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.

Spring Clean Your Mind, Body, Soul

Spring is almost here. I can feel it in the way my skin itches to be kissed by the thin gold strands of sunlight or in the tightening excitement in the pit of my belly when I realize it is almost 7pm...and still light out. I might just get to have a glass of wine and watch the sunset on my patio. Most of all, however, I can feel spring in the way I seem to shake off my intense wintery introversion (most of it, anyway) like I would a fleece jacket. I find myself longing for adventures, new experiences, and friendly visits to old haunts. 

Spring ushers in its own invigorating and rejuvenating energy, and with that, a desire to clean. I am a big proponent of cleaning as a form of cleansing. Stressed? Scrub down your bathtub. Overworked? Do laundry. Seriously! It's a great way to practice self-care without having to think too hard about what you're doing. Unable to focus on that next page needing to be written? Dust--sweep--vacuum--hell, reorganize that junk drawer. Then the answers come. Cleaning, in other words, has become my oracle or crystal ball of wellness. Somewhere between hanging clothes to dry and washing those floors, wisdom is found. You're not thinking so hard so you can actually listen to yourself...which is all by way of saying that come spring, I am all about spring cleaning!

It's a great opportunity to dust off the cobwebs from your window sills and thoughts. Lately, I've been marinating on that old witchy-hippy-new-age adage, "as within, so without," which basically says what's going inside your mind, body, and soul, is mirrored in your day-to-day external life. While I believe in this concept on a number of levels, it seems particularly true when it comes to spring cleaning. If my house is messy, my mind is in disarray. If I don't have time to water my plants, my soul becomes parched. If I can't dance to salsa and merengue music while clearing out the dishwasher, my body aches.

So while you plan your own spring cleaning routine for your home, consider adding a little tune-up for your mind, body, and soul. We could all use a little a cleaning and rebooting at the start of each new season, most especially come spring, the time of renewal, rebirth, and new possibilities. 

Spring Cleaning the Mind

To spring clean your mind, first check in with your thoughts. What dust and debris have settled in the corners of your mind? 

Lately, I've become more aware of the old negative patterns I've allowed my mind to fall back into like stressing about things I have no control over in the middle of the night, operating from a flight-or-fight response in mundane happenings, or negative self-talk that can slip in when I'm overworked (overwork being a bad habit in and of itself, one I am still getting better at curbing).

These things serve no purpose. In fact, they are remnants of a time when I wasn't very good at taking care of myself, a time when I was strictly surviving rather than living. Still, I find I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself that I am no longer the overworked graduate student (yes, even after five years of being on the other side of it all!), but an empowered writer and educator who has the time, resources, and intention to live well

Once you've found the old habits and dirty corners in your mind, clean them up, dust them off, and say goodbye to those worn and ugly things.

This spring, I'm making a point of letting these things go, both internally and externally. I'm making a conscious effort to stop negative thoughts before they fully manifest. I'm getting rid of old notebooks full of graduate school work I will never look at again and saying goodbye to the straight-laced clothes of a young woman desperate to keep her head above water and hold her own in her profession. I'm acknowledging unhealthy habits (constantly apologizing for no reason, for example) and decluttering my home of things that don't bring me joy. I'm allowing myself to be more. More of what, I can't yet say. All I know is that in decluttering my home of past selves and my mind of old habits, I create space for this new energy. I set my intention for a healthy way of thinking, being. I manifest positive energy.

How will you spring clean your mind?

Spring Cleaning Your Body

To spring clean your mind, listen to your body. Its aches and pains and the things that make it feel delicious.

I love being up before the sun, enjoying a few stolen hours of exercise, yoga, or mediation before the rest of the world is awake. I like time to see the morning stars before the sun eclipses their sparkle and time to kiss the moon goodnight before she descends into the mesa's embrace. 

Then winter hits. And it kinda hurts to be outside when it is so cold and dark out. And you're super tired because...life happened. We've all been there. In my case, quite recently. Sleeping in becomes routine, healthy habits slip away in favor of extra time hugging that pillow or flopping in front of the TV screen and mindlessly eating. Once you fall into this stasis it can be a habit that is So. Hard. To. Break.

But spring is the perfect time to revive your wellness practice. Clear your fridge and pantry of unhealthy tempting nibbles, reboot your healthy diet, and get back to the yoga mat, exercise regimen--all of it. 

Remind yourself that when your body feels good, so does everything else.

