Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fighting against Fake News

We live in an era where we can't trust news sources.  A big part of this is because so many people share 'news' stories that aren't actual news at all.  Anything at all can be stated, video'd, photo'd or written, and so many people believe everything they encounter, and pass that information along as if it were Truth. 

But worse (in my opinion) is when people or companies deliberately publish fake stories to push their own agenda.  There are so many sources that we expect to be accurate that simply aren't, and this is creating a very real problem in our society.

Because many people base their ideas and opinions on what they think are facts, and it makes them have a very skewed perspective of what is actually going on in the world.  I think this is becoming much more apparent in the past couple of years, as fake news is being called out, and more people are starting to realize that just because a source claims to be a 'news' source (be it paper, digital or video), doesn't mean that the news they are reporting are accurate and unbiased.

Sadly, this is not a new phenomena.  We have been the subject of fake news pretty much as long as there has been news.  Sometimes, this is as simple as a reporter putting their own spin on a story...they may report the facts, but they flavor them in such a way as to imply a completely different meaning.  But sometimes it is flat out changing the facts. 

As Pagans, I think we have been aware of this effect because of how our own history is often remembered.  We have learned to go digging, to seek out multiple sources, and to question how things are remembered and recorded.

These are skills that serve us today!  As we encounter the many different news stories and information sources, we need to put those critical thinking skills to work.  Even when the news reports accurately, there may be other facts, other information, or other sides to the story that aren't being reported.  I believe we owe it to ourselves, and to each other, to not only determine if the news we are hearing is true, but to try to see the bigger picture surrounding it.

I've seen quite a few reminders, in this past week, to fact check before sharing things on Facebook.  Let's face it, memes spread like wildfire.  If someone posts a sensational image or headline, it gets shared by hundreds of people who just hit that share button without even considering checking to see if it is even remotely true.  I've seen some really crazy stuff being spread as if it were Truth!

But I think that it is also important that, once we determine that a particular meme or piece of news is fake, that we spread that, just as we might have spread the fake news.  We are all in this society together, and the more people who are seeing only fake news, the worse off we are, as a global community.

Think of the vast numbers of people who firmly believe all the things that this or that politician are spouting off on their podium!  The amount of crazy that is being passed around as Truth boggles my mind.  And I think a big part of why this spreads the way it does is because we don't have the same intensity for disproving things as we do for just getting angry at things that push our buttons.

It is much easier to see something, become inflamed by it, and pass it along.  Not only do we like to share things that rile us up, but we often have to pipe in our two cents as well.  We are coming from a place of anger or frustration, so we aren't being very logical.  If someone comes up with an opposing viewpoint, we may be inclined to not want to listen, to just shout and rant louder, because we perceive the situation to be dire.

I feel like uncovering and then sharing the truth is a form of magic and a form of resistance.  Words have power, and the less we let our opponents use their lies and propaganda to keep the masses blinded, the more we can work towards true change!

And I am not just saying this from a "I want my side to win, and I think Truth is on my side..." perspective.  I would much rather live in a world where I know what is real and what isn't, even if the reality isn't my idea situation.  Because when everyone's eyes are open, it is much easier to explain our perspective.  If people can't see what is actually going on in the world around them, it is almost impossible to change their mind and perspective, because they literally don't believe that what you are saying could be true.

I am guilty of this, just like the next person.  I often see things that I know aren't true, but I might not feel like doing anything about it right then.  Or I wonder if posting an alternative perspective would make other people think less of me.  But I try.  I try to shine light into the darkness, to illuminate the illusions that corrupt people are hiding behind and to share a little more understanding and truth into the world.

If we live in a culture of memes and headlines, perhaps we need to fight fire with fire!  Make memes that express your truth.  When you fact check something, find the best headline you can that represents what is actually going on, and share that.  When you find yourself start to go on a rant....stop and examine the opposite perspective from yours...does it have any validity?

Sometimes we can be brave and share our story.  But sometimes we aren't ready or aren't safe enough.  If you can't share your own words, find someone else's words who echo what is in your heart and share those!

