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OPENING CEREMONIES

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INTENTION SPREAD

Part One
{19:33}

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Part Two
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Part Three
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Spiritual Tech

One of Manfingy's best friends calls all the various religious beliefs, practices, and rituals that he's encountered in India "Spiritual Tech". I love that, because what it does for me is demystify all those practices that we may not have ever encountered, that we may not understand, and puts them in the realm of 'tool' rather than 'dogma'.

I love tools. I have a very wary and uncomfortable relationship with dogma.

Mala beads and rosaries. Community feast days and holy days. Full moons, new moons, solstices and equinoxes. Reverence for earth, air, water, fire. Deities that are emblems of things we encounter in our lives - rites of passage, experiences, phases, life, sex, birth, death.

Blessing hearth and home with fire. Sweeping as a way of banishing negative energy. Prayer. Mantras. Physical postures that are meant to imbue us with their powers. Food laws. Purification of self and environment. Meditation. Contemplation. Myths, legends, stories. Songs. Drums. Fire to create and destroy. Wooing the muse. Mandalas. Iconic paintings. Carvings and fetishes. Statuary. Herbal lore. Tribal ways of being.

These are universal. These are, if you're a mystic like me, merely tools we use to seek and find ease in a life that is fraught with unease, peace in the struggle, order in the chaos, the divine in the mundane.

Spiritual tech.

As a seeker, I have always been fascinated by all the ways we, as human creatures, pattern seek and apply meaning to those patterns we identify. Because I'm a mystic, I am not a 'believer', by which I mean to say that there is no one spiritual modality that is 'the one' for me. I don't have 'faith'. I don't have the 'one true way' or even 'a way'. I have ways, and those ways are collected from many world views, many spiritual modalities, many places, much like a magpie's nest full of shiny things.

I blame Joseph Campbell, who was an early influence. The Power Of Myth on PBS rocked my young, bright-eyed little poptarts. The idea of human practices and belief as threads and the entire species as a tapestry came to me very early. And when I could identify the threads of belief, ritual, or practice that overlapped like golden threads within the whole, those were the 'tech' I found myself interested in. Seeking the commonalities and asking myself how they could be applied to my own spiritual desires, which were to feel connected, to feel like my life mattered, to be at ease in my own skin, to know that all life was sacred, made up most of my late teens and early twenties. Tarot, witchcraft, Goddess spirituality married Catholicism, charismatic Christianity, philosophy, and poetry in my own grappling attempts to meet God as I understood her.

It all made perfect sense to me.

It still does.

***

This is what my spiritual tech looks like lately:

Walks by the creek with the music of rushing water in my ears.

My lovely dog, whose empathy and unconditional love feel like they are channeled straight from the divine.

Art journaling, which gives me access to all the parts of myself.

Writing, which allows me to pattern seek and create connection.

And this:

spirittech

Those moments of stillness. The cup of coffee in the early morning sun. A feverish whispering to myself - 108 times - of these words: I am at peace. I am unflappable. I am at ease while my fingers slide bead by bead over smooth, fragrant, strung sandalwood. The moment when I dedicate that practice to the whole world while I face the north, east, south, and west and say 'peace be with you'.

And also this:

overshare

The soak in the tub. The salt sprinkled into warm water to make a womb. Candlelight and essential oils. Loving the body with tender care. And yes, I wear my glasses in the tub because READING! :)

And this:

Marking the onset of spring, high summer, autumn, the beginning of winter with fire and feasting and all hails and song.

And this:

2014-04-21 16.32.29Painting straight out of my intuition with no care at all about what I'll end up with.

And this:

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Collections of sacred-to-me objects that bring beauty and light into my spaces.

And this:

2013-10-17 14.35.44

Honouring the immanent and transcendent divine through the practice of art making.

Sometimes I add things, and sometimes I take things away. Practices that once meant a great deal to me have fallen out of my personal favour. I don't do morning pages anymore but for many years they were the bedrock of my spiritual tech. Instead, I spill out into a journal whenever I need to. Therapy has become HUGE spiritual tech. "Know Thyself" doesn't really come any other way for me. Telling the truth even when it's scary is also cornerstone stuff, not because it is a moral edict, but because there is no other way to apply "To thine own self be true" to my life.

Spiritual tech matters to me and it is woven through everything I do from the moment I get up in the morning to the moment I drop off to sleep.

It is the ultimate in self-care.

I just wanted to tell you. :)

xo
Effy

Learning To Trust w/Bonus Peek At Some Of My Early Spreads

An early journal spread, circa 2010.

An early journal spread, circa 2009.

Trust is a huge topic of conversation between myself and my Self. It tends to go something like this:

"But I'm shit scared!"

"Trust that whatever happens, you can handle it."

"But things could go wrong!"

"And things have gone wrong before, and yet, here you are. Alive and well."

"But he might/she could/they are..."

