Happy Spring ~ Happy Ostara!
What’s happening outside your window today? Here in Chicago, green shoots are appearing like magic in the otherwise brown landscape. In spite of the cool, crisp air, I know Mother Nature is doing her thing beneath the surface, gearing up to burst forth in a splendor of color and beauty and warmth. It won’t be long now!
I’ve been busy too. This week I’m finishing up the copy-edits for Book #4, Samhain Secrets. (Release date is 8/28/18, but it’s available for pre-order now.) I’m also finishing up my manuscript for Book #5, May Day Murder (available spring 2019.)
And that’s not all….. I’ve also been thinking about YOU lately! I’ve been putting together some “super secret” special bonus content exclusively for fans of the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries. I got the idea from fantastic cozy mystery author Kate Carlisle. She has a space on her website called The Secret Room, accessible only to members of her email list. When I saw it, I thought, How fun! I want to do that!
And so, with a nod to Ms. Kate, I created a page on my website called “Secret Stuff.” I plan to post all kinds of goodies there from games and recipes to sneak peeks, freebies, and even “deleted scenes” from my books. I’ll be rolling out new content over the next few weeks—and I’ll continue to add to the page as inspiration strikes.
This week I’m unveiling three sections: Spells, Recipes, and Games. Next, in a week or so, I’ll add three more: Characters, Freebies, and Deleted Scenes.
If you already subscribe to my newsletter, then I’ve already sent you the password for all this secret stuff. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can join in the fun by clicking HERE.
Let me know what you think… and feel free to suggest content for the secret page. I'm always open to new ideas. :)
Until next time, stay warm & have fun!
The other day I received some cover flats from my publisher for Book #4, Samhain Secrets. Do you know what cover flats are? I sure didn't, not before my editor sent me some for Book #1 a couple years ago. Cover flats are essentially the unfolded cover of a book, front and back side-by-side. The back of the flat has some marketing information and details for book sellers. Cover flats can be used for promotional purposes, but they're also nice keepsakes.
My awesome dad framed each one of my cover flats so far. They now hang on my office wall. :-)
I left a space for the fourth cover, since I knew it would be coming soon. (I hung a small calendar there for the time being.) When I get five and six (and hopefully more!), I'll have to do some slight rearranging on the wall. But that's not a problem.
Samhain Secrets has a release date of August 28, 2018. As you can tell from the title, the holiday theme is Samhain (a Wiccan holiday that coincides with Halloween). It was such great fun to write. Someone once asked me which of my books is my favorite, and I replied that it’s whichever one I'm writing! And it’s true. I do tend to love each one more than the last.
Here’s part of the blurb for Samhain Secrets:
We're still 6 1/2 months away from the release date, so it seems a bit early to be promoting this book. HOWEVER, it's available for pre-order on Amazon already!
Without further ado, here's the cover for Samhain Secrets:
Spooky, huh?! On the cover flats, the colors are darker than in this image. I imagine it will be darker when the book comes out as well. Either way, it kind of makes me look forward to next fall!
Nah... on second thought I'll take spring and summer first. The book I'm currently writing takes place in the spring, so that's the frame of mind I ought to be in right now.
By the way, I still have cover flats left over from the first three books in the Wiccan Wheel Mystery series. Is that the kind of keepsake you'd be interested in? Let me know, and I'll see what I can do!
UPDATE: I've offered to send cover flats to the first few people who asked for them in the comments below. (Ask & ye shall receive! Lol.) If you're one of those people, and I don't already have your address, don't forget to send it to Jennifer@JenniferDavidHesse.com.
I'll hold onto the rest for future giveaways. :)
P.S. In celebration of Valentine's Day next week, I'm participating in Cupid's Cozies Week, a week-long Facebook author event from February 7 – February 14, 2018. On February 12th, I'll be hosting a book giveaway at the event. Check it out!
Happy Candlemas / Imbolc / Groundhog Day!
Here we are at another turn of the Wheel already. I don't know about you, but I'm still getting used to the fact that it's 2018-- still laying my plans and setting my resolutions for the new year.
Of course, it's never too late for all that, but this weekend seems like an extra good time for dreaming dreams and crystallizing intentions. After all, today is Candlemas, a hopeful time to focus on new beginnings... (not to mention the holiday featured in Bell, Book, and Candlemas!) As cold as it is outside (VERY cold here in Chicago!), the days are getting longer and spring isn't that far away. Plus, this is a traditional time for divining the future--at least when it comes to certain furry creatures and their shadows!
