Nanowrimo and Commitments

So, I’m taking a break from writing.. well, to write.   I am participating in the National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo), and the idea is to finish a 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days.

The original intent was to do fiction, butt (true to my nature) I’ve decided to be a “nano-rebel” and am working on a non-fiction book that has been sitting on my mind for the past 2 years.  I am excited.  There is something powerful about having the energy of this event to show up to.  The beautiful thing about this type of daily commitment is that we can ride that energy beyond the 30 days.  When we have an engaged energy and daily practice it makes it easier to stay on the path of commitment.  Before this event, I had the desire, but not the willingness to show up.

Aside from my new daily writing practice, I am including a few other stipulations in my Nano journey.

– To stay committed to only eating a raw diet for the month

-1 hour of personal yoga practice a day

-30-45 min of cardio a day

-Focused meditation and prayer (I’m doing focused Japa in the evening and rosary in the morning)

-Writing 2000 words a day to not only meet but to exceed the Nanowrimo requirement


In the scheme of things this is not a lot extra, but in reality this is what I should have been doing all along.  This is a chance to re-commit myself to doing the work that I’ve been wanting to do all this time.  To take things to completion and to allow this new energy to flow through me.

What are you committing to as we get to the end of the year?  If not a writing project, what do you feel drawn towards, and what’s stopping you from doing it?

I’ve had the honor of seeing my partner David not only take his work to completion, but to see him achieve his dream of getting it published.  I’m constantly inspired by all the beautiful people in my life.

You are loved.  You are beautiful. You are DIVINE!

Michael A Brazell CFT CSN MAT PAT

Finding Your Flow: Finding Your Yoga Through Surrender

For the past few weeks I have been able to re-center myself in my practice. For many of us yoga itself is an act of surrender, for those of us that teach, it becomes an even greater struggle at times to let go of the reigns and allow someone else to steer the car. To be a great teacher you also have to be a great student, we never truly stop learning. I’ve had the joy to be able to workout with some amazing yogis through my life journey, and as of recent I have found some great teachers at my local gym. Many here in the city feel the only way to get a great yoga workout is to join a high price studio, to purchase the fanciest equipment, and to have the coolest pair of yoga pants in class, or to do a hybrid of yoga and power movements. Stepping into unfamiliar territory is the what I love most about yoga. Hearing the powerful Sanskrit names, moving into pretzel like postures, holding each one until if feels like the world itself is going to end, then relaxing deeper into the internal space of our mind. Many of us view the world only through the external. Yoga (whether you want it or not) is designed to also connect you into that internal part of being. Each asana is an action of meditation, and when we connect this way we are surrendering to yoga itself.

One of the worst things we can do as instructors and practitioners is to become complacent in our practice. I am guilty of this from time to time. We can sometimes feel like we are just going through the motions, or we skip out on our practice all together. This was part of the drive that got me back into the gym, and back into class as a student. It has been amazing surrendering to someone else. To let them guide me deeper into my own practice. If you ar finding that you are growing tired of your practice to not be afraid to step out of the bounds of comfort. Try something new! Take a hot yoga class, try acro- yoga, if you are a fast flow yogi–try slower restorative classes, try power yoga, the idea is to dip your toes in new waters. Each time we attempt something new the ripples echo out into ever aspect of our being, our practice and our connection to our paths.  Yoga is an action of surrender. Surrender can be a foreign word for many of us, let yoga be your guide. If by chance yoga is not your thing, the same rules apply. Shake up your life a bit, get up, get out, and move–find your flow, and breath in all this life has to offer. Each moment a is a gift, don’t waste it.
Mahayogi Das CFT CSN MAT PAT

A Personal Story of a 10 Year Journey by David Salisbury

The air was cool but fast, as it whipped through the woods on a clear early-December sky. The soft waves of the stream brushed up against the rocks. Some of its cold droplets fell on a collection of small cloth and paper nearby. The young boy took in the scents and sounds of the chilled woods around him. Inhaling deeply, savoring each cleansing breath, just as the book instructed him. As he found his place of center, looking upward he began the words. “I dedicate myself, in this place that is not a place, in this time that is not a time, between the worlds but in all the worlds.” Pausing to breathe again he continued, “I dedicate myself, with perfect love and trust, with honor and reverence, to the great spirit which animates all things: earth, air, fire, and water”. The boy uncapped a small vile of sweet scented oil and anointed his forehead, then wrists. “By the earth that is her body, by the air that is her breath, by the fire of her living spirit”. He let out one last exhale…”So mote it be”. The boy closed his eyes and felt the wind whip up, stronger, and with more intention blowing out the small candles of the circle. The branches of the tree’s whistled and sang. The woods were speaking. Everything was alive, vibrating with energy and life. Connected, in tune, and with purpose.

