What’s in a Name? Leopard’s Bane and Aster.

Okay all, so I won’t lie. My last post had me in a FUNK and I did not know how to get around it. It’s like New Year, take a flying leap over that one and be done with it. I was reminded by another blogger, that one can reset at any time. I don’t have to wait for a New Year to set the intention or make some positive changes in my life.

I don’t know why I get obsessed sometimes about a day of the week, the start of the month, the start of a year, even numbers over odd numbers and blah blah blah. I can change my life in the middle of the week, on an odd day, in the middle of the year and in the middle of the day if I want. I can start now, or I can start tomorrow. I don’t even need a huge cathartic moment to smack me sideways. Just a declaration, a drive, and a commitment from one moment forward.

I’ve been bitten with a writing bug which is good. I just need to channel that somehow and I have to a certain degree but I’m feeling like it’s time for me to move away from being a “fringe player” and to start getting serious. That “grace period” after getting my degree is over and I really need to tackle the work, and make some serious changes in my life, because if I am being honest my life has not been running at full throttle at the moment. I’ve become the sad lady with the dog, kind of like a cat lady, but a little less eccentric.

I am also going to say, that I’ve had a faith crisis. I’ve not attended any church congregation for weeks. I’ve not replaced this with anything of the edifying variety and that’s a problem. Not that church has been all that edifying for me lately either, but when I dropped out due to lack of spiritual edification shouldn’t I have sought that elsewhere? That’s a question I have pondered.

I attribute my faith “crises” to two things that my grandmother taught me, and granted I hold her in the highest regard as a good Christian woman.

  1. You will know them by their fruits.
  2. Be wary of those who exalt themselves.

I’ve also pondered two other things very carefully. These two words have been on my mind a lot lately.

  1. Cognitive Dissonance.
  2. Gaslighting.

An excellent definition for Cognitive Dissonance I have found is: “Sometimes people hold onto a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It creates a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with that core belief (Neuroscience News and Research).

A most excellent definition of gaslighting is: “Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, or sanity. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs.”

So enough of that. I just wanted to narrow my “faith crisis” down to these four things.

  1. Rotten Fruit
  2. The exaltation of egocentric or narcissistic individuals
  3. Cognitive Dissonance
  4. Gaslighting.

I don’t think I am alone in my faith crises because I read an article today about how young evangelicals are leaving churches in droves due to “Christianity being “hijacked” by those who are thirsty for political power” (Newsweek).

I’m not encouraging anyone to follow me, I’m just saying I’m on the outskirts now even though I am not a young person and I’m not at all troubled by this decision because I really think it was time, it was more than time, for me to step outside of the picture and just analyze everything from an alternate perspective. I don’t feel as if I’ve left “god” or spirituality behind. I almost feel that god is accompanying me on this journey as blasphemous as that might sound. I feel like I’m getting to know god beyond any institution (especially a male driven one, which to be honest, I just could not stomach anymore).

Healing for me was never going to happen with what I was currently doing, and perhaps that had a lot to do with my LDS upbringing, where in the afterlife I am going to get completely shafted without my life partner or my children because everything is far too complicated and I took a wrong turn somewhere.

Enough of the mumbo jumbo “god talk.” I know the rules. You don’t want to wave that stuff around like a checkered flag on a race track. I’m sorry for any discomfort I may have caused over the course of the last two paragraphs. We can all straighten our collars now.

In a nutshell, I am just saying that I do feel like I need some sort of meditative practice, prayer. or whatever you want to call it, and to continue to seek out what I consider to be “spiritually edifying” reading material, and a little communion with nature has always been good for the soul. That I have never had a problem with.

As for the writing goals, GULP, I am really questioning the validity of having a blog, but how can I not? I’m going to write anyways damnit. This just feels like the reality television version of a diary and the writer’s journey perhaps. Anyone who “tunes in” is going to see the mess. I am just trying to reconcile my blog with things like Twitter and Instagram, and to be honest, Instagram allows more characters now, and it is certainly a lot easier to pick up readership although I have heard people complain a lot about the algorithms. I am also going to have to really polish up some photography skills.

I am also trying to reconcile my writing with Pinterest, and really hone in on narrowing down my niche and being more mindful of the Insta grid. Apparently, you can’t just throw everything out onto the Insta haphazardly. Also, I could seize an opportunity to write an E book and I have not written one query letter for any of my short stories.

I have a published friend who has been begging to read some of my stories and I still have not sent it to him. I have other published friends, and several writing friends, and why I am not utilizing these resources to get feedback is beyond me. Imposter  syndrome, that’s why.  I’m certainly not doing any networking and that reclusive writer gig where you write solo in an attic somewhere with a box of Cheese Nips is something of a myth.

That “work from home” thing is a myth to me too. Yeah right, between piles of laundry and me not being able to concentrate because I know something is not clean or out of order. Things will never be aligned just right so I can sit down and write. I have to accept that.

In the past, I had small goals. Start a blog. Get an understanding of Social Media for Writers. Know how to write a marketing plan and a query letter, get my Bachelor’s degree, and get started with resources that will lead to other resources such as Poets and Writers. Keep a notebook of ideas and plot points. Read more, create more, research more, and consume less.