Why not take this opportunity to create a little magic?
First, though, what IS *magic*?
For me, magic is when something wonderful and improbable happens. Wonderful because it's not only amazing and awesome, but also because it's something I really want... and, perhaps, have wanted for a long time. And Improbable because it seems too good to be true, against the odds, or simply unexpected, like a seemingly random coincidence.
I've had this kind of magic in my life many times over the years. Like... when I received a phone call out of the blue inviting me to interview for a new job. Or when I suddenly found myself pregnant after years of trying but BEFORE deciding on a fertility treatment. Or when I became a published author.
There are a lot more examples, small and large. But here's the funny thing: After time passes, the amazement fades a little. It becomes easy to downplay your successes, forget that anything's possible, and even start to doubt that magic can happen again. Remember that old Janet Jackson song, "What have you done for me lately?" (Ooh, ooh, ooh, yeah.) It becomes easy to slip into a rut and wonder if this is it.
During such periods of amnesia, we might even start to think that magic is the stuff of fairy tales. The possibility of your wildest dreams coming true might seem as likely as a genie popping out of a bottle.
Know what I mean?
It's times like these when we need to remember what actually goes into the making of real-life magic. No magic wand required.
"How to Make Magic"
Step 1: Say the magic words. (The words vary, but they almost always include "please," "thank you," and "I would like THIS.")
Step 2: Mix together the magical ingredients:
1 part FAITH
1 part ACTION
Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2. (Really!)
Pretty simple, huh? A dash of luck can't hurt, but it's not required. In my opinion, it's those two key ingredients that make all the difference. FAITH (also known as HOPE or BELIEF) gives you some confidence and opens you up to new opportunities.
And ACTION gives meaning to the old saying that "You have to meet the universe halfway."
"What action?" you might ask. Any action! Preferably it will be "the next right step," whatever that looks like for you, but any action is better than no action.
Here's the (other) funny thing: The action you take doesn't necessarily have to lead directly to your desired result. The action just starts the wheels turning.
I stopped in the public library today and thought about another time I went there a few years ago. On that long-ago day, I sat at a table with a copy of Writer's Market and copied down a list of literary agents who represent mystery writers. I was taking action to find an agent of my own. I also drafted query letters and emailed several agents. Some months later I had an agent of my own. My agent wasn't actually on the list I made that day. We found each other through a different channel. Still, I was taking action. I was moving in the direction of my dreams.
So, there's my pep talk for the day! To be honest, (if it's not already obvious), these are truths I needed to remember for myself. That's why I picked "ACTION" as my Word of the Year for 2018.
How about you? Did you make resolutions or pick a word of the year?
Are you ready to make some MAGIC??
Brrr! Baby, it's COLD outside this week-- at least, it is here in the Midwest where we've dropped into the single digits. It's good weather for staying inside if you can. Of course, sometimes we must venture outside... which makes us all the more grateful to come in out of the cold!
If the bitter temps have you chilled, there are a few things you can do to warm not only your fingers and toes, but also your heart and soul. Are you hip to hygge? Pronounced hoo-ga or hue-guh, this is a Danish concept that gained popularity in the U.S. last year and continues to attract admirers. It's all about cultivating a feeling of coziness and contentment. I especially like it since it encourages you to be present in the moment, engage your senses, and share the love with those around you.
On that note, here are a few ideas for bringing a bit of hygga into your home this winter.
1. Curl up with a good book. Any engaging book will do, but what's cozier than a cozy mystery? Check out A Cozy Experience, a site that celebrates cozy mystery books-- and also points to several other blogs devoted to this genre. Follow the links to discover new books, as well as reviews, recipes, photos, giveaways, and more.
2. Sip some heartwarming spicy tea, such as my daughter's favorite, "Invigorating Tea," by the Chopra Center. (Seriously-- this tea was on her Christmas wish list!)
3. Turn on the oven and bake up something warm, fragrant, and comforting--such as apple muffins! Here's a recipe I like:
Applesauce Nut Muffins
~ Preheat oven to 400 F
~ In a large mixing bowl, beat until smooth:
- 3 Tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg
~ Stir in:
- 1 cup apple sauce
- 3/4 cup apples, peeled & finely diced
~ In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup white flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or more)
~Stir the dry mixture into the applesauce mixture, just until moistened. Do not over mix.
