24 August 2015

Reading Fun for the Week of August 24th through 30th 2015

We are changing it up a bit and using the Dream Oracle Cards by Kelly Sullivan Walden. I love these cards, but rarely use them for divination. Unlike other card decks that help dig into details of situations or provide insight into possible future outcomes, I find these are better suited for asking for guidance (think omens and "signs"). For this week, I pulled a single card asking for a message for Bewitching Momma readers to guide us.

Childhood Home
"Remember where you're from and who you really are."

It's time for a bit of self-reflection this week, retro-style. This card is telling you to take a look into your past. Go digging around in it (but don't stay there, just visit). Questions to ask yourself this week:

  • Where do you come from?
  • Who were you back then?
  • How did you survive? (especially for those with negative childhoods)
  • What/Who shaped you?
  • What changed?
  • What wisdom have you forgotten?

Remember, you are looking to the past for clarity to your life today. Have a conversation with your younger self.  Reconnect with the parts of you that were good and that you missed. Allow yourself to feel and let any wounds you have heal. The waters aren't always clear, however, you can find what you're looking for and retrieve it if you're willing to dive in and search.

Did you receive other guidance this week? Has taken a look back helped with any current problems? Are you making any changes based on what you found?

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21 August 2015

On the Move Again

If it seems we've disappeared lately, it's only because Gabe and I are preparing for another move. Thankfully this won't be another cross-country trip! But it is keeping us pretty busy.

This new blog is no where near done, so no need for tears. Bewitching Momma is still just getting started. I'll try to keep posts coming; at the bare minimum, you'll get your Monday readings for sure.

By the second week of September we should be back to the usual 3 post minimum each week  (typically Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays). In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned for the weekly readings and comment on any of the previous posts.

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17 August 2015

Reading Fun for the Week of August 17th through 23rd 2015

Was last week a crazy week or what? I know it was for us! Friday's post didn't happen, but never fear, your Monday weekly reading is here. (And cue dorkiness. Oh, wait. I see it's already happened...)

For this week, we're going back to the Celestial Tarot deck. As usual, this reading is for Bewitching Momma readers and anyone who comes across this blog during the week. I was only going to do a single card this week, but went with cards that were jumping out. About a dozen or so jumped out, so I went with a card that stood out among each of the three piles. Guess one card was just too boring.

Two of Swords
Eight of Pentacles
Four of Pentacles

If the conflict was in our heads last week, this week we may see it all around us. Question the sources you look to for answers. Information may be misleading, coincidentally or intentionally. Try to find balance in the conflict. If you look, you can find the truth and follow it, but only if you're open to recognizing it.

Something you've been working on is going to hit a tough spot. This isn't a stalemate or sign you should give up, however. What you need to be doing is staying on target, like the final sprint to the finish line. Discipline and hard work is what is needed right now. You've been training for this moment. It may seem like the end will never come, but all you have to do now is step onto the trail and follow the light. Success is so close! You may even see the new growth resulting from your efforts. You've got just a little bit more to go.

You're stepping out of the conflict (most likely last week's baggage) successful. Take pride in your accomplishments and don't worry about appearing a bit too smug. Enjoy the pleasure. The stars are shining down on you now and telling you to lead the way. (I should probably mention this won't last long, so make sure to make the best of it now. It's a good time to practice living in the present moment.)

Now it's your turn to share! What results did you get? Do you have a different interpretation? How's your week going?

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12 August 2015

Why Did She Go Back to Him?

Image of a person in tears getting punched while his heart is splitting in half.

So just about everybody knows someone (or is that someone) who goes back to an ex after a terrible breakup. Many cases, these same someones are repeat offenders with the same exes. It's bewildering to the rest of us! Why on earth go back to obvious unhealthy situations? Even if they did exaggerate things at the time, clearly they are so much better without that ex and deserve so much more. So why don't they learn?

It's such a common issue among some circles that the moment friends and neighbors found out about my marital situation they were quick to verify I would divorce my husband. Some even went so far as to outright tell me, "Don't you be one of those women who starts thinking she needs a man," and "You give that man hell and don't you dare go back to him. He don't deserve you." (Damn right!)