"Who's the boss of you? You're the boss of you. Trust you. You've got this."

Maybe this sounds familiar. Maybe as soon as that voice pipes up with "But I'm shit scared!", that's it. You freeze, or veer right or left, and go under. I get it. That was me for a long time. But freezing, or veering, or going under never got me any closer to where I wanted to be, to what I wanted to feel.

I am nothing if not brave because lately, when confronted with terror, I rush in headlong - within reason, of course. I mean, if I'm terrified to walk down a dark alley at night when I'm alone, I will probably heed that terror and seek the light. That's just common sense. But if I'm afraid to try something because I might fail, well, that fear gets put in its place and I pull up my boot straps and gird my loins and strap on the helmet of REASON and I go in like a badass.

Most of the time. But usually not until I've grappled for a good long time. Because UNCERTAINTY.

*Laughs*

Trust, for me, is very much related to uncertainty. I crave certainty like a seed craves good soil, clean rain, and sunshine. I crave it obsessively. I crave it because I lack *trust* in myself and in life itself, and I have been given plenty of reason to lack said trust. There was a very long time there where I didn't trust my own instincts. I would often move in the very opposite direction of where my instincts were telling me to go. Usually, my instincts told me to stick with the devil I knew. Stay in the abusive relationship. Keep the shitty job. Live in the house that did not feel like home. Keep falling into the same known pitfalls rather than take a different route.

But I grew up some, and while I haven't entirely mastered the whole 'trusting my own instincts' thing, I am working on it.

Working on it is a little like flooding myself with experiences in which there is ABSOLUTELY NO CERTAINTY just so I can exercise my trust muscles. This started with my writing practice many years ago. It started with Anne Lamott's permission to write a 'shitty first draft'. She taught me that I could always edit *after*. It segued into art journaling, into letting go of the desire for perfection, pre-selected palettes, composed spreads with rules and rhyme and reason, and trusting that I could just fling paint, and keep flinging until I was happy - that it wasn't finished until I said it was.

earlyjournal1

Not bad. :) Closing the gap a bit.

 

Trust came into play with learning new skills, too. I had to trust that my crappy first attempts would not kill me, and that the more crap I created, the LESS crap I'd create. I had to stare down that weird face I drew - the one with the wonky eyes and mishapen lips before moving on to create ANOTHER weird face with a too long neck or too flat a head before finally creating a face that *pleased me*. I had to fill a few art journals with bad colour choices and zero understanding of composition and too much glitter (there is such a thing as too much!) and text that took up too much room or not enough before I started to fill my journals with spreads that made me really happy.

11173392_836754579707154_2226176023598208783_n

Closing that gap.

 

 

If, as a beginner, I'd needed to be absolutely certain that I'd create a perfect face every time I drew one, I'd have taken up cooking instead of art journaling, because it took a long time before I developed that kind of certainty. Many, many weird and ugly faces led to my first really pleasing one.

The gap between my excellent taste and my skills had to be closed with trust and practice and time. (Ira Glass, thank you, man!)

When we start something new, whether it's taking up a hobby or learning a language or embarking on a new adventure, we must *trust* ourselves. We must trust that we *can* learn that skill, that practice WILL make progress, that trying is WINNING and not trying is BORING.

I'm not saying it's easy, though. It isn't easy. If you're human, and you've had some life experience, you're probably shit scared most of the time where uncertainty is present. But it is possible to overcome that fear, to employ trust, to be brave. I'm living proof of that, and every time I exercise my trust by taking on uncertainty in the journal, on canvas, in my life, I grow that trust little by little.

My life (and maybe yours) resembles the creative process like crazy. Try a thing. Grapple with terror. Let things be uncertain. Rest in not knowing. See what happens. Wonder and then move in the direction of wondering with NO IDEA where it will lead. Bicker with Self, who keeps insisting that trust is key. Resist. And then when resisting is untenable and you feel like you might bust a nut if you resist any longer, surrender. Go for it. Make mistakes. Fix them. Throw out a first draft or two. Pour the gesso liberally. Erase. Let those first attempts be 'texture' and 'practice runs'. Keep going...

I'm learning to trust that I'll get where I'm supposed to be as long as I keep moving forward with my own best interests at heart.

xo

Effy

P.S. I grow my trust muscles through intentional creativity, which I teach in Book Of Days.

Use coupon code audacious for a steep Effy style discount.

 

tryingwinning

 

 

Moon Journaling – New Moon In Aries

moonjournalingThis month's edition of Moon Journaling is live in my creative community, which you can join here.

Some months, I offer free lessons in mixed media portrait making, art journaling, and general holy mess making.

