Tuesday, December 27, 2016

38 Things I've Learned/Accomplished in 38 Years

I recently saw a post where someone who turned 40 posted 40 things they were determined to do. I like the idea, but I decided to turn it on its head.

As I am 38, nearing 39, I am going to list 38 things I've learned in or done with my life. Enjoy!!

  1. I wrote and published a fiction novel. This is a big one for me. I've wanted this since I was in single digits, and that want has never gone away. Finally, I had the courage, support and time - and I did it!
  2. I found the person who loves and supports me, and who I love and support. I honestly had my doubts that this one could ever happen, but it did. And I'm thrilled that I was strong enough to wait for him, AND strong enough to let him into my life.
  3. I won NaNoWriMo. I won. TWICE! I got the certificate, I have the t-shirt. I wrote 50k+ words in one month. They were pretty good words, too! I'm gonna do it again next year!
  4. I learned how to bake. I can make bread, soft pretzels, biscuits, and much more in a few minutes to a few days. And they are so much better than the store-bought stuff. I'm even teaching my kids to bake.
  5. I prioritized what was important to ME. Yes, I still take care of a goodly portion of household and childcare stuff. But my desires are right up there with those of the rest of my family. I have learned how to weave the needs of my kids, my hubby and myself to make all of us important. Please note that prioritizing doesn't always mean "top priority" either.
  6. I got laid off - and it wasn't the end of the world. Don't get me wrong. It was scary, and it was hard, but it didn't break me or my family. We had to make a lot of sacrifices (we still do), but we now know that we CAN do this.
  7. I learned to be a barista. It's an interesting job, and more complicated than I think a lot of people realize. In many ways, I enjoyed doing it.
  8. I figured out how to plot a novel. I have ideas. Tons of ideas. And many of them are good ideas. But there is a difference between having a good idea and having a good story. A good idea can never replace a good story, so learning to plot a full-length, entertaining story was pretty important if I was to become an author.
  9. I became a podcaster. Seven years and counting with a weekly show (we've only missed a few), my friend and I have become a bit of a name (not huge, just a bit... :) ) in the Pagan community for our Pagan-Musings Podcast, with over 1000 listens each week. Yay!
  10. I learned how to plan for travel. Researching hotels, making reservations, taking taxis - for a small town woman, I've gotten very good at getting my family a decent place to stay when we are out of town. And, most importantly, I know what is worth paying for and what isn't.
  11. I figured out how to be by myself. Not just for an afternoon or a day. For weeks at a time. For a year. I lived alone in place pretty isolated from my friends and family. I spent weeks at a time with no discussions outside of work and errands. And I was okay. I'm pretty interesting, you know.
  12. I became a speaker/workshop presenter. I have a long history of stage-fright and nerves, so taking an opportunity to speak in front of a group of strangers was a pretty big step. Plus, I had to learn how to set up a workshop so that it would be entertaining for those attending.
  13. I learned to budget. And not just a basic money-in, money-out thing. I taught myself how to plan and manage my money to an astonishing degree. And I did it with nothing more than some online articles, wikipedia (to check out definitions and legal stuff), and a 10-year old excel program.
  14. I got 1000 followers on Twitter. More importantly, I've stayed at around 1000 followers on Twitter for several months. No mass exodus from my Twitter feed. Yay!
  15. I realized I could trust myself. I'm not perfect, but I'm pretty darn good at being a decent person, mother, friend. Instead of constantly berating myself for the little mistakes, I look at them, learn from them, and move on.
  16. I quit my job. I've never quit a job before unless you count the time I rage-quit a micro-managing, spaz boss who had to hire three people to replace me. But I quit. Not because I was breaking down. Not because I got fired. Because I had something better to do, and I had the means to do so.
  17. I rebuilt my credit. Not even two years ago, my credit was in the mid 500s. Now, I have "fair/good" credit. I got a credit card, paid off all my bills, and I micromanage my various accounts at least once a week. I've caught bogus charges, errors, and my own oopsies along the way, but I finally did it. After 20 years of crappy credit, I could actually get a loan - not that I need one.
  18. I taught myself marketing. I've always been interested in it, and it's something that I understand and pick up easily. But I managed to do it well enough to get two jobs based on my marketing experience. And I'm now leveraging that towards my books!
  19. I taught myself how to convert files. This is very handy in the marketing stuff, so I can give people the file type they need for reviews or giveaways without it costing me even more.
  20. I learned I can trust people. Now, there's a secret to this. I trust people to be who they are. That means, I trust people who have let me down to not always be there for me. So I don't count on them like I otherwise would. I trust people who don't pay me back in a timely manner to not pay me back. I count the loan as a loss, and repayment as a bonus. I KNOW what I'm getting into with each person. I trust them to be who they are.
