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.

The Ghosts We Carry...& How to Banish Them

Have you ever noticed how in haunted house stories or an occult detective tale, there’s always an object that keeps a spirit anchored to a place? It could be a keepsake from when the ghost was a living being or a terrible artifact use to summon darker entities. Sometimes it’s a whole room or house, the energy of the people who have lived in it soaking into the very walls. Other times it’s the memory of a horrific incident that has bled into the earth.

In order to banish the ghost, of course, we have to destroy the object—set it on fire, break it, or, to be less dramatic, let it go or move on from it. Move out of the haunted house. Contain the dark occult artifact that can’t be destroyed so that no one will find it (until the inevitable sequel, of course….this is dramatic fiction after all!). These stories remind us, in one way or another, that the things we carry with us absorb the energy our experiences. And that, sometimes, the only way we can move forward is to let those objects go. Otherwise, we keep that old energy—sometimes toxic energy—around and get stuck, finding ourselves in a time loop of the same draining experiences that first tainted the objects in question.

The Ghosts We Carry

Take, for instance, the story of The Sad Birthday Dress. It goes like this: There once was a woman who wanted to feel beautiful. All-day long she was asked to be nothing but a talking head. But this woman knew she had a heart and hips and a juicy center. So she bought herself a dress to remind herself that she could be a whole person and not just a shriveled head sitting in someone’s cabinet of curiosities. And what a dress it was! It was stunning, with finely spun organic lilac cotton and loud bouncy yellow and white polka dots that told her that she was allowed to have color in her life—that she was allowed to be of color, no need to pass as another kind of pale specter. The skirt was flouncy and feminine and begged to be flipped up for illicit romance or at least a lively dance.

It was the perfect birthday dress. So she did what any woman who wanted to feel alive did—she wore it out and ate cake and drank champagne and danced until the weight of the pale city bore down on her and her loud pretty dress didn’t make her feel pretty anymore. Just sad. Unspeakably so. Because, she realized, this dress didn’t make her feel pretty. It only reminded her that she lived in a place that didn’t want her to be a flesh and blood woman. A city that was uncomfortable with her long wild hair and her rounded hips and the way the bodice of her dress clung to her breasts. She knew shame in that dress. And a sadness that welled up inside her until it became heartbreak. That heartbreak spread from her body and into the dress as surely as the bubbly drink had spread through her body only moments before.

The woman learned a hard lesson that night: A dress couldn’t fix a city that treated her like a brown stain on a white shirt. And cake couldn’t disguise the fact that there was no sweetness for her there. Only loneliness and a bone-deep cold. The solution was to leave in search of warmer hands and beating hearts.

Eventually, the dress came off. But the heartbreak stayed. And every time the woman tried to wear her I Am Beautiful Dress, she inevitably took it off and rehung in her closet, until one day she stopped trying to wear it all together. It moved to the back of her closet, limp and half-forgotten, like a mediocre date or half-baked wish. It was no longer her I Am Beautiful Dress. It was stained with the experience of that night, which is how it became The Sad Birthday Dress.

Years later, when the woman had figured how to be a breathing, living woman and not someone else’s curiosity, she pulled the dress from her closet and her heart broke all over again. She knew there was no reclaiming the original power of the beautiful bouncy fabric. Of cake and champagne and moonlight. In the dress, she saw the pain of her past welling up inside of her. Its presence was like a ghost reminding her of all the broken things she could never fix. Of the hopeless realization that the thing she wanted—thought she wanted—wasn’t for her and, in fact, had never existed at all. She had been chasing phantoms and, in the process, almost become one herself.

So she packed it up and gave it away in the hopes that it might become what it was meant to be—that I Am Beautiful Dress—for someone else who was ready to pay the price to reclaim that joy in the way she hadn’t been when she had first purchased it. The weight of that terrible time lifted from her shoulders and the energy in her home felt lighter.

Now the woman has a closet full of I Am Beautiful Dresses. They are loud. And they sparkle. And they have hems ready to be tossed above the knee for dancing and more dancing and things that would make you blush for me to write. And they all radiate joy. All because she let go of the thing that was holding her back. All because she chose to feel the pain of the past and let it go. All because she chose to be a loud woman with a beating heart in a sun-kissed land and not a phantom shade.

Banishing Ghosts

Lovely little story, isn’t it? And it’s all true. I once had an I Am Beautiful Dress that became The Sad Birthday Dress. And when I gave it away, I was giving myself permission to be more than that sad story. I could learn from my past and create space for joy in my present. The truth is, we all have a proverbial Sad Birthday Dress or something that was once a profound piece of armor in our lives that became stained by experience. Other times, we change—becoming someone that certain objects no longer feel attached to, can no longer nourish. And in order to keep growing, transforming, evolving, we must let them go. If we don’t, what once was beautiful or nourishing becomes toxic. The spirit that won’t move on becomes the ghost that terrorizes the living.

Having recently completed a massive house cleansing—saying goodbye to old ghosts and old selves—I found myself thinking about one of my pieces from Everyday Enchantments, “Letting Go of Past Lives, “ about the things you hold on to even when you are ready to let go of the person you used to be. It can be scary to let go of the past because, as stagnant as it can make us, it’s also familiar and comforting. That’s why we hold on to so much unnecessary stuff. It keeps us feeling safe—but it also keeps us stuck. In the end, it’s better to let go and know that you are creating space for new, positive vibes to enter your life (but not necessarily more stuff!).

The first part of banishing ghosts or old selves? Let go of the objects they are attached to. Say goodbye to things that don’t bring you joy or that you haven’t used in over a year. Be conscious of the energy you want in your home and life. Then be ruthless about protecting it—get rid of anything that doesn’t contribute to your overall sense of well-being. Ghosts hide behind sentiment and guilt to keep you trapped under their spell. Low-level spirits are a lot like low-level people: They want you to feel as trapped and miserable as they are, so they’ll do anything to stay in your life. Best to call a spade a spade and move on.

The second part of ghostbusting? Let go of the troubling energy you’ve been holding onto psychically. That last one will take a little more time, but letting go of the object that keeps constellating that energy will go a long way to dispersing its psychic impact. Give yourself permission to heal and move on from sad or seemingly unfinished histories.

The rest will follow.

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Old School Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Fall is finally settling over Albuquerque.  It’s still fairly hot during the day—a whopping 80 degrees—but the mornings are chilly and the sun is setting earlier and earlier, ushering in long cozy evenings making stew, taking in nourishing stories by book or TV, and enjoying a fat mug of apple spice tea.  And while it’s still not completely time to pull out those sweater and fuzzy socks, I find myself craving a batch of these hearty pumpkin cookies.  

I have fond memories of making these cookies every fall growing up.  Inevitably when the leaves started turning, we’d come home from school and eagerly pull out the older than sin Libby’s pumpkin cookies recipe.  Yeah, the 80s add it came form was kind of creepy looking, but it made heallthy-ish, delicious cookies!

I find myself going back to this recipe each season as routine—or ritual—that helps me take in the joy of the changing seasons and welcome in fall.  I got to talking to my mom about this as I began my search for that original recipe she shared so long ago. I went down a Pinterest rabbit hole to no avail, but my mom, the original witchy woman role model, found the original Libby’s recipe online.  We were back in business!  

Alas, neither of us eat that much sugar anymore and the original Libby’s recipe calls for A LOT.  So I adapted my recipe from that old school Libby’s recipe, but cut out a lot of the sugar and butter, with the help of this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction (thanks again, mom!).   Like my She Works Hard for the Money Power Muffins or my Energizer Bunny Bars, these cookies are great snacks to hold you over when the day is fuller than usual.  They are also perfectly delicious for a perfectly un-busy day, paired with a good book and a cup of my earthy Autumn Harvest Tea.   Better still, I look forward to sharing this recipe with my little niece and passing on the tradition of making pumpkin cookies every fall.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups oats

1/2 cup pepitas

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp powdered ginger

1/4 tsp cardamom

pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven 350.

  2. Mix all wet ingredients until blended.

  3. Add in spices and baking soda, powder, and pinch of salt.

  4. Then add in sugar and, once combined, flour.

  5. From there, add in oats and pepitas. The dough should be thick and a little sticky.

  6. Drop a large spoonful of dough onto an unlined baking sheet and press into circular cookies.

  7. Bake for 12ish minutes.

  8. Enjoy! Makes roughly a dozen cookies. I like to store them in the freezer and pull one out for a quick treat.

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Cultivating Routines as Rituals

I write a lot about the power of routine as ritual, or taking our day-in, day-out practices and turning them into meaningful, intentional activities that enhance the overall quality of our lives. But what does that really mean? And how to we turn these rote activities into sacred practices? First, we have to understand the difference between routine and ritual.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, routine is defined as “a sequence of actions regularly followed.”  Pretty straight forward.  It’s the stuff we do regularly without fail, whether they are good for us (waking up early to exercise before work) or bad (always hitting the vending machine at three in the afternoon).  Some are more mundane: pay the rent at the first of the month, take your six-month visit to the dentist, get an oil and lube for your car. 

We are so used to these things as basic parts of adult life that we never really think too hard about them, unless something is out of joint (not sure how you will pay your rent, a sketchy dentists, weird nosies coming from your car’s engine).  Hell, our routines are so ingrained, we often zone out while caring from them.  Have you ever driven home from work via the same rout you take every day and have no memory of the drive?  That’s you on autopilot.  Your routine is so second-nature you disconnect from the actual activity you’re doing.

