Tag Archives: Samhain

The Year of Dare

The Celtic year ends on Halloween/Samhain, so November 1 is my New Year’s Day. (Although I celebrate the other one as well because hey, any excuse for a celebration!) And for at least five years now, I’ve been picking a word for my year. Something I want to take in, to embrace, to expand into my life. It’s generally geared towards my career, but usually applies to other areas of my life as well. Previous words have included Joy, Focus, Create, and last year’s Trust.

Trust ended up having a profound effect. I first started thinking about it at the annual publishing summit Master Class I go to most every year on the Oregon Coast. It’s a week of intense learning about making a living as a writer and keeping up with the whiplash-inducing changes that are happening in the publishing world nearly every day. I realized at the workshop last year that I was letting fear hold me back in a lot of areas. If something seemed “too hard” or “too much to learn,” I never let it rise to the top of my To Do list—and that clearly had to stop. Avoidance is not the way to success.

It took me a while to find the right word. I knew I wanted to opposite of Fear, but Courage wasn’t right, nor Fearless (which hides the negative in the positive), nor Bravery. I actually found Trust by looking at thesaurus.com on November 1, after a Samhain ritual the night before where we talked about what I was trying to embody, and brought it in as best I could.

I told a writer/publisher friend about Trust, and a few weeks later, a surprise showed up in the mail for me: she’d made me a ring that said Trust. I started wearing it every day. Alas, one day it disappeared (no idea how), but I ordered myself one from Etsy, and now I wear that every day.

I trusted myself to have the skills to figure difficult things out. I trusted the smart, savvy people around me to help me when I asked for assistance or explanation. I trusted my subconscious, my creative core. So many things stopped being scary, and started being fun—and surprisingly easy once I got out of my own way.

This year’s word hit me like a cosmic two-by-four a month or so ago, although in the wrong form at first. And since then, the universe has been showing me again and again that it’s the right word at the right time. It’s absolutely what I need.

I thought it would be Challenge, but I realized I might be inviting the universe to throw challenges in my way, and that’s not what I meant at all. I wanted to challenge myself. Not necessarily big challenges, but little ones, too. It might be challenging myself to write an especially high number of words on a day when I don’t have any freelance work. It might be challenging myself to try something new (now that Trust is firmly engrained).

Since Challenge wasn’t quite it, I meditated some more, and it came to me: Dare. Not only to be daring, but to dare myself. Big dares, little dares, double-dog dares if it comes to that. In August, to reboot myself after a few months of a mini-depression, I dared myself to write a minimum of 500 words a day. I wouldn’t go to bed until I’d done them. At the end of the month, I had a nice chunk of words. That was my first cosmic two-by four. There were more to come at this year’s Master Class.

In this spirit of that, I’m not exactly doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but I’m doing my own personal dare version. I have two novels to finish (one coauthored, one solo), as well as a novella, and other projects if I can get to them. In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I’m gunning for 50K words this month.

This will be a challenge, because my mom’s still in town until Saturday morning, I’ve got three days of Orycon plus a friend coming early to help me with website stuff, and I’ve got a slew of freelance work on the schedule. But I also wrote 1200 words on several of the days at the Master Class, in between sessions, and 500+ on a couple other days, so I know I can get words out even when I’m busy—and I know that I’ll have days when I get fewer words written than the average, so I’ll just have to have days where I write more.

I won’t be posting all my dares throughout the year, but I’ll talk about them on and off, if anyone’s interested. Just be prepared to see more words, more projects, and more fun. I dare you!

(The image above is of the necklace I’m waiting to arrive from Etsy…)

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I trust…

For a number of years now, I’ve been choosing a word (or a word chooses me…) for the coming year. I first heard about this from the glorious Shanna Germain, and it seems like the practice has spread among creative types. Past words of mine have included Create, Joy, Focus, and Present.

We’ve just begun the Celtic New Year, and I started pondering this year’s word a bit before our Samhain ritual. Immediately several things clicked into place: a realization I’d had after doing some meditation on why I was blocked a couple of months ago; some things that came up during recent business of writing workshop I took.

But it still took me a while to find the right word. I started by trying to figure out what the opposite of fear was. Of not being afraid of things, of not letting myself put up walls and say “That’s too hard” or “I don’t know how” and use those as excuses. I proved myself wrong several times at the workshop—those things weren’t so hard after all. The opposite of fear, but not bravery, or fearlessness, or even confidence, although the latter was close.

It wasn’t until got home from the ritual and, yes, looked at thesaurus.com that the word on the tip of my tongue was so very obvious:


It’s kind of a loaded word. There are so many caveats “Yes, but…” Yes, but don’t be stupid. Yes, but keep a clear mind.

Yes, but…yes. Trust.

For me it’s about trusting my abilities. I’m in the middle of change—leveling up, if you will. I love learning new things, but I’ve always hated the middle bit, the flailing around and feeling stupid and awkward and uncoordinated. Problem is, lately, it’s made me feel like I don’t know anything, which is flat-out wrong. I haven’t backslid; I’m just in a period of growth. I have to trust the abilities I already have, and trust the process.

Usually during our Samhain ritual, we draw a Tarot card to help clarify the coming year. This year, because I was working with different friends (and it was wonderful!), I went for a three-card spread. I won’t go into details here, except to say that it was for Past, Present, and Future, and the future card stole my breath away.

It was the Chariot. The deck we were using was Halloween-themed, and depicted, of all things, a hearse. It had navigated down a twisty road but the journey was just beginning, and it was clear it was going to be a doozy. But the hearse had wings above the windshield, and instead of a rear-view mirror, there was an eye, looking forward—not behind.

Whether I like it or not, I’m behind the wheel. The road ahead is twisty and turny and scary, but I still have some level of control. It’s my choice whether to trust my abilities or to take my hands off the wheel and cover my eyes and scream. Either way, I’m going to be hurtling down that road. Better that I keep my eyes open and steer. Because I have the skill to steer around those blind curves.

It’s going to be a roller coaster, but damn, I love me some roller coasters. Controlled terror. They say that the Chinese characters for fear and excitement are the same, and whether or not that’s true, the physical reaction to both is pretty similar. I’d rather call it excitement than fear. Wouldn’t you?

Trust. It’s not about leaving things to chance, or blindly trusting. It’s about doing what I am capable of doing, of setting things in motion. It’s trusting my experience to help me make the right decisions. Of trusting others’ judgment and counsel when I need advice. Trusting my gut, when need be.

I trust me, and my abilities.

I trust the process.

I trust that if I ask for help, I’ll receive it. I trust our connection.

I trust that if I step off that cliff, I’ll have the wings to fly.

I trust that if I fall backwards into your arms, you’ll catch me.

I trust…