Saturday, March 25, 2017

Project Ivy: Pivot

It's been about three months since my last status update. And what a very busy three months it was!

After a relatively quiet winter holiday season, the year kicked off really fast. There were two major international work trips (with all the associated prep work). And then as soon as I returned, I managed to get sick as can be. And this is where the importance of project flexibility comes into play.

If you've been following along with these status updates, you know that getting regular outdoor exercise was a major goal for my personal project. Now, admittedly our very icy winter weather did put a crimp in that, but overall I'd been making good progress... even through the work trips. See, traveling in international cities usually involves a LOT more walking than I usually get at home. So despite being outside of my normal routine I was walking a ton and feeling good.

You know what does interfere with outdoor exercise in rainy weather? A terrible, lingering upper respiratory illness that kept me out of work for close to a week and that would not go away.  The week after I returned from Japan, I became ill and was just flattened for about four weeks. I'm still not 100%, despite doing all the right things from both the holistic and allopathic points of view (you know I'm sick when I go to our doctor -- who typically suggests supplements and raw honey before anything else -- and ask for drugs).

But the good news is that I'm running an agile project here. And one of the benefits of that kind of project is the ability to pivot and change course. So while I wasn't getting a ton of exercise (still taking the dogs out, but not every energetically or for very long), I was making huge traction on some of my other goals. 

When you take on a project like this, you often find the universe puts helpful items in your path. This was the case with me. Two of my other goals for this project were some regular ritual and mindfulness work and some meta magical work for the project itself. And Gordon's RuneSoup Sigil class came along at just the right time to give me a new framework for these -- his membership option is highly recommended by the way. So that was a nice way to stay focused and motivated even through the healing process.

So that's the nature of real projects with multiple components. You push one along, making progress, and then you stall out. But far from a failure, it's an opportunity to focus on another aspect, getting that one moving forward as well. Like plate spinning or the meme-tastic herding of cats.

One last note, I'd planned to republish some of my posts from like two years ago (time flies!). I've been thinking about what makes the most sense and I think I'm going to start a reboot of my risk and issue series. Each post will be reworked and enhanced with additional material and more magical suggestions (now with 20% more magic!). This is a really good time for us all to be thinking about risks and issues in our lives. We're in a time of major change and fragility is not going to be what we need to get through it. So more anti-fragile and risk and black swan stuff ahead.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Year of Being Agile -- Spiritual collaboration over contract negotiation

As part of my year of being agile, I'm going to explore each of the four values in my Agile Magic Manifesto in order to a) help create actionable items and b) define my own plan for the year (one of the secret benefits to blogging is that writing about stuff helps you get shit straight in your own head).

Lets say you are in the midst of a project and you need some information or a decision or some help, from a stakeholder. Which tactic do you suppose is more effective:
1. Call legal for a contract review, create a formal addendum for the interaction you are proposing. Send it to their legal department. Babysit four red line versions between the lawyers. Get the appropriate signatures and then move forward.
2. Pick up the phone and talk to the person you need help from and just ask.

Obviously in an agile project, the latter is going to be more effective. But it's also probably only going to work if you have a preexisting relationship. Now, a preexisting relationship may involve a contract (few business projects completely ignore them) but without the action interaction and trust, everything gets bogged down into contract negotiation. Better to just work directly and frequently with the people in your project, so that you can collaborate efficiently.

This is true on a spiritual level as well. 

I've always had a strongly relational approach to spirit work. Not only do I feel like I want to have ongoing connections to the non-corporal folks in my circle, I want to focus on those connections and not spread myself too thin. 

Note, this made me somewhat unpopular in my early Pagan days (what do you mean you're calling on Kali and Hermes? Do they even like each other? Do they like you?). 

After my first serious interaction with Deity (which was initiatory, important for my growth, but also completely non-consensual and NOT FUN) I take the position that I'll call on Gods I'm interested in and if they seem cool, we can hang out. But I don't take calls from numbers I don't know and I don't do favors for people I don't like. 