This month, we're gathering up and sharing all of our favourite mixed media and art journaling videos so that we may build a library of inspiration. I share one of my all time favourite videos - a visual meditation I created with accompaniment by Michael Beckwith. Come on over! If you're not yet a member, please join us! It's free! <3

This freely offered gift of my heart is meant to create a safe space to explore the New Moon in community with other people who find it useful, inspiring, and fun to pay attention to what's happening in our sky. Though my spiritual leanings are pagan and mystic, we all live under the same moon, and you are welcome to interpret your response to the New Moon any way you like. <3

You can click here to invite your Twitter friends to join us!:

Or simply copy and paste this link to share on social media: http://tinyurl.com/lpbfcj7

xo

Effy

P.S. For more in depth mixed media and intentional creativity training, please join me for Book of Days!

The State Of My Union

overshareIt's Friday, and in two sleeps, I will get to hang out with Manfingy, who's been gone since March 25th. I am all kinds of excited and also anxious. There's a smidgeon of 'what if the tenderness and affection we expressed over the wires while he was away evaporates when he's here in the flesh?'.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that jazz.

Those of you who are new to me will need a bit of context: Manfingy and I lived together for ten years. We broke up in February of 2014 (his choice) and I moved out in June of 2014. We spent the first few months afterwards trying to get over one another and move on. We've spent the last half year or so resting in the knowledge that, at the end of the day, we really love one another. Now, we're just trying to work out what the hell we are to one another. Joint therapy, lots of drives and talks and dinners, lots of come here/go away on both our parts.

The past few months have seen us saying 'come here' a lot more often. We say things like "I'm not done with you yet.", and "You're my person." We have dinner together every Wednesday. We snuggle. Once a week or so, he spends the night. We text daily. It's a thing. But what it is is unclear. Where it's going is equally unclear.

The uncertainty of it all is pretty heavy, and if you read yesterday's post, you'll know that I have a very complicated relationship with uncertainty.

***

My knees want to jerk myself out of uncertainty. That would look something like me forcing the issue somehow. Ending it altogether in order to avoid the discomfort uncertainty brings me. Moving to another city, province, or hell even another country.

I've been sitting in it instead. Feeling it. Sometimes numbing out over it, but mostly, I've been feeling it.

It feels like, no matter where this leads, it's leading somewhere...

Much like an art journal spread can start out looking like a hot holy mess until everything comes together and the heavens open and the light shines and the angels sing, this, too might end with a hallelujah chorus.

Who knows.

What I know for certain is the uncertainty, as uncomfortable as it is, will not only NOT kill me, it WILL make me stronger. It is making me the kind of person who can rest in a thing until clarity comes instead of closing a door with no certain outcome that might lead to joy in favour of a really empty, sad door that comes with certainty.

It's crazy to choose certain misery over uncertain but possible joy, but certain misery is the devil I know and I am struggling to resist the lure of certainty.

***

When I first moved into my own place, I spent a good three months having panic attacks pretty much nightly. The voice in my head kept telling me that I would never be loved again and I was going to die alone. For someone like me, someone who experienced early rejection and emotional abandonment by her parental units, 'never being loved and dying alone' is pretty much the worst possible outcome.

Whenever I would start to think along those lines (and I thought along those lines often and with fucking gusto), I would sink into a deep despondency. Hopelessness, despair, and a desperate need for relief from the burden of those feelings were my constant companions.

But it eased.

My therapist kept encouraging me to be with it, to let myself feel it, to acknowledge it instead of denying it and stuffing it, and as much as I hated sitting in it, I sat, and it did, eventually, ease. I spent October, November, and December coming up out of it. January was spent *actually enjoying my solitude* for the first time in my life. The panic attacks eased. The fear that I'd die alone eased. The fear that I'd never love or be loved again eased. I made art. I taught BOD. I engaged with people in person and in my virtual spaces. I got through it.

By February - the anniversary of our breakup - he and I decided to see one another exclusively. It was becoming obvious that we weren't finished and we both had some complicated feelings about how the energy of other relationships might impact the healing we were  doing. On the one hand, he didn't want to hold me back from experiencing love and attention from someone who had it to give. On the other hand, he didn't really want me falling in love with someone else and leaving him behind with all the 'what ifs'. On the one hand, I didn't want to sit in the uncertainty of 'I don't know what we are but we're something, and can we just be something without labeling it for a while', but I also didn't want to succumb to my natural tendency to shut the door on possible, uncertain joy in favour of absolutely certain misery.

So we've been exclusive. Whatever that means. And he's coming home on Sunday, and he's pretty much going to land, deal with dog and kid stuff, and then head on over here for the evening - a fact which thrills me, because I fully expected him to say "I'll see you on Wednesday as usual..."

I feel pretty certain that we are entering a make it or break it phase of this whatever-this-is. I don't know why I feel that way, but working intuitively as I have been for as long as I have been means that when my spidey senses say "stuff is happening here", I have to pay attention.

And I'm a little bit scared.

And also a little bit hopeful.

But no matter what, I am absolutely 100% certain that I will be okay.

And that's me, your purveyor of fine TMI, on this Friday, April 17th, 2015.

xo
Effy