So many times, it's been said that social media is just a cesspool of negativity, and that in order to be healthy we should avoid it.  But we don't have to!  We can instead fill it with positive images, uplifting words, heart-touching stories.  I work very hard to keep more beautiful things in my news feed than ugly ones.

But I don't think we need to shy away from the Truth, because sometimes it is hard, ugly or painful.  Truth has it's value, and needs to be shared, but we don't need to only focus on the rough places.  Traditional news sources spend almost all their time reporting tragedies.  The front page or headline story is typically something gut-wrenching, because that is what grabs your is sensational.  We have been trained to look for the bad things, and to stop and stare when we see them.  And yet there are lots of wonderful and amazing things going on every day, all around us!  Imagine what a different world we would live in if we gave as much attention to the positive as we do to the negative.

I think we need truth.  I think that we need transparency.  I firmly believe the world would be a better place if all the facts were out on the table and people could start to agree on what IS....and from there we can work on how we want things to be.  Because we can't create the world we want if we don't first start from where we are.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Magic: the Art of acting with Intent

Sometimes, I have moments where my brain gets stalled out by an idea.  It can be the strangest things or the most basic.  Yesterday, I was sitting down to plan out my First Quarter moon, and I knew I wanted to do some kind of magic to help with my goals, and I had one of those moments.

I didn't want to do the 'same old, same old' basic things that it feels like I am always dong:  candle magic, sigil magic, talisman bag, visualization.  I think it can be easy to fall into a rut and to have our default types of actions that we rely upon.  But I also think this can lead to stagnation, and to disinterest.  I personally find that the more times I have done something, the exact same way, the more likely I am to just go through the motions, and not actually devote the proper attention to it.  Which, in the case of magic, means I'm not actually doing it.

It was fairly early in the day, and I wasn't quite awake yet, as I was sitting to plan.  So when I decided I wanted to DO something, but not the things I typically do, I froze.  I sat there, staring off into space for some time, and it was like I couldn't think of what I could possibly do.

Which made me really stop and think.  It's not like I don't know all kinds of things that I could do, spells or rituals that could be used to aid my pursuits.  But in that moment, my mind was questioning what magic really was.

This is a question I don't think is explored enough.  I've mentioned before, that when I was first learning (about two decades ago now...) this was a topic that was explored more.  Books that I read talked about why actions were done, and not just explaining why certain things related to other things and were therefor used in a particular spell, but really the basics of why we did spells at all.

And it all comes back to acting with intent.  This concept has been put into different words by many different people.  It has been explained as Will (with a capital W), when we are acting in accordance to our true Will (and not just our whim of the moment).  It has also been called inspired action, where we are listening to the inspiration of the divine and acting with that guidance. 

But I think it's less about why you do things and more about how.  Both of these other explanations imply that if you aren't acting for some higher good (or guided by a higher power), then your actions are some how less worthy.  And while I definitely feel that we need to listen to what our deeper self is telling us, in a purely functional sense, magic doesn't care what your intention is, just that you have one.

And this is where action with intent comes in.  When we do magic, we are doing some kind of action, with the conscious intention that it will work towards whatever our goal is.  What makes magic such an amazing art form is that it doesn't matter what action you use, or what intent you have, you can create magic that will work for you.

I think there is a tendency to want all the bells and whistles.  We are drawn to drama and to production.  We tend to put a higher value on things that look fancy.  But in our day to day lives, it's just not practical to always need that kind of high ritual to get things done.  There are tons of things we can do, with intent, to further our goals.

And this kind of low magic, the everyday simple stuff, becomes the backbone of our practice.  Because it is the stuff that we do all the time, the things that start to become second nature to us, so that soon more of our life is magic than isn't.

As I was thinking this through (over a day, because I tend to ruminate over thoughts as I am doing other things), I realized that I was definitely over-complicating things for myself.  My intention, for this moon cycle, was to explore the things I really crave and hunger for in my life, and to work on making sure those hungers are being met.

