Enchantment Learning & Living Blog

Welcome to Enchantment Learning & Living, inspirational blog about the simple pleasures, radical self-care, and everyday magic that make life delicious.

Spring Clean Your Mind, Body, Soul

Spring is almost here. I can feel it in the way my skin itches to be kissed by the thin gold strands of sunlight or in the tightening excitement in the pit of my belly when I realize it is almost 7pm...and still light out. I might just get to have a glass of wine and watch the sunset on my patio. Most of all, however, I can feel spring in the way I seem to shake off my intense wintery introversion (most of it, anyway) like I would a fleece jacket. I find myself longing for adventures, new experiences, and friendly visits to old haunts. 

Spring ushers in its own invigorating and rejuvenating energy, and with that, a desire to clean. I am a big proponent of cleaning as a form of cleansing. Stressed? Scrub down your bathtub. Overworked? Do laundry. Seriously! It's a great way to practice self-care without having to think too hard about what you're doing. Unable to focus on that next page needing to be written? Dust--sweep--vacuum--hell, reorganize that junk drawer. Then the answers come. Cleaning, in other words, has become my oracle or crystal ball of wellness. Somewhere between hanging clothes to dry and washing those floors, wisdom is found. You're not thinking so hard so you can actually listen to yourself...which is all by way of saying that come spring, I am all about spring cleaning!

It's a great opportunity to dust off the cobwebs from your window sills and thoughts. Lately, I've been marinating on that old witchy-hippy-new-age adage, "as within, so without," which basically says what's going inside your mind, body, and soul, is mirrored in your day-to-day external life. While I believe in this concept on a number of levels, it seems particularly true when it comes to spring cleaning. If my house is messy, my mind is in disarray. If I don't have time to water my plants, my soul becomes parched. If I can't dance to salsa and merengue music while clearing out the dishwasher, my body aches.

So while you plan your own spring cleaning routine for your home, consider adding a little tune-up for your mind, body, and soul. We could all use a little a cleaning and rebooting at the start of each new season, most especially come spring, the time of renewal, rebirth, and new possibilities. 

Spring Cleaning the Mind

To spring clean your mind, first check in with your thoughts. What dust and debris have settled in the corners of your mind? 

Lately, I've become more aware of the old negative patterns I've allowed my mind to fall back into like stressing about things I have no control over in the middle of the night, operating from a flight-or-fight response in mundane happenings, or negative self-talk that can slip in when I'm overworked (overwork being a bad habit in and of itself, one I am still getting better at curbing).

These things serve no purpose. In fact, they are remnants of a time when I wasn't very good at taking care of myself, a time when I was strictly surviving rather than living. Still, I find I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself that I am no longer the overworked graduate student (yes, even after five years of being on the other side of it all!), but an empowered writer and educator who has the time, resources, and intention to live well

Once you've found the old habits and dirty corners in your mind, clean them up, dust them off, and say goodbye to those worn and ugly things.

This spring, I'm making a point of letting these things go, both internally and externally. I'm making a conscious effort to stop negative thoughts before they fully manifest. I'm getting rid of old notebooks full of graduate school work I will never look at again and saying goodbye to the straight-laced clothes of a young woman desperate to keep her head above water and hold her own in her profession. I'm acknowledging unhealthy habits (constantly apologizing for no reason, for example) and decluttering my home of things that don't bring me joy. I'm allowing myself to be more. More of what, I can't yet say. All I know is that in decluttering my home of past selves and my mind of old habits, I create space for this new energy. I set my intention for a healthy way of thinking, being. I manifest positive energy.

How will you spring clean your mind?

Spring Cleaning Your Body

To spring clean your mind, listen to your body. Its aches and pains and the things that make it feel delicious.

I love being up before the sun, enjoying a few stolen hours of exercise, yoga, or mediation before the rest of the world is awake. I like time to see the morning stars before the sun eclipses their sparkle and time to kiss the moon goodnight before she descends into the mesa's embrace. 

Then winter hits. And it kinda hurts to be outside when it is so cold and dark out. And you're super tired because...life happened. We've all been there. In my case, quite recently. Sleeping in becomes routine, healthy habits slip away in favor of extra time hugging that pillow or flopping in front of the TV screen and mindlessly eating. Once you fall into this stasis it can be a habit that is So. Hard. To. Break.

But spring is the perfect time to revive your wellness practice. Clear your fridge and pantry of unhealthy tempting nibbles, reboot your healthy diet, and get back to the yoga mat, exercise regimen--all of it. 

Remind yourself that when your body feels good, so does everything else.

It sounds corny, but when I workout, do yoga and eat right, I'm happier, less stressed, and feel, for lack of a better word, juicy. My energy is clean and abundant, not thin and gray. So I'm starting slowly, getting back on track with simple goals like finding new fun and healthy recipes to cook, and upping my exercise a little each week to get back to my 5-6 days of exercise a week. I'm even working on being more active around the office, reviving my quick walks around the campus and stopping for energy-boosting tea breaks. I also make it a point not to beat up on myself if I slip up here and there (which goes back to letting go of negative self-talk for my mental spring cleaning). Life happens. What matters is that I'm taking care of myself and making progress. All these little baby steps are bringing me back to a feel-good body and a feel good-life.

How will you spring clean your body?

Spring Cleaning Your Soul

Collect, nourish, tend your soul seeds.

This is perhaps the most ephemeral aspect of the mind-body-soul wellness trifecta. After all, how do you explain the utter excitement of knowing you get to spend a quiet weekend at home after a week of intense extroversion?  How do you describe the little thrill you get when you settle in to start a new book or what a sweet soothing balm it is to see a bouquet of daffodils on your nightstand?

Nourishing your soul is as much about a solid wellness routine as it is about consciously removing toxicity from your life, be it in the form of people, old selves, or negative spaces. But once you've made the necessary changes to your lifestyle--welcoming in the abundant and letting go of the stifling--your next task is to discover what it means to greet the day with joy, with fullness in your heart, with the awareness that you are connected to your Eros Energy.

One easy way to do that? Treat simple pleasures as sacred. Seriously. The perfect cup of tea from your favorite mug isn't just an afternoon pick-me-up, it's a healing potion.  The beeswax candles you light at night aren't just a nice touch to the dinner table, but an expression of the luminous softness you hope to bring to the end of the day. So relish these moments, and be willing to discover new pleasures.

One of the things that can be most difficult when we spring clean our soul, is remembering to actively cultivate and seek out things that bring us bliss after we remove the stagnant energies that have built up over time...which brings us back to our soul seeds, those clear intentions for better living that we plant in the hopes of cultivating our private Edens. 

Maybe it's mediation. Maybe it's reading trashy novels. (For me, it's kind of both!) Or taking a long walk in nature. Or making homemade pasta on a Sunday night...or another of simple pleasure you have yet to taste. What matters is that you make a conscious effort to find and nourish what makes you happy. Stay playful and stay curious. You'll be surprised what delightful things come your way and how full your soul feels when you give it time to just be.

What are your sacred simple pleasures?

Happy spring cleaning!


Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

Soul Seeds

While writing my past few blogs, I’ve found myself coming back to one phrase: soul seeds.

I have no idea where this phrase came from or when it first appeared on my blogs, let alone how long it has been secretly burrowed in my unconscious. It is safe to say, however, that this phrase—this seed—was ready to sprout, grow, bloom at the start of the year. I wrote about harvesting soul seeds in my post on Imbolc, speaking about the importance of collecting dreams, thoughts, hopes, and intentions as you would seeds to plant later in the spring. This term came up again in Welcoming in Eros Energy and was likewise used there to explore the intentions and inspirations we must cultivate in order to reignite our zest for life.

Hmmm….so soul seeds are kernels of wisdom and insights that help us grow, flourish, and tend our inner landscape. And with enough tending, that internal world will speak to us, as mine did when soul seeds popped into my vocabulary. 

And yet, haven’t I been talking about soul seeds all along, every time I mention seeds or thoughts? Every time I write of releasing negative energy and nourishing the transformative? Haven’t I once referred to myself as a seed or even full of seeds waiting to burst open and experience their potential? My blog and stories are pepped with the wisdom of growing things. Only now, I have a phrase for the exquisite experience of holding sheer possibility in your palm.

So here’s something to consider planting in fertile ground, as the sun warms the earth, and winter turns to spring: your soul seeds. Your whispers of inspiration. Your hopes for the future. The small daily changes that improve the quality of your life. The unvoiced longings and the spoken desires. Plant them in your heart. Plant them in your garden. Swallow them. Or cover them in soil. Water them or hold them in your belly.

Let them sprout when they are ready. Let them sing to you in their own time, there own way, and when you are open enough to listen. Let them surprise you with these morsels of insight. Let yourself hold these seeds and cast them to the wind and find a crack of concrete or a narrow gap in your ribcage to make their home in.


Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

Mushroom Pate Recipe

I’m a sucker for a good appetizer. Come Saturday, all I want is a beautiful cocktail and a luxurious nibble for happy hour. What can I say, it makes me feel fancy!

One of my favorite go-to recipes, especially in the winter, is this mushroom pate. It’s rich, decadent and…healthy. Real talk: sometimes this *is* my dinner come Saturday night. Paired with some delicately bitter endive and a few slices of crostini, it’s a light meal that still makes you feel ritzy, even if you are eating this dish in your jammies (winky face). 

I especially love this pate because it is so versatile. To make it vegan, omit the milk. The dairy makes it taste a little creamier, but the dish is equally delicious without it. You can also swap out the milk for a tablespoon of goat cheese or even nutritional yeast. See what I mean? Versatile! Likewise, you can use any kind of mushrooms, from simple button or crimini to more exotic portobello, oyster, or chanterelle mushrooms. The type of mushrooms you choose of course affects the flavor. I’ve made this dish with all mushroom types and found them all just plain tasty.

