No-no-Notorious

This blog post originally started as a Q&A response on Facebook. I sometimes get questions in my Facebook Messenger from folks, and I’ll pick a few to answer publicly rather than privately – because either I find the question interesting or it seems to have a much broader appeal. So, here’s how things started….

Q: I think you could do excellent as an online teacher for Pagans, Druids, etc etc. Have you thought about exploring that direction at all? I think you would be awesome!!!!!
::blush:: Thanks. Have I thought about doing that? Yes. I have taught face-to-face and online Introduction to Computer classes for a handful of collegiate systems. But that’s a bit different than what you’re suggesting here. But yes, I have thought about it. Only issue I have – is charging money for it. Yes, I get that its “my time” and I should be compensated for it. I just don’t feel right about charging something that could be done over a handful of conversations sitting around the fire, sipping a drink of our individual choices, and enjoying the stars. I also grok that people are hungry for knowledge and direction for a Spirituality that has firm roots within Nature. This also boils back into my podcasting….feck…..let me change this over to a blog post, because this is going to get lengthy.

So, let me approach this a bit more methodically and a touch more in-depth.

Teaching

I have been an adjunct faculty member at a few junior college systems in Texas, as well as a few national for-profit systems. Teaching is something I had a lot of fun doing. There is a strong appeal to helping people understand concepts, whether those be related to Information technology or their own Spiritual Path. That moment of seeing the light-bulb go off and the individual actually “get it” is a real rush for me, as the individual that helped guide them to that point of understanding. When I left the adjunct faculty base to work in Administration, I was sad to leave all of that behind. Turned out, I could continue to teach even in this capacity. Faculty and Administration folks would come to me with data requests or questions about the data sets that they had procured. I essentially fell into a role of Data Evangelist at the college I worked with. I helped more than one faculty member put together data studies for a dissertation or some sort of grant funding, which was a lot more fun. I got to teach them about their data, and I learned a bit about their topic. So I do have to admit that teaching an Introduction to Paganism type of class has a certain allure to it.

Podcasting

This is another area that I get a lot of questions on – will I go back to podcasting? Well, I can’t say “never” – that would be foolish. However, I have said in the past, and continue to say now – “never again, without someone else joining in.” I enjoyed running my two podcasts, “From the Edge of the Circle” and “Upon a Pagan Path”, and you know there is a “but” coming… But I really hated essentially having just a conversation with myself. After a time, I felt that the shows were becoming repetitive, dull, and stale. Thus, I stepped away, twice. Did I enjoy it? Yes, it was a lot of fun – particularly when the listeners would send Emails and we could converse back and forth. I never really got that intense about download numbers. I truly didn’t care enough about how many times the episodes got downloaded. Just like I don’t really care how many times these blog posts get read. I only hope that the stuff reaches at least one person, who needed to hear or read what I was saying at that moment. I’d be more than thrilled to go back to podcasting again…but not alone.

Book Writing, Blogging, Etc.

I have been asked if I ever thought about writing a book. Yes, I have. And I am. Currently, I am not sure it will ever see the light of day, though I am on thinking of publishing pieces of it on Patreon. If I ever decide to do that, I will let everyone know it exists. by the way, my Patreon level is set at the lowest possible point – $1. And it would stay that way, even if I published portions of my writings there.

Blogging…well, I actually enjoy writing. I am not the greatest in the world at it, but I do try to put my emotions behind what I write. I write here on the blog for the same reasons I did the podcast – in the sheer hope that a single individual will read what I have to say and be able to get something out of it at that moment. That really is all I have ever asked out of Life. To be helpful.

See, I have no desire to become some kind of “well-known” Pagan. Nor am I willing to present myself as a matter expert on anything – except my own Spirituality. I know what works for me. What works for you might be the same, somewhat similar or so different so as not to seem to be the same thing…and all of that is awesome, from where I stand. I’m not writing to denigrate someone else’s Spiritual perspective. I write to discuss what did or did not work for me, in the hopes that it stirs some internal debate for you. So that you might turn over the topic on your own, ask yourself the hard questions, and hopefully be honest in your replies to yourself. All of this feeds into the last aspect of all of this teach classes online thing….cost.

