Posted by: devonellington | November 28, 2022

Oasis

image courtesy of victorrdyrnes via pixabay.com

Oasis

The coming weeks through the end of the year are often chaotic, tense, emotionally draining. Even when you have strong, positive relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, it can all be a bit much.

It means you need to create an Oasis, for your own well-being, a space into which you can escape, even for a moment. Here are some suggestions:

The Astral Oasis

Take a few minutes and close your eyes. Visualize your perfect tranquil space.

For some, it will be a cozy chair by the fire, with books or tea or knitting or some combination.

For others, it will be a space on the beach or somewhere else in nature.

For yet others, it could be a fond childhood memory, or a fantasy world, or outer space.

Whatever makes YOU feel safe and happy is your space. You never have to tell another individual about it. It is secure, and it is YOURS.

Build a few minutes in your day, similar to meditation time, to visit this space. You can keep building it, rearrange it, do whatever you want until it feels good. Then, visit it regularly. When you start feeling restless in it, make changes to it. But this is YOUR space. You can embellish it with scents, sounds, textures, whenever you wish.

You can visit it anytime you need a moment of peace in a stressful day. If you can close your eyes, do so, and imagine it in your mind’s eye as you follow your breath. If you are not in a place or situation where you can close your eyes, keep them open. Follow your breath, and hold the calm, safe feeling you have when you visit your oasis.

If you do this regularly, simply saying or thinking the word, “Oasis” (or whatever you choose to call it) will take you there for a few moments of calm.

The Physical Oasis

Set up a favorite chair, corner of the couch, oversized cushions and blankets on the floor of your bedroom – anything that makes you feel safe and calm.

Carve out a few minutes every day to sit there and feel peaceful. It can be right before bedtime (that will help you sleep). It can be first thing in the morning, to start your day on a calmer note. It can be a break during the day, or when you get home from work, to transition from the detritus of the day to something calmer.

As you do this regularly, you will be able to call up the look and sensation of the space (similar to the way actors use sense memory) if you’re have a stressful time away from home. You will be able to take a deep breath, pull up the sensation of how good you feel in the space, and build moments of stress relief into you day.

Again, after a period of time, just saying or thinking the word, “Oasis” (or whatever you choose to call the space) will give you access to the feelings of calm and safety.

Naming

Names have power. Words have power. Naming your sanctuary, especially if you never share that name with anyone else, gives you even stronger boundaries and safer space.

Working in and with the space regularly will, as mentioned above, give you the ability to speak or think the name wherever you are, and pull up the sense of tranquil security.

Start creating the space  now, during these stressful weeks, slowly, with flexibility, and then you can carry it with you next year.

You’ll know when you want and need to make changes, and that’s a good thing. The space does double duty: it offers calm and safety, while being a work in progress to grow with you as you grow.

Have a lovely season, my friends.

Posted by: devonellington | November 21, 2022

This Is Supposed to be Fun

image courtesy of Couleur via pixabay.com

As we get into the whirlwind of Winter Holiday celebrations, we often spend too much time worrying about money, pulling off the holiday, making things perfect.

We forget this is supposed to be fun.

It’s supposed to be celebratory, not stressful.

The older I get, the less I’m worried about how the holiday looks to others than how it feels to experience it.

I honor and love many family holiday traditions.

I also create new ones, and integrate the two.

What makes me happy?

What is important to the people with whom I spend the holidays?

How can we focus more on happiness and less on expectations of what a holiday should be? What needs to be rearranged? Re-aligned?

Communication always helps. If someone says to you, “This is really important to me at this time of year” – listen. Is it something you can do that makes them happy, without hurting you?

If something is important to you during this time, speak up.

If needs and desires for the holidays are in conflict, talk about them, and see where you can find a pleasant compromise, rather than a resentful capitulation.

Where can you decrease the stress while increasing the fun?

Small changes over a number of years are often easier for everyone to deal with than huge changes in a single year.

But try different things in different years, and find what makes you enjoy the season, rather than dread it.

Posted by: devonellington | November 14, 2022

Mon. Nov. 14, 2022: Mid-Month Check-In

image courtesy of Julita via pixabay.com

We’re halfway done with November, and getting into the holiday season, so it’s time to check in. How are you feeling about the month? How are you feeling about the upcoming holiday season? What can you do to be kinder to yourself about it?

I often joke that I look at the “holiday season” as Halloween through Twelfth Night, but it’s not really a joke. I celebrate quite a few different holidays in that stretch, some of which came about because friends and co-workers included me in their celebrations over the years and I wanted to continue to honor them.

