New directions, and a new book too

So, it’s not like I haven’t been writing. I just haven’t been writing here.

From the looks of this blog, you might think I’ve been in outer space and just transmitted a post occasionally from across the universe. It’s not entirely incorrect — but I’ve journeyed to inner space, not outer space. I’ve been more focused on writing books than blogs, and to be honest, I think I’ve sort of lost my commentary mojo. It’s not that I don’t like writing anymore, it’s just that my interest in harping about politics has slowly rolled to a stop.

After nearly 30 years of writing columns, many of which were political in nature, I started to ponder what good any of the kvetching and bitching did. Did I change the world? Nope. It’s still spinning along without my help. Did I alter the course of anything? No. (Evidence: Hillary didn’t win.) Did I change minds? No. People who agree with you cheer, and people who don’t boo from the stands. I started wondering if it’s really worth the time and effort if all I’m really doing is pouring salty talk in open wounds.

When I survey the meager posts I’ve produced over the last couple years, well… aren’t I just a drag! What a Debbie Downer! To be fair, the last few years were also a drag, and there weren’t many lovely, uplifting things to write about. Well, commentary-wise, that is. Off screen, there are all sorts of things to write about! Horses, for example. I wrote a whole book about them, and their spiritual, evolutionary connection to humankind. “The Elements of Horse Spirit — The Magical Bond Between Humans and Horses” was published in June 2020 — right at the height of the covid pandemic, social justice protests, and the perpetual Trumpster dumpster fire. So, it was difficult to raise my little hand and say, “Hey… I have a super cool book out, and I’d love if you gave it a look!” So much for a splashy debut. My little ripple of accomplishment was lost in a raging sea of fear, anger, and relentless stress.

Oh yeah. Speaking of raging, there was a fire too, last year. (“A fire.” Understatement of the century.) The LNU Complex fire last August transformed this area into the Apocalypse. The whole world was burning down. So, it was nearly impossible for my little book to make an audible peep in the cacophony of the 2020 shitshow. But, this is 2021, and we’re moving on. Progress — both political and medical — is grinding forward. President Biden is the soothing salve our country’s third degree burns needed, and we’re slowing the spread of covid. Well, some of us are — the ones who are smart enough to get vaccinated. The rest? Well… I suppose natural selection will play out in real time. Get goddamned vaccinated, people!

OK. That’s as close as I’ll tiptoe toward social/political commentary, because I’m striving to change the trajectory of my writing. There’s a glut of writers out there already spewing a sea of opinion on what’s happening in our country and world, and frankly, do we really need one more? I don’t think so. Not that I won’t quip and quote here and there, but I have to be very careful, because abstaining from writing political/social commentary is like abstaining from alcohol. One little sip, and I’ll be passed out in an alley with an empty vodka bottle and a few stray cats.

What will I write about instead? Uplifting topics. Thoughtful topics. Helpful topics. In “Horse Spirit,” for example, yes, it’s about horses, but it’s more about how horses (even on a strictly abstract, spiritual, magical level) can change your life. They can inspire and strengthen you to achieve any goal. They are powerful spiritual allies. However, I didn’t rest my writing laurels on their strong backs. After finishing that book, I launched into a second: “Pagan Curious — A Beginner’s Guide to Nature, Magic & Spirituality.” I’m expecting it to be published in January, but it’s already got it’s own homepage on the Llewellyn Worldwide website, and you can preorder it right now! And, here’s a bonus! Every time someone buys one of my books, an angel has an orgasm! Come on… make an angel’s day… they have no genitalia, so they really appreciate it!

For those of you who’ve been with me for a really long time, like “newsprint” time, you may be even more surprised that I’m writing about Paganism than you are that I wrote about horses. I didn’t touch upon those topics much in print, but bear in mind that what I wrote about in print was like showing you the palm of my hand. That’s all I showed publicly. Little by little, I’m bringing the rest of me into the sunlight.

As for horses, they have enamored me since I took my first breath. I’m sure my first word wasn’t “mommy” or “daddy,” but “pony.” I grew up with horses, used to ride show jumpers, and my family was heavily involved in horse racing (a potential future book will be, “How to Go Bankrupt in One Year or Less: Get a Racehorse.”) I had a very long drought of horses — about 35 years — and returned to them in my 50s. It’s a pretty amazing story, and it changed my life. (It’s all in the book!)

As for Paganism, you probably caught glimpses of that here and there, and chalked it up to “Tree-Lovin’, Whale-Huggin’ Old Hippie.” True enough on the surface, but the story goes much deeper. Like my love of horses, I was always Pagan. I just didn’t have a vocabulary for it, or even know what it was on a conscious level, until my 40s. My thirsty search for a spiritual connection to nature and the Universe was quenched when I randomly toddled into a Pagan harvest festival. In screenwriting, they call this a “plot point” — where the entire story spins and takes off in another direction. That festival was the plot point of my life. Nothing was ever the same after that. Finally, I knew what I was, what I believed in, how I wanted to live. It was like that moment when Dorothy steps out of her black and white Kansas house in Oz, and discovers a world in full color.

So, how about you? Have you always wondered what those crystals are for, or what those strange symbols mean, or why that drum circle or the full moon calls to you? Why you can feel the sea or the forest? Why a certain animal keeps inexplicably appearing to you, or why particular herbs or oils make you feel better? Well, my friend, you just may be “Pagan Curious” too. Like my horse story, it’s all in the book!

But, back to this blog. I’m setting it on a new path, and keeping social and political commentary to a bare minimum. Humor? Yes! Inspiration? Yes! Just a random here’s-something-to-smile-about? Yes! More of that, less of the other! Because although I’ve discovered I can’t change the world… I might be able to lift it up a bit. The path ahead can be bright, if we choose it to be. Let’s walk it together.

