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.

A Summer of Sacred Simple Pleasures

At the start of last summer, I'd just completed the major edits on my first book, Everyday Enchantments, and needed time to goof around and recharge after such a big accomplishment. Needless to say, I wasn't doing much writing! This summer, however, I find myself longing for unstructured time and, frankly, more quiet time. It was a lively action-packed teaching year, to say the least, and it has taken me time to decompress from the excitement.

I find myself indulging in long afternoons writing to the soundtrack of lazy birdsong and late nights reading juicy novels...and mornings? They've been spent losing track of time. In the garden. At the writing desk. In the kitchen. You name it. I'm an introvert at heart and find I've needed to nourish that aspect of myself more. My quiet soul needs time to talk to the ladybugs that find their way into my lap and dance under the moon.  Not that I don't love my adventures--I've had plenty of those too and look forward to more over the summer.

This time away from the work desk has made me realize how structured my life is--happily so, I'm a creature of routine after all! But I realized my life had been more than structured: every minute, every second seemed like it had been taken up with one task or another. Yuck! I love my routine, but an integral part of making your routine a ritual is in allowing space, time, light to flow throughout your day.

That's why this summer, I've decided to embrace the gentler pace the season promises and relish anything and everything that makes me slow down and tune into myself. I want to linger over a glass of wine while watching the sunset and greet the morning birds with songs of my own--and a cup of coffee, natch.

I want to spend time in the kitchen playing with recipes and spells I don't normally have time to make and conjure. I want to wear flowers in my hair and feel blades of grass between my toes.  I want to prioritize delicious living and tiny daily delights. Why? Because I'm coming to see simple pleasures as something sacred.

And we should make more time for sacred things. We need to in order for our souls to grow and flourish. So unleash yourself. Let go of heavy mundane things that make it impossible for you to sleep in on a Sunday or linger over a cup of tea. Resist the temptation to fill up your calendar with one thing after another.

Slow down. Give up schedules--at least for a day or a few hours here and there (I know we all aren't off for the summer!). Remember what it was like to be the kid running around in the backyard, blowing bubbles and twirling for no reason except that it's fun. Get lost on a long walk. Find yourself in a good book. Listen--just listen and nothing else--to an old record because you haven't done it in forever. Whisper secrets into a candle and let it whisper back.

Treasure these moments. Honor them. They are sacred. Pleasure is sacred. And simple pleasures are one of the most profound experiences of all.

Here's to a summer of sacred simple pleasures!

A Summer of Sacred Simple Pleasures

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!

Welcoming in Eros Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find it. Gaurd it. Nourish it.

That is Eros energy.

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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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

5 Ways to Nourish the Goddess Within

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

A Summer of New Literacies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

new literacies 2.jpg

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational 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!

Goddess Hair Mask

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

1/8 cup organic honey

1/8 cup melted coconut oil

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar  

20 drops essential oils of choice

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

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational 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!

All-Purpose Seasoning

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

1 cup sea salt 

1/2 cup pepper

1/4 cup cumin powder

1/4 cup onion powder

1/2 cup garlic powder

1/8 cup chile powder

1/8 cup paprika

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

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational 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!

Sautéed Burdock Root

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

burdock root

lemon juice

ghee, coconut, or olive oil

sea salt (optional)

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

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational 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!

A Year of Radical Self-Care

I've come to see busy as just another four letter word.  It's the sludge we hide behind when we don't want to (or feel like we can't) listen to our own needs.  The world wants us to be constantly plugged in, constantly expending energy, constantly making noise.  Moreover, we live in a society that values extroversion, overwork, and excess over the softer virtues of introversion, meaningful productivity, and mindful consumption.  Even our New Year's resolutions must be loud, extreme, and quantifiable in some tangible way (I've certainly been guilty of imposing arbitrary and often unachievable markers of personal growth on myself over the years).

So what about our needs?  What about the importance of self-care?  Since January is the month of clean slates and New Year's resolutions, it seems like the perfect time to pour this transformative energy into a vow I can keep: a year of radical self-care.  

