Bit of a Life Update

The past month was too much.  I’ll just put that out there.

First we moved house again.  That actually went surprisingly well.  We had help from a ton of friends and movers and got it all in one day.  We’ve had to sink a distressing amount of money into the new place as it was missing some important stuff like a fridge and a washer/dryer, and we’ve had some mishaps, but overall we both love the new house.  Still, moving is not fun, ever, and I already had emotional scar tissue from the last couple of moves, which were disasters to one degree or another.  

A week after the move, my kitty Stella died.  She was 17 years old and had lymphoma, which I didn’t discover until she stopped eating and there was nothing that would help her. I had to let my sweet old biddy go, and it’s been pretty damn devastating–plus there’s always the sense of, could I have done something better, was she happy, how much was she suffering all that time?  Stella is the second cat I’ve lost to lymphoma and now I’m paranoid about Owen.  Every noise he makes worries me, which is extra fun because now that Stella is gone he has taken it upon himself to be the noisy, yowly cat.  Is he sad?  Does he miss her?  Does he understand what happened?   Is he in pain?

(I’m not including her picture because seeing her still makes me choke up.)

There have been good things this month too, of course – as I said I love the new house, especially how my bedroom is shaping up.  I’m hoping to get some nice pics to post once it’s all together.  

Me and my art bae.

Also last weekend I went with two of my favorite people to the Van Gogh: His Life in Art exhibit at the Houston Museum of Fine Art.  It was insanely crowded, but the chance to stand in front of Irises and several dozen other works of Vincent’s was amazing.  Standing there being jostled by this enormous crowd I thought of the Doctor Who episode about Van Gogh, and him standing in the modern gallery watching all these people marvel over his work and call him one of the greatest artists who ever lived.  That episode remains one of my favorites.

This past weekend brought another fantastic event:  I got to see Hamilton!  Over a year ago, my longtime friend Julie posed a question:  She had season tickets to Austin’s Broadway series, and since her husband wasn’t interested in Hamilton, did I want to be her plus one?  

OH HELL AND FUCK YEAH I DID.

How does a bastard orphan son of a whore and a Scotsman grow up to be IN MY EYEBALLS OMG OMG???

I’ve seen, shall we say, an unofficial video of most of the show on Broadway with the original cast, and while no other cast is ever going to top that one in my heart, just being there hearing the songs and seeing the rotating stage (my god the choreography with that thing is dizzying) and seeing the light cues…I think that qualifies as a Peak Experience.  

So, as I said, the last month has been a LOT of everything.  Some amazing highs, an awful low, insane levels of stress, and overall…I am exhausted.  I’ve been on the verge of total burnout since the year started, to be honest, and while I’ve been holding my crap together reasonably (I think?) I’ve been about to unspool for a good month now.  I’m getting up and going to work but I’m also sleeping a ton and eating utter crap, and my meditative practice has kind of…fizzled.  

Remember how I lamented that it’s those times that you need your spiritual practice the most that it tends to go poof?  Yeah.  That.

Thus now that things are calming down a little and I’m feeling a bit better (a bit, I’m trying not to push it), I’m going to start over again, because that’s all I can do.  I’ll be back on the Spiritual ReBeginning series of posts very soon.  

In the meantime, here’s Tom Ellis from Lucifer reading thirst Tweets, because I love you. (Oh, and the new season of Lucifer on Netflix was fantastic – I loved it! I wish it had been longer and I really hope they get another season. Like immediately! *sigh*)

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Starting Over on Your Spiritual Path

You may remember that once upon a time, back when I called myself Wiccan, I wrote an entire book on spiritual practice.   

It was pretty well-received, if I do say so myself, and in fact 15 years later I still get emails and messages from people saying they’ve just discovered it (or have had it all this time) and it’s been instrumental in helping them develop their own practices.  

That’s right up there with the folks who tell me that my novels have helped them face and evolve past homophobia in the top ten warm fuzzies I could get as a writer.  Seriously when I hear either of those things, or that The Body Sacred helped someone overcome self-hatred, I get misty ’round the eyeballs.  (The fact that I hear all three fairly often has helped me keep going in more ways than one.)

You may also know, however, that I have to take a “do as I say, not as I do” approach with The Circle Within now, because I haven’t considered myself Wiccan for a long time, and in fact for years I was nothing at all.  I had some deeply negative experiences that drove me away from my path, but even before that, I was already in spiritual distress.  I managed to shed the label and embrace my Spiritual Nomad-hood (again to the positive reception of the outside world), but before long my remaining spiritual enthusiasm drained away and I was left, again, with nothing.

Oops.

Well, that’s what I thought anyway.  Isn’t that what we always think?

I’m not sure exactly what changed, but something impelled me to start reaching out again – slowly at first, dabbling in my Tarot studies, rebuilding my altar last year.  I started doing the shadow work I wrote about several months ago, and I uncovered the roots of a big part of my spiritual crisis.  Once I’d stared that in the face for a while I started doing some meditative pathworking, and wham! some things in my mind came together and I realized that after years and years of longing for a matron Goddess yet feeling unworthy and disconnected, it turned out She had been quite patiently waiting in the pages of my own novels for me to wake the hell up and notice.