The second definition  of routine is equally telling.  It defines it as “a set sequence in a performance such as a dance or comedy act.”  So routine is not just a basic repetitive schedule, but something we perform, consciously or unconsciously.  It’s all about how important we want people to see us.  Running from one thing to the next practically shouts that we are so busy, so interesting, so important!  It also broadcasts our values.  Do you value squeezing in one more thing at work over finishing a few minutes early and leisurely heading home to enjoy some self-care?  To you pack your weekends with activities and experiences, or do you create time to dally?  Each decision shapes how we see ourselves and how others see us. 

But these definitions of routine only take is so far.  Only far enough to get us thinking about how we see ourselves and how we want others to see us, in fact.  But what about what we want to feel, experience, and enjoy?

That’s where ritual comes it. 

Ritual is about consciously, mindfully tending to our daily tasks, taking comfort in the familiarity and pleasure in how they ground and nurture us.  We welcome in the healthy and the good and actively eliminate the life-diminishing and bad.  

In order to do that, however, we have to change how we look at our day-in, day-out.  It’s not a place we need to escape from (who hasn’t fantasized about running away to a distant land when life gets complicated or dreary?).  It’s not a collection of minutes that fills our head until the real fun—a weekend, celebration, or happy event—can happen.  It’s about finding joy in the life we create for ourselves one small, deliberate act at a time.  I’m reminded of the Ten of Cups in the tarot here—the homey gratitude card that asks you to step back and appreciate all the simple magic of your life that you’ve worked hard to create. 

The first step to unplugging from rote activities—aka mindless routine—is to find enjoyment in the things we often perceive as One More Thing To Do.  Celebrate 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 sautéing 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 sautéing 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.  

Now, doesn’t that sound lovely?

Each and every task becomes a devotional act to the energy I want to welcome into my life and an expression for gratitude for the abundance I have painstakingly cultivated.  A celebration of my hard work and a deliberate conjuring of more good energy. 

What routines will you transform into sacred rituals?

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

5 Things I Learned from the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society Summer Session

I can’t believe it has been close to a month since I had the privilege of attending the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society’s summer session on contemplative learning (special thanks to a friend from graduate school for recommending it to me—may she be showered with many karma points and synchronous wonders!). This center, C-Mind for short, is all about the cultivating “an education that promotes the exploration of meaning, purpose and values and seeks to serve our common human future.” So what does this mean? It means developing contemplative practices that allow us to explore and find solutions to social and environmental justice issues, while also valuing our need as educators and students to lead a balanced life that celebrates not just intellectual or concrete accomplishments, but our emotional and physical wellbeing. Cool stuff!

At this point, you might be wondering what contemplative practice means. According to The Contemplative Mind in Society, contemplative practices “cultivate a critical, first-person focus, sometimes with direct experience as the object, while at other times concentrating on complex ideas or situations. Incorporated into daily life, they act as a reminder to connect to what we find most meaningful.”  This encompasses a whole bunch of experiences, from mediation and mindfulness, to dancing and deep listening (check out their tree to see all the wonderful things that fall into the category of contemplative practice). It can include everyday rituals or simply making a point to be active and present while you make dinner. Sound familiar? It should.

Contemplative practices is easily another term for everyday magic!

It was clear the moment I set foot on Smith College, where the sessions were held, that these were my kind of people. There was seriously SO MUCH WISDOM I took in over that week, including the importance of collecting what I call soul seeds for future harvest. A fellow C-Minder who regularly attends this summer session described this week as gathering seeds that will sprout throughout the year. We were to gather them throughout this week and allow them to manifest in our lives in their own way and their own time over the coming year. All in all, I was able to narrow down what I learned from this magical week into five life lessons that I look forward to meditating on this coming year.

  1. Contemplative practices are a natural part of daily life. When we think of this sort of practice, we can sometimes make it more complicated than it actually is—mediating two hours a day, learning complicated yoga poses, and going off in search of enlightenment all over the world. Of course there’s nothing wrong with any of these things. I’ve certainly done all of them at one time or another! But it’s important to remember that we carry the tools for cultivating a more meaningful life within us and that we can connect to them in everything we do, however simple or routine. In fact, the routine of it—aka the intentional ritual—is where the magic happens.

    So many people discussed their contemplative practices in terms of things that helped them relax, focus, and otherwise tune into life. For many, those things were as simple as playing with their pets, taking a walk, or enjoying a cup of tea. I was surprised to learn, then, that so much of what I already do is, in fact, contemplative practice: cooking, dancing, playing with my new kitten, having meaningful conversations with others—and actively listening and being listened to in return. These simple activities have felt richer now that I appreciate them for the daily contemplative practices that they are.

  2. There is no woke, only awakening. Okay, let’s be real—in the realm of academia and other liberal spaces, it can sometimes be tempting to prove how woke, or socially conscious, you are. Then comes the shaming of others who are not as woke as thee. I’m not talking about people who are intentionally prejudiced, but those who, for lack of knowledge or exposure to certain ideas or experiences, aren’t as aware of ways in which they can be more sensitive to themselves and others. Calling them out for their error only serves to perpetuate a shame-based learning, instead of creating space to explore how we can all be more inclusive and celebrate what rich, diverse communities we occupy.

    Social and environmental justice is about more than just trying to prove how much we know or how woke we are compared it others—it’s about widening the conversation so that we can all learn from one another. And if it’s REAL real talk here, we all have to acknowledge that we’ve been on both sides of this: the woke and the less woke. I personally have appreciated when someone has kindly educated me about things I’ve needed to be more woke about. Plus, the dark side of feeling too secure in your wokeness is that you stop being open to learning new things, as you must always be the one who know the most. I’d rather be in a constant state of awakening!

  3. Contemplative practices are about hold space to grapple and engage with difficult issues so that we can find solutions. Like everyday magic, the contemplative mind doesn’t shy away from difficult topics or situations, but rather uses various practices to create space and explore these issues with the aim of finding a positive solution. And unlike the many stereotypes of mindfulness or yoga, where you simply bliss out and ignore important issues, contemplative practices encourage us to safely grapple with what we need to—personally and socially—so that we move forward in healthy, productive ways.

    This was a particularly important lesson to me because mainstream culture teaches us two ways of coping with difficult topics: denial or despair. There is no in-between. This can be difficult for people who do, in fact, think there are real, achievable solutions to various problems and aren’t afraid to do the messy work it requires to transform self and communities. Which leads me to number four…

  4. Learning to fly is ugly, messy work, but flying is beautiful. I’m butchering the quote here but I think the essence of it remains intact. We thrive on success narratives, which isn’t a bad thing. It can become toxic, however, when we get nice, clean narratives about famous or high-achieving so-and-sos that make it seem like their professional journey was clearly paved road dotted by interesting anecdotes and one accomplishment after the other. You see the problem? It feels unrealistic. Intimidating, when it should be inspiring.

    This is because these narrative leave out all the ugly bits. Every failure. Every missed step. Every turn and twist in the road that upended The Plan. So when people inevitably confront these things in their own lives, they feel like they’re failing because it doesn’t match the tidy success narrative they’ve been taught. In reality, they aren’t failing. They’re just learning to fly. So enjoy the mess—it’s where the best stories come from after all. And when you do fly, enjoy the hard-earned beauty of it.

  5. Receptivity is its own kind of power. This year as I explore the power of sacred simple pleasures, I find myself struggling to embrace more passive energy. It makes total sense now that I think about it. In order to establish myself professionally, I’ve had to focus on building a solid CV and go after concrete accomplishments. Nothing wrong with that. We all have to do that in one way or another to earn our bread and butter and continue growing in our fields. But when we become so conditioned to be extroverted achievers that we struggle with more passive ways of engaging with the world…then it becomes a problem.

    These summer sessions taught me the importance of openness, vulnerability, and receptivity, as well as ways to safely open yourself up to less goal oriented forms of relating, thinking, or acting. The biggest thing I saw was how fruitful receptivity could be. Several times in our small group breakout sessions, we had a firm plan…that quickly went out the window as the agenda for the day developed organically out of our combined energies and discussions. If we hadn’t have been open to change, we wouldn’t have had such an important and impactful time together.

    I have A LOT of fire energy in me, so part of me thrives on my extroverted professional life (a pretty big part!). Yet this time away also taught me how much I can push for more and expect too much of myself because those old devils Impostor Syndrome and Presumed Incompetence, which push many minority high achievers to keep reaching for the next gold star just to prove their value. Toxic much? You bet. But when I let go of what I have come to call Gold Star Syndrome, I can appreciate all my hard work and accomplishments, while also allowing myself to explore more flexible, creative ways of engaging withe the world both in and out of the classroom. I can also reframe what success looks like: a happy, healthy, whole person, not just an accomplished professional.

I hold these seeds, and many more, as I would the acorns scattered around Smith College (pictured below), and look forward to the future harvest of the magic they hold.

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Cultivating the Joy of Sacred Simple Pleasures

This year's resolution was to indulge in more sacred simple pleasures, those things that make every day magical and remind us that pleasure is an integral part of life, love, and happiness.  Why? Because pleasure is significantly undervalued in our society. Because pleasure tells us a lot about ourselves--our values and priorities. Because it is okay to let go of toxic things in favor of radical joy.

