Dreaming

I wake up so many mornings with a feeling that something very important and meaningful happened in the dreamworld, but I can’t quite remember what. It frustrates me, but generally I try to accept that if I don’t remember it, I don’t need to.

Dreaming is healing, for me. It can rip me up, open wounds, raise questions I didn’t even know needed to be asked. But when I’ve spent hours or days pulling something apart, worrying ruts into my brain, the right dreams can leave me feeling peaceful.

Not everyone places such import on their dreams. But honestly, I think this is a mistake. Our dreams can influence our day without us even realising it. They can give us insight into how we’re really feeling about something. And I think nearly everyone can remember their dreams if they work at it.

I know that I would remember those vague, forgotten dreams more often if I got into the habit of keeping a dream journal – but my meditation practice in the morning is currently taking precedence! But when I do keep a dream journal, I develop an even stronger relationship with my dreamworld.

Sleep then can seem like another important part of the day, and another important part of my personal and spiritual growth, rather than an inconvenience. And I love that. Your brain is very busy at night, especially when you’re dreaming, so why denigrate that? Pay attention to the contents of your unconscious – it makes up most of who you are, after all.

Stress versus Happiness

I’ve come to believe that happiness is not so much the absence of unhappiness, but the absence of stress.

I also can’t understand why deciding to not be stressed isn’t enough to kick the habit. I have over time tailored my life so that it should be possible for me to work towards my goals without putting myself under undue pressure. I thought that doing things I love would eliminate the stress even if I was very busy. But now I wonder if stress is more innate to my brain, and it’s something that will take more invasive intervention.

I actually feel sometimes that I made a choice at some point between stress-free and doing something I love. The job I work now is largely stress-free; more than most other things I could be doing. But I’ve chosen to work part-time and gradually ease out of this career. Why? It’s just too boring. It’s not meaningful to me. I have nothing invested in it.

So if you are invested in your career, does it have to be stressful? I don’t think so, but I’m still trying to figure out how. If stress is a personality trait or a habit, then I just need to train myself out of it. I’ve been gradually working on living in the now, and perhaps that is my ticket towards greater well-being.

Clutter-clearing your psyche

Finding peace and stillness day-to-day is hard. And yet when I don’t, I feel frazzled. I find I can’t get truly excited and inspired. I go through the motions but I don’t really feel it from heart level.

I’m not sure that achieving peace and calm is something you can just decide to do – because then there would be no stress in the world, right? Apart from those odd people who are addicted to it! But I have always found that creating outer order and simplicity creates a mirror effect in the psyche.

You would think that having made that discovery, I would forever keep my living space clean and clear! Not quite. But every now and then, when I’m particularly overwhelmed and know something has to change, I take to major clutter-clearing.

I used to just come up with ingenious storage methods, and put the clutter out of sight, neatly arranged. But it’s still there, bubbling under the surface. When I stumbled upon the idea of actually getting rid of all this crap – and living as a minimalist – I knew I had struck on gold.

It’s hard to get rid of stuff, though. There’s something innate about the human condition that makes us want the shiny stuff. And lots of it. Not only do we attach sentiment to things: we seem to feel that our very survival depends on all this stuff. It insulates us. It will be there to save us when catastrophe strikes.

So I haven’t got rid of everything. But I’ve boxed up my clothes, keeping out only a few items that I truly want and will actually wear every week. And little by little, I turn to a cupboard or a drawer and have a look at what I don’t need.

Once it’s gone, you don’t miss it. And the calm runs a little deeper.

Everything can change in a year

It’s strange how even a year or two can render you almost unrecognisable to yourself. The Áine who started blogging on Sirens & Muses two and half years ago has now disappeared into the folds of history. In her place: me.

Things have changed. I built a spiritual practice and gradually my blogging shifted over to that subject entirely. I blogged under the name Spinning of the Wheel for a few years, until I launched a business called Heart Story, and subsumed the blog into it. These days I am known as Áine Órga online, and the persona of Áine Warren – while it is a variant of my real name – has receded.