Another perk of this recipe is that you can make as much or as little as you want. Below, I’ve given you the measurements for about one pound of mushrooms, but you can make more or less, depending on your needs.


1 lb mushrooms, diced 

2 tbs fresh sage, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp milk or cream (optional)

salt, to taste

olive oil

Heat oil on medium. Add garlic and sage, then cook on low for a minute or so. Add more oil and diced mushrooms, turning heat up to medium-low. Let mushroom sit, only turning every few minutes, for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool.

Once mushrooms have cooled, place them in blender and mix them together until mixture resembles a thick paste, but still has bits of bigger mushroom pieces in it. To make this a more authentic pate, you can chill it for an hour and then serve. It is, however, equally delicious warm. Plate with crostini, radicchio, endive, or other crudite. Top with chives or more sage. Serves 4.



Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

Welcoming in Eros Energy

I've experienced a swirl of synchronous happenings these past few weeks all of which were centered on the myth of Psyche and Eros. There was the Facebook post about walking through our private underworlds in order to find our way to Eros and, ultimately, the hard work it takes to cultivate happiness. Then there were the articles I stumbled across on the Divine Eros and freeing our Eros energy. That's not every getting into the daily signs that crossed my path, from candles and cupids to seeds and golden thread.

Most of these signs might be easily dismissed by the simple fact that Valentine's Day is around the corner (when scented candles and cupid-shaped chocolates abound), if not for the fact that I saw these things in unexpected places, not in a holiday store display. The seeds came to me from an unlikely place: a random gift of my favorite popcorn, lovingly stored in a mason jar and a forgotten bag of seeds I'd harvested the previous summer tucked into my the junk drawer (Psyche sorting seeds in the first of many trials set by Aphrodite). The glittery sweater that I found in the back of my closet was reminiscent of the golden wool Psyche had to collect to prove her love for Eros. There was even more than one dream about navigating hell or wading through choppy waters (two more trials Psyche endured). It seemed after I read that Facebook post, all I could see were signs of this Eros energy.

Clearly, the universe was trying to tell me something. And when the universe speaks, I listen.

My task, it would seem, would be to reconnect to Eros. So what is Eros energy? A simple answer would involve invoking this God of Love to find romance, sex, and all the things we come to associate with Cupid and Valentine's Day. But it's a bit more complicated than that. For one, archetypes and gods are rarely so "copy-paste" in their answers, any more so than a tarot card can be read literally. Eros isn't just about romantic love or eroticism, it's about reconnecting to the passionate energy within ourselves, trusting the joy we inhabit rather than doubting it, as Psyche did when she was at first convinced her love Eros was a monster in her bed. 

Eros energy is the life-blood of our daily lives, the healthy relationality with ourselves and others that makes life, well, delicious. We are all like Psyche, in one way or another, doing the hard work to reclaim our private Edens, traveling through our proverbial hells and completing seemingly endless trials to reclaim our natural passionate essence, unblemished by experience, outside voices (which caused Psyche to doubt her love in the first place), and our own uncertainty.

So life was telling me something: I had to work my way back to the earthy hedonism, the everyday eroticism you feel when you are at one with yourself, in union with the things that make you feel happy, healthy, whole. I'd lately felt disconnected from myself, operating more out a sense of obligation than actual enjoyment, fearful of turning down social obligations because I didn't want to offend anyone. In truth, I wanted to be home; I needed to be quiet. I needed to slow down after feeling like I was moving increasingly faster and faster. I didn't feel joyful, nor lusty for life. I felt tired--and it was only the first of the year. Somewhere between holiday break and beginning teaching again, I stopped listening to myself, stopped connecting to Eros.

In order to find my way back to my Eros energy, I had to ask myself hard questions--what really brings me joy?--and be honest about my answers, which were, frankly, counter to the social norm. I thought of Psyche as I worked on opening up myself to the love vibes. I thought of her separating seeds: What intentions do I want to plant? What do I need to feel nourished? How can I find my golden moments without climbing an uphill battled to get to them? Again, I looked to Psyche, as she gathered golden fleece left on the reeds the rams brushed against, rather than confront these dangerous animals head-on. There are gentler ways of doing things.

Then we must not forget the waters of forgetfulness. Psyche bringing a jug of those waters back to Aphrodite is not to erase the past but to let go of the petty details and small grievances that only weight you down. You can't hold on to everything, otherwise, you've no room for present happiness. Her journey to the underworld reminds me that I can't give energy to things that drain me, just as Psyche must remain focused on the road ahead of her and not be distracted by the lost souls that call to her. 

All well and good. But what does finding your way back to Eros look like when you are an ordinary human? Much the same as Psyche's journey, truthfully. I saturated my senses with things that made me feel inordinately happy. I conjured Eros's fire to illuminate my path. I sorted seeds and gathered golden threads. I stopped giving energy to things that drained me as I move into a new phase of my life. I gave myself more quiet time, so I could listen to myself, my needs. And yes, there may have been one or two heart-shaped chocolates and lighted candles. 

Lest this seem all too easy, consider how we, as a culture, shy away from what we really want (hello people pleasing) and unadulterated pleasure (surely we must be always working). It can be a difficult journey to find our way to joy, to passionate pleasure in all things. But so worth it.

So I leave you with this soul seed to gather: What brings you ecstasy? What are you afraid of enjoying? What makes your life delicious?

Find it. Gaurd it. Nourish it.

That is Eros energy.


Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

5 Ways to Celebrate Imbolc

I love winter. The season creates space for quiet and contemplation. And while many see January and February as the cold season's doldrums after the vibrant festivities of December, I find the calm, clean energy of the first two months of the new year to be refreshing. I liken these months as the moments right before something exciting is about to happen. The pause of your pen before committing words to paper. The intake of breath before a kiss. The soft awareness before drifting off to sleep. That liminal space has always been a fruitful territory for me because it is so full of possibility.

There is no day better suited to this pregnant fluid space than Imbolc. Traditionally, this holiday, celebrated every February 2nd, represents the halfway point between winter and spring. It is meant to celebrate the coming abundance of the new season, often represented by Brigid, goddess of the dawn and fertility. Pausing to acknowledge Imbolc allows you to gather the soul seeds--intentions, hopes, dreams--you hope to plant in the spring and compost things from the previous year that no longer serve you. Below, I've listed five ways to celebrate this dawn-like holiday and honor the power of liminal spaces.

1. Spring clean--inside and out. So I know I write a lot about cleaning the home on the equinoxes and solstices, but you should never underestimate the power of a good scrub-down. It sweeps away stagnant and negative energies that might have built up over the season and allows you to take a good hard look at what you allow into your sanctuary. Lately, I've been getting rid of the clutter in my home and making sure everything I have is used or has a purpose (including enjoyment). If it doesn't, it gets donated. Through this, I've also decluttered my mind, saying goodbye to old, unfruitful conceptions of myself in the same way I got rid of wasteful one-use plastics from my kitchen. Take this time to consider what brings you joy and what doesn't. Then cleanse accordingly.

2. Collect seeds. This could be a literal gathering of daffodil bulbs and hollyhock disks for your garden, along with the harvested seeds of last year's lettuces, radishes, and tomatoes. It could also be your soul seeds. What do you want to manifest? What do you want to make fertile and plant come spring? you'll notice here that I said "collect" and not "plant" them. There is much magic, much medicine in allowing things to incubate before you take action. Imbolc is the embodiment of that pregnant pause before birthing your new dreams. So take a pause. Hold your seeds close. Let them speak to you. They will tell you when they are ready to be planted. 

3. Take a radical self-care day. Okay, so realistically we can't necessarily take off work for Imbolc, but it's a good idea to schedule in some TLC on the 2nd. Just as seed-gathering is important to mark the coming spring, so too is relaxation and hibernation essential to honor the passing winter. Pause. Recharge. Nourish your soul and reconnect to yourself. 

4. Feed your garden. When we think of gardening, we think of planting seeds in the spring, tending it in the summer, and enjoying the fruits of our labor in the fall. It is equally important, however, to tend our garden during its dormant season: cleaning up the debris that settled over it during the winter, pruning and tending the hearty cold weather plants, and turning your compost. Get dirt in your fingernails and dried leaves in your hair. Breath in the scent of rosemary and freshly turned earth. Your garden--and soul--will thank you.

5. Cook a seasonal feast. It would be remiss of me to not to mention feasting for any nature-based celebration. They are all, in one way or another, about honoring the abundance in our lives! For Imbolc, in particular, it's a good idea to make a feast using dark greens and other produce that is in season now. I'm a fan of making dishes that use burdock root or dandelion leaves for their powerful detoxifying properties. This is a season of energetic cleansing, after all.

How do you celebrate Imbolc?


Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

A Year of Using, Wasting, & Buying Less

Regular readers of my blog know that I actively work on making my life more eco-conscious.  Sustainability is an integral part of my self-care routine because let’s face it, if it’s bad for the earth, it’s bad for me and vice versa. I also find that I need the deep connection to nature in order to feel whole as a person in the same way I need my daily writing or yoga practice. 

This year, I feel an even greater urgency to fight climate change, especially in the face of threats to our national monuments, renewed fracking and offshore drilling, and other concerning news. If we continue taxing the earth’s resources, the cacao plant will be extinct in 40 years; the ocean will have more plastic in it than marine life by 2050; and, because of rising temperature, plant and animal species, and the delicate ecosystems in which they thrive, will be extinct. Worse still, the United States is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Why? Because we waste a significant amount of resources including energy and water in order to keep up with our mindless consumerism. 

