Alice Janell's Blog
February 25, 2018
I had a blog post, and literally the exact moment I set my fingers to the keyboard to begin, I realized we are in Pisces.
Pisces, if you are unaware, is an artistic, creative sign. My moon just so happens to be in Pisces, so I tend to feel that energy quite strongly when it's in play (not just when the sun is in Pisces, but when the moon is, too).
So it's funny to me that after months of hibernating, I'm coming out of my hole to start blogging again during Pisces season.
And if I go further back, my last post here was in October, during Scorpio. Scorpio, which is my rising sign, is a sign that often reminds me of transformation. This is because Pluto is the ruling planet for Scorpio and it's a planet that rules transformation and regeneration.
My last blog post here was about the Tower, and how I was putting certain things on hold to focus on the holidays, my family and my new job. In short, I was pausing other aspects of my life in order to transform and adapt to the changes in my life at the time.
So I find it rather fitting and very symmetrical, that I was in a period of intense transformation - things felt very chaotic and a bit out of control (like the Tower in the major arcana), and now I am calmer, lighter and feeling a little more creative -- I'm very much like the Star in the major arcana, calm and full of hope.
Originally, btw, this post was going to be me delving into my thoughts on the Star and how I was feeling the whispers of creativity. When I realized the connection between Scorpio and Pisces, and the Tower vs the Star (which, in the major arcana, the star is the card that comes after the tower), this entire blog post just became something totally different.
So if I'm rambling a bit...now you know why.
I know it will still take me time to get back to where I was creatively, but for now I'm content to float in these Piscean waters and soak up the energy. I'm moving slowly, and I'm learning to be content with the slow pace, because the Capricorn in me (it's my sun sign) wants to push, push, push and create new content all the time because putting out new content constantly and consistently means I am working and I should be working because that's what Capricorns do, we work, work, work.
I'll get there eventually. I'll start producing content the way I was before, but for now this is going to be monthly. Anything extra will be directed at my Patreon, which is also in the midst of under going some changes.
October 30, 2017
As you can tell, I haven't been very good at blogging weekly.
In fact, I haven't really kept up with any of my goals for this month at all -- learning to juggle a full working day with motherhood and life at home has taken up all of my time this month. It's definitely been an adjustment, and not just for me. It's been an adjustment for my husband, who is learning to juggle the demands of home along side his job, since I cannot do it all on my own anymore. It's been an adjustment for the kids, especially my 5yo, who doesn't quite understand that we are all getting home in the evening and not the early afternoon, or why she has to give up gymnastics for a little while until things settle down.
That last one has me filled with SO much mom guilt, btw. She loves gymnastics. I love being able to give that to her -- I certainly did not have any extra curricular activities when I was that young. But unfortunately, her class slot is Wednesday night, and it's almost impossible to pick her up on time, get her to gymnastics and be able to pick up my youngest before his daycare closes. And even though it's only a temporary change, I still feel like such a terrible mom for having to pull her from gymnastics because of something that has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.
If she gets the razor scooter she's been dying to own since August sometime in the next couple of weeks, I may or may not be trying to buy her love and apologize for no gymnastics til January.
am i ruining my family by choosing to go back to work? i know we'll figure it out and that it will be ok in the end, but right now ? all the guilt.
I'm reminded of the tower card in tarot, where everything is crumbling down. Yes, you can rebuild, but while the tower is actively falling? Chaos.
That's where I'm at right now. Only, I'm not the tower in this scenario. In this scenario my family (and specifically my kids) are the tower and me working is the lightening striking everything down and bringing that big, unexpected and chaotic change.
I know eventually the dust will settle and will figure out how to juggle everything. I'll be off my probationary hire period and I'll be able to change my availability to accommodate her gymnastics and whatever else she wants to do (dance, karate, Girl Scouts, etc). My son will switch to a daycare closer to home once a spot opens up (which should be very soon, so fingers crossed). My husband will have some down time, too.
So while logically, I know that it's important for me to contribute financially by working and that eventually we'll figure out this whole two parents working thing we're doing, emotionally I'm not quite there yet and I'm filled with guilt and frustration at what my going back to work (outside the home) is currently doing to my family.
I know it's for the best, but I hate having to ask my daughter to give things up just because mommy is working.
