Life Update & Why a Pause on Video Making and More

So you may or may not have seen the below tweet from me not too long ago.

Hubby set about helping me resolve this issue. He bought me a new bigger and better hard drive. Had I known he was going to do what he was going to do on the date he did it, I would have told him to stop, yes, in part because I’m astrology-superstitious and Asian [not only retrograde Mercury and a void of course moon, pretty brutal transit aspects to my natal, but it’s also the week of Tomb Sweeping Day, a time in the Chinese calendar when the dead return to visit their living loved ones, i.e., if you believe it, stronger forces of paranormal activity at play], but also because I would have said, “Wait, hold on. First let me back up everything because all the current connected drives contain the sum of my life’s work.”

Hubs decided it would be a great idea to fix my computer during the night, after I had gone to sleep (he tends to be a night owl and not a morning person; I’m a morning person and go to bed early). He was going to just surprise me with an awesome fixed computer.

At around 3 in the morning, Hubs wakes me up. “Honey…I messed up. I messed up really badly…Honey, wake up…”

Not altogether with it, I think I said something to the effect of: “It couldn’t have been that bad. Go to sleep. We can talk about it in the morning.”

“Honey, I reformatted all of your hard drives. You lost everything. All of your files are gone. Do you have a back-up? Anything important in those five hard drives of data you had?”

“What do you mean reformatted? Lost what?”

The moment I was able to process what he was talking about, I shot up out of bed and screamed “Whaaaaaaat?” so loudly that Hubs later joked he’s surprised none of the neighbors on our street woke up and called the cops.

Short summary relevant to this website: what you see highlighted above is all that’s left of all my saved files on the Tinkering Bell video series. Funny enough, the only thing recovered was… the image file for that Fu talisman for expelling malefic attachments? Seriously?

Basically, Hubby scrubbed all my hard drives, not one, but all of them that were connected to the computer, clean. I don’t know the details of how that happened, but something relating to how wires were connected and how he didn’t unplug something when he should have and then the something-something had a freak accident on its own and that freak accident affected everything. Everything.

The hard drives contained everything I’ve ever written, every draft of everything, every everything I’ve ever designed or made digitally, from books I’ve written, unfinished manuscripts of books, all my legal case files since I started practicing law, even all my law school files, even all my undergrad college files and old term papers, articles, everything, all files to courses, all of my client birth charts, written readings, everything, all my archives of research, all my volumes of vacation photos, family photos, oh did I mention everything? Gone.

For those of you who follow the production and release of my work, it seems like I put out a lot of content very quickly, right? Well, I don’t. Instead, I have lots and I really do mean lots of “working drafts” of stuff that’s just been ongoing for years, sometimes decades. And then one day I stumble across that file folder, see it, get an idea for what to do with it, and voila– an online course, or a book, or a free reference file download, or a video idea, or whatever. In fact, that’s how the “Copyrights and Tarot” course happened. I stumbled across something I started writing freakin’ years ago, and then decided to update it, renovate it, and make it tarot-related. Then boom. Course.

In fact, that’s how my book Holistic Tarot happened. One year in 2012 I decided to go through all my old files and found just volume after volume of personal journals and well-documented research on tarot and thought, hey, I can transform all of this into a book. And I did. Holistic Tarot.

The only thing I have left is some files backed up on a very old hard drive in a closet, some files from college on a couple of CD-ROMs (remember those?), and what I had on a flash drive in my handbag before I went to sleep that night, which fortunately, is enough to keep me sustained in terms of my present day work, like birth chart monograph templates, my current book manuscript, and oh so fortunately–my working draft for my Readers Studio presentation later this April. Phew. If I had to start all of that over right now just weeks before Readers Studio, I’d… I honestly don’t know what I’d do.

Hubby bought some expensive program to try to recover stuff on the drive and managed to recover some stuff, but… it’s not organized in the file folders that I had before. And I’m kind of a… shall we say one who wears many hats, so I have many categorized file folders.

Right now, I have one folder titled “Deep Scan Recovery” with everything that the program could salvage in ALPHABETICAL ORDER. That’s it. Legal research, occult research, legal client files mixed in with tarot client files, astrology charts for clients mixed in with vacation photos from France, fashion design, personal journal entries, reference materials I’ve saved, online course work, Tinkering Bell video draft files, Bell Chimes In unpublished video files, all in ALPHABETICAL ORDER jumbled together in a single folder.