Gimme Your Cash-Flow

There is a ton of debate about paying for services within the Pagan community. How much should you pay for a hand fasting, a Tarot reading, for someone to perform some kind of ritual based on the Wheel of the Year, a Pagan-oriented convention, a weekend gathering, etc etc.?? Now, I am of the mind that you pay for whatever services you are accepting from someone else. An online tarot reading? Sure a twenty-spot (US currency) should sound about right to my ear. Not that I do tarot readings…but that’s another blog post. I have no issues paying for services that I procure from other Pagan folk. But somewhere inside of me, I have an issue charging people for my services. And its something I cannot readily explain. However, if you were looking for the greater sticking point to me doing online classes and teaching and stuff….this is the tip of that iceberg.

So, would I teach an online class? Maybe. At this particular moment, I have nothing planned or even organized. So the appropriate answer would be – not right away, if I was going to. Will I go back into the podcasting world? Maybe. Find me another person or persons that want to do a show together. Not alone. Not ever again. Will I write a book? Sure. Publishing it is another story altogether. 🙂 There is one larger reason why I move with slow reluctance in all of this – I have no desire for fame or even fortune. I only need enough money to live comfortably, and the way I live – its not that expensive in the first place. And fame? That’s certainly not my bag. I just cringe at the idea of being considered a “subject matter expert” on any topic. I am always learning, always finding new methods, changing, improving….I’ll never consider myself an expert. However, I can steal from Duran Duran….I could get used to the idea of being No-no-Notorious….. 😉

–T /|\

Peeking Through Windows and Picnic Lunches – Being a Podcaster

So, I hear from people every once in a while…they tend to try and connect me up with people.  Connect….as in “you know this person, don’t you?” When I read stuff like this, I hang my head, drop my arms to my side….stare at my portable keyboard…and sigh.

PodcasterThe rumors are true. I am a podcaster. I do handle interviews with various Pagan folk out there. I do get some Pagan authors who have read excerpts from their books that I have featured on the podcast. I do have music on my show that I have gotten from a handful of Pagan musicians. And yes, I have conversed with some of them via Skype, or Email or even instant messenger. A few of them, I have had the honest privilege of meeting face to face. But I don’t know all of them THAT well.

In fact, I would say that I probably know four of them well enough to call them a “friend” (not sure how they may qualify that relationship) and two of them I really wish I did know a lot better. But just because I run a podcast, just because I blog…doesn’t mean that every single person I run across is a massive friend. I am honored and privileged to get a slice of these folks’ time, and have the chance to present their own words, music, what have you to the small listenership I have at Upon a Pagan Path. I hope that the seeds of a friendship may cultivate from such moments — but I am also realistic. When they live hundreds of miles away…its a tough thing to maintain. They have lives, I have a life too. In the case of a few folks, we share a professional relationship through where we work – but even that community is enormous.

::big breath:: I’ll be honest. I’m glad that my podcast does not place me in a position of being like Stanley Tucci’s character Caesar Flickerman from the Hunger Games’ movies. I don’t need to schmooze the people I have on the podcast. I don’t see a benefit from it. Besides it flies against the point of the podcast — to showcase the Pagans that are out there and willing to step in front of the microphone, and thus show the world that Pagans are just like anyone else. And to show the Pagan community that many people have the same thoughts that you do. The idea is to present the PERSON, and WHAT THEY SHARE with the community.