Oh yea. She's definitely getting that razor scooter with my next paycheck.
Anyway. It's been a bit chaotic, and it's only going to get even more so as we move into November and December, and not just because of the holidays. November is my husband's busiest month at work due to all the USMC birthday balls. November also brings NaNoWrimo, which I will foolishly attempt this year as I manage Thanksgiving and work the dreaded Black Friday.
We also get my husband's birthday a few days after Thanksgiving and then we move into December which brings my daughter's birthday (she wants a rainbow theme this year) about a week and a half before Christmas, New Years and my own birthday (though I never do anything for my birthday, I'm too wiped out and every year I just want to relax).
Because of all this, I've created something called the November Slow Down. It's something I do every year, where I essentially give myself permission to ignore my blog, creative projects, tarot readings and all the extra things I enjoy doing. Guilt free ignoring. If I do manage some free time, it goes towards NaNo, but I also go into NaNo not expecting to win.
Family comes first. Work is necessary so it's made a priority, too. Everything else can and must wait until 2018 if I'm to stay sane for the next eight weeks.
I'll try to post an update here and there, but I make zero promises on anything. The newsletter will still go out once a month and I have some November Slow Down posts scheduled for my Patreon (creativity oracle reading, some tarot-related writing prompts).
But this site? Will probably be the first thing to be ignored. Tarot readings are on hold -- in fact, I only have room for FIVE readings between now and the end of December, so if you would like one and don't want to wait until 2018, now is the time to book!
October 10, 2017
Once upon a time, I could read more than one hundred books a year. It would not be unusual for me to mainline a five or six book series in a weekend.
I even, for a time, ran a fairly successful book review website with some of my friends.
Fast forward to two kids later and I’m lucky if I can read one book a month.
If you are my friend on Goodreads, you can see the exact moment I had kids based on my yearly shelves. You can tell again when my second child was born because there is another steep drop in books read for the year -- 2015, the year my son was born two months early and the year I moved from Virginia to North Carolina, I read all of 8 books.
That was about the time I decided to try audiobooks. I had tried them before, but found I couldn’t stay focused on the story as well. But I was desperate to keep reading the amazing stories being put out, so I decided to get an audible account.
Audiobooks have legit saved my reading life.
I still buy books on Kindle, but I also tend to add the “add audible narration” option for a few dollars more. I do this because I like that I can listen to my book in the car on the way to work and then at night I can read on my Kindle and pick up where I left off in the car.
I’m not reading hundreds of books, but I am reading about 2-3 books a month, and as I'm working outside the home while also being a wife and mother, I’m pretty happy with that pace. Also, my favorite thing now is getting to listen to my current read in the car on the way to work.
That said, here are some books I’ve read this past year that I have absolutely loved:Labyrinth Lost -- Latinx witches, magical realism, bi MC, amazing world building. I fell in love with this story and was hooked from page one. Looking forward to the next two in the series! The Bone Witch -- Fantastic, rich world building -- very lush and vivid. Necromancy and the birth of a villainess! I will add the audio version threw me because two different narrators, but the story is still fantastic, if a little slow paced in some sections. Star Wars: Rebel Rising -- The story of Jyn Erso before the events of the movie, Rogue One. It’s my first SW book, and man they go all out for the audio version. There are battle sounds, subtle music cues, some background sounds (ships flying, feet stomping, etc). It’s fantastic. It really helped pull me into the story. Fast-paced and heart wrenching. The Hate U Give -- This is my current read and one I've been looking forward to reading for a while now. The story of a girl who witnesses the murder of her unarmed best friend by cops. I listened to the audible sample, and was instantly pulled in by the narrator's voice. Review coming soon to Goodreads. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear -- I read this in hardback when it first came out and I have thoroughly enjoyed this inspiring guide to living more creatively. I finally got an audible account (one free book a month plus 30% off additional purchases) and knew I needed this book in audio form as well because I go back to it so often.
This post uses some affiliate links, but my endorsements are my own. Should you purchase something using these links, there is no charge to you, but I receive a minor commission that allows me to offset website costs.
This post is also an abridged version of a longer post that is available to Patreon patrons at the $1 tier.
October 2, 2017
Even though I am working and my husband is out of town for a week this month, I have quite a few goals for October.
