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.

On Why I Won't Wait on the Sidelines to Dance

Because I don't need permission to dance.  I will not waste precious time sitting on the sidelines waiting to be asked to the floor like some forlorn teenage girl at prom--not when I can be a song beating out the rhythm of my joy.

I have allowed myself to sit too long on these foldout chairs, a would-be-wallflower wilting under the silence, the invisibility of my own hesitation.  It is no longer enough, a small voice inside me whispers, to sit and observe.  Abstaining from the pleasure right in front of you is no virtue.

And it is a pleasure, a pleasure to never be without a dance partner because they see you are unafraid of hips and hands and feet and sweat.  It is a pleasure to twirl around the dance floor, allowing each turn to peel away one more petal from that old wallflower until you are the boldest expression of your dance. 

You are no longer vulnerable when that last petal falls to the ground, forever banishing those years of sideline-sitting because in your desire to move your body there is freedom.  There is power in your grace, though it is your job to follow.  And even if you lose a step or fall out of rhythm, you are on the dance floor all the same.

And you will stay on that dance floor (those old foldout chairs a distant memory of some other woman).

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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!

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!

Teacher's Survival Tea Kit

I love my tea--brewing it, drinking it, blending my own healing mix--all of it!  Of course, this should come as no surprise, considering how much I write about it; for those of you who see me beyond the writer's desk, you know I am never without a good cup or thermos of this magical elixir.  And I love teaching, too---the lesson plans, the classes, yes, even the grading.  But most of all, I love the way tea helps me stay refreshed and nourished while tackling those important teacher duties, especially this time of year when the first term papers beginning to rolling in.  

I look to my herbal tea to revive me in (healthier) ways that caffeine or sugar just can't, to sooth me to sleep at night, or to keep me from getting that bug going around the office...the list goes on and on.  Tea is my personal toolkit for self-care during a busy workday.  So here I offer you three of my favorite teas every tea-lovin' teacher should have in her stash to help her plow through those first round of papers or take a breather between classes.

1. Warrior Tea Blend: Teachers are warriors of the mind, right?  Whatever your answer to that, this warrior blend is chock-full off nutrient dense herbs to keep your body nourished between meals while you go from class to class.

2.  Winter Wellness Tea: This tea is the miracle cold and allergy prevention blend to drink the very second you think you might be coming down with something.  The elderberries, especially, ease congestion while the tulsi helps your body adapt to stress. 

3. Sleepy Time Tea:  A teacher needs her shut-eye if she's going to be a grading wizard and look good doing it, so this tea helps you unplug from your day and wind down for an evening of sweet dreams.

What teas do you drink to keep going through the day?  What else is in your Teacher Survival Kit?

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 Finishing the First Week of School

You made it.

Your reward?  A long bubble bath as you relish the fact that you get to sleep in tomorrow, that your work is done and locked away in your desk drawers for now, that you can replenish yourself in the comfort of your own home.  A bubble bath with a glass of wine.  Yes, that is a must--you made it through your first week after all.  And a book, a for-fun-book.  With glitter or dragons on the cover.  Yes, you need something to keep your mind from moving to the week ahead, to future tasks to be accomplished, future lessons to be planned.  For now, you must enjoy this one achievement: making it through your first week with only the inevitable mix-ups and little complications that a first week brings. 

You made it.

You will allow yourself to let go of your teacher-self now that you are safely inside your sanctuary, pack away those school books and to-do lists, even take off those high heels and simply soak in your tub, wash away the week and let your mind turn towards the simple pleasures that make your life so rich.  You are better at it now: the transitioning from teacher-you to just you-you, the quiet soul happy to spend the weekend reading and cooking and just being.

You made it. 

You let this one little thought roll around your mind it as if it were a delectable treat you were savoring, trying to make the taste last before it melts on your tongue.  You sink deeper into the bubbles in your bath, eventually letting even that one thought go.  You feel only the hot water, the wine, the blissful quiet.

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 Crocheting Infinite Blankets

Each stitch is a piece of woven intention, a slip of yarn looped around another to bind your healing, nourishing thoughts into the blankets you create.  They are tapestries of a happy life you conjure every time you pick up your needle and yarn. 