Sounds delicious, right? And it is…when I have been able to celebrate this hedonism without censure or guilt. Or better still, when I can know what actually is pleasurable versus what I think should be pleasurable. Let’s just say I’ve learned a thing or two about my relationship to pleasure now that I’m roughly halfway through my year of focusing on it. You might think that because I write about everyday magic that I’ve got things all figured out. Well, I don’t! In fact never have I realized this more than in my efforts to cultivate sacred simple pleasures.

When I first started this exploration of sacred simple pleasure in January, I was coming off of a big year for me: my first book was published and had won the first of what would become many awards. I had won a major teaching award, too, and accomplished many other wonderful things in my career. All good things, but I found myself looking for balanced come the new year. All those accomplishments took serious fire energy, years of conjuring and concentration, before they came to fruition. I now needed to turn my time and attention to the gentler things in life: unstructured time, everyday joys, more passive experiences. In short, I needed to create space for possibility in my life.

It was hard at first. For as much as I write about the divine feminine and the softer energies in our lives, I realized just how much masculine energy I had. I was used to being assertive, aggressive in my pursuit of what I wanted. But the cultivation of sacred simple pleasures was entirely different. For one thing, the energy was much more passive than I was used too. I had to cultivate openness, receptivity which in itself felt intensely vulnerable. I was a novice in many respects here when I was used to being an expert. For another, I learned quickly that more people, more activities, more out-there energy didn’t necessarily invoke the sacredness of simple pleasures. In fact, it was the opposite: I was tired, anxious, and in need of some serious quiet time.

Through these two misconceptions about simple pleasures—that they are loud, performative things and that I can access with the same masculine energy I applied to my professional life—I quickly learned that I had to change my relationship to pleasure. Simple pleasures, for me, were found in quiet innocuous things: morning walks, sipping iced tea on my patio, a schedule-free Sunday, the magic of a good book.

They didn’t cost money or company to bring me pleasure.

A lot of different emotions have come up in the process—not all of them pleasant—as I come to terms with the fact that I have denied myself certain pleasures or suppressed parts of myself in order to fit into mainstream extroverted culture. There is joy in these epiphanies too, however bittersweet. They allow me to acknowledge past limitations so I can move forward unshackled.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that phrase too: to allow. It’s been popping up all over the place. What am I allowed energetically, emotionally, physically? Or put more accurately, what have I allowed myself to enjoy? The painful epiphany that emerged from these questions was that I haven’t allowed myself to enjoy certain things without even realizing that I’ve drawn a line in the sand. It’s a subtle thing—telling yourself you have to work instead of watching the sunset, letting stress taint your thoughts because you can’t possibly be this happy, being stingy with your fun because there’s so many other things you should be doing. Hell, I didn’t even know I was doing it half the time until I started making a conscious effort to create space for non-goal oriented pleasure this year.

Much of this comes from the cultural shame surrounding pleasure. If it feels good, mainstream religion tells us, it must be bad. Or think of the Puritanical roots of white American. If it’s enjoyable, it’s certainly the sowing seeds of sin. Worst of all, I’ve realized that the fear of pleasure is a fear of happiness. We spend so much time worrying about wether or not we will get our HEA (Happily Ever After) or finally Arrive that we never stop to think about how much those things terrify us. We wonder, secretly, if we are capable of holding so much joy.

So how do we tap into sacred simple pleasures with the myriad of feelings they unleash? Simple. Dive in. Without thought or questions. Unfettered by the fear of our own infinite potential for happiness. Be sinful. Shamelessly enjoy the small pleasures you have denied yourself in your own unconscious attempt to put a limit on happiness. Welcome in bigger pleasures too.

We’re allowed infinite pleasures, infinite happiness.

Find just one little thing you enjoy and revel in it. The magic will follow.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter for regular doses of enchantment.  Want even more inspiration?  Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Here’s to a magical life! 

Homemade Lip Balm

After all these years—and the countless body butters, scrubs, and makeup items I’ve posted about—I realized I have never once given a recipe for lip balm. Loco! Especially since this is one that I make pretty regularly and one of the first things I learned how to make all those years ago when I was a young girl watching my mom concoct all sorts of cool potions and lotions in our family kitchen.

I love this recipe for so many reasons. It’s inexpensive and easy and keeps your lips kissably soft. I reused my old chapstick tubes or pretty lip balm tins to make them. It’s a great way to avoid mindless consumerism especially if you are participating in Plastic Free July and trying not to buy things with unnecessary packaging. It’s also less expensive to reuse what you have.

And speaking of less expense, instead of paying $1-3 dollars for a small tube of chapstick everyday time I go to the store, I now spend roughly $2 on making over half a dozen lip balms! Plus, I know the ingredients in it and can tailor it to my preferences, which includes plenty of beeswax to seal in moisture.

It takes all of twenty minutes to make—and most of that is spent waiting for the wax and oil to melt and then, once poured into the containers, for them to cool. I make a big batch every few months. My measurements are rough guesstimates. I’ve been making lip balm for so long I’ve gotten pretty good at eyeballing what I need for how many containers. The measurements here will give you a big stash of lip balms to carry around, something I like because I use a lot—and keep some in all the rooms of the house. But you can always cut the recipe in half if you don’t want that much. I add shea butter to my recipe because I find it really helps to soften and hydrate lips. I avoid using essential oils or other scents, because it is on my lips. I also enjoy the soft honey scent it gets from the beeswax.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup shea butter

1/4 cup coconut oil or olive oil

1 tablespoon grated beeswax

Special tools:

saucepan

clean BPA free tin can or other heatproof bowl

cleaned old chapstick tubes or lip balm tins

Directions:

  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.

  2. When beeswax is melted, add oil and shea butter. Let sit until combined, about 5-10 minutes.

  3. While oil melts, set up chapstick tubes, making sure that the tube is wound all the way down. If you’re using only tins, make sure they are open.

  4. Remove oil and beeswax mixture from heat and pour into lip balm tubes or tins.

  5. Let tubes or tins sit until the mixture is set, about one hour.

  6. Enjoy! Makes roughly six tubes or tins.

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Join Me for Plastic Free July!

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When I first found out about Plastic Free July, I immediately wished I knew about this when I was doing my year of buying, using, and wasting less. It would have been a great challenge to immerse myself in last year. Then I thought…it’s a great challenge to try right now! Just because I’m no longer focusing on buying, using, and wasting less, I’m still doing all those things actively. This would just be the next step to doing my part to fight climate change.

This is even more important now that we are learning that we only really have five years before devastating, irreversible climate change. New studies are also showing that plastic is not just bad for the environment, but a serious climate hazard. Even now, the Arctic melt is in hyperdrive—scary stuff! When you consider the terrifying reality we face, along with the knowledge that we’ve literally produced 8.3 billion tons of plastic since 1950, it becomes clear that we have to be part of the global change to preserve or planet.

Why have we produced so much plastic in such a short time? Because it was exciting and innovative and marketed as something that would make our lives easier. But we now know that over 90% of what we put in the recycling bin doesn’t actually get recycled. This one-use ideology made people believe that they didn’t need well-made long-lasting products when they could just purchase cheap, disposable products. Even now, buying something like packaged lettuce is possible because people believe that it makes their life easier. It’s supposedly cleaner, ready to go from bag to bowl, and prettier than the unpackaged lettuce head…but we know that we still have to rinse even pre-washed lettuce and that not packaged vegetables, especially the local goods, have way more nutritional value than their packaged counterparts, not to mention the fact that they are often cheaper.

In short, minimizing plastic use is about unlearning toxic consumerist ideology that tells us we need more, cheaper, and quicker. Instead, opt for less, better, and slower. I’m not saying you need to go full-on homesteading, where you raise your own chickens and grow your own food (although, I thoroughly love gardening!). What I am saying is that we need to forgo the assumption that packing makes our live easier. It doesn’t.

And, it goes without saying that we need to fight to hold big businesses accountable for their complicity in the climate crisis and push hard for legislation that will help protect our environment and begin to heal the planet. I am so heartened by the various news stories of individuals, communities, and cities pushing green initiatives forward, including my very own Albuquerque, which just banned plastic bags and foam containers. But we also needs to hold ourselves accountable and do our part to protect our planet. Literally the easiest way? Stop using so much plastic!

So join me for Plastic Free July—you can set your own goals to limit or eradicate plastic use—and together we can be part of the change we need to heal mother nature. What we spend money on—and what we don’t—can have a powerful impact on what gets made, how it gets made, and who makes it. If the idea of giving up plastic feels intimidating, I leave you with three easy tips for limiting your plastic consumption:

  1. Give up one use items. I know I talk about this a lot but it is seriously the easiest and cheapest way to give up plastic. Ditch the straw restaurants give you for drinks—you don’t use them at home, do you? (If you do, it’s a good idea to invest in some inexpensive reusable ones.) Say no to plastic takeout silverware and resist the temptation to buy the single-serve item or one-use trinket. You don’t really need any of these things. So the next time you are tempted to try that little sampler or indulge in that little product, ask yourself if you really need or want it—and think about what happens when you trash it a few hours later. Pausing like this will help you be a more mindful consumer.