And so began my journey on the path of The Goddess, the path of the Witch. It is hard to believe that ten years has gone by since that December evening, the night of my “Dedication” to the Old Ways, as we call it. It is hard to say exactly what called me to this religion. I don’t think I chose it, I think it chose me. I didn’t know many others, save for a few who pointed me in the right direction when I wanted to learn. I just knew that there was something “more”. I was always fascinated with spiritual things. I prayed and attended Christian youth groups as it honestly did interest me in general, but there was no connection. Religion means alignment and connection, and I didn’t feel like I was aligning myself with anything. I would best describe my past practices and spiritual upbringing as “worshipping air”. There was no substance, no form for me. I craved more.

I was lucky enough to have a series of people  placed into my life at that time to point me in the right direction. Sure, Wicca was pretty widely accepted ten year ago but so much has changed. Information placed on the internet was usually sketchy and it was difficult to discern what information you could trust. Add to that the fact that I had to save up my $1.25 lunch money for books, and you can imagine my frustrations. School life made things very difficult. I even had a teacher in the 7th grade who confiscated a copy of “Teen Witch” by Silver Ravenwolf (one of my very first books) calling it “inappropriate reading material”. God forbid something teaching a youngster about personal responsibility and respect for nature be read in the classroom! Then the classmate taunting. Oh how cruel children can be. The death threats quoting scripture referring to Pagans deserving death poured in. It was more like a 90’s inquisition than a school. When I defended myself with words, I was put in detention from other kids claiming I had “threatened to curse them”. Yes, that really did happen once. But I persevered. I learned about metal exercises designed to deflect negative energy, to bind harm, and to heal my emotions. Over time, their words lost power and I regained my own.

As mother read more and became more comfortable with my new “thing”, I was able to start developing a daily practice and reach out to the Pagan community. For awhile I attended “Teen Wiccan Wisdom”, a Charlotte-based youth group for Pagan teens sponsored by Shamans of the Willow Moon Coven. Through them, I learned about disciplined study, ritual work, and using my religious beliefs to help me grow into a responsible, compassionate young adult.

Into high school the hardships varied and we’re less intense than middle school. I was able to handle things much better. I was starting to realize that the opinions of others didn’t matter to me and that my connection with myself and the divine was what needed to be made a priority. The “personal responsibility” aspect of the craft really came into play here. And through it all, I emerged with many different career ideas, ready to take on the world. The magick did help too. Memory augmentation charms for exams, spells of truth and discernment in dealing with tough relationships, things like that.

My understanding of magick now-as a daily art and science-is much different. I find now that everything is magickal and has very different sides. I no longer see the world as black and white and either “cruel or kind”. The experience of working with this energy has taught me that there are so many different layers and aspects to things. I know now that when seemingly “bad” things happen to me, it isn’t because something hates me or I did something wrong. I think of it in terms of the goddess Brighid. She forges the steel of being in her cosmic “flame”, bettering her skill and tools. When I am “thrown into the fire”, something is being transformed for the better in it. It’s that process of hardship that refines, that polishes away all the extra “stuff” so I can shine. That is probably one of the deepest and most valuable things that Witchcraft has brought me to understand.

The community has been kind to me. Through the years I’ve had the pleasure of learning from and being in circle with some prominent Pagan elders in our community like Starhawk, Dorothy Morrison, Christopher Penczak, Janet Farrar, Gavin Bone, and Jamie Wood. I’ve been on radio shows, had articles published, and am pleased to announce I’m working on a book (once I nail down a publishing agent). It’s been such a joyous experience and I can hardly believe how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve changed. As I go forward and past my 20’s, I’m looking forward to another 10 years of magick, mystery, and growth. Sure, I may burn some potions along the way and there may be times when I fall off the broomstick, but I know now how to get right back on it again.

I have so much to be thankful for. My life is so much richer and filled with so much more substance than I could have ever imagined. I feel and experience the divine in everything I do now. It’s in the subway on my morning commute and it’s in my dreams when I fall asleep. There’s a known Wiccan proverb that says “She [the Goddess] changes everything She Touches. Everything She touches changes”. And she has. May I always be changed, may I always be transformed, and may the world be a better place because of it. Here’s to 10 more years and beyond.

Blessed Be