Things have been a little different since then.

Right about the same time as all this was happening I finally managed to commit to my vegan practice as well – I did some of my first spellwork in a long time and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work like a…well, you know.  Suddenly not only was I able to keep vegan, it was fun.  There have been plenty of challenges, and I’m sure there will be plenty more, but overall, I’m getting comfortable with this part of my identity in a way I haven’t ever been before.  There’s a deep, wonderful relief in finally living your convictions.  

I am slowly cobbling together a new path for myself, and it’s far from cohesive or even consistent yet, but I want to talk about it here on the blog because I know that for many people it’s a familiar story.  You break down, you spend months or years trying to stand back up, and once you’re on your shaky baby-deer legs again…then what?  How do you start walking?  

When what used to be welcoming, or at least comfortable in its consistency, falls apart, and you’re left with a giant pile of soul-Legos at your feet, how do you decide what to build in its place?  

It’s more straightforward if you have some kind of big epiphany or conversion experience.  Maybe you found Jesus and now you’ve got a faith community to join and all sorts of resources, classes, literature, and affirmation in front of you – great!  Maybe you read a book on Buddhism that grabbed you so hard by the mala you ran down to the local meditation center and took yourself some refuge in the Dharma.  Awesome!   

For a lot of people, including myself, starting over spiritually ends up being less a heavenly angels’ chorus and more of a series of enlightened burps.

The cosmic 2×4 of reawakening is swell, but once the swelling goes down, what do you do?

That’s what I hope to explore in the coming weeks here at CrazyBeautiful.  I want to talk about what’s working for me, and some things I want to try out.  My writing has always been a way of figuring things out as much as conveying them to others; I learned more about spiritual practice writing The Circle Within than I ever had, and I worked out a ton of body issues while working on The Body Sacred.  It’s when I started feeling like I should be some sort of authority that blogging became work instead of exploration.  

Heck that.  Let’s rock some ReBeginner’s Mind.  

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Catching Up

In all the madness of the spinning world, with the internet running in all directions as far as even Facebook can see, of all the myriad blogs about basically not much of anything out there in the vast wilderness of cyberspace, you have landed here, the home site of a little-known author who once wrote about Paganism, tends to write about vampires, and let’s be honest here, barely blogs much at all.

Welcome!  Thank you for coming over. Those who have been around my work a while know it’s worth sticking by me, or at least I hope it is and they seem to think it is.  My name is Dianne Sylvan, and I’ll be your writer here at CrazyBeautiful, a blog without a single subject to call its own, without a “brand,” without a clue. I am, in other words, just like most people these days, not sure where to go or what to do but sure we have to DO SOMETHING.

I used to be quite prolific, but bad experiences online and a pretty godawful downturn of my mental illness have kept me from writing for the better part of a year except in fits and snorts.  I’m working on remedying that, so, first of all, please allow me to reintroduce myself and we can start from here.

Name:  Dianne Sylvan

Birthdate:   November 19, 1977

Relevant Astrological Deets:  Scorpio Sun, Scorpio Rising, Pisces Moon, Ravenclaw/Slytherin Cusp

Height/Weight:  5’7″,  approx 350lbs.

Tattoos:   

  • back of neck:  Ahimsa (nonviolence) in Sanskrit
  • left shoulder blade: spider
  • right shoulder blade: butterfly (my very first ink, awwww)
  • right upper arm: phoenix/lotus
  • left upper arm:  snake
  • left forearm/inner:  “We’re all stories in the end” (Doctor Who quote)

Piercings:  One in each earlobe.

Missing body parts or organs:   Missing gallbladder.  Any sightings please email.

Hair color/length:  Purplish or bluish, pixie cut, very short.

Overall appearance:   Enormously fat.  Really, that’s the first thing you’ll notice, so there you have it.  I have pretty eyes, excellent skin, pretty hands and feet, and am exceedingly buxom, but let’s be honest, I’m fat, that’s what people see first.  Their loss I suppose if they don’t stick around.

General aesthetic:   Bargain basement couch?  Honestly I don’t dwell much on my appearance because at some point I just went, “…why?”  Finding sexy affordable vegan clothes/makeup that I like and that look good on me and are comfortable is way more effort than I want to expend most of the time.  I don’t owe anyone beauty. But mostly I wear jeans (elastic waist because of my nickel allergy, so, mega sexy there), black tops as long as I can find them, and in winter a variety of cardigan and sweater things. I usually wear black or brown boots but since I mucked up my back I’ve been sticking with my Ryka trainers. On a good day I look “together” and on a bad day I look “OH LAWD SHE COMIN’.”

Religious Thingie:  Paganesque.  I’ll go into this more soon.

Dietary Thing:   Ethical vegan.  