I've called on gods and spirits and gotten the spiritual equivalent a fanmail response letter (Thank you for contacting the offices of Inanna. Her Ladyship very much appreciates your admiration. While the Lady of Largest Heart regrets that She cannot respond personally to all inquiries, please find enclosed a signed portrait...)

I've also called on these folks and gotten very intense responses. I have working relationships with a couple of entities where I initiated contact (St. Brigid/Brigit of Kildare for example) that have had a lasting impact on my life. And there are beings that I've had what I call a situational acquaintanceship with (I made a series of offerings and asked for something in return and we were cool). And not surprisingly what I bring to the table has a lot to do with the results I get.

If you want to get the attention of a capital-G God or Goddess, then go to the source material and find the most hardcore sacrifice or ritual you can get away with without being arrested or hospitalized. Then do that. But make sure you want that attention first. 

In the mean time, your own ancestors could probably use some more love, not to mention the local spirits. And as you build up your posse you'll find that issues with your personal projects get resolved more easily and quickly. When trouble strikes, you don't have to do the spiritual equivalent of looking someone up on LinkedIn, you'll have someone in your corner that can help right away.

The action item here is simple -- build and nurture those relationships now before you need them. And if you do a good enough job, you may end up not needing them to begin with.

A year ago on the blog: Sustain-ability: The Anti-Rant Rant

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Taxes Fucking Suck Sale!

Taxes fucking suck. So I'm having a Taxes Fucking Suck sale on all my services through the end of June! That's enough time to get your taxes back... and help me pay mine!

First, go take a look at the services I offer

Anything look interesting? Because from now until June 30, all of my divination is 25% off! That includes my Multiverse and Black Swan as well as the major Life-Crafting divination (which is enough data to honestly change your life). It even includes my mini-divinations -- even more affordable for the next few months. Just use the paypal links below instead of the ones on the services page.

But even more amazing, I'm offering my PMPM consulting services at 33% off through the end of June as well. That's a $50 an hour savings to work directly with me (skype, phone, or in person if local) on defining and meeting your goals. Your own professional project manager, with bonus magical experience. And that price will be good for as many sessions as you want through June. So you want to meet monthly? Weekly? Every morning? (ok, maybe not every morning)

I can work with you directly and with an NDA I can work on behalf your company or nonprofit as well (barring certain industries where I have a non-compete in place). For consulting, please email me directly with a short statement on what you're looking for.

If you've been thinking about working with me, but haven't been ready to commit, this is the time.

Divination -- 25% Off Now!

The Black Swan Divination

-- See what shocks are coming in your life and what to do about it now --
If you want insight into what surprises are in store -- and more importantly what do to about them -- this is the reading for you. Based on the work of Taleb -- be the Farmer and not the Turkey!

Full Version
The Black Swan looks at what's coming (and more importantly what to do about it) across a number of life areas of your choosing.  Complete report or skype consultation.

Results delivered by:

Mini Version
The mini version focuses on a single area -- the unknown unknown. Complete report.

The Multiverse Divination

-- Forget about fortune telling... Create your fortune --
It’s a reading unlike any other you may be used to. Instead of telling you “what the future holds” you approach it from the other way around: Decide what future you want. Then we’ll find out how to get there.

Full Version
Submit your goal and your best ideas for reaching it. The reading will point you on your best path to success. The reading will also suggest other ways you may not have thought of. Complete report or skype consultation.

Results delivered by:

Mini Version
Start with the goal and work backwards to the starting point. Complete report.

The Life-Crafting Divination

-- Can't decide which reading is best for you? Get the best of both! --Save money when you combine the readings and get a single comprehensive result -- craft the life you want.

Full Version
Multiverse and Black Swan Divination combined. Create your fortune and craft your life today! Seriously comprehensive report (you will refer back to it again and again) or a detailed skype consultation.

