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.

5 Life Lessons My Niece Taught Me

So my little niece just turned one year old this weekend and I cannot even begin to express the wonder and joy I've experienced getting to know her. Too often with children we think we are the ones teaching them all about life: how to crawl, then walk, how to eat solid foods, and how to behave.  And we are.  But these little humans are also teaching us valuable lessons too.  I can't believe the number of revelations I've had while watching my niece explore her home or experience her first taste of frijoles, mustard, and peaches (she has quite the adventurous palate).  But for this blog, I've narrowed down all the things my niece has taught me to five all-encompassing life lessons:

1. Don't over think it.  Adults tend to complicate things; we can get so caught up in hectic days or convoluted paths to happiness when the most wonderful things in life are the simplest.  Being an auntie has slowed me down and made me get rid of the unnecessary clutter in my life, simply because I do not have energy for anything that seems to weigh me down or makes me feel muddled. 

2.  Trust your instincts. Remember when I said adults tend to over-think things?  Well with a baby in your life, you begin to learn how important instincts are.  Take my niece for example: when she likes something, you know it.  When she doesn't, well, you know that too.  She is ruled by her instincts right now and more often than not, they guide her in the right direction.  It made me realize that I, too, should be relying more on my gut-reaction to certain things and not talking myself out of the way I feel.  Our instincts are powerful guides on this journey through life; the more we listen to them, the stronger they get.

3. Always leave time for naps.  Okay, so sometimes she fights her naps, but she always wakes up so happy and rested after them.  And I've found that a sleeping baby is a powerful sedative. She sleeps, I sleep--and feel better for it.  As it turns out, I can fight naps too in my effort to get more done in my day.  Yet more often than not, a little R&R is better for you that squeezing in one more thing.  The marvel of it all is that I usually do end up doing that last thing post-nap just with less fuss and stress because I am rested.

4.  Stay playful.  Life, after all, is an expression of the joy and abundance we cultivate.  Everything is a game to my niece, from blinking to stacking blocks.  This is an important reminder to cultivate that exuberant enthusiasm that makes everything feel like play.  It also makes you appreciate just how much fun we can have in our daily lives if we stay loose.

5.  Keep it magical.  Seriously, have you ever seen a baby marvel at the way a flower opens or at the smoothness of a rock?  Have you ever watched them trace the pattern on a rug with their tiny fingers or giggle and bounce when a catchy tune comes on?  At the end of the day, life is a mystical magical experience and it's important to take the time to marvel at the simple wonders surrounding us.

What have you learned from the little ones in your life?

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!

On Tenderness

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Tenderness--that timid little beast full of its own kind of ferocity.  It dares what no one else will: to reach beyond the safety of its armor and the armor of others to stop the world with a soft caress, a squeeze of a hand, or a gentle whisper of things half-said.

It is enough to acknowledge and be acknowledged it says.  Enough to cast aside the temptation to perpetually coat your words in irony, your face in schooled ennui.  Tenderness does not just wear its heart on its sleeve but carves it upon its skin, a reminder that there are blood and bones beneath our shells, and --tucked behind a living cage--a full beating heart. 

It might feel like a bruise at times, that carving, or a pulsing scar, but that is only because it must feel, always feel everything around it so as never to be fossilized by urbane manners or cool posturing.  Those things do not touch it, will not touch it.  Must not touch it.

This little beast knows that to cast aside its armor, so shoddily made of unfounded fears, is to become stronger--to offer itself up to the world as a song of muscle and memory so as to see whose soul beats in time with its own.

There, there lies the naked power of tenderness.

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!

Stories I Want to Read to My Niece

There are so many really, each of them full of their own wisdom.  First, I must fill her full of fairy tales for they are the foundation of any good reader. She will know the grim originals as well as the various retellings.  They will teach her that there is more to this world than what we can see and that the unseen is often more powerful, more beautiful. 

Of course, she cannot go through her life without reading The Hobbit (and, if I had my way, the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy--but I will settle for its prequel).  This will be a joint effort between me, her father, and my mother--the devout hobbit lovers in her daily life.  This story will teach her the value of bravery and adventuring and a well-tended hobbit hole.  She will discover that true heroes are often the people we least expect them to be.

