May 10, 2018

My New-Age New Year: Writing, Wellness, and Woo-Woo

All right, sooo...drafting my next manuscript hasn't quite been as productive as hoped over the last week. BUT, what I haven't accomplished in writing this year has been more than made up for in woo-woo.🔮😉

The Dread Pirate Duffy and I have invaded and overtaken my husband's business-book shelves. Good for the soul and some proper R&ARRRR!!! 😄

It seems 2018 has found me in need of some incubation. After the flurry of writing, publishing, and marketing activity toward the end of 2017, I felt a bit emptied in the New Year, meandering without a muse. I didn't feel that special spark of creativity or drive. So, I decided to fill my cup through some self-care.

When I read self-care guidance, I tend to feel guilty because it isn't as if my life is so hectic that I can't carve out downtime. I've got all the me-time in the world if I want it, to be honest. But it's what I was doing with that time lately that felt counterproductive, only getting me increasingly trapped inside my head. I'd never felt so scatterbrained or self-absorbed and just needed to grab the reins on my thoughts and steer them toward mindfulness. I needed to not get so caught up in myself but to give again, through my time, creativity, whatever compassion and talent I have to offer others.

But it's tough to give when you're not operating at 100%. You know, the ol' put-on-your-own-oxygen-mask-before-helping-others-with-theirs schtick that you hear after boarding a plane. Having alone-time is not enough to find serenity, focus, and motivation--again, it's what you do with that time. You've gotta work at it.

And so, a year after immersing myself in the sparkly world of crystals and steadily growing my collection and knowledge of them, I've established a new daily routine of morning meditation. I have a tiny altar set up at the foot of my bed, where I've placed comforting crystals like rose quartz and amethyst, a Himalayan salt lamp, and assorted supplies for meditation and prayer (mala beads, rosary, palm stones, incense, etc.). I like to light a candle and ring a vintage sanctuary bell to cleanse the space and set a tranquil tone first, then I pop on some noise-cancellation headphones (with or without new-age music) to block out city sounds and will sit cross-legged on a cushion with eyes closed and crystals in hand for about 10-20 minutes. After this, I often shuffle and draw angel, oracle, and/or tarot cards to set my intention for the day. More recently, I've added evening prayer to this daily ritual, making sure I share my gratitude for the good and bad of the day and send blessings to loved ones and those in need. This has powerfully reconnected me with my faith, helping me appreciate its beautiful ancient rituals more than ever.

Mixed in with this, I incorporate a crystal or moon ritual when one seems fitting (usually at the new moon or full moon), setting intentions and meditating/acting on them whenever I need a kick in the pants to achieve my goals. Not surprisingly, my most recent ritual involved tapping into my creative heart as I try to get my writing mojo back. We'll see how that pans out.😁

Tapping into my creative heart with rose quartz and carnelian hearts, a one-week ritual prescribed by Energy Muse.
In any case, all of this moon-phase/crystal craze has been part of a greater self-care regimen that I adopted as a New Year's resolution. As I said, I've always been all about me-time--as an introvert, it's essential to recharging my batteries!--but I've felt like I could do more for me. Not as self-indulgence but self-respect. Had I been respecting my body, mind, and soul enough, fueling myself with what I truly needed physically, mentally, and spiritually? No, I don't think I was. So, I've been having a wonderful time researching and reflecting as I work to become the best version of myself. Only when I'm taking care of me properly can I be any use to others.

Okay, so I could bang on about this for ages--and surely you haven't heard the last of it--but I'll wrap this up for now with my current Top 3 Self-Care Books:

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1. Recharge: A Year of Self-Care to Focus on You, by Julie Montagu

2. Crystal Muse: Everyday Rituals to Tune in to the Real You, by Heather Askinosie & Timmi Jandro

3. Lunar Abundance: Cultivating Joy, Peace, and Purpose Using the Phases of the Moon, by Ezzie Spencer, PhD

And in the audio department, Julie Parker's Priestess Podcast makes for some enlightening listening during my daily walks. 🎧

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It may sound like a bunch of touchy-feely fluff drifting outside the atmosphere of your rational, pragmatic world, but there's sound psychological (and sometimes physical) science to all of it. It's largely about training your brain to become more focused and aware, about gaining perspective on (and ownership of) your own life choices--and recognizing that, ultimately, you already know the answers to all your questions. Yeah. Our brains (and intuition) are amazing like that! Julie Montagu's Recharge also offers some super-simple tips on eating and exercising that support the mind as much as body.

And while there's science, too, behind crystal energy (which I sincerely do feel across my chakras), these stones can at the very least offer tangible reminders of what we wish to be most mindful of and improve at any given time. Their colors trigger sensations (e.g., the calm of blue and the vitality of orange), and they might simply just look beautiful or feel nice to hold. If they can please or comfort you in some way--or even produce a placebo effect--there's no harm in them (unless you genuinely need medical treatment, in which case crystals are meant to supplement not replace!).

The author of Lunar Abundance will likewise be the first to tell you that the moon itself has no control over how you feel or what you do; she simply demonstrates how we can follow its phases to chart our own paths forward. It's symbolism of the purest, most natural variety...and we writers loves us some symbolism.😍

Caffeine and crystals for creative energy--fire me up!!

At any rate, feel free to ask me any questions about this schtuff! I'm by no means a self-care or crystal-healing expert, but I'm happy to share what I've learned or at least point you in the right direction. Love and light! ✨💖✨

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