I’m on Patreon

As the title says, I’ve created a Patreon account.  Over the years a couple of friends have mentioned doing so and I’ve always sort of dismissed the idea.  It’s not that I don’t understand how Patreon works, or that I don’t think it’s a good idea.  I know several people who have Patreon accounts, and they are wonderful.  I know many people who subsidize their income with Patreon.  What I had a hard time doing was wrapping my head around the idea that I did anything that would be worth people’s support.

It’s a weird sort of personal double-standard that has plagued me all my life.

After how rough last year was, though, I wanted to do something to expand my reach and income.  Especially with the upcoming release of Sew Witchy.  Another one of my friends brought up Patreon again a couple of weeks ago.  He has some experience with it and offered to walk me through everything.  He pointed out that I have knowledge and skills that other people could benefit from.  And this time, I had a list of projects that I had been collecting with the vague idea of doing a sort of add-on or follow up to my book.

With a vague idea and my friend’s encouragement, I set out.  I spent a few days looking at various Patreons.  I checked out those of my friends and people I know.  I looked at ones run by the various ASMR artists I am subscribed to on YouTube.  I searched keywords to see what other people were doing with regards to crafting and sewing and magic.

I also spent a couple of evenings searching out weird vintage sewing ads (which was fun and also horrifying in the various racist ways past advertising was … and still is, to be honest).  I had a hard time figuring out how to balance tiers and goals.  It’s hard for me to say, “Buy my knowledge” rather than “Buy my wares”.  Part of stems from all my self-esteem issues and part of it is because I’m anti-capitalist and feel like I should just give away my knowledge for free.  Honestly, the hardest part of putting this thing together has been struggling with that previous bit.  I am constantly being held back by my fears like that.  I’m working on it.

So, I present here my Patreon.  I’ll be posting a craft each month.  There will be patterns, instructions, video tutorials and more.  I’ll also be posting about my writing, adding excerpts and going into the nitty-gritty of what what goes into making a craft book.  Head on over to the account and sign up.  You can just follow the account, if you wish, or become a supporter.  I’m really excited to see how this goes.

Hestia Annointing Oil

Ever since I dedicated myself to Hestia, I’ve discovered that working with a goddess with such a low profile means I have had to create my own practices and rituals.  On the one hand, as a book-learned witch, this is a bit intimidating.  On the other hand, it offers me plenty of opportunities to be creative.

To that end, one of the customs I am working into my daily practice is the use of an anointing oil.  I use it not only for dressing candles, but in consecration of various items: the pots and pans I use, the crock pot, the fridge, the doorjamb of the front door.  The oil provides a conduit between myself and Hestia.  Through that conduit we speak and outline those parts of my home and my life I want in which I want her direct involvement. Continue reading Hestia Annointing Oil

Leaning on Your Craft When Life Gets You Down

I’ve been away from posting the last few weeks due to all the things happening at once. Life is starting to settle back down, and I have a backlog of posts to release. I’m not quite ready for that bit of work, though.

One thing I’ve been doing is embracing my witchcraft as a means of dealing with all those changes. Centering myself around my spirituality, my work with Hecate, Hestia and Turtle, and engaging in spellwork aimed at making life run more smoothly has given me a small measure of peace.

And just today I came across this video by Headology and the Witch which goes into how one can make a practice to deal with life changes. I especially like the Tarot spread included towards the end.

For me, small acts, like lighting a candle on my altar to Hestia, give me a moment of peace. I am able to connect with my spiritual, witchy core. It’s a reminder that I am stronger than what is going on around me.

Spell for Overcoming Obstacles

Domestic witchery is a fascination of mine, I think because it seems like it would be the oldest and most common form of witchcraft.  Or maybe it’s just the lazy part of me that appreciates being able to accomplish two tasks in one.

This spell is one I’ve been working with over the last year or so, no only as I write Sew Witchy, but also in my daily life.  When you are facing a great task ahead—a job interview or a court case, say—the odds can feel overwhelming.  Using the spell below and visualization you raise energy to overcome all the small obstacles that can come between you and your goal and also provides you with a magickal talisman attuned to your task.

