Thursday, February 25, 2016

Technology upgrade!

Dear readers,

So excited to share this with the world!  I have been working very hard behind the scenes of this blog post, getting ready to consolidate my reams of notes into a usable format form which to mine further gems for the Medicine Children book.  I finally did it!  I have received my very own copy of the program "Dragonspeak 13," which is a voice-to-text program.  With this program, I am going to be able to read my notes into a microphone and have them show up in writing!

What this will enable me to do is to systematically go through my several notebooks' worth of notes from all my reading, so that I can begin to collate them based on subject area and where they fit into the book's chapters.  It is also going to be able to help me transcribe my interviews (instead of doing it by hand), making the quotes and such that much more accessible.

I have been feeling 'bad' again, judging myself for my lack of weekly posting, for my very prominent ability to distract myself from writing with just about anything else.  Last week it was preparing for a young teen girl's mentoring circle.  I needed to get some materials together for the circle, and so instead of writing, I did that.   It was good .  And yet... I judge myself for not sticking to a measurable output.  The inner critic declares, " You are failing as a blogger," and " People are going to lose interest in this project and forget all about it," and  "You have not written a "real" blog entry since December!" and more, but I will spare you the agony of reading any more of that.  Just fear leaving the body and mind, right?  I know better that to pay attention to that.  I am making progress in other ways, and I trust in this process.

For example, during my writing time today, I learned how to use the new voice to text program.  Well, started learning is more like it!  I was able to record notes form the first 22 pages of the current book I am reading, Spiritual Growth with Entheogens, edited by Thomas B Roberts, which is a collection of short essays from a conference in 1995 on Psychoactive Sacramentals (a new term which I absolutely love).  I also tried to transcribe the interviews I have to date, but the formatting was so bad, I think it will be easier to just write them out!

The theme of the book so far, to sum it up, is that entheogens can provide a primary or direct spiritual experience, as opposed to a secondary experience based on ritual or convention.  Different authors go into what that actually means, but in general, they say that this experience provides an overall feeling of connectedness, a feeling of oneness, and/or a dissolution of the ego.  Entheogens can sometimes provide the user with a "dark night of the soul' experience, as well.  The major argument against using entheogens to reach these expanded states is that without a solid ground of spiritual practice beforehand, the experience can simply be transient;  in other words, it may not bring about lasting positive benefit.  In addition, many entheogen users are not really prepared for the immensity of this experience, and it can cause damage to those who lack the proper preparation (and of course, it is not legal for spiritual counselors to council people about the use of these substances, anyway - a very unfortunate situation!).  Finally, having a unity experience does not mean that a person is suddenly going to live a spiritual life or be able to sustain spiritual values.  More work is required in order to integrate experiences of this potential magnitude, to truly shift into the higher consciousness that many believe is the only hope for our continued existence on this planet.

And that, my friends, was only from the first 22 pages!

OK, I wrote something!  Go me!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ready... set...write!

Welcome, reader!
If you are new to this blog, thanks for visiting (and thanks as well to anyone returning after my winter hiatus!).  My name is Harmony, and I am documenting the research of my book-in-progress here.  The book is tentatively titled Medicine Children, and is primarily a discussion of the taboos, conflicts, hypocrisies, stigmatization, laws, and other factors associated with parenting children in the United States while pursuing a spiritual path that involves the use of entheogens.  I am writing this book in part because it is a story I have lived, because of the second chance at life afforded me by the healing I was able to receive from taking entheogens (in the midst of my journey parenting my two children).  Mainly I am writing this book to be part of the discussion around the positive, healthy and transformative use of entheogens by regular people who are seeking to become 'better' in their lives.  This book includes long looks at the differences between drugs and medicines; at our culture of addiction and roots of this sweeping cultural malady; at the current legal climate surrounding various entheogens; and at the growing psychedelic renaissance we see around us today.  Please feel free to comment here, or go to my Facebook page, Medicine Children Book Project.

I started this blog about two hours ago.  I was writing a summary of where things stand, after my holiday break, traveling for three weeks to visit my family and some friends in Mexico, and then catching up on three weeks of missed work over the past two weeks - which ended up being about a 6-week break!  I was writing that I finally feel ready to start this project again, but also feel some fear around being up for the challenge.  And then the weirdest thing happened.  I was trying to underline something, and the print kept getting smaller and smaller on this blog site.  I couldn't figure out what to do to reverse the process.  So I tried some things - and the entire thing got erased.  (I finally looked it up, and found that you can increase font size by hitting Ctrl and the + sign.  It worked.)

So here goes again!  (BTW - this particular blog entry is a review of where I have been , and where I am going.  If you are reading for the first time, I suggest going back to the initial entry from June 2015 and reading the blogs in order from there.  Next week and ongoing I will return to writing more substantial content.)