Results delivered by:

Mini Version
Mini-Multiverse and Mini-Black Swan. Pinpoint accuracy for your best life. Combined report.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sustain-ability: Nourishment

This is not the first time I've talked about nourishment here on CircleThrice. But I feel like it's particularly important to revisit this concept right now as the Western world seem increasingly, well not just empty, but outright deprivational and harmful (like the cultural equivalent of the Standard American Diet).

The way that the phosphoric acid leaches calcium from your bones, vast stretches of popular culture, most media, and general social interactions leach the joy and magic out of your spirit. It's worse than the spiritual equivalent of white sugar or flour, which at least taste good in the near term (though it's not good for you and moderation is key). You need to treat this material the way you do propylene glycol or artificial food coloring or partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils -- as without redeeming qualities and completely toxic to your system.

You know there are times when you can ease into a change. You park further from the entrance and take the stairs to get more exercise. You drink regular coffee rather than a caffeinated dessert to get less sugar. You give up expanded cable to save some money. Small changes repeated over time can give big results.

But then there are times when you have to go nuclear.

It's when you sell your car and commute on your bike. It's when you decide to completely purge gluten from your entire household for six months. It's when you commit to buying nothing non-consumable for a year. There are times that to make the change, you have to make it big.

(Note, we've done two of those in the past)

When it comes to political discourse, media, and popular culture -- that time is NOW.

Isolate yourself from media and culture to the brink of being completely uninformed and out of touch. And only after you've had a chance to detox (and you will detox) -- only then, very carefully, curate a few thoroughly vetted trickles of information that you allow through.

Please note, I don't expect you to isolate yourself from other people. Just make sure they are other people, and not just walking Internet meme husks that you interact with only online. Your family, your old friends, they can be a balm during this time. But you have to be ruthless. People are lost and incoherent with rage. Also note that if you are called to action, you should act. March, boycott, protest. All good things. But those things require a nourished and calm center so as to avoid burning out.

If we don't take care of ourselves, we will fall down when we most need strength and flag when we need stamina. And that means taking care of our spirits and emotions as much as our physical bodies. So find things and people that nourish you and indulge in them as much as you can.

Note, I recently updated the Overview/Index page and all new posts are bolded.

A year ago on the blog: The Rules for Them and the Rules for You


Monday, March 6, 2017

PMPM - Look where you want to go

Stick with me, this is relevant.

We've been watching a show that my husband found found online someplace (we only have basic cable with our internet) while I was traveling. At first I was skeptical, but he said he really liked it and couldn't wait to show it to me when I returned. He was right, and we've been hunting down old seasons and watching it for about six weeks now.

The show is called Canada's Worst Driver. It's a reality TV series where they find some of the worst drivers in the country (nominated by a friend or family member) and they all try NOT to be the last person left on the show. They get intensive driving lessons and complete in various challenges. Each week the best person graduates and gets to drive away. At the end, the final worst three try not to "lose" and get the hideous Canada's Worst Driver trophy. So it's like the reverse of the typical show.

I appreciate that it sounds kind of lame, but I actually really enjoy it. First, because the host and judges -- a couple of driving instructors, a psychologist, and an ex-highway cop -- care about the contestants and helping people drive better. Second, they actually seem interested in teaching better driving (as opposed to just mocking the sucky drivers or rewarding them for being terrible). I've actually learned interesting techniques from the show (like how to parallel park, OMG). Finally, I'm surprised at how often people say that they haven't just become better drivers, but better people -- learning responsibility, focus, emotional intelligence, stress relief techniques, etc -- from being on the show. 

Plus (speaking honestly here) there the voyeuristic enjoyment of watching these folks demolish a shiny new car on various obstacles, drive with a open container of water on the roof, etc.