~ Line or spray 12 muffin cups, fill & bake for 15-18 minutes
~ Cool and enjoy!
4. Go old-school and write a real pen-and-paper letter. Did you send holiday cards or letters this year? I wanted to, but I didn't get around to it. However, it's never too late to send a personal note. Wouldn't it be fun to surprise an old friend or beloved relative with an old-fashioned post-delivered letter?
5. Get introspective and write YOURSELF a letter. In other words, pull out that old diary or journal. It's the perfect time for some year-end reflecting and planning. What are your wishes for 2018?
6. Grab a blanket & cozy up on the couch to watch a funny movie or TV show. Laughter is a great way to warm the soul. (One of my family's current favorites is Schitt's Creek. Hilarious!)
Those are just a few ideas. I'm sure you can think of more. In fact, if you have a go-to warm & cozy food, drink, ritual, or treat, please share below!
p.s. All photos by the inimitable Scott Hesse. :)
Happy Holly-Jolly Holidays!
Today is the Winter Solstice, which means it is also Yule—a celebration of light and new beginnings. After the longest night of the year, the sun makes its gradual return. That’s good news indeed!
Since this is the season of giving, I wanted to give something to you. In fact, I have both a Gift and a Giveaway to announce.
First the giveaway:
As you might have seen me mention on Facebook, Karen Owen of “Beyond the Bookmarks” is hosting a month-long Facebook event featuring a host of cozy mystery authors including yours truly. You can pop in anytime for Christmas tidbits, ideas, and conversation. Many of the authors are offering giveaways as well. I plan to give away a copy or two of Yuletide Homicide. (This book would make a great gift, by the way, for Xmas, New Year’s... or any ol' time, really!) Check out the "Booked for the Holidays" Facebook page on December 24th anytime between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., central time, to chat with me and enter my giveaway.
And now for the gift:
I tried to think of something I could share electronically, perhaps something you could print or just enjoy on your computer. And, of course, I wanted it to be something related to the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries. So, I came up with the idea to create a little map of Edindale. It's sort of like a picture postcard featuring select landmarks featured in the first three books in the Wiccan Wheel series. (Though, I also snuck in a place that will be featured in Book #4!)
I had a lot of fun putting this together. In truth, it was hard to stop tinkering with it!
Oh, and to go along with the map, I also created a little quiz to test your memory of the three books. Think you can remember where key events took place? You can use the map for reference. Don't worry, the quiz has clues too, in case you need a hint!
This is a gift for subscribers to my newsletter. If you subscribe, you received a link to the gift in your email this morning. If you haven't signed up yet, then you can do so by clicking here: Newsletter Signup Form. You'll receive the gift as soon as you confirm your subscription.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me anytime. I hope you're having a lovely holiday season so far. And remember... things only get brighter from here!
It’s that time of year again, when folks in America gather together to share a meal and count our blessings. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking about things I’m grateful for.
In no particular order, here are a few:
~ The cheerful morning sun lighting up blue skies, autumn leaves, and… everything, really! A new day, a new perspective, a new chance to do something good.
~ The Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. Full disclosure: I don’t have cable and I’ve never actually watched the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel. Lol. But I love that it exists. I love the idea of a whole channel devoted to mysteries—and especially one that brings cozy mysteries to life. What a great treat for cozy fans!
~ Print Newspapers. Sure, I can get news faster online, but there’s nothing like settling in with a fat newspaper and a cup of coffee on a lazy weekend morning. I like big city print newspapers for their more in-depth stories and regular columns. In the Chicago Tribune, I often turn first to Mary Schmich’s column. Speaking of which… I’m also grateful for Mary Schmich (and Lindy West & Maureen Dowd & Katha Pollitt & so many other wicked-smart, funny, female essayists.) :-)
~ The Internet. It’s easy to take modern technology for granted, but sometimes I’m still struck with amazement at the crazy conveniences we now have. I have a watch that counts my steps, measures my heart rate, tracks my sleep, reminds me to get up and move, notifies me when my phone is ringing, and more. I also have a device named Alexa tells me the weather forecast, plays music on command, and answers about a zillion random questions. And I have a smartphone that does…way too much to list.