*****

My second book, “Pagan Curious — A Beginner’s Guide to Nature, Magic & Spirituality,” is available for preorder on the Llewellyn Worldwide website: https://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738766539

Knocking down the cobwebs

Pffft… pffft… pfffffffft….

Dang, there are cobwebs all over this place, aren’t there! Dust everywhere you look! I’m almost ashamed to admit that I haven’t made a single post since last May.

Almost.

Because it wasn’t simple garden variety laziness or lack of organization or—squirrel!!! (this time)… I had a super good reason: I spent most of last spring and summer working on my first book, “Elements of Horse Spirit – How Horses and Humans Heal Each Other,” to be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in June 2020! Yes! I finally achieved the one milestone I always wanted: to write at home, with neither boss nor employees, and preferably in pajama pants all day long! Cocktails by 4 p.m.! The dream is alive!

The reality of that lifelong dream, however, is that I wrote this book on a fast-track, suggesting an absolutely preposterous timeline (two months for the first draft), and then set out to meet it. And I did. But it wasn’t done there… revisions and editing followed, and the book wasn’t done done until Labor Day, and that’s not quite true either, because the manuscript has moved on to another editor, and within the next couple months, the draft copy will be proofread and copy-edited yet once again, until it goes to press in March.

It was an incredible amount of work, and I’m beyond thrilled that this is finally happening (I turned 60 last year, so I’ve taken “late bloomer” to the next level), but the upswing of all that work is that I squeezed all the words out of my brain. Nothing left but a chalky, haggard husk, except a few TV theme songs rolling around in the dusty corners. Nothing left but an endless loop of “... love is all around no need to waste it…” But, yeah, temporary cognitive depletion notwithstanding, it looks like I am, in fact, going to make it after all! Somebody get me a beret to toss in the middle of town square!

Why am I feeling a splooge of confidence about that? Well, Llewellyn has given me the green light to start on my second book, which will be especially for the Pagan-curious, and those interested in a little guidebook about discovering their feral side and exploring the Pagan world; a Pagan preschool primer of sorts.

Yes, Pagan. In fact, both books are of the Pagan slant, which may or may not come as a shock to some. Those who recognize my Pagan core, recognize my Pagan core. The rest just assume I’m some old tree-hugging, whale-loving hippie who owns too much silver jewelry with weird looking symbols, and has a bad tarot addiction. After many, many years of (badly) hiding my true Pagan self, and with print journalism far in my rearview mirror, I can finally be completely congruent. Whew. It feels great to exhale.

Why did I pretty much stay in the broom closet all that time? Simple: Paganism didn’t pay the bills.

And yes, it’s true: I am just done with journalism. For multiple reasons. That ship hasn’t just sailed, it’s hit a coral reef, ripped its belly open, and sunk to the bottom of the sea, where happy little seahorses and clownfish and crabs are repurposing it into a sweet little underwater condo.

Honestly, it was never my goal to be a journalist or an editor anyway, and I was never particularly interested in newspapers either. It’s just what happened while I was busy making other plans.

Oh, life… you are such a scamp!

All that said, I did have a passion for writing opinion, and that was the hardest piece to release, but here we are, a year and a half later, and I can count all the columns (I suppose I should more appropriately say “blog posts” now) that I’ve written on one hand in that span of time, and I just don’t really care. I sort of lost interest in the whole opinion gig. I went internal, shared my opinion on social media here and there, but even that has become a bit “meh” to me. I’ve realized, in retrospect, that I never succeeded in changing people’s minds, let alone the world, but holy crap, did I try. I became very accustomed to a 360-degree “fists up” mentality all the time, and became quite the verbal scrapper over the years. Yes, kitty had claws, and she wasn’t afraid to use them. But the more time that elapsed between my official last column and the present moment, the less interest I had in continuing the constant shit-disturbing. War, even in words… huh – what is it good for? Absolutely nuthin’.

Except endless arguments and flaming social media threads that ultimately accomplish even less.

Evidence: Hillary did not win in 2016. And Kellyanne is still talking.

And so, I sat on the banks and let the endless river of potential column topics just float on past (and wow, did the current occupant of the White House float plenty of jetsam downstream). Some looked mighty tempting, but all in all… I just let it drift on by and got reacquainted with myself instead. I didn’t even produce a pithy column on turning 60, as I had when I turned 40 and 50 because… does it really matter? It’s a number. It’s also a lot of judgment. Are we done with “OK, Boomer” yet? That’s about as five minutes ago as “five minutes ago.”

Other than the joints in my hands having some pesky arthritis from all that tapping on a keyboard for nearly 30 years, what’s the point obsessing over that number? Is 60 all that different from 59? (Here’s a short story on that: No.) Besides, it’s not about the time you’ve spent on earth as much as it is about how you spend the time that’s left. And what’s left is pure gold, and must be spent wisely. I’m not squandering it on tempest-in-a-teapot mudslinging anymore, whether in print or online. It’s just sad and tired, and does nothing to improve anything. I’ve lost the urge to prove that I’m right. It’s good enough that I know that for myself. All of y’all will have to figure it out for yourselves.

All that said, I’ll try to do a better job of blogging (good Goddess that sounds so weird and wrong… it’s like a new haircut… I guess I’ll get used to it) here and there. I’ll aim to do a better job of dusting and knocking the cobwebs down from time to time. (Disclaimer: I’m a shitty housekeeper.)

Anyway, onward to a new year, a new decade, and a new trajectory!