  21. I learned about diets and nutrition, and my own eating needs. I know what I require and I know how diets will affect me - and if they will work. I know what staves off the hanger and what satisfies the cravings.
  22. I own property. Yeah, it was mostly a gift from my parents, but it took nearly three years of renting and not skipping out on them before that happened. I like to think that, in some ways, I earned the gift.
  23. I became a name. I'm not very well known by most. I'm not a celebrity or a superstar, but in some circles, I am a public figure now. Holy crap! I have a reputation and an obligation to my fans and followers (and it's more than just family now!!). How odd!
  24. I learned how to cook from scratch. Not just a little bit, either. Everything from scratch. Some of it wasn't worth the time to do on a regular basis, but we kept many of the recipes we learned, such as making sloppy joes without the canned stuff.
  25. I became an activist. I didn't mean to. That is, I didn't set out to become a SJW (social justice warrior). I just listened to people talk about the discrimination that affected them and those around them, and I read about the social constructs and systems that supported racism and sexism, etc. Then, I started talking to people about it. Then, I started calling people out for doing things that were hurtful. Then, I was engaging in full-blown FB debates. And, it's true, you can never shut your eyes to the hate and hurt once you've seen it.
  26. I learned what my drinking style is. I am an occasional drinker and a lightweight. I cannot binge drink. I don't enjoy drinking to get drunk. I like sweet and fruity drinks, and mead. This helped me become confident in how I approach parties and gatherings. I no longer feel the need to live up to other people's expectations of how I should "enjoy myself".
  27. I have birthed and raised children. They are even doing well, if I do say so. I never thought I'd be a mother-type, and I'm not really the soft nurturing kind of mom. I'm more of a force of nature mom who teaches the kids how to make it or break it - literally.
  28. I learned to trust my instincts. People and situations aren't always what they seem. I've learned to trust my gut as to whether or not I am safe or even in the best place for me. I seem to be pretty good at it, too.
  29. I worked as a cook. It was a specific situation and a bit unusual for a cook, but I made meals from scratch for several dozen people at a time. I learned how to plan my time and efforts in order to make good food, that looked good, that had to "hold" for an entire lunch period. It's not as easy as it looks.
  30. I held a book release. Yeah, it was a FB event, but I'd never done anything like that before. Considering my inexperience, I think it went rather well. I look forward to using the tricks I've picked up since to make the next one even better!
  31. I embraced myself as an introvert. I let go of all the shame and guilt of not wanting to be involved with people all the time. I have my hubby, who I do enjoy being around, and I seldom want any other company. And that's okay. I interact on social media when I want to, but I spend days without going farther than my own yard. That's how I like it.
    This awesome pic is by the talented
    illustrator Sam Flegal. See his work here:
  32. I learned about Norse mythology - way more than I ever thought I would be interested in learning, and I liked it. I even used some of the myths as a basis for the overarching plot for my series.
  33. I made a decision regarding the importance of historical accuracy in my religious beliefs. Sorry, recons. I don't think it's that important. Knowing about the history is a great thing. Adhering to it exclusively, however, is static and unrealistic. Religion grows with humankind, and that's a very good thing. Holding on to the past with a vengeance is extremism in religion AND politics.
  34. I learned to communicate my feelings. This was hard. It's difficult to explain that my parents didn't make me feel safe expressing myself. It wasn't violent. It was nitpicky. It was criticizing. And I spent 30 years being careful about how I let myself feel. I wasn't very good at it, being a very passionate (and tempermental) woman. Now, I'm learning how to talk about not just my feelings, but about unpacking the social aspects of them. Still hard. Totally worth it.
  35. I taught myself how to read contracts. It takes lots of research to do that. I'm lucky - I seem to have a natural understanding of legal jargon. I'm good enough at it that I've been paid for writing basic contracts for others!
  36. I learned Astrological interpretations. Yeah, I can analyze a birth chart and show how the different planets/signs interact with each other. I'm pretty good at it, too.
  37. I learned how to manage a house. Chore lists, grocery lists, budget lists, calendars - four people makes for lots of work, but we rock it... most days.
  38. My give-a-damn broke. Somewhere along the way, I stopped making what other people thought of me the important thing. Yeah, I still take it into consideration, but I don't let it rule my life, my behavior, my beliefs. Instead, I have faith in my own values, and I listen to the voices and opinions of my hubby and kids first and foremost. Those random people don't get to influence me - they don't know me, they don't love me, they don't have me as a priority. So why should I make them a priority?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Darkside of Sagittarius