But I digress. What I’m most impressed with is the Internet itself. Isn’t it incredible the way we’re all connected with one another? There are no borders, no travel, no hassle… With just a few clicks, you can watch a YouTube tutorial, listen to an inspiring podcast, chat with a friend, or shop for anything under the sun. This year I bought a ring made in Israel and a graphic design made in Russia. (More on that later.) I’ve followed a Hippie Witch in California, shared and received files from my editor in New York, and admired photos of friends around the world. Oh, and I’ve connected with other writers and awesome readers—like YOU!
c~ My family. I have such a supportive and loving family, from my fantastic husband and super cool daughter to my openhearted parents, close-knit sibs, beautiful grandma, and fun-loving extended relatives and in-laws. I’m awash in gratitude here. *love*love*love*
~ NetFlix (Stranger Things, Master of None... & too many others to name, including old favorites & new... all commercial free!
~ Warm blankets
~ Roasted, herbed vegetables (and the delicious aroma that fills the house)
~ Music (all kinds)
~ Books and the writers who write them. I’m thankful for writers who take the time and effort to tell their stories... entertaining, enriching, and educating us with their words. I’m also thankful for libraries, and bookstores, and publishers.
~ And so much more…
I have this thing I do sometimes when I'm walking along in downtown Chicago: I'll look for people who are smiling. You might think that so many people are rushing about with determined, cynical, grumpy, or just plain neutral expressions. But some people actually look happy-- two or three friends laughing; a person listening to something through headphones that makes them smile; someone else lost in their own happy thoughts. It's kind of fun to look for the happy people.
And it's kind of the same thing with a gratitude list like this. Once you start looking for--and remembering--things you're thankful for, you find yourself on a roll. Happy things are all around us.
May you see the smiles & feel the smiles & be the one who smiles.
Trick-or-treat! Can you believe Halloween is here already?! And just like that, the month of October is over.
In a way, this is a season of endings, isn't it? Daylight savings time ends soon. The days are getting colder and shorter, and the leaves have pretty much finished changing colors. Here in Chicago, the leaves are spiraling to the ground in earnest now. People are cleaning out their gardens in preparation for the first frost. Even the potted mums I bought for my front porch are dead and brown already! (Though other mums I’ve seen still look nice. Maybe I didn’t water it enough?)
Is it just me, or were the leaves this year not quite as brilliant as in years past? Or maybe I just blinked and missed them. Regardless, every fall I think of the poem “October’s Party” by George Cooper. It’s one of my Grandma’s favorites and mine too. The poem is like a grand sendoff for the beautiful autumn foliage. It's a swirling, celebratory holiday bash: “The Chestnuts came in yellow/The Oaks in crimson dressed/The lovely Misses Maple/In scarlet looked their best.”
It’s a fitting farewell. A last hurrah.
Speaking of good-byes, this time of year is also perfect for remembering and honoring departed love ones. This is most obvious with the Mexican holiday Dia de Muertos and the Wiccan holiday Samhain. But Halloween also celebrates death. Just think of all the skeletons, ghosts, and mummies.
However, it's not quite right to think of endings alone. Every ending is also a beginning. The Wheel of the Year doesn’t stop. It keeps on turning in a constant, never ending cycle. Day becomes night becomes day. Fall becomes winter becomes spring becomes summer. Maybe it would be more accurate to think of this time of the year as a transition rather than an ending.
To tell the truth, I’ve always thought of autumn more as a beginning time anyway. This probably hearkens back to my school days when fall meant new classes and teachers, new friends and experiences. Plus, there’s no denying that Halloween marks the beginning of the “holiday season.” Bring on the colorful music, decorations, trappings and treats! Halloween leads naturally to Thanksgiving, which leads naturally to Christmastime. So much lightness to counter those long cold nights.
Maybe I’m also in mind of beginnings at this time of year since the New Year isn’t too far off now. I’m already anticipating the fresh start and new resolutions I’d like to set for myself.
As a matter of fact, I decided not to wait until January 1st to make plans and set goals. I recently bought myself an 18-month planner covering mid-2017 through 2018. I also just bought the book The Twelve-Week Year. Like a lot of people, I have all these ideas and dreams that I’ve been sitting on… and I know they aren’t going to happen on their own! There has to be action, which requires motivation. I’m looking forward to digging into this book and finding out what I’m really capable of achieving.