Also, the recovery program recovers all deleted files, so all deleted old drafts or versions of stuff, meaning that among the recovered files, I still need to sort through every recovered version to see which was the most recent ones and which can be deleted (again).

Other than that initial bolt out of bed at 3 am and the echoing boom of “Whaaaat???”, I’ve been shockingly calm. Hubby can attest to that.

A couple of positive notes:

The episode inspired a pretty cool metaphor I now want to use for a something. Sorry so cryptic. But yeah. It’s a great metaphor, I think.

The loss made me realize a lot of things I thought were really, really important and had presumed I’d be materially attached to I now realize, you know, I guess it’s okay if I let that go.

I am now really asking myself: what exactly is my “life’s work”? In terms of the written and documented reflection of who I am, what actually matters to me and what doesn’t?

The other side to having so many works in progress on my computer is I don’t stay focused. I’m constantly jumping from one project to another. Now that I don’t really have that option, I can only focus on the projects on that single flash drive I happened to have in my handbag on the night of the incident. So at this time, I don’t really have a choice but to focus on just those projects. This has really helped me be productive and clear about what I want to finish next rather than constantly getting sidetracked with miscellaneous projects.

I think I was pretty obsessed with documenting knowledge and memory through images and through digital reams of content. Now I am forced to confront: is it really my knowledge or memory to have if I don’t already have it in my head? Why do I need the copious notes to “remember”?

I’m pretty impressed with my own memory. I am able to see the old partitions of file folders and what I had, and everything of importance to me I can still see vividly in my mind. I’ve also realized a lot of the stuff I obsessively took notes on I didn’t really need to, because it’s already in my head. It’s already a part of me. I don’t need a digital copy of it.

The alphabetical order of all the files of my life not in any other order or categorization system except alphabetical has been really intriguing to sift through. It’s like a stream-of-consciousness flashback of your life, and the chapters of that life in no particular order.

The total reset button on my written life (for a writer like me, “written life” basically equals just “life”) has been an inconvenience. All my working drafts of, seriously– everything– is gone. Like I said earlier–the only thing left of the Tinkering Bell series that I have among my computer files is the image of the Fu talisman for expelling malefic attachments. (I mean, seriously, seriously?) In case you were wondering, I had already completed the compilation of content needed for about 10 more Tinkering Bell videos that were going to be released throughout the year, and all that was left to do on those videos was string everything together in MovieMaker and do the voiceover. Not anymore. They’re all gone now. I’m back to square one.

Same with Bell Chimes In. I had outlined talking points for about 30 BCI videos. They’re all gone now. I have nothing left. I don’t even have the files from old vids.

Also gone are all the Holistic Tarot Companion course video files and…just all the files. Period.

So that’s why this update. I’m going to have to suspend regularly scheduled programming until further notice.

When I look at that recovery folder, everything from the last, I would say, three decades of my written life, and all photographic documentation of my life these last three decades, in alphabetical order and not necessarily fully recovered (many of the files are corrupted), it’s hard to convey how I feel. Honestly, nothing. I’m a bit numb.

Also: a teaching moment for you. Guys, it may be pure superstition, but for the love of yourself, please do not try to do anything like what Hubby tried to do during challenging astrological transits or when alleged spirit activity is said to be heightened. Like…why? WHY? Must you do it at that moment? Can’t you just be the sucker and wait it out so that you don’t actually become the sucker who wishes you had listened?

Again, if you’re wondering why there won’t be a video released tomorrow (my regularly schedule Sunday posts on YouTube) and why there’s an increased delay in the already delay of readings to be delivered to you wonderful folks and why I’m probably not in the mood to converse with total strangers on the Internet who ping me asking or commenting about stuff, now you know why.


I had a folder of digital copies of medieval Western occult texts. Only one salvaged from what used to be hundreds of PDFs: Arbatel de magia veterum. Yup. The Arbatel. Hunh. Interesting.

Apparently I started a reference book on Kipper Cards, with the working draft up to 50 pages that I totally forgot about. Until now.

It’s a little bit funny to see my tarot and astrology client files mixed up and now in the same folder as my legal client files. A little bit. Natal chart monographs and tarot readings I’ve down alongside digital files for wills, living trusts, and contracts.