1.  Research: I have read four books and watched four films which I have processed into notes; I have another five books I have read and marked with sticky notes, but have not gone back through; I have five more books I would like to read.  I have hundreds of websites earmarked for this project, and about 50 pages of notes from them.  And more.  It is a very daunting task, as there is an abundance of information to sort through.  And, I really do not want to recreate the wheel, so to speak.  For example, I don't want to reiterate the entire history of entheogens.  It has already been done, very well, in fact, by several authors!  Same with the history of legal cases involving entheogens.  So I have to sort, and discern, and find the gems that haven't been written about.  At least that's the goal.
2.  Writing: I have 28 blog entries, from June 2015 - December 2015.  I recently printed out the entire blog; editing out the personal and side notes left me with about 70 written pages.  If I follow the model I have in mind for the book, and organize the chapters with sidebars (or bottom bars) throughout of personal stories and quotes, I can estimate 90 pages so far.  This is, in my estimation, a third of the way through the project.
3.  Interviews: I have interviewed four of the forty people on my list.  I have five more that I can schedule right away (those who responded to my initial email request), and the rest I will need to re-contact to find out if they are willing to be interviewed, and if so, when.  If you are reading this for the first time and you have a story or stories to share about entheogens and parenting, please contact me for an interview!
4.  Finances: The GoFundMe site I set up has brought in $2,008 so far, which is in a separate account to be used for editing, book design and publishing (if I do it myself).  I want to bring in an additional $3,000 toward this end.  Please go to my GoFundMe site to donate!  Thank you!
5.  New Developments: I submitted an application and have been accepted as a speaker for an upcoming two-day conference, Exploring Psychedelics, in Ashland, OR this April, sponsored by Martin Ball.  I will be part of a panel of three women in a discussion entitled "Women and Entheogenic Traditions." which is scheduled for 10:30 am - 12:00 pm on Thursday, April 7th.  My talk will be on"Entheogens and Parenting in the US."  The other two speakers on the panel will be a woman from the Native American Church, and another woman from the Santo Daime Church.  Go to Exploring Psychedelics on Facebook or click on the main link above (in bold) for more information. This conference will be held at SOU and is free to the public.

OK, well here is my new and revised schedule for this spring:

February: continue interviewing.  Goal: at least 12 more interviews (one quarter of the total) by the end of the month.  Transcribe existing interviews and those ongoing to search for quotable quotes, stories, and other info to be potentially used in the book.  Contact interviewees and double check how they want to be referenced in the book.  Complete note-taking on at least two books (ones with sticky notes already); review notes from websites; and make cards from all sources to sort into pertinent topics.  Write blog for at least 3 hours once a week (2 weeks left = 6 hours); work toward 9 hours of writing by the end of the month.  Print out blog in its entirety and edit new material in terms of chapters; make note of where additional information is needed. 

March: Complete note-taking and sorting on three more sticky-noted books; read at least two more books from reference library.  Complete 15 more interviews and finalize list of additional people to interview.  Transcribe interviews and set aside usable material. Write presentation for EP conference in April and practice in front of at least 3 people to get feedback.  Come up with a 'cheat sheet' of important facts to have on hand for conference.  Write blog once a week for 5 weeks (15 hours) and work towards 20 hours.  Contact Doug May re: marketing and strategies towards finding a publisher.  Contact Gaelyn re: book design

April: Present at conference; cultivate connections and other potential sources to interview.  Conduct remaining interviews (15 - 30??).  Finish reading 3 remaining books in reference library and sorting information into categories.  Write blog weekly for 4 weeks (12 hours); aim for 15 hours total for the month.  Print out blog in its entirety (at the end of the month) and edit new material in terms of chapters; once again make note of where additional information is needed.  Begin aligning stories, quotes and asides to the various chapters.  Research editors and contact Pauline for an initial editing run-through.  Follow up with publishers or other aspects relating to getting this project into the world.

May: Work on this book may slow to a standstill, as I am putting on my first ever women's singing retreat at the end of the month (go to WomenSong for more information).  We will see.  My goal is to have everything to a point where I can get what I have to a professional editor by the beginning of this month.

June: I am undecided at this point, but may be heading to South America for a spiritual retreat for two weeks starting on the second week of this month.  IF this happens I will probably not be working on the book - the manuscript - until my return.  My goal is to work on addressing the needed corrections throughout the month of June, which will be a year since I began the project.  I intend to publish the book THIS SUMMER!!!  I hope I am being more realistic that I was when I proposed being done by December 2015!!!

OK.  There you have it, my grand plan for the next 5 months.  Now it is in writing!  I will do my very best to stick to the plan, and adjust where I was maybe being overly optimistic (like initially I wrote down 30 interviews for February... which seems kind of an impossible goal since we are already at 2/12! I reduced the number to 12 and feel much better about being able to complete that many).  Also, I will keep track of my stats re: this master plan, let's say at the bottom of the blog, from now on.  It feels GOOD to have a plan in place.

Having said that, it is now time for me to do other things today.  Many blessings to you, whomever you are reading this.  May you dream big dreams and find the courage to follow them.  :) Harmony