One of the key driving tips that they talk about all the time on the show is to "look where you want to go." See while driving, you naturally steer toward whatever your eyes are on. So if an obstacle appears, you shouldn't fixate on it. No, you should look for the safe route around. If you are skidding toward a wall, you don't stare at it and slam on the breaks. Instead you look where you want to go and let off the gas to try to regain traction. This is important all the time, but especially so when there's a fast reaction kind of situation.

Good advice for driving, but moreover, good advice for life. In fact, I'm adding this to my list of personal maxims*. It's not about being positive or negative, optimistic or pessimistic. It's about focusing on the things you want, the places you want to get to. If you keep your eye on what you want, rather than fixating on what you don't, you will then naturally start to steer in that direction. If you then apply both the magical and practical skills I write about, you are more likely to end up there.

* Ivy's personal maxims:
1. Religion that's easy is wrong
2. I don't get offended, I get pissed off
3. Life is too short to eat shit
4. Look where you want to go

A year ago on the blog: Project Execution -- Allies

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Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Year of Being Agile -- Working enchantment over comprehensive philosophy

As part of my year of being agile, I'm going to explore each of the four values in my Agile Magic Manifesto in order to a) help create actionable items and b) define my own plan for the year (one of the secret benefits to blogging is that writing about stuff helps you get shit straight in your own head).

Working enchantment over comprehensive philosophy

When I was in my 20s, I was pretty sure I knew how things were. I had theories galore about how magic operated, how religion worked, and what was really going on in the world. Not only was I convinced that I knew things, I was convinced that things were knowable.

I'm either much wiser or much stupider now (or both) because at this point I'm pretty sure I don't know how things work. In fact the only thing I'm pretty sure sure of is that lots of stuff may actually be unknowable. Of course, I still have theories, but now the important thing is not whether those theories meet some objective standard of true, but whether they are useful.

Lest I segue into the realm of alterna-facts, I am still sure that activities in the day to day world have some kind of agreed on reality. A reality that a lot of people would like to make very fuzzy right now. But just because the current state of the mundane world requires constant vigilance against a tsunami of manipulative bullshit -- from every direction -- doesn't mean we have to apply the same effort to the mystical, the liminal, the spiritual.

In those realms there isn't some ultimate real truth that we are going to agree on. There are just different theories, some of which are more useful than others. Which brings us to the second point of our agile magic manifesto -- if it works for you, that's enough.

How do I define "work" though? Well, it depends on your goal of course. If your goal is spiritual enlightenment, then it works if you are more enlightened (the objective standard would be if other people can see the light in you and react in a positive way). If your goal is practical enchantment, it's even easier. Is your life generally working the way you would like? Are you moving in a direction that gets you closer to and achieving your goals? Then what you are doing is working for you. Will it work for anyone else? The jury is still out on that. If your goal is the experience of occult connection (which is a perfectly valid goal) then it's about the number of synchronous events, the visitations/manifestations, the OBEs, the psychic phenomenon.

My personal philosophy is that if I can see a possible benefit to a new technique or idea, I'll give it a shot. Sure, stuff could go wrong or backfire. There may be fallout. But hey, it's magic. While I was more cautious about the big stuff when the budding psychonaut was tiny, now that I have a teen psychonaut (which totally sounds like a comic book) I enjoy experimenting.

I think we should approach all magic in the same way. Try things out and if it's good tech for you, then add it to your repertoire. If it doesn't work, set it aside. Not because it's wrong, but because it's not for you. Any maybe, just maybe, quit arguing about it endlessly on the Internet.

In the end, you have to find some practices that work for you. And one of the great things about the agile framework is that it can work with any technique and for any end game. Here's how:

  1. Decide what the acceptance criteria is -- that's how you know it worked
  2. Do the thing
  3. Check back and see whether it met the acceptance criteria
It fits neatly into the simple agile rhythm. In your sprint planning you decide not just the things you want to do, but what it means to be done with those things. If it can't be done in the time frame you've chosen (a month for example) make it smaller. And then decide how you judge whether it worked. Because that's the primary thing -- working enchantment.

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