And let us not forget the power of the Witchcraft Mysteries so that she may understand that she creates her own magic, that no matter what comes her way in this wild and wonderful world, she is more than capable of handling it--with style and zest, no less.  The lessons found within the pages of this series will reinforce those found in the Nancy Drew books her mother and I will read to her. 

Ah, the Nancy Drew series, it is like a young woman's guidebook for negotiating the world.  They will teach her to be quick on her feet and sharp of mind, always thinking critically and thoughtfully about what she sees.  She will learn to be independent and strong--and well dressed in the vintage inspired fashion of Miss Drew.  She will learn to love penny loafers and Peter Pan collared dresses.  She will discover the importance of curiosity and caring for others, of relishing the mysteries of life.

Sure, there are other books, other stories I want her to read--no childhood is complete with Dr. Seuss nor Gaiman's Coraline, no woman's education finished without the Brontes or Austen.  Then there are the stories she will find all on her own and want to share with her family, with me.  Like her mother, she will be a woman of words; her stories tattooed on her heart and body.

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!

 

 

New Mama Gift Basket

One of the chief jobs an auntie has is to make sure that the new mama, my sister, is getting the nourishment, rest, and TLC that she needs.  Of course, I want to do that for baby and father too, but a new mama has a lot to adjust to after giving birth and meeting her new little one.  There is no better way to make sure mama gets a little extra lovin' when she comes home than with a gift basket of goodies meant to help her heal and pamper herself.  Of course, I'll be cooking some meals too so father and mother can focus on the baby, but a basket of treats help too!

For mother's day, the family put together a gift basket with all these treats to help her with her pregnancy.  It occurs to me now, however, that it would not be a bad idea give her these treats now that she is home with the baby!

1. Sexy Tiger Mama Stretch Mark Cream (for giving her belly a little extra love once the baby is in this world)

2. Honey Eucalyptus Foot Soak (for mama to help soothe her mind, feet, and body; also helps reduce swelling after labor)

3. Mama Love Pregnancy Tea (also good for making sure new mama get her nutrients)

4. Women's Soothing Mint Tea (another way for mama to replenish her nutrients)

5. Weekend Head Start Bubble Bath (a great way to replenish new mama's magnesium levels and get rid of unnecessary toxins)

It is important to honor not just the baby for this big event, but all the work mama did to bring her little one into the world--this basket fits the bill!

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 Meeting My Niece

You were always a strong spirit.  The first time I met you, you were an elbow pushing against my sister's stomach in time to country music, happy after a red chile enchilada dinner.  You were a strong baby, even then, forged in the fires of love and hot yoga.

I witnessed your strength again as you pushed your way into this world, the monitor showing your accelerated heart rate each time you were about to take another step into the unknown.  Even the nurses were in awe of your strength as you kicked and wiggled and moved your head a little.  Yes, you are my sister's daughter.

I tried to remember your strength again as I held you for the first time.  Yet when you were in my arms, I could only feel how small you were, how tiny and soft and new.  I did not want to squeeze you too hard, although I was full to bursting with love.  Once again you reminded me that you would be no fragile flower: your longer fingers, so perfectly formed down to the fingernails, latched onto my index finger and squeezed hard.  Your grip was firm; now here is a woman unafraid of her strength.

Here we are, I wanted to tell you, creating our first memories together.  Here we are getting to know one another.  This memory will be distilled with time and crystallized in love.  With more to 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 below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

On Being Tia, On Being Auntie

For the first time, I am Tia. I am Auntie. For the first time, I have a little niece to care for and love and offer Tia Wisdom--if that is what I can call the handful of knowledge I've gathered so far in my own journey.  They are only small bits of conclusions I've drawn from the world as I've made my way through it.

There is so much I want to teach her. Things that only an auntie can.  She will learn to walk gracefully in this world and to be the force of nature that she is--everything, in short, that it means to be a woman of strength.  But that she will learn from her mother.  She will also learn how to stay grounded, the importance of quiet, the necessity of the wilderness. Lessons she will learn from her father.  

She will learn how to throw pots and garden from her grandma; in this, she will learn the value of playing with mud, of conjuring playfully.  She will learn the world of symbols and dreams from her grandpa, a gift of insight and instinct in the form of quartz crystals and lumps of turquoise threaded through leather and love.