Oddly enough, not having as much free time has actually been really good for my creativity. I now feel as though I have to make the most of my days off vs before, when I had the excuse that what I didn't do today, I could finish or get around to tomorrow.1. Daily Creative
This is still a goal, and this month I'm trying my hand at Inktober -- a daily challenge to draw something in ink. I don't know that I will do it daily, in fact, I'm almost positive I will miss some days, but I like the idea of Inktober. The idea being that if you draw in pen you can't go back and erase your mistakes. This forces me to let go of my perfectionism and the need to fix things in the moment. I may or may not post some Inktober things on Twitter or Instagram.2. Socktober
I honestly don't know why I have this one as a goal. It's got a 90% chance of failing. It's been my goals for the past 10 years to knit a pair of socks and I have still yet to complete a pair. But here I am, wanting to try it again. Just one pair. That's all I'm committing to. ONE. PAIR. Come on, Alice. You can knit a pair of socks. Oh! I know (and this is literally coming to me as I type) -- I will knit a pair of socks for my daughter. Surely socks for a 5yo will knit up faster than socks for an adult....3. NaNoWriMo Prep
So I'm not really a plotter, but I'm no longer strictly a pantser, either. I'm a hybrid, and this year I want to jump back into NaNoWriMo (I took the last couple of years off). I have a couple of story ideas and I am actually trying to blend them together into one idea. This is the subject of this month's secret Patreon vlog, btw, so feel free to check it out if you're a patron on that tier.4. Weekly Out of Office
Despite having a corner of the house to call my own, I have been finding it difficult to concentrate on writing when at home. I tend to look toward the laundry room and the never-ending pile of dirty clothes. Or I look toward the kitchen and the tower of dirty dishes. Or I glance down at the floor that needs sweeping and mopping...Or...you get the idea. Basically, I find excuses not to write, and that needs to stop. So since I am working, I want to go in an hour early or stay an hour late (when possible) and write at Starbucks. Or go to Starbucks once a week on my day off and spend two hours dedicating to writing. This worked REALLY well for me when I lived in Japan, so I'm hoping to duplicate that success.5. Paint Spooky Things
It's the Season of the Witch, so I want my paintings this month to reflect witchy things and Halloweeny things. Towards the end of the month I'd like to paint some holiday-ish type things. The goal is to paint something at least once a week.
September 8, 2017
So, I cried during my job interview yesterday.
I. Was. Mortified.
Somehow, my interviewer and I began talking about being a mother and returning to the workforce. She told me it was commendable and I mentioned it was nerve-wracking to be jumping back into the work force after so many years out of it.
To be fair, my eyes only watered, but they watered enough that I had to wipe them away.
Thankfully, my interviewer understood and was very sweet about the two minutes I was a hair away from a complete emotional meltdown. She helped me compose myself and we continued the interview just fine.
I was so, so embarrassed.
I was flustered. I felt hot and wanted nothing more than to escape the room to the cool air outside.
But I couldn’t do that because my interviewer had taken pity on me and waved me through to a third and final interview.
Which I also botched.
I didn’t cry, but I made myself look like a complete idiot when he asked, “So what’s the end game? What’s your goal? What do you want to do?”
“I want to be a writer,” I said stupidly. “I want to write and publish fantasy novels.”
He smiled. “I’m glad you told me that, but what do you want to do within the confines of this job?”
Even when you EMBARRASS the fuck out of yourself, know that you are capable and strong. you got this.
Why the fuck would he care about my wanting to be a writer? That’s not what I’m interviewing for at all.
Alice, you are an idiot. First you cry and then you look like a total ass.
Miracle of miracles, however, my emotional quirkiness got me the job.
I start in a couple of weeks.
And I am terrified.
Terrified because it’s been almost a decade since I’ve had a job outside the home.
Terrified my son won’t secure a full time daycare spot in time.
Terrified my husband won’t actually be able to get off work early enough to pick up my daughter from the bus stop.
Terrified I’ll be so wrapped up in what’s happened at home and with my kids that I’ll cry again and in front of co-workers.
Logically, I know I’ll be fine. I’ll be nervous, but fine. I’m smart and motivated and this is only a part-time job — but I want to do well. I want to succeed. I want to be promoted and be able to transfer jobs when we are done in California and have to move again.