But I do like the stretch of November, after the Samhain decorations are down, there are a few cornucopias to celebrate Thanksgiving, and it’s not yet time to put up the Winter Holiday decorations. I like that sense of breath and rest in those few weeks.

I have friends who put up Christmas or Solstice trees the week after Samhain. Hey, if it makes you happy, do it.

But I like the quiet before it all revs up again.

What I’m up to this month:

NaNo: as of today I’m at 33,267 words, and wrote every day on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH

Worked on Legerdemain (but not as much as I wanted/should have)

Worked on ANGEL HUNT (but not as much as I wanted/should have)

Kept up with THE PROCESS MUSE

Kept up with the blogs

Celebrated election results (so far)

Kept up with script coverage

Kept up with book review assignments

Added the social media channels Mastodon, Tribel, Cohost, Ravelry, and WT social to my roster

Got rid of WT social after 48 hours

Started reviving my Pinterest account

Downloaded the Devon Ellington Twitter archive (still have to do the Fearless Ink one)

Read and commented on my friend’s manuscript

Read a bunch of books for pleasure

Took a trip through Vermont and into upstate NY

Took a couple of cooking classes with Jeremy Rock Smith

Performed the Tending the Dead Rituals

Got Ko-fi back up and running

How’s your November going?

Posted by: devonellington | November 7, 2022

You Don’t Have To Spin

(Image courtesy of Yan Stavchansky via pexels.com

The last day of October was Samhain, a big holiday on  my personal calendar, so I chose to celebrate it rather than post what I got done in October. Now, we’re well into November, so it doesn’t make sense to post about October.

I’m happy with what I got done in October. It was a lively, creative month. I always feel I’m not getting “enough” done, no matter how much I do, and I’m trying to train myself out of that toxic whirlpool.

We’re a week into November. I’m trucking along with my Nano words every day, learning a lot from this experience, and trying to figure out how it will affect my overall writing life and process past November.

There’s also a lot going on, between Twitter being intentionally destroyed by an egotistical, insecure manboy, tomorrow’ s election (in the US), and things like a full moon and an eclipse, and all the other influences (like Mars retrograde) that are making something difficult even more so, especially since most of us are just trying to get through the day and keep a roof over our heads.

I’ve been up, down, and all over the place the past few days. My meditation practice has helped a lot.

One of the techniques I learned in meditation is not to try to push away or repress ugly feelings, but to acknowledge them. So that’s what I’m doing: acknowledging grief, stress, anxiety, fear. I also acknowledge that people feel different things at different points, and deal with them differently. I don’t feel what they do, and I don’t “have” to. I can give them room to feel what they feel without lashing out at them. Even if they lash out at me.

I can, however, choose not to engage with those who are lashing out either because they don’t know how to deal with the emotions, or who delight in using what’s going on as a reason to escalate their cruelty.

I protect my work  (my writing) first. If it interferes in my ability to create, it is removed from my life. That’s as true of people as of situations. Unless it’s a client who’s paying me, I don’t have to engage with toxic individuals. And, if it is a toxic client, I can finish the project and fire the client.

I don’t have to spin in someone else’s emotional abyss.

Neither do you.

Breathe. Choose with whom you engage or disengage. Give room to those worth keeping in your life who are hurting and handling it differently. Remove those who are out to cause harm.

Protect your energy. Protect your heart.

And, if you’re in the US tomorrow, VOTE! We don’t want this election to be our last election.

Peace, my friends.

Posted by: devonellington | October 31, 2022

Blessed Samhain

(image courtesy of Larissa Koshkina via pixabay.com)

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am more mindful of taking holidays, rather than just posting content when a posting day falls on a holiday. This is a big day in my personal calendar, and I’m enoying it.

I hope you take off important days in your personal calendar, too!

Posted by: devonellington | October 24, 2022

Breath Under Duress

image courtesy of Dean Moriarty via pixabay.com

We are getting into a particularly chaotic time, between midterms, digging down to prepare for another COVID surge in spite of the deniers, and what’s happening astrologically.

Although Saturn, the pattern of life lessons, went direct yesterday, we’re not out of the woods. Look at the life lessons you learned since the retrograde began on June 4. How will you apply them moving forward to that you don’t get hit with them again when Saturn goes direct next year?

How are you going to listen to that deep inner voice of KNOWING and let it guide you?

What have you learned about the people in your life, those you can trust and those you can’t?

We still have Mars in Gemini until March of 2023 (I know, I know, I moan about this regularly BECAUSE IT SUCKS). Now, we have Mars going retrograde while it’s in Gemini, and it will be retrograde until January 12, 2023.

It bodes for more argument, more aggression, on multiple levels, on personal and larger levels.

