#BeQuotable…Day 17….Quotes About Challenge

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Image Credit: James O'Brien

Image Credit: James O’Brien

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.”
Shannon L. Alder

The Greatest Challenges that any of us have to overcome is the little boxes that society tries to place us in. For me, it was ADD, Small Town, Woman, Same Sex Attraction, Heathen, and Deviant (to name a few). These are the labels I wear around and people want to typecast me based on these facts about myself. Each presents its own set of challenges and obstacles that I must cross in order to be included in a society, who clearly rejects me. I like this quote because it, essentially, gives us the answer to overcoming these challenges….do not allow yourself to be defined by the box but rather define your existence based on your view from the box. It’s a beautiful sentiment and great motivational words to live by.

 

.99 Ebook Sale–Darkness Within—#GroundhogsDay #Kindle

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Celebrate Groundhog’s day by grabbing my Ebook–Darkness Within for only .99 (76%) off for one day only!

Then, it will be 1.99 for 2 days and 2.99 for 1 day!

Get it while it’s cheap!

Spark of Creativity…

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imbolc

Imbolc is coming, soon. It’s my favorite of the fire sabbats. Last year, we made Brigit’s crosses, lit candles in every room and did a home cleansing, and I shared a lovely story with the kids about keeping the heart fire burning. This year is different.

I’m different. 

For those of you who are not familiar with Imbolc, it is a festival in preparation of the coming Spring and Summer. The legends tell us that the mother is nurturing the child of light and bringing him forth, creating hope for the coming seasons. The traditions of the holiday center around making preparations for the light. So, we clean (think of Spring Cleaning), organize, cleanse and sing songs of hope and light. To think of it scientifically, it is a celebration of the sun growing in strength (in the Northern Hemisphere).

I find myself, this year, going through the process mentally more so than I did in years past. I’m finding the urge to organize, not only my physical surroundings, but my work environment and thoughts as well.

As a writer, I’m more inclined to make lists and schedules. I find myself energized with creativity and vigor toward the projects I’m working on. I look outside and count the days when I can set outside and write while the kids enjoy the warmth of the Spring sun. I feel the hope in the possibility that the book I’m writing on will be the one…the one that gets noticed.

Then again, it could be because we always tend to think that (why else would we be putting so much time and energy into it)?

I find myself shedding away the darkness of the winter, the darkness of my separation, and the darkness of my thoughts. I allow myself to step into the mindset that everything in my life is getting brighter…everything is getting better.

Perhaps this is why spirituality and tradition are important (no matter which way you choose to acknowledge it). Maybe we simply need a reminder to slow down and listen to the turning of the seasons; the turning of the wheel of life. Maybe we need a reason to feel hope…a reason to slow down and reorganize and re energize ourselves.

After all, there has to be a reason that the legends and traditions of our ancestors remained, long after they faded away. I always find it interesting when I learn that someone who has no connection with Paganism takes part in traditions which were spawned from the faith (such as Spring Cleaning, or “broom standing”). It reminds me just how similar we all are, despite our differences. It reminds me that, whether we acknowledge it or not, we all beat to the tune of the same drum. It reminds me that the foundation of faith really is science, even if that’s an unpopular opinion.

Maybe we take it too seriously. Sometimes we get caught up in the myth and legend that we forget the purpose of it all. Sometimes we get tied up in dogma and judgement and we lose sight of the connections we share. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to me the names and faces as much as it does the meaning behind the actions.

This sentiment is expressed by the Order of Bards and Druids regarding Imbolc. The website reads:

 

 This Feast is known by many names to many people, for the Truth is reflected from many mirrors. It has been celebrated as Februa and Candlemas. Our ancestors called it by names long forgotten, and our children will call it by names as yet unconceived.

It doesn’t matter if you believe or not, Spring is coming. Light will return and we will move forward in our lives. As for me, I take this time to organize my life and give thanks for the return of light (both within and without). I use this time to spark my creativity and drive me forward…knowing this is the year…this is MY year.

A Little More Distraction…#GoldenGlobes

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On the heels of the Golden Globe Awards, my social media pages are blowing up with lists of the best and worst dressed, shocking moments, and award recaps. I’m both excited and repelled by this.

I am excited because I’m American and I love celebrities. I read People Magazine, follow my favorite’s updates on Twitter; the whole nine yards. Everytime I watch an episode of New Girl, I walk the line between wishing I was Zooey Deschanel and wishing I could marry her (oh, come on…she’s gorgeous, smart and talented!).

I once milled over the idea that today’s celebrities are held in the same regard that the Greeks and Romans held their gods and goddesses. In fact, it’s possible that the archeologists of the future might just discover a collection of People Magazine, restore them and mistake our celebrities for gods and goddesses. I chuckled at the thought of our future selves constructing an image of our society from our “holy books”. It was a fun idea to ponder, for a while but then I spit it out as quickly as I conceived it. It seemed like such an unpopular opinion…it seemed so wrong.