However, there is a silver lining in all of this: We have the power to reverse climate change. That is why this year, my goal is to use, waste, and buy less in an effort to promote an actively sustainable lifestyle. And while many people think being sustainable is hard, it really isn’t. All it requires is a mentality shift away from what we consider to be the norm. Plastic bags at the grocery store can easily be reused for future trips or swapped out entirely with reusable produce and grocery bags. Plastic water bottles (one of the most wasteful products out there) can be replaced with a reusable bottle. Even curbing impulse purchases (hello retail therapy!) can become a way for us to save money and consider what we really need in life (hint: it’s not that one use item covered in plastic wrap).

In order to become more sustainable, I’ve had to be incredibly honest with myself about what I need, what I want (which might not always be healthy for me or the environment), and what I can do to more aggressively combat climate change. So far the results have been illuminating. My life is less cluttered, I enjoy what I have more, and I’m more thoughtful about where my money is going.

So how will I measure my success? Here’s my plan:

1. Use Less:  Everyday I make about four cups of coffee, but only ever drink two. Sure, I water my plants with the leftovers but soon realized it simply makes sense to just make less coffee. That basic principle behind using less extends to electricity, water, and other resources. A few years ago, I began using power strips for all my electronics and turning them off every time I wasn’t using said electronic. This prevents “vampire energy” or the sapping of energy that continues even when a device is off. It saves energy—and money—as does keep the heater a few degrees lower. These simple changes, among other things, help reduce the overall consumption of valuable resources and take very little time and attention to change. In short, I plan to be more thoughtful about what I can actually consume, from food to electricity and beyond, to limit waste. Which leads me to my second goal...

2. Waste Less: Regular readers of my blog know that I hate one-use items. They are costly to make and often end up in the trash which ends up in the landfill or worse. I also hate plastic. It is one of the primary products that harm the planet, especially the oceans where much of it ends up. My aim here is not just to recycle and compost, but to buy products with little to no packaging to begin with. I’ll also mend, repair and otherwise make-do with what I have rather than throwing things out and buying quickie replacements. This also means using the plastics I do have rather than throwing them out. The better care I take of the things I have, the longer they last and the less I throw out. The less trash and recycling I have, the better.  

3. Buy Less: One of the best ways to fight climate change is to not buy products in the first place. Mindless consumerism asks us to buy! buy! buy! often when we don’t really need a specific product. So for this goal, I’m going to reduce impulse purchases by waiting a few days before actually buying something I see and like. I’ve already started on this one and found that I almost never end up buying once coveted items after waiting a few days. When I do have to buy things, I want to strive to keep it local and, if that isn’t possible, as sustainable as possible. (There are, naturally, a few things I'm going to exclude from this buy-less agenda, namely ebooks, which, in themselves are more eco-friendly than their hardcopy counterparts. I can't live without stories!) As I’ve been practicing this buy-less mentality, I find it has transformed my life. I make an effort to go to the farmers market and my local co-op, buy any necessary clothes or furniture at second-hand and vintage stores, and, when I do want to treat myself, I invest in experiences rather than items. This has lead to a richer experience where I’ve gotten to know my community more and truly enjoy and use what I do purchase. 

So those are my goals for the year, along with continuing to educate myself and others on ways to fight climate change.  How do you fight climate change? 


Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

5 Things I Learned in My Year of Radical Self-Care

As I look back on my year of radical self-care, I find that I've learned several important things about taking care of myself. It wasn't always easy and, in truth, I wasn't consistently great about maintaining my radical self-care goals. Why? Life happened. Real talk here: thinking about self-care and actively, aggressively cultivating it in the midst of tending to work, family life, and the inevitable curve balls the universe sends your way are two VERY different things. All in all, I've found that it's worth putting in the time and effort to building a healthier lifestyle; and even when I'd gotten off track (hello overwork!), I learned more about the importance of setting boundaries and letting go of things that don't enhance my overall happiness.  Although my year of radical self-care is now at an end, I plan to take the following lessons into the new year so that I can continue to develop my wellness routine. 

1. Self-care is hard work. When we think of self-care, we think about lighting scented candles and wrapping ourselves in fuzzy blankets for an afternoon of relaxation. And yes, sometimes self-care does look like that.  But more often than not, self-care is hard work involving a lot of adulting.  It means getting up before the sun to workout because you know that is the only time you can reliably exercise.  It means eating more greens and limiting sugar and carbs.  Most of all, self-care is about putting yourself first in a world that romanticizes overwork and overextension: a difficult thing to learn how to do if you are used to people pleasing...which leads me to lesson number two:

2. No is a two-letter word for happiness. Seriously, I've had to learn to say no. A lot. It was hard at first because I didn't want to let people down and, frankly, I just get really excited about things and tend to overcommit.  Then I realize that I am no use to anyone when I'm overworked. Worse, my self-care routine goes out the window due to lack of sleep, time, energy--you name it.  It's hard to see the magic of everyday life when you're overextended.  So I started turning down projects I knew I didn't have time for.  I scaled back on social commitments to give myself more time to be quiet (a necessity for an introvert like me).  I even gave myself more writing breaks so I could replenish myself through reading and daydreaming.  I found, through all of this, that a part of me is addicted to being busy and I've had to learn what it means to enjoy a full, healthy life without inviting in the frantic energy synonymous with that four-letter B-word.

3. I can't do it alone.  I started the year strong.  I would come home from work and hit the yoga mat or take a long walk, determined to get back on a regular exercise routine.  Then midsemester hit.  The days got a little longer, just like the housekeeping to-do list that kept me from my afternoon workout.  I quickly realized that I needed a space to workout that was separate from office or home, a place to focus on my wellness journey and surround myself with people just as invested in their own health.  So I joined a boutique gym (Rebel Workout for those of you in Albuquerque).  It was life changing!  Exercising got easier when I had a place I looked forward to going to every morning to see people who were cultivating similar self-care routines.  I was meeting fitness goals at a better rate, healing old injuries, and enjoying being around positive people who supported one another's growth.  It made me realize how essential it is to be around like-minded wellness-conscious people.  

4. It's addictive.  I love exercising and eating well.  I love having quiet time at home to read by candlelight.  I love finishing my days with a few yoga poses.  I enjoy my life more and stress less about the little things.  I have more energy and a playful spirit.  I delight in my routine again.  It is no longer an endless to-do list, but a delicious ritual that keeps the magic flowing...as long as I stick to my self-care routine!

5. The definition of self-care is always evolving.  Part of keeping the magic flowing is growing into new ways of tending yourself and those you love.  The deeper I go into self-care, the more I let go of energies that no longer serve me and embrace the healthy things that do.  The more open I am to my self-care journey--and it is a journey, with many ups and downs--the more I am able to find a deeper way of living.

So that's what I learned this past year of radical self-care.  What have you learned about self-care?


Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority During the Holidays

As I wrap up my year of radical self-care, I find myself needing to recommit to those important practices I started last new year.  In fact, it feels even more important to nurture wellness during the holiday season.  Let's face it, sometimes life gets busy and it is tempting to let self-care rituals get put on the back burner while we take care of business. The holidays can magnify this with the increased demands to socialize, consume, and otherwise do more. 

Don't get me wrong--I'm not a grinch! But I do think the dark side of the holidays is a sense of enforced cheer and manic consumerism. Think about all the times you are asked to buy more, commit to one more social activity, or overwork to get things done by the end of the year. Wouldn't it be great if we allowed ourselves to do less this season--and all year round?

And while things are merry and bright this time of year, there is also the shadow side of the solstice that asks us to turn inward and recharge for the new year: a facet of the holiday that often gets overlooked.  At its best, this time of year is about celebrating the abundance around us and celebrating the renewal of light on the darkest day of the year; at worst, it can numb us out with overstimulation.  By turning back to our self-care needs, we can better enjoy the season and all it has to offer.  In honor of this, I give you five ways to make-self-care a priority this month.

1. Buy less.  The holidays, whichever ones you celebrate, aren't about things or buying more stuff.  They are about enjoying time with the ones you love and appreciating the fruits of your labor.  My family and I decided a while ago not to stress about buying people gifts and instead often give homemade treats, thoughtful tokens, and generally focus on good food and good cheer. We also avoid going out on Black Friday aka Manic Consumerism Day and instead promote Buy Nothing Day

Buying less is not only more environmentally and economically friendly, but also a great way to remove yourself from the fray of frantic shoppers. Take time to make your own gifts, if you have a crafty side, or buy local to support small businesses. Your neighborhood shops will have unique gift options in a more relaxed atmosphere conducive to a low and slow weekend afternoon of gift hunting.  Any way you do it, give yourself permission to buy less and invest more time in relishing the simple pleasures of the season.  It's where the magic is at.

2. Embrace hygge.  This Danish word for coziness is the perfect term for this time of year.  Light candles.  Enjoy a quiet night by the fireside. Cook a hearty healthy meal. Remember that some of the most joyful times of the season are the quietest. My fondest solstice memories are those where I literally did nothing: gazed into the fire, sipped a cup of homemade holiday chai, took a nap on the couch.  It's rare that we get this kind of time to rest, so why not make it a priority this season?

3. Pencil in quiet time.  I love a good party and this season can make a get-together even more festive with glittery lights, fizzy drinks, and bright spirits all around. But I always make sure to leave some time for me.  A lot of time.  I need quiet as an introvert, time to unwind and space to lollygag, otherwise I never completely recharge.  This season, give yourself permission to say no to social engagements.  Block out an afternoon that's just for you.  Gift yourself an evening at home doing nothing in particular.  Give yourself lots of these things, often and with wild abandon.

4. Feel what you need to feel.  Let's be real: the holidays can be utterly and completely sentimental and the Norman Rockwellesque depictions of heavenly happiness can be overwhelming...especially if you don't enjoy the holidays much yourself or have bad holiday memories.  Even if you do enjoy the season, you don't have to be merry and bright 24/7. .Just be honest with yourself about what you are feeling.  The solstice is about honoring the sun on the darkest night of the year, embracing the shadows as well as the light.

