W. W. D. D.

I’m feeling inspired and challenged this weekend by the ever-fabulous Dita von Teese.

The initials that entitle this post stand for my new mantra: “What would Dita do?”

It’s not that I want to be Dita, but I have long admired her fabulous style and poise, and the depth, integrity and graciousness with which she lives her truth.

I’m currently reading her book: Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour. I spotted it in our local library and thought it might help me with my difficulties with stage make-up. I don’t usually wear make-up, so preparing for dance performances can feel a bit of a trial (and don’t ask about my attempts at false eyelashes – no, really!)

What I’ve gained so far has little to do with make up, and everything to do with how I live.

I have been firmly reminded, in a way I can no longer ignore, that my life is entirely what I make it: my daily decisions and choices today shape my future.

I find this awareness both terrifying and strangely exhilarating – a heady mixture of responsibility and permission.

If we create our own lives by our choices (large or small, deliberate or unconscious) then the implications are enormous.

We have the power to create our future right now.

Let me write that again:

We have the power to create our future right now!

How cool is that?!

It’s like the ultimate in creativity! We each create our own life…

Okay, we may not have the power to employ ourselves in our dream job, or to throw off disease and disability – I will wholeheartedly acknowledge that each of us starts from a   different place.

But!

We do have the power to choose whether we apply for that dream job – or set up our own business and employ ourselves.

We do have the power to choose how we react to our situation: do we bury ourselves in a traumatic past or seek to rise up and look to the future? Do we go along with what everyone else does or find our way? Do we keep doing what we’ve always done or try a different way?

The choices are ours – large and small – every day…

I don’t know about you, but I find that idea incredibly exciting.

… even if it means I have to accept that I’m also shaping my future when I choose biscuits over dance practice… Exciting is not the same as comfortable 😉

So, I am feeling inspired and challenged.

How will I choose to live? What do I want my future to look like? What do I want the future me to look like? (It seems that part of the answer to that last question involves more lipstick than ‘past me’ expected!)

I can take small, but deliberate, steps towards answering these questions every day.

And so can you!

What will you choose?

What future will you shape?

W. W. D. D.

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What I’m reading: version 8.05.16

I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately (possibly because of my dedicated consumption earlier this year of much of John Ringo’s “Ring of Fire” series…)

I’m currently most of the way through Stuffocation by James Wallman, which is a fascinating consideration of our consumerist culture: how we got here, and where we might head next. Warning: may cause much thinking…

I have just today started The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. Don’t start reading this one unless you’re willing to shift your paradigms! I’m only a few chapters in and have already done some hard thinking and life re-design. And I sense this is only the beginning! (And it’s a new moon this weekend – a traditionally auspicious time for new beginnings 😉 )

Other recent reads I’ve valued (there have been a few ‘yeah, nahs’ in there) include:

* Gala Darling Radical Self Love  feels to me to be aimed more at millennial gals than women of my ‘advanced’ years (i.e. I’m over 40), but is still a good read with some great tips.

* Cheryl Richardson The Art of Extreme Self Care is based around interesting and challenging monthly exercises to improve your self-care habits.

* Vint Virga The Soul of All Living Creatures is a beautifully gentle, though at times heart-rending, contemplation of life from the perspective of a vet. I highly recommend it.

* In a similar vein, Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus will increase your appreciation and sense of wonder at the mysteries of the tentacled deeps. I read this awhile back and thoroughly enjoyed it. My new-found appreciation of octopuses remains high several months later.

I’m spotting a definite thread of self-awareness and development here…Which is very much where my head and heart are at right now: I’m wanting to transform my life and grow into myself… Watch this space!

What I’m reading (version 22.07.2015)

Books

Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte – a fascinating look at Western society (especially American) and our cultures of time. It includes some interesting and useful tips, and thinking points.

Dressing your truth by Carol Tuttle – a guide to dressing that works from the inside out, rather than by your colouring and shape. You start by identifying your dominant energy type and work out from there; with the permission to be true to yourself rather than conforming to anyone else’s ideas of what your energy ‘should’ be – you ‘own’ your own energy 🙂 . I’ve found this remarkably freeing. It’s taken a few weeks for this to sink in fully, but I’m now at a place where I can see the usefulness, sense and practical application. In case you’re wondering, I’m a Type 2. The link will take you to her free introductory course, which includes a copy of the book. If you’re not into e-courses, you can buy the book on its own from the usual places. At some point I intend to sign up for her paid course and learn more – it really has been that useful and revealing for me.

The big leap by Gay Hendricks – an interesting method for identifying your blocks and freeing your potential. I can see myself re-reading this a few times to let things sink in and take effect.

