I made it to three hundred followers

I started this blog in 2015, after I graduated from college. One of the many pieces of my writing journey. It really makes my day when people like my posts or leave comments. It can be nice knowing that my thoughts, poetry, art, or videos resonated with someone. The people blogging in the WordPress community are so creative, kind, and thoughtful (at least the ones I have come across). It is so nice to see so many people sharing their work, ideas, and stories.

Like many people, I find myself at times wanting to take a break from the internet. (I’m rarely successful at taking such breaks, but hey, I try.) But this blogging platform has been overall positive. I can go onto my feed and see poems, personal essays, and artwork at any time of day or night. Thank you to the people who make this corner of the internet so positive and inspiring. And thank you to the people who have followed my blog or interacted with my posts.

I don’t have a niche blog (I always get bored with trying to write those). I’m just here to be myself and post whatever comes to mind (it’s usually poems). This has been a space where I can say what is on my mind and I am thankful for that. Thank you everyone ❤

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Thoughts on art

Creativity has always been a big part of my life. Before I even started kindergarten, I loved to draw. By the time I was nine, I was filling my journals with poetry. In high school, my life revolved around singing and acting. And for the past six years I’ve been focusing primarily on writing poems, fiction, articles, web copy, plays, and of course blog posts.

As I transitioned into my “adult” years, it felt important for me to hold onto my inner artist. I knew too many people who grew up and left the passions and talents of their teen years behind them, trading them in for more practical jobs and the responsibilities of family life. There is nothing wrong with making money and there is nothing wrong with having a family. I certainly aspire to these things in my own way. And I am without a doubt a creature who values comfort and stability.

But I never wanted to be someone who let go of her passions just because she got older. But I realize this line of thinking was flawed in a sense, because holding onto the passions of my teen years potentially stopped me from developing new interests. And it may have made me a bit closed-minded in the things I pursued, deciding too early on who I am and who I am not.

I also realize that, contrary to what I may have thought, passion and business don’t always go hand in hand. Just because you enjoy an activity, it doesn’t mean you will enjoy the process of trying to do it for a living. I love writing, but I don’t love selling things, making my work as an self-published author bittersweet. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but trying to sell books has also made me feel like there’s a barrier between me and my ultimate goal, which is to connect with people.

Writing for online magazines can be quite fun, especially since comment sections can be so interactive. It brings me great joy to see someone share thought-provoking ideas based on an article I wrote. To see that someone was so invested in your writing that they decided to leave a comment can be wonderful, and it offers a feeling of instant gratification that one doesn’t often get when it comes to writing.

Attempting to make money in the world of marketing, copywriting, and public relations has also been interesting, informative, but ultimately not terribly lucrative for me. High competition plus a lack of deep interest on my part has not made this a fun ride.

When I meet other people who are trying to make money writing, I hear about how they’ve hopped from job to job, perhaps haven’t always been paid as much as they’re worth, and have been taken advantage of or dropped by companies that made promises they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) keep. I feel like I have a quiet understanding with these people. So many writers are dedicated, smart, and hardworking.

We’re expected to have fast turnover times but may be slow to receive paychecks. It takes a special kind of grit to try to make a career in business (or any kind of) writing. There is so much (seriously, SO MUCH) advice on the internet about how to break into writing for money. It’s a path I have attempted. It is also a path I am happy to trade for one of less resistance.

The thing that no one tells you about being an artist is that you are a salesperson first, an artist second. If you’re going to make it full time or even part time as an artist, you have to be a businessperson above all else. Marketing is necessary, and may even take more time than the artwork itself. Even when I was a girl scout selling cookies, I never liked the feeling of trying to convince someone to buy something. I never outgrew this lack of interest in sales.

Whether you’re a writer, painter, actor, or musician, you have to sell your work in most cases, especially if you are independent. The age of social media, in my opinion, creates unrealistic expectations about how easy it should be to get hundreds or thousands of people interested in your work. It can feel like attention and fame are of utmost importance, and that is never the reason I wanted to make art. The success of a creative person is almost always equated with some level of fame or influencer status. But trying to get many peoples’ approval has never been at the top of my list.

I still have a desire to make things and connect with others. So it’s confusing and I don’t really know what I want. I wish I could just be the little girl who painted on a canvas in her bedroom. The girl who scribbled poetry in her grandmother’s living room. The girl who sang in the music room and studied monologues over lunch. I was happy living in the process of doing all of these things. Back then, these things were done for passion.

But I’m at a point where if I’m going to do work, I want it to be part of my career. I want it to be the mark I leave on the world. Maybe a love for art isn’t enough to make a career of it. Maybe making a career of it creates a process I don’t enjoy. I don’t know what any of this means for my inner artist. But I think that I’m not so afraid of letting go of my former self. I know that I need to make room for all of the things that I can be. And I know that after six years of constant productivity, I deserve a break, or least less pressure to achieve such large career goals.