5. Stick to your self-care routine...including working out and eating right.  This is perhaps the hardest, and most important, tip of all.  I'm not saying give up your holiday treats, just make sure you carve out time for healthy meals and solid exercise.  And don't get down on yourself for indulging, either.  Enjoy yourself!  But in a season that can feel overwhelming in its excess (more of that consumption for the sake of consumption), your self-care routine can be a delicious luxury that keeps you connected to yourself. It also prevents mindless overindulgence where you consume food and drink without thought or appreciation. Feast and be merry, then take a long walk in nature or sink into a quiet evening yoga with festive twinkle lights as a soothing background to your flow.

Remember that this season is about winter, about following the patterns of nature, including moving into a more introverted state while the land rests.  We can find joy in the simple delights of the season that help us tune into the everyday magic around us. So this year, instead of getting caught up in the whirlwind of high consumerism, opt instead for a genuinely relaxing and festive holiday focused on renewal.

How do you make sure that you keep your self-care routine during this busy season?  However you do it, I hope your season is full of much rest, relaxation, and love. 


Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

Bury the Dead in Marigolds

I am tired of wrapping my lips around the past. It is a dead thing kept alive only by my attention and my tongue.  I cannot tell why I keep worrying it, like the frayed edges of a beloved scarf or a fuzzy memory.  Habit, maybe.  I don't even like the taste of it anymore.  All charcoal and regrets and bitter seeds that make my mouth feel chalky--nothing like the fat marigold head I hold in my hand.

This orange-feathered sun tickles my lifeline and the small little rivers and deviations carved into my palm. The bud smells of clean earth and the naked joy of growing things.  This, I want.  The smell, the taste, the everything covering my body as if it were my second skin.  I want to make my home in this honeyed sweetness when once I never dared to think it possible to hold a living flower without crushing it. 

I know what must be done: I dig a six-foot deep hole in my backyard and go about the business of burying the dead.  Mason jars will make the perfect coffins.  There are too many of them anyway as if I must preserve and hold onto everything I taste in this world. They belong in the earth now, as does the past.

I unscrew each lid of every jar I own until there is a mass of open mouths waiting to be fed.  So I set about stuffing those holes.  I spit the gritty black sludge that has formed between my lips into one jar and the bitter seeds into another.  It feels like the purge will never end, but I keep at it until my mouth is dry but clean and I can taste sunshine in the back of my throat.  

And while I am at it, I comb dead leaves and ugly thoughts from my hair and stuff it into another hungry jar. The dead skin I slough off finds its resting place in yet another jar, though I was afraid not all of it would fit. Nail clippings and self-doubts go next, along with the brittle bones of my ancestors (may they never rise) and the fragments of ghosts they wish I would inherit.  The last three jars are filled with the worn husks of dreams that have outlived their usefulness. 

No more jars, but still so much left to bury.

Prayers for saints—those poems I could never speak for those things I could never be—are cast into the grave along with a bag of sugar and the moth larvae that made their home in the saccharine crystals.  I do not have an altar on which to place sweet skulls and lighted candles—just the earth.  Ofrendas—I don’t have any of those either.  Just things that need to go.  I have no wish to give offerings to spirits that would make me one of them—sad things, unfulfilled things, things that were dead while living.  And here I am breathing.  Here I am changing the story.  I doubt they would ever wish me well, so don’t ask me to beg for their attention.  Don’t ask me to bow down and hold them close—or worse, build an altar in their names.

I’ve never been much for anything that asks me to get down on my knees.

I only trust the marigolds, and so I collect each and every head from my garden and the stash of dried petals from my pantry.  Here is the sunshine that will cleanse my soul.  Here is the heartbeat that will banish the flatline.  But first—I dig.  And dig.  And dig so many other little holes surrounding the grave.  So many other tiny graves for my Mason jars that would not fit in the six-foot-deep abyss where I planted all the things that need forgetting.  My backyard is a cemetery.  It’s full to bursting by the time I’m done with it.  Who knew Mason jars could take up so much space?  Who knew I held on to too much for too long?

Part of me is afraid to fully commit these things to the ground.  I don’t know what I am without my dead skins or my tangled hair or fragments of stories written on scraps of paper which now line the bottom of my dirty tombs. 

Then the marigolds whisper: perhaps you should find outPerhaps you should fill your graves with dirt and life and let those dead things feed the earthGive them to the worms who will be better nourished by the decaying and the dying.  In turn, they will gift you with fertile ground for better things.

The flowers are right, of course.  These things are of no use to me above ground—

—so down they go, into the underworld.

The shovel is my only companion.  Not even a lantern or candle graces my presence.  Some things are best done in the dark.  I make quick work of it, tossing dirt and more regrets on top of the scars I cut into my yard until I can no longer see Mason jar caps or heaps of sugar.  Until there is nothing left but freshly covered graves.

Here I stand with no last rites or final words.  Just a handful of dirt and another of marigolds.  I scattered the dry petals first so that they make a thin veil between the living and the dead.  Then I heap fresh buds upon fresh buds, open flowers upon open flowers, until the disturbed earth is no longer a series of scars but open seams that let the light through.  

I let the golden petals coat my backyard until my hands ache with the letting go and the holding on.  There is only one small flower left (the one I started with), barely emerging from the bud, sitting in the dry-bed of my palm.  The lifelines seem deeper now, but perhaps that is just dark soil bringing them to life.  In any case, I lean against the shovel and admire my work.  

Already, new shoots are emerging from the worm-rot.  Healthy green tendrils spread across the raw landscape like one long hearty Goodbye:

Goodbye to ghosts.  Goodbye to the past.  Goodbye to dead and gone things.  The golden flower is a sweet Hello in my hand, sweeping away any lingering regrets in my final Goodbyes.  My mouth is clean.  My scarred earth is healing.  I have no more energy for bitter seeds or sugared skulls.  Only the feathery seeds of a marigold’s heart. 

Much better to savor the fat orange fruit on the inside of a calendula bud.


Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday fantasy, and absolutely delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

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5 Ways to Nourish the Goddess Within

These past few weeks have been filled with a series of synchronicities that have reminded me of the importance of self-care.  The first thing that happened was that after an amazing (and incredibly busy) first week back teaching, I started the long weekend feeling under the weather.  I had every intention of doing all the things from attending wine festivals to dancing late into the night, to any other shenanigans that came my way.  But I had only just been saying, in light of my fuller-than-usual schedule this term, that I needed to be sure to make self-care a priority.  It seemed life took over so that I had to follow through with my statement.  There was no doubt about it--I felt a cold coming on and the only thing I could do was rest and relax until it went away.  I literally had no choice but to take care of myself!

So I rested.  And I took long naps and did gentle yogas and drank copious amounts of tea.  And it was...delicious.  It was three whole days of cooking healthy meals inspired by farmers' market finds and indulging in afternoons reading my trashy books.  It made me realize how little attention I had been paying to my internal life.  With all the excitement a new school year brings and the enjoyment of my extroverted new literacies I'd been cultivating, I'd neglected to nourish my yin energy.  

...and then the universe kept speaking to me in synchronous code. 

The first synchronous event came when I learned that the first Sunday of September was World Goddess Day.  Trust me.  It's a thing. The more I read about it, the more I loved the idea of devoting the day to goddess energy so as to cultivate it year round.  In such a male-centric society that values extroversion, logic, and concrete accomplishments, goddess energy reminds us of the equally important need to nourish introversion and tend our emotional and psychic lives.

The unfolding work weeks were spent in equal measures of sleep and homey nourishment simply because I had no energy for anything else.  During this dormant time, a funny thing started to happen.  I was seeing goddess wisdom everywhere.  In my newsfeed.  On TV.  In books.  Even in my tarot deck.  She was everywhere.  I began to think the universe was trying to tell me something.  I was being reminded of the power of the feminine, the power of quiet and simple pleasures, the power of home as medicine.  Such is the way of synchronicity.  

After I tuned back into my own magic, I realized that it is too easy to forget to care for ourselves, too easy to lose track of the big picture as we navigate our day to day, too easy to dismiss pleasurable things as unimportant.  We all have things we have to get done, after all.  But the Goddess Within reminds us that we can be a boss in our outer daily lives and still nourish our internal lives.  I needed tender things these past few weeks, gentle things and beautiful things to restore myself.  I needed to read fun books and lighten my energy.  And I needed to imbue my home with the delicious essence of divinely beautiful living.  

So who is the Goddess Within?  She is the one who rises above the daily debris that might weigh us down--she sees the big picture of life so we don't get stuck on the small mundanities. She is sensuous and beautiful, at home in her body. She loves to indulge in the pleasures of life. She doesn't hesitate to care for herself--as we so often can in the world that seems to demand more and more of us. She is at home with her emotions and the psychic world. In short, she is pure magic.

Now that I'm no longer sick, I want to maintain the blissful feelings of goddess-inspired self-care--minus the scratchy throat.  I've found that there are five easy ways to nourish the Goddess Within, even when life might seem hectic.  Find her and love her with these tips:

1. Invite the goddesses into your home.  As you know, I'm a huge proponent making a home a sanctuary, not just a place to crash at the end of the day.  One of my favorite decor books, The Goddess Home Style Guide, reminds us of the power of invoking the archetypal forces of goddesses like Aphrodite, Athena, and Demeter as you decorate your space.  Take Aphrodite's lead and make your bedroom a sensuous space for dreaming and delighting.  Make your bathroom reflect the sea-kissed shores she was birthed from.  Allow Demeter to fill your kitchen with the harvest's abundance, and Athena to make your writing desk a celebration of imagination and intellectual curiosity. The more you cultivate goddess wisdom within your space, the more you feel inspired to make each act within those spaces deliberate and joyful.