After spending several days thinking about (and journaling on) different areas in my life where I feel these cravings, I decided the main place I want to focus on is my writing, specifically in editing and self-publishing the moon cycle work I started several years ago.  I had made a basic plan, deciding to do a set amount of both editing and formatting work each week, towards getting this book into a publishable format (which I am now realizing I may have over-extended, so the amounts I intend to do each week might get adjusted), but during this first-quarter phase, I wanted to take those basic plans and flesh them out.

One thing that I find works very well for me is not only laying out a full plan (with lots of concrete steps), but also tracking how I am progressing along this plan.  I thought about how to magic this intention up, possibly creating a piggy-bank style fetish that I would then feed pieces of paper (on which I had written the tasks I needed to do) after I had completed each one, along with other items that energetically supported my intention.

But, as I have been working with habit trackers, I thought a simpler way would be to create a tracker that I would then charge with my intent.  The great thing about trackers is that every time you check in with them, or mark something off, you are reinforcing your intention, and you have an opportunity to recharge your tracker to support fulfilling your goal.

I had intended to create the tracker yesterday, but got busy and forgot about it until late at night.  I did make a tracker, but not one that I was very proud of.  It was literally just small boxes to represent each of the months of the year (as the writing I have done already for it is organized by moon cycles for each month), and a second track for each of the moon phases (one thing I really need to double check is that I don't have a lot of repetitive information in the specific moon phase, so I want to look at all my crescent moon sections, and make sure they are individualized enough).

While what I created would work, it really wasn't something I would consider to be done with proper intent.  It was absolutely a hold-over, an action I took just to keep moving.  This isn't something that I like to do often, but I fully believe that any action is better than no action, so when I find myself having put off or forgotten something, I try to make sure I do something, anything, to keep moving forward, even if it's just a very basic thing that will later be redone.

So, now I am going to remake my tracker, but I have also decided that I don't need it to be fancy, like some of the very pretty and artistic trackers that I see in Bullet Journal Pinterest posts, but a very nice and well thought out list will work better for me.  It's sort of funny, because when I write, I very rarely use outlines, but I find them super useful for planning.

I'll need to add things to my list that will turn it into an outline, a plan of action that will get me from where I'm at to where I need to be.  In addition to the editing that I need to do (which I can lay out as a checklist, each month and phase can be checked off when I have gone through and edited it to my satisfaction), but also, I need to add in a few other tasks, like creating an introduction to the book as well as a gratitude page.  And, I can further break down my formatting research into specific things I need to learn how to do in order to publish an ebook (like formatting a table of contents, and how to translate my file into the type that can be published on the Kindle).

I almost scrapped this idea as my magic work for this phase, because it felt too mundane, to analytical.  Our minds work best with symbols and play, and this is neither of those.  But it can be an excellent base for those, and by working with this outline in a magical sense, it becomes a launching point and focal pivot for other work. 

If you think about many basic spell types, there is often a written component.  This might be key words (like names or dates), affirmations, rhyming phrases (traditional spell chants and the like), or even longer pieces of journal work.  These written components are often charged in some way, through repetitive action, through blessing or consecrating them with other ingredients or through transforming them (by burning or burying them).

I can do these things with my plan!  I can add key words to the page it is written on, specific words that will trigger emotions in me to help me achieve the success I desire.  I can bless my plan with sacred water, run it through the smoke of incense or bless it with fire (though I don't want to actually burn it up or bury it....until it has come to pass!), and I can chant over it with appropriate words.  All of these actions will be charged with my intent, and will in turn charge my plan with that energy so that when I work with it, I am tapping into that energy.

If we take this idea, that magic is simply acting with intent, we can apply it to any action we wish to take.  Sometimes we will want to take special actions to create our magic, rituals or spells that are entirely devoted to making magic.  But other times, we can imbue our ordinary actions with magic by infusing them with intent.  Everything we do can be imbued with intent, from cooking to cleaning, dressing to washing, working or playing.

And when we start to look for ways to act with intent in different areas of our life, we realize how much magic there is around us, always.  We start to notice more ways we can mindfully take action to create the life we want to live, both in our microcosm (or personal life) and the macrocosm (the world we live in).  We create the energy we want to surround ourselves with, and that energy ripples out and changes the people around us.  Like a stone, creating waves in a pond, which alters the ground at the edge, we can effect so much more than we think we do, by simply changing our focus and acting with intent.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Calendar juggling!