It sounds corny, but when I workout, do yoga and eat right, I'm happier, less stressed, and feel, for lack of a better word, juicy. My energy is clean and abundant, not thin and gray. So I'm starting slowly, getting back on track with simple goals like finding new fun and healthy recipes to cook, and upping my exercise a little each week to get back to my 5-6 days of exercise a week. I'm even working on being more active around the office, reviving my quick walks around the campus and stopping for energy-boosting tea breaks. I also make it a point not to beat up on myself if I slip up here and there (which goes back to letting go of negative self-talk for my mental spring cleaning). Life happens. What matters is that I'm taking care of myself and making progress. All these little baby steps are bringing me back to a feel-good body and a feel good-life.

How will you spring clean your body?

Spring Cleaning Your Soul

Collect, nourish, tend your soul seeds.

This is perhaps the most ephemeral aspect of the mind-body-soul wellness trifecta. After all, how do you explain the utter excitement of knowing you get to spend a quiet weekend at home after a week of intense extroversion?  How do you describe the little thrill you get when you settle in to start a new book or what a sweet soothing balm it is to see a bouquet of daffodils on your nightstand?

Nourishing your soul is as much about a solid wellness routine as it is about consciously removing toxicity from your life, be it in the form of people, old selves, or negative spaces. But once you've made the necessary changes to your lifestyle--welcoming in the abundant and letting go of the stifling--your next task is to discover what it means to greet the day with joy, with fullness in your heart, with the awareness that you are connected to your Eros Energy.

One easy way to do that? Treat simple pleasures as sacred. Seriously. The perfect cup of tea from your favorite mug isn't just an afternoon pick-me-up, it's a healing potion.  The beeswax candles you light at night aren't just a nice touch to the dinner table, but an expression of the luminous softness you hope to bring to the end of the day. So relish these moments, and be willing to discover new pleasures.

One of the things that can be most difficult when we spring clean our soul, is remembering to actively cultivate and seek out things that bring us bliss after we remove the stagnant energies that have built up over time...which brings us back to our soul seeds, those clear intentions for better living that we plant in the hopes of cultivating our private Edens. 

Maybe it's mediation. Maybe it's reading trashy novels. (For me, it's kind of both!) Or taking a long walk in nature. Or making homemade pasta on a Sunday night...or another of simple pleasure you have yet to taste. What matters is that you make a conscious effort to find and nourish what makes you happy. Stay playful and stay curious. You'll be surprised what delightful things come your way and how full your soul feels when you give it time to just be.

What are your sacred simple pleasures?

Happy spring cleaning!

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

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

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

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

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

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

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

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

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

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

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

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

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On Reclaiming My Writer's Roar: Visiting the Argosy, the Morgan, & the New York Public Library

 One of the New York Library Lions, though I don't know if it is Patience or Fortitude...

One of the New York Library Lions, though I don't know if it is Patience or Fortitude...

My first visit to New York was at a pivotal time in my life.  I was all of fifteen years old, and like most teens, desperate to be a cultured adult.  I had just decided I wanted to be a writer and had committed to a serious daily writing practice.  Heavy stuff for someone still in braces.  I got drunk on words and the worlds they allowed me to build, worlds that took me far, far away from the study in human misery that was high school.  So when the opportunity arose to visit my brother in New York--and miss school to do it--I was bursting with excitement to taste what to me was the artistic and literary life of The Adult Writer. I will always love the city for what it was and what it continues to be for me: a distilled memory of a young woman first finding her words, her stories, and her roar.

One of the most influential stops that trip was to the New York Public Libary, which in the mind of a budding writer, was like a bibliophile's haven in the midst of a world full of chaos and uncertainty (hey, I was a teen and so allowed to be a touch melodramatic).  I fell in love with the various reading rooms and the romance of so many shelves dedicated to so many books.  A small figurine of a Literary Lion, like the ones flanking either side of the library's main entrance, accompanied me home and became a fixture on my writing desk, a symbol of the literary life I would devote myself to...

...and then came graduate school.  It felt like no small cosmic coincidence that I lost my lion figurine within the first quarter of my advanced studies.  I've since learned that those library lions are named Patience and Fortitude, which somehow seems the perfect metaphor for the unfolding nightmare that was grad school.  Don't get me wrong: I'm glad I have my doctorate degree, yet I also found that I wasn't the traditional academic scholar I had once dreamed of being (it was, in retrospect, a mere detour in my development as a creative writer).  Never had I felt so silenced. Never had I struggled so hard to keep my natural exuberance alive.  Never had I struggled more to keep my free spirit independent from the hive mind.