Materials

  • A wrinkled piece of fabric or clothing*
  • Steam iron
  • Ironing Board

*Circumstances should dictate the fabric you choose.  Clothing that you will be wearing during your challenge is ideal.  For example, a skirt you’ll be wearing to a court case or a shirt you’ll be wearing to an interview.  You could also choose a fabric scrap; about 18″ by 18″ is ideal.

Cotton and linen are best for this spell as they tend to wrinkle naturally.  Synthetics and non-wrinkle clothing is not recommended.

Spellwork

Clear space and cast a circle according to your tradition.  Call on any spirit helpers or deities you wish to aid you in the spell.

Place the wrinkled cloth on the ironing board.  Use a heat setting that is appropriate for the cloth you are using (consult the iron’s operators manual to find out what that is).

As you iron see the wrinkles as the obstacles you face.  See the steam and iron as you press as smoothing out not only the physical wrinkles, but those obstacles.  Visualize the obstacles clearly.  Name them as you work: people’s preconceived notions are smoothed away, distance becomes a non-issue, doors that were closed will now open, even traffic will not be a problem.

Continue working, ironing out all the wrinkles.  See the path you are treading becoming smooth: the road you travel is paved, the ocean you cross is calm, the sky you fly through is clear.  Everything is crisp and pristine, just like the cloth is after you press it.

When you are finished, hang up the clothing, or cloth.  Wear the piece of clothing to the event you are preparing for.  If it is a piece of cloth, hang it near your altar until the event—and your need for it—has passed.

Make your spell more potent by using a linen spray.  Before beginning, make a spray by mixing 1 ounce of witch hazel, 3 ounces of water and ten drops of essential oil together in a spray bottle. Choose an oil aligned to your goal. Spritz a light mist onto the part you are going to press then go over it with an iron.  If using on an article of clothing, test on a small, inconspicuous part first, like an inside hem, to make sure it won’t stain the fabric.

My Power and Glory

“It took many years on a forever-steep learning curve to figure out how to be me apologetically and to accept every bizarre part of my past.  When I stopped worrying about having friends, or being fat, or following a predictable path, or trying to be a commercially sellable artist, I began to come into my own.  By standing strong in my uniqueness and walking with faith in a universal, positive energy and in myself, I found my power and glory.” — A Unicorn in a World of Donkeys, Mia Michaels, p. 5-6

Ramblin’ roach

I’ve been back in Illinois a few days now. It’s hard being separated from my husband and son. I even miss the cats. It’s hard not having a place to call my own. It’s hard not knowing what the future holds.

But it isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Charlotte and I are staying with friends who are doing their all to make us welcome. I have people who love us sending messages of support hourly via social media, email and text. People are helping me research. People are lifting me up. And I have resources. The library is going to be my home base the next few weeks. It gives me access to the internet for communication, air conditioning and even a place to take step-by-step pictures.

Charlotte is being upbeat about all this. As long as she has access to the internet and time to draw she’s happy. She might not deal well with change same as me, but things are familiar enough to help her cope. It helps that season five of Voltron hit and so she has a whole world of Tumblr fandom to keep her busy.

I am focusing on pictures for the book. The house I’m staying in is lovely and quirky and perfect for indoor shots. For the outdoor ones there are plenty of parks around. People have given me lots of advice on taking the pictures. Their help is starting to show as the last batch I sent my editor got a big thumbs up.

As difficult as the next few weeks will be, I know that I will survive them thanks to the incredible support structure I have around me.