So, it's become somewhat of a tradition now, for me to talk about calendars at the start of the year.  Calendars have become a pretty big part of my daily routine, and even in the larger world, I am seeing planners and planning systems getting more attention. 

I used a planner in high school, we got one every year, a student planner printed by the school, to help us keep up with homework and projects.  I didn't make very good use of mine, but I did like to scribble in it.  Then, for many years, I only used a wall calendar.

In 2015 I bought a monthly desk calendar.  My intention was to use it as a chronicle of my year.  I was going to write down my daily rune draw (which I did), as well as a thing or two I learned each day (which I only did for a month or two).

I have found, that if I don't plan my life, I get very little done.  When I don't pick and choose what I want to do in a day, I tend to fiddle around with stuff, and at the end of the day, I will look back and won't feel like I accomplished anything.

So, in 2016, I bought another monthly calendar, but this time I decided I needed to take more charge of my life, and I was going to plan my days, writing down things for me to do each day, to help me stay on track.  I did okay with this, but some days there just wasn't enough space in those tiny boxes to write down all the things I wanted to do!

I was trying to plan all aspects of my life:  my writing, my community building, my spiritual life, my home life, my exercise plan and even my leisure time.  I wanted to keep track of everything, to keep myself on point with all my plans.  I had been looking at all these different ideas for planners, and one that fascinated me was Bullet Journaling.

It's a really interesting system, that includes both a lot of flexibility and a lot of room for creativity.  Best of all (for me), it embraced lists and checking off boxes...both of which are things I adore!

My calendar for 2017 was a grid composition book, that I used in my own take on Bullet Journaling (also known as BuJo).  But I knew I wanted a longer look too, so I bought a basic monthly desk calendar, clipped the pages out and taped them into my planner.

What I learned last year was that I am not so great at actually planning long term.  I would wake up in the morning, and sit down at my desk to decide what I needed to do that day.  When I thought about things that were coming up later in the week, I would add them to those days, but I rarely remembered to look any further than that!  I also wasn't as good at checking back in with my calendar throughout the day, so some days I was really on task, and some days I didn't get to check a lot off, because I didn't check to see what I was supposed to be doing.

This year, I am using two planners, which is creating another layer of complication!  I bought the "Planner for a Magical 2018" so that I could keep all of my Year of Magic plans together in one place.  I considered a couple of different planners, but I really liked this one as it has nice amounts of space for daily stuff, as well as a monthly calendar.  And, it has pages for each of the Sabbats and magical inspiration for every month of the year.  Plus coloring!

Then I have my catch-all planner, another grid composition book (because the dot-grid fancy planners that are suggested for Bullet Journaling are quite pricey, where I can get a composition book for a buck...the blue lines really don't bother me much at all).  I do decorate my composition books with Washi tape, because it's addicting stuff!  And it helps keep the book together with all the daily usage.

One of the big things I like in my planner is divination for the year.  I do both a moon cycle based divination with WomanRunes, but also a tarot spread for the year.  I keep this in my planner, so that I can refer back to it throughout the year and see where I am at.  This year, I am also choosing a WomanRune each new moon, as my focus for the upcoming moon cycle, so I add that in as I pick it.

I have been very good so far this year, at grabbing my planners in the morning, after I have done my morning routine, and planning out my day as I drink my coffee.  I haven't been doing this at my desk, for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, my desk is devoted to my computer, and there just isn't enough space to write comfortably in my planners.  And secondly, when I am sitting at my desk, I am too temped to try to do other things (like check Facebook or watch videos on YouTube) while I am planning.  Instead, I sit at the kitchen table, where I can focus on what I want to do that day.

One of the first things I have found that I struggle with, in this new system, is my daily divination.  I draw a rune every morning, as well as a WomanRune card.  I always draw my rune before my morning meditation (as I use it as part of one of my meditations), but I used to draw the WomanRune as I was planning.  Now, I have to remember to draw it when I pick my rune.  And interestingly, I have to remember to add my rune to my daily planning page (as I have been forgetting).