So, my friends these are my goals. I have got to pursue them. Writers write. Writers do, and there was a time when I believed in myself and other’s believed in me. I don’t want my writing to be like the promise of a “Glass Castle” that never got built that everyone believed in that amounted to a big nothing burger. I can’t allow it to be that huge unobtainable disappointment, and this my friends is the curse of the writer.

Nothing can happen if you don’t do the work. Sometimes nothing can also happen if you do DO the work. That is the hell of it.  It’s a lot of rejection and raking yourself over the coals because you feel compelled to do it for whatever reason. My story is no better than anyone’s. I don’t exude confidence. This goes back to that precipice thing I was talking about. Most writer’s don’t succeed because they quit and in a way I started quitting without trying and I really have to STOP doing that.

I’m also thinking about changing the name of my blog and my Insta. Not that I don’t think the Obstinate Fig does not apply to me because I feel like a fruitful woman in a parched valley who can sometimes disappoint when it comes to expectations that have been placed on me, especially of the patriarchal kind. In a way, I feel cursed. In some ways I feel ancient, but I think my blog title just confuses some people. I don’t even eat figs. It’s like one comedian noted, “a fig walked into a bar…what the hell is that?” Nobody recognizes it. I chose this blog title when I had high hopes of my blog having a greater emphasis on food and cooking.

I just don’t know if changing my blog title will be all that monumental. I try to think of my history and what I would be made out of.  We all know the rhyme about “sugar and spice and everything nice,”  and then of course the alter sex being made out of “frogs and snails and puppy dog tails.” I consider myself to be an eco feminist writer who is into historical fiction and magical realism. My writing major emphasis has been Creative Non-Fiction because I believe that true stories well told are the bomb, or at least stories that are inspired by real life events.

There are so many fascinating true stories out there. Why not true stories?

I think of my “roots” and what a memoir from me would be like. A memoir is a good place to start I suppose because they are not wasted. At least your family will have your history. I think of my upbringing and the smells that define my life experience most. I suppose those smells would be juniper, Russian olive, sage, quaking aspen trees, or pine trees. Salt is a huge element in my life. I live near the Great Salt Lake. My parents live near the Redmond Salt mine. I’m used to Redmond Salt being on the table. I took my children to parades where salt packets were tossed to onlookers along with salt water taffy. I was told growing up that my religious mission in life was to be “the salt of the earth.”

purple petal flower
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I thought about changing my blog to something like Salt and Sage, Juniper and Sage, or Juniper and Salt (all taken by the way). I think of some of my favorite Insta accounts I follow such as Altered Craft Witch, True Northology, or Modern Folk Tale. I tried to think of native wildflowers I associate with and some of them don’t have the most glamorous names. I was thinking about Leopard’s Bane and Aster. My insta account currently has my name on it, which NOBODY has ever been able to pronounce. My maiden name is in there and FYI… it has the word “lose” in it. I want to be a winner damnit!

My maiden name is French and everyone botches it every time.  It is pronounced “Low Sea.” I get called the biblical Rachel so much that I just answer to it out of habit or maybe convenience over correcting people. My first name is really pronounced Ruh-Shell. I’d never consider a pen name, and have even thought about changing my Insta account to “The non biblical Rachel ” Again with the religious reference. Maybe I should just stick with Leopard’s Bane and Aster? It sounds like the beginning of a Witch’s spell. Then again, you say the word “Leopard” and I immediately think of David Lee Roth sailing across a stage in skin tight leggings yielding a microphone.


I have NO idea why a native Utah wildflower would be named Leopard’s Bane. There are no leopards around here but quite a few cougars. One ran nonchalantly through the park near my daughter’s school earlier this year. What am I trying to achieve here? So welcome to my brain storm and I think I’ll just keep my blog as the Obstinate Fig for now and change my Insta account to “Leopard’s Bane and Aster.’ How utterly romantic, artsy and Insta Worthy.  Too on trend maybe? I’ll choose my filter and presets, remain consistent with my grid and join the masses.

Yet, do I want a romanticized account or to keep it real? The Non-Biblical Rachel just sounds like someone people can relate to.  Then again, some Insta accounts take off because of their no nonsense realism. What’s in a name anyhow? I’ve seen accounts with oodles of hits with the most unremarkable and sometimes confusing names.

Apparently, Spanx became popular because of that hard “K” sound. I’m no expert people. I just spilled a bunch of marbles all over this blog post. There are marbles flying everywhere but I guess that is to be expected when you have ADD and are perhaps on the autistic spectrum somewhere. In a nutshell, maybe I am losing my marbles.

So…anyway the Obstinate Fig, keeping it for now, Changing the name on my Insta to see what happens. I am going to read up on the importance of blog names and how to present your Bio on an Insta account. That is as good of a place to start as any I guess. Day one of getting my sh*t together.

Thanks for listening. All input welcome.

Until Next post!

Rachelle Whiting

(otherwise known as the non-biblical Rachel).









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