I always go back to writing and art. I always find my way back to music and dancing and self-expression. It’s an extension of me. But that doesn’t mean it’s all I am. I don’t think I need to be afraid of letting go of the past. I’m allowed to evolve and grow. Growing up is weird, messy, and complicated. It is change. But evolution can be exciting. I don’t have to stay on any one path. And if I know that, then I’m free to be who I want to be.

 

Abstract Art

The great thing about abstract art is that there are no rules. It’s just shapes, colors, lines, and feelings. It can be therapeutic to create something when you don’t know what the end result will be. It can also be a healthy way to explore your emotions while keeping the process personal to you. It can be a good visual reminder that you don’t always need a plan. You just need to work with what you have, building on the foundation you already laid, while taking one step and then another. Your art, like your life, doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, and it doesn’t need to make sense to everyone. It just needs to make sense to you, being authentic to who you are.

Abstract Art

5 tips for hard days

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Sometimes I have days where I feel really anxious about the future, directionless, and just really out of it. Stressing and overthinking about the future can feel necessary at times, especially if I’m trying to figure something out or make a decision. But it’s important to take care of yourself in the present. If you’re worrying and upset about the future or the goals you haven’t accomplished, you’re not allowing yourself to enjoy your life in the moment. Here are five tips for getting through hard days or moments like this:

1 – Get out of your head. This is the biggest issue for me. I get so caught up in my thoughts and the things upsetting me, and from there I just spiral downhill. Remembering to breathe and focus on the present moment helps me to distance myself from my problems. The grounding method of focusing on the things you can feel, see, hear, smell, and taste is also helpful here. This has also helped me out of mild panic attacks.

2 – Spend time in nature. Spending time in nature is so good for you. When I spend some time outdoors, especially in a beautiful place near water, trees, or flowers, it reminds me that life is about more than achieving everything and traditional concepts of “success.” Sometimes life is just about enjoying beautiful sunrises and seeing little baby birds fly about the trees. Waking up early enough to see the sunrise can also be a major mood booster.

3 – Play music you like and dance. Music can really help you to focus on the present. It can help you to de-stress, feel good, and feel less alone. Dancing is also a fun, no-pressure way to get some exercise. I find electronic dance music tends to make me feel happier, even if it’s just a few moments of focusing on the music and nothing else.

4 – Watch a tv show or read. Diving into a fictional world (or even nonfiction) can be a nice break from your worries in your own world. It’s a good way to remember that you don’t have to be productive all day, every day. I find watching a movie or binge-watching a show to be a good stress-reliever at times.

5 – Drink water and have a snack. Simple things like drinking water or eating a snack can give you a chance to relax and focus on what matters most — taking care of yourself and your body. Taking time to eat something I like without distractions is a good way to be present and practice mindfulness.

When I’m having a bad day, the thing that helps most is to focus on the present. It helps me to go back to the basics, often getting through it by doing the simplest things. Having bad days happens sometimes, and sometimes all you can do is let yourself feel the things you feel.

Naturally, if your struggles are persistent or interfering with your day to day life, be sure to talk to someone and seek help from a doctor or therapist.

We all struggle at times with the stresses of life. Keep some simple rituals in your toolbox so you can find balance again.

15 Tools To Help You Meditate

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There are many benefits to meditation, and I find those benefits are much more accessible to me when I have some tools to work with. For me, many of those things involve a physical object that I can see and hold in my hands. Here are fifteen tools to help you meditate:

Crystals – Working with crystals makes me meditate almost every day. Most people talk about meditation in terms of a daily practice and long-term benefits, but for me, it’s all about the short term. I do it because it allows me to have peace of mind IN THAT MOMENT. I keep crystals by me when I sleep, and reaching for them to meditate whenever I feel so inclined is a natural extension of working with them.

Prayer Beads – This is a great tool, and you don’t necessarily have to be religious to use them. They can help you to focus, especially if there’s more than one thing you want to meditate on.

Zen Garden – I don’t have one of these personally, but they look like so much fun! It’s basically a mini version of a Japanese rock garden. It includes stones and a little rake so you can make patterns in the sand. One way you may use it is to draw a symbol or word in the sand, and then meditate on that!

Mantras – A mantra can have different meanings. For some, it’s a word or sound to repeat over and over. (“Ommmm” is probably the most common). But to me, it can also mean a word or phrase in your own language. The most effective ones are short and to the point, and it works well when you use it while focusing on your breath. I’ll usually say the mantra in my head each time I exhale.

Wands – These can also be a great tool for meditation and focus. They can be handmade or purchased, and some are decorated with gemstone or engraved with positive affirmations.

Tibetan Singing Bowls – I’ve been wanting one of these things for a long time. They’re so pretty! Also known as standing bells, they come in all shapes and sizes, and are often used in meditation, and religions such as Buddhism and Taoism.

Statues – Especially those associated with religion, can be good visual reminders and points of focus. If they’re small enough, you can also hold them in your hands.