  2. Stop buying things in packages. Or use less packaging when you can. When I do have to buy something in packaging—like dairy—I opt for glass over the plastic-coated cardboard. Some stores are even developing return/refund programs on these containers. Or I go for cardboard over more wasteful packaging. I can’t tell you how upset I get at Trader Joe’s when I see tomatoes and other fruits and veggies coated in plastic (and have since stopped shopping there for this reason). I was happy to learn that they are cutting down on their plastic, but I think they need to get rid of it altogether. Buying fruit and veggies in bulk is the easiest way to avoid packaging, as is shopping the bulk aisle. The great side effect of this is that you end up buying healthier food and save money in the long run.

  3. Use what you have. Going plastic free doesn’t mean throwing out all your plastic containers…that would be counter productive, especially since we now know that very little of what we put into the recyclables actually gets recycled. So keep the plastic you do have and take good care of it so it lasts. They make great storage containers. Reusing is way more effective than recycling in terms of protecting the environment. And get creative! Start making your own shampoo and store it in old shampoo bottles, for example, or save those lip balm tubes and refill them with the homemade stuff (recipe coming soon).

At the end of the day, we need more people trying to reduce waste imperfectly, than a few people doing it perfectly, as the environmental mantra goes. Want more tips for easy sustainable living? Follow me on Instagram to see my #SustainableSaturday posts. At the end of the day, it's the little changes that add up to big change. How will you green your routine?

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Strawberry Moon Juice

The strawberry moon is one of my favorite full moons of the year. It is the solstice moon, quite often, and one that asks us to shed our daily toils and enjoy the long, languid days of summer. I’m especially drawn to it during my year of sacred simple pleasures as it reminds me to welcome sweetness into my life.

So how do you go about doing something like that, you might wonder? Simple. Create space for things that make you feel divine and luscious like a strawberry ripening in the morning sun. Trust our instincts and let go of anything that clouds your skyscape. Allow your energy to open up to possibility. Then, like any kitchen witch worth her salt, you manifest it in what you conjure out pantry items chopped, shredded, boiled, or stewed into yumminess. Or in this case, stirred.

Seriously! What we whip up in the kitchen is like an edible spell—even if we aren’t using a recipe or thinking of our well-stocked fridge as a medicinal cabinet and our spice cabinet filled with the powders and potions that stir the magic within us.

I was ruminating on this, and the unintentional energy we conjure in our lives as we choose to hold one thought in our minds over another. What we think, we become as the old saying goes. If that’s the case, I can think of nothing better than thoughts about the warm, lush energy of the Strawberry Moon—except for maybe this drink.

Like all potions, the love and energy you pour into making it is everything. I thought of the tangy surprise of an unexpected adventure as I juiced the lime and a sweet summer romance as I mashed up the berries. Then, as I topped my concoction off with a frothy head of ginger ale, I marinated on the power of spice and heat to liven things up. This is summer in a glass: sweet, spicy, bright, and full or promise.

I personally love Q ginger ale (minimal sugar) or Zevia’s ginger beer mixer (no sugar). I don’t like drinks that are too sweet or ones that give me a sugar rush, so these two options are perfect for a fizzy, spicy drink like my riff on the Moscow Mule. This drink was so good the firs time I made it that it wasn’t until hours later that I realized I forgot to add the vodka! But who needs it when you’re drunk on the heady possibilities of summer? Okay, sometimes I do, and you might want to try this drink both with and without it. Either way, it’s a delicious tribute to the Strawberry Moon and the loving sweetness it brings to summer.

Ingredients:

1 small can ginger ale

1 small lime, juiced

1 medium strawberry, chopped

1 shot vodka (optional)

ice

Muddle strawberries and lime in large glass until fruit is mashed and the liquid is a rosy color. Pour in shot of vodka, if you are wanting a cocktail. Add ice and top with ginger ale. Serves one, so invoke the lusty energy of the strawberry moon and make two. You never know who will arrive on your doorstep. Enjoy!

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Healthy & Happy Face Toner

One of the joys of a year of sacred simple pleasures has been retooling my beauty routine. I got a fancy new hair cut that makes me feel fabulous. I’ve been doing bi-weekly honey facials (homemade of course!). And I’ve been giving myself regular DIY mani-pedis, without the nail polish since I’ve discovered that I don’t like it as much as I think I do. An earth woman like me spends a lot of time getting her hands dirty and walking around barefoot—not great for polished nails! Still, I like the time and energy I’ve been giving to pampering myself.

In what seems like a self-care cliche at this point, I light a candle, turn on an audiobook, and proceed to indulge in some of the more luxurious forms of taking care of myself. I’m no stranger to the harder forms of self-care—eating right, exercising, limiting stress—but I’ve begun to learn that the softer forms are important too.

I get to feel pretty. And, I’ve found, I like to feel pretty! Like reading romance novels, doing these little seemingly vain self-care things makes me feel like I’m more than a to-do list or a job. I get to be a woman with her own desires and hopes and dreams…corny, I know! But it’s nice to feel like I’m taking care of a part of myself that has nothing to do with my day job (much as I love it). It’s my time for me and me alone, with no outcome except that it makes me feel good.

One of my favorite part of this new beauty regimen has been this Healthy & Happy Face Toner that uses Vitamin C to brighten and tighten skin. I started concocting this new toner after reading an article about how important it is for us bronze-skinned women to include Vitamin C in our skin routine as it helps with sunspots and evening skin tone. It also reduces signs of aging and can stimulate collagen production. I wish I could remember where I read this, so I could provide a ink, but, as one of the delights of this new beauty routine includes reading more beauty magazines (the more natural the better!), I can’t recall where or when I got this information. Ops!

Still, since I’ve incorporated Vitamin C into my toner, my skin has been brighter and softer. Once again, I got inspiration from Wellness Mama, but instead of using witch hazel, I opted for apple cider vinegar, since I find using it in its watered down form has always worked well as a gentle face toner. The vinegar helps balance the ph of your skin and is anti-bacterial. Notice I said watered down, however. Both apple cider vinegar and Vitamin C are acids, which means a little goes a long way. You never want to put undiluted forms of these on your skin as it will be WAY too harsh. So be gentle with yourself and use only watered down versions of each.

I learned from Wellness Mama that Vitamin C (see link below for where to get it) degrades over time so small batches and refrigeration tend to be better. I make a bigger batch myself, since I typically share it with the women in my family. I also sometimes add clove oil for it’s anti-bacterial priorities and to soften the smell of the vinegar. That said, the essential oils are entirely optional—just be sure not to use more than 10 drops, because again, they can agitate the face if they are not properly diluted.

The best part about this toner? It takes less than ten active minutes to make!

Ingredients:

1 tsp Vitamin C powder

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

10 drops clove oil (optional)

Heat water in microwave until almost boiling, about two minutes. Stir Vitamin C power into hot water until dissolved. Allow to cool, approximately 20 minutes. Then add the apple cider vinegar and stir. Store in small mason jar or petite spray bottle.

To use, wash face thoroughly then dip (ideally reusable!) cotton swab in liquid or spray toner onto swab into moist but not overly wet. Wipe face with cotton, spending a little extra time on oily or problem spots. Let dry then apply moisturizer of choice.

Makes 3/4 cup. Use within the month or keep in fridge to extend the shelf life. Enjoy!

….just add water!

….just add water!

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Cleansing Spell

Ingredients:

Burdens of others—as many as you have

3 quarts unspeakable heartache 

1 heaping tablespoon of ugly thoughts such as

   doubts, fears, and regrets 

101 compost worms

Purified tears, enough to fill a small vial

Renewed hope—all that you can muster

2 ounces lemon oil 

1 bundle of sage 

Skin scraped from an old scar until it bleeds

Tools:

1 laundry basket you don’t mind losing

3 matches 

1 gallon mason jar

1 durable vacuum ready for the afterlife

1 spray bottle

Directions:

Step One: Neatly fold burdens from others and place in a laundry basket you don’t mind losing. Light the first match. Set burdens on fire.  

Step Two: As the laundry basket burns, combine three quarts unspeakable heartache and one tablespoon of ugly thoughts into a one gallon mason jar. Let it stew until bitterness wafts from the container, approximately a lifetime.  No wait—that’s too long. Give it a minute or two.

Step Three: Pour the 101 worms into jar and let them feast until jar is full of compost. 

Step Four: At this point, your laundry basket full of burdens should be ash. Vacuum up the remains of the things you wish people hadn’t asked you to carry. Let vacuum sit.

Note the First: In some cases, those burdens try to reform themselves and reattach to you. If that is the case, you need to release the guilt you feel when you give yourself permission to prioritize your wellness. There’s plenty of room in the vacuum for guilt too.  

Note the Second: If you don’t feel guilt then good for you. You probably weren’t raised Catholic.

Step Five: Cry. A lot. Shed enough tears to fill a small vial and then put a stopper on it. You don’t want to go overboard. Get it out of your system and move on. When you’re done and have slept it off, combine the tears purified under the unconditional love of a full moon with lemon oil and the renewed hope you gained while dreaming. Pour elixir into a spray bottle. Shake well. And shake again.

 Note the Third: You might use regular hope but renewed hope is stronger, more potent. It has survived brutal heartache and terrible blows to the soul. If you want the spell to work, use the thing that won’t die. 

Step Six: Spray that shit everywhere until all you can smell is lemons and unblemished possibility.