By the time I finished my dissertation, that enthusiasm for the written word had dwindled to a small half-dead spark.  Then came those purgatory-like years in which I identified as a Recovering Academic, thirsting for a time when I unabashedly loved big books and knew who I was as a writer.  It took some time--years--to painstakingly relearn the joys of storytelling and even longer to find my Writer's Roar again.  This blog, in fact, started out as a daily exercise in reclaiming that wild woman writer with a lust for life buried under bureaucratic dust.  Patience and Fortitude, indeed. 

All by way of saying, I found myself taking a similar sojourn to this city fifteen years after my first life-changing experience there to celebrate the return of My Writer's Roar.  The dwindling spark I nourished for so long had suddenly burst into an unquenchable internal fire.  I had done it.  The realization hit me at my writing desk one morning after tending my blog. I was literally living The Writer's Life teen-me dreamt of for so long.  I was a teacher, a writer, a healthy yogini with a home (okay apartment) of her own.  And I was one with my stories again.

It seemed only fitting to return to this literary mecca after recently finding that I had, in fact, found my words again.  I must pay homage to the city that fueled me as a young writer. And so began my pilgrimage to the place that marked the beginning of my writing life. 

 Argosy storefront.

Argosy storefront.

One of the beauties of traveling is being open to the synchronous moments where you stumble upon the exact thing you didn't know you needed.  Like those magical instants in our daily lives that push us in the right direction, an impulsive decision to get off the New York subway blocks earlier than you intend can lead you to marvelous places.  Such was how I found the Argosy Bookstore, New York's oldest indie bookstore and my first (unexpected) stop on my day-long feast of books.  

 Interior shot of the Argosy Bookstore's first floor. 

Interior shot of the Argosy Bookstore's first floor. 

Here I was wandering the streets of Manhattan in search of a good cup of coffee on my way to the Morgan Library when all at once I was in front of this magical store.  It was like walking into the inside of a story or some literary alchemist's den where only the most potent tales were spun. Old and rare books lined the shelves, stacks of antique prints teased the eye, and, my personal favorite, rare books and first editions on the occult promised otherworldly insights on the turn-of-the-century "new sciences" like astrology and clairvoyance.  I drooled over rare prints and first editions of fairy tales, novels I'd grown up reading, and older than sin Shakespeare folios.  What more could a woman ask for?

 My splurges: first edition occult texts circa 1920s from the Argosy.

My splurges: first edition occult texts circa 1920s from the Argosy.

The books were alive here.  Breathing living things made up of leather stretched across book board and handstitched pages smattered with inky words.  Needless to say, I could have spent a whole day there.  There was splurging.  There was a rekindled love of old books and the rich vanilla-like smell of stories that have had time to marinate on their shelves.   And there was also that fantastic cup of coffee I was looking for from a food cart on the corner of Park and 59th, thanks to the recommendation of the bookstore's employees.  The day was off to a good start.

 The Morgan Library...I could live here!

The Morgan Library...I could live here!

My next stop was the Morgan Library, a must for any bibliophile.  Once the home of famous financier and avid collector Pierpont Morgan, this museum, according to the website, houses "illuminated, literary, and historical manuscripts, early printed books, and old master drawings and prints."  What does this mean in layman's terms?  Only the first edition of Jane Austen's Emma, in the original three separate volumes; or the remains of the earliest known tarot card set, circa 1450; or a 15-year old Mozart's attempts at a symphony; not to mention preserved hand-written letters of Samuel Johnson to his publisher and Victorian-era musings on magical flying machines (hello airplanes!) and early discussions of what we now know to be computer coding. But perhaps the most breathtaking piece on display was a first edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, which he wrote, designed, published, and marketed himself.  Now there was a free-spirited writer if there ever was one.  

 First edition of Jane Austen's  Emma  (1816).

First edition of Jane Austen's Emma (1816).

 Four Italian tarot cards from before the deck became associated with occult practices (1450).

Four Italian tarot cards from before the deck became associated with occult practices (1450).

 First edition of Walt Whitman's  Leaves of Grass  (1855).

First edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (1855).

 Hemingway's three martini lunch.

Hemingway's three martini lunch.