Think about it: Radical.  Self.  Care.  Not do more.  Not be more.  Not checking off arbitrary boxes of self-fulfillment.  Not imposing unrealistic ideals on myself.  Just take better care of myself.  This is more challenging than it seems because it requires me to truly to listen to myself, my body, my mind, my soul.  No small task in a world that can demand too much of us and make us forget what genuine self-care looks like.  To help chart my self-care progress year, I came up with two guiding questions:

What will bring me joy? 

What is sustainable?

First, if something doesn't contribute to my overall happiness and health, I let it go.  It's as simple--and as hard--as that.  We live in a world that tells us more is better, so I must relearn the joys of less.  I must also be honest with myself about what brings me joy (hint: it's often not what society says will make me happy).  Second, I have to think about the long-term substantiality of any new self-care routine I want to incorporate into my life. Working out an hour a day is not realistic for me with my teaching and writing schedule, and neither is cooking an elaborate meal from scratch every night. But exercising five days a week for a half an hour is, as is whipping up a simple soup or salad to enjoy in the evening.  If the goal starts making me feel spread thin, I ditch it. 

The irony of committing to self-care is that you rarely have tangible evidence of your growth--not like with traditional New Year's resolutions.  Only the fullness in my chest that tells me I am living well.  It is so deeply personal that only my bones and heart whispering their contentment tell me that I am truly listening to my needs.  And if I get off track, I won't berate myself over it.  I'll simply root out the culprit that kept me from tending to wellness--usually overwork--and get rid of it.  If I can't greet each day excited for the potential it offers, then I need to examine how I've been living and work my way back to happy (and yes, self-care is hard work!).  With all this in mind, I've come up with a few guidelines to help me in my radical self-care journey:

1. Eat whole foods.  Subtext: avoid processed and packaged foods.  I don't eat processed foods, but want to push this further and avoid anything that comes in too much packaging.  Bonus: it's much better for the environment too.  Bottom line, I want to go back to buying bulk ingredients, whole organic foods, and (mostly) cooking my own meals.  Grabbing a quick take-out or indulging in more carbs than are good for me might seem soothing short-term, but it does nothing to nourish my body or soul long-term.  Cooking at the end of the day helps me unwind and tune into self-care.

2. Exercise regularly.  Dance.  Walk.  Cardio.  Strength.  Doesn't matter what it is except that I commit to it at least four to five days a week.  This one I've actually been working on this past month after seeing how tired and cranky my body felt after a month of infrequent exercising (darn mid-semester!).  Even when I felt at my busiest, I found that ending the day with at least 30 minutes of exercise transformed me.  I went from tired to rejuvenated.  Totally worth it! 

3. Do yoga every day--even if it is just five minutes.  I keep this separate from my exercise plan (although it can be sweaty business!) because nourishing the mind-body connection is such an integral part of self-care.  And I'll be honest: I used to be good at doing yoga every day first thing in the morning, as editing my blog reminded me...but not so much anymore.  It's time to get back to that quiet me time in the morning before the day takes over.  I find I'm much more settled at the end of the day if I make the effort to do my morning yoga rather than hit the snooze button.

4.  Rest...without guilt.  Get 8 hours of sleep every night.  Takes naps.  Spend an afternoon reading or otherwise losing track of time.  I know this sounds like a tough one for teachers--especially during our heavy grading time--but I can't function without a full eight hours of sleep or regular downtime.  At the end of the day, it is more important that I get a full night's rest or spend some time knitting than try to finish everything on the day's to-do list.  It all eventually gets done anyway.  This goes double for having playtime on the weekend.   

5. Keep it hygge.  This Danish term for cozy is all about enjoying the simple pleasures that make life delicious: the scent of burning beeswax candles that waft through my home as I type this; the joys of a hot cup of tea; even the bliss of wearing your favorite pair of fuzzy socks.  You'll notice these are tranquil, calm joys.  Part of living hygge, at least for an introvert like me, is to give myself permission to indulge in the quieter joys of life even when the world is asking me to be louder than I want to be.  That's what I'm all about!  Still when stress hits, it's easy to stop paying attention to the happies we get when tuning into the day-to-day pleasures life can afford.  I say less stress, more hygge! 

...and a bonus self-care goal: leave more time to talk with the Universe.  I know what you're thinking.  What does this have to do with self-care?  It's simple.  We forget that we are part of a big, beautiful world when deadlines loom and that our lives are more than just pushing papers around (even though I do love my work routine!).  We need time to have conversations with the stars, ask the moon questions, and share our deepest wishes with the Universe--and hear them respond in turn. When we forget to nourish everyday magic, we forget to live.  

