding kids all over the world to bring home), then return to the castle part of the year and tend to our creations.
Ah, the idle daydreams of youth. We didn’t know it at the time, but at roughly that same moment in history, J.K Rowling was being inspired on a train to tell a story about a young magical orphan named Harry, and a wondrous wizarding school in a Scottish Castle. Go figure.
The more I began to realize my high school sweetheart never planned on leaving Alaska, the more I began to realize the castle orphanage was a silly idea. I couldn’t do it alone. Time and heartbreak do funny things. Desperation and survival make tough decisions. Life at that time was unsteady and we lived in a kind of poverty that gives middle-class folk the hives. So as reality began to set in and my relationship with him ended, the plan morphed.
I would travel the world, write, and have affairs with interesting rich men so I could keep on moving. Keep moving, keep outrunning the losses. Of course, all that planning went to shit as well with a very young marriage to my older fencing instructor and a decade of lost time.
Is it lost though? I ask myself as I find these memories tumbling me over and over like a laundry puff cycle. Where did this reminiscing even come from?
When I only have a few minutes of internet access, and I find myself looking for castles for sale in Scotland…well, it seems like a strangely lopsided full circle.
I gave up the idea of kids. I gave up the idea of having a family. I’m more of a protector than a nurturer, after all. I gave up the idea of being able to look out for anyone, because I could barely take care of myself and didn’t want to put anyone else through the grief and misery of the struggle if I couldn’t provide adequately for their safety and needs. I couldn’t do that to another human being. Right? Who does that?
But this idle time, this puttering and wandering in circles punctuated by moments of active gratitude and thankfulness has made me realize—I’m okay. I’m actually okay. More importantly, I have a lot to give back, a lot to offer. And that maybe, just maybe, it’s time to re-evaluate what I can provide.
A slow, like uber slow, realization has been surfacing about my life choices and where I’m at currently.
Sure, I traveled, and had affairs with rich men. Some of it was even fun. Unfortunately, a lot of it was, well, tedious. Sure, I was able to keep moving for a while, and I outran the losses like the best of them… but eventually I needed an anchorage, a harbor, and so I bought a cottage in the woods and rooted.
Only just now have I realized: I’ve been playing out the fantasy of my childhood on a very economic and achievable scale. For my budget, I’ve been doing precisely what I dreamt of when I was fifteen.
Instead of a castle in Scotland, I opted for the second, more affordable choice of a cottage in the wilderness. Instead of a pack of orphans that I may or may not be able to provide for, I’ve collected instead, orphaned animals. All my animals are castaways, rescues, or giveaways. (Pandora was the only surviving kitten in a bag thrown onto the highway, and so on.)
I live in my makeshift castle and write my books and build my creations, and take care of my orphans. I did precisely, just smaller scale, what I said I would do 25 years ago.
Now, I realize from the outside it doesn’t look like the same thing AT ALL. And I will say, it’s true, it’s not the same exact thing. It’s the closest to it that I could muster on my own with the options that were available at the time. It has provided the feeling of being able to nurture, provide, and be creative.
For purposes of knowing how manifestation and energy resonance works, it’s important to recognize the FEELING of completions, and the realizations of manifestation coming into reality in a way that fulfills the intent of the daydream, or the intent of the feeling. There is so much powerful gratitude in knowing, feeling, and being in a place that I had wanted—or close to it. In fact, when I began to believe early on that a castle in Scotland was just not a reasonable request—I began to imagine instead a cottage in the woods. I altered the desire to something more obtainable, or at least, what I believed was obtainable. I visualized this property so clearly that when I stumbled upon it five years later, I made an offer the same day.
The point of all this is to affirm to myself as the world seems to be going wonky and I am thankfully well situated, that this was not an accident. I set this up years ago. I was more or less compelled to reach this point. Moreover, the awareness that my life and my heart still have room to give and offer, it’s time to evaluate what exactly I want to daydream next.
The feeling of being able to take care of and support my tiny little menagerie, and my little square of land as given me the courage to realize I may be able to provide for more. That as the world rebalances itself, I need to be thinking of what I can give and to whom I can give it when the time comes. There will be many in need. What will I be abundantly able to offer?
Dad, don’t get excited, but there may be an orphan or two involved. I dunno, maybe I’ll start out small and try a goat or a miniature pony first to make sure I don’t mess anything up.
I don’t think I’m the only one going through the spin cycle and ruminations. I think millions of people derailed from their daily routines, habits, and even their work scenarios are suddenly caught in these loopy old re-runs.
They are re-examining their choices. Are they happy with where they ended up?
Did they give up love for careers and vice versa? Family for money, or travel for stable homes? Did they give up passionate dreams for success, or freedom for security? Where did they deviate from the plan? Did it work out for better or worse?
When life returns to normal…do they/we want to go back to the way things were?
I’m just one of millions re-thinking, re-evaluating, weighing out the tallies. It’s fair to say when I’m evaluating my current situation, all worldly grief and loss aside, I’m happy with my life choices and where I tumbled out of the rollercoaster. I hope most people can say the same.
These last three years have been the happiest years of my life, and up until now I couldn’t figure out why. I’m fulfilled, and ready for more. While there’s guilt in feeling okay when there are so many who are not, there’s gratitude in knowing I will have extra to offer. I’m challenged and still learning. I’m creative and have a constant outlet. I have my freedom, my community, and my dreams have all been scaled to fit this nifty little plot of land and nurture this tiny bubble of bliss, with extra left to share.
I’ve come full circle…so what’s next?
Seems like a margarita, a hammock, and some new daydreams are in order.