Your first was a monstrous purple affair crocheted with only a series of what you now know are half-stitches.  But you and your sisters were set on crocheting your own infinite blankets after watching the heroine in Like Water for Chocolate knit an endless blanket and ride off into the sunset with her creation blazing behind her.  Yes, you needed blankets like that, and so you rustled together old crochet hooks from your mother's stash and bought spools and spools of yarn and crocheted and crocheted for years and years.  Together you crocheted hopes for love and adventure and deep living into the folds of your blankets.  After two or three years of busily working on your infinite blankets while watching old movies or over long conversations, you decided your masterpiece was finished.  It sits folded at the foot of your bed now, twice the size of any normal blanket, and twice as full of history and love.

Your second infinite blanket came to you in graduate school.  This one was your one and only attempt at knitting a blanket.  It was a wish made of mustard and cranberry yarn, a series of stripes to keep you warm and of the living in the land of the cold and the gray.  Like your graduate school experience, knitting was less forgiving of your mistakes as you fumbled your way through these more sophisticated stitches.  There was no do-over, as with your trusty crochet hook, no re-knits to iron out the kinks.  Your only option was to start over completely if you lost a stitch or to keep blazing forward. 

You chose the latter.  Looking back had always seemed like a waste, perfection seriously overrated.  No, you preferred these flaws and holes in your blanket, the better to let bad spirits escape according to an old legend native to your beloved Southwest, learned from your mother.  Three years down the road, this one was three times the length any proper blanket should be; you could almost trail it along the perimeter of your apartment twice over if you wanted, although you'd much rather snuggle into the all encompassing folds of that deliciously imperfect but utterly complete blanket.

You are working on a new one now, this one moving slower than the others.  Almost four years in the making and still only a fraction of it complete.  But you want to take your time with this one.  A bright turquoise and crocheted (yes, you want the forgiving stitch) in a series of shells.  It is longer than the others, and it will be the strongest, the most infinite.  It is your New Mexico blanket, each stitch infused with your love of the desert, begun with the intention of weaving together a life you always imagined embodying: teaching, writing, living in the Land of Enchantment.  Yes, this one is still in progress and may always be.  You work on another infinite blanket too, though this one is not for you. It is the bold pink synonymous with your desert aesthetic, a plucky color bound together in a generous crocheted stitch, so that your niece may live and love and be in the world fearlessly, boldly, and know that she is surrounded by warmth and affection.  It is for the new generation of women in your family, a new generation that, like you and your sisters did together so long ago, will crochet and conjure.

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 Studying French

It is difficult to wrap your mouth around the sounds--the nasal whispers that pronounce familiar letters in strange ways.  You are much more at home with your Spanish or Italian that pronounce every letter and are so like one another that to know one, is almost as good as knowing the other. 

But French--that is another language entirely. 

Your expectations are reasonable; you only want to be able to read a menu and ask for directions--and understand the answers.  You want to be able to say please and thank you, for you are above all a polite lady.   Yet as you study the words in your book and attempt to accurately pronounce the survival phrases your language podcast rolls out with ease, you realize that even as you know what "bonjour" should sound like, you will probably never achieve the delicate phrase reminiscent of the perfectly flaky croissant that you so hope to try.

No.  Your French will be flat and garbled, without the grace of your classroom Spanish, or the happy buoyancy of your limited Italian.  You take comfort in the fact, however, that the French will as least understand your joie de vivre even if they cannot make sense of your "parlait vous anglais?" or your "Je ne comprends pas."

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 Antiquing

You hadn't planned on it, but before you know it the afternoon has become one long stroll through your favorite antique store.

You get lost on the embroidered handkerchiefs and bits of lace loving washed, ironed and displayed.  The tea cups and tin flour sifters seduce you with images of afternoon tea and freshly made scones.  The old books beg you to touch their spines, allowing your fingers to caress the ridges on the tooled leather of their binding.  As if that weren't enough, you marvel at the old bottles and jars--clear and green and blue mason jars, old apothecary bottles, even crystal perfume bottles.  Each one holds its contents like a distilled piece of history; here the jar of buttons in every shape and size, there bits of dust from another lifetime ago, in another German glass glitter so shiny it makes your eyes hurt. 

It is the writing desks and vanity tables that then call to you, throwbacks to elegance and the slow mediation on simple tasks like writing a letter or readying yourself for the day.  You luxuriate in the spools of ribbons on display, too and the piles of ancient typesetting and the retro paintings of fruits and vegetables growing in your garden at this very moment.  Each object makes up a piece of this extravagant tableau, this impression of life as art, of life as beauty, of life as enjoyment. 