Speaking of taking action, there’s something else I’m starting this upcoming month. For the first time ever, I’m going to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It’s an annual on-line event that started in 1999 and has grown every year since. The goal is simple: Write a novel—or at least 50,000 words—in the month of November. Anyone can participate. (Got a book in ya?) It’s quite a challenge, but there’s nothing like a deadline to spur you on--not to mention all the support of the NaNoWriMo community. I’ll be working on Book #5 in my series. Wish me luck!
Until next time, may all your endings lead to beautiful beginnings...
By: George Cooper
October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came--
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.
Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly "hands around."
Where does the time go? I didn’t intend for this to become a once-a-month blog, but that’s what it’s starting to look like. And this time I don’t have an impending book deadline to blame! I’ve just been busy with… stuff. Some fun stuff like a niece’s baby shower, a brother’s wedding, and a visit to a downstate pumpkin patch. And some routine stuff, like my day job, household chores, and dental appointments.
Oh, and there was a book release mixed in there somewhere! Yuletide Homicide is now officially on the shelves! Actually, it feels a little odd to promote a Yule-themed book at the beginning of autumn, but that’s the publishing world for you. Christmastime books come out in the fall.
Speaking of promotion, I recently gave a phone interview for a podcast called “The Daily Author.” It’s a half-hour radio show that features authors in a variety of genres, talking about their books and their writing processes. It was kind of fun and definitely different. This was my first ever radio interview.
Before we went live, the interviewer, a very nice and personable guy with a somewhat dry sense of humor, advised me to just relax and speak from the heart. So, that’s what I did, more or less. But afterward I wasn’t entirely pleased with how I did. In fact, I realized I could have answered one or two questions way better than I did—including the one in which I was asked to describe my latest book. Doh! And, listening back, I had to cringe once or twice—like when I inadvertently said “stigmatism” instead of “stigma.” Ha! I DO know the difference between the two words. Really.
Oh, well. Cringy or not, it was still a good experience.
At least “speaking from the heart” wasn’t a problem. That’s what I always do, I think. At least, I always WRITE from the heart—especially on this blog. …Yet, as I mentioned, I haven’t been posting here very frequently. Over the past several weeks, I would start drafting blog posts and never finish them. I also thought about things I could post on social media, but I didn’t follow through.
Why is that? Part of the reason, to be honest, is a little ole thing called the state of the world. With all the disasters, tragedies, and controversies dominating the news, it felt frivolous to talk about anything other than the crisis of the day. (In fact, it doesn’t even seem right to refer to any atrocity as a “crisis of the day,” as if that somehow diminishes its significance.)
But then I have to remind myself of my role here. What is my purpose for blogging and posting on social media? At heart, it’s to talk about writing and books and mystery… and life. But I don’t have to offer a commentary on everything. Like most everyone else, I do have strongly held opinions…which I do share on my personal Facebook page now and then. But this isn’t the place for that. That’s not my role here.
Okay, now that that’s settled! I really would like to post more often. I’d like to be more present and engaged on my various author platforms. I want to keep in touch with my readers—in a totally non-annoying, non-intrusive kind of way, of course! I do think there’s such a thing as too many Facebook posts and too many emails. But there’s also such a thing as too few.
Ah, the happy medium.
I’m curious, though—how often do you like to hear from the people you follow on social media? Once or more a day? Once a week or less? It’s so easy now to block posts and curate our own in-boxes and “news feeds” that, in some ways, it almost doesn’t matter how often people post.
Anyway, at this point, I don’t think posting too often is going to be a problem for me. After all, there are only so many hours in the day, and I do have more books to write! Still, it doesn’t take too long to pop in on Facebook or Twitter. I was thinking I’d try following some weekly themes for a while, like #WordsforWednesday, #ThrowbackThursday, and #PhotoFriday, etc. I’ll also try to get back into the habit of posting more often on this blog.
At least, that’s what I’m thinking now. These are my honest, uncertain, sometimes-rambling thoughts. No filter. From the heart. :-)
I’ve been thinking a lot about patterns lately. Not dress patterns. (I WISH I had the talent to do something with a dress pattern.) No, I mean something more ineffable than that. I’m thinking about the patterns of our lives. For example...