But I’m still terrified.
Terrified and excited and nervous and giddy and so many other things that I don’t even know what I’m really feeling.
All this to say — it is possible to go back to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home wife/mom.
It is possible to cry in your interview and look like an idiot and still get the job.
A little green aventurine in your pocket wouldn’t hurt though.
September 1, 2017
A new month means new goals -- or at least an opportunity to improve on the goals I set last month.1. Daily Creative/Daily Inspiration
I had this goal last month. And while I did not do something creative everyday, I was still pretty damn creative. I'd like to continue this goal and work toward having even more creative moments in September. To go along with the Daily Creative, I want to begin to build a practice of finding inspiration every day. Whether it means a quiet meditation at my desk, a walk down the block or listening to some new music, I want to spark my creativity every day. Lately this has looked like sitting at my desk with the windows open, drinking coffee and listening to electronica.2. Bite the Bullet
Last month I did a lot of exploration and experimentation with my creative works. This month I want to take the courage step of adding some of my work to my shop and make it available for purchase. I don't know *when* I'll list my art/creations in my shop, but you can rest assured I'll be blogging and tweeting about it when I do. Additionally, my Patreon supporters will likely get some discount codes.3. Go Tech Free
I noticed that the days I was most productive and creative last month where the days I happened to silence my phone and put all notifications on mute. This month I am giving myself permission to go tech free once a week. Whether it's during the weekday or on a weekend, I don't know. I'll likely experiment with different days to find one that really works for me. I have a feeling I'll struggle with this (I'm so addicted to Twitter!), so I think I'll probably start out with tech-free mornings, before making the leap to a full tech-free day.4. Deep Soul Writing...with a twist
Last month I tried to engage in daily deep soul writing. While I loved the practice of keeping a handwritten journal, I grew frustrated with the notion of needing to write daily. I found that I didn't always need to write every day and if I tried for the sake of the experiment (which was to write daily for 30 days), I found my writing lifeless and dull. It was a good experiment, and I found that I did enjoy the practice, but that daily was a little too much for me. So rather than try to force myself to write every day, I'm simply going to keep my notebook in my nightstand and write when I need it.
Do you set monthly goals? Do you find yourself going strong for the first week or two only to abandon them by mid-month? Book a reading and let's work together to discover the best methods for you practice in order to achieve success in your monthly goals.
August 28, 2017
Eclipse season hit me hard, y'all.
I've been pretty low the past several days. I must have started a blog post at least half a dozen times, only to delete them. When writing didn't work, I tried turning to painting, but I could never quite bring myself to sit down in my studio.
What little energy I did manage to obtain was spent counting, itemizing and bagging the remainder of my LuLaRoe inventory. Because yes, I still have it sitting in my home -- there are more hurdles to jump before this journey is truly 100% behind me. More on that here.
The rest of my time was largely spent in bed, watching things on Netflix or Hulu. I mainlined the latest season of Hawaii Five-0 on Netflix and also started Elementary with the husband via Hulu.
I put my phone on silent and turned off messenger applications. I checked Twitter randomly, but rarely posted.
And while this is hardly the first time I've had a low period, I kind of can't help but feel that being mired in eclipse season was the thing that pushed over the edge this time.
Too much burden and too much stress left me with the inability to create.
It just felt like I had the weight of everything on my shoulders and no one around to help with the burden. All the BS with trying to end my LLR business. A messy house. The inability to create. The needing a job, but being unable to work until my youngest is in daycare full time -- which probably won't happen til late September.
And a bunch of other little, but still heavy, things weighing on my mind and spirit.
As we come out of eclipse season, I'm starting to let some of the weight go. Just dropping it right where it is. It's not going anywhere and most of it I can't control -- like my job search that can't begin until my son has a full-time spot...out of my control.
I often find that that the 2-3 days after a low period are often harder than the low period itself. Starting that climb out of the darkness is hard. Once you get going it gets easier, but the actual starting? Yea. That, for me, is always the hardest.
So how do you start to pull yourself out of those low, dark periods?
It varies, but it dawned on me a couple of days ago as I was walking back from taking my daughter to the bus stop that I really enjoyed the cool, early morning air. My neighborhood is pretty damn quiet, so when I got home, I opened all the windows, turned on the ceiling fans and just let the cool, fresh air circulate.
It was invigorating and cleansing.
I did it the next day and the next.
What did I do with all the fresh air circulating my house?
I drank my coffee. Ate breakfast. Checked Twitter. Played on my Nintendo 3DS (I have rediscovered Animal Crossing and am loving it all over again). Watched silly videos on the computer. Googled random things. Listened to my current audiobook (The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco -- SO good, btw).
I literally just sat at my desk until I felt a little better. The first time it took it a few hours. The next, maybe an hour. After that, just enough to drink my coffee and maybe eat some breakfast.
I don't know if it's just the end of eclipse season, the natural end to a low period, the fresh air or a combination of the three, but I'm slowly coming back to myself. I no longer feel quite like the 10 of Wands or the 10 of Swords.
I think, perhaps, I feel more like the Ace of Pentacles. Still up the clouds, but coming down to myself. Getting ready to be grounded, rooted in the things I need to do moving forward.
The fresh air thing is something I will continue to do for as long as I can. It's a luxury to start the day so leisurely (even if it starts after spending a couple of hectic hours scrambling to get my daughter ready for school and to the bus stop on time), and I think I need to allow myself to indulge in more daily self-care rituals instead of just one big ritual every Sunday — I do a bubble bath, drink some wine and a mud mask every week.
I feel as though things are shifting around me and I’m only just starting to see where the pieces are going to fit. LuLaRoe continues to be a headache — one I will hopefully put an end to by the end of this week — but that piece, I know, will eventually be completely gone. I’m also learning to let go of issues I have with my family back home in Texas. Things that have ate at me for years, I am learning to ignore and release.
Through my book, White Puppy: Latina Como Yo, I am learning about myself by exploring my past and present as a Hispanic woman. I’m releasing old pains and embracing myself as I am and accepting my identity as a Latina, despite it not being the way I’ve been taught a Latina should be.
I’m expressing my joys through painting and through a sci-fi YA novel in the works (more on that on Patreon). I’m even going to take the plunge and start selling my art! So be on the look out for that in the shop soon. The first few pieces should, with any luck, go up by the end of this week. For sure next week.
So yea. Eclipse season may have hit me hard, but I’m a phoenix…forever burning and rising from the ashes.
August 7, 2017
I'm always a little wary of setting goals because I tend to be really harsh on myself when I don't meet them.
Despite this, however, a large part of me really, really likes setting goals. Because when I do hit my goals I am on top of the fucking world.
So I'm going to try to compromise by posting monthly goals that are more broad and general vs detailed and specific.1. Daily Creative
I'd like to incorporate doing something creative each and every day. Whether that means working on my book in the morning, painting in the afternoon or knitting in the evening, I don't want to go to bed not having done something creative. To help with this, I've purchased a new blank notebook for daily inspiration. I'm going to fill it with quotes, images, scribbles and whatever I find inspiring.2. Experiment & Explore
I'm still in the process of returning to my creative roots. The idea behind this goal is to give myself permission to experiment and explore with different techniques. Even if I don't like a painting, I want to take away something from it, like a new technique I learned or what not to do when mixing certain colors. My creativity flourishes most when I'm not trying so hard, so I'm going to do my best to let go of that inner perfectionist more.3. Community
Most of my friends are writers and knitters. As I'm also painting and creating art, I want to connect with other painters/artists. I want to learn from them, share with them and just generally make friends with them. I've already started this, but I'd like to find more people to follow on IG and Twitter -- so if you know of someone I should check out, let me know in the comments!4. Deep Soul Writing
So this one is a little specific, but it's something I am committed. I started at the beginning of the month, and I'm giving it 30 days (per the author's suggestion). Every night before bed, I'm engaging in "deep soul writing" -- which is basically daily journaling and listening to my subconscious. It's more the listening I want to work on than the writing. If you're curious, check out "Writing Down Your Soul" by Janet Conner.
And that's it for my goals for this month. I think I did pretty good at keeping them broad and general! I'll check back in at the end of the month to see how well I kept up with it.
What kinds of goals do you have for this month? Let me know in the comments!
PS: I've relaunched my newsletter! It's only going out monthly, but it's the perfect (free) way to stay up-to-date on news about my books and art as well as receive the occasional discount code for tarot readings or whatever else happens to be in my shop at the time.
Next newsletter goes out August 7! Sign up here.
August 1, 2017
On Sunday, I pulled the three of wands.
A card of expansion and growth, I did just that by giving my creativity a room to flourish in.
Cards of expansion and growth, reminding me to find my voice.
Coming home from doing groceries later that day, I had an package waiting at my door — some art books I had purchased on a whim a couple of days ago. After putting away the groceries and settling the kids down for nap/quiet time, my husband and I went into the spare room (aka the LuLaRoe room) and took down the clothing racks and packed up the last of the clothing we need to send back. Room empty, I swept away the dirt and lingering energy. Then we set to work moving my office and art studio into the room. And though I think it needs a few finishing touches like an area rug and a bigger bookshelf, I have an area to create that is mine away from the chaos of the rest of the house. Bonus, I have a lot more wall space to fill — so I definitely need to do some painting in the coming weeks.
Monday morning, I woke up and sat my desk and spent a few minutes just marveling in the fact that I had a space to call my own. My husband, too, has his small corner of this room — enough space for his computer and few other odds and ends. So essentially, this room feels “adult” — it is a place for us to come into to relax and work.
After reveling in the peace, I pulled out my cards and shuffled. Monday’s card was the two of wands — a card of independence and new ventures.
Even my dreams are full of symbols — my subconscious encouraging me to find my voice and let my creativity have free reign.
Another thing I’m doing to help find my voice? Deep soul writing.
One of the books I have currently been reading is entitled “Writing Down Your Soul” — it is about doing deep, soul-searching writing daily and learning to listen to the Voice, a higher power or your deep subconscious (whichever falls inline with your beliefs). The author, Janet Connor, writes that it takes 30 days of writing every day to create this into habit and to begin rewiring the neural pathways of the brain. As today is the 1st of August, today I begin my deep soul writing.
So here I am. Ready to write down my soul and find my voice.
This is an abridged version of a longer post that includes more information on the tarot cards as well as some thoughts on how leaving LuLaRoe was only the beginning of my finding my voice. To read the complete post, please head over to my Patreon page.
*If you need help finding your voice, consider booking a reading. A fresh perspective could be just what you need to point you on the right path.
July 27, 2017
The other day, I pulled the Empress card from the Linestrider Tarot as my card of the day.
In tarot, the Empress is all about creativity, productivity, abundance, fertility and motherhood (among other themes and keywords).
That same day, I launched my Patreon account and wrote more than I have in years. And while what I was writing wasn't the epic fantasy or action-packed sci-fi-fi I have been itching to write for years, I was still writing.
With that writing, the idea to put together a collection of personal essays and poems formed. Having just launched my Patreon, it felt like publishing that collection there month-by-month was just fantastic timing.
By the afternoon, I was sitting at the park with my kids, reflecting on my new abundance of creativity and the empress. I was still itching to keep writing, so I brought a notebook and pen with me to the playground. I journaled my thoughts on the empress while the kids played.
She bares her breast, proud and unabashed
- daring me to do the same.
In journaling, I learned to see the empress in a different light than I ever have before. I used to equate the empress with waiting. In most decks she's depicted as a pregnant woman. She is abundance and creativity, but she's also not ready to give birth to those ideas.
In this deck, however, she bares herself to the world and I could no help but feel that this card was calling me out to do the same.
I've been sitting on my creative abundance for years. I have been using excuse after excuse to keep it at bay. And certainly life has played a part in all of this, there still comes a moment when I cannot keep using the same excuses over and over. I have to stop waiting for the right time and take action.
Pregnant women are given a due date, but it's rare that they give birth on that due date. The baby comes when the baby comes. My daughter was born two weeks before my due date...my son two months before his.
I cannot keep waiting. I cannot keep sitting, pregnant with ideas. At some point, I have to say "fuck it", bare my breast and let creativity flow.
Giving birth can be a long, arduous process. So can writing. But difficult as the process may be, it is still action being taken.
No more waiting. Only writing.
This is an abridged version of a longer blog that includes my written thoughts on the empress from my journal. To read the complete post, please head over to my Patreon page.