Astrology is an interesting study. Not only does each person have their own natal chart (the signs at your birth) with 10 planets, two lunar nodes, ascendent/rising signs, and several asteroids, but then there are progressions (how zodiac influences have developed into the current aspects).

On top of that, the current placement of the stars and planets can have an overall effect on the world at large. This is seen more prominently in the outer, slower-changing planets (while the inner, faster-changing planets are more influential on individuals).

Each zodiac sign has it's own personality. Most zodiac descriptions focus on the positive of each sign, but each sign also has a dark side - the negative aspect of that sign.

This series explores the negative, world-effect aspects of each sign. For simplicity, I am assuming we are talking about the Sun in each sign, though most of these analyses would apply to other planetary placements, as well.

Sagittarius is a mutable fire sign, with its opposite/duality in Gemini. Sagittarius is the sign of knowledge and travel. They enjoy philosophy and experiential education, and they embrace the changes that happen in life.

Sagittarius will travel the world, but the one thing they will never be without is their trusty soapbox. The Sag is an expert in their chosen field (or two... dozen), and they have no doubt that their information is correct, so just be quiet while they share their wisdom.

Because Sag comes across as so right so often, this leads to them being unquestioned. They often forget to question how much their experiences can be generalized to others.

Unlike Leo, who can get the facts wrong, Sag often focuses on topics that are less black & white. And, as broad-minded as they are, they can mistake their few anecdotal stories for the experiences of an entire group of people. This can lead to Sagittarius making moral judgments about large and complicated issues.

This time of year, we find that many people may be more likely to take their own experiences as a universal experience (or, worse, a universal perspective), while dismissing the data that disprove such a stance. This can lead to incredibly biased or discriminatory mindsets based on rare or singular situations - think of the welfare queen myth and how many policies we push forward to prevent this imaginary person from getting away with a nearly impossible con.

But Sagittarius is, first and foremost, an intelligent and passionate activist. By keeping ourselves aware of these biases, and double-checking our assumptions, we can avoid this particular trap.

The lesson of Sagittarius is to be aware of judging based on over-generalizing our own experiences.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Summary of a Workshop: Negative Emotions on a Spiritual Path

Many times, we get the message that being on a spiritual path means you can't have anger, depression, anxiety, or fear.  Instead, we are told to quickly get rid of such emotions and replace them with something more akin to love.  But is that really the case?  Is that healthy?

We will be discussing the place that negative emotions have even at higher spiritual levels, and how to know when it's time to embrace negativity as a part of continued spiritual growth.

No matter how much we embrace our religious or spiritual beliefs, we are still just people living in the real world. We like to post memes that quote the Buddha: "You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger."

We talk about the destructiveness of being a hater, of judging others, of not being "grateful", of not holding enough love. We talk about hate and fear as the opposites of love, as though they are the corruption within us. As though "allowing" ourselves to feel these emotions is a failure.

What kinds of messages have you heard? What do those messages mean to you?

Tell that to people living in fear...
Many people, in normal everyday lives, look at these and see a message of hope. But others see those ways of looking at emotions as being accusatory, a symptom of denial, and - yes - privileged.

How might those messages be hurtful for people in different circumstances?

We should be "rising above" such negativity. If we are still feeling hate and anger, we aren't as spiritual as we should be. How do those sound to people with mental illness, chronic pain, chronic poverty, or in an environment of oppression?

What do those two ways of looking at emotions have in common? They assume that emotions are controlled by and a symptom of the person feeling them. This perspective has several problems.