Food or other Allergies:   I’m allergic to nickel, penicillin, and cinnamon, so, I guess next up will be liniment, Phenergan, and and imminent militant Dominicans.

Other Health Concerns:  I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome stemming from the aforementioned gallbladder; an irregular heartbeat; pretty severe bipolar depression or whatever they’re calling bipolar II now; anxiety, insomnia, essential tremors in both hands, and contact dermatitis when exposed to nickel. Oh, and I have a bad back and a messed up right knee, each with its own story.

The author, age 41.

You are likely to find me:   In Starbucks, Epoch, or some other coffee place in Austin, with my Macbook and a pile of notebooks at hand, especially my bullet journal.

You may know me by:  The Shadow World Series of urban fantasy novels; my neoPagan nonfiction books The Circle Within: Creating a Wiccan Spiritual Tradition and The Body Sacred; my digital only urban fantasy series, the Agency; a few essays I wrote in the Vampire Diaries TV fandom back in the day; and my fan fiction adventures over on Archive of Our Own.

Other interesting things about me:  I am adopted, and yes I’m cool with that fact; I had two brothers growing up but one committed suicide in 2004; I do have a day job;  I live in Austin, TX with a roommate and 8 animal friends; and no, I do not have a publication date for SW book 8 just yet but YES it will absolutely happen regardless of whatever other projects I take on. Also, YES I am working on a new book that is not part of that series.

I have a lot of stuff to catch you up on, and things to share, but this’ll do for a beginning. It’s only February after all! I’m hoping to get into the habit of posting twice a week, so you’ll see me a lot more this year. Fingers crossed!

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Round and Round She Goes

Here we are, in the first month of another new year.  And since it’s been so long since my last post, this is usually the part where, as a typical blogger, I apologize for being gone so long and vow to post more often, et cetera.

You know what? I suck at blogging.  I used to be good at it back when I felt like I had unique or at least interesting things to say and I wasn’t weary of the internet’s insistence on showing its ass at every available opportunity.  I have psyched myself out of so many posts wondering what the consequences would be!  I’ve had just enough bad experiences that I ask myself, “Is what I have to say important enough or different enough to be worth the (metaphorical) balls shoved in my face for being a Woman With Opinions on the Internet?” and the answer always seems to be “God I’m tired.”

I don’t want to be like that – now more than ever speaking up, refusing to remain silent about what’s important (or even unimportant but fun, anything to shed a little light or spark a little laugh in this hellscape of a world we’ve stumbled headlong into), is vital – but I’m 41, jaded, depressed, and no longer so sure of my footing.  

2018 was terrible.  Let’s just get that out there.  I was in a shithole of a brainspace, my executive functioning was at an all time low, and my writing career dwindled to basically nothing.  To paraphrase Ray Bradbury, the only way you can truly fail as a writer is to quit writing, and I have come dangerously close to failure in the last year.  

I can’t be angry with myself; as I said, I’ve been in a shithole, and nearly got fired from my day job for absenteeism because there were so many days I just couldn’t get out of bed.  That’s what my mental illness tries to do to me.  It tells me I’m a failure, a lazy waste of carbon atoms, and then it tries to prove itself right.

My new-old desk and writing situation.

I’m doing a bit better right now, and feeling a bit more optimistic.  I’ve been writing naughty fan fiction again to try and, er, get the juices flowing, and I’m working through a goal-setting system called Powersheets that has helped me get a better look at my priorities – both where they have been and where I want them to go.  I have a snazzy new writing space in my bedroom that I’m so happy with I love spending time there (see photo), and I’ve gotten back into my magical and spiritual practices, which I have a LOT to say about, though at the moment I’m having a lull because I’ve had a back injury and getting down to my altar has been, well, kind of embarrassingly impossible, bringing to mind the episode of Planet Earth where the baby walruses try to get up on the polar ice and keep sliding off.

Since I couldn’t find footage of that, please enjoy this instead:

At any rate, this post is really just a “hello again” and an expression of hope that I’ll be around more this year – I can hardly be around less!  I’m trying to get past my reluctance and my hangups, so hopefully I’ll even have some pretty toothsome stuff to talk about.  For those still here, thanks for hanging with me.  If I’m not a failure, it’s because of all of you!  

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 30: I will go down with this ‘ship

Sorry guys.  My last two days of Smallish Bloggery were interrupted – I was felled by a brief but intense bout of food poisoning that involved 102F fever and longing for the sweet embrace of death a bit more than wanting to blog.  

I am still feeling pretty horrid, to be honest, so instead of waxing bloggerific about ships I know and love, or any of that, I shall just refer  you to my work over on Archive of Our Own where you can read a bit more about a couple of my favorites, as long as you like a) boys getting it on and b) significantly adult-oriented material.

I’ll be back with a Day 31 wrap-up as soon as I feel able.  In the meantime, please enjoy some exceedingly gratuitous Johnlock and Frostshield:

suchaprettyface at Archive of Our Own 

(18+ only please, thank you)

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