The holiday season is stressful enough, with family expectations and everything else going on. Add the retrograde Mars in Gemini energy, and it can be overwhelming.

I chose the title for this piece “Breath under Duress” for several reasons:

We need to breathe to live.

Pausing to take a few deep breaths in the midst of stress helps steady and give clarity to deal with said stress.

COVID is airborne, makes breathing difficult, and we have to make sure we are not in situations where breathing will kill us.

I joked over on Ink in My Coffee this morning, and on Twitter last night, to keep me away from sharp objects and flamethrowers, because I Am Done. Only it’s not really a joke. I can feel the rage gathering, urged on my Mars getting ready to go retrograde in Gemini. While there are plenty of rage-worthy targets, I want to make sure I don’t aim at those who don’t deserve it, and I want as little collateral damage as possible.

Every time I feel the rage building, I stop.

I take a few deep breaths.

I ask myself if the thing/person I’m furious at/with in the moment is really the cause of my rage, or am I deflecting?

If it is the cause, how can I use the anger in a constructive rather than destructive way?

If it’s not, how I can I move my focus to what IS the actual cause, and use the anger constructively?

It’s difficult.

It’s also necessary.

Built your bubble for the winter surge. Don’t give in to peer pressure and keep masking/refusing indoor activities. Create space so that you CAN take a breath when you’re under duress, and do so safely.

Posted by: devonellington | October 17, 2022

October Mid-Month Check-In

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

I can’t believe it’s already the middle of October. I love autumn, but time is accelerating.

How is your October going? Mine is busy and creative. I’m slowly feeling less burned out and more optimistic. However, with the virus numbers going up in my area, I’m hunkering down for the winter. I’m looking forward to it, planning my time and space to be creative and cozy.

Here’s what’s been going on:

Wrote 2 short plays

Submitted 1 play

Got back on track with my daily yoga practice

Kept up with Ink in My Coffee & Gratitude and Growth

Kept up with script coverage work

Kept up with book reviews

Wrote ahead on Ink-Dipped Advice

Participated in a marketing game (which is ongoing until the end of the month)

Worked on the next arc of LEGERDEMAIN

Worked adapting chapters of ANGEL HUNT back into serial format

Re-read part of EARTH BRIDE with an eye to adaptation

Helped a colleague with her website

Started writing VIXEN’S HOLLOW/THE CUNNING ONE

Worked on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED MURDER

Created and dropped an ad campaign at the last minute for the Kindle Vella Binge Reading week

Created a logo for the new project going live next week

Outlined and planned the new project going live next week

Wrote four of the posts for the new project

Attended the Boiler House Poets reading

Decorated for the season

Did a storage run

Got an oil change to prep the car for winter

Started the document for the December newsletter

I did not get out  any LOIs at the beginning of the month, which concerns me. I need to up my game for the second half of the month there, or I will regret it over the winter.

How’s your October going?

Posted by: devonellington | October 3, 2022

September Wrap-Up

image courtesy of Messan Edoh via pixabay.com

I never did a wrap up for August, but that’s long in the distance. Safe to say, I re-released all seven Topic Workbooks and did a lot of promotion for Legerdemain, and taught virtually at a conference. September was pretty busy, too.

DONE:

Working Artist Group meeting

Quarterly newsletter out

Kept up with script coverages

First arc of LEGERDEMAIN polished/uploaded/scheduled through early Dec.

Episode-specific ads created/uploaded/scheduled

Kept up with book reviews

Kept up with Gratitude and Growth

Kept up with Ink-Dipped Advice

Created and posted 2023 GDR questions

House guests

Started working with DramaQueen software

Dumped project management software

Signed up with Substack

Meeting at the local television/radio station

Submitted 5 stage plays

Authors Guild virtual seminar on serials

Outlined Lighthouse short story

Got the plants in

Sewed two curtains

Created/uploaded ads for 30 Tips for 30 Days through October

Posted profile on Creative Ground

Updated Pages on Stages Website with radio links

Created ANGEL HUNT logo

Attended a colleague’s reading

Visited the law library for research on the Retro Mystery

Got COVID Shot #5

Voted in the primaries

IN PROCESS:

Outline for Retro Mystery

ANGEL HUNT adapted from novel to serial

VISCERAL INVISIBLES revision

Material for the Legerdemain website

Revision of CAST IRON MURDER

Graphics for Topic workbooks campaign for October -December

Organizing creative projects for 2023

Fearless Ink Quarterly postcard

DROPPED/MOVED:

Withdrew from Authors Guild in-person conference due to lack of COVID protocols

UNEXPECTED ADDITIONS:

Substack

Submission calls

Short story outline (lighthouse)

DISAPPOINTMENTS:

Project management software does not meet my needs. It lacks the flexibility I want.

