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.

Cultivating the Joy of Sacred Simple Pleasures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re allowed infinite pleasures, infinite happiness.

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

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

A Year of Sacred Simple Pleasures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magic is a Hard, Gritty Thing (Part II)

I asked for a new life. In return, I had to bury my seed so deep in the earth it kissed Hell.  It was important that this black disk holding the heart of a hollyhock be warmed by morningstars and forced to carve its way out of the darkness.  This, so that I could know the value of my transformation.

Now, I am uncomfortable with tight spaces and have trouble breathing in the dark, damp underground.  That is the price I paid for freedom.

I dreamed of a book once, too.  One with my name on it and my thoughts in it.  All the Universe expected in return was blood and heartache, time and tears, and that long stretch of purgatory where no one knew what I was doing--or cared--except for the emerging words on the page.  They knew.  They understood.  Felt the relief of stories so long contained finally spilling across naked sheets.

I'm about a pint of blood short now and so have less energy for things that don't understand that my heart is buried inside an herb garden, in a constant state of becoming. I get tired if I'm away from my stories for too long, worn out when I'm asked to ignore the poetry of a Monday or the grace of a slammed door. 

That was what the magic required of me to see my hope eternally bloom.  And I paid the price willingly.  That garden?  It has rosemary and words and ink and lavender in it--but no weeds and no room for nonsense.  I worked hard to make it so.  

I picked out each and every weed and each and every shade with my own hands until my fingernails were cracked and rimmed with black dirt and my hands were bloody from the nicks and scratches of angry ghosts that didn't want to leave such a cozy home.  I have a few crooked fingers now and a predisposition toward dry hands.  But no weeds.  No shades secretly living inside the sunflower's underbelly.  Just an abundant harvest to look forward to.

Magic is a hard thing and doesn't take wishes lightly.  This I know, which is why I hold up deleted pages and crossed-out passages like offerings for another manuscript, another birthing. These tattered narratives will never see the light of day.  They are the willing sacrifices for a better story.  I bind them up and surround them with twigs for kindling.  I press flame to their feet and watch the fire gobble them up because that is what the magic needs if I am to write something that is honest and potent.

Magic is a gritty thing, asking for you to give until it hurts.  That's the only way it knows you're serious and not just looking for a topical solution to soul sickness.  That kind of healing requires long journeys down dark roads and through the caves of memory until all your pains are excorcised and your hair smells vaguely of brimstone and forgetting. 

After all that, it lets you taste the first ripe peach of summer, speckled with morning dew.  Your tongue is coated in sunshine and hard-earned deliciousness.  Juice dribbles down your chin.  Your fingers are sticky with fuzz and nectar.  And in your hand is another hard seed waiting to be kissed by morningstars.

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

Magic Is a Hard, Gritty Thing (Part I)

With my book coming out in just a few short months, I’ve decided to write a few blog posts exploring the heart and soul of Everyday Enchantments, my writing life, and my life life: Everyday Magic. This is the term I use to explore the mysticism inherent in our daily lives, the sacred simple pleasures that heal the soul, and the radical self-care that keeps us vital.  

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

And it is.  But magic is also a hard, gritty thing.  It takes its own time and works in its own way.  You ask the Universe for something and it waits and watches and looks to see if you are, in fact, doing your part to make that desire come to fruition.  It asks for blood and sweat, time and tears, focus and energy.  So that when you ask for your Heart's Desire, the Universe first considers whether it is a wise wishing or an unhealthy infatuation.  In time, if it's the right thing for you, then the wish whispered on a dandelion head will make its way back to you.  Just as soon as it pleases and no sooner.

Let's face it, if magic were easy, more people would be doing it.

The hardest part about magic is that you have to let go of any notion that you can control all the variables in your life.  Surrender.  Listen to the Universe and your heart of hearts.  They will tell you where you need to go--and it's often not where you think you should be headed.  Magic is tricky that way.  Revealing its wisdom only when you're committed not to a specific outcome but to the art of learning yourself and the cosmic world around you.

It works kind of like this:  When you ask for light, you might expect fireworks to go off in the night sky immediately.  In reality, after hard labor, constant focus, and everyday conjuring, you get a small spark which you then nourish into a healthy fire to warm your home.  Still, you get the light, but in order not to take that conjuring for granted, you have to continue to work to keep it alive. 