The first problem is that this ignores the legitimacy of those emotions. Spiritual growth is about understanding who you are, accepting the flaws of human incarnation, and living a life complete with suffering and hard knocks. In many ways, a spiritual path is less about who you should be and more about who you really are, stripped of the illusions of culture and expectation.

There is a brutal honesty inherent in that. We are supposed to accept that we are clumsy, but not the angry reaction we have when we stub our toe? We are supposed to accept the complications of relationships, but not the heartbreak that comes with that?

Where is the line of what we are allowed to feel? Who gets to decide if our emotions are valid enough to acknowledge?

The second problem is that we often choose to suppress our negative emotions. We are supposed to change our sadness into gratitude, or our anger into empathy.

First of all, that doesn't work. You can fake it for a while, but those emotions will show themselves eventually. Bitterness, passive-aggressive words and actions, sabotage of oneself or others... those are the negativity leaking through. And it's subtle and insidious.

Secondly, it assumes that feeling certain emotions will lead to certain behaviors and mindsets. Anger isn't the problem. Punching a stranger in the face is the problem. Sorrow isn't the problem. Railroading every situation and conversation for the next six months to talk about how your ex was your soulmate and you can't live without him or her - that's the problem.

The third problem is that the mindset that you can just decide not to feel a certain way is extremely contextual and, in many ways, inaccurate.

This means that there are assumptions made about those feelings and the situation that caused them in the very statements that say things like "your anger will hurt you more than it hurts them."

Except, why are you angry? Was someone you care about hurt by someone else? Are you angry over injustice? Those are pretty legitimate reasons to be angry.

You can watch a funny movie after a bad breakup - and you will probably laugh during the movie. You may even feel better about it. But the humor of Hollywood won't take away the knowledge of what has been lost.

Emotions don't happen in a void. You don't just be sad. There is always a reason. People get angry or sad or hurt or possessive for many reasons. The emotions themselves won't change. They can't.

The assumption that we can control and change our emotions is a myth based on the fact that we can temporarily feel differently with certain behaviors. But it is still a myth.

If you feel sad over the death of a loved one, that sadness never goes away. Once you process the grief, your mind can move on. It returns, more often at first, then less as time goes by.

But anyone who has lost someone close will tell you that there is still a pang of grief when you realize it's their birthday, or the anniversary of their death. The emotion never changes, you just don't focus on it as much.

Unless you grieve appropriately, you will still feel it come back at times. Even if you *do* grieve appropriately, you will have feelings returning. Grieving lets you process the situation more deeply, more often. Essentially, you are allowing the focus on that feeling to wear itself out.

But the feeling doesn't go away. It can't. The reason for the feeling is still there.

And therein lies the core of the issue.

We can't control our emotional state because it is an indication of what is happening to us.

"Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they're big, flashing signs that something needs to change." Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.

In a healthy, spiritual life, negative emotions are great big indicators or how we are doing. Sadness tells us we've lost something, even if it's just a potential of something. Guilt indicates that we've violated our own code of conduct - it is the emotion of honor. Loneliness indicates we need to establish more meaningful social connections.

Anger, says psychotherapist Robert Augustus Masters in "Spiritual Bypassing", is “the primary emotional state that functions to uphold our boundaries.”

Fear is about acknowledging possible threats, whether physical or emotional. It's okay to understand that there are things that can happen. Dwelling on remote possibilities may not help us, but healthy fear can tell us when there is a real danger.

Jealousy and envy are horribly maligned emotions, but they tell us the most about our spiritual path.
Jealousy tells us what we are most connected to, for better or worse. If we are jealous over a person, we may have an unhealthy connection. Or that person may be a lifeline that provides something we should work on for ourselves.

Envy shows us what our desires are. We become envious of our friend's new job, but that may simply indicate that we would like to find work that is equally fulfilling to us as their job is to them. We become envious of a new relationship, but we don't necessarily want the person they have - rather we desire the support and connection they seem to have with them.

The best way we can progress on our spiritual path is to receive all of the messages that we are sent. We acknowledge "signs" and "omens", and interpret dreams, but we ignore the powerful, motivating force of what our negative emotions are telling us. They may be the best insight we will ever have, so don't suppress them. Let them tell you what's going on.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Darkside of Libra

Astrology is an interesting study. Not only does each person have their own natal chart (the signs at your birth) with 10 planets, two lunar nodes, ascendent/rising signs, and several asteroids, but then there are progressions (how zodiac influences have developed into the current aspects).

