Solace in Stitches

If I have not been writing, rest assured that my creativity has not been dormant.

In the past few weeks, have found a lot of companionship and creativity in knitting.

Socializing over stitches

Between joining an online group for writers who enjoy knitting and finding a local knitting group that meets weekly, I’ve found myself coming out of my shell a little more. It’s easy for me to retreat and embody the Hermit — and as an introvert, I can go weeks and even months without realizing how much of the word I am missing. Because despite being connected to so many people through the internet, I find myself very lonely amongst the creatives.

Everyone seems to have their own group and it’s hard for a quiet introvert to break through to join them.

But attending a weekly knitting group gets me out of the house. I may not always participate in the current conversation, but often I find that just listening to other adults is very soothing. Remember that most days, my only companion for conversation is a 2yo or 5yo.

Online it’s much the same — I may not always participate in the conversation, but I feel less alone.

I actually started a KAL through the online group, and though only a few people are participating, it’s nice to be involved in something with other people.

Threads of a story

A funny thing has happened, though, since I’ve started my newest project. It’s the Van Gogh Shawl, btw and the project we are doing for the KAL.

The contrast of the sparkly blues/purples/pinks against the somber gray reminds me of nebulas against  dark vastness of space. This, of course, makes my mind wander to science fiction and fantasy stories, which then leads me down a path I had begun to travel a year ago, but abandoned due to life — moving, two young children, other obligations, etc.

You see, I had a story once that was strictly fantasy.

On a whim, one day, I saw a brief image of how this fantasy could have elements of science fiction. Sci-Fantasy. I started several times, but since the glimpse I had of this possibility was so small and faint, I didn’t have a way to grasp at it.

I still don’t — but I’m finding that each stitch in this shawl is like a small puzzle piece. With every knit and every dropped stitch, I see another brief glimpse at how to work this story idea.

But I am realistic about the progress I can make here — in a few weeks I am facing yet another move (thank you, military lifestyle) and now I have a business to run in addition to caring for my family. The threads are there, however, and I’ve been making mental and physical notes to the inspiration that comes to mind.

There is writing happening, too, but I know better now than to set daily, weekly or even monthly word counts. For now, writing when the muse wills it is what works for me (as well as writing by hand!).

Where has your muse been taking you recently?

If you find your muse hard to reach, consider a tarot reading. I specialize in reading for creatives and entrepreneurs who find themselves at a crossroads or in need of gentle guidance. If you’d like more information before booking, please do not hesitate to email me. 



Creativity Crushed

It has been a long time since I have felt the need to blog.

Hell, it’s been a long time since I have felt the desire to write — to truly write. Aside from a handful of poems I wrote in January (one of which I shared here), my creative process has been dormant for almost two years.

To be fair, the past two years have been so chaotic that I’ve scarcely had time to think about creativity, much less unleash it. And even though we face yet another move in a few months, I feel as though other aspects of my life are settling enough that I can hear the muse whispering in my ear again.

My LuLaRoe business is growing steadily rapidly and I’ve hit a nice groove in posting and booking parties. I have six parties book this month in addition to my usual weekly group sale and I’ve started to book parties in April, too.

Ready for a Renewal

Despite remaining busy, I am ready to start unleashing my creativity again. More knitting — and I am doing this by knitting a few nights a week when I catch up on TV. More painting — so far I am doing this about one night a month, which is just fine for now. And last, but certainly not least, more writing.

This morning I woke up at 5:30am. I know that I will not be able to keep that up every morning, but I will try to commit it to it a few mornings a week.

I did not write this morning, however.

Instead, I opened up several Scrivener files that had half written scenes or where different versions of the same story idea…and I deleted them. All of them. And then I emptied the trash so that I could not be tempted to undelete the files.

I did this because I noticed that when I did try to sit down and write, I would spend my time opening old files and rereading old scenes. I told myself that I did it to “get into the writing mindset” or to put myself in world of said story. But all I was doing was procrastinating. If I had 30 precious minutes to write, I used up that entire time to reread scenes, and then closed all the files, lamenting that once again, I did not manage to write.

The story ideas are written in a OneNote file, but are reduced to a few sentences or key words. This way I don’t lose the idea, but when I am ready to work on one of them, I won’t waste my time rereading old scenes and words that just don’t work for the vision of the story.

I am forcing myself to start fresh.

I updated my site to a new look. I am resurrecting my newsletter — it will go out on the 20th of each month with some updates and a free tarot reading. I am also resurrecting my blog, to be updated every other week.

With all this, I shake loose the cobwebs and allow the last traces of my creative winter to disperse, readying a fresh garden for my muse to roam.

As spring comes back to the world and the flowers and trees begin to bloom again, so will — I hope — my creativity.



No Hablo Español

No Hablo Español

-Alice Janell, 2017

You only spoke to me in English
Insisting I annunciate clearly
And cleanly
Like white marble freshly mopped
Con Fabuloso.
And now that I’m older
You bitch and you moan
Porque no hablas mas español, mijita?
Porque you taught me to ignore my blood
To refuse the accent and refuse the motherland
And the rhythms that are genetically
And inherently mine to possess
You try to deny me
By calling me names
Like gringa and white puppy.
You tell me again and again
That I am not Latina
Because I like to eat broccoli
More than habichuelas
Conveniently forgetting that I love
to eat quenepas, perníl, pasteles y alcapurrias
con malta india frescesita
But because I can cook a meal
That does not center around arroz y papas,
I am not Latina
White puppy, you say
As if it’s my fault I a grew up in America
When it was you who left the island.
White puppy, you call me
As if it’s my fault I speak more English than Spanish
When it was you who insisted that I speak “Americana”
White puppy. White Puppy. White Puppy.
You think you’re so fucking clever
But you’re not and that shit hurts
Every time you say it.
Fuck. You gave me a white girl name
Because “Alicia” was too foreign
Too Latina
Too Puertorriquena
But I am the one denying my heritage, right?
Pero te olvidas that it was you who denied me my blood
Because you feared I would not fit in
Because we lived in Kentoqui
And not in Cayey.
And if I dared
To listen to the sounds of the coqui
Calling me home
To taste the salt in the air
Of the ocean around my island
To feel the ancestors
Stirring my blood
Calling me home
Calling me back
Blood calling to blood —
Y yo se que I know more about the Taino
Than you even pretend to know
And what do you know?
Que fueron Indios?
Y que mas?
I am the one who knows the names of los cemis
Who prays to Atabey
And lights candles to Coatrisquie
I am the one who honors the ancestors
But I’m not speaking Spanish
So I am still failing
So let’s try this again,
pero en español this time.
White Puppy.
You are still calling me that,
Even as I dare to be Latina.
If I tried to practice my Spanish
You laughed in my face
“Jaja, que gringa!”
You sound like such a white a girl!
Well isn’t that what you wanted?
So glad my confusion
Is amusing
So glad I can entertain you
But oh, how that amusement
Quickly turns to shame
When we’re back on the island
And you want to show off to family
Que tu niña fue a colegio
Y fui la primera en la familia
And oh how they fawn over me and my degree
And their words wash over me like waves
But faster and faster I’m pulled out to sea
Caught in a riptide
of rapid fire Spanish
too many questions
too many words
too many familiar sounds
That make no sense
Because you did not teach me.
They don’t stop talking
until they see
the deer in headlights look
“No hables español?”
They ask and I am not a deer
but a sheep
and I shake my head
Because for all that I went to school
And for all that I am the first to go to college
I cannot speak with my people.
“Lo intendio mas que lo hablo,”
Because I was allowed to listen to my language
But not allowed to speak it
And I hear their silent tsk tsk tsk
And suddenly my degree means shit
Because if I cannot speak Spanish
I am just another white girl with a degree
And that’s nothing to write home about.
I shrink back and disappear
And the conversation turns
To my primos who are doing well for themselves
And they do speak Spanish
So we can talk about them with pride
Instead of pity
And I fall into my thoughts,
Wondering how to be Latina
Struggling to reclaim
An identity you denied me at birth.
And is it any wonder that I married a gringo?
Because though you made me too white for my people
I was not white enough for his
And it was he who recognized the fire
Who saw the Latina
Where you only saw a white girl.
Now I am grown and trying to claw my way back
Back to the island
Back to my people
No, not the ones who don’t accept me, no
I mean the ones long gone
The ones that whisper in my dreams
And tell me that yes, I am their daughter
And yes, my blood is their blood
And yes, I am Latina
And fuck what I look like
And fuck what I sound like
Because at the end of the day,
Whether I speak Spanish or not,
And you cannot take that from me.

-(c) Alice Janell, 2017


Planting seeds in winter


It’s been awhile since I’ve found a quiet moment to sit with my cards and do some journaling. Usually my “quiet” moments are a few minutes stolen between temper tantrums — long enough for me to make a cup of coffee, but not drink it.

So it was nice to come home from dropping off my daughter at school to find the house still quiet and asleep. I made my cup of coffee, lit a candle and decided to skip checking email in favor of taking time with my tarot cards.

My stress has been pretty high lately, and there have been a couple of anxiety attacks along with difficulty sleeping.

So as I shuffled my cards, I noticed that my mind was totally blank except for the question I was asking. My heartbeat slowed and as I shuffled and laid out the cards, I felt noticeably calmer than I have in days. Maybe even weeks.

This reading in particular did not reveal anything new and life-changing, but rather reminded me of what I already knew, but needed to put into action. Which was nice, considering this was what I was asking the cards — what did I need to do/hold on to, and what did I need to let go of.

On a whim, I looked at the shadow card (the card at the bottom of the deck) and found Temperance. A nice little reminder that I need to continue to work on finding that balance.

If you look at the cards in the image, I pulled the ace of pentacles and the queen of pentacles. Which I basically took as saying, “Let go of the illusion that your garden is ready for harvesting. You are not queen of the garden yet because there is no garden to be queen of. You are the Ace. You must plant the seed and start the garden.”

And from a numerical standpoint, as the ace I am at the very, very beginning. The queen is basically near the end….I have a long way to go before I can be at her level…and knowing the suit the of pentacles as I do, there is a lot of work ahead of me.

I’m not afraid of work, but I do often need a reminder to be patient with the work I am doing. I struggle with that. A lot.

Even in my writing — especially in my writing — I find myself frustrated when things aren’t progressing as fast as I want them to. When I can picture things in my mind so vividly, it can be aggravating that it isn’t coming down on paper the way I see it in my head.

(…this could also be that I am a perfectionist who does not plot…)

Anything you want in life takes time. It takes work. In order to grow, you must first plant the seed.

So this is me, planting seeds in winter because fuck it. I’ma do what I want.

My Seeds

  • Continue growing my LuLaRoe business.
  • Find the time to write regularly.
  • Take time each week for tarot and journaling.
  • Do more self care rituals. Incorporate spell work if needed.
  • Reach out and start to find friends. Get out of the house more.

Sure, come January or February I’ll be hella frustrated that I’m not seeing anything sprout…but winter isn’t forever. But with some hard work and a little luck, I’ll be Queen come spring.

What seeds are you planting in your life right now? If you find yourself struggling, book a reading with me. I’d love to create a custom spread designed to fit your needs and help you discover which seeds to plant in your winter garden. 😉