Currently reading Home by Francis Pryor (from Time Team), which is an engaging and fascinating read about British prehistory.

Blogs

Lucky Bitch (discovered via Hiya Tootsie) – a blog about money and giving yourself permission to make it. Aimed at women entrepreneurs. I check in regularly to keep kicking my butt along 😉

Mama Said – honest parenting. Really, really honest parenting. This blog is written by a friend of mine who has had a full-on ride with her young kids. If you’ve felt as a parent like you’re the only one, have a read (as long as you can cope with raw honesty and swearing). I especially like her posts I am grateful… and Lessons from children.

Druid Life – I love this blog (as you may have guessed from all the re-blogging!) I find Nimue Brown’s posts thought-provoking and often quite healing (if not always comfortable).

Manga and Comics

Dengeki Daisy – I’m almost up to the final volume (which has just been published) of this manga, which revolves around an unlikely romance and an even more unlikely computing conspiracy. I’m curious to see how it finishes, but I really don’t want it to end…

Blastosaurus – I was helped to discover this comic by its author, Richard Fairgray, at a stand at Armageddon Expo last weekend. This is a fabulous story about a mutant triceratops detective, and the complications of time-travel and ray guns. I bought volume 1; now I want them all 🙂

My new favouritest web comic is Breaking Cat News – it is beautifully drawn, gently funny, and very, very cat.

* * *

Now… what are you reading? Any recommendations?!

Book review: Urban Druidry

I recently signed up with Moon Books as an occasional book reviewer. Moon Books specialise in pagan titles, so if you’re not that way inclined, I won’t be offended if you stop reading at this point. That said, I think today’s title holds a lot of potential for creative people of any creed…

Urban Druidry by Brendan Howlin

This book is full of simple and practical ways of getting more connected to nature and the seasonal rhythms of life for those of us living in urban environments. I think this book would be good for anyone wanting to increase their connection with the world around them, although if you are from a non-pagan creed, some of it may seem a bit odd.

The first practice Brendan recommends is ‘learning to see’. This reminds me of something I’ve done since my teens: on occasion, look beyond where your eye usually falls on your commute or regular walk and see what else you can see (probably not one to do if you’re driving!) The subtle change of perspective can be incredibly powerful.

Other practices include learning to relax and becoming aware of seasons. There are also some bigger challenges about personal responsibility and how we live in this landscape.

While simple, actually doing these practices regularly would deepen and enrich life and almost certainly lead to some degree of personal transformation – ‘deceptively simple’, might be a better description!

Plus:

The chatty, friendly writing style – this is not at all hard to read.

The simple practices for everyday life – these are firmly grounded in the actual reality of the urban daily grind.

I really like the simple summaries for the wheel of the year (in non-pagan words: celebrating the seasons)

Minus:

It’s pretty obvious in the text that the author is a British male. I found this a bit jarring at times, as I’m a Southern hemisphere based female. Some of the analogies didn’t work so well for me.

There’s not a lot of text spent on context or history or background – this is a very practice-focused book. But then there are plenty of other books you can read to get that context if you want it.

Conclusion:

I would recommend this enthusiastically to anyone wanting an easy-to-read (though more challenging to implement) guide to deepening their connection with the world around them.

If you want a scholarly tome on druidry or natural science, look elsewhere (but maybe come back to this, when you want your studies to get personal).

I can see myself returning to this book regularly as I build my everyday practice.

What I’m reading – version 28.01.15

Currently in progress:

Michael Wood The Story of India – I really enjoy Michael Wood’s writing, and this book is no exception. A thorough-going, easy to read overview of Indian history. I am completely fascinated ❤

Alain De Botton The News – this started off as interesting and thought-provoking, but by partway through had added annoying and moralising to the list. He has some interesting thoughts about the state of ‘The News’, but I get annoyed with all the ‘the news should’… I’d prefer ‘the news could’… And if the news did indeed somehow find ways to do all he thinks it should, it could dramatically change the face of the news and perhaps create an entirely different beast more resembling a thick magazine of feature articles that very few ever fully read… I will persevere to the end of this, but only in small doses. Of course, you may love it…

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch  Intuitive Eating – an interesting approach to the necessity of eating. Rather than diet plans, eliminating food groups, counting calories, etc, the authors advocate paying attention to yourself and your hunger and fullness signals. There is more to it than just that, but this the bit I am working on right now – and paying attention to what you eat. Not quite mindful eating, but hints of that. I like the idea of working with my body, rather than at cross-purposes, and paying attention as I eat is helping me feel better in myself.