It looks like I started work on a long form lecture with supplemental written handouts on connecting with the Vajrayogini Great Mother, all files recovered intact. First, cool, yes, nice. Second, what? Really? Why did I– what– huh?

I really did keep a lot of digital junk. A lot of the files salvaged I’d say is junk.

So apparently I have a whole bunch of microfiction works I wrote back in 2002 that I thankfully named “Microfiction – Title of Work.” Positive: these old works of mine were salvaged. Negative: wow my writing back in 2002 was shit. Gawd I really didn’t need this reminder. This could have stayed deleted.

Okay, actually, more than that TinkerBell thing I mentioned earlier got recovered from my Tinkering Bell endeavors. It’s just that none of the files were named in a way that is going to make this easy on me to salvage and reorganize.

Client natal charts interspersed throughout, like files I kept of old Xanga and Livejournal blog posts, PDFs of Buddhist sutras, and legal case law research is…pretty funny to see. Puts a smile on my face.

I take a lot of photos of the moon, and of sunsets and sunrises. A lot. Um. What…was up with that?

I take a lot of blurry photos and for some reason never thought to delete them. Or maybe I did delete them and the recovery program is bringing them back??

33 thoughts on “Life Update & Why a Pause on Video Making and More

  1. That’s…impressive. In the negative, nightmare-inducing sense of the word “impressive.” I’ve been thinking this Mercury retrograde period has been harsher than many, and harsher for many people, not just the ones who’ve had Mercury trampling over sensitive parts of their chart. Your post is adding strong anecdotal evidence to that observation.


  2. Davy

    I know you’ve already started the process but this software might help you see some of the file paths…

    Thought it was worth mentioned as something similar has just happened here.

    So sorry you have to go through it. I hope 99.9999% recovery is possible.


  3. OMG. So sorry to hear this. Yes exactly Mercury retrograde and a bunch of other stuff too. The outcome of the Mercury retrograde is it allows you to do what you seem to have done in this blog, review and rethink and regroup about a lot of things I would imagine. I’m so desolate about your loss of written materials and drafts. As a writer – I can really sympathize with what you’re feeling. 💜💜💜


  4. Eve

    Oh my god… What a shock. I’m so sorry that this happened to you.

    My husband says a professional data recovery service might be more effective in getting the files back, but I’m sure you guys have tried everything at this point. I’m so sorry. This was so painful to read. I hope you’re able to salvage what is most valuable to you and go on to create even greater work.


  5. Renee

    Oh Benebell, there are simply no words. I’m deeply sorry does in no way scratch the surface of how terrible I feel for you. Sending all my love.


  6. Scorpion Moon

    Holy shizz…My god, that is so, so awful. I’m so sorry that happened, you deserve a whole truck load of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for that.


  7. My heart sank when I read about your experience. This happened to my sister years and years ago. Since her journals were wiped out, she went back to old school writing: pen and paper.

    No words can be a salve for your lost work. All I offer is a warm hug because you truly are a wonderful person.


  8. kimveee

    I have no words. Actually I do have words, just not any that don’t involve expletives. Sending recovery light and wildly waving crystals at your picture on the screen. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Tim

    That is just really… f’d up! Damn digital age. As much as I hope you can recover it all, if there’s anyone who can turn this around into something positive its defenitely you! I think what we love and appreciate most about you isnt in some files or on some computer 😉 Goodluck !!


  10. I’m so sorry. I’m sure your husband feels awful beyond words and I hope you both are able to feel some love during all of this. I hope that out of everything you may be able to recover, it will be the photos, especially of your cat. Best wishes for getting back everything. Everyone here on the internet will still be here when you are able to repost again. We aren’t going anywhere.


  11. Anonymous

    Oh my gosh…now you have me scrambling for every place I can possibly back up. Hugs and a glass of wine to you. Heck…take the whole bottle…


  12. Sabine Peters

    I am so, so very sorry that this happened to you both. This Mercury Retrograde has been brutal. Big hugs to you and I hope that you’ll be able to recover your files.