So let me reiterate what's on everyone's mind these days: Shit ain't easy. It's tempting to make the situation easier by telling my husband to get a truck and come get us. Not for any desire to be with him, but for the stresses it would eliminate (more like trading-off) and opportunities it could open up that are a tad bit easier to navigate. Any thoughts of taking the jerk who walked out on us back are more strategic than anything romantic.

But there's moments creeping in where the romantic side sneaks up and jabs my brain with a dose of "Oh but don't you miss him?" concoction.

And finally the answer clicks. We can psychoanalyze all day long. Or we can make it simple and fail to recognize our distorted image of what love is by claiming that going back to an ex who wrong their significant other is a case of "true love." (If you're a psych major dork like me, you'd rather jump into analyzing not only the couple but also the ones justifying the poor decision.)

So here I am, questioning the whole "Don't go back" logic. When I met him he was good man. Sure he built our relationship on lies, but with the truth exposed now, surely I can move past it in time. What made him a good man during that brief point in his life? What if he manages to make that man come back?

Then I asked myself why. Why even question these things?

And I'm reminded of what my doula explained about giving birth. We have a baby. We go through unimaginable pain. Some of us go through unimaginable trauma. Instead of saying, "Screw doing that again!" we see a baby and decide to have another one. And then repeat the process. Why? Because we forget. It's not that we don't remember any of what happened. We just forget enough of the details that we become overwhelmed with the joy of having a baby and it's not until the birth process kicks in that we remember why we said we weren't going to do it anymore.

That's exactly what my thinking feels like!

So why do someones go back to their abusive exes? Because they forget. They clearly remember that they've been wronged. They never want to go through it again. But with distance and time to dull the memories, they forget just how bad it really was. It's not even a matter of intelligence - we're just programmed that way. Mystery solved.

Do you agree with this answer? Have you ever gone back to someone who hurt you? What were your reasons?

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10 August 2015

Reading Fun for the Week of August 10th through 16th 2015

We're doing The Psychic Tarot deck again this week and changing it up a bit before it gets too repetitive. It'll be a 3 card spread, but with a focus on the general energy, relationships, and finances.

General Energy for the Week: Mental Conflict
Relationships for the Week: Memories of Love
Finances for the Week: Rejoice in Celebration (reversed)*

You may find this week a bit tough, but it's all in perception. We start off with some confusion. For some of us, it's a matter of having to choose between goals or who we want to be as things are in flux and these decisions (no matter how small) will play a big role later on.

The same applies to the rest of us, but this card is speaking of the fuzzy or wild thinking that's going on inside our heads. Thoughts are competing for priority and we may find ourselves overwhelmed if we don't find a creative way to keep them all organized right now.

If you do get overwhelmed, use the other energies this week to your advantage.

You may find yourself drifting off to revisit cherished memories (of loved ones, of course). Or those memories may be forcing their way into your mind via spiritual 2x4 (nothing jogs those kinds of memories like a big whack to the head, right?). Find calmness as you look back. Not all memories are happy, but there's something to them that will help soothe the fires going on in our brains this week. If you don't see the happy right away, dive into the waters and go searching for it.

Years ago, I had a woman tell me something very important. Finances weren't great, she was struggling to pay bills, and she worked her butt off. So I was confused when she took her family out for steak dinner. Looking at this card today, her words come to mind. "It may not be smart and it may seem irrational, but sometimes you just have to do something nice like this or you'll go crazy." (Okay, so I paraphrased big time. This was from like 13 years ago.)

Get together with loved ones. Hang out with friends. Do something fun. There's no telling if your financial dreams will come true (not this week, anyway), but you need to relax to give them a chance. Sometimes you just have to go into party-mode and unwind.

If you spend all day every day too focused on the future, you'll drive yourself bat-shit-crazy and that won't get you anywhere. So let loose at least once this week, Be kind to yourself and those around you. It'll work out. But only if you stop getting in your way with all that clogged thinking.

As usual, it's your turn. Did you do a reading for the week you want to share? Did I just jog any of those memories you needed this week? Stop on by throughout the week and let us know how it went!

*I don't put much weight into whether or not a card is reversed. I include that information for those who are doing their own interpretations.