2. Love your body.  Each curve, each scar, each freckle.  Love it all.  And treat it right.  Exercise and do yoga and wear clothes that fit well.  Enjoy the sensuous pleasures of satin jammies. Slather it in body butter and soak your locks in honey. We are inundated with images of airbrushed bodies on magazines and other media about how to reshape ourselves into an ideal form of beauty; it's important to remember that healthy and happy override a certain dress size.  I mean look at Botticelli's Aphrodite: big hips, small breasts, round belly.  Hardly fulfilling today's beauty ideals, but she's THE GODDESS OF LOVE.  Take your cues from her and recognize that beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes. 

3.  Protect your you time.  The Goddess Within is tender and playful, sure, but she's a warrior too. It can be hard to say no or be done working for the day.  We live in a culture that can slowly start demanding more and more of us.  As women especially, we can struggle to draw important boundaries that lead to a more balanced life.  So invoke the warrior!  Say no to things.  Carve out space for what brings you joy and get comfortable establishing limits.  Loving the Goddess Within doesn't mean your energy is limitless, it means that you know how to replenish yourself and create space for simply being.

4.  Stay connected to everyday magic. Okay, so this one is probably a no-brainer considering I pretty much write about everyday magic ALL THE TIME.  But even as I write about it and firmly believe in its power, I can still sometimes find myself disconnected from it.  And when I am, the world is a lot less wondrous, and a lot more gray.  The disconnection happens when I'm overly tired and get a little numb, hence the gray.  I've found that creating more space in my day to breathe and focus on being receptive to the beautiful things around me--like the synchronicities that lead me back to my magic--goes a long way to keeping my magic strong.  Remember there is more to this world than checklists and schedules. 

5.  Make every routine a ritual.  You're tired.  You want to put on some pajamas and veg out in front of the TV, but there's laundry to do and dinner to cook.  Celebrate those chores, rather than dread them by turning them into rituals that help you unplug from your workday and reconnect with yourself.  So I have to turn my compost--good.  Dirt in my fingernails grounds me and feeding the worms connects me to nature.  So I don't know what to cook for dinner--I'll start with sauteeing an onion and let my farm fresh ingredients speak to me.  Taking the extra time to cook a healthy meal allows me to nourish my whole being and enjoy the sensuousness of sauteeing vegetables.  It allows me to slow down and reconnect to the deliciousness that is life.  Throw in a jazz record and a glass of wine, and you've got the makings of a divine evening.

...and I'll leave you with one last bonus tip for nourishing the Goddess Within, she who is abundant and powerful and infinite in her joy: leave time to dream.  Dreams, after all, are seeds that eventually sprout.  


Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday fantasy, and absolutely delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

A Summer of New Literacies

The glories of summer are fading into the delicious settledness of fall.  School is starting.  The harvest season is upon us.  A regular routine is taking the place of those seemingly long unstructured hours of summer (though granted, my summer hours were still fairly structured since I happily taught for most of it).  Yet I still feel pretty adventurous and ready to ease into a full course load while continuing to carve out time for fun, play, and the little things that make life, well, lively!

Why?  I'll let you in on a little secret: this summer was my summer of new literacies.  Spring was the season of epiphanies, as it so often is.  An extra-full workload made me realize that there is such a thing as loving your routine too much.  I know!  This coming from the woman who champions her routines as rituals, but hear me out.  

I had a short break from springs semester before diving into summer and in that space, I realized something: all the adventures I wanted to have and all the things I wanted to try ended up getting shoved aside in an attempt to get stuff done.  And when I did have down time, I devoted it to the introverted hobbies that nourished me--not a bad thing in and of itself, mind you, it's just that my comfort zone became...too, well, comfortable to the point of feeling suffocating.  I needed to dust off the stagnant energy and remember what it was like to play.

And so I played.  I was inspired by Shonda Rhimes's Year of Yes which tracks the year she said yes to everything that scared her.  I, too, took the summer to say yes to things outside my comfort zone, with one caveat: they had to bring me joy, pleasure, excitement--all the things we think of when we think of summer.  Now that didn't mean I wasn't afraid or nervous when I tried new things; it just meant that my interest in them outweighed my skittishness.  I also allowed myself to say no to things that did not inspire me.  I'm a woman who loves the power of her no as much as her yes.  Saying no to one thing allows you the space to say yes to another, often something you are far more excited about.  And if something didn't end up being as fun as I'd hoped, that was okay too.  What was important was that I tried something new and allowed myself to experience life outside of my work.

I'd come to think of this experiment as developing new literacies.  I was fluent in books and stories, family life and introvert life.  But what other languages might I learn?  What other ways to communicate?  It was hard at first. So. So. Hard.  Like trying to rebuild shoulder strength after an injury when you can barely remember you have shoulder muscles (this was part of my summer plan too: heal thy shoulder, heal thyself). Or like when I studied French and could never quite wrap my mouth around nasaly consonants and reedy vowels, let alone remember how to spell the words that didn't always pronounce certain letters.  But even in the midst of the struggle, I also found myself looking forward to saying yes and yes and yes to more and more things. 

The results: I found myself dreaming more and acting on those dreams.  I took different dance classes and tried new workouts, I went on weekly adventures and challenged myself to shake up my routine.  I took better care of myself and found that in making time for fun things, I felt happier, healthier, and surprisingly more productive when I wasn't just teaching and writing all the time.  An important revelation during my year of radical self-care.

I also had to become more aware of how I think of myself.  Let's face it: words are my safe space. I'm a writer and a teacher and an introvert, confident in those identities.  But who was I beyond that?  A dancer, as it turns out.  And a lover of cucumber beer after yoga with friends and a farmers' market lush who has to have her shot of freshly pressed wheatgrass before she can even think about filling her bag with produce.  I'd found I was someone who liked TRX (although, let's be real, is still very much learning how to do it!).  And I was someone who looked forward to dancing to the gods and goddesses in her Afro-Cuban Folkloric class and spending Sunday night at a baseball game.  

I even dusted off my bike--in storage for over ten years--and started riding it again.  It was like remembering an old part of myself, reviving that dormant piece, fearless in her joy, with a little bit of light and air and relaxation--and a super sore body after that first trip out!  I painted and drank wine.  I took mini road trips so that I could remember what it was like to cruise across open land. I allowed myself to take in theater performances and nourish the relationships that make my life richer.  I let myself relearn the pleasure of not being an expert, not know what I'm doing, letting go of the need to always be productive.

I even found grace and enjoyment from the uncertainty and inevitable social anxiety that comes from exposing yourself to new things.  It meant I was outside my comfort zone and that was a very, very good thing.  Most of all, I found how important it is for me to cultivate the daily adventures that shake up my routine and relish the company of other wild and wonderful dreamers, livers, and adventurers.  Now that the summer is almost over, I find I have developed a new literacy: bravery.  I am no longer afraid to taste new things, to learn new languages, to experience the world one yes at a time.  And the cucumber beer? Trust me.  It's a thing.  And it's delicious. 

new literacies 2.jpg

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday fantasy, and absolutely delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

Goddess Hair Mask

I have wild hair.  Like seriously wild, unruly hair that doesn't know what to do with itself.  But I kinda like it that way.  But what I don't like is frizz.  Or brittle, chalky strands.  Alas, these conditions are all too easy to have when your hair is as thick as mine.

I've tried everything under the sun--from regular drug store products to fancy organic stuff--to hydrate my locks and make them silky.  Nothing has worked...until I learned how to make my own concoctions like my hydrating hair mask that uses honey to moisturize my luscious locks. 

In the past year, I've taken this original mask up a notch by including apple cider vinegar and coconut oil.  The results?  Goddess Hair.  Seriously.  During my year of radical Self-Care, I've recommitted to using this hair mask weekly because, after all, feeling lovely and like you're caring for your person in even the smallest ways is an integral part of wellness.  My hair is silky and wavy whenever I use this mask, the right kind of wild and loose.  Gone are the brittle strands and the puffy frizz ball that tries to pass as my regular mane.    

The honey helps your hair retain moisture while the coconut oil rehydrates it.  The apple cider vinegar does double duty cleansing your hair of buildup and balancing its pH.  I use equal parts of each ingredient, but you will want to play with the right ratio for you.  For instance, you might need way less coconut oil than I do if your hair isn't as prone to dryness.  I also like to add in various essential oils like rosemary or lavender to boost shine and nix any potential vinegary smell.  Quantity matters too--sometimes I use closer to 1/4 cup for each ingredient rather than 1/8 cup.  And of course, all ingredients are organic.  

Use it once a week, and I can guarantee you'll get Goddess Hair. Because who doesn't want to feel like a glamorous earth mama (or fella)?


1/8 cup organic honey

1/8 cup melted coconut oil

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar  

20 drops essential oils of choice

Melt coconut oil and combine with room temperature vinegar and honey in a squirt bottle.  Add essential oils if desired.  Shake vigorously until combined.  To use, wet hair and then, using the bottle, squirt mixture until hair.  Massage it into scalp and comb into strands.  Put hair up in a bun and let sit for 20 minutes (now is a good time to give your body a good scrub down, indulge in a bubble bath, or read a book).  When done, rinse hair thoroughly and then shampoo as you normally would.  Do not use conditioner.  Let hair dry.  Use once a week for best results.  

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday fantasy, and absolutely delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

Homemade Bronzer

Over the years, I've gotten into making my own makeup (that's when you know you've gone full-on eco-conscious blogging hippy BTW).  The more I learned about the junk that goes into cosmetics--even the supposedly organic kind--the more I've tried to figure out ways to make my own for better quality control.  I started with my Thank Goodness It Ain't Maybelline Mascara and it's clear off-shoot that's ideal for hot summer days.  They made me a DIY makeup convert.  The recipes are quick and economical, costing me mere cents rather than the twenty or so dollars I would shell out for a good quality organic mascara!  Plus I know that my ingredients are all natural and safe to use.