Magic is a lot like self-care in that way.  When we taking about taking care of ourselves it’s often about pampering—lighting scented candles, sinking into bubble baths, taking afternoon naps.  Rarely do we talk about the hard work that goes into actual self-care, like waking up before sunrise to workout because that’s the only time you know you can realistically get it in, or swearing off processed sugar because you know that as good as it might taste, it’s no good for you.  Self-care is letting go of toxic situations and people regardless of what outsiders might think of your actions so that you can feel at peace.  It asks you to prioritize yourself without guilt in a world that sees that as a selfish act.  In short, self-care requires some serious adulting! 

As does magic.  You walk the fine line between infinite belief and hard labor.  As the common saying with writing goes, inspiration will never find you unless you're working.   Neither does magic.  It doesn't give anything away for free or shower you with unearned gifts.  There's always a price and the best magic, your own conjured magic, tastes all the better because it was birthed from your own sweat. 

So you plant your soul seeds and you tend them without rigid expectations.  Then one day those seeds sprout, blossom, ripen into delicious fruit if that is what is meant to happen.  Those that don't, find their purpose in feeding the worms in your compost bin.  But the fruit you do harvest is nothing short of divinity.  It tastes of your backyard, kissed by your sunlight.  Fed by your dirt and watered by your sweat.  It is summer in your mouth, the promise of eternal sweetness.

You get the idea. 

Magic is a hard, gritty, beautiful thing. 

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

Join Me for #TarotTuesdays

This time last year, I was finishing the final manuscript (minus several rounds of edits) of Everyday Enchantments. It marked the beginning fo the end of what had become a six-year project. What followed was a year of editing, blogging, and dreaming about my next writing projects. I could finally return to fiction, my first love, and explore everyday magic in a whole new way. I could also experiment with new writing forms, like the 55-word story format that I'm using for my new EcoErotica series on Instagram, which I kicked off with the piece Seeds

My next project came to me at the end of the school year in a synchronous flash involving the tarot, 55-word stories, and a conversation with the universe.  I love the tarot and have often wanted to learn more about it. My own tarot practice is fairly simple--a basic question, a shuffle of the deck, and a card chosen from the pack. I don't do the elaborate readings or the layouts. As much as I appreciated them, I'd rather leave them to the professional mystics. 

Much of the work I do, on the other hand, is dependent on synchronicity--those meaningful coincidences--and the daily routine that speaks to me through the deck. I have to keep it simple, otherwise, the cards won't speak to me.  Not even my magic will speak to me if I make life too complicated. Believe me, it's an ongoing, ever-evolving art-form for me to learn how to keep things simple!

Another integral part of tarot to me is storytelling...which leads me to the second synchronous event that me to my latest writing project: #TarotTeuesdays on Instagram. I was at my favorite herb store, thinking about how much I wanted to learn more about the most famous tarot deck, the Rider-Waite, and remembering the centuries-old tarot cards I saw at the Morgan Library a few years back when I visited New York. Then I saw it: A Radiant Rider-Waite tarot deck sitting almost out of eyesight on the top of the bookshelf I was perusing. 

It was a sign. Time to learn more about the tarot.  I bought the deck, saged it when I got home and spent the next week getting to know it by repeatedly shuffling through it and examining each card. I decided that I would develop my emerging love of the 55-word story, a fun exercise I often work on with my creative writing students, into a 78-word story for each of the cards in the tarot deck. 78 words for the 78 cards that make up the tarot.

My plan is to draw a new card every Tuesday and write a 78-word story based on its meaning and the synchronicity inherent in each draw of a card.  Although there is no official tarot deck, I'm using the Rider-Waite edition because it is considered one of the oldest and most popular decks. I use another type for my own personal use, which I automatically knew I didn't want to use for this writing project because they are so sacred to me. So I needed a new deck just for the purposes of writing and exploring.  I love that this is the radiant edition because, well, so much of what I write about is bringing light to dark places and nourishing the synchronicities that illuminate our path. This is a cheerful deck, a hopeful collection of cards perfectly in line with the type of magic I seek to conjure.

In short, I'll be writing weekly 78-word stories based on the tarot. I draw a new card every week and let it tell me its story. Look for #TarotTuesdays on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to read them as they are posted each week.

Here's to new writing projects and the meaningful coniencedences that led me to them!

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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!

Sustainability as Spiritual Practice

This year, I’m focusing on building a more sustainable lifestyle by using, wasting, and buying less.  That said, I’ve actually been working on a more eco-friendly path over the past few years and have had a few revelations in the process. As someone who practices a nature-based spirituality, in particular, a cultivation of the divine feminine in all of us, I’ve found that actively become more sustainable is essential to healing the relationship between mother nature and human beings—and our relationship to ourselves.

Think about it: if it’s bad for nature, it’s bad for us.  I’ve come to think of mindless consumption and waste as akin to eating fast food, a substance of little to no nutritional value and made from low quality, dubious ingredients (I’m looking at you, pink slime!). Why would we put something like this into our bodies? It certainly doesn’t nourish us. And if it doesn’t nourish our bodies, it certainly won’t fuel or minds or spirits, all of which are interconnected.  There’s no soul to the food, just like there is no soul to thoughtless waste.

I’ve also found that when I’m most disconnected from myself—overworked, stressed, or around toxic people—I’m equally disconnected from nature and my own natural rhythms. Numbness sets in.  I forget to be mindful. I look to external things for soothing and replenishment, rather than inward.  I spend more money on things I don’t need. I consume more unnecessary products or ignore the wasteful packaging on others because I “really” need something, like takeout or a one-use beauty product, to sooth.

In reality, what I need is to disconnect from the soulless fast-paced lifestyle I’d inadvertently plugged into and reconnect with myself.  When I slow down, I’m better able to care for myself, mind, body, soul—and earth. I can tend my garden and turn my compost. I can relish shopping at my local co-op or farmers market. I can enjoy a healthy home-cooked meal. I can see how my yoga practices return my natural vibrancy better than any store-bought beauty product.  I can dream and hear my own voice. I can speak to the earth and listen to her stories. 

I feel full. Abundant. At one with myself. At one with nature. The deeper I go on this path, the more I remember that the mother nature is infinite in her wisdom. She reminds us not to deplete our valuable resources, both of the land and of the spirit, to cultivate what is healthy, omit what is destructive, and to listen to the natural cycle of our daily lives. 

In short, I’ve found that being eco-conscious is about being conscious. Period.

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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!

The Haunting

There was the wishing vessel.  Bold as the dawn, solid as earth.

Strange.  Its home was on your left side nightstand; its height measured out in the stack of paperbacks behind it; its radiance mirrored in the collection of raw stones and gems circling it.  Instead, you found it on the right-hand nightstand where your water glass should have been. You took this vessel in your hand--this vessel, hewn by your mother's hands, baked with the power of hope and sealed with a sea-blue glaze marbled with pebble brown streaks.

Stranger still: it felt heavier than it should as if weighed down by your bottled wishes. You held it in your hand a moment longer, wondering what occurred in those eternal moments between closing your eyes and waking.

Then that evening as you chopped vegetables for roasting, thinking about things that belong in other lifetimes (half-remembered thorns that only nip at your heels when you are tired), the lights flickered in and out of consciousness.  Of course, that would have meant nothing if it weren't for the misplaced wishing vessel and your keys, now no longer in the drawer where you know you'd left them.  Or the sudden chill that swept through your home, easy enough to blame on the draft forgotten after months under the gaze of the summer sun.

It wasn't until you drifted off to sleep, in fact, that you knew the truth of the situation: you were no longer alone in your own home.  You felt the ghost brush cool, soft fingers along your naked back and settle in next to you as you hovered between dream and wakefulness.  Then there was your whispered name the next day as you tended your garden, sounding nothing so much as dried leaves rustling in the wind.  And the wishing vessel again misplaced, perching precariously on your bookshelf, so much heavier this time as you carried it back to its rightful post. The faint scent of memory and wet dirt began to permeate your home. Yes, you had a ghost, a living, breathing ghost contained within your walls.

Each day the specter became more and more distinct, once a faint shadow hovering just beyond sight, now a thick presence that didn't feel the need to hide any longer.  It patched a form together from stray bits of thread, used tea leaves, and lint from the bottom of your laundry basket.  The smell of mulched garden debris and damp earth became stronger each day, strongest of all at night when the darkness could feed it.

But you grew tired of its presence. You grew tired of never finding your keys where you always put them.  Tired of hands, now with the feel of knobby sticks for fingers, pressed against your back before sleep took you.  Tired of never knowing where your wishing vessel might turn up--and when you found it half buried next to your rosemary, as if a seed waiting to sprout the hopes buried inside it, you reached your limit. 

It took so long to dig out that heavy, heavy vessel.  Longer still to drag it in from the rain.  The ghost was no help; it merely watched you puff and pant and try to set things right.  This had to stop.  You wanted your home to be yours again.

So you did the only thing you could: you brought another spirit into the conversation--one holier, more honest even, than you or your spectral companion: whiskey.  You poured a glass for you and your phantom guest, now bearing the faint outline of a person, smelling of moss and old books and the inside of a wishing vessel.

"So how is it you found me?" You asked the specter sitting across from you at the kitchen table.

"I found a blossom of indecision, a wrinkle of silence and traveled down the puckered road of an old scar."  Its voice was like crackling leaves and smoke. 

A gulp of whiskey was your response.  You drank in companionable silence for some time as you mulled over its words.  The rain beat out a tattoo on the window pane.  The shadows in the room grew longer in time with the setting day.

"And where did you find this blossom, this wrinkle, this scar?"

It gestured to your curled up palm.  You opened it and saw several little half-moons carved into its surface.  What had you been holding on to so hard? So tightly? 

As if in answer to your soundless question, the wishing vessel now sat between you on the table, still caked in dirt.  The table creaked under its weight.  There was your collection of unspoken wishes, your barely-acknowledged hopes like lead dandelion puffs.

"It's the voice that does it," your specter explained. "Just the sound of your lips and tongue wrapped around one of those dandelion heads." 

What would it hurt, you thought, to give voice to all those dreams you'd stashed away for so long? What would it take to breathe life into the many roots and veins you'd allowed to go dormant? What would it cost you to loosen your grip on those fragile seeds you have guarded and protected and stashed away for a rainy day, much like this one?

"They are stronger than you think," the ghost again replied to your unvoiced thoughts.

You brushed the dirt from the vessel and dragged it toward you.  You held it between your hands--gently this time--as if it were a butterfly flitting through your laced fingers.

Perhaps just one.  There is no harm in allowing one stray seed to breathe and bloom.  You named it, this wish, to yourself. To your ghost. To this vessel that had held it for so long. You felt it being released into the air around you like a cloud of sandalwood perfume or the flap of wings.  Your skin tingled with this unblemished possibility permeating the air around you, and you closed your eyes to savor this new-found lightness.

When you opened them, the ghost was gone, and with it the smell of dead things.  There were only the two whiskey glasses and the vessel (so much lighter now) left, along with a stray blue thread that once held the specter together.  The other wishes slipped more easily from your lips after that, the hopes too.  You felt only sweet release, the joy of freeing these pods into a life you dared to think possible. 

Your home was your home again. Your wishing vessel was once more what it should be: a womb, not a stopped bottle, fertilized by syllables slipping from your vocal chords.  And the air was thick with dandelion 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!

On Living Your Creed

It is not always enough to believe--you must live it every day.

You must find your home in its embrace; however strange it may seem to others, however difficult it may be, you must turn away from other outstretched arms, seductive folds that would gather you into the temporary ease of all-inclusiveness.  Yes, this collective energy can momentarily assuage the wear and tear of walking your own path but ultimately stifles you with the price you must pay for this comfort: silence.  Only your voice, that seed of sound and breath, the song of who you are, the breeze that allows your wings to unfurl.

But you cannot turn your back on your creed.  The one made up of lessons learned the hard way and a future paved by dreams and flashes of inspiration and--sometimes--past lives, those tatters of ghostly tendrils that snake their way through the cracks in the earth beneath your feet.  It is yours and yours alone.

If you know each seed you plant will blossom, you must sow wisely.  If you know each thought is a thread coloring the tapestry of your life, you must think carefully.  If you know that your lungs need fresh air and open space to fill them up, you must find a land without fences in which to breathe deeply.  If you know that only you can create your future, you must wake every morning to pave the next row of stones that carve out your path.  If you know your life is made up of conversations with the universe, you must speak with the cosmos often, shout out to it, sing to it, and listen to its response even if no one else can understand or hear the exchange.  They see only dust, where you see stars.

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 Dia de Los Muertos

The boundaries between worlds have thinned at this halfway point between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.  It is as if a small door has opened and allowed spirits and old ghosts and mischief makers full access to our neighborhood.

You leave out offerings, a welcome treat to your ancestors, whose guidance you are grateful for; and gifts to pacify the demons and fairies so that you won't bear the brunt of their trouble making.  You leave out candles to welcome old souls searching for their home--family maybe, or lost pieces of yourself you seek to reclaim and call to you once again.

You celebrate this connection to the spirit world with sugar skulls and marigolds, unafraid of the night and the creatures it hides; they are a part of us, a part of you. You honor the Aztec goddess of the underworld, paying homage to her strength that allows her to watch over the bones and souls of the dead. 

You offer up your flowers, your food, your drink, to thank her for gathering up the pieces of yourself that you no longer need, taking them with her back to the underworld; you thank her too for restoring the parts of you that still live on, though you hadn't known it until this day.  You celebrate the dead to honor the power 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!

La Llorona

She came for you once.

You weren't more than seven or eight, but you were able to push her away all the same, terrified as you were.

It was one of those cold wild nights in October when the wind is unruly, violently throwing dead leaves against your house and the air is full of the scent burning cedar from chimneys.  The day had been full of too many ghost stories at school, greedily gobbled up on the playground even as you knew you would pay for the cheap thrills later.  It was so much easier to speak of ghosts and monsters in the daylight; but at night, the nightmares would come.  Each shadow seemed to move of its own accord.  Each creak that filled the midnight silence seemed like more than just the settling of your home's old bones around you. 

That was how La Llorona found you.  She was the woman you had learned about through playground gossip: the cursed creature doomed to search for her children on the banks of the Rio Grande, a victim of her own pride and shame, drowning her sorrows in rage as she drowned her children, her own life in that muddy water.

You thought it was the wind howling at first.  You had woken with a start, foisted out of your nightmares by the wailing just outside your window.  You pulled your covers tighter around you.  Then it was scratching at the window; your neighbor's pine tree reaching its thick branches across the dividing wall and scraping against the panes.  Nothing strange about that, you told yourself.  It is only nature running its course.

But then you began to think of that neighbor and the swimming pool in the backyard.  You began to think of the child that was taken into its depths never to come back.  You had seen that child at the bottom of that pool once, felt the tug on your heel as you tried to break the surface (there was no mud to obscure the sunlight rippling across the water).  It was then you knew you could never cross that wall again. 

Perhaps it was La Llorona that took him and keeps him there still.  With that thought, the howling wind became her cries, the branches at your window, her fingernails trying to claw her way in.  Coming, coming for you.  You vowed never to listen to the ghost stories on the playground ever again--a short-lived promise--and you vowed never to let yourself become like the child still at the bottom of the pool--that one you kept. 

You felt your home around you; the warmth and the love and the security etched into the bricks and the inside of your rib cage.  The violent howling outside was no match for it.  It--she--could not get in.  Slowly, the wind died, the scratching at your window stopped.  The creaks in your home were once again the sighs a living dwelling makes.  Eventually, sleep found you.  It was your home, you realized years later, that protected you and protects you still.

Now, older, maybe even wiser--but still no less susceptible to thrills of a good ghost story--you carry your home with you (deep inside your chest, sewn into each breath) protection against the forces that would pull you under.

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

On Hippie Baby Showers

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

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

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

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

On Belief

The deepest form of magic.  It's how we conjure day after day, crafting our lives through a series of routines, thoughts, actions, dreams.  It creates our reality and paves the road to our future.  It is the strongest yet most ephemeral of things: belief.

Yes, magic.  Often cast without conscious intention or a clear purpose.  Rather, it is like a well-worn road made by the repeated tread of footsteps.  But like any magic, it is capable of both dark and light.  Sometimes used to stop yourself short of fulfilling your own potential. Stuff like that just doesn't happen to people like me, that's not real life, that's just how things are.  Or used to conjure a deeper way of living. Let's bring this dream into the waking world, this will happen sooner rather than later, what I am searching for will find me in its own time.

If not a well-worn road, let it be a butterfly's wing, so fragile and yet capable of making you fly.  Still not convinced?  Then think of your belief as the silky wisp of a spider's thread: breakable with just one strand but when spun with others, over time it becomes a home that protects and nourishes.  Belief, any way you choose to think of it, is the backbone of our existence, making its home in your spine and radiating outward to craft your world from hopes and dreams and fears and what-will-bes and what-might-have-beens.

So what will you choose to believe in?  What path do you choose to create?  For belief at its strongest, at its most unbreakable, is a fluid thing shaped by nourishing the dreams of our most authentic self.

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On Letting Go of Past Lives

It happens all at once and yet slowly over time like water licking a rock until it is a smooth round pebble. 

The layers of you that need to be shed like a snake's dead skin slip from your body revealing a new incarnation of you with unblemished skin and better eyes with which to see the world.  It is easy, sometimes, to bury the dead; you move or get a new job and the life that came before it is gone, a wisp of memory that your reborn self can look back on and be happy she is no longer there. 

Yet there are those old selves that no longer serve a purpose, the selves that need to be put to rest but are all too easy to keep around because, dead as they are, worn and gone, they are comfortable if only because they are what you know. They are the threadbare and ill-fitting coat that you know you should give away--but that would mean you'd need to find another skin to fit your frame just so...and that takes time and energy, those things you are half-afraid you don't have enough of.  They are the ghosts that keep you company at night, the ones that won't leave until you want them too, the ones you don't even know you're keeping around until one day you stop, having stumbled into an old life, a space you would never willingly enter now.

Then all at once you see how you have been holding on so tightly and yet now find it is harder to keep holding on than it is to let go.  The threadbare coat has finally fallen apart from overuse.  So you gently pry your hands loose from those past selves--those final stray strands--those versions of you that are no longer you, and embrace this new skin.  It is, after all, the only one you need.

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!

(Haunted) House Hunting!

Houses retain the energies of those who have passed through them.  The longer a person is in a home, the more the house absorbs the energy of that person--for better or worse.   Over the years, those energies settle into the house, becoming part of its foundation. 

I've been thinking about this lately as I've finished my own search for a new home.  Just as important as the big kitchen or the walk-in closet is the vibe of the home.  How do I feel when I enter it?  Does it invite lightness and good energy?  Or am I feeling anxious and heavy as I walk from room to room?  These sensations matter.  They tell us a lot about the residual energy of past residents--energetic hauntings if you will.

My sister, who is also house hunting with her husband right now, always asks the same question when talking to real estate agents: why are the owners selling this home?  What made the previous tenant decide to move?  Her reasoning is simple: she doesn't want a house that has absorbed negative energy from previous owners.  That energy remains and will then affect the quality of her household.  She listens to the answers, both implicit and explicit: the family needed a bigger house after having their second child, the woman is moving in with her boyfriend--both reasons showing a home of growth and abundance. 

She also listens to the half-truths the agents relate:  the house was too much work, the owners wanted a change.  These empty answers can sometimes inadvertently reveal the unsettled energies of the house--especially when paired with that creepy unfinished basement or the random cubbyhole built into the floor of the closet.  

Recognizing a haunted house is in more than just hearing strange whispers and seeing things out of the corner of your eye.  It is more than the cemetery in the back of the house, or the weird illustrations coating the walls in the attic.  It's about the feel of the house.  More than one friend has told me about an outwardly fine home they didn't like for no other reason than the fact that they felt uneasy in that space.  These impressions tell us that it isn't the right home for us--its energies are not our energies.  Or worse, there is seriously bad juju that saturates the walls, left there by former tenants.

Or course, not all hauntings are bad.  My apartment in Seattle was totally haunted--it was once an old mansion that was converted into an apartment building many years ago, so naturally, it had seen a lot of things and absorbed a lot of different vibes.  And not all the energy was the same from room to room in that building.  The laundry room in the basement, for example, was dark and heavy, as was the greenish corridor with the yellowed sunken-in flooring you had to walk down to get to it--certainly no place I would want to find myself alone at night, even though it was tucked inside a safe apartment complex.  On the flip side, my apartment itself was characterized by lots of friendly light that poured in through giant windows.  It was a happy space, a sanctuary from the heaviness of school.  I'd come to see my one-bedroom apartment as having its own spirit--a light, bright, playful spirit that had no room for droll professors or even more boorish theory books.  I was more than happy with this haunting, as we were in perfect agreement.

I felt the same zing in that apartment as I did in finding my new place here in Albuquerque.  That's how I knew this new home was right.  After months of searching for the right new home, I finally found the one that spoke to me (okay, an apartment!).  It didn't have creepy dark alleyways right behind it, or fake faded flowers outside its door; it didn't have dirty corners and thin walls; it didn't have sterile rooms or cold kitchens.  It was simply bright light and warmth, homey and clean, at once cozy yet spacious.  Our energies were simpatico.

So, is this new place haunted?  Probably, but from where I'm standing, it's absorbed nothing but good energy, so I'm happy with the kind of haunted it is.  I just hope it likes green chile stew and old movies as much as I do.

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!