So that's my goal this year.  Radical self-care.  Radical enjoyment.  Radical magic making.  If you want to rediscover what those things mean, join me for another year as I continue to explore the dreams and delights that make life delicious. 

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!

Comfort Me with Books...& Other Simple Pleasures

I'm always drawn to the quieter domestic pastimes come November.  I want to cook and read and daydream and find healing in the realm of the imagination and kitchen conjuring.  This is, after all, a season for introverts when the changing weather calls us indoors and our gaze inward.  A seriously always want to hibernate come November! But I feel this urge to withdraw is twice as strong this year as I grapple with the implications of the recent election results.  I find myself in need of self-care, simple pleasures, and everyday magic more than ever.  

As it turns out, I'm not the only book-loving foodie introvert searching for a little soul mending. What is fast becoming one of my favorite book blogs, Smart Bitches, Trashy Novels, wrote the much-needed Books & Comfort Food Pairings to sooth and heal after shocking news.  This post spoke to my soul: I needed to read.  A lot.  I needed to cook.  And eat.  And slather myself in self-care rituals that would allow me to mend.  I needed to surround myself with beautiful things. Hopeful things.  Delicious things.  Inspired by Smart Bitches, I've put together my own book and food pairings (and let us not forget the power of a good cocktail or body butter) to find our way back to joy...and thoughtful progress as we once again go back into the world.  These pairings are in no particular order, just what I instinctually reached for this past weekend.  

Also, keep in mind that these aren't necessarily highbrow stories (it's rare that I read anything like that!), but real sweep-you-off-your-feet mysteries, romances, fantasies that have a way of putting our world into perspective, when I'm not reading inspirational non-fiction.  Most notably, I found myself turning to fairy tales and stories inspired by them.  Maybe it is because I've been teaching fairy tales in one of my courses or maybe it is because fairytales, as my students and I found, have a way of reminding us that darkness does exist in this in this world--and that we can defeat it.

Whatever the genre, these are all stories of hope.  They feature strong characters living on the social margins and, ultimately, finding ways to triumph over injustice and build a better world. The nonfiction pieces remind us to look for pleasure in unexpected places and relish the power of pleasure to transform.  

I keep of copy of We Could Almost Eat Outside on my writing desk; this book, in so many ways, has inspired the whole concept of my blog.  It's a delicious look at the simple pleasures that are too easy to overlook in our daily hustle and bustle, but so worth the time to stop and enjoy.  It's grounding.  It's earthy.  It's about routine.  Pair with a quiet evening at home, a calabacitas tart and a giant mug of oatstraw tea to feel the full effect of this soothing read.

If you want more earthy goodness, check out the award-winning Uprooted, a fairy tale story about wild woods, dragon-wizards who kidnapped damsels (or so the village thinks), and one woman's journey into her own magic.  Pair with a lazy afternoon and cozy blanket on the couch, dried apples and a pot of autumn harvest tea.  

More fired up than that?  Try Mercedes Lackey's The Fire Rose, a gorgeous retelling of Beauty & the Beast that takes place in 1905 San Francisco.  There is elemental magic.  There is a slow-budding romance that appeals to any book lover.  And there is the breathing-taking plot about redemption and hope and, once again, a woman coming into her own.  Pair with vanilla bourbon and cinnamon-orange chocolate cups, to match the lush setting. 

For those who don't feel like cooking would be soothing, try putting together a collection of appetizers to graze on, like in my Italian apertivo, and whip up a gimlet made with orange-rosemary infused gin.  Pair with jazz records, your favorite pajamas, and this total escapist steampunk read, The Watchmaker's Daughter, about a woman cast into the fringes of society and forced to fend for herself, only to find herself swept up into a world of mystery, intrigue, and magic.  

Sometimes we just need to indulge in a rich bubble bath, for which I would recommend bringing along a cup of Everything's Coming up Roses Tea (or let's be real, a glass of wine!).  And while you're at it, commit to a hedonistic read.  There's no time like the present to remind ourselves that pleasure is oh-so-powerful, which is why I would recommend reading The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life, a delicious book about living life with more joy and, yes, more orgasms! Seems to me a full-bodied orgasm is a lofty goal to end the year well.  Pair with Aphrodite's bath salts & sugar scrub.  Finish with a slathering of Winter Solstice body butter and a long nap.