On top of that, the current placement of the stars and planets can have an overall effect on the world at large. This is seen more prominently in the outer, slower-changing planets (while the inner, faster-changing planets are more influential on individuals).

Each zodiac sign has it's own personality. Most zodiac descriptions focus on the positive of each sign, but each sign also has a dark side - the negative aspect of that sign.

This series explores the negative, world-effect aspects of each sign. For simplicity, I am assuming we are talking about the Sun in each sign, though most of these analyses would apply to other planetary placements, as well.

Libra is a cardinal air sign, with its opposite/duality in Aries. Libra is the sign of balance and diplomacy. Able to see both sides and empathize with all, Libra is a non-judgmental and compassionate sign.

The flip side of being non-judgmental is that it is difficult for Libra to judge anything. They often have trouble determining the pros and cons of every decision and, afraid of hurting feelings if they make the wrong choice, often find themselves unable to make any choice at all.

Let's not forget the less optimistic way of saying indecisive: fence-sitting. Libra's can sometimes take this lack of judgment to the point of refusing to take a side when sides need to be taken. What is a positive thing when two friends bicker with Libra in the middle, can become a violation of friendship when one of those parties seriously harms the other - and Libra still attempts to remain neutral.

Libra is the sign of balance, and they are constantly walking the balance of not hurting people's feelings. While this is nice to be around, it makes them inconsistent about any kind of feedback or criticism, something that good friends can and should provide. Every now and then, friends should call out bad or destructive behavior to help each other grow.

The scales can swing back and forth to reveal the truth, and Libra needs to learn to embrace that: Truth can trump balance.

The Libra time of year is the start of the new school year, when things reset and people prepare for winter. We may find ourselves unable to determine what old stuff to let go and what new stuff to let slide, giving us a real balancing act of projects.

Now is the time of year to find the most difficult kind of balance: you have to allow new things to come into your life without judgment, AND you must force yourself to make hard decisions - and they will ALL seem hard - about what must stay and what must go. You've gotten on a path, but figuring out the specifics will require the complexities of Libra's scales and the diplomacy that Libra excels in.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Day the Doctor Overstepped: Doctor Who, the Prime Directive, and the onus of wisdom

"Don't you think she looks tired?"

These are probably the most famous six words in modern sci-fi - the words the Doctor used to bring down a leading politician after she did something... bad.

But first, let's step back a bit.

I'm a fan of the Doctor. I watch it, binge-style, on Netflix, and I've seen every episode they have. I also watched Torchwood, except for the season that took place in the US, cuz that was just too much. I couldn't finish it.

Also, I love the 12th Doctor, Capaldi, and the 3rd Doctor, Pertwee. I find the 4th Doctor grating. Smith was okay. Tennant was really awesome. Eccleston was both brilliant and emo - perfect for the incarnation after the War Doctor and all the suppressed emotional issues inherent there.

So, if you are a fan of Doctor Who, you have now been able to make several judgments about me. If you aren't, I do recommend it.

Let me be clear - I get that the Doctor is ~900 years old during the episode in question (The Christmas Invasion). He is an alien. As a small boy, he peered into the time vortex and saw the strands of all of time, which is likely how he knows what can and cannot be changed ("fixed points", described in "The Fires of Pompeii"). Of all the creatures in the universe to be able to determine if a government body is acting in error, it is the Doctor.

The question is, when does the Doctor's aid and advice cross the line to tyranny?

Those who love sci-fi are familiar with another series, where the main rule of exploration, the Prime Directive, cannot be infringed. In Star Trek, the basis of the Prime Directive is "No interference with the social development of [a] planet."

The Doctor's actions undermined the political career of Harriet Jones in response to her decision to act aggressively for the defense of the Earth. Jones' decision was morally ambiguous, without a doubt.

But what of the Doctor's decision? He took it upon himself to punish an individual for acting as a government agent on a planet not his own, a planet that he, himself, has derided many times as being less capable than his own species. While that judgment may be true, he uses that as a reason to swoop in and save humanity (and many other planets).

That in itself is not necessarily bad. Though it is incredibly patronizing to have a single individual take the safety and security of Earth as his own prerogative, it is even more so when you realize that he gets angry to the point of revenge if the people of Earth try to take control of their safety and security themselves. And even more so when it hits you that the Doctor doesn't even dedicate himself to this task; he just counts on being in the right time and the right place to save everyone.