When it is time to go--after you have wandered from room to room and around again--you leave the shop feeling refreshed, vibrant, as if the world suddenly has just a little more magic in it. 

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 Wrapping Up the End of the Semester

It is a sweet relief to see your to-do list slowly getting smaller; the things you cross off that list don't regenerate themselves but, for once, stay crossed off, the thick pencil line striking through them with a satisfying finality.  Your desk begins to lose its stack of papers cluttering its surface.  You can safely begin organizing old files--loose papers and ephemera from the beginning of the term--and tucking them away for the summer.

There are still things to do, yes.  Grades to upload and final assignments to review.  But your heart is light, brimming with the promise of summer.  Even your morning tea tastes better, sweeter as if kissed by spring. 

And while many would lament this final week of school--so many odds and ends to keep track of--you find that half the enjoyment of the week is in savoring the sweet anticipation of soon being able to stay up late reading; of being able to take those favored early morning walks; and of being able to focus on nothing more than mastering a new recipe or watching your plants grow.  You look forward to trading in your teacher heels for sandals, buttoned-up uniforms for flouncy dresses. 

It is enough to savor these upcoming pleasures--for now.  Enough to make your workday move swiftly from one final to another.  Enough to know that while you love your job, you are equally looking forward to time away from your desk, time to tend other parts of your life as you loving tend your fledgling plants.  As you file away your last stray worksheet for the day, you realize that under the pile of handouts and papers is a lesson so simple you've almost overlooked it: those breaks are just as important as your hours of work, feeding your soul and replenishing you for the work that you do, for the life you create.  It is the breath that sustains you, the promise of pleasure that uplifts you, the refreshment that inspires innovation.

Yes, your soul needs to breathe and you are ready to let it.

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 Doing Yoga in the Laundry Room

The afternoon was one of house cleaning and grading papers--end of semester routines.  You check your clock between one stack of essays and another and realize you have forgotten about your laundry.  How long ago had you stuffed your clothes into the dryer?  Surely they are done by now.  Your bones at least are ready for a break from sitting, so you gather your laundry basket and make your way down to the laundry room.

You hear the industrious whirring of the dryer before you see your brightly colored clothes spinning in the machine.  You'd miscalculated--there are five minutes left on the clock.  By the time you get back upstairs, it will be time to turn back around and gather your clothes, so you are left with only one option: yoga in the laundry room

You look around and realize you are alone, save for rows of washing and drying machines.  As the clock ticks down to four minutes until your clothes are in, you stretch your arms up high and swan dive down to touch your toes.  You lift your rib cage and inhale, then lengthen down on the exhale.  Three minutes left.  You reach your whole body up again into mountain pose, firmly rooting yourself into the ground with each toe stretching to feel the floor beneath you.

You raise your arms over your head again, hands together, and carefully tilt to one side, then the other, into half-moon pose, luxuriating in the stretch along your rib cage.  Two minutes to go.  You arch your back, lifting your spine almost out of yourself as you extend, lengthen.  One minute.  You release your grip and then take one last swap dive to the ground.  Lift and lengthen.  Exhale and release forward.  Ping.  Laundry done.

You load your clothes and make your way back to your apartment, refreshed, revived--and ready for that next stack of papers.

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 Hot Yoga

It starts when you unfurl your mat in a hot room--the heater is on, the sweat already beginning to trickle down your back.  It's your personal sauna, a detox hot box. You need it. You have been made up of too many hard thoughts lately.  Too much given out.  Not enough taken in.

You know not everyone can take the heat--not everyone can float through sun sals while feeling as if that same sun coats their skin.  But you know that the heat, fiery beast that it is, goes beyond just dragon's breath and hot coals under your feet.  It is really a gentle mistress--albeit under the guise of a hard-hearted dominatrix.  She wants you to feel good, even if it has to hurt a little first. 

Slowly, you feel your muscles melt under the heat, the cares you've carried around in your tendons and tissues weeping out of your skin, coating it in a healing balm of salt and sweat.  Even if at first your mind hums, your thoughts racing from past to present to future, the heat inevitably slows you down, pushing you back into your body.  Connecting you to your spirit. 

