01/28/15 2:45pm

Starcat’s Ten Best Books of 2014

Starcat’s Ten Best Books of 2014
by Starcat

Each January, I like to reflect back on what, in my opinion, were the best books of the previous year. Below are 2014’s winners. Please note, these aren’t necessarily books that were published in 2014, though a couple of them were. These are just my favorites of the 45 books I read over the past year. Enjoy!

toreadCreative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. This book had lived on my shelves for many years, and I can’t believe I hadn’t read it yet. It’s a metaphysical classic! This slim volume contains many useful and simple techniques for helping you create the life of your dreams. One of my favorites was to visualize upon first waking up and just before going to sleep, when your consciousness is more fluid.

Practical Prosperity Magick: Crafting Success & Abundance by Ellen Dugan. This is a Pagan book on how to encourage prosperity in your life. She offers spells to help get the money flowing, but also encourages you to take action to follow through in practical ways. I found lots of helpful suggestions and ideas here.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I had enjoyed the movie and wanted to check out the book it was based on – especially after someone told me there was a long section of philosophical discussion in the book. I think they were trying to warn me, but I loved it. This book has so many layers to it, from the adventure tale itself to contemplation of the meaning of life and our interactions with other beings.

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. BlackLion and Quester are the gardeners in our family. I love plants, but I seem to have a brown thumb. Still, I wanted to see what this whole permaculture thing was all about. I resonate with the philosophy of it, and I’m delighted that our yard is slowly being transformed in this direction.

Invoking Animal Magic by Hearth Moon Rising. I may be a brown thumb with plants, but animals and I have always gotten along wonderfully. This book is a treasure trove of information on communicating with and understanding the wild (and not-so-wild) critters in our lives. It also references many fascinating myths from a variety of cultures.

Shamanic Awakening: My Journey Between the Dark and the Daylight by Sandra Corcoran. This fascinating book ranges from Native American teachings to dreamwork to alien contact. The skeptical reader might be doubtful about some of the alien encounters Corcoran describes later in the book. Suspend your disbelief – whether or not the stories can be proven as literal truth, there is much wisdom to be found here. I think reality is much more fluid than we often give it credit for.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. This was a fantastic novel that had me captivated. I can’t even really say why. Suffice it to say that my own imaginary world expanded after reading it.

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey Into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander, M.D. This was a book that my friend Jenn read while she was dying of cancer. It’s about how a near-death experience convinced a scientist who had always thought of the afterlife as nonsense to believe that our souls continue beyond the death of our physical bodies. While I am already very open to ideas of past and future lives, it was captivating to read Dr. Alexander’s journey and see the changes in his mindset as a result.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. This memoir is one of those books that for some reason stuck with me long after I finished it. It’s about one woman’s epic personal quest, the heroine’s journey that Joseph Campbell wrote about. Raw and real.

Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle. Okay, so technically I’m still reading this book, though I started it in 2014. Tolle’s words of wisdom are always succinct and profound. It’s delicious food for thought – or rather, no-thought. I very highly recommend this one.

01/19/15 3:33pm

5 Ways Your Life is a Reflection of your Inner World

5pool5 Ways Your Life is a Reflection of your Inner World
by BlackLion

Whether you realize it or not, the way you think and feel about your life, and the experiences you imagine in your mind, all have a significant effect on your life. So much so that when you are able to align your thoughts with your inner source, fantastic changes can and do occur. We’ve been taught, however, that “out there” is way more important than “in here.” Even so, you can overcome these challenges and create fulfilling and lasting transformations for the better.

Here are 5 ways in which you create our own reality, simply by noticing how and why you focus on your inner diatribe. Sing a different tune, dance into a new life!

Whistle While You Work music-notes (22x32)

On average,around 13% of people worldwide love their jobs. Around the world, there are places that have as low as 6% satisfaction in East Asia, while the U.S. and Canada are on the higher end at 29% according to the Global Workplace Gallup Poll. With so many dissatisfied people, you might be one of the lucky ones who really are engaged with your job. If not, your mindset can be changed to include this feeling of satisfaction at work.

Imagine waking up in the morning, excited about the new day. You get up early so you can focus on the next exciting steps in your work. Though you may not fully love each task, you know that every step in the direction of your dreams is vital to your happiness. You and your coworkers are glad to see each other again and cheerfully chat over the next phase of the project over a cup of coffee. Your meaningful and engaging work fulfills your deepest desires to change the world and everyone benefits from your talents, expertise, and intentions. What a great life!

How goes your imagining? If you feel stuck, or a bunch of “what ifs” pop up, don’t fret. Simply address each one as it comes up by examining the thoughts and feelings around those aspects of your work that you do not like. By becoming aware and reflecting on the parts of your work that are most satisfying, you’ll be able to view work in a different light. Essentially, what you bring to work each day is way more important than what may actually happen, since only you can truly make yourself happy. Meditate on what kinds of fantastic work environments and experiences that would be right for you. With your new mindset comes new opportunities that were simply hidden from your grumpy point of view.