I took it to the next level with this homemade bronzer.  It's great for sensitive skin like mine and for people who don't like a ton of heavy makeup on their face.  An added bonus for me is that I get to choose just the right color and saturation.  Seriously, who hasn't bought makeup that turned out to be the wrong shade for your complexion or much too heavy for your taste?  With my own blend, I take out the guess work. While it might cost a little up front to purchase your bulk ingredients, they go a long way and never spoil.  You end up spending only about a dollar for an ounce or two of bronzer.  Amazing!

I adapted my recipe from Wellness Mama, my go-to guru for everything DIY natural.  I even used Wellness Mama approved Gold Mica Powder and Bronze Mica Powder for my blend.  Technically these mineral powders can't be called organic because they come from the earth and might have other trace minerals or substances in them; it's similar to how you can never call fish organic, only wild caught.  That said, if using these natural mineral powders still bother you, I've seen some recipes successfully use cocoa powder and other spices for their bronzers.  I went ahead and used the mica powders because I wanted a little sparkle in mine (natch).

Feel free to play with the quantity and ratios of the powders here to get your desired look.  I just listed the blend that worked for me.  I like to store my bronzer in old lip balm tins and tubes for an added touch of beauty.  You can use this on your lips, cheeks, and even eyes.  This summer, it has become my go-to beauty product. 

So why do I include this in my year of Radical Self-Care?  Because sometimes we need to feel pretty.  Sparkly even.  I think this bronzer does the trick.

Special Tools:

Clean tin can

Old saucepan



2 TBS shea butter

1 TBS coconut oil

1/2 TBS beeswax

1/2 - 1 tsp of bronze mica powder

1/2 - 1 tsp of gold mica powder


1. Place the saucepan on low heat and fill halfway with water.  Then place the clean tin can in the center of the saucepan.  Put the beeswax in the tin can and let melt slowly. When beeswax is melted, remove from heat.

2.  When beeswax is melted, add the shea butter and coconut oil.  Don't be surprised if beeswax partially hardens.  It will melt again as the oil liquefies.  Let oils melt and blend with beeswax (it takes around five minutes).  Stir to mix fully.

3.  Remove from heat.  Stir in desired amounts of powder to oil and wax mixture.  (FYI: I like to keep a separate tin can that I use strictly for blushes and bronzers because the pigment will stick to the can.)  Stir until combined.

4.  Pour liquid into a container of choice, either a reused lip balm jar or chapstick tube.  Let sit until cooled and solidified (about an hour).  

Makes one large pot of bronzer or two to three smaller tubes.  To use, simply apply to lips and cheeks as desired.  Enjoy!

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday fantasy, and absolutely delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

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All-Purpose Seasoning

A few years ago, I started making my own all-purpose seasoning.  Why?  Because I got tired of buying small jars of the stuff for a few dollars a pop and because I learned that many of those spice blends contain additives, fillers, preservatives, and other yucky things I'd prefer to have in my body.  I'd also learned about the staleness and poor quality of the ingredients in many of theses blends by the time they reach store shelves.  Since part of committing to radical self-care is about becoming more aware of what consume, I decided to make my own healthier version of an all-purpose seasoning.  Now, I can never go back to the old stuff.

For starters, it is way less expensive!  Buying in bulk means you spend less on fresher goods, reduce waste by not paying for yet another spice jar, and you can tailor your blend to your own needs.  I buy my spices in bulk at my local herb store but you can also purchase bulk spices at your local natural grocery store or online at Rose Mountain Herbs.  

I use my blend for everything from popcorn to roasted veggies and beyond.  I've also gotten more than a few friends and family members addicted to it.  I use all organic ingredients and quality sea or Himalayan salt.  You can decide how much salt you want to include.  The recipe below suggests one cup of salt, but if you are on a reduced sodium diet, you can lower it to half a cup or omit it completely.  The cumin and paprika make the seasoning for me, adding unexpected notes of warmth and spice.  That said, if you prefer some spices over others, feel free to play with your own ratios or omit the flavors you don't enjoy.  What I offer here is simply my go-to seasoning recipe that enhances everything I cook. 

What's on the menu tonight?  I'm thinking Italian Grilled Veggies with a heavy sprinkling of this seasoning.  I might make a night of it and throw in a batch of watermelon coolers.  Take that heat wave.  


1 cup sea salt 

1/2 cup pepper

1/4 cup cumin powder

1/4 cup onion powder

1/2 cup garlic powder

1/8 cup chile powder

1/8 cup paprika

Combine ingredients in bowl and stir well until combined.  Store in airtight container.  Makes a little less than three cups.  Enjoy!

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday fantasy, and absolutely delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

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La Vie en Rose Cocktail

Ahhhh summer...the season when we are most likely to experience the world through rose-colored glasses and savor the sweeter things in life.  Lately, I've been working on cultivating a little more sweetness and a little more softness to my every day--which is, frankly, a lot harder than it sounds.  As much as I love simple pleasures and self-care, I am inherently a creature of discipline, focus, and routine which is great...up to a point.  

It makes me highly productive and able to relish the day-in-day-out of my teaching and writing life.  There's so much to be excited about, especially in my writing world (but I'm not telling about what yet, winky face).  And yet when summer comes, I am always reminded of the importance of cultivating my life beyond the page and the classroom, much as I love both.  Too much routine and you risk its dark side: stagnation.  

Summer keeps me playful, adventurous, and bold.  Summer is for saying yes to new experiences and keeping your heart open to adventures.  It is a season for relearning the value of being deliciously unproductive--or rather, recognizing that staying out all night dancing is just as important for your soul as your weekly workout routine is for your health.  Of course, summer is also for those sweep-you-off-your-feet novels that encourage you to find the romance in every situation.  

Laura Florand's Once Upon a Rose (which, you'll remember, I recommended back in April) is the perfect example of this kind of breezy, warm read that asks us--no, demands that we acknowledge the healing power of pleasure.  It's not a perk in this book but a necessity for the well-being and creative life of the heroine, a burned out indie musician, and the overly responsible hero, heir to a family business in Provance (cultivating--you guessed it!--roses for high-end perfume companies).  Their romance unfolds in a series of delicious scenes that saturate the senses and leave the lingering scent of roses in its wake.  In short, it's a story about the sweetness of finding your happily ever after--and the work it takes, especially for the more work-focused among us--to allow yourself to enjoy it.

Long after I finished the book, in fact, I thought of roses.  Big bold bouquets of them.  The gentle kiss of rose water splashed on the inside of my wrists.  The bushes lining neighborhood homes begging to me to stop and take in their splendor.  And the desire to indulge in all things rosy...including cocktails.  

Thus my La Vie en Rose Cocktail was born.  It was inspired by three things: Florand's book, a bottle of rose liquor I stumbled upon, and Smart Bitches Trashy Books' Covers & Cocktails, in which readers concoct adult beverages based on various books they've read.  The results are always yummy and not unlike imbibing the liquid essence of the stories they are based on (how's that for everyday magic and kitchen conjuring?).  The drink is tart like a gimlet, soft like rose perfume, and sweet like a long summer night.  Gin adds a nice herbacous boquet, but if you prefure vodka, by all means, follow your heart.  And--who knows?--drinking this heady elixir just might make you bold enough to seek out your rose-colored happily ever after. 


2 oz gin (or vodka)

3/4 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz rose liquor


Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously for thirty seconds.  Pour into martini glass.  Serves one, so find someone who makes you see the world through rose-colored glasses, double the recipe, and make a night of it.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

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On Mini-Holidays & Trips to Santa Fe

I love a good mini-holiday.  Especially when said holiday is in the middle of the week.  You throw caution to the wind, pack a bag, and hit the road in pursuit of a carefree adventure.  In fact, nothing says sweet sweet summertime like taking an impromptu trip with no real agenda, set plans, or heaven forbid, those atrocious specimens schedules.  

All by way of saying, I felt the road calling my name when I wrapped up spring semester.  I wanted an adventure.  I wanted to lose track of time.  I wanted to goof around and dress up and eat good food and enjoy art.  I wanted to cruise down my New Mexico highways blasting Spanish pop and later get dolled up for a night at the theater.  Which is how I found myself in Santa Fe last week for no other reason than to see a fabulous play and enjoy the luxury of sleeping in a hotel for the night.  

Let me be clear before I continue: the places I went and the things I did in no way represent all the things you must see if you visit Santa Fe.  In fact, you'll find this is a hodge-podge assortment of places and things to enjoy born out of off-the-cuff recommendations from friends, aimless walks down side streets, and a shameless Google search to find the best chocolate makers in the city (hey, wine only takes a woman so far).  

Having grown up in New Mexico and visiting Santa Fe more times than I can count, I skipped a lot of the museums and historical sites the town is famous for because I've seen them a hundred times--and would happily see them again, but that wasn't in the cards for this trip!  I love being a tourist in my own backyard.  Go see them.  Enjoy them...then maybe try a few of the places I discovered on my recent trip.  


I stayed at the Lodge (pictured above) because I found a killer deal online (hello off-season).  It sat on top of a hill, making it feel removed from the city and yet, in reality, it was only a two-minute drive to the plaza area.  Personally, I like to go to Santa Fe during the off-season to avoid the crowds.  If I were staying longer than a night, I would have taken advantage of the hotel's beautiful outdoor area to sunbathe and write.  As it was, I enjoyed the view from my window while sipping a morning cup of coffee and getting in a little writing before heading to Clafoutis for breakfast after a lovely night at the theater.  

Two words: French Bakery.  Here's another word: Delicious.  A friend of mine recommended it for breakfast and, boy, was I glad she did!  I indulged in coffee and chocolate croissant for breakfast (alas, my beloved almond croissants were sold out by the time I got there).  I also took a souvenir home in the form of an apricot clafoutis or custard pastry for which the bakery is named (pictured here with my breakfast croissant).  