This is to say nothing of Morgan's fabulous library where you feel you could while away an afternoon reading selections from this marvelous collection or spend an evening in thoughtful conversation with the man who so passionately hoarded these treasures.  And even if all those manuscripts aren't enough to stir up writing inspiration, then there's always a Hemingway three-martini lunch (featuring three 2 oz martinis) to top off your visit.  Writer's fuel never tasted so good. 

 Morgan's desk.

Morgan's desk.

 Reading nook in the Morgan Library.

Reading nook in the Morgan Library.

 The secret vault where Morgan kept the most prized pieces of his collection.

The secret vault where Morgan kept the most prized pieces of his collection.

My final stop that day (but by no means my last literary adventure in the city) was the New York Public Library, naturally, and just a few short block away from the Morgan.  I wanted to see how good 'ol Patience and Fortitude were doing.  It had been a long time, but they were just as majestic as I remembered them.  I spent some time wandering the library, through the various reading rooms and up and down the wide, imposing staircases, remember how big it all seemed to me at fifteen.  Okay, how big it still seems to me.  

Like your favorite novel, you never get over your first time reading it.  Each successive rereading is enriched and informed by that initial experience.  This is the only way I can seem to describe what it was like to revisit this literary landmark.  Walking through those halls I was fifteen again, awed by my first exposure to the bigger world--bigger possibilities--outside my own small teen life, and I was also thirty-one, seeing the library through the eyes of a woman with a little more seasoning under her belt.  I'd done things.  Gone through stuff.  Made mistakes and made things right.  Had adventures and even written some of them down.  Experienced the plot twists that make life--and stories--and people--interesting.  

Best of all, walking these halls, sitting in these reading rooms, and reclaiming those literary lions (I just had to get a magnet of them for my fridge!), I realized I always had it: that spark. The internal joy of living and reading and writing deeply had never left me.  Not really.  All I had to do was reclaim my Roar.  Own it.  Because there is no room in this world for anyone who thinks they can silence you. There is no room in your stories to submit to being silenced.  I owe this lesson to Patience and Fortitude.  As with many of my travels, I went a long way away to find that I what I needed was right in the palm of my hands.

 Patience and Fortitude manning their posts in front of the New York Public Library.

Patience and Fortitude manning their posts in front of the New York Public Library.

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

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What Writing Looks Like

You are lost in thought, have moved from gathering herbs to the opening scene of one of your stories (there are herbs in that too).  You are no longer in your garden but in the kitchen of a home that only exists within the puddles of ink gathering onto your page. 

Casual onlookers would see nothing out of the ordinary, nothing more than a woman pruning her garden.  The fools.  They do not see the story weaving itself before your eyes, made of rosemary, eggshells, and a spark of imagination.  They do not know that what they just witness was nothing short of magic.  (Perhaps one day they will, though, when they pick up that story with that opening scene in that kitchen built of words and paper.  Then they will know how you spun stories out of stolen moments among your plants.)

Or take the hour you spent away from your writing desk because your body no longer wanted to sit still but dance the silent dance of yoga asana, freeing the words nesting at the bottom of your spine.  Your prose came more fluidly after that as if your spine were a pen dipped into the ink of your day, ready to release the stories it has acted out on the mat and absorbed between sunrise and sunset. 

Sometimes your writing is the evening you set aside for more words, but after a day of being saturated in them, you find that there is nothing more appealing that pajamas, a glass of wine, and whatever old movie is playing on the television.  And if your hands must move--that twitch a phantom ache from not pressing your fingerpads on the keyboard--you will knit, stitching memories into the threads you loop together for your infinite blankets.

Then there are the words hastily scribbled on a crumpled tissue or old handout as your students pour over their marked up papers, trying to make sense of the narrative you wove into those tight margins.  This is when the words come most of all: it the space between breaths, when you are not allowed to labor over this comma or that scene, but can only hastily spend a brief flash of insight onto the wilted edge of last month's essay prompt.

And yes, sometimes you even find yourself writing at your desk, as people so often suspect you do in order to lay sentences, like bricks, into the walls that make up the home of your craft.  This comes with its own pull to wipe the excess mortar between those brick for the most elusive of miracles: a page without typos (if such a thing exists, you often wonder, when you run your fingers between your bricks, once again hoping to smooth out the pebbles in the thick cement you had already combed through).