Had to drop the idea of meeting some submission calls because I could not prioritize the time to write the pieces necessary.

Lack of COVID protocols at conference, which meant I had to withdraw

Lack of synopses for stage plays (on the list for the coming months)

Behind on posting links for the Topic Workbooks

Injured by fireworks

The amount of time it took to recover from the booster

Recruiters (so sick of them wasting my time)

Fire in the building

Retrogrades

SUCCESSES:

Creative Ground

Bonuses from Script Coverage

How was your September?

Posted by: devonellington | September 26, 2022

Questions to Help Plan 2023

image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio via pexels.com

It’s been another rough year, the third year of the ongoing pandemic. Take some time to think about where you’ve been in 2022 and where you’d like to go in 2023.  The questions will move to their own tab and sit, so you don’t have to feel rushed; you can revisit.

I will post mine shortly in the New Year. You can post or not post in the New Year in the comments as you wish.  Remember that Mercury goes retrograde again on December 29, with Mars still in Gemini, so going into the New Year could be rougher than usual.

Here are some things to consider:

Assess 2022. What are the major highlights? What are the big disappointments? How do they weigh against each other?

Given your GDRs for 2022, what did you achieve, what are you still working on, and what did you release?

Looking at 2023, consider these:

What is your relationship with the ongoing COVID pandemic? How will you continue to protect yourself, your family, your community?

Where do you need to change things on your path? Is it work? Is it nonwork?

What creative explorations do you plan to make in 2023?

List 3 goals for 2023, in any area of your life. Underneath each, list 3 active steps to start the work they need.

List 3 dreams for 2023, in any area of your life. Underneath each, list 3 active steps to start launching them.

List 3 resolutions for 2023, in any area of your life. Underneath each, list 3 active steps to start your commitment.

What do you need to release, in any of these areas, to clear your path to achieving your goals, dreams, and resolutions in 2023?

What is one new type of creative endeavor you will play with during 2023? (And the emphasis here is on “play.” We don’t build in enough playtime for ourselves).

What is one stretch goal, dream, or resolution that you want, which will probably be a multi-year endeavor? What is one small step you can take this year to get it going?

As always, take your time to think about it. Only share, in January, what you feel comfortable sharing.

Posted by: devonellington | September 12, 2022

Learning To Take Breaks

image courtesy of Dariuz Sankowski via pixabay.com

Hello, and welcome back after the August Blog Rest here.

But last Monday was September, so why no post?

Because here, in the US, it was a holiday. I am being more stringent about taking holidays and not working or posting.

So why not write ahead and schedule to post?

Because I’m training myself and walking my talk by taking holidays, and that means that not only do I not work on them, but I don’t act like it’s any typical workday and schedule posts. I’m trying to train myself to get into the habit of holidays being genuine time off, not pretended time off.

We’re so used to everything being work or about work or prep for work or work showing up when we’re away that we don’t take breaks. Taking breaks from posting gives me, as the content creator AND the readers, a break.

But readers will forget about you! Or they’ll be angry and go elsewhere for their content!

Okay.

If I’m that forgettable, then they should find someone whose posts excite them. If they get angry because I TAKE A REST, then they are no longer my target audience. They may have been at an earlier point in my career, when I bought into the whole “always have content dropping” but my focus has changed, which means the readership changes.

That’s okay.

It’s part of growth and change.

I don’t want to be afraid that my readers will turn on me or away from me. I need to fulfill my purpose and my vision, creatively and professionally. I certainly have enough information out there so people can find my work and can spread the word. And if they don’t like it or want it, then they have the right to go and find other work that speaks to them.

There’s room for everyone, and there’s room for people to try different things. There’s room for people to change and grow differently, and away from each other. That’s all part of it. That’s a good thing.

So I am going to honor holidays and breaks. I am going to honor YOUR holidays and breaks. That way, when we spend time together, it’s because we WANT to, not because we’re on a schedule that doesn’t serve either of us.

Take breaks. Enjoy holidays. Live a varied life!

(P.S. I’m working for the questions for 2023, and hope to post them in early October).

Posted by: devonellington | August 8, 2022

August is for (Blog) Rest

image coourtesy of asmuSe via pixabay.com

For the month of August, this blog is making like a European and taking a break. We all need rest.

It will be back the week after Labor Day (Labor Day is later than usual in the calendar this year, so the blog will return on Septembr 12.

We all deserve rest.

Enjoy your days!

Posted by: devonellington | August 1, 2022

July Wrap Up

image courtesy of Nevena Mikac via pixabay.com

July Wrap Up

August 1 is an important holiday in my personal calendar, and I intend to celebrate.