Not only am I juggling two physical books to plan in, I have several different ways in which I am tracking and planning.  I do work with a traditional calendar month, as most of my family stuff falls by the weeks of the month.  But I have been working with a Moondial for several years now too.

This is one of my Moondial pages.  I have a template that I trace each moon cycle, to add the wheel to my planner.  The outer part of the wheel tracks the calendar date, and the moon phase, while the inner part of the wheel is my own personal cycle.  It is very interesting to me to see how these two interact, and I am wanting to pay more attention to my energy levels and how I feel based on how they line up (because, of course nothing is ever simple, and every full moon cycle, I shift about a moon phase backwards in my personal cycle).

One of the things I am also wanting to work on this year is planning my work load based on these two cycles, so trying to look at where I'm at on the wheel and either be more focused on rest and self-care or on action and getting stuff done.  This is something I've been wanting to work on for a while, but last year I only remembered when a deadline was due, and I was in a low energy place and only wanted to nap!

On the opposite page of my Moondial,  I do a divination spread for that moon cycle.  Last year, I did a monthly divination, but this year I decided to use it as part of my moon work, so during the new moon, when I am opening myself to the energy of the coming moon and letting inspiration fill me, I do a reading to help me sort out where I want to go.

The workhorse of my long term planning is these monthly pages in the Magical planner.  I haven't put a proper monthly page in my BuJo planner.  I felt that having two monthly pages would be just too much, and way to repetitive.  As the Wolf moon, the full moon of January, started it's cycle in December, I didn't start my full moon planning until the second moon cycle, the Hunger moon.  But I used that first couple of weeks to try out how to mesh these two calendars. 

I ended up writing the same thing three different places at first!  I was using these monthly pages to plan what I wanted to do with moon phase work, which would then get transferred over to the daily pages in both the magical and BuJo planner!  And that just felt very clunky.  So, when this new moon came about, I instead used this monthly page to plan the moon phase in broad strokes:  what kind of things did I want to do, and then the daily page turned those broad ideas into specific actions.  This is working much better for me!

You can see my monthly page is color coded, which is one way I keep the moon phases tidy in my head.  I like them outlined like that, so I can easily see, at a glance, where each phases is.  I made a little key, in my BuJo, a quick reference of the phases and how I work with them, and I colored it, so when the new moon comes about, I will mark out all the phases in my monthly page.  Then I can look ahead through the current phase, and see what I want to do and when.  Plus, I really like how the color adds to my monthly page!

This is an example of the daily pages in my Magical planner.  I use little bubbles here, that I fill in when a task is done, and also have been writing down an affirmation for the day, related to what I am working on. 

Once I have picked my actions for the day, I will sit and color something on the page (or on one of that month's pages, if the daily page is already done).  If I am struggling with figuring out what I want to do on a particular day, I will color first, letting my mind chew on the problem while I color.  This has been working out quite well for me.

From there, I head back to my BuJo planner, and lay out the regular tasks.  This year I have gone much simpler, with just big open boxes for each day, and one at the end for weekly tasks (which is anything I know I want to do that week, but don't know which day I want to do it on yet).

I like lists and order, and ticking things off, so my rules for tasks are pretty much anything that takes more than five minutes should get written down.  Definitely anything that I absolutely need to remember to do.  But even simple stuff, things that I am not in danger of forgetting, that only take a small chunk of time, I write down.  I do this for two reasons.  Firstly, it gives me the sense of accomplishment to tick it off.  And secondly, even those little things add up, and if I have a day where I have a dozen little things that need to be done, I may need to lay off of other things, to avoid getting overwhelmed.  I even write down 'cook dinner' if it is going to be a meal that will take more time than usual to prepare.

This is a nifty little tool that I just started using this year.  It's a habit tracker, and it does exactly what it says:  tracks things you want to make a habit of.  I used to write most of these things down on my daily pages, but it took up so much space!  Things that I aim to work on every day, now get put here instead of on the daily page. 

There are a couple of exceptions.  My writing, I will schedule specific tasks or scenes that I want to write in my daily planner, because those are particular things I want to write, where the habit tracker I count any writing at all for it.