Step Seven: Remember the vacuum bag of burned burdens and burgeoning guilt? Throw them in the gallon jar of what is now compost and worms.  

Step Eight: Take the second match and use it to light the vacuum on fire. It has held too much for too long and is ready for the afterlife.

Step Nine: Once everything has burned to a crisp and your mason jar is full of nothing but worms and reincarnated regrets (they are better for being dirt), take the remains—to be clear: worms, dirt, ashes—out to your garden. Fold them into the heap that is your compost. Turn widdershins twenty-one times or in whatever direction you want however many times you want.

Step Ten: Watch as the worms find their home in the earth and the dust settles.

Step Eleven: Take the last match and the bundle of sage. Light that bitch on fire. Lick the flame. Absolve yourself. You are only responsible for you. Taste the flame again to remember how good it feels to let things go.  Swallow the match and commit the sage to the compost. 

Step Twelve: Walk into your home. Smell lemon oil and the small green shoots of new life. 

Step Thirteen: Close the door to any unwanted burdens that come knocking. 

Step Fourteen: Scrape the skin of old scars across the threshold to remind yourself why you did the cleansing spell in the first place. 

Step Fifteen: Repeat as necessary.

Final Note: If you have to repeat this spell more often than you brush your teeth, ask yourself why you need to suffer. Then stop. Do you really want to spend your life crying into vials to make more purification spray? I mean, do what you have to do, but you’ve done this enough times that you know how things inevitably turn out. Better not to take on the burdens in the first place. You’ll keep more laundry baskets that way. Vacuums, too. 

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

In Tags

I Find Myself in Stories...

Sometimes I lose track of myself. I go here and there and forget what my beating heart feels like.  I’m supposed to do all sorts of things—loud ugly things, small quiet things, things that want me stuffed in boxes and forgotten.

Then I remember to breath. Then I forget to listen to the other voices that want only one version of me—the one that’s easy to contain. Then I take in the heady sound of pages rustling—and find myself in stories.

In them, I mend my heart with words and narrative threads, revive the small flicker of hope that had dwindled inside my chest so that it is a healthy flame once again. I let go of hospital-cornered thoughts and the four by four confessional inside my head.

The world wants me heartbroken—I’m more palatable that way. Sometimes I think I would prefer myself heartbroken, too. Then I could blame things on ghosts and old houses and places I should never have gone when I didn’t know any better. Stupid mistakes made by a fearful girl.

But then I read. And I remember that I am a story without one wasted sentence—not one useless word. And I call my soul back to myself. Words, so many words and chapters and pages that have so much to tell. Some are spoken like a greeting while others are mere whispers like things best said under the cover of darkness. Then some…they don’t need breath but find themselves in the wide open space of things left unsaid.

Every step has a purpose. Every wrong turn was the right one at the time, like one scene seamlessly finding another. I tell myself these things and hope they are true. I make them true, the paperbacks stacked on my nightstand tangible proof that the best stories offer the most twists and turns. Satisfaction, meaning, soul comes from the unexpected.

So I must be truly soulful, for everything up until this moment has been a surprise.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter for regular doses of enchantment.  Want even more inspiration?  Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Here’s to a magical life! 

Celebrate Naked Gardening Day

Yeah, it’s a thing, at least according to the World Naked Gardening Day official website. Established fifteen years ago, WNGD (for short) is celebrated on the first Saturday of every May. Why, you ask? It’s a pretty wonderful concept: to move towards a healthier acceptance of our bodies that isn’t always in a sexualized context and to recognize that we are, in fact, animals, deeply connected to the natural world. It also strikes me as a wonderful and playful way to enjoy Beltane, get in touch with nature, and our natural cycles…even if you don’t want to actually garden in the nude.

It’s about shedding our fear of naked bodies, tuning into our corporeal needs, and celebrating this divine season of fertility and new beginnings. Some people dance around May poles. Others hunt for dyed eggs, gifts from a magical bunny. Others garden naked. Personally, I’m kind of a fan of all three and any other spring celebration that asks us to go outside and find joy in this new season. Spring reminds us to be playful, silly, casting off our heavy winter thoughts and turning to the more immediate pleasures of this passionate season.

Full disclosure, however: I have a lovely patio garden and am nowhere near a place where I could plant seeds in the nude without the threat of photos ending up on the internet! Still, I love the concept of shedding our cool-weather skins, letting our bodies be kissed by the sun, and getting a little dirty. So if you’re like me—not ready to give your neighbors an eyeful, but want to celebrate the essence of this day—here are five simple ways to honor the spirit of Naked Gardening Day without the threat of itchy plant matter getting into your tender bits.

  1. Garden without gloves. Sure, there are times when you need your heavy duty gloves to pull weeds and turn soil. But then there comes the seed planting, which is actually easier to do with your gloves off. I love the feel of fat fava and thorny beet seeds in my hands as I bury them in the soil. My direct connection to the earth and the seeds that will later become delicious produce remind me that each intention, soul seed, and thought I plant now will eventually bear fruit. It’s tangible proof that magic is real.

  2. Garden barefoot. Again, there are times when shoes come in handy, especially when you’re doing the heavy duty work of prepping your garden. But then there are the times where it is lovely to go barefoot in newly turned soil as you plant your tender shoots and young plants. The technical hippy metaphysical term for walking barefoot is called earthing. Literally putting your bare soles on the earth grounds, relaxes, and maybe even boosts your immunity. Let your toes wriggle in soft soil and your heels sink into the compost-enriched dirt under your feet. There’s no better way to reconnect with nature.

  3. Simply spend time in nature…in as few clothes as possible. Don’t tell me you don’t love the sun’s first warm kiss of spring on your back. Don’t tell me you’ve never been tempted to skinny dip or sunbath nude—or that you’ve never done either. If you’re in a position where naked isn’t comfortable or possible, just get as naked as you can—think short shorts, bikini-tops or even a bathing suit. Trust me. You will love the way the sun caresses your skin and how the breeze tickles your bare arms and legs. Just don’t forget the SPF—as a desert woman, I know all about wearing protection so I can enjoy the great outdoors without the sunburn souvenir!

  4. Make a conscious effort to feel comfortable in your own skin. Even if you can’t get naked or wear a filmy dress and ribbons in your hair as you dance around a May pole, take this day to simply love your body and all that it does for you. Garden. Go for a nature walk. Do yoga. Forget about your perceived flaws and take your cues from nature—after all, the butterfly doesn’t compare itself to the dragonfly or the ladybug. It merely goes about its business. Take this day to marvel at what a beautiful animal you are.

  5. Relish the sensuality of gardening. It doesn’t matter if you’re coated in sunscreen, jeans and a t-shirt, or merely a daisy crown and a smile, gardening is sexy work. We get to strip things down to basics—planting seeds, getting dirty, relying on sunlight, water and hard work to produce nourishment. Gardening is a sensory experience, from feeling the soil and seeds in your hands, to hearing the birds sing and the bees buzz around with their enthusiastic pollination duties. We get sweaty. We relax. We forget to check the clock and instead rely on the passing clouds and shifting sun to let us know a full day has passed among our plants. We remember our powerful connection to the earth and our profound capacity to live in harmony with it.

So here’s to spring. Here’s to honoring our powerful connection to nature. Here’s to enjoying our bodies. Happy gardening!

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Composting 101 Resource Guide

Every April I begin a series of Earth Day posts, usually involving tips on greening your routine or various friendly recipes. This year, however, I discovered a funny, wondrous thing I began preparing for April 22nd: All my blogs and social media posts reflected my deepening commitment to a green lifestyle, regardless of the time of year. Woohoo!

I’ve been going more and more green, especially now with the heartbreaking news on climate change. But what used to be a series of posts once a year on how I do that has become regular reflections on how a more zero-waste lifestyle is an integral part of who I am day-in, day-out. More than that, my work, be is something as specific as my regular-ish #SustainableSaturdays posts on Instagram, or as broad as a new blog or short story, reflects how intrinsically my sense of wellbeing is tied to tending my relationship with nature, from dramatically reducing my plastic use to planting my radish seeds.

If I don’t feel like I’m actively doing my part to fight climate change, then I don’t feel like I’m living a healthy, whole, balanced life. It’s kind of like eating fast food and wanting to be healthy at the same time. Not gonna happen! Okay, so lest I start sounding to preachy, I’ll just wrap up this rant by saying that as I’ve slowed down and tended my relationship with nature, I’ve likewise tended my relationship to myself. Together, we heal, bloom, thrive…

…which is all by way of saying that one of my day-in, day-out green living routines is tending my own vermicompost right on my own little garden patio. I started doing it a few years ago when I realized how many food scraps and odds and ends I threw out. Actually, I grew up in a home with a lush wild garden and an active compost, but, apartment dweller that I am, I just assumed good old fashion composting was something that would have to wait for a real home and a real backyard.

Not so.

After realizing I could be reducing the food waste that goes to landfills relatively simply, I decided to invest in a vermicomposting tray (FYI vermicompisting is just a fancy term for composting with worms in trays or tubs). I consulted my mom. I talked to my hippy friends. I went down an internet rabbit hole. Each and every source told me that composting, especially from bins or trays, was something I could easily do, even from my humble apartment, without attracting rodents or committing to a super labor intensive practice. Cut to me a few years down the road with a flourishing compost, happy plants benefiting from the fertile soil, and more worms than I know what to do with.