I’m happy with how July shaped up. I’d hoped for a quiet August, but it’s getting rather busy.

Here’s the wrap:

Complete:

1 LOI (this is far too low, and I need to get more out in August, and definitely in September);

New editions of 3 Topic Workbooks released;

The launch of LEGERDEMAIN, the serial;

Content Calendar for the three Topic Workbooks created, uploaded & scheduled through September;

Ads for the first 6 episodes of LEGERDEMAIN created, uploaded, and scheduled;

General ads for LEGERDEMAIN created, and used as needed

#31 Prompts uploaded daily across Twitter, Ello, CounterSocial, Tumblr, and Facebook

Visited an old friend I hadn’t seen in more than 10 years

Kept up with script coverages

Kept up with book reviews

Signed up for a Kripalu cooking class

Kept up with Italian lessons on Duolingo

Participated in Word X Word’s World’s Possibly Largest Poem

Did a comparison trial between Asana and Todoist

Went to the Booksale at the Pittsfield Atheneum

Met with local candidates running for office

Found a new doctor for my mom

Kept up with meditation practice, both online and my own daily practice

Took yoga classes both online & in studio

Wrote the first draft of “Inspired By”

Wrote the first draft of “The Little Woman”

Hung up some art

Finished building The Kitchen Island Cart from Hell

Stripped the pine wreath

Attended the Northern Berkshire Artist Meetup

Applied for an artist residency

Llewellyn article for 2024 Almanac

In Process:

Uploading the rest of the first arc of LEGERDEMAIN

Website for LEGERDEMAIN

Episode-specific ads

Writing the second and third large arcs of LEGLERDEMAIN

Working on the poem for “Poets in Conversation – Landscape” in August

Shakespeare horror story

Dropped/Moved:

October mini-vacation cancelled, due to safety concerns (rising Covid & monkeypox numbers)

Unexpected Additions:

Accepted for Poets in Conversations — Landscape

Disappointments:

A short story about which I was passionate was rejected for an anthology

Windows 11 causing problems/crashes/freezes every day

I let my daily yoga practice slide too often

October mini-vacation cancelled

SCOTUS

Successes:

Wrote/performed with Word X Word

Stayed on track with the Topic Workbook launches

The LEGERDEMAIN launch

Posted by: devonellington | July 25, 2022

Make Space for Enjoyment & Celebration

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

This ties into my Intent for the Week, over on the Ink in My Coffee site. This week’s intention is enjoyment.

The next few weeks are very busy: a flurry of Topic Workbooks re-releasing, and a new one releasing the week after I teach my class. LEGERDEMAIN starts running this week, episodes releasing twice a week for the foreseeable future. I need to finish building the companion website, and start directing traffic to it, and posting fun stuff regularly, to keep it current, grow the audience, and keep the audience engaged. I have a workshop to teach at an online writing conference. I have an almanac article due. Lammas, a big holiday in my personal calendar, is coming up.

If all goes to plan, I get to spend time with a close friend in person this week.

I want to enjoy it all.

I don’t want it to be about crossing items off a list and worrying about the next thing on the list. I want to enjoy everything as it’s happening.

Too often, we don’t allow enjoyment of. . .anything. We’ve been trained to accomplish and then move on. We’re not trained to celebrate until outside sources validate us.

We’re only supposed to celebrate a book release if the publisher throws a party. With the stress of a book coming out, we shouldn’t have to throw our own parties, but there’s no reason we can’t or that we shouldn’t. We should be happy. We should allow ourselves to be happy, and to enjoy our achievements, without always looking to the next thing without acknowledging and celebrating THIS thing.

It’s one of the many social constructs that need changing, and we can start the change by being the change.

Something wonderful happen? Celebrate it?

And when those lemons try to derail your happiness because they don’t take risks/can’t be happy/can’t stand to see anyone else happy, just laugh and shrug it off. Feel sorry for them, because no matter how much they do, they will never be happy, because they haven’t learned how, need that exterior validation, and it will never be enough, even if/when they get it.

Experience pleasure. Allow joy. Give yourself the space for enjoyment. Pause and feel gratitude. Acknowledge accomplishments.

Do this for your own achievements, for anything that makes you proud. It can be cleaning out a closet or baking a cake or writing a book or throwing a pot on the wheel for the first time or the four hundredth time.

Re-train yourself to celebrate your accomplishments.

Celebrate the accomplishments of those around you who are happy or relieved or excited by doing something that matters.

Making space for enjoyment and celebration, for ourselves, and others, is a step toward a more joyful community.

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