After a long weekend resting and rejuvenating, I was reminded how important creature comforts. They heal.  They soothe.  And they allow us to conjure good energy to carry into our day.

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!

Things I Want to Relearn

The curve of your own smile.  Sometimes you touch your fingers to the corners of your mouth just to feel the way they turn up when the sun kisses your lips.  You don't always believe that your body remembers how to express joy. 

Then there's the bliss--more a memory now--of abandoning yourself to the woods.  The city, a thing forgotten like an unremarkable story or adequate meal.  Where is that spontaneous wildling unafraid to go deeper?  The forest (be it in a book, heart, or landscape) is made up only of trees and dreams and roots and shadows, after all.  And they all want you there, going so far as to lay down a bed of fallen leaves to pad your steps and covering their rocks with moss so that you may rest your head in comfort.  It has been so long since you listened to their secrets.  So long since you told them yours.

And how did that game go, where you picked your way across the stream, searching for the next foothold on rocks smoothed over by the water's caress?  You weren't always thinking of snakes and eels hiding under them.  You weren't always worried about slipping.  There was only the cool, clean feel of the water lapping at your feet and rushing between your toes.  Feel it now and let the wet ripples carry away your worries.  

And you can't forget your hair, nor the times you wore it loose and wild (though some would call it a thorny thicket or a nest of copper wires--but those are voices best forgotten as you relish the way your curly auburn locks cascade down your naked back and fall around your open shoulders).  You must remember how to weave flowers into your long tresses and let the only chains you wear be made of daisies.

Next, find those delicious beats that pull you toward the dance floor.  Court your inner hedonist and let her play and laugh and move her body in the way that it was meant to be moved: in time to the heady heartbeat of congas and claves and vocal chords wrapped tight around a melody. This is you remembering that your natural state is joy--and that there's nothing wrong in sinking into a song's lusty embrace.

Perhaps by reclaiming these pieces of yourself--like stray strands of string and dandelion heads--you can begin to weave a new story unfettered by the dead-end plots that made you forget yourself in the first place. You never belonged at the bottom of a well or stuck under the heel of another's boot.

Weave together more forgotten things into this wild tapestry: scraps of bright ribbon and grapevines, bits of memory and the feathered corners of well-loved books.  Stitch it all together with those small pops of energy that tell you everything you need to know before logic tries to smother the sparks.  Then, when you have incorporated your last fingernail and sage leaf, finish it off with the whispers of the universe--here in a dream, there in the roadrunner crossing your path--that ask you to remember, relearn, truly understand that you are a daughter of the moon.  

That your life is in long fingers curling around tree bark, feet resting on fat branches, as you peer past the foliage into the endless horizon.  

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!

Things I Want to Unlearn

They are like the tight laces of a corset, these lessons, cutting into your ribcage and squeezing the air from your lungs, taught to you by people and things that prefer you breathless—and so, unable to speak.  Each tug of the ribbon wraps steel and bone tighter around your frame.  Containing you.  Small sips of air sucked through half-open lips are the only sign your heart still beats.  Those and one delicious thought: a pair of scissors.  

You could use the ones you have set aside for your embroidery.  No bigger than the palm of your hand and engraved with bird’s wings.  Silver and sharp.  Stronger even than the metal jacket closing in on your pumping heart.

You give into your impulse.  Wrap your hands around the cool silver of the thin blades.  You are alone.  No one can stop you.  Slowly, carefully, you reach behind you for the knotted tongue at the base of your spine.  You almost can’t slip the thin blades under the satin; the laces are so tightly pulled together.  But you do it and feel the first lace pop loose of its eyelet.

There it goes—

—the temptation to search for the rotten fruit in a barrel full of blush stained snow apples.  All you need to know is that you have an abundant crop—and faith in your ability to pick the best jewels from the orchard.  You’ve been through enough harvests to know the difference between worm-softened cores and firm flesh.