Difference Isn’t A Problem, It’s An Asset

“I used to think money had to come in a certain ‘valid’ way: for example, make money each day, save up, have a budget, etc. But I discovered that there is another way that is just as valid, and maybe even more accurate which I think of as lush, feminine wealth.  My income comes in chunks—I lived the freelance lifestyle, and there’s nothing steady about it.  A chunk here or a chunk there.  I also receive abundance in a lot of different ways—places to stay, artistic patronage, etc. It looks different from the ‘traditional’ way of earning money, I know, but this difference isn’t a problem, it’s an asset.  When I started embracing the different kinds of wealth that come to me—some that comes in W9s and money, some that comes in other forms like inspiration, kind words, support—I feel, and I am, rich.” — DIY Rules for a WTF World, Krista Suh, p. 160

When the Deadlines Are Done

The first months of 2018 have been the busiest that I can remember.  January was taken up by finishing the Sew Witchy book manuscript for a February 1 deadline.  And then February and March saw me:

  • Sewing up a box of projects from the book to get out to my publisher for a cover photo shoot (deadline April 1)
  • Editing the manuscript per editorial input (deadline April 2)
  • Prepping to vend at C2E2 (deadline April 6)
  • Taking photos for the book (deadline April 16)

At one point I was awake and working for 48 hours to meet the photo deadline.  And in between my professional obligations I had to fit in being present for my family, dealing with the loss of my house, and defending myself in court (along with the custody issue, my ex is petitioning the court to punish me for losing the house, including asking for me to be incarcerated). Fun times.

Blackberry whiskey and ginger ale
Blackberry flavored whiskey and ginger ale tastes like freedom after months of work.

Now, after meeting my last deadline, I have found myself suffering from temporal whiplash.  As soon as I uploaded the photos we climbed into the Jeep and headed to a camper owned by friends for a weekend of campfires and whiskey.  I spent a lot of time Saturday and Sunday just sleeping.

Come Monday morning, after I had gotten Charlotte off to school, I found myself at sort of a loss of what to do.  I cleaned the kitchen and family room.  I did the dishes and made dinner.  I spent a lot of time thinking about all the stuff I had to do and realizing that I had plenty of time to do it in.  The rest of the week has been the same.  I have stuff to do.  But there is no urgency.

It’s a strange position to be in.  In fact it weirds me out not to have a deadline constantly pushing at me.  I don’t have to rush my kids through bedtime so that I can get back to work.  I’m not staying up until three in the morning sewing.  Right now my To Do list is full of items like “make dinner” and “pack up one shelf of books”.

A friend posted a link to the article “This is the Reason So Many Unbound Women Fear They’re Lazy” on Facebook the other day.  Reading through it, I found myself nodding in agreement.  I’ve spent so much of my life trying to fill my every waking hour to justify my existence, especially once I stopped working outside of the house.  Shifting to a focus more on what I and my family need done to serve our lives is a big, scary step.  Many times throughout these first few days I have found myself sitting down with nothing that needs my immediate attention.  My busy brain would kick into gear those times, trying to kickstart anxiety over the fact that I was just sitting there.

I am working to reconcile my busyness with this lack of deadlines.  I am trying to actively enjoy, rather than making a show of tolerating, this less frantic pace.  I still have a move thousands of miles away to arrange.  I still have legal wrangling to deal with.  I still have a book and family that needs my attention.  That is more than enough right now.

Making it Work: Updates

I can’t believe it is April already.  January seemed to drag on forever, and now it is Spring (well, in theory, it’s still occasionally snowing and cold here).  I spent much of the last three months waiting on one thing or another, working towards deadline after deadline.  Now, with the last deadline almost here, I have a moment to catch my breath.

My house is still working through foreclosure.  I’ve made plans to move in June, presuming I can get things settled on the custody of my daughter.  By the time of my hearing later this month I’ll have spent nearly $4000 on legal fees to sort things out.  It might end up costing me even more and drag on past June.  I’ve contingency plans for housing in case that happens.

The housing and custody issues have only occupied 3/4 of my time.  The rest has been spent on my book.  The publisher, Llewellyn, has given it a new name: Sew Witchy.  I spent most of February and March making edits.  I added a whole new section on sewing basics, including descriptions of various stitches use throughout the book.  My editor also requested that I add a few more projects so I spent several weeks buried in mountains of muslin to make a robe and hooded cape pattern.

