Paper vs. Reality

posted in: career occultism | 6

the internet is always an amazing creature. It’s really easy to build yourself an amazeball PR machine that your friends and family are too lazy to dispute. On paper, 2012 sounds like the most awesome year of my life. Because the paper is good. V. good.

Jow + Deb = Married

Deb’s One Woman Army of Achievements (on paper):
* Married Jow in a Lafayette 148 dress and sparkling Manolo Blahniks with estate jewels, my hair done in Joan Holloway perfection while our friends and family looked on. We had a kick ass after party, a kick ass honeymoon suite and we honeymooned in the Berkshires.

* I’m in talks with The Sundance Channel about a project I can’t talk about.

* I was asked to be a reviewer for Witches & Pagans magazine and asked to be a blogger for PaganSquare. I continued to put out WitchVox articles that have received thousands of hits.

* I made the move from blogspot to my fresh layout here that has its own hosting.

* I designed and proctored The Experiment which had hundreds of people participating in working their asses off to achieve their dreams.

One of my many works of High Art that was published this year.

* I doubled my Etsy sales, hits and hearts from last year for my shop LS+LC. I organized my brand image for LS+LC, my shipping process and got my social media campaign under way. I got a new craft show partner for LS+LC in person shows and I hostessed my first LS+LC home party. Tomorrow, I have my first trunk show at Trillium Yarns.

Opened my second shop.

* I published four new short stories in paid anthologies and ePublishing and one in contract. Started working with a new publisher who is interested in a novel. Was chosen as the lead story for Dead Sexy.

Started doing Srs Rites in Spare Oom

* I finish the last chapter of my first full length book, The Arte of Glamour this week. It will be published in February.

Met some dude from the intertubez (on right)

* I helped two new crafters launch their businesses.

* I opened my second Etsy shop, The Glamoury Apothecary for the more magical oriented side of my crafting and I’ve made sales and my first custom order with it. I have my brand identity and marketing sorted for it.

* I quadrupled my yarn inventory and started dyeing in large dye lots and started doing new single ply techniques and incorporated beading into some of my yarn.

* I’m months away from getting out of consolidated debt. I’m almost half way to paying off my car. We have almost paid off the carpet cleaning for our house. I have a nominal amount of unconsolidated debt. We didn’t incur debt for our wedding and we haven’t incurred debt for Christmas.

* Next year I’ll be able to have health insurance and be able to start saving for retirement/general savings.

* Working on a start up with Ms. K that has enormous potential.

* I have my second and third books planned.

* I’ve developed a good look for going out as well as a day to day nannying look and have become very adapt at doing my own hair and make up for when I go out. I’ve dropped a dress size since last year and I’m swimming in last winter’s clothing.

Sounds amazing right?  Super gangster-witch?  Like I’m kicking ass and taking names and like I’m someone to maybe even aspire to be?  And my vanity says, you did all of those things.  Isn’t that enough?  Don’t you want a moment of glory and envy?  Can’t you leave it alone?  For once, can’t you have people think you lead a glamorous life?  

And I can’t.  Because I honestly love all of you too much for that.  It’s impossible for me not to Penelope Trunk it up, I’ve been a blogger for way too long to not vomit out a reasonable amount of the whole picture.

Let’s start with the first bit as an example:

Married Jow in a Lafayette 148 dress (that was gifted to me from Ms. K) and sparkling Manolo Blahniks (borrowed from Ms. K) with estate jewels (also borrowed from Ms. K), my hair done in Joan Holloway perfection (paid for by my mom, I was taught to do my own make up for the wedding by Ms. Spice) while our friends and family looked on. We had a kick ass after party, a kick ass honeymoon suite and we honeymooned in the Berkshires (where I was freaking out from losing one of my nanny families and being half-unemployed and our toilet in our condo at home decided to make really loud rattling noises all night so that the neighbors reported it and my mom had to send in a plumber while we vomited in our hands about how much it was going to cost.  I was freaking out so bad that I couldn’t keep food down.  We did have a fireplace though!)

Let me tell you what this year has been like.  Not counting huge terrible life happenings like when my dad died or the failure of my first marriage, it has been bar none the worst year of my life.  Ever.  This is a gift.  It comes with a price.  Who is the lamb and who is the knife?

Lowlights of Deb’s Year:

* Weekly bouts of incredible existential angst about how I will make money in my 40s or 50s or even in (let’s get crazy!) five years.  Will I ever have health care or a 401K again?  There’s only darkness and dragons.