My waste has declined dramatically too. I keep my food scraps in a tupperware bin in the fridge and, once a week or so, take them out to the compost to feed my worms. I now shred paper mail and happily spread it around my vermicomposting trays as welcome roughage for the little guys. It’s incredibly rewarding to see what is essentially trash or discards find a new life feeding plants. If you want to go full garden-nerd about this, the worms and fresh compost make great gifts for your fellow gardeners. Also, let’s be real: My writer-heart sees a big whopping metaphor in the whole act of taking things that no longer serve us and making them the foundation of future fertility.

So how did I do it? By consulting the following resources listed below (along with that of y green-thumbed mom). I thought about writing my own composting guide, but, honestly, these sites do it better. Without further ado, here’s my resource guide for all things composting:

  1. Sustainable Baby Step’s Beginner’s Guide to Composting has everything you could possibly need, from how to get started, to what you can and can’t compost, to what to do with all the wonderful soil once the worms have had their way with your food scraps.

  2. Food Print’s Vermicomposting 101: is a thorough set of instructions for how to set up your compost and make it friendly.

  3. Eco-cycle’s troubleshooting section is especially helpful if you are running into issues like having a smelly or wet compost. They can tell you why what’s going on and how to fix it.

  4. Green Action Center’s FAQ is another fantastic primer on all things composting, including why it sometimes looks like nothing is happening (but really it is).

This Earth Day, commit to reducing your food waste. Commit to taking things that would otherwise end up in landfills and turn them into gardener’s gold. Feed worms. Grow vegetables. Be one with nature. Happy gardening and happy composting!

P.S. Who wants worms?

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Beet Carpaccio

I love beets. They are second only to the humble radish, whose peppery bite will always be my first love…in terms of root vegetables, that is. But what the radish has in spring spice, the beet makes up for in earthy, meaty sweetness. And like the radish, the humble beet is best when you don’t do too much to it.

This recipe for beet carpaccio came about because I had purchased the most beautiful beets and meyer lemons from my local store. I swear, the lemons looked so big and juicy I thought they were small oranges! The eye-popping color of both produce items had me thinking of a tasty jewel-toned dish that would work as a Saturday night salad or starter.

…and you all know I’m always working on making my lifestyle more and more green, including in my cooking. Eating little or no meat is one of the best ways to cheaply and effortlessly help the planet. While I’m not a complete vegetarian, dishes like this, a play on the classic beef carpaccio, make me love being a veggie eater.

Meyer lemons are only in season so long, so if you can’t get them, regular lemons will do, as will oranges, if you want to play around with other citruses to get different flavors for your carpaccio. Just make sure you use organic produce (as always), especially because you will be using the zest. Non-organic citrus means you’ll be sprinkling pesticides in your salad as well as zest, yuck! I used pistachios in place of capers found in the traditional carpaccio, both to mimic the color of the brined berries and to add a touch of nuttiness. The homemade salt combo is what really ties the flavors together, however. The mustard, orange, and onion act as a savory sweet balance to the tart citrus.

Did I mention I love the colors of this salad? The dark red of the beets, the pop of green from the pistachios, and the sprinkle of yellow from the lemon zest…it’s a work of edible art, perfect for a fancy Saturday night dinner (in your jammies, natch).

Ingredients:

For salt:

1 tablespoon himalayan rock salt

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon dried onion

1 tablespoon dried orange peel

For Salad:

1 medium beet

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

olive oil

1. Heat water in two quart sauce pan until boiling.

2. While water boils, wash and peel beet. Place in hot water and boil until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from water and let cool, at least an hour. Then place beet in the fridge and let chill for a few hours. I like to cook my beet in the morning and then pop it in the fridge until dinnertime.

3. While you let the beet chill, combine ingredients for salt and place in salt mill or use a mortar and pestle to grind. Note: You will have more of this salt than is necessary for the recipe. Trust me, this is a good thing. It stores indefinitely and is great on all sorts of dishes, from a tangy citrus chicken to summery roasted veggies.

4. When beet is fully chilled, use a mandoline or sharp knife to cut paper thin slices of the beets. The mandoline is a little easier for this. If yo use the knife, the slices won’t be uniform (unless, of course, your knife skills are better than my so-so ones!).

5. Arrange slices in circle formation on two plates and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

6. Then sprinkle a smattering of your fancy salt, to taste (I like it easy on the salt, myself).

7. Finally, add the lemon zest and pistachio pieces to each plate.

Eat immediately. Serves two. Enjoy!

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Inviting Synchronicity into Your Life

What is Synchronicity?

One of the central aspects of everyday magic is synchronicity, or meaningful coincidences, that pepper our lives and offer valuable insights, signs, and messages from the universe if we are willing to listen.  Some of my most powerful revelations have come out of seemingly innocuous moments that served to punctuate an important feeling, experience, or situation.  

How did I know to trust my instincts that a relationship was well and truly over? I was thinking about the whole situation and, when I turned on my car, the radio blasted, “the thrill is gone…” Boy was it, and to ignore that would only cause more heartache.

And what gave me the courage to turn my blog posts into the manuscript that would become my award-winning Everyday Enchantments? A random folded paper tucked into an old book I’d decided to reread.  On that piece of paper was a series of scribbles from my teenage self thinking about the day when I would be An Adult and a Published Author.  I started working on my new manuscript that afternoon.  

Without those insights—those little nudges from life telling me I’m on the right track or ready to move on—I wouldn’t have been brave enough to listen to my inner wisdom.  You would be surprise what the universe is willing to reveal if you simply ask it and stay open to the answers it might give. 

3 Ways to Invite Synchronicity into Your Life

  1. Get loose. Real talk: we live in a world that values concrete, rational things—all good and well in their right place—but synchronicity is a different kind of literacy all together.   It’s about opening yourself to the possibility of a new way of being.  Often times, our innate instincts and unfiltered feelings get buried under the pressure to conform to social norms.  Instead of allowing ourselves to introvert when we need to introvert, for example, we push past our needs and do more, get louder, and move faster despite our soul’s longing for quiet. Loosening up allows us to let go of rigid expectations or assumptions about how things should be so we can be open to the magic around us.

  2. Get playful.  When was the last time you stayed up past your bedtime reading?  Or ditched the to-do list in favor of a schedule-free Saturday?  Or danced in your pjs to your favorite song?  If its been awhile, now is the time to welcome that playful energy into your life.  Be like the otter, an animal that devotes as much time to play as it does to work.  Why?  I’ll let you in on a little secret: Synchronicity is pretty darn playful.  It’s a lot like Coyote, that perennial trickster, sneaking up on you when you least expect it, catching you off guard, forcing you to rethink your world view.  The best way to be open to these insights is to let go of hard and fast rules and just…get playful.

  3. Get curious.  Synchronicity is all about opening yourself up to the world and remembering that child-like curiosity with new places and things that delight the senses.  This kind of energy loves questions, exploration, expansion.  Often our sense of wonder gets lost as we succumb to the demands of day-in, day-out. Take a moment—pause, breathe deeply, and think about what it used to feel like when the changing seasons created a sense of unblemished excitement for something now or they way a sunset was like an open invitation to marvel at the beauty of life or how a winding dirt road was the promise of an adventure. Then turn that innate curiosity on your inner landscape—forget to push and prod and contain difficult feelings or old selves and simply marvel at the fact that you contain multitudes, like so many tiny cosmic seeds waiting to be explored. Synchronicity is found in these silent, joyful explorations.

How to Listen to the Messages

Sometimes we throw out questions to the universe and get an answer maybe that instant, maybe a week or month from now. More often than not, however, the answers come when we’ve forgotten to fixate on whatever it is we want answers to.  Sometimes we even get nudges and insights to things we didn’t know we even had questions about. 

Synchronicity is like that—trickster that it is—deciding what questions you get answers to and which ones you just have to struggle with on your own.  Or if it sees you forgetting to enjoy the wonder around you, well, like Coyote, it won’t hesitate to shake up your order a bit.  However synchronicity comes into your life, it is a reminder to tune into the magic of your every day.  Often the wisdom it imparts is immediately and intuitively understood, so don’t worry it like you would a loose thread on your jacket.  Just feel what it is asking you to feel.  The answers will come.

Be warned though: The more you invite synchronicity into your life, the more it will manifest unbidden, as if it only ever need your time an attention to reveal itself to you wholeheartedly and without restraint. And with more meaningful, soul-illuminating coincidences, comes more magic. Enjoy.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you.  If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter for regular doses of enchantment.  Want even more inspiration?  Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Here’s to a magical life! 

Butternut Squash Steaks

I don’t know what it is about January and February, but I always find myself tinkering more in the kitchen this time of year, trying new healthy recipes.  Maybe it’s the cold winter nights, maybe it’s the promise of spring and new things on the horizon, or maybe it’s just because I love the idea of trying something that shakes up my routine.  In any case, I find that there’s nothing better come Saturday night than an old jazz record, a beautiful cocktail, and a crisp apron as I go about trying something new.  

One such evening produced this lovely recipe for butternut squash steaks.  Like my cabbage steaks, this dish is warm, hearty, and healthy—for you and the planet (one of the easiest ways to be eco-friendly is to eat less meat).  It’s also incredibly versatile and relatively low-maintenance, once you get past the peeling and slicing part. For this recipe, I went old school and seasoned it with garlic and rosemary, but I have plans to try other more adventurous combos, like tarragon and shallots. 