Still, I can’t help thinking it. It lurks like a shadow in the back of my brain and whenever I’m undulated with Celebrity news, it jumps back into the forefront. The idea waves it’s hands in my face and begs for acknowledgement. So, today, I gave it just that.

Let’s face it…Celebrities are our gods and goddesses.

We read their fables and parables in the tabloids; using it as an example for our children. I can hear parents all over the world exclaiming: Look at the Miley Cyrus…doing The Twerk all over the place…that Miley, she’s in trouble…Becky, you don’t want to be like that…No guy will ever take that Miley Cyrus seriously…

We applaud their successes; awarding them with awards made of gold (all that’s missing is the frankincense and myrrh)

We fashion our lives after them; gobbling up any piece of clothing or breakfast cereal that emulates them or is endorsed by them.

We ignore their mortality…to us, they are not normal, average people. They are demigods and we are redeemed somehow when given the chance to meet them…we scream for the opportunity to just touch the hem of their garments.

When we are faced with their mortality, we sob collectively and hold candlelight services in their honor, just like they were old friends.

What’s wrong with this? We aren’t the first society to create our own deities. We may not even be the first to create them out of real people. Of course, there is a lacking moral component but in 21st Century America, who questions that, anymore?

I guess my real problem with it is the pay-grade. Maybe it’s because I’m hopelessly poor myself; maybe it’s because I loathe materialism; or maybe it’s because I hold things like food, safety and freedom in such high regard but I have a real problem with the Hollywood actor’s salary, as compared to that of a farmer, policeman, or a soldier. We are taught, through the process of capitalism, that the higher a good or service’s value, the higher the price for it is…so why are celebrities some of the highest paid in our society?

For the purposes of the argument, I’m going to compare celebrities against soldiers (because it’s the one that hits closer to home for me). The fact is that you can interchange any occupation that supports our society in the place of “soldier” and my logic will make sense. 

So I ask myself this question: What is it about the services provided by celebrities that makes it more valuable than the services provided by a soldier? Do we value entertainment more than safety and security; more than freedom? 

No, certainly not. That would be indulgent and ungrateful…there must be some other reason for the pay discrepancies. I ponder this for a while, as I browse pages and pages of breaking news and Hollywood gossip. Then, it dawns on me.

It is not the entertainment that we hold in such high regard, is it? It’s the ability to set in a darkened movie theatre or our living rooms for 30 minutes to 3 hours and just shut everything off. It’s watching the young teen actress spiraling into a dark hole that allows us to dissociate from our own problems. It’s about breaking down with grief when we have lost a celebrity because we just need an excuse to cry…or because we feel like we’ve lost a part of ourselves.

Maybe we have lost a part of ourselves.

What does it say about us that we would pay more for a little distraction that we’re willing to pay for our own freedom?

How broken is our society that we need constant distraction and discourse just to navigate everyday life?

And how do we dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in when our heads are buried in the sand? 

I’m just a single mother and aspiring author with a blog; I do not claim to be a visionary or seer (although I would like to be). I do not claim to have all the answers to these questions. I mean, I have my own answers to these questions but it’s not the answer that’s important; it’s the ability to stand up and ask them that really matters. At the end of the day, each and every one of us will have to answer these questions for ourselves before we can even begin to heal as a whole.

Who is Indie Ashley? A story of Independence…#FreeThought

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I just updated my about page. I think this better sums up “who” I am and what my mission for my blog is so I wanted to post it as well… 😀

“Independent Author…Independent Thinker….Independent Believer….Independent Parent…and a celebrator of Independence in general!”

When I was a child, I told stories to my imaginary friends. As I grew, my plots thickened and my imaginary friends faded into characters. This is how I became upon a writer. It wasn’t until I gave birth to my children, gave up working and moved from east coast to the south (and back again a few times), that it occurred to me that I could be more than a writer…that I could be an author…a published author. So, I wrote a novel and set out trying to figure out how to get published.

Buried in webpages for literary agents and publishers; my head swirling around how I was going to write a synopsis and query letter, I wondered how long I would have to wait or if my dream of becoming a published author would ever come true. By the time I came across information about self-publishing, my head was aching and I was beginning to feel a familiar ache of anxiety about the whole “author” business.

I’m not good with strict institutions or following rules when it comes to my art. I’m not good with allowing someone else to monitor my thoughts…I’m not good with waiting or rejection. I’m not good with allowing someone else to set my prices and take out their “share” from my work.

So, I became an Independent author. Shortly after, I became single again. Ending my marriage, which had become more overbearing and full of discourse, than a marriage should be, gave me another taste of independence that I had been craving.

The one thing I have always been sure of about myself is my independence. I am an independent thinker. I never subscribed to the “popular” schools of thought prevalent in the small town where I grew up. I have always stepped back, rationalized and made up my own mind about things. This is how I came to travel an “independent” faith path (Druidry). This is how I have learned all that I know about philosophy, psychology, sociology; ect without a college degree…because I’m an independent studier.

