Saturday, November 12, 2011

On Karma and Its Care and Feeding

I know that many people don't really believe in the concept of karma, but I personally can't remember a time when I didn't... and quite strongly so. Maybe it has something to do with being an overly empathic, contemplative Piscean soul. Maybe it's just the way I appear to look at things differently and feel like I "see" karma at work in the world and in my own life where other people don't. I'm not really sure. All I know is that I think about this... a lot.

Even more importantly, my karma is something that I spend a lot of energy worrying about. I honestly try to be a good person these days. I try to always choose right instead of wrong. When presented with a really tough choice to make, I do make a strong effort to do what I think the universe would want me to do. I tend to view life as one big, long, extended school year or something with every event and crossroads along the way acting as another test that will help decide the direction in which I progress. I feel like I really do have the choice to study up and prepare so that I get good grades and continue to progress... or else I can spend my life in and out of detention hall and summer school.

I don't really know why it is that I'm so sure I'm failing at that... or at the very least, not doing as well as I could be or should be. I suppose I'm just hyper-aware of the fact that I'm not perfect. I've made a lot of bad choices in my past. There was a point in time when I knowingly chose to hurt others instead of treating them with kindness and compassion simply because it made me feel better about myself at the time or perhaps it was just the easier choice. Sometimes I still choose to wallow too long in indecision instead of be proactive about things because I feel sorry for myself and the fact that my life isn't as rich, full, or meaningful as I'd prefer. It's hard not to feel like I deserve the bad things that happen to me for those reasons. My karma still needs a lot of work.

In the end though, I suppose all we can really do is try. Little things make a big difference, I think, because they add up. It may take 100 pennies to equal a dollar, but.. hey, a dollar, right? Here are some of the pennies I try to collect when I see them lying around. I'm only human, so sometimes I do decide it's not worth it and just forget the damn penny, but like I said. I try.

  • If I see trash lying around on the beach or in a natural area, I pick it up and throw it away. For whatever reason, I feel really strongly about trying to keep natural areas beautiful for ourselves, as well as livable for our plant and animal friends.
  • When I'm out and about, I'm as nice to people as possible. I'm introverted, so I rarely want to... but when people catch my eye or smile, I try to smile back at them in a friendly way. If someone pays me a compliment, I say "thank you" even if I don't want to talk to them. No, I don't want to sit and chat or interact a lot... but I don't want to be rude or ruin someone's day by making them feel like they did something wrong in being friendly either.
  • I go out of my way to be very appreciative of and kind to service people. I worked retail for a long, long time, so I remember all too well how thankless and degrading it can feel to make your living having to wait on others. It made so much difference to me when people treated me like a human being instead of a servant, so I try to do the same.
  • I'm not good on a spoken word basis with others. I am definitely not good at doing things like saying "I love you" enough and I dislike the sappy displays of sentiment that so many other people seem to like. However, I do try to remember to at least show people how I feel about them. I try to remember not to take them for granted. There's nothing in this world worse than not feeling loved and appreciated by those you love and appreciate, so I would never want to be someone who perpetuates that feeling for others.
  • I'm a grudge holder. I'll probably always be a grudge holder to some extent. Really, "forgive and forget" doesn't work for me at all because try as I might? I can't choose how I feel and I feel extreme anger that lasts and lasts when someone wrongs me. However, I try to just choose to separate myself from the person in question if I feel like I can't forgive them so that I can at least move on from my anger, if not exactly get over it. It's better for me and it's better for them. There once was a day when I would have tried to get back at them instead which, of course, only perpetuates a cycle of negativity and nastiness.
  • When people from the past that I thought I didn't want to talk to anymore inevitably track me down wanting closure in regards to their relationship with me, I do try to reassess the situation to the best of my ability. Unless I have a reason to think that the person hasn't changed their ways and has unsavory motives for coming around again, I try to give them the closure they want. I've done this recently with a couple of ex-boyfriends I didn't treat very well in the past and I was surprised to find out that giving them that closure helped me as well.
  • This one is extra hard for me, but I try to remember to be kind to myself as well. I know I don't treat myself with the same care and respect I do others. I hold myself to standards that I would consider impossible, unacceptable, and even cruel if inflicted upon somebody else. I'd never deprive a loved one of love, understanding, or acceptance... but I do it to myself habitually. I doubt the universe really likes that much.