You are beyond rational thought.  Beyond the need to focus on the small events of your day, only the heat on your skin and the flow from one yoga posture to the next.  You have found your way back to yourself.  And that is enough.

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 Grading Essays at Home

The afternoon was built for quietly wading through another round of papers. 

You are grateful to be home, soaking up the peaceful surroundings as you fill out one rubric after another in green pen.  Earlier, you had forgone your usual teacher uniform as soon as you closed the front door, exchanging it instead for the comfort of yoga pants, your favorite sweatshirt, and a sloppy bun.

Now, you sit at your writing desk, a pot of tea by your side brimming with a soothing mint concoction.  The window is cracked open and the fresh air wafts over you, stirring your pile of papers and gently caressing your skin.  You can hear the little finches in the tree outside your window trilling their robust song and the sparrows responding in kind.

This is the real art of teaching, the one students never see: the steady rhythm of responding to their words on paper as the minutes tick into hours, the methodical process of reading between each line, seeing what they wanted to say, not what they necessarily committed to paper.  Yes, this is true teaching in all its glory: yoga pants and sentence-fragment corrections, sloppy up-dos and tips on thesis development, home-blended tea and organization advice--and always, always the hope that they can read your handwriting.

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 the Breath

Sometimes it eludes you.

You realize you have gone through your day taking only short sips of air through your mouth.  It isn't until you feel the tightness in your chest that you realize your lungs have not had the chance to expand--in and out, in and out.  You don't know when you stopped taking full, belly-deep breaths only that now they have turned shallow.

You stop what you are doing and simply stand there.  You close your eyes.  And you breathe.  It is a slow breath in; you feel the air filling your lungs and making its way down to your belly.  You feel each rib expanding.  You feel your chest opening up, shedding the short survival breaths and the pinched feeling that came with them.  You breathe out, letting a slow stream of air leave first your belly then your chest, finally your nostrils. 

You do it again and again, pausing between your inhale and exhale.  Now you feel your breath, not just in your lungs and belly, but your veins, your spine.  It travels through each sinewy muscle bringing life with it; it sings up your spine--a vibrant coil of Shakti energy.  You feel it down in your toes last.  They tingle and reach towards the earth, grounding you to this world.

And you move through your day once again aware, once again firmly planted in your own skin, air filling your lungs one long, deliberate breath at a time.

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 Camel Pose

You take a deep breath and stretch your body upward even as you kneel, shins planted firmly into the ground, the top of your feet glued to the floor.  Your hands are anchors pressed soundly into your lower back.

Each slow sip of breath helps you reach higher into the sky until you must bend.  Your spine curves in a backward swan dive; your chest is open, more open than you've dared let it be all day.  It is as if the backward movement peels back the layers of your day like fragile onion skins from your body.  Slowly your hands fall from your back to cup your heels, grounding you so you can fly. Your arms have become wings that lift you from your day.

You can feel your heart beating through your rib cage, light seeping through the slats of your chest bones.  The well of emotion tumbles out of you, starting first in your belly, then traveling up your spine, and pouring out of your heart; it is a song you had forgotten you could sing.  Your throat tightens then opens, ready to receive this luminous gift--the breath, the song, the slow dance--of camel pose, releasing all that has been buried in your soul, covered in a layer of dust, to be purged through your open chest, a ball of cleansing light.

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 Early Morning Yoga

The world is not yet up. 

It is only you and the sliver of moon and your yoga mat.  

You are careful at first, listening for the little snaps and pops of your joints.  You feel your way through your sun sals one breath at a time, gently courting the golden morning light before it has fully woken; you coax it out of bed as you coax yourself from the warm covers with the promise of clean energy, one breath at a time through the flow of your morning devotion to earth, to sun, to life.

Each day the body is different.  Today it is slow moving, relishing the way the spine elongates in the first downward dog of the day, feeling your palms and heels press against the mat, fingers and toes splayed.  Each day is a new dance, a delicate tango of lunges and bends and twists; the mat is your dance partner, allowing you to fall into the rhythm of your body. Your breath is a soft symphony that greets the day, reminding you that you are alive.  Each day you gently peel the moon from your skin and wrap the sun around you.

It is your moment for you, before the sun rises, the world beings to move, and you get swept up in the current of 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!