More often than not, writing is in the moments you close your eyes and let sleep take you; where else would you find the worlds carved into the inside of a star or the memory that seems to come from nowhere except the amber-leafed shade tree you find only at the crossroads between wake and sleep?  Other times you find yourself in similar dreamworlds, this time within the folds of book covers rather than your sheets. Yes, your writing is in feeding your soul, so that each story you devour becomes a future bone in the vertebra of your own.

You find your words, too, at the tip of a fountain pen waiting to spill its black seed onto your page.  Sometimes you keep those seeds in the pen, for as eager as they are to make their mark in this world, you can tell they are not truly ready to commit themselves to paper.  This moment, between holding your pen in your hand and pressing its tip to a blank page, is where the writing happens, not so much in what will be written as in what you ponder to possibly transcribe. 

So you let your words come to you of their own accord.  You let yourself feel your craft wrap around you like a cozy sweater, stocking up on all those images and feelings and memories (some your own, some pressed within the pages of books), until your pen is full to bursting, ready to let the abundance of your prose gush onto the page.  In the meantime, you get lost in thought.  You make a cup of tea.  You take a long walk down a forgotten lane.  You feed your senses until you feel as if you might burst with the pleasure in peeling and eating an apple.  That is what writing looks like. 

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

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Confessions of a Flower Eater

You would grow a garden in your belly if you could so that your insides are blossoms, fat with pollen and thick seeds, strong roots, and liquid sunshine.  It seems terrible to confess that you know you could be like those flowers if you ate enough of them.  But it is true--they would infuse their spirit into your skin and, in return, you would give them a home.  Just a tablespoon a day is all it would take, you think, as you gaze out at your flower garden, that alchemical blend of growing things and medicinal petals. 

So you collect your marigolds and nasturtiums, your puffs of dandelion and your fat tulip bulbs, your sharp lavender and blowsy rose petals, and you begin the task of making your meal. You could grind them up with your mortar and pestle until each bloom dissolves into a thick paste, a murky drink not unlike your compost to rest in your stomach.  But where is the fun in that?  How can you delight in the feel of seeds down your throat or a soft petal kissing your tongue?

So you mix up your flowers--seeds, petals, stems, roots--into an otherworldly salad.  The tulip bulb is your base, thick and earthy, to welcome your eternal spring and chase away the darkness.  Then you stir in yellow marigold and passionate hope, and add peppery nasturtiums, streaked with orange and red, to make you feel brave; next is dandelion (puffs, roots, leaves picked from a crack in your garden path) to echo your tulip base of infinite possibility.  And a few rose petals to dust the top, a delicate perfume to soften the aspirations of the other flowers--it is enough to enjoy the beauty of this moment.  Your salad isn't complete until you sprinkle blue lavender buds across your feast, adding the final touch of tranquil healing.

You devour this salad, one bite at a time, crunching down on meatiness of the tulips, the melt-in-your-mouth silkiness of the rose, until there is nothing left on your plate but a marigold blossom, somehow still intact.  You pick this flower up with your fingers and bring it to your mouth.  You feel the feathery petals across your tongue, the way it falls apart under the pressure of your teeth, the weight of sunshine in your belly when you swallow it.  This is your garden, each piece of your summer harvest preserved inside you so that you are now part flower, part hope.

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

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To Be Still

Still.

That terrifying word that asks for nothing--and everything.  The fearful call it static; the receptive, moving within.  You must pull back from the noise and the commitments, taking care to bring each strand, those silken threads that connect you to things outside yourself, back into you, like a stray hair that you tuck once again behind your ear or coil around your bun.

Find your footing, the stillness says.  Feel the way the ground presses against the pads of your feet as if hugging them.  Let go of the need to run, the ragged motion keeping your soles from this earth.  Here, that is where you will find your center.  Not out there, here, with blades of grass slipping between your toes, the scent of rain in the air.

Become comfortable with the space you have created for silence (that most elusive of creatures, hardest of all to find and keep); relish the rich fullness that emerges in the absence of white noise, the whispers you can hear when you tune out the empty chatter. 

To be still.  Now that is a worthy dance.

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

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The Story Eater

That is all you want to do lately: gobble them up, each story as they unfold, slurping up sentences like a strand of spaghetti, feel the tang of so many words sharp and full on your tongue.

Some you want to savor as you would an artichoke, tearing off each page and running your teeth along its fleshy insides until you reach the heart of the story, one part thorns, the other ripe flesh.  It is the process of tasting your way through its earthy labyrinth as much as it is finding the tender center that fills your soul.  Others you would nibble at, like a wedge of fine cheese or a square of dark chocolate, loath to rush through the velvety decadence--and some you have no patience for, tossing their thick words and empty plots aside like so much wilted lettuce for the compost, nourishing (you know not how, only that all composted things must) your future words if not yourself. 

Then there are the ones you must devour in one sitting--those ripe peaches whose early blush make you unable to suffer through the tender courtship of each chapter parceled out over a series of days that they might require to fully digest.  These you must bite into and greedily consume their fruit, thinking only after, when you are left with a listless paperback, that you should have taken your time, knowing full well you couldn't--only it would be something to read this part or that again with virgin eyes.

Still others you turn to time and again, the familiar comfort of a well-trod plot as with the perfume of crushed garlic and rosemary staining your hands, the sharp scent of things simmering on your stove, an invisible ink absorbed from the pages of those stories, to flow from your own pen.

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

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Best Hits: Self-Care

Self-care is an art form--something I've learned in this past year of daily blogging.  It requires your full devotion and attention as you listen to your body, your heart, your mind, your soul to understand what practices make you the happiest and healthiest person you can be.

These five posts honor the various ways we take care of ourselves, from an indulgent bubble bath to a much-needed yoga, to simply tuning into ourselves and how we are feeling at the moment:

1.  On the Breath

2.  On Healing as Art

3.  On Bubble Baths

4.  On Camel Pose

5.  On Things You Do to Unwind

6.  On Early Morning Yoga

 

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

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Cinnamon Sugar Body Scrub

Cinnamon is one of my favorite spices because it is the perfect balance of earthy, fiery, and sweet.  This time of year cinnamon can really shine when paired with apples and cinnamon, making it that much more enjoyable.

Another great way to enjoy this spice is with my cinnamon sugar body scrub, especially during the changing season when our skin needs a little extra TLC.  The anti-inflammatory proprieties of cinnamon soothe while the sugar removes dead skin and the oil hydrates.  Plus, it makes your bathroom all cinnamony, like baked goods fresh from the oven!

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup olive or coconut oil
10 drops of cinnamon essential oils

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl until combined.  Then add oils and stir until fully incorporated.  Store in a mason jar.  Enjoy!

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

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New Mama Gift Basket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Autumn Harvest Tea Blend

Who doesn't love a hot cup of tea on a chilly fall day?  There's nothing like wearing your favorite fall sweater, snuggling under a nice knit blanket, and sinking into a good book over a fat mug of tea.  Or let's not forget the pleasures of a refreshing brew to start your work day, as you breathe in the crisp air, enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage, and take that first sip of goodness.

My particular favorite hug-in-a-cup this time of year is my Autumn Harvest Blend, full of the rich spices you associate with the season and the gentle sweetness of apple bits and chamomile.  I love this fruit and herb combo because of chamomile's apple-like fragrance pairs nicely with the earthiness of dried apples. The rose hips add another dash of fruitiness and host of nutrients. 

Ingredients: 

1 cup chamomile

1/2 cup dried apple bits

1/2 cup cinnamon chips

1/4 cup dried ginger

1/8 cup dried rose hip bits

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Store in a mason jar in a cool dry place. To use, add one heaping tablespoon of blend to 8 ounces hot water and steep for 3-5 minutes. Enjoy! 

Health properties of ingredients:

Apple: contains vitamins A,C, some B and potassium; good source of fiber.

Chamomile: anti-inflammatory; sedative; skin softening; all around body soother.

Cinnamon: antiseptic, aids digestion, calms nervous system, anti-inflammatory.

Ginger: soothes stomach pain; anti-inflammatory; aids digestion.

Rose hips: anti-aging; contains vitamins A, D, B, C, E, and K, iron, calcium, zinc, and other vital nutrients; promotes healing and boosts energy; antibacterial.

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

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On Descending into the Underworld

Persephone.jpg

As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, as the autumnal sun sets, bathing the earth in a honeyed glow, you begin to make your descent into the Underworld.

Not hell.  Not Milton's proverbial nine layers, nor religion's antidote to heaven (it might be the final resting place of vice, but what a relief not to be perfect!).  Nor is it Florence's Last Judgement safely nestled in the bosom of its canonical dome and foretelling the dangers of sin.  Not hell nor any of these.