I truly do wish I was a part of the lives of some of the people I have brought to you on the podcast. And in a way, I have been…even if it was just for thirty to forty-five minutes of shared time between us. And I am thankful that I get a chance to meet and talk with these folks. They inspire me to move forward in my own studies within Druidry, Zen, Paganism, and the world around me. I get a chance to glimpse into their lives, even for just a moment. And in a manner of speaking, I’m peeking through the windows of their lives or at least the ones where they have opened the drapes and blinds. I’m certainly not deeply ingrained into any of their lives…but whether they believe it or not, they have had their own impact on me. Even with a ten to fifteen minute reading from one of their books – or a song that describes an experience that we both shared – or just talking about Paganism in general – or even discussing how they approach their own Paths of Druidry and Paganism.

Yeah, I might not know them as well as some people seem to think. But when our Paths cross in the forests of Paganism, its always a joy to sit at that crossroads and have a short picnic and discussion.

This Space for Rent….

You don’t really advertise the podcast.”  You have no idea how often I hear this. Quite a lot, in fact. I jokingly refer to myself as the most invisible podcaster on the face of the planet. Oh, I do have the Facebook page for me as a podcaster. If you are interested or inclined its located here. But I am seriously terrible at self-promotion – I always have been.

Consider – there are far more well known podcasts out there with much, much larger followings than I have. Druidcast with Damh the Bard. The Wigglian Way with Mojo and Sparrow. Down at the Crossroads with Chris Orapello. All fantastic, and top-notch shows. And none of which I would ever consider myself to be on-par with. But then, that’s something that’s never really been a part of the Pagan pod-verse — competition. And in my eyes, that makes this small community of folks a very unique and wonderful group of folks. We even try to promote amongst ourselves — sometimes to great results… but there’s that point: results.

I have been podcasting for close to nine years. Nine? Yeah, something like that. I have honestly started to lose track of how long — simply because its not that important to me. Just like the download stats for the podcast don’t really matter to me that much. I peek every once in a while — typically about every three months or so. But the numbers just don’t mean much to me. The first two or three years of putting out podcasts, it meant a ton to me. I checked nearly every day to see how things were going. I worried and fretted over shows that didn’t download at high numbers like others. I obsessed over the numbers like a soccer mom with her oldest child playing in their first season. And then…I didn’t.

I don’t really have an answer for why I stopped really paying any attention to the numbers. I just did. And when I put “From the Edge of the Circle” to bed and brought up “Upon a Pagan Path” — the numbers meant even less to me. Even when others asked for the numbers, it was hard to really put any significance to what those download numbers meant to me. I guess that makes me a bad podcaster of some sort….

But lately, I have been getting questions about getting the word out about the existence of the show. I’ve heard people quietly stating that they really wished I would promote the podcast a bit more than I do. And people asking why I don’t promote the shows more than I do. And I have begun to wonder just how I could do that.

Granted, getting the podcast back on track with regular timing of shows would be best. There’s a plan in place for that to start happening with the upcoming episode that’s coming this weekend. I promote the podcast through the same Facebook and Twitter posting models that I currently use for the blog. So, aside from putting flyers under the windshield wipers of cars at the local Wal-Mart parking lots…I’m at a touch of a loss.

Interviews of me on other podcasts (you have no idea how much I recoil in horror at that thought – what the Nine Hells would *I* have to say that anyone would want to hear)?  20-second promos for other podcasts? I have always relied on the wonderful tool of “word of mouth” from listeners to help out there…. I’d do smoke-signals, but I think the local volunteer fire department might have something to say about that….

Yeah, when you get pecked enough…you start to say ouch. Well, I’m not only saying “ouch”, but I am also wiping away blood…time to put the podcast back on the rails. Time to make the train go again….

Damn the Numbers…

Numbers. Just numbers. A counting of sorts. Sometimes, its amusing, sometimes its just something to glance at and wonder about for a moment. Other times, I barely pay a moment’s attention to it. My checkbook? No, not even close. I’m talking about the stats that I gather for my two podcasts – From the Edge of the Circle, and Upon a Pagan Path – as well as the stats I occasionally glance at here on my blog. To be openly blatant about it, if I were a syndicated television show – I would have been cancelled long ago for low ratings. If I were relying on this to make money for my mortgage or for food and clothing – I would be homeless, hungry and naked. And that’s the open truth about it. And yet, none of that bothers me whatsoever.

