Day 28 – Lemon, It's Tuesday

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Tuesday’s dollhouse shrine figure. Clothes are still a work in progress.

Every week Tuesday has rolled around and I’ve somehow been sans prayer, despite having working models for everyone else, despite being completely sure I’m going to work on it this week.

On one hand, considering I knew almost nothing about Tuesday when I started, the fact that I now can contact him, interact with him, and know the outline of his mythology seems like some pretty good work to show for it.

On the other hand, well.  I hadn’t actually done the assignment. I started with the format anyway, planning to make something up on the fly as I had last week and promising myself that later on I’d do it properly, maybe following the format from Felix Warren’s course, or doing some meditative writing or something.

Nope. Sit.

He made it clear that I was going to sit there and I was going to write the damn draft, and despite getting distracted by a goose (goose necks are weeeeird y’all) and worrying about rain, I got it down. As a bonus, I got a few more notes on his personality, and a vocabulary edit. (Instead of “worker for my household” I’m experimenting with “voice of my household”. What do you think?)

Tomorrow morning I have another doctor’s appointment, because I think Wednesday is the only slow day at work that I haven’t had one yet. Maybe I have. I’d have to check my notes.

Anyway. I decided to pull a coin again tonight, and this time it was a commemorative coin for the 1996 Olympics with the logo for rowing on it. (Does anybody else remember those? They came in cereal boxes and I was obsessed with collecting them.) Sometimes you just have to keep plugging along, and sometimes plugging along hard enough is what wins you the medal.

Progress? Week One

I went to the doctor today. I didn’t intend to, but the baby was sick and we were at urgent care anyway and I’ve been coughing for 2 weeks and my spouse told me I needed to. They were right. They were so so right.

It looks like I have bronchitis and maybe also mono or thrush or something just to spice it up a bit. We’ll see in a couple of days. In the meantime, National Novel Writing Month is going about as well as you might expect when you have bronchitis and maybe mono.  That is to say: I think I’m behind.

I am writing every day. That’s something at least.

If you’re counting, you know that means I’ve been sick since before Halloween. I did manage to close out the month the way I intended, and do both my final dark moon offering and the Global Hekate Rite. I started NaNo. I… sort of kicked off the King’s Ride?

I’m writing, but Tzymir remains elusive. I feel like I’m giving chase, and I’m not sure I’m doing it right.

Last night I actually dreamed about chasing and being chased – I angered an immortal elf queen and she tracked me down in life after life until I tried to turn the tables by chasing her down instead. At one point she hamstrung me and I kept going after her.

Which is, I will admit, an awful lot like how I feel now, having got back from urgent care.

It’s a weird feeling, especially given that I just happened to have no voice on the 1st of November, and had gotten the go-ahead from my boss to call off in that exact situation despite still being in my first 90 days. I was handed the holiday I like to celebrate on the 1st – but I was too sick to fully enjoy it and I got a little better but now I feel worse. Was that a gift? Is this a challenge? Am I reading too much into it?

Probably. I’m used to crappy things that turn out to be for the best in the long run (*cough*cancer*cough*) but if someone’s going to turn this one around for me, they’d better do it soon.

 

 

 

Old Habits

This is how I usually do NaNoWriMo: spend all of October plotting and worldbuilding, start strong, and then inevitably change projects one week into November. I’ve done this at least six times, with varying degrees of success. 

This year I am not thinking much about it. I am not planning. I’m in a group for bullet journalers doing NaNo but I haven’t made a layout or even outlined ideas in my notebook. It’s a little bit terrifying. 

To keep myself from moving on from Hekate before my time is up, I’m not letting myself do much specific preparation for the King’s Ride. I don’t want to fail Hekate this close to the end of my obligation. I also want to stay open to possibilities with the Ride, and not impose a lot of my baggage onto it before I even get there. 

I found a Tumblr collecting folks who are writing non-fiction for November and that had an appeal. I’m not any good at restricting myself to either fiction or non instead of that middle ground, but having both options in the back of my head seems useful. 

The goal is only to keep going forward. I’ll figure out what the path looks like when I get there. 

Who else is writing in November? I do better with accountability! 

