How to graciously say no to anyone

“There is no money in answering letters.” 
Groucho Marx

A couple of years ago, I was getting sent this article, “Creative People Say No,” at least twice a day. The idea was that creative geniuses say “no” to a lot of requests (like, a psychology professor researching processes of creative genius) in order to get their work done, so if you want to be a creative genius, you have to say no a lot so you can get your work done.

A bunch of people asked me what I thought about it, and I said, “It’s good advice for the rich and famous. Creative people say yes until they have enough work that they can say no.”

Ian Bogost explains it nicely, here:

[Y]ou have to say ‘yes’ for a long while before you can earn the right to say ‘no.’ Even then, you usually can’t say 'no’ at whim. By the time you can say 'no’ indiscriminately, then you’re already so super-privileged that being able to say 'no’ is not a prerequisite of success, but a result of it.

There was a little index card in the back of Steal Like An Artist that didn’t make it into the book that sums up my own point of view: “Be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done.”

Of course, sometimes you just have to say no for whatever reason. For that, Alexandra Franzen suggests this format in her piece, “How To Graciously Say No To Anyone”:

Hey [name],

Thanks for your note. I’m so proud of you for ___—and I’m flattered that you’d like to bring my brain into the mix.

I need to say “no,” because ___.

But I would love to support you in a different way. [Offer an alternative form of support here]

Thank you for being such a wonderful ___. I am honored to be part of your world.

[A few closing words of encouragement, if you’d like]

[Your name here]

Images above from The Ransom CenterTim Ferriss, @maudnewton, and my letters archive.

Solar and Lunar Magick//

//Solar Magick//

•Rising (Dawn): optimism, making goals, wish magick, new beginnings

•Peaking (Noon): prosperity, intensity, determination, offensive magick

•Setting (Dusk): peace, resting, defense magick, dream magick

//Lunar Magick//

•New: new endeavors, new relationships, planting seeds, positive changes, hope

•Waxing: growth, learning new things, creativity, healing, transformation

•Full: wish magick, harvest, achieving dreams, protection, power, faith

•Waning: letting go, cleansing, breaking habits, opening up, purification

Josephine, your letter is sad. You are wrong if you think that I am indifferent for all that concerns you. Your happiness is part of my own. The feelings you inspire me after all this time only can be altered by you. My good, my tender Josephine only can be erased from my heart by Josephine herself, but only if she turns despondent, bad-tempered and irksome. My life is full of struggles, and only a sweet domestic life, pleasant and free from all pressure makes them bearable for me. The fate of a ruler is full of nuisances, and my destiny is to love you always, until I have forgotten them. I don’t know if this letter will be pleasing to you. My intention is to console you, my wish to please you, my will to love you.

Napoleon to Josephine, 11th November 1803. The letter was written from the champ of Boulogne. Translation is mine. Several biographers talk of this letter as “lost”, although it figures on the “integral” of his letters to Josephine published in 1981 by Chantal de Tourtier-Bonazzi and its stored in the French National Archives.

All my sorrows have disappeared in reading the good and touching letter containing the expression of your feeling for me. How grateful I am to you for devoting so much time to your Josephine. If you knew, you would congratulate yourself on being able to bring such joy to the woman you love. A letter is the portrait of the soul and I press this one close to my heart. It does me so much good! I want to keep it for ever. It will be my consolation while you are away, my guide when I am near you, for I want always to remain in your eyes the good, the tender Josephine, solely concerned with your happiness. If a ray of joy touches your heart, if sadness troubles you for an instant, it will be on the breast of your friend that you will spread your happiness and pains; you will have no feeling I do not share. That is my wish and my desire, only to please you and  to make you happy… Adieu, Bonaparte, I shall not forget the last phrase of your letter. I have kept it in my heart. As if it were engraved there! With what ecstasy my own has replied! Yes, my wish is also to please you, to love you, or rather to adore you.

Her reply (from Saint-Cloud), dated November, 14. You could guess that, in fact, the letter had been pleasing in extreme for Josephine.

Wearing Colors//

Colors themselves are quite magickal and have some pretty amazing effects, but what about colored clothing? Wearing certain colors does the thing too. So here you go :3

•White: relieves tension, prompts focus
•Silver: reduce inner turmoil
•Black: deters others from meddling
•Light Blue: clears your mind
•Dark Blue: inspires structure
•Turquoise: helps with perspective
•Teal: handle whatever may come
•Green: increases ambition
•Yellow: attention, communication
•Gold: help you feel secure/prosperous
•Orange: eases depression, motivating
•Brown: to ground yourself
•Red: take charge of a situation
•Peach: to appear non-threatening
•Pink: stimulates self love
•Lavender: relax in stressful situations
•Purple: gain respect from others
•Mauve: cooperation from others

Despite my efforts, I have been unable to locate Solas. From the site of your battle with Corypheus, he was last seen headed West, still distraught over the destruction of the orb Corypheus carried. From there he disappeared, evading my people so easily and so completely that I am forced to wonder how much he knew about them.

When Solas initially approached the Inquisition and offered aid, I questioned him extensively about his background and history. He was evasive, but he did give the name of the village where he grew up, noting that it was small, unlikely to appear on any map.

I hate loose ends, so I kept a few of my agents searching, to verify his story. They recently located the village… or what remains of it. It is a ruin, as it has been for centuries, its name preserved only in ancient Tevinter mysteries. Whoever Solas truly is, wherever he came from, he has deceived us from the very start.

I apologize for not investigating this more thoroughly while Solas was here. He was clearly helping us, and other matters were of greater urgency, but it was an oversight nevertheless, given how little he shared with us. It is not clear what his plans are, if any, but I will continue to search.

—  A letter from Leliana to the Inquisitor
No matter how violent the storm, no matter how high the waves, no matter how dark the night, you never let the world get inside of your boat. You kept living when everyone else was sinking, and this whole life never got a droplet toward pulling you down to the ocean floor.
—  Levi the Poet
The Body

In magic, sometimes we use our own body to perform our spells. One might adorn themselves with sigils, placement being key to what those sigils mean. Someone who is grounding themselves may draw sigils on their feet, someone who is practicing divination may draw a sigil on their forehead, etc.

Foot: Strength, stability, earth
Ankle: Transcendence, sexuality
Knee: Humility, subjugation, power
Blood: Fire, life, soul
Spine: Grounding, stability
Pelvis: Sexuality, energy
Stomach: Fertility, earth
Chest: Love, energy, power, empathy
Throat: Communication, creativity, expression
Hands: Work, creation, energy output
Forehead: Intuition, divination, wisdom