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07 August 2015

The Number One Mistake to Ruin Search Rankings

Graph showing number of search impressions declining after changing URLs
Number of search impressions took a dip after drastically changing URLs.
I've run my website, Messages in the Moonlight (MIM), since 2003. In all that time, I've made a lot of stupid mistakes in terms of SEO and networking. I've fallen into time-suckers (think Facebook) and I've applied tips that took a lot of work to implement (and dropped off the radar while I did them) only to find out after the fact that search engines penalize against them. I'll be putting a list together of good advice to help with boosting your website's popularity. In the meantime, though, I want to make sure you don't do the one ridiculously stupid thing I did.

Don't change your URLs!

I'll say it again so it sticks. Once your website is set up and you continue adding pages, don't change your URLs.

For the first 5 years, MIM went through changes all the time. I often rearranged the navigation. But I always kept the URLs the same. This wasn't intentional at the time. I just didn't consider changing them. The site slowly, but surely, gained popularity.

When Geocities announced closing it's doors, I hadn't considered the impact the changes in URLs would do. When I moved the site to a custom domain (www.moonlightmessages.com), I kept most of the page file names the same. It also helped that I made the switch ahead of time, allowing me to set up a big ol' "We've moved!" notice on the old URL redirecting them to the new domain.

From then on, I continued moving things around, but always keeping the URLs constant. The site wasn't the most popular in the sense that people hung out at the forums and were active (social media boom killed that), but the site was often recommended. It showed up in search results regularly, even if it wasn't always at the top.

But then I was stupid in 2013. I wanted to give the site a much needed makeover. While I was at it, I wanted to take a lesson from newer, more successful websites. Instead of my typical rearranging but keeping the files the way they were, I got all those pages nice and organized. I was so proud of myself! Then I started to drop off the radar. I even made sure to hunt down sites that were linking to the old URLs and letting them know of the changes. But MIM just seemed to get less and less popular (and not in a changing of trends kind of way).

After my son was born, I decided to switch to a host that allowed me to cut back on the time-consuming HTML and CSS and switched over to Google Sites. I thought I was so smart implementing descriptive URLs (because search engines like those). I was so certain it was going to be the greatest thing for MIM. It would up its ranking in search results, people would find it easier, and it would be awesome.

Cue devastatingly low stats, very few pages showing in search, and crushingly low ranking.

Analytics data for Messages in the Moonlight in 2013 before changing URLs compared with today
MIM wasn't the most popular website out there, but there's a massive difference between stats in 2013 before drastically changing URLs and today. What improvements can be seen are so minimal they're insignificant. Multiple factors play a role, but the URL changes have had the most impact on search results.

What the heck? Where the hell did all my loyal visitors go? Well, they got lost and thought it was me who disappeared.

Then I discovered just how important it is to never change your URLs. Now, if you can do a long-term redirect you're great. If you can avoid 404 errors by keeping the old pages in place and set them up to link to the newer version, great. But if you can't, just keep the old URLs.

Here's What Happens When You Change URLs:
  • All that networking you did with the old URLs just went down the drain
  • All those awesome fans who recommended pages think the page is gone forever
  • Outdated sites linking to your site will only reinforce the idea that your site is gone
  • People take advantage that they think your site is gone and pass its content off as their own (and because your new URL is younger, you get the penalty for duplicate content)
  • Search engines treat you like a brand new site (never mind that you've been around for over a decade)
  • Crawlers get confused with all the 404 errors, often taking forever to stop looking at cached versions despite removal requests
  • New URLs may be penalized or take much longer than expected to appear in search results
Now don't get me wrong, there are ways to beat this. Changing one URL isn't the end of the world. And redirects, if you have the option, will do you wonders.

One of the fortunate things about hosting at Google Sites is that clicking on old URLs will take you to a Page Not Found page on MIM, so at least visitors make it to the site. That said, not everyone is like me and willing to go searching for what I was looking for in the first place, so you may as well assume 404 page visitors will bounce and ignore any other links to your site.

Bottom line: If you change your URLs - especially in drastic ways - be prepared to loose years of hard work. I made other silly, easily correctable mistakes around the same time, but this is the one that hurts the most and took MIM back to square one in terms of search ranking.

Have you ever made this mistake? What impact, if any, did changing URLs have on your site rankings? Do search rankings even impact your fanbase? What did you do to fix it?