But what will I teach her?

The pleasures of a cup of tea, certainly.  And the alchemy of blending herbs, so that she may know the healing power of her curanderisma roots. I will show her the magic of a polka dot dress to chase away doubt and inspire courage--and a little flirtation.  

And books. Yes, books. With Tia, she will learn the necessity of a good book, the soothing balm of words on a page, the imaginative wonderings and wanderings a well-stocked library can inspire. Most of all, as Tia, I wish to show her that life is a delicious exploration, a boundless adventure, an indulgence for the senses.  I wish to show her the importance of living her creed--whatever that may be--and following the call of her fox spirit wherever it may lead her.

This, this is what it means to be Tia.

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!

I'm an Auntie!

It's official: I'm an auntie!  My adorable little niece came into this world early today and I couldn't be happier!  I promise to share all my excitement and thoughts on my new role as auntie soon!  In the meantime, I'd love to hear your advice: what makes a good auntie?

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 Hippie Baby Showers

It is a gathering of goodwill and love for the life about to enter this world.  Although we are more likely to celebrate with burning sage and rose quartz for the mother-to-be than with balloons and baby games, we come ready, yoga hippies that we are, to shower this baby with good vibes.

We do not celebrate this new life in conventional ways, but merely--after our private yoga and meditation, no doubt--unite to pay tribute to this woman's right of passage in the old way--honoring the cycle of womanhood and using our collective energy to nurture mother and child. 

Like fairy godmothers in a folk tale, we all gather round and offer gifts to this new creature: happiness, love, creativity, enjoyment--each gift sealed with the good intentions of the sender.   They come in the shape of clothes and diapers and toys but are no less the embodiment of the life and grace this baby will have.  Though she is not in this world yet, she will absorb the feminine conjuring around her and know, even before she left her mother's womb, that she is loved.

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!

On Summer Cookouts

The day is hotter than hot--but that's okay, it only makes your lemonade taste better.  You've spent another afternoon sunbathing and then snoozing in the shade of your favorite backyard tree.  Soon it'll be time to fire up the grill and prepare dinner.  It will be a lazy affair--entering the cool quiet of the kitchen to prepare a plate of burger fixings, slice some juicy watermelon, an assortment of easy appetizers. 

The real treat comes when you've prepared the burger meat--buffalo, with a pinch of seasoning and no fillers.  It is pure bliss to hear those patties sizzle on the grill alongside corn grilling in its own husk.  The heat rolls off the grill in waves--not that much different from the desert heat outside.  Still, you can keep to the shade, cool drink in hand, and enjoy watching your sister's dogs huff and sniff their way through the yard, roll in patches of mint, and finally finding peace inside the air-conditioned house.

Half the pleasure of your meal is in the making of it; taking the time it takes to stoke the grill and flip your burgers over conversation and sunshine.  Cookouts ignore the niceties of eating inside in favor of grass between your toes, sun on your back, and a good meal cooked over a hot flame.

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

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On Home Renovation

You peel each roll of old wallpaper from the walls, marveling at how years of history unravel as you help the kitchen shed its skin.  There goes the thirty-year-old wallpaper, equal parts vinyl and cooking smells and the glue that held it in place for so long.  There goes the cheerful blue and white backdrop to so many family dinners, so many evenings spent learning how to cook or roll out flour tortillas with your mom's wooden rolling pin.  There goes the kitchen of early childhood.

In its place is new life.  The walls are cleaned of glue; the kitchen grows lighter and brighter with each new coat of Venetian plaster.  These are new memories being made.  Together we let old versions of our family fade to leave room for continued abundance, renewed joy.  On goes the butter-cream plaster to the walls, just as if new life is brought into the family.

The kitchen, in the home as old as you are, is the epicenter of your family life.  It is the place of Sunday night dinner and holiday gatherings, afternoon tea and summer grilling.  You meditate on this as you help wipe down the walls--a daunting task that must be done before the plaster goes up.  Together you and your mother reinvent this space, you open it up to light.  Already you can imagine the celebratory feast your family will have to celebrate this new era of family life.

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!