Then another:

The flash of disappointment when you see your imperfect body, alone, at night, freed from the corset’s confines.  The puckered skin along your stomach—the shiny purplish lash along your arm—the bruised streaks where your ribcage pushed against the corset’s skeleton all day, every day—and others, so many others—aren’t scars.  They are life lessons tattooed on your skin.  Trophies from the risks you took, the jumps you made, even the moments when you knew it was best to retreat into yourself.  The times you dared to live beyond the narrow path someone else decided you should walk.

More air in your lungs.  You can feel your chest expand.  

Enough for you to reach higher and cut through another lace—

—and there goes the bricks and mortar you once used to make a fortress for yourself.  You called it a home, but the walls grew bigger and bigger until it felt like a tomb.  A place to bury the pages of your stories.  The ones that no one would read because they lacked the light that could spark them to life.

Let those bricks be reduced to rubble.  Let your stories breathe like you can now.  And find their own homes when you set them loose like birds to the sky.  In their own time.  In their own way.  And remember that your real home is never behind tightly-cinched cloth-wrapped whalebones or mortared stone.

How long did it take you to remember that your home is in the earth and the sky?  That the roots of trees and flowers will always be your welcome bed and the wind is there to sweep away the last cut ribbon from your cage.  

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 Gratitude

Here is something no heavier than a feather, no larger than the minuscule crack in an acorn's shell through which where new life can seep. 

It offers only a memory of loving hands stitching two frayed ends back together where once there was just a hole in your coat pocket.  It produces nothing but a soft sigh after a long day as you settle in your favorite reading chair to savor the company of your books. And where others debate over the fullness of a glass, you see only that you have a cup the color of the sky on a clear day capable of holding anything.

That is the gift of gratitude.  You see everywhere signs of abundance rather than absence, wings rather than cages.  And finally, enjoyment in the way your feet always take you back to your own doorstep and the pleasure--deep and full like your first breath of the day--in knowing you are home.

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 Autumn Sweaters

Last night you found yourself rummaging through your closet looking for that one colorless, shapeless sweater you've had for years and years, the one you can't remember where you got it from, but somehow always turn to when the nights get longer and cooler.  The soft cotton on the inside has been loved off by time and use so all that remains is a thin pelt.  The sleeves are frayed and overstretched, the neck a loose ribbon around your shoulders.  There it is, buried in the back with your coats.  It occurs to you as you pull this soft shell over your head that it is officially sweater season--and that you have one for just about every important occasion.  This is the sweater you wear at the end of the week when all you want to do is curl up on the couch, eat popcorn and watch a movie.  

But there are so many others that you love and look forward to wearing as the earth prepares itself for a season of quiet and rest.  There is the basic oatmeal sweater, perfect for rolling up its sleeves for a morning in the kitchen baking bread or dipping apples in warm caramel and nuts.  It is homey and solid, like the loaf you just pulled from the oven.  And you can't forget the rose-hued one that falls off your shoulders, ideal for an afternoon of drinking cinnamon tea and getting lost (found?) in a book--fairy tales, mysteries, gothic novels...doesn't matter.  But the sweater does, somehow making the afternoon complete, allowing you to let down and even doze off in your overstuffed chair, the rose cloth wrapped around you like a blanket. 

Or there is the heather purple one essential for raking up leaves and putting your garden to rest for the season; it is light enough to keep you cool as you labor, with long sleeves to protect you from the prickly bones of dried plants, skeletal trees, and the early morning bite.  You don't fret over messing it up as you would one of your teaching blouses because it was made for getting dirt and crumbled leaves on its cuffs.

You look at the sweater you are wearing now, the one you paused your writing for long enough to slide your arms into before returning to that next page.  The open window brings in the cool, lush air of the season; your writing cardigan (a sub-genre of the autumn sweater) and cup of chai tea, echoing the heavy scents of autumn, chase away the chill.  You love this sweater perhaps most of all (though you say that about each one as you don it and feel the memories stitched into its fabric rub against your skin).  This sweater is long and faded, the color of sage, with fat pockets for storing seeds or tea leaves or a few words.  There are no buttons to this cardigan, so you must make peace with the fact that it must always be open, as you must be to your stories and experiences, wherever they may take you. This one is made for loosely wrapping around yourself just as you wrap your words around you for comfort and healing as you descend into the realm of stories.