* How will the water bill be paid?  Will we make the mortgage?  It’s an anxious race til the end of the month to find out if the numbers will magically balance!

* For a good chunk of the year, I would wake up crying and so anxious I didn’t know what to do with myself.  This got to be balanced out by trying to make sure my fibromyalgia didn’t kick my ass and a return to a “non-reason” based constant depression that is SO!  FUN!  for others to live with.

* I haven’t had a pedicure in months.  I haven’t bought clothes in months.

* My working hours are approximately 8:40a – 11p.  What little social life I had has been almost completely crushed except for weekly visits with my bff, A.  If it wasn’t for A., I’d never leave the house except to go to work, a family function, or a religious function.  I still barely leave the house unless it’s for work.

* Jow and I barely see each other.  Our work schedules make it so that we don’t have a day off together.  We often work opposite hours.

* I haven’t traveled to any place not-for-a-wedding that wasn’t in driving distance in years.  Years.  The only reason I know the UK is still a country is because Gordon lives there.

* My hair is often unwashed.  My sleep is often poor.  I’m wearing last year’s faux Uggs and I don’t know if they’ll make it through this year.


But It’s All Worth It, Right?  Look at What You’ve Accomplished!

If we’re talking real talk here, the honest answer is I don’t know.  It’s too soon to know for real.  Nothing I’m trying to accomplish has failed so successfully that I can ditch it and nothing has succeeded so much that I can dump a day job.  And right now is the best time for me to be working at making my artistic endevours stick.  I’m young enough that I can deal with working crazy hours, I have a life partner so we can pay our bills together, no kids and it’s too soon to need to start saving in earnest for retirement.  I mean, obv, we should be but one of us could drop dead of cancer in the next four years.  We still have a decent chunk of time before we have to start working towards our infirm years.  It’s too soon to give up on our artistic goals that we’ve only had the age and experience to drive ourselves towards for the last couple years.   Ask me again in five years, we’ll see where we are.  [darkness.  dragons.]

How Badly Do You Want Your Dreams?

Because this is the real make it or break it time, when there’s not enough success to justify what you’re doing but not enough failure to justify giving up.  You will have to give things up.  Time with your loved ones, washing your hair regularly — look.  This is the part where I’ve always glossed over as a reader.  I always hear “Blah blah blah montage to success” at this part.  But it’s really hard being in the belly of the beast.  Really hard.  It’s scary, it’s uncertain and it’s anxious.  It’s why so many people are willing to mortgage their dreams because the day to day is really hard.  Do you know how much I’ve cried?  How many times I’ve said I can’t do this anymore?

What’s going to separate the girls from the women here is that you can live with that.  Live with no social life, live with no “extras” like lovely painted toes, live with knowing your friends are having way more fun and working way less hard.  Because they are.

How much do you want this?  It’s 4:21P on a Saturday, are you working?

I am.  And I’m going to keep working until I know that I’m failing or succeeding.

Just keep swimming.

Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


6 Responses

  1. Yes to “montage to success”. HATE that montage. It is the ‘underpants gnome moment’ of achieving personal dreams.

    My head is in alarmingly similar places. Item number 758 on why I hate Facestalk are the sheer number of grinning, gleaming idiots from my old life on the other side of the world with their houses and stable employment and clothes that a human would wear.

    FWIW, you’re probably the wiliest bitch I know so… keep swimming until you sight land. People like you are always the first ones to see it. And it will be La Isla Awesome.
    Gordon recently posted..The Betrayal Of The StorytellersMy Profile

  2. Thanks for writing this.

    I swear, I get Defensive every time I see all the stuff you get done – because I am not getting anywhere near that much done, I’m not even trying to get that much done (and that’s where the defensiveness kicks in).

    I don’t want to sacrifice my work-life balance (such as it is) in order to build my empire faster.
    And maybe that’s a cop-out. Heaven and Earth know it feels like one.
    I feel like I spend so much time in the theory – because thinking is so much safer than doing when the “doing” is something new and potentially dangerous. I feel like I’m still stumbling around, trying to find a map that’ll actually work.
    And I’m starting to think that maybe I don’t get to have a map.
    Which sucks.

    My over-arching goal for The Experiment?
    “I want my LIFE to be this glorious mash-up of art and sex and joy and beauty, I want my LIFE to be built on and fueled by, and in a symbiotic relationship with, pleasure in all its many forms.”

    I’m part-way there. My life is currently a frazzled, occasionally resentful, sometimes frustrated mash-up of poetry and kink and Making Stuff, and doing various types of modeling. With buckets of joy and beauty thrown in (thanks, in large part, to my most excellent bride-to-be).