It’s eye-opening to write about basic sewing stuff when I’ve been sewing for so long.  Stopping and having to describe things that I do automatically now required a lot of effort on my part.  Fortunately, my editor is a self-proclaimed sewing newbie, so she pointed out all the spots that needed expansion.  Even so, I spent a lot of time second-guessing my writing, wondering if I was explaining things adequately.

This week I’m busy taking the last of the photos for the book.  I understand now why so many sewing books rely on illustrations rather than photos for step-by-step instructions.  You don’t have to deal with lighting or fabric that won’t lie flat or wrinkles that won’t release no matter how much you press them.  I have an even greater respect for people who can work a camera now.

I’ll be posting over the next couple of weeks about the book.  I figured people might be interested in reading the proposal I sent out when I was looking for a publisher, and how I got my agent.  There will also be more customer profiles and book reviews and sewing weirdness.

Making it Work: Myself Amplified

Well, we survived 2017, a feat that I think deserves a round of applause, or a stiff drink.  While last year was especially tough because of a few things I’ll get into in a minute, it was also a year of good things for me personally, professionally and mentally.

On the professional front, 2017 saw my best income ever.  I grossed $10,000 from sales at conventions, commissions, work on e-book and book layout projects and the sale of my first book.  And while my net was a little less than half that, it still is better than I have ever done.  I really wasn’t doing anything different from what I’ve done in the past, so I think this is more a result of the other gains I made over the year.

Creatively, this was the most full-filling year I’ve ever had as well.  I took on lots of commissions that required me to learn new skills and level up in my sewing technique.  I felt confident in my abilities and really enjoyed the work and the challenges it presented.  And getting back into writing with Sew Craft was like coming home.  I have wanted to see my work published since I was a child.  So fulfilling that goal has given me a boost that no amount of money can match.

It hasn’t all been awesome commissions and writing about magickal properties of fabric, though.  Emotionally, this year was rough.  My depression and anxiety are being controlled, but are still present and not being helped by the monthly uncertainty of whether or not I’ll have health insurance.  Also not helping is the situation with the house, and the custody battle with my ex-husband it has triggered.  I have spent a ridiculous amount of time pulling together documentation, talking to lawyers, and sitting in courtrooms when I could be working.

With all of those external stressors, it would be easy to write 2017 off as a bad mental health year.  I have had one success, though.  I have, for the most part, killed off my Jerk Brain.  It hasn’t bothered me for months, and the couple of times it has reared its malicious head, I have vanquished it easily.  This bugaboo has plagued me my entire life (my first memory of it comes from kindergarten) and I had resigned myself to living with it my entire life.  So to say that getting ride of my Jerk Brain has helped my overall happiness is an understatement.

It’s been mostly the happenings in the larger world that have been awful and taxing.  I’ve tried to not let things like the recent passing of the tax plan, or the repeal of net neutrality get me down.  I keep thinking about places like Puerto Rico and Flint and the people there who are living with far more imminent dangers.  The events of 2017 have pushed me further left, to the point where I am no longer coy about my more “radical”* beliefs: Universal Basic Income, universal healthcare, federal legalization of marijuana, federally mandated equal pay and family leave.  I used to keep these beliefs to myself, and I understand now that doing so has contributed to where the country is now.**

Overall, what 2017 taught me was that I needed to embrace what makes me happy and act on it apologetically.  The world as it is will put pressure on me to give up on my happiness.  It will be unmovingly cruel, it will try to break me financially and emotionally.  But I owe it to my past self to stick to my happiness.

I’m not the same person I was a year ago.  I am myself amplified.  That is what I take with me into this new year.


*”Radical” to the conservative members of my friends and family who still believe in prosperity gospel and bootstraps and the like.

**Not that I am blaming myself, individually, for the current state of affairs, but there seems to be a large, silent majority willing to let bigoted family members go unchallenged, for example, just to avoid confrontation.