From the perspective of Harriet Jones, who said " there will come a time when the Doctor cannot protect Earth", the Doctor comes and goes with no rhyme or reason. He shows up and interferes without request or permission from anyone. He denies the people he saves the ability to learn to defend themselves, while also denying them any say in the matter. As shown in Torchwood's 5-episode season 3, Children of Earth, there are times when there are very real dangers to the planet and its people, and the Doctor is not there to save them. While his help is appreciated, it is also unreliable.

Harriet Jones was the Prime Minister of the UK, a global leader and responsible for the lives of the people in her country and, to a lesser degree, those in countries allied with the UK. She was given the opportunity and the ability to stand on her own two feet, to have her country and planet take their safety into their own hands. And she took it.

So the Doctor tore her down.

As beings on a spiritual path, we often encounter those who are on a different level. They are at an earlier stage of growth, experience, or understanding. And we want to swoop in and fix their problems.

But we need to follow our own Prime Directive. We need to allow those who haven't developed as far as we have to catch up, to grow on their own, to experience for themselves.

To control their own destiny.

Don't be the Doctor. Let them solve their own problems. They may mess it up. But it's their right as sentient beings to do so.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Darkside of Leo

Astrology is an interesting study. Not only does each person have their own natal chart (the signs at your birth) with 10 planets, two lunar nodes, ascendent/rising signs, and several asteroids, but then there are progressions (how zodiac influences have developed into the current aspects).

On top of that, the current placement of the stars and planets can have an overall effect on the world at large. This is seen more prominently in the outer, slower-changing planets (while the inner, faster-changing planets are more influential on individuals).

Each zodiac sign has it's own personality. Most zodiac descriptions focus on the positive of each sign, but each sign also has a dark side - the negative aspect of that sign.

This series explores the negative, world-effect aspects of each sign. For simplicity, I am assuming we are talking about the Sun in each sign, though most of these analyses would apply to other planetary placements, as well.

Leo is a fixed fire sign, with its opposite/duality in Aquarius. Leo is the sign of the showman and the politician. Comfortable in the limelight and drawn to leadership positions, Leo often radiates confidence.

Confidence - as in confidence man, or con man. Leo isn't necessarily an intentional scammer, but the best intentions can lead to a hellish result. Leo knows what they know, but fact-checking may not be a priority, and they can passionately lead others down a very wrong way.

In the realm of world-effects, this means Leo can leave people feeling overconfident in what they know and/or believe. Given the politics surrounding the current US election cycle, we are seeing this pretty strongly. People believe, but don't research or follow-up. There is a lot of deeply-held convictions, but less checking of facts and figures.

Leo is not a sign that can be fooled easily, but it isn't terribly focused on details and research. This means there are times when superficial facts can mislead us, and we aren't focused on finding out the nitty-gritty, drill-down information. Leo tries to make a situation simple (they love soundbites), but can overlook the details that make the situation more gray than black-and-white.

Leo is the sign of entertainers, and we can see the effect of this in our desire to be, first and foremost, entertained. This is the time of the summer blockbuster, and we may see ourselves more drawn to click-bait than at any other time of the year.

The lion lives in a pride, and Leo definitely lives in pride. While pride in one's accomplishments isn't categorically bad, this is the time of year when bragging rights may be taken too far. It's a good idea to be forgiving of people who won't stop talking about themselves, and to mentally check yourself for appropriate levels of humility.

The lesson of Leo is to check in - for facts, for real life, for humility. Being sure of one's beliefs and accomplishments is great, but can be taken too far, leading to foolishness.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Summary of a Workshop: Introversion and Energy

 I gave a workshop (three actually) at the 2015 Heartland Pagan Festival. It was a great experience, and eye-opening in many ways. I formatted my workshops as discussions (yes, all of them), and each of them went in a different direction than I had predicted. But it was wonderful!

I am attempting here to summarize, with a bit of additional commentary, what the discussion ended up being for my workshop: Introverts and Energy

I would like to start out by introducing myself. I am an introvert. I have horrible stage fright that I have been working on since I was 15. Which is only ironic if you meet me one-on-one first, cuz I'm really open and funny until there's a bunch of strange people staring at me.