The Underworld.  That quiet place which is not a place, both a cave below the earth and deep inside yourself.  The still place.  The silent place that you retreat into when the world gets too loud and you have been too long on its surface.  Like Persephone, you make your yearly transition from the spring above to the winter below, feeding upon rich pomegranate seeds and turning away from external revelries to your inward gaze.  You are bound to this cycle just as Persephone is to hers; you cannot change it any more than she can.  The earth pulls you into its embrace, thick roots easing your passage into your deeper sense of being, sweeping away the debris of surface living. 

It is there, there in the quiet and the shadows that you may meditate, contemplate the you that is you after casting off your worldly shell.  You will navigate the dark--the shadows of the yet-to-be-revealed, the wisdom courted with your solitude. That secret you waiting to be heard.  Like Persephone with those pomegranate seeds, you gobble up this underground knowledge one tiny morsel at a time, feeding the flame nestled within your ribcage.  Feeding the you that goes beyond day in and day out, and exists in dreams, in caves, in the Underworld. Always waiting.  Always ready to welcome you back to your roots and the rich earth from which you came.

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

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Odes to Self-Care

It seems to me that there have been a lot of conversations floating around the office this week about how to make time for self-care and really give ourselves over to living a healthy, balanced life.  I've also talked about ways to make self-care a priority when your scheduled gets busier.  It can be tempting--albeit an awful practice long-term--to think of self-care as a luxury rather than an essential part of our lives.  But over the years of actively developing my wellness routine, I have come to view self-care not as an indulgence but a necessity; to see it any other way is a form of self-inflicted violence. 

Sounds extreme, I know.  But really, if we don't take the time to tend ourselves--our hearts, our minds, our bodies, our souls--we deprive ourselves of living fully, deeply, meaningfully.  Why shouldn't we take as much pride in our self-nourishment as we do in our hard work?  Why shouldn't we carve out time to tend ourselves the same way we pencil in time to grade papers? 

In honor of these office conversations and my renewed efforts to tend to my personal wellness, I offer you three past blogs that celebrate self-care:

1.  On Things You Do to Unwind

2.  On Self-Care

3.  On Healing as Art

How do you care for yourself?

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

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!

Heaven is a Weekend at Home

Time slows down.

You have no schedule, no place to be, no pressing plans.  Just as you like it.  You can let your imagination unfold as you tend your writing--those beautiful words and phrases you've been itching to polish during the week as other demands took you away from pen and paper.  You can lose yourself in a good book--or two--and simply nourish your soul as you devour one story after another, filling up on words and tea in the comfort of your sanctuary. 

Then there is the yoga.  You get to let your body breathe and stretch into its fullest self, no longer confined by high heels or restrictive clothing (or, let's be honest, any clothing, if you so choose).  It is in caramelizing apples for Saturday pancakes or making pasta from scratch for your Sunday dinner.  That is the joy of being at home. 

It is in disappearing from the outside world for two whole days and two whole nights. You retreat into your own world of dreams and stories that often feel more real to you than your waking world.  You tend that inner landscape as you are safely sheltered in your sanctuary relishing the solitude that makes your healing and rejuvenation possible.  Between crocheting on your couch and retiring to your patio to read, you decide that heaven, truly blissful, divine heaven, is in a weekend at home.

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

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Thanks for following!

This Lady Needs Some Pampering Spa Kit

Oh yes, you know it sounds so right to be thinking of some lovely spa time right around Friday afternoon.  Sometimes a lady--or let's be honest, a gent--needs a little TLC and time to be pampered.  When you have the energy, it can be fun to have a home spa day, but sometimes even that feels like too much work and all you want is a gentle routine to help you transition from work to play.  So if you're looking for a way to kick off your weekend with a relaxing start, or just get some ideas for how to include a little more self-care during the week, check out my favorite end-of-the-week spa kit.  (And yes, I look exactly like the woman pictured to the right when I take a bubble bath, jewels and perfect hair and all.) 

1. Weekend Head Start Bubble Bath

2. Honey Face Mask

3. Hydrating Hair Mask

4. Lavender Foot Scrub

5. Women's Soothing Mint Tea

These recipes are made from simple ingredients found in your kitchen and pair well together for a total self-care experience.  The hair mask and face mask are perfect to try while you linger in a hot bath--which you should do since my Weekend Head Start Bubble Bath actually detoxes your system. After time spent drinking tea in the bath while letting these potions and lotions do their work, you will feel radiant and rejuvenated.  What bliss!

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

Want even more inspiration to make your dream life a reality?  Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Thanks for following!