I also use my habit tracker to watch for patterns.  I want to see how often I do things that I don't do every day, like my freelance captioning work or posting to Patreon.  I also am interested in seeing how things like whether hubby is working or not effects my sticking to my plan (hint:  I am much more likely to play more when he's now that has become part of my planning).

It sounds like a ton, but it really doesn't take me that long to do in the morning.  And I am really liking having this time to set my intentions for the day.  When I carve out the time to mindfully plan in the morning, I am much more likely to get all the things done in the day that I wanted to.  This includes not only the things I feel I should be doing, but also the things I want to do.  When I want to play a game or read a novel, that gets added in, so that my brain knows that the time is there for me to do these things, and that I should be doing them!  Self-care is very important, and planning on doing things that I want to do is a big self-care thing for me.

My calendar and planner system has been constantly evolving, for years.  And I expect it to continue to evolve.  I have some books that I am planning on reading (which is of course being tracked in my BuJo planner!), which I feel will deeply impact how I plan.  And that, to me is highly exciting!  I love that I can remain organized, but also change that system as I need to, or as I uncover new information that changes me!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Working with Ebb and Flow

One of my big goals for this year is to work better within the cycles of my life.  There are so many cycles!  When we think of how time moves, culture tells us it is a line, but ancient wisdom focuses on the cyclical nature of time, not the linear one.

Old calendars were more tuned to the cycles of nature, of the moons and the sun, of the seasons and the stars.  But even in the very modern world, we have cycles:  daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.  We just don't pay attention to them in the same way.

My life is made up of a number of cycles, which all effect me in different ways.  Of course the daily cycle of waking and sleeping, and I have learned that if I don't allow myself enough time to sleep, my waking day will be wasted.  The weekly cycle of days where I get up early and days where I sleep in.  I may not have this cycle for much longer, as son is about done with school.  I haven't really thought deeply about how I will cycle my weeks once I no longer wake with him to see him off to school.

I will probably shift my wake schedule to mostly match my husbands work schedule, which is another crazy cycle.  Yes, crazy.  He swaps days and nights every six weeks, and works 12 hour shifts, 3-4 days (plus overtime) a week.  So it is a very fluid cycle, one that I have realized effects me greatly.

See, I do some things much easier when I am alone.  It is easier for me to stick to my plans, to write and work and just embrace that freedom that comes from having no one else here, no one else I have to adjust around.  When hubby or son is home, we all adjust so that we do certain things together, like eating, cleaning or running errands.  When I am alone, some things are much less rigid (I find that I eat whenever I want, not at a particular time). 

There is a beauty to this balance that I have been fighting for a while.  I was scheduling my days, irregardless of who was home, and this led to me being frustrated by my own plans.  So, I am trying something new!  This was something I had intended to do, working with the moon cycle and my own hormonal cycle, but I have realized I can benefit from working with my family cycle as well.

This comes back to the idea of energetic ebb and flow.  This is something many people feel from the moon cycle, that there are times where the global energy is lower, and times where the energy tides ride high.  When working with the moon, you tune your actions to the energy of the moon, following the waves as they feel the pull of the moon.  There is time for rest, time for growth, time for opening wide and time for releasing.

As a woman, I have a similar hormonal cycle, and learning to be kind to myself, to work with my own biological peaks and low points means that I can really nurture myself in a way that doesn't involve fighting where I am at. 

I think this is where it gets complicated though.  Even just trying to figure out the best way to plan so that I can get everything I want to get done in a way that meshes with the moon cycle and my personal cycle creates a complex pattern that is hard to wrap my head around.  This is one thing that I can see a bit better with the moondial I keep (which tracks both the moon and my personal cycle), but I am not very good at really stopping and looking ahead, to try to prepare for those low tides in both cycles, and make sure that I'm not hitting 'crunch time' when my energies will be low.

Right now, I'm pretty lined up.  The rest times in both cycles are synced up.  But this is not a constant for me!  I tend to loose about 3-5 days, each moon cycle, so my personal cycle keeps going back a moon phase each month.  Sometimes the energy tides will be at complete opposite times, which makes for a little mental puzzle:  what do you do, when the inner and outer energies are in opposition?