Home, Sweet Home music-notes (22x32)

How is your home life? Do you love where you live or wish you could be somewhere, anywhere, else? Sure, upkeep, bills, rent/mortgage, etc. are not an especially exciting aspect of living in your home, yet they are important enough to want to keep up-to-date. How you feel and think about your home is, in its own way, a reflection of how comfortable you are within yourself.

Do you keep the sink clear of dishes or have they been stockpiling for a week? Laundry, everybody loves doing laundry, right? Whether you are meticulous about your home or are rather slovenly in some respects, these are simply aspects of your inner thoughtscape manifesting in your experience. Clear the clutter in your thinking and you’re more inclined to declutter around the house.

Reflecting on what you feel a happy home ought to be will give you keys to what you believe and what you feel about what you believe. By consciously paying attention to your thoughts, you’ll be able to find those persistent, resistant ones and transform them to ones better suited to your well-being. Do some spring cleaning in your mind and your home life will benefit.

It’s a Family Affairmusic-notes (22x32)

Of course, having a home usually is accompanied by your family, whether a dozen or just yourself. Your relationships with these folks, living, dead, or away, is based upon your thoughts, memories, and feelings within you. Sure, they may have screwed you over, belittled you, or even berated you, yet those experiences are more a reflection of who they were (at the time) than anything to do with you. Conversely, how you treat your family is a reflection of you, and your interpretation of them, but not truly a reflection of them.

So, say you’re having a challenge with your mom. She’s perhaps overly critical, or even downright mean when she is in one of her moods. Taking her words personally, though it’s challenging not to, will only exacerbate them in your world view. Do a meditation about any of your challenging family members and find out if you’ve taken personally any or all of what they have said in the past, then let them go.

Having a joyful family life is not impossible. In fact, you’ll come to better understand who you are by recognizing that they are simply extensions of the thoughts that are within you. When you are able to interact and truly feel love for those who challenge you, not only will you feel better in the moment, your family will be able to sense your intentions and will begin to find within themselves (of their own volition) ways to treat you more lovingly. Love starts from within.

You’ve Got a Friendmusic-notes (22x32)

You may have many different kinds of friends, ones that adore you, challenge you, and love you, or all of the above. Each one comes into your life because you are a match, vibrationally, with them. As you examine who you are, the thoughts and feelings you experience, and the joys you find, someone you know is always there to support, encourage, or challenge you.

Of course, there are different depths of friendship. Some are simply acquaintances, old school chums, or local business owners who you chat with infrequently, yet there is still a bond and a smile when they are around. Your best friend, of course, is with you more often than not and shares in your interests, ideas, and feelings as if they were their own – maybe even more akin to a chosen family member than a friend. Wherever they are on your friend-o-scale, it is your beacon of light that they are drawn to, and vice versa.

Perhaps you feel more lonely than friendly? Though you do enjoy your own company – be thankful as not many folks really do – it is also pleasurable to be able to confide in and share your experience with another. Look within and find out what thoughts and fears underlie your belief system and may be interfering with your network of friends. By polishing up your inner world, the people you encounter will be able to sense it and you’ll draw like-minded folks to you. And don’t worry about losing someone in your life who no longer resonates with you now, simply thank them for all the times you’ve shared and be open to new people to come in to bolster and encourage your shining light.

Love the One You’re Withmusic-notes (22x32)

And most significantly, when you are in love with another on a deep level, there is a vulnerability and trust that goes with intimacy. When you allow someone to know the “real you” on such a personal level, a lot of emotions and thoughts will arise. Being aware of these feelings when they come up will help you better understand yourself and how you experience the world.

If you are unhappy with your current relationship or you have been longing for one for a while, take some time for reflection to seek and find the resistant energies within you. Are you afraid of letting someone into your heart? Do you feel jealous when your partner is with another or worried that your lover will leave you?  The solutions to these challenging emotions are already within you right now. Seek within.

Love is one of the most fulfilling and daresay challenging emotions to keep within you. All love starts from within and to truly love another, you must first love yourself, unconditionally. When you recognize that what you say, think, and feel about yourself is reflected in your life, you’ll be able to attract a lover that values and respects you for who you are because you value and respect yourself. Love the one you’re with (all the time) – you – and others will enter your life to concur wholeheartedly. Blessed Be!


01/14/15 10:25am

Tools for Deep Inner Reflection

According to the media, on New Year’s Day it’s time to hit the ground running, to seize 2015 by the horns and leap on its back and ride off toward your dreams.

I don’t think so.

