Nosce Te Ipsum- Introduction

An old self-portrait from 2008 – I don’t even have my phoenix or Doctor Who tattoos!

There’s a story I’d like to tell you.

It’s a pretty long one, so I’m going to have to snip it into bite-sized pieces (well, big bites – this is me we’re talking about). I’m not going to bother giving it out in chronological order; I want to tell the parts that matter most while they still matter.

You see, not long ago I read an extremely popular book by an extremely popular online guru, and while it wasn’t the most inspiring thing I’ve ever read (this whole thing where self-helpy not-quite-about-business-and-not-quite-about-anything-else books have eighty different typefaces and bold every other line might be useful for people with the attention span of a gnat, but it gets kind of irksome for those of us who read things longer than blog posts), it did have some cool concepts, and together with some other reading I’ve done lately it got me thinking about the dreaded buzzword “authenticity.”

Use these authentic practices and your authentic self will emerge and live an authentic life of authenticity! Especially if you spend $100 on my book/e-course combo and another $200 for a year’s membership in the Authenticity Club!

I’ve known for quite a while that my aversion to the word was tied up with, well, my total lack of it. For years now I’ve been watching the person I used to be – the person I was when I started this blog, when I wrote my first book, when I was in my 20s and happier and in better shape and more social and on fewer medications – worn down into dust behind a gradually eroding shell of herself. I tried to inhabit that shell for as long as I could, but finally I was standing surrounded by the fossilized remains of Dianne Sylvan the Pagan Writer and Teacher, holding only a name tag and a ritual robe that no longer fit.

Parts of it had never fit in the first place, but that was no longer relevant.

Who had I become? I threw myself into the identity of novelist, and since that was what I’d always wanted anyway figured it was all upward from here.

Then my publisher decided to discontinue the series I’d poured my heart into since 1999, and just like that, an already fragile self-esteem standing on shifting sands tumbled over and fell apart. It wasn’t the end of my writing career – but it felt like it was. It felt like I had failed at the one thing I’d always thought I was meant to do…that I had failed at being myself.

(This was all, of course, blown way out of proportion by my imbalanced brain and paper-thin ego; I’m well aware that the publishing industry is in kind of a tailspin and it’s not a reflection on my talent. But there’s really no way to take someone telling you you’re not a good investment anything but personally.)

It’s taken over a year to get back to a place where writing feels good again. I find myself staying up late to finish a scene, something I hadn’t done in months. When I realized that posting chapters one by one like in the Days of Fanfic Yore was making me feel excited, I hatched the idea for my Patreon, hoping I could make writing what I loved lucrative again.

Still, those questions of identity and purpose remain. Here I am, 37 years old, with no idea who I am – after years and years of relentless self-examination the way only a Scorpio can manage it!

As I mentioned a while back the Gretchen Ruben book about habits emphasizes that you can’t expect yourself to change if you try to do things as someone else. You have to meet yourself where you are, work with the tools you’ve got in your toolbox rather than standing around wishing you could leap into discipline like a lean teenaged greyhound. That’s where all of this started in my mind, trying to work through her questions and figure out how I really do things. Far too many of my answers were “I don’t know.”

I know that these sorts of thoughts can take a lifetime to make sense of; I have no illusions that I’m going to magically poof into The Authentic ™ Me. I’m not after epiphanies or revelations, though if some were to come my way I wouldn’t protest. But that’s not really the goal.

The goal is to tell a story.

Part One – Coming Monday.

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Just a Quickie

Thanks to everyone who’s already joined my Patreon!  You guys rock my socks.

Meanwhile, here’s this week’s Agenda Journaling pages from the e-course offered by Hope at Besottment:

Agenda Journal April 6-12

 

I’m still trying to work out what I want to use my Agenda Journal for – it’s definitely a diary more than a planner, but I don’t know if enough stuff really happens in my life to need that much space to doodle about a day.  Then again, there are times when I’m crazy busy for weeks at a go, so, maybe it’ll get more crowded as time goes on.  Regardless, I’m having fun with it.

(Just in case you wonder:  I rate my mood level every day on a scale from 1-10, with 1 being “I just committed suicide, how are you?” and 10 being a state of bliss no human can reach.  When I’m hella depressed I hover around 3; when I’m hypomanic I sometimes get as far up as 7.  5 is a state where I feel pretty stable and able to get stuff done.  It’s not happy, really, but it’s functional.  I’ve had a nice string of 5 days lately and hope it continues, though I have had a few emotional whiplash moments.  But given I spend most of the year at a 4, 5 is good. We like 5.)

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Become a Patron of the Angst

Are you a fan of the Shadow World novels or the Agency series? Are you jonesing for a Miranda/David fix?  Does the idea of waiting another year for my next book fill you with existential despair and dread?

Do you like the idea of supporting the writers and artists you love?

You’re in luck! I can help you with all those things.

I’ve officially started my own Patreon page – now for less than the cost of a latte per month you can get new book chapters as they’re written instead of having to wait for the whole book.  You’ll have first crack at new Extras, access to Patron-only giveaways – and that’s for *all* of my series, not just the Shadow World.  That includes anything new I start for as long as you’re a Patron.

It’s a fabulous system – you get exclusive content and a continuous supply of supernatural drama, and I get to pay my internet bill so I can keep giving you the drama!

For more details please visit my Patreon page by clicking on the logo:

Patreon

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7 Secrets of Body Positivity (a printable for you)

Two posts in one week!  Crazy, right?