Candles – These can be a great way to spend some time meditating. You can light them and then blow them out when you are done. You can also look at the flame for a visual meditation. If you have scented candles, your focus point can be the sweet smell. [Note: Always practice fire safety]

Tarot or Spirit Cards – These can help you to get into a spiritual mood, and you can use the message of the card to create a mantra. Similarly, you can use a quote from a spiritual text or inspiring book.

Baoding Balls – Also known as Chinese medicine balls, these are small, made of metal, and both can fit in your hand. You rotate two or more in one hand, and they are good for improving motor function or recovering from surgery. They are also great for meditation.

Music and Nature Sounds – Music is good because you can meditate for the length of the song without noticing time is passing by. YouTube has many eight hour videos that feature relaxing music, nature sounds, and ocean waves. There are also guided meditation videos. Audio books may be good as well!

Pillows – It can’t hurt to create a cozy environment.

Tea – Hot tea is a great accompaniment to meditating, and it may put you in the right mood to have a moment of peace.

A Hot Bath – You can always meditate in the bath or shower, and then you’d be accomplishing two things at once. Between the hot water, and anything else you may include like candles, flower petals, and music, it creates the perfect environment. [Again, when it comes to fire, safety first]

Incense – Incense can also be used to help keep you grounded and relieve tension.

Those are some of the tools you can use to help you meditate. Naturally, you don’t need any tools. Just you, yourself, and something to focus on. Like with any spiritual practice, it’s not about hard and fast rules. Do what works for you. ❤

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If you like this post, you may also enjoy my poetry and fiction books. Check them out at AshleyLillyBooks.weebly.com 

 

 

 

 

12 Benefits of Witchcraft

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There are many benefits of witchcraft as a spiritual practice. There’s no one way to practice magick, and no two witches are alike. People practice magick from all religions, backgrounds, and for a variety of reasons. That being said, there are several underlying traits that those who practice can benefit from. Here are twelve benefits of witchcraft:

Anyone Can Be A Witch – Witchcraft is often associated with the religion of Wicca, but one doesn’t have to be Wiccan to practice it. People from all religious backgrounds practice magick, and nonreligious people do as well.

There Are No Rules – Sure, there’s spell books, guides, tools, and different things people recommend, but your practice is your own and it can be as complex or as simple as you like.

You Can Do It From Anywhere – A lot of witches have designated sacred spaces and altars to perform magick, but in reality it can be performed anywhere. All you really need is you, your intent, and a space where you can focus.

Time In Nature – One of the biggest benefits of witchcraft is that it gets you to spend more time outside, working with nature, meditating, and developing more respect for your surroundings. It also gives you time to unplug from the internet.

Knowledge – Witchcraft requires a lot of studying, and you never really stop learning. You can learn a lot about herbs and their medicinal benefits, the phases of the moon, astronomy, flowers, trees, animals, crystals, meditation, chakras, natural healing, tea, myths, history, and the magical uses of all these things. You can also learn more about yourself!

Knowing What You Want – Spellwork requires you to be clear about your intent, and this can give you a lot of clarity about what you really want in life. As a result, it can help you to take more steps to work toward those things.

Time To De-Stress – Witchcraft is, at its heart, a nature-based spiritual practice. As children of the Earth, few things can ease our minds more than connecting with nature and the elements. It also helps you to meditate and reflect on a regular basis.

There Are Many Paths – Since there’s no one way to practice magick, you can find the path you resonate with most. You can be a green witch, a sea witch, or a hedge witch. You can practice with a coven or on your own. You can follow spell books or create your own rituals.

Reasons To Celebrate – There are many sacred days that some witches honor, including the summer and winter solstices, the spring and autumn equinoxes, Samhain, Beltane, and others. People celebrate in different ways, but they often include preparing a special feast, rituals, nature walks, meditating, honoring ancestors, bonfires, and gratitude.

Inspiration – A lot of witches share their inspiration, positivity, and light with others, and social media makes it easy to soak up all that wisdom.

It’s Inclusive – One reason I think witchcraft resonates with so many people is that it’s inclusive. It empowers women and doesn’t discriminate against the LGBT community. It gives people space to explore spirituality in a judgement-free environment that also promotes kindness, self-care, balance, and healing.

It Promotes Healthy Habits – Drinking tea, cooking with herbs, spending time outdoors, journaling and reflecting, meditation, getting clear on what you want, connecting with the elements, taking care of the earth, caring for plants, reading books, and expressing your emotions are all things you may do more if you practice witchcraft.

These are a few benefits of witchcraft as a spiritual practice. Above all, I see it as being about connecting with the Earth and taking care of yourself. Thanks for reading. Blessed be! ❤

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If you like this post, you may also enjoy my poetry and fiction books. Check them out at AshleyLillyBooks.weebly.com

 

Do Crystals Work???? – Vlog

A video where I talk a bit about crystal healing ❤ Is this topic interesting to you? Let me know in the comments 🙂

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Thanks for watching ❤ If you like my blog, please consider supporting me by checking out my books. I write poetry and fiction 🙂

http://ashleylillybooks.weebly.com/