It’s the midst of winter, and while the days are getting longer, moment by moment, it’s still a time of ice and snow and wind and cold. I prefer to take my time with the transition to a new year, to cozy in and dream up some fun and delightful adventures.  I like to reflect on the year just past, then turn my attention to what I wish to bring forth in the year to come. When you begin a new cycle by setting intentions, then taking inspired actions toward them, you’ll find that your most cherished dreams are coming true.

2015planningWinter is the perfect time for some deep inner reflection. To do this, all you really need is yourself and some quiet time, and perhaps a journal and pen. Take an evening or part of a weekend day and snuggle up in your favorite comfy spot. If you don’t have a quiet place at home, take yourself out to a coffee shop or cozy cafe and order a hot beverage.

Think about 2014 and the joys, challenges and lessons it brought to you. What wisdom have you gleaned? How can you bring it forward into your daily life? Now, set some big intentions for 2015. What would you like to experience? do? feel? learn? be? Who would you like to share it with?

Dream big. Write down what you uncover. Follow your own trail, letting your intuition guide you to your deepest desires.

I like to use self-help tools to help me access my deepest truth. These workbooks are fun to play with, and many of them cost nothing. They contain inspiring quotes and intriguing questions that will help you go deeper and deeper, revealing hidden treasures within your soul. Here’s my list of favorites – if you have others that you love, please feel free to share them!

Word of the Year. This is my fifth year choosing a word to guide me through the coming months. Mine for 2015 is Grace. Christine Kane has a Word of the Year worksheet that will lead you through the process. Susannah Conway is offering a free mini-e-course if you still need further assistance.

Unravelling the Year Ahead. Speaking of Susannah Conway, she offers this fantastic workbook that will get you all set up for a purpose-filled 2015. It’s such a treasure.

Vision Boards. Making a vision board is a terrific way to bring your goals forward in your daily awareness, and it’s a whole lot of fun, too. I forget where I first learned about vision boards, but there are tons of inspiring resources out there if you need further inspiration. I make two or three of them each year, and the one I create as the new year begins usually incorporates my Word of the Year.

The Year-End Ritual. Author Sarah Susanka has a detailed year-end process that I’ve been working with for three years now. It’s really powerful. I’d also recommend the book it appears in, The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters.

Create Your Shining Year. This year I purchased Leonie Dawson’s life and business planner, and I’m so inspired! Note, it’s not a planner in the sense of day planner or calendar, which is what I thought initially. Rather, it’s a workbook that will help you not only discover your goals but take the necessary steps to make them happen. It’s fantastic.

Whichever methods you choose for reflecting on your goals and dreams, taking this time to focus on your inner wisdom is infinitely worthwhile. When you listen deep within, you encourage your inner wisdom to shine forth. As you move forward into the new year, remember to take regular intervals for deep inner reflection.

Your soul is full of personal wisdom that will help you live more joyfully and purposefully. Welcome it into your daily life!

01/5/15 1:55pm

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

100_9263Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall
by BlackLion

Reflections appear all through our lives, whether through the people we meet, the encounters we have, or an actual one of ourselves in the mirror. All of these have one thing in common – you! When you recognize yourself in another, or the way you feel around someone you care about, or perhaps when you get cut off in traffic, all of these are a reflection of your current thoughts and emotional landscape.

As the saying goes: when you point a finger at another, four others are pointing back at you. Take responsibility for your own emotions and thoughts, yet be kind. Just because you may sometimes freak out about the littlest thing or feel empathy for those who may be in dire circumstances, the triggers are simply signposts to your own spiritual perspective and your alignment with that energy.

People we meet challenge us because we are challenged by them.

Ever get that feeling when you encounter a new person of being really drawn toward them, whether their demeanor, smile, or wit? This feeling means you are in alignment with the moment and your openness to the world. Conversely, have you ever wanted to steer clear from someone that you met in the grocery store simply because they looked at you for too long? Being aware of your feelings will guide you to more knowledge about yourself.

Perhaps you stubbed your toe getting out of bed and then you spilled your coffee and then you had to run into the store and grab some seltzer to get the stain out and then that strange person looked at you and you got triggered. Your energy state is broadcast to everyone around you and theirs to you. Once you are aware of these energies you can recognize your part in the equation. Examine your closely-held beliefs and see if they are still true for you now as when you first accepted them.

Serendipity my seem true because it was what you expected would happen yet instead it was by your expectation that the circumstances came about into your experience in the first place.

It’s as if the world is a beautiful and mysterious mirror that reflects and translates the whole universe through your senses and assumes that everything you know as true, is true for All-That-Is, for All-Time. Really, we are a distinct yet interconnected energy field in a vast array of synchronous and asynchronous fluxes, in other words, eddies in the swirls of spacetime. The intentions you hold are the conduit through which the universe is allowed to flow into your experience.

