Sylvan Points at Stuff – 10 Things That Weren’t Absolute Crap in 2017

Let’s be honest here:  2017 sucked.  If your year was awesome, well, chances are you’re either a millionaire, you are oblivious to the outside world, or you are Taylor Swift (which means you are a millionaire and oblivious to the outside world).  

This is not to say nothing good happened.  Of course it did!  Through the smoke of the gigantic dumpster fire of 2017 you could catch glimpses of beauty and truth.  I hope that your personal life involved at least a few lovely things, and that here at the tail end of the year you’re able to look back and see those lovely things no matter how much of the world’s bullshit wound up burning in a bag on your porch.  Let those be the things that warm you as we head into what is likely to be another difficult year for those of us with a social conscience and a lot to lose.

As for me, I feel an immense relief that the year is over even though I have no real reason to imagine 2018 will be less of a turd soufflé.  And rather than analyze it all to death, I’m just going to bury it in the litter box and try to be done with it – I need my strength for the year ahead.  

But here are ten small-to-medium things about 2017 that I did love, in no particular order.

1 – I did kind of publish another book.  That’s pretty cool.  

Incidentally it’d be really awesome if you read Shadow Rising and would be kind enough to leave a review or rating on Amazon.  I don’t read reviews (no, not even good ones) because they’re bad for my mental health, but every writer needs them to help encourage people to try out their work.  

2 – Wonder Woman. 

Even though DC has misfired dreadfully on 90% of its superhero movies, this one was like a breath of fresh air and optimism in an unrelentingly dreary year.  At long last a movie with a female superhero character who wasn’t constantly framed for the male gaze – no long shots down her cleavage, no posing with her butt positioned toward the camera in defiance of anatomy and logic.  Was it a perfect movie?  Oh gods no.  It turned into a giant CGI brainless brawl at the end, and I still can’t get past Ares’ porn stache, but if you didn’t see a bit of yourself – of our collective soul and sanity – in the No Man’s Land scene, standing up and resisting, refusing to be moved – well, you should probably watch it again:

3 – Hamilton.

Late to the party as usual, but listening to the soundtrack on a whim one night led to my falling head over heels in love with this weird hip-hop retelling of the founding of America and, by extension, its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who I think might be an actual unicorn.  If you want someone on your Twitter feed who’s positive, hilarious, and full of heart (and who writes sonnets on a whim just to say good morning), follow him, you won’t regret it.  I think when the purge of horrible men in Hollywood is done it’ll be just him, Chris Evans, and Patrick Stewart left standing.  I’m totally okay with that.

Enjoy, here, the Tony Awards performance of Hamilton’s original cast, introduced by the Obamas.  Notice that the “battle” involves no guns – the props were removed for the performance because that was the day of the mass shooting in Orlando.  

4 – Lucifer.

And now for something completely different.  I don’t quite remember what made me start watching Lucifer, or what inspired me to slog past the first few ridiculous episodes, but by the time the first season was halfway over I was HOOKED.  Aside from the gorgeous and talented cast, the show is way better than it has any right to be – the characters, especially Lucifer, Amenadiel, Mazikeen, Doctor Linda, Chloe, and the Goddess of Creation, are so emotionally compelling.  Based on the characters from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series of graphic novels, basically the idea is that the devil leaves hell to live in Los Angeles, run a night club, and eventually fight crime.  Yeah, it’s as dumb as it sounds, but it’s also amazing, due in no small part to Tom Ellis’s performance as Luci.  

I tried to find a clip to show you, but the really good stuff depends on context, so just take my word for it and go watch the show.  

5 –  My new Tarot deck.

After a long, long dry spell in the mystical department, I’ve gotten back into Tarot.  Rather than trying to work with oracles that aren’t really talking to me anymore, I decided to try something brand new, and have embarked on learning actual Tarot (my preferred oracles have been, as you may know, the Runes of the Elder Futhark and the Brian Froud Faeries Oracle).  Inspired by YouTubers like Katey Flowers, and the fact that I’ve always been a sucker for a beautiful deck, I re-bought the Tarot of the Hidden Realm, and am currently studying it along with a more traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck and my Shadowscapes deck by Stephanie Law.  