My Own Dead Bodies

Although speaking of my dead selves, I have to say Hekate absolutely did as she promised and upended my life since I committed to working with her for six months. My life is drastically different: I don’t just have a different job, but I’m in a different field, and one I hadn’t really considered before. I hit a point a few weeks ago where I suddenly began to pass with regularity. I’m taking a course in creativity and spirituality and actually working on the assignments, writing creatively after a long dry spell. I’m doing regular meditation and spellwork. I’m sleeping better. I’m a better dad and I’d like to think a better spouse. I can think clearly  for the first time in years thanks to starting Prozac.

I’m a wholly different person than I was six months ago. That person isn’t exactly dead, but he’s gone. Hekate kicked my ass in the most necessary way.

And when I did my reading on Mabon, I got a clear indication that means she’s not going to be extending the contract at Samhain.

This has happened before – in fact this happens most of the time. Powers come in, we get some work done on both sides, and they wave goodbye when we’re done. The ocean gods took their turns, Kuan Yin is there if I need her but she told me I was ready to stand by myself at a certain point, and even Odin and Loki wander in and out as it suits them. I move around, so many of my wight relationships are time limited. The only power who’s always there is Mara.

So I’m not exactly surprised, and instead I’m trying to pick apart my disappointment. I think I was hoping I’d get something that allowed me to feel like part of something bigger- Hekate is a very popular deity, after all. I joined a Facebook group devoted entirely to her, and considered taking a course that was just about working with her. I never lacked for other peoples’ input on what it meant to work with her.

Maybe that was part of the problem. I have too much history with my own Dark Lady for her to really be anyone I’ve read about in existing mythology, which is of course the thing I realize every time I come to this point. She didn’t introduce me to Persephone and Hades, but to Redbird and Tzymir, wholly different powers with differing stories.

When I try to connect based on belief, I fail. When I try to connect based on practice, I fail. When I try to connect based on values, I am more likely to succeed. I know this. And yet…

Well, it doesn’t matter. I have just shy of three weeks left with my Dark Lady, as we settle into the dark of the year. In November I’ll be participating in the King’s Ride in tandem with NaNoWriMo.

Part of me wants to move on already. I keep catching myself being vaguely surprised that I’m still doing my homework for Hekate. I always have a tendency to check out as soon as I know I’m going to be moving on; as soon as I think about moving, I want to declutter, downsize and start packing. On the first day of camp I was always thinking about the end of the week.

My old selves get left where they fell, their work never done, their bones never buried so much as left to gather dust in a folder labelled Unfinished Drafts. They pile up after a while, but I ignore them. They’re behind me. That whisper about all the things I’ve failed at? Just the wind. Definitely not the Ghost of Projects Past.

But now this is about follow-through. If the self who made the deal with Hekate is dead, well, this can be the wake for him. I have an obligation. I’m not going to let it slip now, for fuck’s sake. I just need to keep doing the thing until the end of the month, and then I can move on to the next thing without having an excuse to be down on myself, and that’s a benefit unto itself.

Voices

“What are you doing out here?” I’d heard the door. I didn’t have to open my eyes to know it was her. I was laying on my back on the front walk, letting the cold from the stones seep through my flannel shirt and my skin and my subcutaneous fat, and settle in the space in my chest.

Moping, I didn’t answer. Sinking into the earth, and failing even at that. “Thinking.”

“It’s cold.”

“It is?” It was an honest question; I hadn’t really felt it. Autumn was coming on slow, but it was coming.

I felt tiny hands on face. “Wake up, Daddy. Bye, Daddy.”

“Bye?” I opened my eyes and my daughter was right there, bent over my face and giggling.

“She wanted to go to the park,” my spouse explained. “I thought maybe you could get some writing done.”

I sat up like a glacier retreating. “Thanks.”

“Do you have something to work on?”

“I’m open to suggestion,” I sighed more than answered, and she gave me a peck on the cheek.

“You’ll think of something,” she insisted, confident. “Remember the conversation we had earlier?” Then she and the baby were gone, and the house rang with her silence.

I turned the earlier conversation over in my head and wondered what I had to add. Sure enough, my thoughts sorted themselves like salt through a shaker and I hurriedly began to type.

Ask Again Later

My sister did a card reading for me the other night, and the takeaway was “don’t worry, keep going.” She kept apologizing and pulling more cards, and the answer kept staying frustratingly the same, because there doesn’t seem to be a way to tell cards “I get that but be more helpful, please.”

I realize I’m the one who picked the theme for the year but somehow I didn’t expect it to be applied to my life for me. I’d say “lesson learned” but… well, ha, probably not.

I have discovered a new kind of stabbing things that I’m enjoying: needle felting! To the left is my new representation of mom!Loki. I’m really pleased with the fire hair. She’s my third project and the first time I’ve experimented with highly technical and complicated design techniques like arms. I can’t tell you the last time I thought so much about how arms work, you guys. And hands!

Needle felt sculpture feels very intuitive to me. It’s easy to pick up and put down, which is a bonus around a toddler. Unlike beading, I don’t need to have a lot of small, easily-lost things out, which is also a bonus around a toddler.

Meanwhile, I’m slowly fleshing out a more complicated but still meaningful daily magical routine. “Just light a candle” is ths survival mode I fall back on when I can’t do anything else, and I’d been in survival mode for too long. I’m adding complexity one thing at a time, trying things on – more daily practices and even a new moon ritual. I figure I can do anything for a little while and see how it goes.

For a while I was doing regular breath meditation after I asked for discipline, but I was struggling a lot with my old friend Falling Asleep Sitting Up, so I switched styles to something a bit more active. It’s working much better. Changing is not quitting.

I’m not sure what’s next. I’ve got some more complicated needle felt ideas I want to work on. Maybe I’ll make figures for some of the spirits I work with that are largely unknown, just to see how challenging it is to get a feel for what they look like.

New, Again

Happy Lunar New Year! Slightly late, as usual. I celebrate my third new year at this time, between Imbolc and Lunar New Year. This is the new year that really feels like a new beginning. Things are starting to grow, it’s not super cold and miserable every day while I wait for the train.

I certainly could choose, instead of multiple specific new years, to make some sort of “every day is a new year, every day is a new start” philosophy work, but to be honest, those sorts of changes don’t stick for me. I need a schedule. I like order.

I’m not necessarily good at order, but I like it and I try to seek it because my natural state is chaos. I make lists and plans and schedules. I make, for example, a neatly ordered outline of how I intend to KonMari my spiritual life.

But I still can’t find my jewelry and my bone runes so I can get rid of them and clearly getting hung up on this doesn’t help anyone, and all of the things that would be in that “group of stuff” are things I consider to be very personal and fairly valuable, so they’re unlikely to be tossed this early in the process anyway. What I learned from my first pass at the physical KonMari is that everything is more interwoven and more complicated than I thought, so I will definitely need to come around again.

In Spark Joy, Kondo speaks about honing one’s sense of joy and how many of her clients have trouble deciding what joy feels like when they start the process. I suspect this is why her clients boast a 100% success rate – what she’s teaching them is not how to throw things away but how to tell whether the things in their lives spark joy. Once you start applying KonMari-type principles outside of their intended context, you begin seeing them everywhere.

Jessica Abel talks about finding a single creative goal and sticking to it, fully committing. I have a long, long list of works in progress and plot cards and story hooks that I haven’t even started on yet. Abel is absolutely right about the tendency to spend a little time on everything and accomplish nothing.

I have plot ideas I’ve been holding onto since I was eleven. If I sat down and wrote out a list it’d be far too long to fit on the worksheet she offers. (In fairness, the worksheet itself suggests it might be insufficient.) I need to give myself permission to move some things to “not in progress right now” and then put it somewhere I can’t see it anymore.

Writing is so interlinked with my moods that I think doing this now instead of waiting until I’m done with the metaphysical KonMari is reasonable, especially because I’m still compiling my list of practices.

This is starting, but it’s keeping going. Abel recommends picking a project that’s comparatively easy to finish if you haven’t had a lot of luck finishing before. I have a few fiction projects that are in different stages of done. While I’d like to work on Unstuck, I’m still, well, stuck as I work on straightening out some plot kinks. While I let that simmer, I’m going to take Abel’s advice and work on something that’s a bit more complete.

There’s something to be said for the feeling of finishing something, after all, and the joy of keeping going is in making progress.

Metaphysical KonMari: Practices

I was trying to make a list of practices and then I got to ‘reading runes’ and I stopped.

(Why is it always the fucking runes that trip me up? Can I blame Odin? I blame Odin.)

You see, I only read with runes about twice a year, when I’m doing specific kinds of card readings that need additional context. I happened to think about runes because I have been thinking about my missing ones for days on end now, but there are probably plenty of other things I only do every couple of months and I’m not thinking of.

I was talking to a friend about this and she suggested that I treat it similarly to the decluttering technique where you turn your hangers backwards for six months or a year and only keep the clothes’ whose hangers have been turned, indicating that they were worn.

This is a reasonable suggestion, but it doesn’t make for much of a blog post, nor does it make me feel like I’m accomplishing much, so I started making a list and I’ve been slowly adding to it and I realized today that I’ve been overlooking a whole category of things. Things I have very much wanted to declutter from my spiritual life before.

I am, of course, referring to scrupulous practices. These overlap heavily with luck and omen-spotting, and are therefore metaphysical and/or spiritual practices. They go on the list.

I think, to tie it back into Keep Going, I need to make it a regular review process, same as evaluating what I’m reading. Practices that are generally good can become scrupulous for me, and taking some time off from them can reset them to healthy levels. In the past I’ve had to be told when I need to do this kind of stepping away. I need to learn how to do it for myself.

Awareness matters.

So… how do I know when to move onto step four? Honestly, I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll just barrel right into that too. Let me think about it and get back to you.

(If You're Going Through Hell) Keep Going

Well, guys, the year is wrapping up and since being a professional doll stylist is a limited time engagement, I’m starting to think about what I want to do in 2016 aside from braiding hair. Other bloggers are talking about key words and personal mantras and the frankly, the closest thing I have to a personal mantra right now is “if you’re going through hell, keep going.”

That particular quote has done a lot for me at various times in my struggle with OCD. I know from experience that I can do anything for a few months, and that no matter how bad my anxiety is at the moment, my brain weasels will break before I do, and eventually I will start functioning again. Looking at next year, though, I think I need a different kind of keep going in my life.

Finishing is hard. Finishing is particularly hard right now, as I’m working a lot and prone to wanting to spend my downtime doing fun things. But unfinished, unsorted or messy things hang over my head, and getting something sorted away and taken care of makes me very, very happy. So I should do what makes me happy. I should keep going until a project is done – either until it’s finished, or until I’m ready to give it up, or sometimes until it’s at a natural stopping point while I let it incubate more.

Puzzles, for example. I have drafted Puzzles no less than four times from scratch. I’ve completely overhauled the outline at least twice. Nothing I do makes me happy. It’s time to keep going instead of walking in circles – so I’m going to move on to Unstuck, which is named rather ironically now that I think about it.

I am planning to talk about writing a lot more. I am planning to really look long and hard at what’s on my In Progress list. I’m going to finish the lesbian mermaid story. Everything else is up for grabs.

Let’s see what happens, eh?

Writing for Mara

I’ve flirted with, and even started working on, 30 Days of a Pagan Topic lists before. This one was supposed to be inspired by the 30 Days of Deity Devotion but I was only a few days in when I ran into topics that didn’t interest me or apply. Frankly, this always happens when I try to do a meme like this. Rather than let myself lose momentum, I just kept writing about other things.

There were many times I sat down to write once the baby was asleep and asked myself, well, what tonight? I didn’t plan the exercise as a whole very thoroughly. And yet, every night I wrote something. Sometimes a scene came to me quite clearly, with almost no prompting. I consider that a sign that Mara was watching and approved enough to tell me what to write.

The rapid posting schedule was a stretch for me, especially coupled with the topic limit. I have other notes on Adalric, Vala, and others that I didn’t develop at the time because they were not Mara-centered. Hopefully they will make it out of my notes soon enough.

There was more listening involved than I’d expected. My understanding of Mara and how to work with her shifted quite a bit over the month. Her relationships with Brhenti and the Forest Mother were entirely new to me, as was the structure of the Our Lady of the Market franchise temples. Darja and Egle are new characters, with very different relationships and understandings of Mara. I feel like I have enough new material to chew on for another month.

Overall, as an exercise, it was a great way to unstick myself. Chewing over the same topics relentlessly, turning my mind to Mara day after day, worked well to bring my attention to details I hadn’t noticed before and to shake loose assumptions I didn’t know I had. It’s definitely worth trying if you feel yourself in a similar place.