It takes a little creative thinking, but I feel like most of us have different things that refresh us.  So 'rest' doesn't always mean the same thing!  I definitely have days where I need to fill my cup, and what appeals to me is sitting curled up with a blanket and a book.  But other times, what I need is to do something, to dance or paint or write furiously. 

Thinking about the external energies, if the moon is calling me to rest, but my personal energy is high, I can devote that energy towards more behind the scenes things.  Instead of writing something to be sent out into the world, I can journal and go deep.  Instead of creating magic to work on family issues, I can create an altar or other container to hold the work I will do later.

One of the first steps, in figuring out a plan based on the cycles of our lives, is to start paying attention to the things we crave at different times.  When I was first introduced to the idea of working with our energetic ebb and flow, the suggestion was to make a list of things you can do when your energy is low versus when your energy is high.  And also, to make a list of things that you crave when your energy is low, but also I think when it's high.

For me, when I am just all worn out, I can do little things but don't want to do stuff that feels like it would take more than five to ten minutes.  I'm reading a SARK book right now that talks about micro-movements, which are basically that:  small steps that can be done quickly.  What I love about these micro-movements is that it helps break up that really heavy energy that I can get when I'm low.  The kind of stasis that makes you just sit and do nothing.  I don't like being in that space, because it is oppressive.  Being able to do something small, and feel like I've done something, helps break up that energy into something more restorative, so that I can then do something that will help build me up instead of bring me further down. 

My micro-movements might be as simple as getting up and washing the coffee cup that I left in the sink, or opening my current writing project and writing one line.  It can even be opening up my calendar and seeing if I can check anything off.

I actually have to watch myself when I'm running on full as well though.  Because I can bite off more than I should be chewing and exhaust myself.  When I'm really energetic, I have the urge to do all the things, all at once, right now.  And trying to do multiple things at the same time makes me a little crazy.  I don't really do any of them well.  It is much better when I slow down a tiny bit, pick one thing to work on, and decide how far I am going to go with it when I start...and stick to my plan.  I might think I want to clean the bathroom, and if I don't set my limits, will find that has grown into washing down all the doors in the house, which leads me to washing the outsides of the doors, then the columns out front. 

Picking one thing, working with it until it is finished, and then stopping, lets me get a lot more done, in a way that doesn't deplete my resources.  I also try to make sure that I plan on something to relax, especially on days where I am on a roll.  Setting the intention to stop at some point and do something fun, helps me stay balanced and reminds me to not over-extend.

It's definitely a work in progress, but realizing that I can plan my days differently based on what is going on in my house was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders.  I had always fought the changes in my daily schedule, and felt guilty that I wasn't sticking to my 'plan' for the days.  In the end, I usually tried to push through and sort of go through the motions of what I had intended to do, which made me a little resentful.

Making it a conscious decision to change my plan, to align my tasks when I can do them the easiest, means I can do more with less, leaving me more time in the end, and with less stress!  I still have to pay attention, because of course we sometimes have days that we are either up or down, irregardless of the many cycles we have going on in our lives.  And this is when those lists (of things that you do/need during your ebb or flow times) come in handy.  When your intended plans need to be adjusted, you can check in with your lists and see what you can do instead, and then change your plans in the future to accommodate your current energetic mood.

It will definitely take some getting used to, being more fluid like this.  But I think it's time.  I will always have some things that I have 'hard' deadlines on.  My blog gets posted on Wednesdays, I write a story by the end of the month, I set goals on Mondays, but with son finishing school this year, my main time block will no longer exist.  I'm excited to see where this will lead me.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Word of the Year!

This will  be my second year picking a Word of the Year.  It's something I first encountered last year, and I thought it was an interesting idea.  It's not just about picking a theme for the year (although it is that), or keeping yourself on track (it is that too) or about deciding how you manifest (also this...are you seeing a trend here?), but I feel like it is about being both mindful and grateful for how your year unfolds.