 How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.
- Wayne Dyer

I found the intro picture and the above quote online earlier. Really, I think that's the secret to getting through life right there. You can't control other people, or your feelings, or circumstances... but you can change the way you process and deal with them if you really want to.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Witches' New Year: Thoughts From the Threshold

Halloween/Samhain is one of my favorite times of the year for a number of reasons. For one thing, outside of my for-fun blogs that I keep here on Blogger, I co-run a popular horror genre website at and that's a huge time of year for us. We watch and review a lot of scary movies around then, cover horror-related events quite a lot, handle seasonal press releases, and so forth. We both also just plain old love Halloween and have since we were little kids.

Also, as someone who detests summertime and warm weather, I look forward to Samhain as the time of year when all of that is over with for a good long time. I am someone who naturally becomes most energized when temperatures are cooler... or even cold. As summer fades away, I often feel as if I'm coming out of some sort of hibernation. It only seems natural that as someone who leans strongly toward paganism when it comes to my spirituality that I would have warmed to idea of treating Samhain itself as a personal New Year of sorts the way many pagans do, especially considering the way I normally tend to feel biologically around this time of year. However, I have yet to really explore that for myself with any degree of seriousness.

I'm thinking that this might be the year I want to give it a try. This past year of 2011 (and really the handful of previous years as well) has really been a low one as far as energy, productivity, and my general level of "give a fuck" really go. Like most people, I reach crossroads at various points in my journey at which I need to pause and consider where I want to go next. I feel like I've been stuck at the one where I'm currently at for a while now... but I've also been feeling a few stirrings lately that make me feel like I might be ready to move forward in one direction or another -- possibly several -- very soon.

I wonder if more serious, devoted pagans really make New Year's resolutions a part of the way they go about starting a new cycle. I suppose it doesn't really matter. I only know that I think I might like to.

I am trying to start with my attitude toward my work, myself, and my future, as I am convinced I am my own biggest problem. I'm a perfectionist, so I'm very "all or nothing" with myself. I don't like to produce shoddy work. However, that often means that when I'm feeling under the weather or less than myself, I wind up doing nothing because I can't stomach the idea of producing anything less than perfect... at least when it comes to my blogging, my creative writing, my art, and pretty much anything else in my life that I do for personal fulfillment or for the mere pleasure of it. It's easier said than done, but I'm really trying to give myself permission to be less than perfect more of the time.

Case in point: I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year. That's not really news, since as a creative writer who loves to network and connect with others like myself, I often at least attempt to produce something for NaNo. However, I always miss the point of the event -- to have fun, get some writing done, and just be creative without expectations -- in favor of being the only one who feels like she needs to come out on the other side with the next Great American Novel under her belt. Naturally, I never achieve that goal, because... who can?? And it winds up taking all the fun out of NaNo, out of life, and out of writing for me.

This year, I'm participating. However, I'm not writing a novel so much as I'm just sitting down and writing snippets of story ideas, flash fiction, and poetry when and if I feel like it. I'm trying to focus on the fact that coming out at the end of November with even a few hundred words of original creative content that I actually care about is light years better than coming out with nothing because I just didn't sign up... or coming out with something my heart isn't in because I felt the need to meet some impossible standard I set for myself. I'm trying to cultivate a similar attitude toward my artwork as well, but I'm focusing on the writing first, as I really consider myself to be more of a writer these days.

Seth and I are also working on taking our joint business ventures in some new directions soon as well. There's More Horror, of course... and our fledgling movie production company, Dismal Productions. However, we also want to move forward with North Star, our spiritual counseling company soon. That has the potential to be such a wonderful thing for so many people, me included, so it's something I'm really excited about. I'm certainly still freelancing in regards to my writing and design, but I'm intentionally not spending as much time and energy on it as I once was, since I'm beginning to feel like I've reached a place where it's not growing anymore so much as it's holding me back.

I'm far more excited about these other projects for sure, because they're mine... ours. Our real names, identities, and passions are attached to them. It feels good to be able to take credit for some of the things I do again and I've been finding the sincere praise and encouragement I've been getting lately in regards to these things to be a real motivator. It will be interesting to see where that takes me by next Samhain.

In February, Neptune will be moving back into my sun sign of Pisces for a good long stay... years, and years, and years. It's supposed to mark the beginning of an incredibly fortuitous period for me, especially artistically and professionally. Most likely in terms of my self image as well. I'm both excited and nervous about something so profound looming just around the corner... but mostly excited! I'm hoping to have a good foundation laid for whatever the universe may have in store for me by then for sure. Wish me luck!