Yes, it is sweater season now.  You look forward to being once again in the folds of these unassuming sweaters, these garments that reflect the quietest, most intimate snapshots of your life.  The moments you live without ceremony or the awareness of anything other than dipping your caramel apple into a shallow tray of sunflower seeds.

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!

A Love Letter to Pleasure

I don't quite understand you; it is as if you are a word in a foriegn language that I can't completely wrap my mouth around--but I try to desperately, willing my tongue and tonsils to coax the song across my palate with grace so that one day I may pass as a native speaker of your bliss.  So please, have patience with my fumbling.

Still, I court you, tempted by your sighs and tickles, or the way you put my life into perspective with a playful shrug of your shoulder and, all at once, my too-hot flame is a joyful spark.  You are Coyote, tempting my off the straight and narrow, that dull anemic path that leaves nothing but an empty cup and a heavy soul.  Okay then, I say, when you cross my path.  Let's go.  Let's get lost in the desert, drunk on the stars, dizzy with the moon.  I won't even pause to catch my breath or search my dictionary to make sure I have the right words for you.  They will come on their own.

Yes, you can kiss me--though I know you would even without my permission.  That's what makes you, you.  And I reach for you in return, seduced by your mercurial touch, grateful for the way you ground me back into my body, my life (for even you, you seemingly flighty creature, have a way of bringing both the lightness of a summer's night and the weight of roots grounding garden herbs into my bones). 

I need you; and though I know you've heard this before from countless others, on hundreds of other rendezvous, know this: you are my necessity, my home. You bring wings to my discipline and joy to my focus; you are my rosebud, my compass.  Without you, there would be no breath.

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 Necessity of Nice Underwear

It reminds you that you are a woman before you don your costumes of teacher, writer, sister, daughter; that you are first and foremost flesh and heart and body.  Your skin is enveloped in lace and satin, a constant loving caress as you go about the business of being a warrior.  A small indulgence, a secret concession to hedonism as you make your way through the practicalities of your day.

This seeming frivolity defines you at your core, worn for no other reason than that it pleases you.  There is no room for frayed elastic across your waist, nor a bra strap stretched and worn into limp colorless ribbons.  Every other garment you step into afterward is dictated by the quality of your underthings.  Your body will not be stained or blemished by anything.  It is a delicious aesthetic experience your torso wants, for you were put on this earth to feast on its delights and saturate your senses.  So you slip on the delicate lace underwear, relishing the texture of its intricate pattern across your flesh, and the way your silky slip slides across your torso.  You take your time with this ritual, adorning yourself in this second skin, this breath between the privacy of your home and the armor you wear out into this world. 

This intimate wearable art reveals nothing except how you really feel about yourself, your animal heart and each curve along the map of your body.  Only that small fact, and nothing more, that rests in your center like a small seed ready to sprout in the body of the woman and climb its way through the satin and lace towards your heartbeat.

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!

Let Me Be

Let me be the river forever creating ripples in the stillness, still in its eternal movement through a clay path.  Let me be the wind that whispers of lives past, hopes not yet lived, as my stormy fingers twine around the earth's wild curls; or let me be the heartbeat between breaths. 

Let me be the memory of seeds resting in my bones, the code buried in the hollyhock's fat black discs stacked along my spine.  Just let me be the quiet of a morning before it is kissed by the sun or touched by bird song.  I ask for nothing else; only this promise to free me from the confines of others' expectations or the sting of turning away from what is not mine.

Let me be the clean slate, the open swath of unblemished potential spread out before you like a field of grain not yet harvested or the desert monsoon, still unsure if it will rain down upon this earth or let its ripe clouds sail beyond the horizon.  Let me be the dream conjured out of lunar light shining through the crystals on your nightstand--

--and that precarious universe between sleep and wakefulness.  Let me be that moment forever distilled in human experience. 

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!

5 Tips for a Magical Staycation

This year I decided to forgo distant travels and enjoy my hometown for vacation.  There is something sort of romantic about seeing your city through the rose colored glasses of a visitor--no day-to-day worries, just pure unadulterated fun!  I'll admit that one of the draws of a staycation is the idea of sleeping in my own bed and never having to worry about whether or not I packed the right wardrobe (picture me freezing in my summer dress in still wintery Rome!).  You have all the fun of traveling with none of the hassle. 