But I'm getting ahead of myself: I originally went to Santa Fe to see one of my friend's plays, In the Other Room (Or the Vibrator Play) at the Santa Fe Playhouse, which, according to its website, is the "oldest continuing running theater west of the Mississippi."  It's a quaint theater with a rich history and the play was a saucy and surprisingly poignant story about Victorian-Era gender and sexual norms...that has surprising relevance today. 

Pre-theater, I dined with an old friend at 315, a delightful wine bar and restaurant. We sat on the patio and drank rose while soaking in the intoxicating spring mountain air.  We split the fava bean and artichoke falafel, truffle fries, and the asparagus and mushroom strudel (all pictured below). Each dish was as tasty as it was visually stunning!  This place is built for leisurely dinners where conversation, wine, and food are savored with equal fervor.  After the play, several of us (including the director), went for drinks at Del Charro, voted one of the best bars in Santa Fe.  My chile-mango margarita and I agree!

Funny how most of my travel blogs revolve around good food...which brings me to my farewell lunch at Jambo Cafe before I cruised back to Burque.   This award winning African-Carribean restaurant is a favorite of the locals and I can see why.  I ordered the Jamaican hibiscus tea and a tofu jerk sandwich with cumin fries.  You can tell a lot about a place by what they can do with tofu; it's either bland as all get out or melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Jambo Cafe knows how to make tofu tasty and the portions were so big I easily got two meals out of it.  Yum!

Since I had no set agenda for this trip, I also took some time to window shop and peruse some of my favorite stores.  I can never go to Santa Fe without peeking into Act 2, a woman's consignment boutique with unique affordable clothes.  Having recently gone to the mall on an errand, I remembered two things: 1. I hate malls and 2. I love small shops like Act 2 where I can find funky clothes.  Bonus: it's more eco-friendly to shop consignment.  That's what I call win-win. Last but not least (and here I am circling back to food again), I went to Chocolate Smith where I got some delectable lavender-lemon white chocolate, cherries dipped in dark chocolate, and caramels, for which they are famous for, with flavors like peanut butter and jelly, thyme-lemon, cardamom-orange, and pomegranate-fig (pictured below).  It's like a mini-holiday in my mouth whenever I indulge in these little treats.

Wherever the road takes you--to Santa Fe or another destination--allow yourself to lose track of time, discover new places--or redsicover old ones--and enjoy the simple pleasures the unfolding day brings.  

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

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April in Paris

Somehow the arrival of April always ushers in the delicious promise of new adventures along with the gentle kiss of spring rain and the season's first batch of lettuce.   What can I say?  There's something about the heady perfume of lilac blossoms and longer days that lure me from my home in search of...whatever delights life wants to send my way.  I can never fully explain this feeling, except to say that it is like a cross between spring fever and the giddy carefree youthfulness that makes you rise before the sun, ready to taste the day.  

It also has me dreaming of travel and faraway places, mostly because this is also the time of (the school) year that I am most in need of rest and play time.  This fall I wrote about how every November I feel like becoming more introverted in Comfort Me with Books...and Other Simple Pleasures; I find I still turn to books and other simple pleasure in the spring to revive my soul and get myself adventure-ready.  The only difference?  Fall is for introversion and spring is for...mischief!

Growing up, I always thought of Paris as the place to travel to, mostly because I was reading Henry Miller and Anais Nin, those literary Parisian icons--that is, when I wasn't watching every Audrey Hepburn movie I could get my hands on (many of which happened to take place in or are inspired by this city of lights).  My imagination was further inflamed by reading about French culinary delights in the pages of Gourmet magazine.  Naturally, I developed quite the fantasy world to escape into when I got tired of homework and the little things that begin to wear on a young woman when spring hits and all she wants to do is kick off her shoes and walk barefoot in the grass.  

And when I finally went to Paris two years ago, well, it was lovely.  From kir royales and escargot before dinner, to long strolls along the Seine and full days viewing art, there was much to enjoy in this city.  But (and I almost hesitate to confess this, because Paris is Paris) part of me knew that what made my visit so absolutely beautiful was the years I'd spent daydreaming about this place and imbuing it with my own rose-colored vision.  

...all this by way of saying that spring always makes me feel like that kid again, dreaming of travel and Paris, wanting to be of the world and in the world, as Hepburn's Sabrina would say. So if you, too, are looking to dust off your soul and emerge from hibernation, here's my list of books, movies, and treats to help you feel expansive, delighted, and ready for a trip to Paris--even if it's just from the comfort of your favorite reading nook.

While I haven't read it yet, I can't wait to dive into Laura Florand's Amour et Chocolat Series, starting with The Chocolate Thief.  There's chocolate.  There's Paris.  There's romance...need I say more?  I'm totally loving her La Vie en Roses series, starting with Once Upon a Rose, about perfumers in the Provence.  So while it's not quite Paris, the fields of roses and heady descriptions of the lush French countryside (not to mention rich internal lives of the main characters) make you want to linger within this book.  And wear perfume.  And...visit the French countryside (wink wink).  

If you're looking for something about the history and daily life of Parisians, not to mention a touch of mystery and a dash of romance, look no further than the Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell. She is one of my all-time favorite auto-buy authors and this is the first of many Paris-themed reads from her.  Be warned: you will be prone to sipping wine and taking long walks through your own city while under the influence of this book.

And if words on a page are too much for you at the end of the week (I'm talking to you, essay graders!), then consider watching some of the Audrey Hepburn classics like Funny Face (1957) & Sabrina (1954), both of which are about finding yourself in Paris and bringing that magic home with you.  If you want to go farther afield, Alfred Hitchcock depicts the French Riveria in all its glamor in his thriller To Catch a Thief (1955), starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in one of the best cat and mouse games you'll ever see.  Feeling a little extra saucy?  Try Henry & June (1990), a film about Anais Nin and Henry Miller in 1930s Paris...need I say more?  For a more contemporary look at Paris, you might want to try another of my favorite odes to this magical city and the Jazz Age, Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (2011).  It's about romanticizing history...and learning to find romance in your daily life.  

Whatever you decide to dive into--a movie or a book--feast on this literary journey.  Make yourself a kir royal, put on that Django Reinhardt record, and spend the day cooking beef bourguignon or coq au vin.  Can't quite focus for that long in the kitchen?  Forget the more complicated recipes and whip up a simple aioli to dip garden-fresh crudites or let yourself get swept up in M. F. K. Fisher's culinary recollections of her time in France and make whatever inspires you.

However you choose to spend your proverbial April in Paris, enjoy the ability to travel from the comfort of your own home.   

 Audrey Hepburn in  Funny Face , walking along the Seine.  

Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, walking along the Seine.  

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

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Sautéed Burdock Root

Part of my year of radical self-care is returning to the joys of cooking.  I've been making it a priority to cook on the weeknights (granted, my meals must be simple!) and to reignite my passion for trying new recipes and ingredients.  I sift through recipe books.  I check my Pinterest boards for new culinary delights.  Most importantly, I've gone back to hunting for different local, in-season ingredients to play around with, making each trip to the co-op a culinary adventure.  I find I look forward to whatever I might cook up during the week or weekend simply because I've gone beyond the pure need to fuel myself and returned to the hedonism of feeding the five senses--and my soul.

Time in the kitchen at the end of the day helps me to nourish myself.  Light a few beeswax candles.  Put on some jazz records.  Pour a glass of wine.  And cook.  It's a terribly civilized way to end the day.  After giving out energy for the past eight hours, I get to tuck in, recharge, and pull back from the more extroverted demands of my work.

Better still: I get to indulge in the delights of kitchen conjuring--taking raw ingredients, herbs, and spices, and turning them into healing, nourishing meals.  Which brings me to my latest love: burdock root.  I found this knotty unsung healer in an unassuming pile at my local store this winter and haven't been able to stop eating it since.  I'd used it for a long time in teas because of its terrific healing properties.  Like dandelion leaves and roots, burdock is known for its detoxifying properties.  It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and cleanses the lymphatic system like nothing else.  Bonus: I found that's it's all kinds of tasty!  

I gathered a large handful for my kitchen experiment, searched high and low for recipes, and finally settled on a nice, simple sautée.  Burdock tastes like a cross between artichokes and turnips--similar to sunchokes.  I toss them in lemon juice to prevent them from oxidizing and turning a dusty brown color.  They're still edible oxidized...just not as yummy looking.  I prefer to use ghee for this recipe, as it lends a rich, nutty flavor to the root, but feel free to use what you have.  You'll notice I haven't given specific amounts here--you make as much or as little as you want.  Sautéed burdock is great as a side dish or as a light main attraction over a bed of lettuce (pictured above). 


burdock root

lemon juice

ghee, coconut, or olive oil

sea salt (optional)

Wash burdock root thoroughly and let dry.  Using a peeler, shave off darker outer layer--save scraps for compost.  Slice root into thin medallions (diagonally works best to get larger pieces). Toss pieces in lemon juice.  This prevents browning and also gives the root a bright flavor. Heat ghee or oil on skilled.  Keep heat to medium.  Pour burdock root (with lemon juice) into pan and let simmer until cooked, about 15-20 minutes.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

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Reading Romances: 10 Life Lessons I've Learned from Reading Trashy Novels

Confession:  I am addicted--and I mean ADDICTED--to trashy book covers.  Vintage pulp.  Over-the-top fantasy.  Macho westerns.  And of course, most especially, romance novels.  Those covers are a particular weakness with their half-naked heroes with rock-hard abs and the heroines with uncooperative dresses that practically fall from their bodies.  The lusty gazes.  The idyllic background.  It all promises, well...you know.  And if there's a lusty pirate on the cover, I'm done for (what can I say? I love a good story about swash-buckling social transgression!).