And lord, does the Hidden Realm deck talk to me!  For the moment I’m concentrating on using the cards for myself, but I’ll probably start reading for other people once I’m more comfortable with them.  I have something of a divinatory spark, and it always wants to catch others on fire.

I’ll have a full post about my Tarot explorations soon.

6 – My Funko Pops! collection.

My desk at my day job is like a toy store at this point, and my Funko Pops! are the stars.  My favorites so far are General Leia and Bob Ross, who are front and center (along with a vastly amused black cat figurine):

My other favorite, of course, is Dorothy Zbornak, a gift from m’bestie; here she is having none of Stephen Strange’s nonsense, while Patty from Ghostbusters stands guard nearby.

7 – Ed Sheeran’s “Galway Girl”

I wasn’t as thrilled with Ed’s newest album as I was with the last one, but it does have some great songs, and the two that are Irish-inspired are probably my favorites.  This one for some reason just always makes me smile and bounce.  Smiles and bounces are important.

8 – Contouring 101.

If you haven’t seen this video…I don’t even know how to describe it to you.  It’s…a parody?  It’s bizarre and hilarious and I’m STILL laughing about it.  My roommate and I quote it constantly, specifically “…NOSTRILS” and “IF THE MEN FIND OUT WE CAN SHAPESHIFT, THEY’RE GOING TO TELL THE CHURCH.”

9 – Coffee.

Life continues to bamboozle and explode.  Coffee is always there for us.  Coffee understands.  My drink of 2017 was a raspberry soy mocha.  Trust me, the combination of flavors is exquisite.  I even had my birthday cake, which was DELICIOUS and gorgeous and made by local vegan bakery Capital City Bakery, made in mocha and raspberry.  

Actually my 40th birthday party should be on this list anyway, as it was a fabulous time with some of my favorite people, and I got delightfully squiffy on Moscow Mules (my favorite form of squiff-ening beverage).

10 –  My new pendant.

Speaking of my birthday, I had my eye on this piece for an entire year before I finally ordered it.  I’ve long worn a pewter compass that says “Trust Your Journey,” but as my 40th loomed I felt it was time for a new “me” necklace.  The pendant below bears the calligraphy of Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my all-time favorite spiritual writers and a true inspiration; it’s one of several pieces in the series, and is a sentiment I try to be mindful of every day:  No mud, no lotus.

 

11 – (Special Bonus Round!)  All of you.

I know, it’s cheesy, but all my readers and Patrons and friends and Twitter followers and Facebook peeps helped immeasurably to keep 2017 from being a total misery-orgy.  I’ve never been good at communicating with actual people – I’m awful at returning emails and comments, not because I don’t read them or want to reply, but because…I don’t know, exactly.  It might be the same thing that makes it so impossible for me to make phone calls.  I absolutely blow at reaching out.  But I know you’re there, and i adore every one of you.  I hope that my infrequent blog posts, occasional novels, and sporadic attendance at my own social media are at least worth sticking around for.  I hope to have a new book for you this year – probably not Book 8 (although who knows?), but something new (I hope I hope I hope), and I really want to offer more Shadow World Extras and, gods willing, more of the Agency.  But none of this would be possible without all of you staying with me through my silly seasons and sad storms, so thank you, thank you, thank you.

Let’s all have a solidly good 2018.  It seems a bit laughable to ask for awesome, given the state of the world, but let’s all do what we can to make it better – for ourselves, for each other, for everyone.

Everyone hold hands…take a breath…and…jump!

I’ll be back soon with posts on my new bullet journal/planner situation, a wrap-up of last year’s favorite planner spreads, some musings on divination, and my goals for 2018.

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Sylvan Points at Stuff: Favorite YouTube Channels

Been a while since I pointed at anything, so let’s have some videos!  

I am a woman of odd enthusiasms, as are, I imagine, many of my readers.  Looking at the channels I subscribe to on YouTube or the Instagrams I follow would be pretty instructive to those trying to figure me out – just, um, don’t read too much into my Tumblr, I’m really not *that* into gay porn.