You will mostly be using the longer top part of the squash for this to get the “steaks,” but I recommend dicing up the remainder of the veggie and cooking them for a future quick lunch with tossed with lettuce and garbanzo beans or boiling to use as a puree for soup.  You can do a quick roast of the seeds in a frying pan—no cleaning needed, just let the pulpy matter get nice and crispy.  Yum!  Go ahead and toss the remaining scraps in your compost—your worms will thank you and so will your garden.  I’m all about reducing kitchen waste!

This squash is great on its own on a bed of lettuce (pictured here) or paired with a more elaborate meal for date night, with a side of green beans and mashed potatoes if you want to mimic the full steak dinner.  

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash, washed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

salt to taste

olive oil

  1. To prepare, cut off the top and bottom parts of the squash, no more than a quarter of an inch.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the hard outer skin.   Then cut bottom rounded part off and set aside (see above for ways to use those remaining pieces).

  2. Lay butternut squash on its side and carefully slice it into 1/3 to 1/2 in slices, depending on how thick you want your steaks to be. 

  3. Rub steaks in olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and salt tot taste and let sit for twenty minutes.

  4. While steaks marinate, heat olive oil in saucepan on medium.

  5. Place 2-3 steaks in sauce pan (the number depends on how big your squash and pan are).  Let cook on one side for 5-7 minutes, until browned and softened.  Flip steaks and do the same for the second side.  Repeat until all steaks are cooked.  

  6. Serve on a bed of lettuce and drizzle with olive oil.  Makes 4-6, depending on how thick your steaks are.  Enjoy!

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

On Valentines

You grew up collecting uniform valentines each February.  Most of them were cartoon cardboard cut-outs and, if you were lucky, kissed with candy kisses.  You organized them in to hierarchies of sweetness: chocolates got top prize, soft sugared hearts near the bottom (they were pretty, but tasteless, like sweet chalk or, you later learned, a dinner date that doesn’t read). 

You took pity on the sentiment-studded cards without candy and put them near the middle.  They weren’t the ones you really wanted though you were vain enough to appreciate how many there were.  No, you saved the prized place for the homemade ones—diollied and sequined-kissed hearts on pink and red and purple construction paper.  Those were the ones from the people who taught you that love is a loud, garish thing.  When you have it, you need the world to know that there is glitter in your heart and honey in your veins.  There is so much of it, this feeling, that you want to hold it close like a secret and release it into the sky like a wild bird at the same time. 

You don’t even need a special day in winter to quantify this sense—this awareness—that you are love and love is you.  It was in the white blush-stained flowers so many years after those childhood cards, when adulthood lay heavy in your bones and you had begun to forget the feel of simple pleasures, those sweet things like feathers tickling your palm or the crackle of pink foil wrappers revealing candied promises.  Frivolous little things.  Unnecessary, yet muscling their way into your heart all the same.

Then there is the gift given to you just because on a forgettable weekday from someone who wants you to know that you are valued, that they notice the long hours in which you quietly go about your work.  And the one you give them, to let them know that they are seen.  These secret valentines are just as sweet as the one-inch by one-inch chocolate squares, edible care that fit perfectly in the palm of your hand or the truffles you make at home, dipped in love and infused with rose petals and sweet dreams to cure broken hearts and remind you that love is something that grows bigger the more you feed it.

Lately, you’ve come to appreciate the love that’s like a seed.  Ready to bloom, ready to set down roots, ready to have garden-toughened hands coax sleeping stories into the light.  The only thing that comes close to this are the rocks collected from a patch of earth and poured into your hands so that you don’t float away or the passed-around dog-earned pages of paperbacks because you have tales to share and discuss.  Or the paper moons that keep you company as you make beeswax candles so that they may soften and sweeten a long day for those you love.  Or better yet, the lovers in the tarot always reminding you that the heart behind your ribcage is whole and happy, a beating song to the universe.

Still, nothing is as sweet as that seed-love, which is why you always keep seeds in your pocket.  You never know when someone will invite you to bloom. 

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

A Year of Sacred Simple Pleasures

Last summer, I wrote about the importance of sacred simple pleasures, those ephemeral soul-filling things that make life delicious. What followed was a season spent nourishing and prioritizing the daily joys that rejuvenated and refreshed.  I returned to teaching that fall excited and enthusiastic.  The experience made me realize how important it is to cultivate a wellness practice that emphasizes simple pleasures.

It also renewed my belief that simple pleasures are integral to conjuring everyday magic.  They are, in fact, sacred. Pleasure is significantly undervalued in our society.  If it feels good, it must not be important.  If it brings you joy, it’s not to be taken seriously…how many times have you heard or seen these ideas reinforced?  The way people turn their noses up at romance novels is  good example of this.  These books have sexytimes! All the feels! People having multiple orgasms! And a Happily Ever After! So…why are these bad things?

I blame this fear of pleasure on religion and a society that is still afraid of the sacred feminine.  Instead of nurturing this Eros energy as an important part of our day-to-day lives, we treat is transgressive, a deviant pursuit stuffed into weekends, vacations, and any place else that doesn’t fall into the seriously business of our daily routine. It’s kind of like Dry January: people binge drink on December and then repent with virtuous abstinence come January. Why not just enjoy moderate drinking year round? Even worse, we often ignore the simple pleasures right in front of us, and thus, an important part of enjoying our day: the morning sunrise, the unexpected blood oranges at the market, the delicious cup of oolong. When we deny ourselves these simple pleasures, we deny an important part of our identity.

In reality, pleasure tells us a lot about ourselves. It’s easy to identify a toxic situation because they make us feel so bad.  But once we address negative issues, how do we then cultivate joy?  It takes a lot to conjure and maintain happiness.  We have to get used to what pleasure feels like and perhaps more time to unabashedly court its presence in our lives. Like any good reader of romance knows, the iconic Happily Ever After takes a lot of grit and hard work to achieve.  We have to ask ourselves hard questions: What makes me happy? What do I want in my life? What doesn’t bring me pleasures? Seemingly simple questions, sure, but how often are we honest with ourselves about what we enjoy versus what society tells us we should be doing?

I also found that prioritizing simple pleasures allows me let go of the things that complicate or otherwise being negative energy to my life. During my year of buying, using, and wasting less, I found a direct correlation between moving too fast and being less mindful, less eco-conscious, less in-tune with myself. When I paused to indulge in simple pleasures, I was able to unplug from the frantic energy of our fast paced world. Same goes for toxic people situations. Learning what brings me joy helped me better understand what throws me out of whack.

Recently, I found myself in a social situation that I committed to not because I necessarily wanted to but because I thought I should be doing it. It seemed like a good idea, but my gut feeling was telling me it wasn’t my vibe. The energy was too groupie, too demanding on my time, and too draining. In the space of a week, I went from being happy and full of life, to tired, anxious, and without inspiration for my writing. Those feelings told me a lot. And in talking with loved ones, I was finally able to trace these feeling back to stepping into a zone that wasn’t right for me. Once I had that revelation, my energy returned. I felt happy again—albeit tired from this strange emotional journey. I could write again. I looked forward to my work day. And I felt joy in the littlest things. The energetic shift was shocking and made me realized how much I took my inner joy for granted. In reality, I had been so happy because I nourished the sacred art of pleasure and eschewed anything that didn’t enhance the quality of my life. It made me feel like I could do anything and everything—until I stepped into that dead zone and realized that wasn’t the case. My energy had been abundant because I cultivated abundance—and ruthlessly cut out anything from my life that didn’t enhance my overall wellness.

Lesson learned. Pleasure is an integral part of my day-to-day. It helps me understand why certain things make me anxious and unhappy—and that it is okay to let those things go in favor of radical joy. Now, I feel like I have to say that this isn’t about never having stereotypically “negative” feelings or never allowing yourself to engage with things that make you uncomfortable. Rather, this is about meaningfully allowing yourself to feel what you need to feel and listen to what those feelings are telling you. We find out a lot about ourselves from painful situations, true. But it is equally important to listen to what our pleasurable experiences have to teach us.

So how will I go about this year long exploration of sacred simple pleasures? I don’t have a set of rules to gauge how I indulge in this, mostly because I absolutely adore unstructured time and a lack of schedules when I’m not teaching. You could say it’s my number one sacred simple pleasure. I want to be open to synchronicity and spontaneity. Cooking and dreaming. Knitting and lolly-gagging.  Adventuring and magic-making.  I’ll only measure it by how nourished by soul feels. How balanced my life is.  How much magic I feel in the everyday. I’ll examine how slowly—intentionally—I’m living. How often I’m comfortable in asserting my needs and desires. How delicious each day tastes.

What simple pleasures are sacred to you? Why? Here’s to a year of cultivating pleasure! 

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

5 Things I Learned from My Year of Buying, Using, Wasting Less

My Year Long Journey to Be a More Conscious Consumer

Last year, I committed to a year of buying, using, and wasting less because of environmental concerns and an intrinsic desire to live more and more in union with nature.  I’ve been increasingly concerned about climate change, especially after the shocking reports that came out in the second half of 2018.  The reality is, we all over-consume and waste resources.  We’ve been conditioned as a society to value conspicuous consumption and retail therapy.  Big companies and countries certainly play a large role in climate change, and it is wonderful that the U.S. recently elected many government officials that care more about climate change than in previous elections—ones that will aggressively protect our planet.  It is essential that we hold big businesses and governments accountable for their part in the fight against climate change.  I am beyond excited to see the news stories about cities banning one-use items (including my hometown Albuquerque!), states building plans to go 100% sustainable, and lawmakers shutting down loop-holes for big businesses trying to get out of new green initiatives (I’m looking at you Exxon).