I've been collecting trashy book covers for as long as I can remember.  But it hasn't been until recently that I've started reading romance books in earnest, thanks to my new addiction, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, which has guided me through the delicious world of these novels.  Don't get me wrong, I've read plenty of paranormal stories, cozy mysteries, and fantasies with strong romantic elements, and studied courtship novels almost exclusively while earning my degree...but I'd never fully immersed myself in this genre.  

Sure I've read Nora Roberts here and there or thumbed through the books I'd bought for their covers, but I hadn't completely committed to the romance. One of the big reasons is that I found it so overwhelming!  There are so many books and so many authors, I didn't know where to start. And (she says shamefully), there was the whole romance novel stigma.  You know, the whole, "you read THAT?!"  Why yes, yes I do.

And love every minute of it.  I've become partial to historical romances.  They are, as Sara Wendell from Smart Bitches would say, my catnip.  One of the reasons I've fallen in love with the genre is that it is about hope and all the soft, gushy feelings our society doesn't value in the way it should. Naturally, I would turn to this genre during my year of radical self-care because it reminds me how powerful pleasure is.  

This is also a genre of reinvention (these stories have come so far from the early years of Fabio heroes foisting themselves upon virtuous maidens!).  It encourages us to sweep off the dust of experience, heal the scrapes inflicted by a hard world, and remember what it is like to feel hope and other giddy, luscious things.  And the heroines!   Let's just say each and every one of them is epic in her own way but they all teach you how to cultivate romance in your own life.  

When I say romance, sure, I mean chocolates and flowers and orgasms as that comes into your life; but I also mean remembering what it is like to see the world through rose-colored glasses.  To know yourself and what brings you joy.  To take pride in owning your capacity for pleasure in all things.  And to work hard for your happiness.  So without further ado, I offer you 10 life lessons I've learned from reading trashy novels.

1.  It's important to nourish--and value--your internal life.  We live in a world that values extroversion and concrete achievements, so much so that I often come home tired of this out-there energy and in desperate need of emotional sustenance, the kind that honors the rich nuances of the human spirit that goes beyond material accomplishments. What a treat it is then to crack open a book and read about the deep internal lives of fictional characters.  Romances are delicious character-driven stories.  They offer insight into how our thoughts and past experiences shape who we are now.  Most of all, they show us the often intangible, but no less important value of taking the time to process the world around us.  Sometimes the most profound changes and experiences are revelations that burst upon us when we create space to reflect.  

2. Happy endings are real.  Seriously, who doesn't need this reminder right now?  Not only are they real but you have the power to make them happen.  What you choose to give time and energy to can determine the quality of your life, so let go of toxic people and situations and thoughts.  So yeah, happy endings real, but it takes a lot of hard work to get there!  Which takes us to lesson number three...

3.  Happiness is hard work. The conflict resolution never falls into the heroine's lap and true love doesn't just happen to her--she works at it, to understand herself, to resolve her situation, and to open herself up to love (of life, of herself, of the hero(ione)).  Guess that whole stereotype of the hero fixing things for her is busted! In all the romance novels I've been gobbling up, never once do I see a fainting damsel in distress looking for a knight in shining armor to whisk her away from danger.  She always meets trouble head on and eventually enjoys the perks of a capable hero by her side (or under or on top of her...wink wink).  

4.  Hope can take you a long way.  Romances are about hope and letting go of a jaded worldview that limits your potential and capacity for happiness.  Hope is one of those soft, gushy feelings made out of rainbows and wishes.  Because it is light as a feather, it is often overlooked as unimportant or not as enlightening as darker emotions.  But these stories refresh and revive and inspire hope.  They remind us to dream and wonder and always, always look for the joy in the day.

5.  Pleasure is powerful.  Okay so I've been reading a lot about multiple orgasms and endless sweaty nights and more sexual positions than I can properly name, but...what's wrong with that? Again, just because it feels good doesn't mean we should dismiss it as not important or serious. In fact, pleasure in any form (not just the mattress-breaking kind) is one of the most profound ways we experience life and learn about the kind of life we want to cultivate. 

6. Leave plenty fo room for sexy times!  (See number 5.) Light beeswax candles.  Wear clothes that make you feel beautiful.  Cook a sumptuous dinner.  Kiss.  A lot.  Or enjoy some quality solo time (wink wink).  Watch the sun set.  Watch the sun rise.  Paint your nails.  Walk naked around the house (wait, you don't do that?).  Read a book.  Do anything and everything that makes you feel sexy and vibrant.  

7. A good heroine takes action. Every book I've read has a dynamic heroine who takes charge of her life.  Personal chef business failing?  Move to your hometown for the summer to figure out your next move.  Crushing on the rakish duke?  Seduce him at the masquerade.  Captured by pirates?  Join the crew!  Even if she starts out as a doormat, she grows into an empowered woman.  

8.  It's never too late to reinvent yourself.   This goes back to hope.  Sometimes we get stuck.  Sometimes we get a lot stuck. Sometimes we worry that we've gone so far down a road that we can't turn back, pull over, or blaze a new trail.  We become afraid. Our vision narrows.  We begin to resign ourselves to an unfulfilled life.  Trashy books tell us that is the exact moment when the universe needs to shake things up.  Get accidentally snowed in with an unrequited love (make sure there's plenty if mistletoe!) or win the lottery and finally live a life free from the social constraints of the marriage market. When the universe intervenes or you take matters into your own hand by quitting your terrible job to travel the world, these books remind us that we don't have to stay on the tracks we--or others--have laid out for us.  We can reinvent ourselves at any time.  

9. Emotions matter--trust your instincts.  Ahhhhh, the whole he-should-be-perfect-for-me-but-there's-no-spark plot.  Or the seems-like-a-good-guy-but-really-is-evil.  It's easy to succumb to social pressures or our own convoluted ideas about what might make us happy; but if we actually stop and listen to what will bring us joy, we will find it's often not in the generic socially acceptable picture-perfect version of our life we tell ourselves we want.  Real life is gritty (even in a romance novel); real life asks you to question the status quo; real life asks you to be true to yourself.  The only way to do that: be brutally honest about your feelings.  Not what logic tells you make sense.  Your feelings.  Those hard-to-quantify-oh-so-magical things that let you know when you're moving in the right direction (hint: it is towards the gentleman thief with a shadowy past and a mullet that would make any 80s rockstar envious...or whatever).

10.  Value yourself. This is another important lesson.  Either the heroine already understands the value of self-respect or she grows into it by the end of the story.  In either case, romance novels are powerful vehicles for showing that strong women--vulnerable, emotional, capable women--have to value themselves first and foremost.  Everything else comes out of this.

Bottom line: if reading romances is wrong, I don't want to be right!  (Cut to me sweeping out of the ballroom--bedroom?--in my disheveled fuschia regency gown and running after said pirate...book.) We could all use a little romance in our lives.  A little tenderness and hope.  And if my laptop background now features scantily-clad Victorian lovers mid-tryst or a Fabio-like hunk wrapped in pink satin sheets with a woman rocking 80s bed head, then so be it.  

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

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5 Things I've Learned about Writing from a Year of Blog Editing

Now that I've finished my year of editing--and had some time to relax--I've come to realize that editing has taught me a lot about the writing (and living!) process.  Sometimes it felt like my editing project would never end, mostly because I don't think it is a process that can truly end. You just have to decide that you're done.  At least for now.  It also gave me a chance to review all the wonderful experiences, insights, and recipes I've collected here over the past few years.  This adventure has left me with a new perspective on writing.  Although there are hundreds of things I've learned from a year of editing, I've narrowed it down to the top five. Each one reflects a morsel of wisdom I hope to take with me as I dive into new projects (and blogs!).

1.  If you want to be a writer, write.   It's as simple as that.  When I started this blog, I'd already been writing every day since I was a teenager and knew I wanted to become a writer.  It didn't matter what I wrote or how much, just that I kept at it.  That's also how I got this blog started. Rain or shine, whether I felt like it or not, I showed up to my writing desk every day and honed my craft.  I can see moments in past blogs where my voice began to blossom because I'd gained confidence and experience through regular practice.  

2.  Perfection is overrated.  Seriously.  This is a big one.  I've seen so many writers get stumped from the get-go because they want everything to be perfect.  I've certainly been guilty of this. And yet when I started blogging, I promised myself to stress less about perfection and focus my energy on learning my craft.  What a difference that made!  I simply allowed myself to experiment and learn from trial and error.  There was also something liberating about having this experimentation visible to my readers--once my writing was out there, I learned not to fret about mistake making.  It was all part of the process.  Bottom line: writing is messy and you have to be willing to take risks if you want to develop your voice and style.  Which leads me to number three...

3.  You can't fix a blank page.  Write something.  Anything.  You can always go back and edit it later.  But if you hem and haw over each potential word or phrase, you will never get anything done.  Some of my best work came from scribbling down bursts of insights without a filter, before overthinking set in.   

4.  Your work will never feel complete...just done for now.  I fussed over my edits, probably more than I should have, and finally came to the realization that my work will probably never feel quite finished.  That said, if I want to take on new projects, I have to let the old ones rest.  

5.  Writing is a form of conjuring.  Rereading old posts, I came to see how each one reflected the happy, healthy life I wanted to create for myself.  In fact, I started the blog as a way to find joy and balance at a time when I felt like I was still learning what those things meant.  Cut to me three years later, living an abundant, well-rounded life and indulging in the pleasures each day has to offer.  Each word I wrote became a seed that blossomed into the joy I now experience.  That is conjuring at its most basic--and magical!

All in all, I learned that life and writing are about creating beauty and meaning.  And while I might still find a typo or two lurking in the shadows of my posts, as Susanna J. Sturgis writes, "Typos are Coyote padding through language, grinning." 

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!