I think the entire internet just gave me this face:

While Instagram for me is mostly pretty things and food, however, I actually use my YouTube for some practical purposes, including getting the hell to sleep.  I follow a number of meditation music channels and ASMR-related channels to help my anxiety and help me sleep, so they make up a significant chunk of what you’d see on my feed.  I also have several art-related folk I follow, particularly devoted to art journaling and the like, and remarkably few planner-related bloggers, although I used to follow a bunch. A lot of planner-related channels pay way more attention to things like dieting than I really want to hear about, not to mention some of the ones I used to really enjoy have stopped updating (the eternal YouTube struggle).

Here then are some of my favorite YouTube channels, in no particular order.  I’m not listing some of the more obvious ones, like Maru – I wanted to point out YouTubers you might not have heard of.

ASMR Rooms

This channel is brilliant – the creator has built a variety of “rooms” that are basically soundscapes, combining nature sounds, ambient sounds, occasionally voices, and the background noise of a particular location.  In this example she’s captured the Ravenclaw Common Room at Hogwarts, but she’s done rooms from Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Hobbit, and others.  They’re all incredibly soothing and evocative.

Peaceful Cuisine

Another ASMR-ish sort of channel, this one combines lovely cooking noises with vegan recipes.  There are usually two versions of each recipe, one with music and one just with the cooking sounds so you can listen as you watch.  I’ve always found cooking sounds – like dicing, pouring, and stirring – really soothing, and the videos are beautifully shot.  The creator is Japanese and occasionally appears on camera but the emphasis is always on the food and the process of prep and cooking.

YellowBrick Cinema – Relaxing Music

A prolific channel for meditation and relaxation music.  They post at least once a day.  Some of their posts are classical music, some acoustic, some ambient, and they range from 15 minutes to 6 hours in length.  There are also videos meant to help soothe babies to sleep, and music for reiki and healing practices.

Vicky Papaioannou

Vicky is one of my favorite art/craft YouTubers, partly because of her wonderful Greek accent, partly because I enjoy the bright exuberance of her style, and partly because her cat Ginger makes periodic appearances walking around on her work table.  I’m not into making handmade cards, but I enjoy watching her try new techniques and show off new supplies, and her art journals are a totally different style from what I originally found online.  It’s obvious how much she loves doing what she does.  

Yoga With Adriene

Adriene is from right here in ATX, which was my impetus for clicking on her “beginners’ yoga” video when I was tooling around YouTube looking for videos to start playing with.  I loved her almost immediately – her teaching style is a good combination of woo-woo and pragmatic, asking students to meet themselves where they are and “find what feels good.”

She’s definitely not a plus-sized yogini, and there are a couple of weight loss videos on her channel, but she typically doesn’t bring up that sort of thing unless that’s the subject of the video.  Since that’s not what I’m there for, I just steer clear of those and stick with what inspires me.  She has videos that focus on all sorts of needs, from yoga for your back and shoulders, to yoga for swimmers or cyclists, yoga for migraines, anger management, yoga for those in wheelchairs, you name it.  There are also meditations and some videos that focus on getting deeper into a particular pose.

I also love her dog Benji.  You know you’re watching an Austin yoga video when the teacher’s dog is in it.

Molly Roberts: HerSpeak

A relative newcomer to my lineup, I happened across Molly when looking for meditations, and I don’t know if it’s her voice, her enthusiasm, or just her flat out adorableness, but I was hooked.  I’m planning to go back to the beginning of her channel and watch anything that sounds appealing.

Molly’s a Pagan YouTuber, and does videos on magick, ritual, and some of my favorite subjects:  BoS/Grimoirekeeping and altar building.  To be perfectly honest it had never occurred to me to look for BoS tours and altar show-and-tell the way I’ve watched planner-walkthrough videos, and how could I have been so blind?!?  Those were always some of my favorite aspects of the Craft, and if I had a remotely video-friendly bone in my body I’d do a walkthrough of my old, hand-drawn BoS just to show how much work and love went into it way back when.