Living a Greener Lifestyle

I also think we, as individuals, need to hold ourselves accountable for our role in climate change.  After all, big businesses continue to produce one-use items and fast fashion because it is profitable.  Why?  Because we buy their products.  In that context, it becomes clear that the individual has a tremendous amount of power in healing the environment.  Our money—what we choose to spend it on and what we refuse to purchase—can shape the market and shift the economy away from disposable consumerism towards a sustainable future.  This requires us to be hyper-conscious about what we need and how we spend money.

So how to you unplug from mindless consumerism and live more consciously? 

It was an interesting journey.  First, I had to be completely honest with myself about what I purchase, use, and waste…and how to scale back.  That meant resisting the quick high of retail therapy, thinking about ways to repurpose household items, and taking an honest look at what I actually use each day and what quietly gathers dust on a forgotten shelf. 

Many people think that trying to live more sustainably makes your life more complicated and costly.  I found that it actually simplified my life and helped me save money.  Now that I’ve finished my year of using, buying, and wasting less, I plan to continue going more and more zero waste.  Frankly, we should all be aggressively moving towards greener living given our current environmental crisis. This decision has also transformed other areas of my life in ways that surprised me.  Using, buying, and wasting less meant I was taking better care of myself, saving money, and engaging with my local community in more meaningful ways.  Talk about conjuring positive energy!

5 Things I Learned from Living Sustainably

1. Sustainable living is a form of radical self-care.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, sustainability is a spiritual practice. Tuning into the needs of the earth helps me stay grounded and connected to myself.  It’s easy to start moving too fast and become disconnected from ourselves in this go-go-go world.  When I committed to a greener lifestyle, I had to slow down and consider what I really needed.  I found myself enjoying what I had more, skipping needless errands in favor of an afternoon walk, and happily rejecting impulse purchases in favor of money in the bank. Instead of indulging in retail therapy, I had to find other, healthier ways to destress.  I did yoga.  I meditated.  I read.  I knitted.  I no longer used shopping as a bandaid for coping with stress. Instead, I allowed myself to feel what I needed to feel and change what needed to be change for a better sense of wellness and balance in my life.  Plus I realized fairly quickly that if something wasn’t good for the earth it wasn’t good for me!

2. I don’t need as much as I think I do—so my life got a lot simpler.  This year, I decided to stop (okay, severely limit)  buying packaged goods, especially those items that came is wasteful plastic packaging.  It only takes one video of a helpless sea creature killed by eating discarded plastic to make you hate our wasteful culture. As a result, I stopped shopping at Trader Joe’s (except, real talk, for the occasional trip down the wine aisle).  Practically everything in the produce section there was  covered in wasteful packaging.  Suddenly, all the stuff I used to buy there made me think of polluted oceans…no thanks!  I got used to mainly shopping at my local co-op (the bulk section is my new BFF) and a few other stores where could get affordable, package-free goods. I ran less errands, bought less stuff, and generally saved money and time by nixing out anything that came in excessive packaging. 

I’ll admit that that didn’t work so well when I had to make online purchases.  One of the few new items I bought was tights for work after the ones I’d had for years ripped beyond repair.  The Amazon image showed me the tights I wanted and they seemed minimally packaged.  Then I got my order and found that each and every pair of tights in the set was double wrapped in non-recyclable plastic.  My worst nightmare!   So I learned my lesson.  I have have to actively seek out eco-conscious producers who make an effort to include limited packaging (PACT Apparel is a good start to this).  And, to make things even easier, I stick to my basic rule: I don’t buy wastefully packaged goods. Period. See? Simple!

3. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be. There’s a lot of panic around living a green lifestyle—it’s too expensive, too difficult, too time consuming to be practical. In truth, I’ve found the opposite to be true.  I got used to bringing my own reusable bags and jars to stores, buying less and using what I have. I fell into a routine and many of the changes I made were micro-adjustments that had a huge impact., like walking when I could instead of driving. The funny thing is, the more changes I made, the more I wanted to make. I’ve spent more than a few afternoons down a Pinterest rabbit hole, learning about how to go zero-waste. The real shocker? Much of the advice I found was pretty basic—use less, buy less, and be a more thoughtful consumer.

4. Other people are incredibly helpful…and curious about easy ways to be more sustainable. I can’t tell you how many times someone has stopped me in the grocery store to ask where I got my reusable produce bags or to tell me that using my own tupperware for my deli purchases is a good idea (I don’t eat a lot of meat but I like my cheese—just not the plastic wrap it comes in). The stores I shopped at were beyond kind when I brought my own items to fill. I even inspired a few people to make their own shopping routine less wasteful by bringing their own bags. I brought my own containers everywhere, from generic grocery stores like Smiths, to local markets like Keller’s and the co-op. I even brought them to The Herb Store (my all time favorite bulk store in Albuquerque) to stock up on my usual bulk herbs and spices. Each and every time, people were inquisitive, supportive, and excited to see someone shopping more mindfully. I’ve had more than one person tell me that I’d inspired them to start doing the same. Woohoo!


5. You learn to be honest with yourself about what is truly sustainable—in all meanings of the term. Going to three different grocery stores in one week to get everything you need without packaging (none of it available in one place) is not achievable.  Yup.  That was a lesson learned the hard way.   It’s the end of the week and you’re tired.  You finish work late or simply don’t feel like a string of errands at the end of the day.  Real talk: Not gonna happen.  No longer shopping at Trader Joe’s because everything is wrapped in packaging?  Totally achievable.   Never buying anything again ever? Nope. Investing in thoughtful purchases when needed? Yup. Saying no to one-use items? So easy to commit to. In short, to keep my greener lifestyle sustainable, I had to keep it simple, otherwise it was only a matter of time before I would backslide into old less environmentally friendly habits. I might not be able to make all my own goods and give up my car (my job is a twenty-minute drive away and the bus system here is pretty sketchy), but I can invest in quality products by ethical businesses and drive less.

Building a Better Future

The climate change news is pretty scary, no doubt about it. But I also believe that we got ourselves into this mess and we can get ourselves out of it. It’s easy to get disheartened with all the apocalypse-like stories flooding the media. Then I started reading more about people finding ways to clean the oceans and protect endangered species, countries banning one-use items and protecting vast amounts of natural spaces, and individuals lobbying for sustainable colleges and cities. Together, we can do so much. It starts with giving up one-use items and only grows from there.

I like knowing that I’m part of healing our planet and committing to a more thoughtful lifestyle. How do you plan to be part of the change?

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Homemade Doggie Treats

When I say I like to make gifts for everyone in my family, I mean everyone, including the pups. (Okay, okay, lest that last statement sound too Martha Stewart-y, I should say that I’ve got a small family and we’re all pretty chill about the gift thing—but it’s still fun to treat them to some creature comforts!). I’m auntie to several cute doggies and friends with many a lovely dog owner and I love to spoil our four-legged friends with some easy and healthy treats this time of year. Bonus: making my own treats means not purchasing things with wasteful packaging, yay!

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I modeled my recipe from one by Bitz & Giggles because I loved how adaptable versatile it was (also easy, because…you know me). The pumpkin puree can easily be swapped out for apple sauce, as my experiments have proved, and I’ve incorporated many a batch of apple-studded and chia-seed smattered oatmeal that I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish into these treats. I’ve even added yogurt in a pinch. I omitted the nutmeg and cinnamon, because, as their recipe states, those spices can be harmful to dogs in large amounts, so I didn’t want to mess with it. I also added a mix of white and wheat flour—enough to soak up the extra moisture from the cook oatmeal I mixed in.

You are not required to buy a doggie bone cookie cutter to make them. I did just because I think it’s cute and because I once tried to use festive holiday cookie cutters…but everyone kept mistake the doggie teats for human cookies. Ooops! You can slice the dough into squares if you want or use less human-being-y cookie cutters (or just be prepared for people to gobble a few of these healthy treats too).

You'll notice my recipe is a little iffy on the ingredients because I’m all for using what you have on hand. I make a bigger batch so I have plenty to give out, but you could always cut it in half. See what I mean about versatile? I would still cook them for a solid 40 minutes so they harden like a traditional doggie biscuit. I only did 30 minutes for the first round and they came out cookie-soft. Play with it and see what works best for you. All in all, these are fun to make and share with you furry friends. Plus it is super easy to whip up before the holiday celebrations and pop into the freezer for later gift-giving.

Ingredients:

1 cup canned pumpkin (or apple sauce)

1 cup water (or yogurt)

1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil

1 cup oatmeal

4 cups white or wheat flour

Preheat oven 375. Pour wet ingredients in bowl and stir until combined. Then slowly add flour and oats until dough forms. If you’re trying to use up already cooked oatmeal like I did, then just mix it in with the wet ingredients, and add the flour after. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness on floured surface and use your cookie cutter or knife to create shapes. Place on baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes. Serves an entire pack of wolves. Enjoy!

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!