And I am happier. More stressed? Undoubtedly. But I finally feel that I am getting to where I need to be.

I am still writing. But at the moment I am primarily writing about spirituality, nature-based religion, and personal development. I write Tarot readings for people (when I make a sale!). And I am generally trying to reach out more into the world with my writing. I am trying to make a difference.

But I miss having somewhere to come and write casually. I miss creative writing, and I keep trying to find the time to come back to my novel-writing. It will happen, it’s in the plan. But starting a business is time-consuming!

So I think I’m going to come back and write here again. Probably very informal and unfocussed stuff. I won’t make any promises! But I miss Sirens & Muses and the freedom it offered me. It started me on an epic journey, and I will be forever grateful for that.

Rebirth in Spring

Spring fever was short-lived here this year. The first few days of February were beautiful; bright, sunny, warm – the daffodils just beginning to push their short green stumps out of the cold ground. But now, drawing towards the end of March, it is cold and wet and wintry. We even had a few days of snow – blown almost horizontal by the sharp wind, the small hard snowflakes stinging our faces.

I feel as though I’m waiting for the weather to change, stuck in hibernation mode, my own blooming forth curtailed.

My life is, in practical terms, completely transformed from this time last month. In February, after almost two months of anxiety and pressure, I was offered a nine-month internship with the organisation I most wanted to work with. This essentially means that I don’t have to think or worry about money or my career for the next six to nine months. It also means that I now, as of the beginning of March, have somewhere to be six hours a day five days a week, and mountain loads of work and responsibility.

I am glad to be doing something concrete every day. If there’s one thing that the past six months have taught me, it’s that I probably could never be entirely self-employed; I would at the very least need somewhere to be going out every day, and preferably someone to be working alongside with. As the months dragged on, I became less and less productive, whiling way the hours of each day. Having somewhere to be every day, and specific work laid out for me to do, seemed necessary for me; at least for a certain amount of time every week.

But the transition stage is being a lot tougher than I expected. I feel… somehow less clear, more muddied, than I would have expected. As though I’m walking around in a kind of haze. I go to work, I come home and relax (being productive after work is sill not on the cards in terms of energy levels), and despite having quite a lot of time to myself, when I go to bed at night I feel like I don’t really know who I am anymore. As though I haven’t spent any time with myself in a long time – as though I have been absent from myself.

I wanted this new start to be huge, to change my mood and my habits and my personality all in one fell swoop. These catalysts rarely work out the way you expect them to, though. I am still expecting to reach that point, that feeling that I was hoping for. But it might take a few months.

I did, however, sign myself up for a ballet class. This was, perhaps, my primary triumphant move in my reinvention of myself. I flew in the face of my own procrastination and hesitation, and went ahead and paid for an 8-week term. So two weeks ago, I had never taken a dance class in my life. Now, I feel as though I’m starting to learn a new language, alongside my new life. A language of French words that translate to instructions of movement; a language of the limbs, of the legs, of strengthening and lengthening. I feel fantastic afterwards. Maybe not changed and renewed and courageous like I had hoped, but healthy. Calm.

But so far, these new and strange daily tasks at my computer in work, these weekly new and strange physical instructions, are combining to make me feel like a puppet. I feel pulled, drawn, exhausted, mindless. But any week now, I expect my energy to figure itself out. I will be able to cut the strings and dance.

Hiatus

This will come as no surprise to anyone – I have been shamefully neglecting this blog for the past two months, really. But I realised today that I should make it official.

Most of all, I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for helping to make this blog meaningful to me while I was actively posting. I started blogging a year ago in the hopes of encouraging myself to write and be more creative – the upshot is I have a rough first draft of a novel, and feel for the first time in my life as though I might be starting to figure out what it is I want to do, creatively.