When I started my first podcast, From the Edge of the Circle, i envisioned it as a labor of love – an offering of sorts. It was my gift back to the wider Pagan community. A sort of signpost for Seekers walking the Path – where I discussed a bit about my Path, and some of the pratfalls I encountered along the way. And for the most part, it stayed that way. Oh sure, I wandered in and out of various political discussions, I added various aspects to the show – such as Spoken Word segments, and music from Pagan artists. The Spoken Word segments were material that either inspired me, or that I had written – hoping that the segment would strike some form of a spark in others. The music segments was my desire to help promote the independent Pagan musicians, and trying to showcase their music to listeners. And those two segments have wandered with me into Upon a Pagan Path – with the same hoped-for results. But overall, the numbers were never overly large then, nor are they now.

There’s a handful of thoughts behind the “whys” of it all. I do not advertise my podcast’s or blog’s existence that much. I do have a business card with the pertinent information listed on it – but I rarely hand out the cards. I figure that those looking for the show will find it. And if they think it is good enough – they will say something to others about it. But candidly, its never been about the number of downloads.

In the beginning it was. For the first two years of the existence of From the Edge of the Circle, I would check the numbers daily and update a spreadsheet where I tracked the numbers. And I found myself obsessing over the numbers – trying to figure out why this episode did better than that one. And then tweaking the show constantly to try and see if that would help the change in audience numbers. And then one night, I was brought face-to-face with the way I was treating the show…and in all places, it was a dream.

In the dream, I had managed to make it into the internet – and was watching the small strands to grab the show’s episodes come to the web site. And as I sat there watching, two Seekers sat down next to me and asked what I was doing. I told them I was watching the downloads of the show – and I had an abacus in my hand, on which I moved the beads with the completion of each downloaded episode. The two Seekers were quite young, and they started to ask me about my own personal Path, but I quickly silenced their questions with an impatient wave of my hand. After four attempts to speak, they both got up and walked away. Both of them shook their heads and looked back at me sadly from time to time. After a short time longer, a Crow landed near my knee, and looked up at me. “You are doing the wrong things, you know”, the Crow said softly. I looked down and gestured to the abacus and replied that my count was accurate. The Crow leaped up into the air and snatched the abacus from my hand, and moved so that the abacus smashed into pieces against the wall. “You are doing the wrong things, you know”, the Crow said more forcefully, “and you are not listening either.” I sat there with my eyes wide open, completely flabbergasted that someone would be so rude to interrupt me in my counting of downloaded episodes. “You have forgotten the ‘why’ and have become focused on an outcome that does not matter. Remember your focus” intoned the Crow in soft tones. And with that the Crow flew off, and I awoke from my dream.

I only remember this dream, because I immediately grabbed my iPhone and recorded the dream as I remembered from that moment that I woke. It came out a bit more jumbled then this, but once I got all the parts put back in the right places – its a dream that I can now easily recall. Its not about the downloads. Its not about the number of times that posts get viewed. That’s a result of everything else. Its about putting my perspective out there for others to read. For others to choose to accept and adapt what they read or to decide it does not fit on their own Path, but allow my perspective to challenge and strengthen their own.

I read a good many blogs, and listen to quite a few podcasts. And while I enjoy getting a little sideways glimpse into the lives of those blog authors and podcasters – I also enjoy having my own perspective on something challenged. That helps me to grow, it helps me to find my footing on my own Path. Perhaps, I don’t tell these authors and podcasters that I really appreciate what they do for me as much as I should, but I tend to believe that they already know that what they put out there will help others to think about issues – as well as create a strong bond with their listeners and readers. That’s because it has never been about the numbers, or the popularity, or the prestige, or whatever else you can think of that goes with putting your heart and thoughts out there for others to read/listen to. Its about the message. Its about the connection. Damn the numbers…