    But I feel like I’m stumbling. Like I don’t know how to push my Etsy sales into “more than one, ever” territory. Like I’m dreading trying to write porn on the regular and so I’m avoiding it like the plague and telling myself “but I don’t have time” (bullshit). Like I have no idea how to push my modeling income into higher-paying (read: fetish-porn type) gigs, particularly if I’m also avoiding the risks of traveling (‘cost vs payout’; but also ‘unfamiliar city + lack of escape routes’). Like the next steps in my magical/religious/kinky/sexual practices are looking really scary (in part because they AREN’T theory anymore) and I don’t know where to go for a spotter, or what to try that’s small and relatively safe to do. Like I keep trying to sigil and honey-pot for money and success in my chosen career(s), but am also freaking out because I’m wondering if the multiplicity of said career(s) is just Too Weird/Messy for my spells, such as they are, to be fully/consistently effective.

    All of this feelings!mail to say:
    “Because this is the real make it or break it time, when there’s not enough success to justify what you’re doing but not enough failure to justify giving up.”
    This, right here, is exactly true.
    There are things I’m not willing to give up. My relationship with Ghost being the really important one. But also: I don’t want to give up *enjoying* what I do in order to make it profitable. (Because if I don’t love it, what’s the point of doing it? I might as well get myself a cushy $50K/year job with a pension plan and paid vacation, right?)
    So I’m trying to build my empire (and figure out exactly what that looks like ’cause, hoy, a lot of the time I feel like it’s still a work in progress) without losing the bits that make the empire worth building.
    Meliad recently posted..Hearth and Home and Resistance to ChangeMy Profile

    • @Meliad, I think one of the challenges that faces magical folk is similar to the problem that faces designers — we Get Stuff Done, at half the cost and in half the time that it appears to take other folks. We’re super-learners, and we we know techniques that shorten our learning curves; we’re prepared to lean forward into our mistakes, make them, and get ahead of the crew that are moving more cautiously; we do things in a low-cost way through ritual and astral exploration first, before we do it expensively with materials in the physical realm; and we plan-plan-plan to be awesome long before we actually do/become the awesome.

      And then we’re expected to do it again, better, faster, harder than before. Nobody — not bosses, not spouses, not acquaintances, not friends, not coworkers — seems to have an idea how we do that, and it’s not surprising. We have allies in the spirit realms that they don’t, what Saint Paul (to invoke a controversial figure, at best) called “so great a cloud of witnesses). And no one wants us to do more, be more, accomplish more, or become more than we do ourselves.

      How will we know when we arrive at the place where we can take it easy? At the same time, I believe there is no life so weird, so messy, so awkward that magic will not help.

      @Deb, there are darkness and dragons ahead for all of us: for you, for me, for Gordon, for RO, for Jason, for all of us. Which is why Gordon recommends nested divinations, of course… but you knew that. And we have turned a corner, as Gordon suggests in his recent post about the Betrayal of the Storytellers. But, we’re dragon-tamers, dragon-riders, and dragon-friends, as need be. And dragon-slayers, as circumstances call for it.

      We’re the inheritors of the Jack Parsons tradition. And we will do our will, in secret or in public, as our will.
      Andrew B. Watt recently posted..Taiji Day 268: slow successesMy Profile

  3. Thank you for posting this. I feel like most of the entrepreneurial/life coach type blogs I read are a constant stream of “5 Things That Make You Succeed” and they’re all really basic things and I’m left wondering if I’m just too stupid to make it work. I appreciate the reminder that no, it’s supposed to be hard and uncertain and kind of scary and that’s okay, that’s not failure.
    Jack recently posted..Minimalism in Theory and PracticeMy Profile

  4. bad things that happened this year:
    i got cancer

    good things that happened this year:
    i got better

  5. >>Nothing I’m trying to accomplish has failed so successfully that I can ditch it and nothing has succeeded so much that I can dump a day job.>>

    This is exactly where I am too, as 2012 draws to its close. So I’m right there with you, in terms of having had a year that looks deceptively impressive on paper (I was invited to blog at PaganSquare, have at least tripled readership of my own blog, am starting to actually get a handle on my Work, have had a decent amount of Etsy sales–though not nearly enough to make for a viable business, have been able to cut my working hours to part time) but was emotionally and physically exhausting to live through.

    Reading over your list of accomplishments for the year, though, I /am/ impressed. May 2013 be an even more productive year for you, but with less angst!
    Beth recently posted..Yet more on words meaning things; or: sometimes words mean nothing.My Profile

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