A few months ago, I started wearing a Fitbit to track my exercise and my hours of sleep--and hopefully motivate me to get more of both. It’s been interesting. In the case of sleep, it’s even been eye-opening. (Ha ha.)
Here’s a question for you:
When you think about how much sleep you get each night, do you take a look at the time you go to bed and the time you get up, and add the hours in between? That’s what I used to do. If I went to bed at 11:00 and got up at 7:00... I’d say, boom: eight hours of sleep. Right?
Wrong. Fitbit would subtract all the times I woke up throughout the night. Evidently, it’s quite common to wake up several times during the night and not even remember being awake. (Especially if you've got a partner who crawls into bed after you or happens to gets up in the middle of the night. Sleep, interrupted!) According to the Fitbit, I’m awake an average of 11% each night. My goal is to get eight hours of sleep, and I haven’t done it on a week night yet.
The real problem, though, is not so much the waking-up part. It’s the going-to-bed part. I have the darnedest time getting myself to bed. This makes sense in the days leading up to a book deadline. As I was finishing up my manuscript for Book #4 last month, I allowed myself to stay up way later than usual. Here’s an example of one of those weeks:
According to the Fitbit app, my nightly average that week was 6 hours and 35 minutes. Not good. After I met the deadline, you'd think I should have been able to get more sleep. And yet...I still haven’t been able to get those ever-elusive eight hours. (Except on the occasional weekend when I can sleep in.) Last week, my nightly average was 6 hours 49 minutes. It could be worse, but still.... it's not quite enough.
So, what’s my excuse? What’s keeping me up? You name it-- laundry to fold, books to read, podcasts to listen to, new ideas to write.
So many things.
Here’s what it ACTUALLY is, though: It’s an ingrained habit. In spite of my best intentions, something always compels me to stay up. Even when my Fitbit buzzes me a reminder that it’s time to get ready for bed, I ignore it. I’ll think to myself, “I’m not tired yet,” or “This is more important.” Or I won’t really think anything at all. I’ll just carry on doing whatever it is I’m doing.
Then, the next morning, when I wake up groggy and less than refreshed, I’ll say to myself: "I MUST go to bed earlier tonight." Day after day, this is what I say. Make that year after year... And so the pattern continues.
And that’s what it is. It's a pattern. We have patterns of sleep, patterns of work, patterns of eating, patterns of behavior. Everything is a pattern.
Of course, not all patterns are negative. I used to have a pattern of faithfully posting on this blog every Thursday morning. That was a good one, except I had to let it go to focus on writing books instead. Then, to help me get my latest book finished on time, I created a pattern of writing during my lunch break every day, and after dinner every evening. Dinner with my family is another daily pattern.
If you think about it, our lives do have a certain rhythm and shape to them, don’t they? The Wheel of the Year tracks the changing seasons, which naturally lend themselves to rituals and traditions-- like spring cleaning, summer vacationing, fall decorating (and fall baking & raking & apple picking & leaf gazing & back-to-school shopping & pumpkin carving & .... yay autumn!)... and winter hibernating. Our holidays and celebrations connect us to the past and the future, while at the same time they bring our attention fully into the present moment-- to our current place in the recurring pattern.
If you want to get even more cosmic, take a look at the patterns in nature. I especially love spirals. From the prints on our thumbs to the stars in our galaxy, the same patterns seem to repeat throughout the universe. It’s so fascinating and beautiful.
On the other hand, if our daily routines start to feel too same-old, same-old—or, worse, like drudgery, that’s not so pretty. That kind of pattern is not inspiring at all. Besides feeling stale, our mundane patterns can seem beyond our control. They can seem predetermined by outside forces: our job schedules, our children’s or partners’ schedules, regular business hours, the clock on the wall, the growl in our tummies....
And yet, not everything is so regimented. I think we have more freedom than we often realize. We can still decide what to do next--or next, after that. Or next, after that. If you’re not completely satisfied with one of your patterns (like me with my sleep habits), you should, in theory, be able to change it.
So, how DO you change a pattern? (No, really. I’m asking. How do you do it?) I imagine you have to first recognize it for what it is, and then replace it with a new pattern. Maybe you have to start by changing just one thing-- and then beginning again every chance you get. Whatever it is, I'm sure it will take time and will power. Perhaps most importantly, it takes self-awareness.