Time is a funny thing.  Our lives revolve around these chunks of time that we divide our life into.  And time has this way of sneaking up on you.  The more years pass, the more I feel like time is speeding up.  Hubby and I always joke about how a year seemed like forever when we were in our teens, but now it's like we blink and another year has come and gone.  I definitely feel like it is so easy to get caught up in our day to day tasks, and when we lift our head and look around, months have passed without our notice!

There are lots of ways to slow this cycle down, to focus more on the greater scheme of things and to help ourselves not drown in the minutia, and the Word of the Year is one of these ways. Finding your Word can be a long process, or it can come to you in a flash...or it can be a combination of the two!

I think of my Word as a symbol of where I want to set my attention in the year to come.  It is a reminder to keep setting my gaze back to my Word (and what it represents).  When I am thinking about my Word for the coming year, I spend some time thinking about the previous year.

Last year, my Word was Harmony.  I have a lot going on, in many different areas of my life, and being able to make all these different things work together, without neglecting or over-prioritizing one was a big goal for me.  The year before I felt like I was very scattered, and I wanted to bring my life together into some kind of a homogeneous whole.

I thought about Balance as a word, but it still felt too disconnected.  To me, balance is taking two different and separate things and managing them both, where Harmony was about creating a new thing out of two (or more) separate things...blending them together, which is very much what my path is about!

I feel like I worked with Harmony quite well last year.  It was a process, but as the year went along, I felt like I got better at it.  I found ways to make things work for me, to weave things together and smooth out the rough edges that remained.  Looking back, I am satisfied with how my year went, which is not always something I can say.

Last year, coming up with my word was something that I thought about, mulled over, and debated.  I considered different things, and had to work to come up with my Word.  This year was completely different.  I came up with my plan for a Year of Magic several months ago.  The Year of Magic grew out of my Year of Moons, and last years (less successful in some ways) Year of Divination. 

But, with a Year of Magic as my plan, the Word Magic just worked.  It seemed so obvious, and so simple, and yet, like many things, there are layers in my Word that I can work with and uncover throughout the year.

Most importantly though, it will be a true representation of what the year is to me.  Sort of like a keyword or tag, when I think of 2018, Magic will be in the forefront.  When I see or hear the word Magic, it will remind me of my plan, of my focus, for the year, and keep my feet headed in the right direction. 

There are a lot of ways to use your Word, once you have it figured out.  I keep a bullet journal style daily planner, and the first page in my planner book features my word.  I knot an anklet, that represents my goal for the year (and thus my Word!), which I tie on New Year's Eve and wear until New Year's day the next year.  I have seen some really great applications of metal stamps, putting people's Word on a ring or necklace that can be worn throughout the year.

You could also place reminders on your altar or around your house.  You might find and inspirational poster or meme with your Word, and use it on your phone or hang it on your wall.  You could paint your word on a stone and put it on your altar or outside your front door. 

Throughout the year, as you plan your own work and projects, you can check in with your Word.  You might be inspired to feature your Word in your rituals, or at each of your Sabbats (if you celebrate them).  Your Word might become your stepping off point for inner work:  the questions you ask yourself this year might all spring form your Word and how to embrace it even more!

If you are struggling to make a decision or with a boundary that you are setting, you can use your Word as a gauge to determine if an action is right for you.  Ask yourself, if this action or activity is in keeping with your Word.  The answer might not be a simple yes or no, but it can definitely lead you in the right direction.  Follow up by considering how you might act in a way that is more in keeping with your Word, or what other action you could take that would better serve your Word.

As with all things, a Word of the Year is a tool that you can use to enhance your life.  Tools work best when we practice with them, and when they fit us.  Finding the right Word is just the first step!  Learning how you work with your Word and figuring out the best way to use your Word in your path is what will make it a powerful tool at your disposal.

If you haven't worked with a Word of the Year before, I encourage you to give it a try.  It is a fun practice, that can have a surprising amount of depth.  As with many things, you get out of it what you put into it, so you are in control of how your Word will enhance your life!  And never fear, if your Word isn't working for you, or if you are struggling with how to use your Word, you can always adjust and pick a different one, or try again next year!