Monday, July 17, 2017

The Truth about Spiritual Bloggers

From an outsider's perspective, it may appear that a person working on their spirituality, in particular bloggers who write about it, have it all together. They don't get angry. They don't get depressed. Their day starts with tea and fairies, and their night ends with little song birds tucking them in and leaving a mint on their pillow.

For morning breath, you know?

The world has plenty of sadness and misery. If you don't know that, try not to turn on the news because it will obliterate your happy little bubble. They do a fantastic job of highlighting all the garbage and rarely, if ever, addressing the goodness in the world. Because it is there. Don't let the media fool you. =D

I'm a pretty realistic person. Positive and optimistic? Yes. Choosing to see the bright side?  ...Errr most days, sure. But I'm most definitely a realist. Because of this, I strive to be honest with you lovely readers since I believe honesty is the only way we can learn from one another. 

So in case you're left wondering how I blog, write books, cast spells, and get dinner on the table by five all while keeping a Stepford-like smile plastered on my face, here's your answer: I don't. 

My life is far from perfect. Any being walking this planet, human or otherwise, lacks a perfect life. Trust me, even nature struggles. Just yesterday I had to break up a fight between a jack rabbit and a cottontail in my backyard. See, even the bunnies have discord.

Side note, I never thought I'd ever hear myself yelling, "Stop beating on the cottontail!" as I ran into the desert wilderness, my turquoise peasant skirt billowing in the acrid breeze. Life is weird. The cosmos have an unquestionably twisted sense of humor.

But in the flawed mess that is life, there is also a hell of a lot of beauty to behold. That's not denial through positivity. That's not a "fluffy bunny" outlook. It's what is. At least in my world. Because I've made the choice to be happy. We all approach this plane differently. I choose to see magick. If you're reading this, I'm guessing you feel that way too.

I try to be open and honest in my posts in order to demonstrate the real experience of spirituality because, yes, it can sometimes appear unattainable through the perfectly posed Instagram photos and carefully crafted tweets. That is one of the reasons why 
I bitch discuss my displeasure for my current desert living situation. Not to vent, but to give you the whole picture. I'm stumbling through life just like anyone else. There are days I wonder how the hell I have yet to find myself submerged in a pit of quicksand, befuddled and shoeless, wondering where I left my phone.

Life is messy. That doesn't mean you can't conjure some kickass spells. Or relish in the simplicity of a balmy summer morning. Or watch in awe as a seed flourishes into a plant. I mean, that is really flipping crazy if you think about it. Trees start out as tiny seeds. If that isn't magical, I don't know what is! Have you ever really stopped to appreciate that human beings are formed from two microscopic entities, cells dividing time and time again to create bones and flesh and a heart? That's really quite insane!

....I assure you I'm not high. You're welcome to check my keyboard for Cheetos residue.

The truth about spiritual bloggers is we're not out-of-touch ninnies who have no idea about real world crises. For this particular blogger, my positivity isn't formed from lack of life experience; it's embraced in spite of it. I speak of hope because I've known despair. I've tried miserable. It sucked. Like, a lot. And if trying to spread a little optimism and cheer makes me a fluffy bunny, then get me some goddamn rabbit ears, because I choose happiness. Just make sure they're pink.

Hmmm, I wonder if the cottontails will take me on as one of their own. Ah, now there's looking on the bright side! =P

What attributes do you most appreciate in a blogger? What are some of your favorite blogs that cheer you up when you're having a bad day?

By using this site, you agree you have read the full DISCLAIMER.

NOTE: As with any recommendation found on this blog, consult your doctor or naturopath before use.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Magical Destinations of the Northeast by Natalie Zaman

Several weeks ago I received an e-mail from a wonderful gal named Natalie. Ms. Zaman asked if I'd be willing to review her book entitled, Magical Destinations of the Northeast: Sacred Sites, Occult Oddities, and Magical Monuments

Now, let me make one thing clear—I love books. Like, I'm the dork who will wax poetic about the smell of libraries. I adore books.

But I also love the Northeast. Being stuck Currently living in the Southwest has yet to stifle my melancholia for my beloved New England roots. Somehow, dust and spindly bushes that wield deadly thorns as long as my pinky finger have yet to warm my soul the way the briny scent of the Atlantic and the musical rustle of autumn leaves has.

Don't believe me on the thorns? Oh, I have proof, my friend.

How did I discover these lovely aberrations of nature? One went through my leather shoe and stabbed my foot. 

....a leather shoe. The desert is trying to kill me, guys.

*calming breath*

Now, I'm not sure if Natalie realized how well-suited I was for her book. The mere fact that it involves the Northeast and is, well, a book is enough to interest me. But what she didn't know, what no one knew until this very moment, is that my husband and I have spent the last year planning an extensive RV trip to commence mid 2018. Once his contract is up and we leave the desert in—quite literally—a trail of dust, we will spend the following nine months or so traveling the country, nourishing the soul with anything green, rainy, or green and rainy.