Now, just to make sure that all of us are on the same page to start, I'm going to review some definitions.
Extroverts are over 50% of the human population. Extroverts aren't necessarily talkative. They simply get energy from action: involvment in events, interacting with other people, moving. Because of this, they tend to be more social and outgoing. Their behavior supports getting more energy.

Introverts are around half the population, except in the U.S., where they are closer to 1/3 of the population. Introverts aren't necessarily shy. They get energy from having time, usually alone, to think and be inside their own heads. This, BTW, includes one-on-one and tiny group discussions that cover deep topics. Introverts tend to be more withdrawn and solitary. Again, behavior supporting how the person gets more energy.

Now introversion/extroversion is a spectrum in behavior, but it is more divided when you look only at the energy matter. So think about how you feel in large groups with small talk vs how you feel when sitting alone and thinking. Which gives you more energy? Which do you identify with?

When you are put in a position of not being able to recharge, your mood and behavior changes. You may get grumpy, tense, angry, frustrated, anxious, sad or several of those at once. Your behavior may show you to be flustered or unfocused. You may retreat more and more, finding a measure of comfort along walls or nestled into a corner, or by blocking out movement or sound from others. Consider how your behavior changes when you are unable to escape a crowd.

For obvious reasons, a large group of people in a designated space, such as the Heartland Festival, can be empowering for extroverts. There are tons of new people to meet and talk to, workshops to speak up at, loud music, large groups... So, it can also be intimidating for introverts. At Heartland, we have various sacred spaces that are usually empty and isolated, where we can go to meditate and refresh ourselves.
What are some of the ways that you use this environment to recharge?

Now, conventions are a whole 'nother story. Conventions often have more limited, often indoor space, which makes it harder for us to get away from the crowds, which also makes it harder for us to meaningfully interact with new people.

So, what would you consider to be the most important obstacle to fully experiencing a festival or convention as an Introvert?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Summary of a Workshop: The Intersection of Magic and Consent

 I gave a workshop (three actually) at the 2015 Heartland Pagan Festival. It was a great experience, and eye-opening in many ways. I formatted my workshops as discussions (yes, all of them), and each of them went in a different direction than I had predicted. But it was wonderful!

I am attempting here to summarize, with a bit of additional commentary, what the discussion ended up being for my workshop: The Intersection of Magic and Consent. Feel free to use the questions posed here for your journaling, or respond to specific questions in the comments below.

I'd like to start by being specific about the purpose of this workshop. I don't believe that the Pagan community has finished the discussion about consent in regards to magic and energy work. I'm not here to say whether some things are right or wrong. I'd much rather talk about the things that should be considered.

There are a few ways in which magic and energy can conflict with a person's consent. I'd like to open the discussion with a question: how many of you have had a situation where someone did a spell or energy work on you or for you, and that made you feel like there was some violation of your body or energy, or that your voice was ignored?

There is one type of energy work that I believe always requires consent. That is any type that requires an invasion of body space. If there is touching involved, does the intent of the magic trump the person's right to not be touched?

I don't think it does, simply because it isn't just an energy work at that point. We see a lot of people in the community who violate body space without asking simply because they are "healers". What ways have you seen this happen? How do you deal with this invasion of body?

Now I'd like to get really deep into this. I want you to think for a moment of a time when you may have done this to someone else. I want you to think about why you felt that it was okay, since I'm assuming you never intended to overstep.

What are your perceptions of this? How does this perspective change how you feel about people who might overstep boundaries with you? How does it change how you might approach them about this?

As a parent, I have (and still do) often use a variety of energy work on my children. I used calming energies on them as infants and toddlers, and I use healing energy on them when they are sick or injured. I do the same with my husband. I don't often specifically ask for their permission in doing this, it is just a part of other care-taking activities, such as holding/hugging, applying creams and medicines, etc.

How does this fall into the magic and consent ideology? Do you have a line about who these things can be done to? Or what types of energy you will use on people?

The most interesting thing about this topic is that it resists being a black&white issue. It is an ethical discussion with many shades and variations. The best way to explore this topic is to discuss the various beliefs and lines-in-the-sand, without being judgmental.

I will leave you with a final word: If someone specifically places a boundary for the use of magic or energy work on them, do not ignore their wishes. Refusing to allow someone energetic-body autonomy is a true violation of consent.