One thing that really helps me to understand things is to categorize and then find connections.
So about a year ago I applied this thinking to my whole life.
I wrote out a list of things I value. While developing it and sketching the connections, I called it my grand unified theory of self and named the different aspects of my life "strings." This analogy worked pretty well at the time because it seemed really cool but realistically it was just kinda made up.
After working with them for a while, I started calling my strings "threads" and that's what I use to this day. It's the same concept, but with more of an association to weaving, which has a close association to magic, especially for me as a fan of the Wheel of Time novels.
The very first draft of my threads, drawn hastily into my Hobonichi weeks in the middle of July 2022.
Each thread gets woven together with the other important things in my life, and anything that isn't connected doesn't really matter to me, so it doesn't get prioritized. On purpose.
Once I had my list of values: people, places, things, hobbies, activities, etc... I lumped them together where I could - like reading and writing lumped into stories, my family and home as household (things like paying bills or cleaning which I would otherwise hate are still valued because of their importance in caring for my household.) Then I looked to see where those things overlap. For example, my magic practice is closely related to taking care of my household, but it's also tied to journaling via tarot and my BoS, and to my own health via things like meditation and shadow work. Tying these things together allowed me to basically illustrate/define what my life is supposed to be for, according to the things that matter most to me.
For reference, my threads are storytelling, magic, household, my health, games, and journals. A lot of people will find most of these things frivolous, but I couldn't care less, because it's my life and I'm the one who gets to determine how I live it. I'm just one queer parent out in the world living my life, and actually having fun doing it; that's my activism - plus talking to people about things like this. I would love to find a point in my life to expand outward more, but I love where I am now for where I am now.
My life is stories
I remember when I first started grad school that there were a couple of months when I viewed my life as a sitcom. I even told some of my friends this and their reactions were basically "haha that's quirky." In retrospect, it was probably a symptom of some unaddressed mental health struggles as I went through a major transition to a new place where I knew almost no one - and the one person I DID know was so out of context that I didn't know what to do with it. A friend from high school in WV ended up being a roommate of a friend in Atlanta. We "knew" each other from high school but we hadn't spoken throughout any of the changes in college, so neither of us really knew the other anymore. And neither of us knew anyone else from the newly forming friend group.
Thinking of my life as a story lowered the stakes, and made it more fun while also making mistakes and difficulties in the new social environment less painful.
But back to the threads:
When I connected the dots, or the threads, the one that kept coming up, connecting to every single thing else was storytelling. I share stories to my kids, I write stories in my journals, I create and consume stories through gaming. Storytelling is a major part of my magical craft. It's fundamental to my mental health.
It is central to everything I do. Stories - both given and received - are my life's purpose.
Although I came up with the bones of this system on my own (actually, I didn't know it was a system when I was coming up with it), shortly afterward one of my favorite creators, Rachael Stephen, published the first information about her Constellation System. I immediately noticed some similarities (although there are also a couple of large differences), and got inspired by some of her choices, like using latin names for her "domains."
My own magical practice is intended in part to help me reconnect with my Gaelic/Celtic roots and culture that have been lost to many generations living in the USA (and an infant adoption in a more recent generation.) So, instead of Latin - which doesn't have much association with magic for me except through science directly - I opted for using Gaelic names instead. I also assigned each one a symbol - something from the emoji keyboard so it's easy to type in (in fact, I have text replacement so that for example, if I type bicon the icon for bardacht shows up.)
You may recognize some of them:
💢 Bardacht (storytelling)
🌀 Draíocht (magic)
♨️ Teaghlach (household)
🔅 Sláinte (health and mental health)
➿ Súdgradh (playing games)
〰️ Dialann (diary, or administration)
I came up with these names mostly with help from https://www.teanglann.ie/en/eid/ although I think Bardacht may have originally come from Google translate as it doesn't seem to have an Irish meaning that matches the one I associate with it. (I have considered changing it to seanchas but I do have a lot of s names already)
Yes, these are the containers I use for organizing my Obsidian vault. Sometimes it can be problematic- like if I'm writing a story (Bardacht) for a TTRPG (Súdgradh) that I'm playing with my family (Teaghlach), where does it go? But that's when I just pick the best one and rely on the lateral organization and linking options in Obsidian to tie into those other threads.
I originally planned on keeping them kind of private, but I really don't want to. I hope you'll let me know if the site is hard to navigate, but the website was already organized by my chaotic brain, so that was always a risk. Just remember that the Roundup page has everything that has changed in the past week!
"Not a system"
The biggest difference between my threads and Rachael's constellation system is right there in the name: she's developed a whole productivity system around her containers. Definitely go read the quick start guide linked above if you're into that sort of thing because her system is really cool.
The second biggest thing though is in the buckets themselves. The constellation system uses 6 buckets that were designed in an attempt to collect every single thing a person could possible have to do in their life. A desire I can understand, especially if you're trying to generalize the system to work for everyone.
The Threads definitely don't contain every possibility, but for me, that's a strength. If something doesn't fit, it's a clue that I might be wasting my time on something that isn't important. (It's also possible the system needs a tweak.) My threads are not supposed to work for anyone but me. They won't even work for my family members. It's personalized so that everyone has to build it from the ground up.
Everyone has to make their own meaning.
Yeah fine but what can you actually DO with it?
There's a lot you can do with it.
- Keep track of time spent in each thread to see what you need more of in your life (for me it's usually ➿súdgradh - games)
- Draw a line between things that aren't already connected to come up with a new hobby or perspective on your life
- Assign a single project to each thread to make sure you stay active in all important areas
- Judge whether something is worth doing by seeing if it weaves into your threads nicely (something that works into multiple threads is even better than something that fits neatly into a single bucket)
- Use it with role-planning! Since attributes are meant to measure how strong we are in a certain area, the threads correspond to ways to level up each attribute that are personally meaningful to you. The attributes themselves govern why you need certain kinds of experience, but your own individual threads will dictate how you want to get experience.
- Stop focusing on what you should do and instead focus on what actually improves your life (note: even if it's not always fun in the moment, like cleaning)