This time, a change of pace:  I was reading back through some of my old posts and happened across the oft-linked 10 Rules for Fat Girls.  I thought, “This is good stuff – wouldn’t it be nice if people had something like this they could look at every day?”

Inspired, I distilled my body image philosophy into seven “secrets” (obviously they’re not the only considerations when it comes to body positivity, but it’ll get you started) and made a printable file you can hang on your wall, your fridge, your mirror – or put in a binder or planner.  The pdf below includes both a full-sized 8 1/2 x 11″ version and a half-sized version (2 on a page) so you’ll have easy display options.

Enjoy! It’s been a while since I did anything body-sacred-related, so I’m excited to share it with you. Click on the image to download the pdf.

You can also get a copy of my 2004 book The Body Sacred, or read some blog posts on the subject:

10 Rules for Fat Girls

10 Ways to Show Yourself Some Love (a Valentine’s Day post, but I think it applies all year)

F*ck it, I’m Cute

 

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Thinky Thoughts and Silly Doodles

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately – perhaps more than usual, which given my tendency to overthink and overanalyze even the slightest gesture on the part of the universe or people or, hell, random pigeons, is saying something.

This time, however, the thoughts have an unusual flavor – this sort of minty, sort of cool undertone that I realized is actual utility.  Yes, I’m thinking in circles about some things, but slowly a few things are clicking into place – my brain is playing Tetris with itself.

Screen shot 2015-04-06 at 2.31.13 PMMy guiding thought this month has thus far been “know thyself.”  I recently finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Better than Before, which discusses the nature of habits:  how we create them, why we break them, and strategies for forming new ones.  And though Rubin herself has one of those Type A personalities that drive me bonkerdoodles, she emphasizes that her way of doing things is atypical, and that no single approach to change is the “right” one, just the right one for you.  Her big thing is, as you might guess, knowing yourself, and considering both how your personality can set you up to fail and how you can take advantage of it to succeed.

One important thing I learned reading the book is that I’m what Rubin calls an Obliger:  I need external accountability and validation to keep me committed.  I’m great at starting things but dreadful at follow-through, and I have a really hard time self-motivating.  I run in a grey area between valuing people’s opinions too much and becoming resentful that I care about those opinions at all.  Obligers like being leaders and role models – having people look to them and support their ideas.

At first I thought that was terrible.  External validation?  What kind of screwed up self-image is that?  I shouldn’t need other people’s approval for anything! But then, I realized, it’s not about upholding the image of the perfect self-actualized woman.  Craving validation isn’t a sin.  We all do it to one degree or another; I just have a personality that finds external accountability a big motivator.  If you just leave me alone with a list of changes to make chances are I’ll make a nice fat to-do list out of it and then lay down and watch Chopped.

Basically I’m equally likely to join a cult or lead one myself.

This was a valuable insight. Because of all the woo-woo self-helpy philosophy I’ve ingested over the years I believed that only I could keep myself on the straight and narrow/bi and swervy; now when I consider the habits I want to adopt in various arenas of my life (there’s a chart) I’m considering ways I could go public with them, ways to use my creative talents to both inform/entertain people and give me a framework for change.

That’s a big part of why I’m working on a Patreon in which subscribers will have access to my book chapters one by one – the old multipart fan fiction approach always provided the feedback I craved to keep me going.  This whole thing where a book takes a year to get done and I have to hold back what happens from the world is no more fun for me than it is for you!

As you might imagine, based on my delightfully extroverted personality and my warm and fuzzy countenance (SARCASM SIGN), this is kind of a terrifying thought for me.  I’m not what you’d call a joiner; I’m not good at sharing, except in writing.  I’ve lived a lot of my life in secret, hiding the truth even when it was easier to be forthright than to make something up.  Some of that was a survival mechanism, but I find that here on the edge of 40 I’m so closed off I’ve pretty much stopped trying to do…anything.

One of the things I always told people about The Circle Within was that it wasn’t a book written by a knowledgable Elder of the path.  It was written for myself as much as anyone else, to help me crystallize and make sense of my way of practicing.  The Body Sacred was the same way; I wrote it first and foremost because I needed it, not because I’d come through my body image journey and was now ready to dispense my vast wisdom to the masses.

Now I’m trying to figure out what exactly I need here in 2015 and how I can create it.

I’d like to say I have a Big Idea to share, but I don’t, not yet.  However, I figured out that I used to blog a lot more when I was just talking about my life experiences and touching on larger truths rather than trying to “say something.”  I’ve been trying too hard at what doesn’t matter, and it’s drained the energy I had for things that do.  So, here I am, and since I don’t have any earthshattering insights, I thought I could at least share where I’m at, as well as this:

Here’s the first week in my agenda journal from Hope Wallace’s Daily Musings course.  First, I decorated the title page with various bits of paper and a scrap of text from Shadow’s Fall.  I stuck a library pocket inside the front cover to hold whatever paper flotsam I need.

2015-04-06 12.48.27

By contrast, my actual agenda pages are not exactly a vintage themed outing; since I didn’t really go anywhere last week, I didn’t have any of the receipts or cards or ephemera that Hope usually does in her journals, so I just went with my own little doodles, my new pens, and a bit of Prismacolor here and there.

2015-04-06 12.47.52

I think now that I’ve got more of a feel for what it takes to fill up a day’s entry I’ll make more interesting pages.

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