A staycation is a great way to indulge in the simple pleasures you can't always enjoy when you travel--like sleeping in or spending an afternoon dallying on the porch.  When you travel, you want to maximize your time enjoying the magic of the destination you find yourself in--getting the most out of museums, restaurants, nature walks...and so forth.  Of course, the excitement of being in a new place and saturating your senses with new experiences is awesome, but sometimes what you really need out of a vacation is a little R&R.  A staycation allows you to truly rest and enjoy the comfort of your own home. 

I also love that it encourages you to see your city in a new light--and hopefully take some of that carefree magic into your everyday life.  After my staycation, I felt more motivated to enjoy the events and places of my town on a weekly basis.  So if you want to try a staycation this year--or just add a little more fun to your summer, check out my tips for a magical staycation below.

1.  No schedules! While it's true you'll want to make sure you catch that museum show or work in that trip to the mountains, you want to avoid penciling in all your free time.  In fact, you should start each day with no real plans, only a handful of suggestions of what you might do.  I learned this from one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn movies, Roman Holiday, in which the heroine insists on no schedules while she takes a day out of her princess-ing duties to simply enjoy herself--just one of the few travel tips I've learned from Miss Hepburn

2.  Sleep in.  Have a lazy breakfast.  Linger over your cup of coffee.  This will help you avoid the temptation to over-schedule yourself.  It's also pretty delicious to sleep in on a weekday when you know the rest of the world is at work. 

3.  Indulge.  You know if you were on vacation, you'd be having that glass of wine with lunch or that afternoon gelato...so why not do it while you're staycationing?  Have your ice cream cone.  Savor that decadent lunch.  Splurge on that dress.  Go out to your favorite restaurant dressed to the nines.  Take a long nap under a shady tree.   

4.  Make time for the things you love--but don't always have the energy for.  I personally love looking at art, going to festivals, and yes, dancing (as you well know).  That said, I don't always feel like doing any of these things after a busy work week (the allure of wearing pajamas all day is just too much to resist).  During my staycation, I went to a local wine festival, several dance events, and even a film screening (after a martini at my favorite bar). 

5.  Be a tourist in your own city--minus the fanny pack and frumpy tennis shoes.  I know this might sound super obvious, but it's important to point out that a staycation is a time to see the important stuff in your city that you wouldn't otherwise check out, like that historical monument or gorgeous nature reserve--or the host of seasonal activities and events that you say you will go to each year but never do. 

What do you enjoy most about staycationing?

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!

To the Everlasting Yes!

It is not the question that matters, only the answer.

The Why is full of too many uncertainties, a tangle of threads knotted into a heavy ball of your potential histories (what was, what is, what will be, and--strangest of all--what might bes, those thin strands of chance that vanish and reform with every step in a new direction).  It cannot be fathomed nor untangled; to try to separate one cord from the rest is to further knot yourself up.

And that is the reason it is not the Everlasting Why that matters, only the answer: Yes! 

Let go of holding those threads so tightly and let them find their way around one another until they are not a snarl of string but a rich tapestry of the adventures you take on.

Yes, it is the Yes.

There is the thread that gives you life. You don't even need to understand, only feel it in the dreams carved into your bones.  To taste it in the first strawberries from your garden or the spinach leaves with the tang of minerals from your lettuce patch.  To see it in the way the robin gathers dry grass for its nest or in the industry of bees sucking down pollen from your fat hollyhocks; in the way it rains when only sunshine is promised, feeding the earth and allowing your seeds to drink up the evening's sweetness.   

This is your Yes, that heady tingle of something just beyond your sight that permeates your worldly experience, filling it with light and the warming caress of an afternoon breeze.  Here in the stillness is your answer.  It clears away the dust and doubt, the painfully literal that, like a bookmark, attempts to pin down your story to one set page when it is an ever-evolving tapestry threading each day with new experiences. 

It is tempting even to call this Yes transitory (more of that dust and doubt), but it is ever constant in the way it fills you up with breath and possibility--why not make your Yes the stuff of your everyday?  Why not fill your heart with it until there is room for more Yes and more Yes and more Yes.

It is not about the Why, only the Everlasting Yes.  The Yes.  The Yes.  The Yes.

You must only feel the Yes.

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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!