I don’t have the answers, but I do know one thing: Now that I’ve confessed my silly pattern of staying up too late every night, I’m going to try extra hard to change that habit!
Here’s to creating our own beautiful, self-selected patterns. :)
Do you pay much attention to astrology? Read your horoscope? Put any stock in the alignment of the stars?
This is a topic I've been thinking about for the past several weeks. This month has been filled with astrological excitement. There was a partial lunar eclipse on August 7th; mercury retrograde started on August 12th (my birthday!); and, of course, there was that rare total eclipse of my heart-- I mean, total eclipse of the sun (ha ha) on August 21st.
And, boy did people get excited over the eclipse! Did you? In Illinois, lots of folks pilgrimaged to Southern Illinois (which is where our Wiccan Wheel hero, Keli Milanni, lives, by the way) to watch the event in the "path of totality." Chicago meteorologist and hometown treasure Tom Skilling was one of them. I love this moving account of his reaction. (I got to see Skilling in person on a panel about climate change a few months ago. He really is the best.)
Some people even found that love was in the air during the eclipse-- including my cousin! (Congrats, Davi and Greg!)
Up here in Chicago, it was a disappointingly overcast day. The clouds did part in time for some kiddos to get a glimpse of the action. (Sage kicked back in the backyard.) Alas, I was in a meeting and missed the whole thing. (Kind of like I ALMOST missed posting on my blog this month. I've been busy writing!)
As I mentioned, August is my birthday month. (My actual birthday, not my book birthday, which was last month.) That makes me a Leo. But, I gotta say, when it comes to astrology, I don't entirely get the whole dealio. I can kinda relate to Keli (again, our Wiccan Wheel hero), when she said Midsummer Night's Mischief, "Astrology was a little over my head. Interesting to a point, but just complicated enough to make my brain hurt if I thought about it too long.” (Keli’s a Gemini.)
In fact, I've always felt a slight disconnect with my sun sign. Leos are supposed to be natural leaders: brave, strong, exuberant, out-front kinda people. The famous example always mentioned is Madonna. Me? I'm a low-key, introspective introvert. Sure, I guess I'm a leader in some contexts, but I rarely seek the limelight. I usually wield my influence (such that it is) behind the scenes.
On the other hand, when I look up other people's signs, I DO see some truth in their descriptions. For example, my daughter is an Aries: creative, ambitious, loyal, excellent sense of humor? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. My sister, the Libra: understanding, caring, an excellent debater with a keen intuition. Yes, to those. My other sister, the Virgo: keen mind, delightful to chat with, remarkable memory. Yes, to those, as well.
Not long ago, I learned that there's actually a lot more to astrology than your sun sign. Among other things, there's also your moon sign. Theoretically, the position of the moon during the exact minute of your birth can provide additional insight into your personality. (My moon sign is Taurus.)
But this raises the question that's been bugging me. It's the HOW and the WHY of it all. If astrology is a pseudoscience, where is the (supposed) science part? Why should the movement of the planets have any bearing on our lives at all? I had a hard time finding answers to these questions, until I happened upon this website: www.whats-your-sign.com.
I actually can’t believe I haven’t come across this website before. I use signs and symbols in the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries quite a bit. In my personal life, I believe in signs and omens too. I don’t always remember to pay attention to them, but it’s always pretty cool when I do. So, I’m looking forward to exploring this new-to-me resource. It seems to have a wealth of information.
As for astrology, the website author quoted Hermes Trismegistus who said: "That which is below is like that which is above. That which is above, is like that which is below. All to do the miracles of one thing only."
As she goes on to explain:
“If we return to our understanding of the universe as a large energy (macrocosm) identically reflecting humankind as a smaller energy (microcosm), we may come to a realization. We may realize that knowing about astrology is more than just memorizing zodiac sign dates, or zodiac houses and facts. It's more about connecting ourselves with the vastness of the universe in which we live. It's about gaining broad vision from a unique source of wisdom.”
Now, THAT makes a certain kind of spiritual sense to me. After all, as I learned from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, we humans are made of star stuff. Maybe astrology is just a way to tap into and interpret our connections to the universe.
Well, it’s a thought, anyway!
What do you think? Do you see any meaning in your star signs?
A nature-loving, mystery-reading, magic-seeking, daydreaming kinda gal, Jennifer is the author of the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries.