I have a lot to reflect on for 2021 as I look to the future of 2022. My channel has grown, my daughter has grown, and I am now in a new decade of life. I could pull out the statistics for growth on YouTube but that wouldn't serve any purpose. What has been important to me is the time spent doing things I enjoy, creating videos and evoking feelings within myself and others. I have gained friends from around the world, people I never would have imagined meeting or speaking to a few years ago.
I have watched my child blossom and grow in her own ways. Her personality takes shape day by day and if I blink too slow, I miss something important. Being a parent is a horrible and amazing experience all at the same time. It sounds odd, but the truth is often found between the blurred lines of wonder and terror. Being a parent has tested my patience yet taught me to let go of control. Being a parent to a strong-willed child is... something else entirely. The joy she finds in her passions and projects brings joy to my heart, yet it also brings sadness in knowing that each day she gets older and she's no longer the tiny baby I birthed into this world.
My practice has shifted many times over the last year, as well. This is to be expected, but every shift has given me space to be uncomfortable and sit with myself. I have pushed through my own shadows. I have been tested in ways that felt like they would break me. I have been blessed in ways I never thought possible. Working with deities was never something I thought I would do. If you had asked me ten years ago I would have probably shrugged you off. Now, though, deities are becoming more central in my religious practice. My religion and my craft have often been kept separate, but these days I'm finding myself more drawn to enlisting the help of those Spirits I work with.
I have felt Brighid come and go, leaving me to my own devices when I'm too stubborn to listen. I have felt the gentle tug of the ancestors beckoning me to be with them. I have felt the pull to the land I live on, the big oak trees that have been here for years, the grasses and the squirrels, and the new life in my own garden. Moving to Florida in 2020 was a major life decision, but one we made on a whim. We knew we needed to move and our options were limited so this is where we landed. Adapting to a new place is difficult when you're used to four seasons, snow, and barely needing an air conditioner. Florida has tested my connection with my practice in ways I didn't think possible. It has given me a new perspective on seasons, transitions, and what is important and sacred in celebrations. For that, I am thankful.
I can't help but feel like I need more connection and less connection at the same time. I have been thinking about this for days now, wondering how I could explain this in a way that makes sense. But maybe I don't have to. Maybe I don't have to try and fit the words into tiny boxes for easy consumption. Life is full of contradictions and oxymorons, things that go well together even though maybe they shouldn't. I need less digital connection and more physical connection. Less carrying my phone in my hand and more carrying on conversations. Less time spent inside and more time spent outside. I need less... and I need more at the same time.
I have a lot I want to accomplish, but instead of focusing all on growing my channel, making money, and creating content, I want to focus on creating experiences for myself and my family. I want to focus on building relationships with the Spirits around me and enlisting their help when I need it. I want to focus on having a healthy work/life balance, and this is going to be especially important through our second homeschool attempt. But in order to do all this, I have to face the truth of my daily existence... I spend too much time online and plugged in.
I want to learn new things this year and reconnect with things I've long since forgotten. Spending so much time plugged into everything - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, forums, other websites, etc. - has taken its toll on my spirit. It's taken its toll on my daily life. My phone and computer are no longer objects I use for entertainment and education. They have become a source of work stress and burnout. I find myself reaching for my phone randomly, for no reason other than to check my notifications or scroll through a social media feed that really isn't that interesting. I have deleted social media apps from my phone only to download them again when I get bored. Instead of feeding into that boredom and doomscrolling, I need to put that energy into something more productive.
Over the last few years, my memory has gotten worse. I have found myself struggling to even remember a simple tarot card meaning or personal correspondence of a plant ally I work with. I attribute this memory issue to my mental health, but a lot of it has to do with always being plugged in, always being online, and always being available. I can't sit down at my computer without opening a browser to go to social media. I can't sit down to read something without being distracted by a notification, ping, or random thought. If I want to learn new things and reconnect with things I've forgotten, I'm gonna have to create a better balance with the internet. I'm going to have to be okay with disconnecting and not being engaged in whatever is going on socially. Engagement doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, and I can't have myself getting distracted by the shiny new posts or overdone discourse happening online.
I want to read more books, but only if they're interesting and worth it. I'm going to track my reading on an app called StoryGraph which is like Goodreads but without Amazon's attachment. I have gotten out of the practice of reading, and reading critically. My focus is nonexistent and reading has become difficult, but I can't get my focus and groove back with reading if I don't sit down and read. I want to pick up books that challenge me, that teach me new things, or that give me new perspectives. I want to learn about new practices, new mythology, and even stories of my Spirits that I've read a million times. I also want to read for entertainment, read because it makes me happy, and read because it's something I genuinely enjoy doing.
Books have become the backbone of the occult community and reading the newest books that come out helps me stay in touch with what beginners are going to have access to. But sometimes I don't like reading these books. Sometimes I find them boring or out of touch, or I just don't vibe with the author or writing style. I want to stop reading these books just because they're popular, just because an influencer has taken time to write their thoughts and put it into book form. I want to read occult books with the intent of learning and practicing, actually doing the exercises and not just passing them by.
I want to spend more time outdoors, creating a relationship with the land I live on and the spirits and beings that inhabit it. I live in a new place. Even though we've been here for almost two years, there is still so much to explore and learn. There are so many spirits to encounter, so many rivers and streams and trees to greet, and so much history to learn of the land I live on. I don't spend nearly enough time outside. I mean, for most of the year it's really hot and humid, but that can be dealt with. I just have to acclimate my body to the climate and the best way to do that is through practice. There are nature conserves, trails, state parks, and local parks I want to explore. There are plants and animals I want to get to know.
I don't even spend enough time in my own backyard, if I'm being honest. I have a garden with some delicious veggies growing, but the grass area gets neglected. I can't really blame myself, though. I don't like to wear shoes outside and the fire ants are not something to be trifled with here in my area. They are literally everywhere. Even still, I can spend more time here. The land my house sits on is the first place I need to get to know better. The giant oak trees strung with Spanish moss tower over the houses, giving shade freely with their branches and providing shelter for the birds and bugs that need it. They are here, they are thriving and alive, and I need to be respectful and say hello again.
I want to impart the knowledge of nature and magic to my daughter. She's at that age where sometimes magical thinking still sticks, but since I didn't raise her in the craft and I let her make her own choices, she sometimes goes with the more scientific route. She'll say to me, "Mom, magic doesn't work. Magic isn't real." And you know what? That's okay. I know for me it's real and it's worked wonders in my life. One day she will come to learn that, too. For now, I will teach her what she's interested in. For now, this is tarot and divination. We will also work on grounding and centering because even if she decides not to pursue magical interests, being able to focus and ground yourself are life skills worth having.
I want to spend more time creating things I enjoy rather than creating for the sake of creation. This one is tough. This one gets me wrapped up in algorithms, content schedules and uploads, hashtags and search engine optimization, engagement, audience retention, and revenue. I would be lying if I said I didn't care to make money from my videos. It's nice to be compensated for the time and effort it takes to put these videos together, the hours of editing and transcribing subtitles, and the thoughts behind the subjects. But rarely is the compensation ever worth it, and it isn't the reason I started making content in the first place. I want to get back to creating things I truly enjoy. Looking back at some of my content over 2021, I can tell which pieces didn't have my full heart and which pieces were really not that inspiring to make. I can also tell which pieces I poured my entire soul into, and those always make me feel the best.
But this is going to look different and feel different too. Should I cast aside my upload schedule and post when I feel like it? Should I power through and make content even when I'm feeling uninspired? I think the answer to the first question is already in my mind but I haven't quite decided what to do with it yet. Casting aside an upload schedule can really upset the algorithms of the internet. I don't like being tied to an algorithm, some computer program deciding whether or not my content gets seen by the people who follow me, yet it seems almost sacrilegious to disregard them entirely. Would I be committing content creator suicide by ignoring hashtags, trends, and the algorithm? Or would it be to my benefit?
I know the answer to the second question. It would be doing a disservice to those of you in my audience for me to create when uninspired. If I can go back and look at the videos I was inspired to make, I can tell those are the ones of better quality. Those are the videos I'm proud of, and those are the videos I want to be known for. I don't want to have half-assed videos on my channel, videos that I wasn't sure what to do with or how to film or even things I wasn't interested in talking about. But then... if I stick to an upload schedule, what happens on days when I'm uninspired and have nothing to talk about?
One exception to my social media rule is going to be Discord. I love Discord and the communities I'm part of, and I love the community I have created, too. I already limit my Discord usage and unplug from it several times throughout the day, but this is the one place where there are no algorithms. There is no post schedule. It's just genuine connection with those I'm friends with and those who choose to join my server. I'll still be here, for sure. If you want to join my Discord server, the link for that is always in the description below.
I want to make 2022 an amazing year, and with all of this talk of things I want to do it can only be expected that things will eventually be changing. I may stick to an upload schedule or I may not. I will probably remove social media from my phone and only use it at certain times of the day. I'll create scheduled posts and video notifications, but I can't take the infinite scrolling and time-suck of social media. It is getting in the way of me living my life.
Here's to the future, to 2022.