Anyway, thanks to Molly I have a whole new YouTube rabbit hole to fall down, and I’m looking forward to it.  But in the meantime I just love listening to her talk (her voice is an ASMR trigger at times, which only makes it that much more awesome) and love her ideas.  Not to mention she combines magick with something else I love hearing about:  Bullet Journaling.

Incidentally, do you have any mystical or spiritual YouTubers you love?  Pretty much any tradition, as long as it’s non-conservative.  I’m a soul-slut, as you know.  What I’d really love to see are more Pagan planners, bullet journalers, or BoS-keepers.  Recommend away in comments, on Facebook, or Twitter.  

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…because I needed another challenge

Well, I’ve officially been wandering around in this person suit for 39 years.

39 nine is kind of a dumb number, as far as significant birthdays go, but 40 had a certain weight to it – socially if nothing else.  Therefore I’ve decided to undertake what I hope will be a fun project – 40 Things to Do by my 40th Birthday, or to use the groovy parlance of today’s hip modern youth, #40by40.

I worked on the list for quite a while, and I’ve designated a notebook for it (naturally).  It’s just a regular old Moleskine Cahier notebook I covered with decorative paper and drew a title on with my white gel pen.  I seem to be going with a celestial sort of theme for 2017 for some reason, and I had a scrap of paper a friend sent me long long ago, so it became the cover.

40by40ext

The plan is this:

Each time I complete a task, I’ll create a page (or half page) for it and write, draw, or paste in mementos from the experience.  It won’t have to go in order from 1-40, as I can just record the number of whatever page the task falls on.  That way I’ll have a memento of what I hope will be a much, much better year not just for me but for the entire damn planet.

I also plan to post here on the blog about each task so you can follow along if you like – hell, come up with your own list for 2017 (of whatever number you deem appropriate for you) and tell me all about it on Instagram.

I tried to make the list using only doable items that are finite in nature – nothing like “meditate every day” or “eat more vegetables.”  I wanted the list items to stretch my comfort zone a bit but still be things I’d enjoy doing or at least benefit from in some way.  I also instituted a few rules:

1 – I can change an item if the one I had becomes impossible.  For example, if a restaurant I want to visit closes down, I can take it off the list, but I have to replace it with something comparable.

2 – I get two freebies I can chuck for any reason at all including realizing six months from now that I don’t want to do that thing anymore, but I have to replace them as well.

3 – I have to blog about and make a notebook page for each item.

Here we go:

40by401

40by402

 

40 Things to Do By My 40th Birthday

  1. Finish Shadow Rising
  2. Do Vegan MoFo
  3. Volunteer at VegFest 2017
  4. Go see a play
  5. Have a badass Halloween costume
  6. Get another tattoo
  7. Start a new novel
  8. See some live music
  9. Dye my hair a crazy color
  10. Take a class
  11. Do a fun manicure
  12. Shop at Rabbit Food Grocery
  13. Eat at Counter Culture
  14. Go to Capital City Bakery
  15. Find a home for The Coat
  16. Throw a theme party
  17. Make seitan from scratch
  18. Go watch the bats
  19. Paint a picture
  20. Make something with aquafaba
  21. Make a new vegan friend
  22. Go to two Alamo Drafthouse events
  23. Put out a new ebook
  24. Pet a cow
  25. Try a new recipe every month
  26. Read 10 novels
  27. Get Stella’s bump fixed
  28. Save up $500
  29. Figure out my tax stuff
  30. Hold a group ritual
  31. Do a swap with someone
  32. Try a new cuisine
  33. Do a research project
  34. Discover a new musical artist
  35. Find the right day bag
  36. Finish Song & Cipher
  37. Illustrate a quote a la Vicki P
  38. Listen to the Hamilton soundtrack
  39. Do some sort of 30 day challenge
  40. Donate at least $50 a month

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The Thursday List for 10/13/16

thursday-list

I finally had a few minutes to sit down and make a list! It’s not terribly pretty but it’s a start.  I didn’t have any sort of coloring toys with me so I had to stick with black and white.

I’ve been under such tremendous stress lately I decided to start off with a basic “things I love” list. Enjoy!

(Incidentally I’m using up pages in my 30 Lists journal that I didn’t fill, which is why today’s is labeled 26.)

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