Particularly, thank you to my regular readers and commenters – there were times when I was genuinely upset or feeling dispondant, and your words of encouragement helped to pick me up again, and often inspired me beyond what you might have expected. Even those who read my posts but didn’t comment – you still meant a lot to me, because every new click on a page made me feel like I was finally reaching out to people with my writing.

Unfortunately, it seems that I avoid wordpress entirely when I’m not posting here. This is not, I assure you, because my reading of your posts and following of your blogs was in any way selfish – I was very much inspired and touched by so much of what I encountered here on wordpress. But the two things just seem to go hand in hand in my head, so I won’t be around wordpress much either, I don’t think.

I will probably come back to this blog, and it might be pretty soon, but then again it might not, so I wanted to say thank you now and give you the heads up. I hope you will stay subscribed to me anyway, so that you’ll know about it if and when I do come back!

I can’t fully explain why I haven’t felt the need to post here anymore, but I think it’s because Sirens & Muses has achieved what I set out for it to do – it has helped me become a proper writer. And in that, it has been invaluable. Right now I am on the cusp of a lot of change in my life, but once I settle into a schedule I may feel the urge to post here again.

In the meantime, I wish you all the best. And again, thank you for making this experience meaningful for me.

-Áine

Changes

It’s hard to believe we’re only just over a week into December. Already, the madness of November and NaNo feels like eons ago. And despite the lack of emotion and satisfaction I talked about in my previous post, I do feel like a very different person, or at least like I’m in a very different place. I look back at October and it feels like years ago.

My diminshed presence on WordPress is probably mostly due to habit – but I also feel that, in a way, I have less of a need for it now. Maybe I have accepted my achievement of the 50,000 words on a deeper level than I thought. For the past year, I have validated myself as a writer though blogging. And although I’m definitely not going to stop blogging any time soon, I feel less of a need for it.

It’s a season for change – maybe a year for change. My life is in total upheaval. And at the centre of it, I have moments of amazing calm, amazing certainty that I am in the right place right now. I don’t believe in fate or destiny, but feelings of belonging and contentedness and connectedness are things I’ve been searching for for a long time. Maybe I’m actually getting close.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading and development in terms of my (albeit atheistic) spirituality – though for some reason I don’t feel that this is the place to talk about that. So there are internal changes happening with the external ones. I am striving to become the person I have always expected to be some time in the future. But with my 24th birthday, something clicked with me that I will never become her if I don’t start moving in the right direction now.

I was going to write a post about Christmas, and I will in the next few days. But for now, this rambling fragment will have to do. To regular readers – I’m sorry I have been neglecting your blogs! I do miss reading everyone’s posts, and I’ll get back to it at some point. But right now, I’m not in a mood for forcing it.

NaNoWriMo is over… now what?

On the 28th of November, I completed NaNoWriMo with 50,629 words. This was, by quite a margin, the most I’d ever written on any one story or project.

In the days coming up to the end, I thought I wasn’t going to feel much when I reached that milestone. Because the truth is, as I’m sure most of you other NaNoWriMoers understand, the end of NaNo is by no means the end. It is an achievement in itself, but what I have now is not even a first draft, it’s a partial draft at best.

I surprised myself by becoming emotional when I crossed the finishing line, though. I rang my boyfriend, and nearly had a bit of a cry. But this feeling really only lasted a few hours.

The thing about NaNo is – yes, it got me writing. Yes, it proved to me that I can write 50,000 words on a story I had done minimal planning on and wasn’t even that passionate about. It might have even been the cause of a few decent paragraphs, though I think most of the 50,000 words are really not particularly well strung together.

But what it didn’t do: it didn’t make me feel like a writer.

The problem is, I have this idea in my head of the person I want to be when I’m older. Or, well, the person I would quite like to be now, but it doesn’t seem quite realistic yet. It’s not as simple as a list of things I can lay down here – more than anything, it’s a feeling. Contentedness is one word I could use to try to describe it. Wholeness. Satisfaction. And I think I have equated being a writer with feeling that way.