  13. James Bridge

    FML, that’s a massive data loss…. This is why I’ve become that person who backs up everything to his cloud. I once accidentally deleted a couple chapters of some stories I was writing and I didn’t get over it for like a month, and that’s why I moved to the cloud. Though, kind of funny in what feels like a, “I have to laugh about it or I’ll just die” sort of way, that the fu talisman you described was the sole initial survivor of your data loss. I don’t believe in silver linings — some things are just irredeemably bad — but I am a fan of trying to find productive responses to disaster. Good luck </3


  14. Gilberto

    I’ve lost data before but not this amount. Sorry to hear this. I started using evernote some years back and store everything on the cloud. If I lose my files on my laptop or hard drive, evernote has it. This includes photos, videos, magazines and catalogs that I have scanned including all of the musical instrument designs that I have made for the past 10 years. This is not a pitch for evernote since I’m sure there are other great options in the market.


  15. Oh Nos! I can relate somewhat – only I was the noob who ‘accidentally’ deleted some of my latest and crucial PhD data and laboratory work a few months ago… luckily I managed to get it all back, only after I thought my life was over!
    I will send you good digital juju to help with the data recovery, even though some of it you might be ok with not getting back – it is still a lot of work and effort that went into it (also sometimes the actual draft may be a bit cringe worthy, but the concept is cool and only needs a little work to be great 😉 ). I wish you Good Luck with all your data recovery!


  16. For future reference, when a hard drive fills up, the thing to do is to get disk usage analyzer or something of the sort to figure out where the disk space disappeared. Often, it’s temporary files from internet browsers or upgrade files that Windows keeps. Hopefully, this info will be useful to some of the fellow people in the community who don’t spend time tinkering with computers. As for recovery files, yes – deleted files also get returned because the reality of hard drives is just like book shelf and catalog analogy – the book might be gone from catalog which operating system displays to you, the user, but it’s still on the shelf until operating system decides “welp, that unclaimed shelf will belong to new set of books”.

    Second, Ms. Wen, you may have lost whole lot of files, but the best thing that’s there is you yourself – the files don’t appear by themselves, you’re the author and those were your creation, which is also good creation. In my case, I purposefully got rid of books I hoarded because those were hoarded for the wrong reason, and it tastes much differently to destroy things intentionally to regain focus. If I may suggest a few reads on this same topic of loss/renewal/clearing: Victor Frankl, “Man’s search for meaning”, (blog by two guys who realized best things aren’t things), and perhaps “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk but that’s up to taste.

    This again reminds me of what I keep thinking about over and over – “don’t fix what’s not broken”. I’d love to think this is a nice example of synchronicity. I’d like to think of this as also betterment – we now will see Tinkering Bell or other work that otherwise wouldn’t come about because everything was already planned out, and the work that still is still planned will come with fresh eye.

    Now, considering it’s Qing Ming holiday, can we expect a post/video on that ?


    1. Side note I found interesting from Wikipedia: “Unlike other grimoires, the Arbatel exhorts the magus to remain active in their community (instead of isolating themselves), favoring kindness, charity, and honesty over remote and obscure rituals”. Very peculiar


  17. Oh Benebell … I’m so sorry you having to go through this.

    Though, I look forward to who you are and what you’re focusing on and putting out into the world a year from now as a result.

    We bought a new house last Nov, moved in Dec, then it caught fire and burned down three weeks later the week-end of Xmas (yep, very Merc Rx as we moved in the 2nd and 3rd of Dec, fire happened middle of the night 22 ~ 23 Dec)

    This set the theme of 2018 for us … Reset, Rebuild, Reinvent.

    Literally starting from scratch has been an unburdening and a liberation to not just try to make Siembab,thing work or to work within the confines of something already established or long held as defined due to complacency and comfort.

    So I’m excited to see what vision of the reinvented Benebell Wen starts to emerge and be revealed to the world over the coming months and beyond.


  18. Erica

    UGH I suddenly feel like such a jerk for emailing you just last night! I am sooooo so sorry this happened to you! I basically grew up on a computer and if I lost literally everything…gosh, it wouldn’t be the end of the world but I’d probably lose the last remaining bit of my sanity. lol

    I know there’s probably nothing I can do to help at all, but I’m definitely sending you lots of good vibes and hoping that you get this mess sorted with as little pain and frustration as possible. And I promise I’ll try not to be TOO disappointed with no new videos for a while 🙂 ❤


  19. Pingback: Guidebook of 19th Century Etiquette (Download PDF) – benebell wen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s