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06 August 2015

Follow Bewitching Momma on Bloglovin'

The other day I mentioned updating my reading lists. Well, I kept seeing this Bloglovin' mentioned all over the place. After checking it out I realized it's totally awesome. It's the Pinterest of blogs (only better, considering I don't like pinning). I'm already following dozens of new blogs I'm so happy to have found.

Since I've got Bewitching Momma now, I went ahead and added this blog. You'll see the follow button on the right. (Yes, I'm following myself. Every writer ought to like their own stuff enough to follow it!) Or you can click the image below to visit our Bloglovin' page.

Bloglovin' banner

Be sure to check out some of the other awesome blogs out there. I know I'll have a new list of favorites soon thanks to Bloglovin'!

And for my fellow bloggers, make sure you claim your blog. Once you do - or if you're already using Bloglovin' - let us know so we can follow you, too! (Then make sure you check out the Bloglovin' contest.)

05 August 2015

I Want to Hear Your Stories - Writing Prompts

I was originally planning on throwing another rantish post at you today (I have so many lined up!), but after an hour and half long battle-to-the-nap with my 8 month old, I want something a bit more laid back. So today, I'm encouraging you to get involved.

Bewitching Momma is my campfire project. These aren't just my stories, my opinions, my rants, my jokes, and whatever else. Those are just the tinder to get the real fire started. I want to hear your stories. Share your rants, your ideas, whatever is on your mind. We all have something to share, and there is always someone out there somewhere who will benefit from something you have to say. So go on and say it!

Use today's prompts to inspire you to write your next comment, blog post, status update, tweet, novel, or whatever. Just be sure to share a link to it in the comments here so we can check it out!

  1. Do you believe in an afterlife? What do you think happens?
  2. Have you ever gone on a ghost hunt? Any interesting findings?
  3. How do you handle your anger when you just don't want to deal with anything else?
  4. What's your take on Angels, Spirit Guides, and Totem Animals?
  5. A man, a lion, and an angry mob.... (You tell us what happens!)
And for my story writers out there looking for a plot idea:
  • Protagonist on a quest to find the love of his/her life - on another planet. (Because the one s/he's on sucks.)
  • Antagonist finds creative ways to sabotage protagonist's ship. Bonus points if antagonist is a protagonist from another story.
  • Incorporate a one-handed tax attorney somewhere in the story. Bonus points if s/he lost the hand to a cicada.
  • Give the protagonist a sidekick who will twist the plot at an unsuspected moment by accidentally getting involved with the searched for love in some way.
Remember to share your stories with us! If you take on the plot idea, definitely keep us posted on your project. I can't wait to read your answers!

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03 August 2015

Reading Fun for the Week of August 3rd - 9th 2015

This week's reading is done with The Psychic Tarot oracle deck. (It's one of my absolute favorites as I feel instantly in-tune with them.) This is another 3 card spread, again, asking about the general energy of the week and anything readers (and visitors) of this blog need to know.

Victory & Success (reversed)*
Recognition & Reward

If the titles alone don't give you a hint, this is going to be a good week. But don't get complacent now! It's only good in that goals will be met, desires fulfilled, and accomplishments fruitful. You still have a lot of work to set this outcome in stone.

The horn signaling Victory is the same horn sounding a call to action. You've got to give it all you've got to blow that horn and remember that help is standing by, waiting for you before they act. The best part is you know it's the final push. You've got to give it your all, and the energy is set just right so that your all can make anything happen now. The sunshine is hiding just behind the clouds and blowing that horn moves the clouds.

This energy (and your willful actions) will turn the spotlight on you. Accept the praise humbly and remember this is a quiet applause. It's your diligence that makes things happen and that's what's being recognized. Ulterior motives or self-oriented goals aren't what's getting you on others' good side. Think community efforts.

As you reach success this week, wear your colors with pride. You know who you are and don't be afraid to show it. You can both be humble and know you're awesome. You can be community-oriented and still be an individual.

Listen to the words whispered on the breeze this week. You'll find guidance to keep you determined and focused until Victory and Triumph are yours.

As before, I want to hear your results. Let us know how your week goes! Did you do your own reading for the week? What messages did you receive?

*I don't put much weight into whether or not a card is reversed. I include that information for those who are doing their own interpretations.

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