So, the title “Indie Ashley” sums all this up. While this blog is mostly about my journey (and that of others) into the world of independent publishing, it is more easily classified as a celebration of independence in general. I want this to be a divergence for all the other “indies” out there…a place where independent thought, belief, and art can be expressed.

Wisdom, Creativity and Love…a #Druid’s Resolutions…

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So, technically the new year (for me) begins at “summer’s end”. However, I made only 1 resolution at that time: to finish my novel. Now that the calendar year is coming to an end, we as a society look toward the new year in a collective sigh of resolutions. Usually, my resolutions revolve around serving other people…it is my natural tendency to put others before me. This year, I’m going to try something different. I’m going to resolve to be a better “me” in the name of and for the sake of everyone that I love. I’m going to do it in three simple words…well, maybe three simple words, each with its own very wordy descriptions (I am a writer, after all).

As a druid, I strive for three things above all else: wisdom, creativity and love.

Wisdom

Wisdom is an ever present theme in my life. My mind aches for wisdom and I find myself studying anything relevant (and sometimes irrelevant) to my wondering. However, I am coming to realize that knowledge and wisdom are two very different things. So, for the new year, I hope to gain the type of wisdom that cannot be gained from a book. I hope to gain the wisdom of the trees; the wisdom of the wind. It is the wisdom of silence and reflection. I had it at one point in my life but I traded it when my frustrations at the world around me took root in my heart. This year, I will do a better job at centering myself and calming my mind. I will find a place of quiet reflection within myself and allow myself time away from the pursuit of knowledge in exchange for the growth of wisdom.

Creativity

I already have a strong start on this one. With my first  novel published and 5 more in the works, I look forward to this year being my most creative year yet. In years previous, I have allowed the daily routine of life to douse my creativity. I buried it on a shelf beneath an endless list of to-dos and must-haves. I adorned the societal robes of “perfect wife” and “model mother” without abandon and forgot that I was a perfectly creative and talented mind (and humble, too 😉 ). All that’s different now because I have realized that I can’t be everything perfectly. With this realization, I have achieved balance and with balance, I can be both a mother and a author; a lover and a poet.

Love

Love is the easiest of the three. Love is as natural as the spring. I have never had a problem with love…I love all people and all things in this world, equally. I understand the boundaries of love and realize its presence even between two people with opposing views. I love freely. As awesome and great as that is, I can do better. I can not only love others but teach them to love as well. I never realized how difficult it was for some people…to show love…to feel love…even to receive love. So, throughout my wisdom and creativity, I strive to find a way to increase the world in love. To help bring the world back to the natural state from which it was born. Not one of indifference but one of love despite the difference.

I know its a bit early but it was on my mind tonight and so I thought I would set down my resolutions for the year, in the best manner that I know how. I wish all of you the best in the coming year and I would love to hear about your new year’s resolution…or, if you aren’t making any, I would love to hear why not?

Darkness Within—My Debut Novel

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Darkness Within—My Debut Novel

Merry Christmas to me—and to you! My debut novel was made available on Amazon today! You can buy it in either ebook or print version…It will be coming soon to Barnes and Noble, GooglePlay and Kobo, as well.

Yule Blessings and Celebrating Endings…

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I’ve decided not to post a long Yule post. There’s a lot of that out there and my mind is so focused on my novel that I’m not sure if I can unravel it at this moment. I’ve borrowed this lovely video from Youtube to send out Yule blessings to all my friends and followers who will be celebrating today.

So to you all, I say: Happy Yule! May the Light of the Winter warm your heart and lead you to peace in the coming year. As we move through the darkest day of the year, we are reminded that light will return and nourish us all. Blessings to all beings.

With that, I will also note that the last day in Darkness Within is December 21st, 2013. As the darkness of the year impedes upon us in reality, the first chapter in Awen’s story is ending. It’s bittersweet, to reach the end of a novel. It’s satisfying and terrifying at the same time.

I miss my characters, my plots, my conflicts and resolutions…but I’m proud that it’s complete. It’s more than a string of thoughts and events. It’s profound in story and resolution. It’s a benchmark in my life as I move forward with my career as a writer but the true test is in how readers react to it.

I’m excited about publishing, while being terrified about how it will be received. Still, I move forward with hope and joy. I close one chapter of Awen’s life and open another. I feel the kindling of excitement and joy as I begin to write Light Without, the story of the light half of the year.

I always see the Winter Solstice as more than just the shortest day of the year. Afterwards, the days begin lengthening and I begin to find hope in the return of the sun. It is my wish that this is echoed in my journey as an author and in moving forward, I will fill myself with the light of Spring. As I celebrate Yule, I also celebrate the ending of Darkness Within…may both endings be filled with the promise of hope.

If you want to know more about Darkness Within, visit my “Books” page or visit my Goodreads page. It will be available to buy on January 1st. I will post links later as to where and how you can do this.