It’s kind of like when, years ago, I was smoking about 5 cigarettes a day (and a lot, lot more when I was drinking) but I didn’t ever feel like a smoker. I would never have described myself as a smoker. But by anyone’s definition, I was a smoker.

Perhaps it’s the lack of commitment, the fact that I’m not doing it full-time, or the fact that I’m not squeezing it around a different full-time career. Perhaps it’s because the rest of my life, to be honest, is a little empty right now. I don’t necessarily mean that it a very maudlin way – it’s just the honest truth. I rattle around a little in my own life these days.

Or maybe a month does not a writer make. Maybe if I continue with this, now, and continue to get better at it, I will start to feel more genuine. If I start to enjoy it more, maybe.

That’s another thing that may be contributing to this feeling. I enjoyed it, to an extent, but not as much as I would have hoped. I didn’t spring out of bed every morning, eager to get back to my story. It didn’t make me feel happy and fulfilled.

So what now? I’m certainly not giving up just because November didn’t turn me into a different person. I’m taking a few weeks’ break from writing, and then I’ll either keep going with the NaNo novel or go back to the one I was writing before. And hopefully, in a few weeks, I will realise that it actually did change me.

I will finish the novel at some point, anyway, and maybe then the satisfaction will flood in. Or does it ever? Maybe that’s the problem with art – it never feels finished.

Anyway, turning point or not, it’s been an experience. And it’s done me a lot of good to actually follow through with something, as I’m notorious for never finishing projects. Here’s to the next few months and the rest of my writing career.

I hope all of you fellow NaNoers are similarly satisfied with your achievement – and maybe a bit more satisfied with how it’s made you feel!

NaNoWriMo Makes You Busy

I’m aware that I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit – no posts in the past week! – and I’m sorry about that. But at the moment, NaNoWriMo is taking up all my creative juices.

I hit 32,000 words today, and the end is creeping up. It will be a really meaningful achievement for me to finish this – but I’ll be taking a break from writing for December, I think! I’m not exactly sure why it’s so taxing, as I’m not doing a whole lot else with my time, and I usually get my 2,000 words written within 2-3 hours. But I’m just so tired all the time. Maybe it hasn’t helped that I’ve been sick!

It also doesn’t help that I’m still getting used to sharing a bed with someone. It’s not every night, for sure, but it’s probably at least three nights a week – and I’m finding it hard to adjust! At the moment I’m doing fine up until about 7am (we tend to get up at about 9am, we’re night owls) but then after that I find that my boyfriend keeps twitching and turning and keeps me awake for most of the rest of the morning. I’m hoping that I’ll get used to it and learn to sleep through a little bit of moving around!

Anyway, that’s my life at the moment, pretty much. There’s a lot of other stuff I want to be doing right now, but my energy levels are just too low. But hopefully come December I can catch up on everything else.

I hope everyone else doing NaNo is happy with their progress so far too!

NaNoWriMo: 20,000 words!

Today I reached another NaNoWriMo milestone – 20,000 words! I was a bit behind after being sick and having a bit of a tumultuous weekend, but I got 2,650 words down today without too much effort.

I had realised a few days ago during a conversation with my boyfriend that one of the things that was slowing the writing down was that I didn’t know some of my characters well enough. Despite the plot outlining I had done, I had made the mistake of assuming they would emerge as I went. And sure, they probably could if I wasn’t tied down to a specific deadline. But as it is, I was hoping to get my writing done in the mornings on most days, and it was spilling over into the afternoon.

So I spent just fifteen minutes this morning working out a few details, and the two scenes I worked on practically wrote themselves. So I definitely think I need to get into the habit of doing a bit more planning before I start writing – it seems to suit me much, much better.

I had thought I might post an excerpt soon, but I haven’t had time to think about it yet. I feel like I’ve been away from WordPress for a long time, even though it’s really only been a few days. I’ve had a difficult couple of days, but I hope everything has been resolved now in my personal life. I’m certainly feeling a lot better than I have in a few weeks.