Side note, I can't FLIPPING wait for Oregon. I'm half convinced I will refuse to leave, gripping a moss-covered tree with all my life as my husband ties my feet to the RV bumper and begins to drive. Which, in case you were wondering, he's totally bluffing. I mean, how far can you get before a cop pulls you over for having half a person trailing behind your rig? Surely there are laws against dismembered bodies and vehicular travel...

The day I got Magical Destinations of the Northeast I immediately began reading. Natalie did a fantastic job of opening the book with a personal experience, one that conjured vivid images of a young, pregnant Natalie seeking solace in a long-sought-after metaphysical bookstore. It's clear this kismet experience had a profound influence on her life, inspiring her to write this wonderful book. 

I was also genuinely impressed by the amount of information packed into this sucker. I'm not going to lie, there's a LOT of information, certainly more than I could absorb in one sitting. Fortunately, it doesn't read like a text book. Her manner of writing yields a fluid, easy prose that makes for an enjoyable travel guide for witches, Pagans, Wiccans, and those interested in the myth and legend of one of the most breathtaking parts of America.

...Not that I'm biased or anything. ;)

What I enjoyed most were the simple, regional-appropriate spells sprinkled throughout the chapters that incorporated elements of local plants, trees, and area-specific folk tales. It's a really cool detail that I think the nature lovers among us will very much enjoy.

My favorite part was reading about the White Mountains and Polar Caves located in New Hampshire, mostly because this was the area my family camped for one week every summer during my childhood. It's a truly magical part of New Hampshire that always spoke to my soul, even as a shy young girl. Reading Natalie's almost lyrical description of this sacred place made me sigh with longing and get excited about visiting again! 

If you're piqued by the intrigue that is the Northeast, a place rich with history and lore, I highly recommend Magical Destinations of the Northeast  for your next road trip. Just be sure to leave some room in the car for yours truly. It's okay, I'll totally ride in the trunk. Just toss me a water bottle and an occasional potty break, and you won't even know I'm in there. 

...Until I smell the briny siren call that is the Atlantic. Then all bets are off. =D

Have you ever visited a spiritual location you discovered in a book? What's your favorite local legend?

Magical Destinations of the Northeast was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. Please note I do not review or recommend products I do not personally appreciate and endorse! 

By using this site, you agree you have read the full DISCLAIMER.
NOTE: As with any recommendation found on this blog, consult your doctor or naturopath before use.

Monday, June 19, 2017

5 (More) Ways to Celebrate Litha Without Spending a Dime

It's the Summer Solstice! The longest day of the year. The official calendar date of summer's commencement. If you're Pagan, today is Litha, the peak strength of the sun, which represents the God. Tomorrow the days will begin to gradually shorten, already nudging towards fall. 

Which I'm excited about. Because of pumpkins and apple pie and stuff.

But if you live in a place where summer is enjoyable and not blisteringly acrid, don't worry about the future. Relish today. Frolic in the warm rays of the God's strength; bathe in the buttery heat of the sun. 

If you're looking to celebrate Litha cost-free, check out my suggestions below. You can also check out this post from last year, which has some really cool ideas! Don't forget to wear yellow or orange in honor of the sun. Spicy foods are appropriate, of course (hot like Ryan Goslin the sun!). As are sun-colored vegetables, like oranges, lemons, or carrots. A ritual meal is quite easy—just raid your garden or farmer's market and enjoy the summer bounty. This certainly is a tasty time of year! If it's an altar you seek, I have you covered as well. =D 

Now grab yourself a jalapeno and let's talk about freebie festivities!

Play in the sprinkler
What says summer like splashing around in water? Playing in a sprinkler may sound a little silly, but 'tis the season to be wild and carefree. Get out there, enjoy the sun on this Summer Solstice, and cool off in the pool, under the sprinkler, or with a water balloon fight. (Just make sure not to litter! =S)

Make a wish with sidewalk chalk
I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not I have sidewalk chalk in my to the herb shelf...under a box of incense. Do I have children who use this alleged sidewalk chalk? That'd be a negative.

Grab some sidewalk chalk and make a wish for the summer. Draw a picture or write a word representing whatever you wish to manifest. Feel free to keep it simple. Take a moment to envision your spell coming to fruition before carrying on with your Litha festivities. As an afternoon thunderstorm washes away your wish, know your spell has been cast!

If you live in the desert like me, grab a hose. It'll be months before rain washes that $#!& away...

Collect nature's beauty
Bringing a bouquet of freshly gathered flowers into your house is an enjoyable way to honor the Solstice while raising the vibrations of your home. If you're super motivated, you can make a flower crown. I'm not going to lie, I'm not that motivated...