Now this may seem like a burden rather than a boon. In essence, you are the creator of your own experience, and the universe is a reflection of you, using your own tinted glasses. When you praise, accept, thank, love, and cherish the world and those around you however, the world becomes an awesome (literally!) place. If you have prejudice, worries, fear, or indifference to the world, you’ll find the same lack of love, peace, and understanding coming to you again and again.

Can you be your own salvation?

How do you feel about your own reflection? Are you happy to see yourself in the mirror each morning or do you dread even looking yourself in the eye? Here is where the spirit and the true you resides. This being in the mirror, though only a reflection of the one-who-is-looking, is you and your outward presence in the universe. Do you notice the flaws first or do you smile at the glint in your eye?

Take some time and really look at yourself. You may want to do this unclothed for the “naked truth,” as it were. Let the judgment go and really just be comfortable with yourself. After a time, you’ll become more self-aware and can really accept yourself as you are right now. Our bodies are a physical encasement of our mental and spiritual selves all rolled into one amazing being. How have you been kind to your vessel recently? After you finish meditating on yourself, be thankful and look deeply into your own eyes for as long as you can manage and really send your love. You’ll fall in love with yourself in no time!

Examine how you feel and think and you’ll better understand how intention trumps fear.

Only you can truly know yourself. With self-reflection, you’ll be honest, even to the point of rawness. Yet when you shine your light of attention, the fears, worries and doubts will melt away. Who knows what you are truly capable of if you let yourself simply be yourself? Meditation is not a one shot deal, it is a regular practice that really lets you dig deeper and deeper into your masterpiece self. What better way to become the change you want to see in the world than by knowing what changes would best enhance you and the world?

By setting intentions that are truly representative of your inspired living, then there is no room for doubt, worry, or fear. When you return again and again to the why you want to live your life to the fullest with a sensational lifestyle, fabulous friends and family, exceptional creativity, and fulfilling and meaningful work, you’ll elicit the best and brightest experiences from all you encounter. Who wouldn’t want to do all that and have it filled with your ethics, intentions, and positive expectations?

Everything starts from within.

Self-reflection as a spiritual practice will not only encourage you to accept yourself for who you are, strengths and weaknesses, you’ll also discover that the world really is conspiring in your favor. Let self-awareness become a natural extension of your intentional experience. The present moment is where all the juicy parts of life live, so become mindful of your thoughts and emotions, without attachment, and allow your spirit to reflect its loving and kind nature through your own life’s example. See you on the flip side!


12/28/14 1:15pm

Receiving the Gifts of Inner Wisdom

fd140716faesunset2Receiving the Gifts of Inner Wisdom
by Starcat

Stop reading and listen for a moment. Yes, right now. Focus your attention not on the sounds around you in the external world, but on what’s going on within your mind. Close your eyes and breathe into the swirl of thoughts and energies that flow through your inner landscape.

How does it feel?

It’s okay if you’re a bit uncomfortable with pausing to listen within. If you don’t often tune in, your inner self has so much to tell you! There are messages flowing to you all the time: hunches, intuitions, whispers of wisdom from the part of you that is firmly plugged into the energies of the cosmos.

By opening yourself to this connection, you’re learning to receive and accept these gifts that are always there for you. When you are in touch with your deepest self, the gifts you receive will enhance your life in joyful and unexpected ways.

As with many techniques, the best way to get started is to just try it, and then repeat. Practice and practice again. Create reminders for yourself, so that you remember to stop and listen each day.

There are many ways to open and receive. Maybe you like to listen within while seated in meditation, or when you’re out for a walk, or simply by letting a routine task (doing dishes or folding laundry, perhaps) lull you into a calm and relaxed state. Daydreams are one of the most common times to receive the gifts of your inner knowing, as are the dreams you have each night.

When you first begin, or when you’re renewing your focus on listening, there could be a backlog of messages waiting for you. It could feel overwhelming at first to receive so much information at once. Simply breathe and relax yourself as much as possible, and accept that the wisdom you need in this moment will arise. Conversely, when you are getting started you might experience a very quiet, sleepy inner landscape. If you haven’t tended to this connection for a while, it could take time to open it once again. Have faith that it will get stronger and stronger as time goes by.

You might enjoy keeping a record of the wisdom you receive from your inner self. This could be kept in many forms: a journal, a sketchbook, notes on your phone, your blog, or whatever most appeals to you. By keeping track, you’re sending the message to your deeper self that you’re excited about this connection. This will help enhance your connection to your inner guidance.

When you take time to receive the gifts of your own inner wisdom, your joy and passion will expand. You’ll be better able to share your own gifts with the world, and uplift others as well as yourself. Try it and see what unfolds. You can do it!