Recent reads:

Carmen Torbus The Artist Unique – the book that led to me joining the Documented Life Project. The book looks at a multitude of mixed media techniques and artists, with strong encouragement to experiment and find your own way. Through some experimentation, I now know that mixed media is not my way,  but I am using the encouragement to find my own ways through dance and pen…

Jean Wells Journey to Inspired Art Quilting – if you want to know about line or colour or design concepts as an artist, then quilting books are surprisingly useful. I didn’t read this book for the quilts, but for the technical aspects. The sections on line and structure are proving especially useful in my art (and I’m even thinking about it more with my dance)

Todd Henry The Accidental Creative – an interesting read about how to allow more creative thinking time into your life. Those of us who work in offices are hired for our brains and thoughts. This book gives tips on how to maximise creative thinking and through that productivity and usefulness. I need to read it again, and put more of it into action.

Terry Pratchett Snuff – like most Pratchett, this is both entertaining and deeply thought-provoking, raising questions about what constitutes ‘people’ and why. I found it moving, disturbing and hilarious – sometimes all at once.

Amanda Palmer The Art of Asking – rather appropriately, I borrowed this from a friend. Part memoir, part guidance to aspiring artists, I found it a fascinating read. It is very personal, but it has left me with plenty to chew: in particular, the matter of connection with the audience during performance, and whether one performs at a distance or seeks to closely engage. There’s no right or wrong answer, but it is interesting to consciously consider.

 

What I’m reading – version 3.11.2014

It’s been rather awhile, but I thought this was a tradition worth revisiting – especially when I see how much my reading material has changed since 2012!

Here goes:

An Extraordinary Land by Peter Hayden and Rob Morris – a visually stunning and highly readable discussion of aspects of New Zealand’s odd natural history. My land is made of ancient islands filled with odd plants, odder birds and even odder insects… This book has interesting themed chapters that have made me think a lot 🙂

The Path of Druidry by Penny Billington – I’m reading this between my ‘official’ Bardic lessons. It offers a useful introduction to Druidry and useful tips for deepening your practice for those already on this path. Once again, I have plenty to actively ponder.

The Vegucation of Robin by Robin Quivers – an introduction to eating a veg based diet. While Ms Quivers is vegan, I’m not sure I’ll go that far myself. That said, eating mainly veg seems sensible on many levels and is likely more cost-effective than meat-based diet! Again, this has got me thinking, which is a good thing.

I’ve also been re-reading my beloved Library Wars manga series (please come soon, volume 13!) and catching up with the anime – it ain’t all heavy thinking 😉

What I’ve been reading – version 13.02.2012

It’s been a while since I did one of these posts, but in the interests of tradition and vaguely regular blog posts, here’s a look at some of the things that have passed in front of my eyeballs over the last week or three:

Online:

The Samurai Knitter – fabulous craft blog, though probably best read away from the children, as the author does not tone down her language when annoyed with something.  Famous for its posts analysing Vogue Knitting magazine patterns (example here – do not read if you are sensitive to bad language).

Princess Farhana’s blog on all things belly dancing, with loads of stage craft added in.

Tempest’s Teapot – another great belly dancing and performing blog

Aligned and Well blog – if you have a body, read this blog.  No, really, READ THIS BLOG.  The author is a specialist in body mechanics, and is also a clear and funny communicator.  You will learn lots and move more comfortably, so read this blog!

Gothic Charm School – I am living proof that you don’t have to be a Goth to read and enjoy this blog. Written by the Lady of the Manners, this blog is full of sensible advice and fascinating links. It is truly indispensable inspiration for those who want to live their own lives with grace, humour and good manners.

And a range of web comics, including (but not limited to): Girl Genius, Gunnerkrigg Court, Two Kinds, Code Name Hunter, Exterminatus Now (definitely NSFW), A Girl and her Fed and the strangely addictive Station v3.
A word of warning: all of these benefit from reading the archives, as most of them have long story arcs that are hard to follow otherwise.  Unless you have high-speed broadband, heaps of time and no appointments that day, don’t try to read all of them all at once…

Printed:

Hadley Freeman The meaning of sunglassesan alphabetically organised and intelligent commentary on fashion. A lot of fun, and actually quite sensible, too.

Fuse magazine – current issues and all the back issues. I subscribe to this fabulous mag on the weird and wonderful world of tribal and fusion bellydance.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in modern bellydance.

Sally Melville The Purl Stitch – a great introduction to knitting focusing on the purl stitch (what else?!).  Her technique sections are a fantastic resource, especially for beginners.  Her patterns are mostly not too my taste, as they tend towards the boxy or oversized – but she has some interesting ideas, and her basic sock pattern is truly excellent.

Oh, and several regency romance novels I’m not willing to admit the titles of 🙂 (though the authors Julia Quinn and Johanna Lindsay did feature amongst them…)