Spend your day at the beach
Watch the sun rise or set, have a picnic, play in the water. Enjoy all the great aspects of summer with the added benefit of gorgeous beach-wave hair. 

Don't forget to write a wish in the sand, close to the tide. Allow your spell to be washed away by the briny waves as you envision your desires manifesting. Now would also be a great time to do a little grounding work. With your feet in the sand as well as the water, you'd harness a nice energy balance. Ahhh, sounds oh-so delightful! Boy, do I miss the beach. 

...Images of seagulls just danced in my head. ;)

Make lemonade
Lemons aren't just appropriate for Litha because they're a refreshing summer drink addition; they're also a great representation of the sun! What with their yellowness and all. 

Squeeze yourself some fresh lemon juice (watch out for hangnails—ouch!) and enjoy a glass of fresh lemonade outside while you inhale the balmy summer air. Enjoy the birds. Savor the gentle breeze on your warm skin. Sip your cool drink and allow the sweetness to linger on your tongue. Really appreciate the simplicity of the moment, even if you only take a few minutes to do so. If you're feeling especially creative, add pureed strawberries, blueberries, or lavender tea to your lemonade for an energizing twist! 

If you do nothing else today, take a moment outside to appreciate the lazy days of summer. It's easy to get caught up in the modern chores of our life, but the best aspects of summer will always be the simple things—family and friends, nature, and iced coffee. Whoops, went a little New Englander there.

Happy Litha, everyone! ☀️

What's your favorite way to celebrate Litha?

By using this site, you agree you have read the full DISCLAIMER.

NOTE: As with any recommendation found on this blog, consult your doctor or naturopath before use.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Buried Money Spell

Money must be on your mind, because I've been getting lots of questions pertaining to money— anything from how to save it to how to conjure it. Fortunately, saving and conjuring are two things I have some experience in. ;)

I'm working on compiling a list of resources I use to easily save money, "easy" being the operative word. A few years ago, when my husband and I were still in the midst of paying off student loans and credit card debt, I would do pretty much anything to save some scratch.

Except, you know, sexy things. I'm not the most graceful person. Swinging around a pole upside down would have just resulted in medical bills.

Cutting back on expenses is obviously a starting point for nourishing your savings account. But from a metaphysical standpoint, that is only the beginning. We need to clear away any mental blocks we have about wealth and prosperity, which many people harbor. Have you ever referred to yourself as broke? Have you ever muttered, "Always a day late and a dollar short." (I have!) Have you ever nodded when someone said, "Money is the root of all evil?" Then you have a mental block.

Let's briefly address the most ingrained belief about wealth: Money is not evil. Money is a neutral asset; it's the intention that can either be positive or negative. A person with money can provide for their family or help people/animals in need. A person with money can act like Mr. Burns. The money is not the problem, it's the motivation behind the spending. So do yourself a favor and start working on any negative opinions you may have about wealth and money, because that's the first thing you need to address to open your vibrations to the income of abundance.

Something else you can do? Magick. Always, always magick!

Below you'll find my buried money spell. If you really want to freak out your neighbors, dig the hole for your spell at night. Maybe even yell, "Stop squirming!" a time or two just to ensure they're entirely spooked. 

Twisted? Eh, maybe. 

This spell is written to be cast outside of the lunar cycle, meaning you don't have to wait for a specific moon phase to conjure. If you so desire, it can be cast during the new moon, which is traditionally a time of fruition and growth. Or you can cast it during a full moon, because many people feel most powerful during the full moon. It's really a matter of personal preference. You know how I roll. =D

The eggshells in this spell represent growth and fruition. The nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove are all spicy herbs, which I associate with money. The dirt symbolizes fertility and, again, growth of your wealth. The beeswax candle, with its delicate honey scent, signifies the sweet, bountiful aspects of life. The coins are self-explanatory. Or, they should be. If you're unaware of how coins play into a money spell, we may have found the cause of your money struggles! =P

Buried Money Spell

What You'll Need:
3 coins of any kind
1 natural candle, preferably beeswax*
Dried nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove (a hefty pinch of each)
A sacrifice** (a pretty flower, favorite herb, a beloved stick of
                     incense, etc)

*Because this spell will be buried, I recommend using a natural candle, like a beeswax candle. Beeswax can be a little costly due to harvesting and sustainability, but it is also safe for the environment. I purchased my beeswax candle (in the above photo) at a natural food grocer for $2.99.

**Sacrifices should be just a little painful...though not in an icky bloodshed kind of way. =D I used roses from my garden I was originally saving to use in tea. Sometimes I use some of my favorite medicinal herbs, like cornsilk or goldenrod. It should be something that's just a teensy bit difficult to part with.

How to Conjure:

Mix the dirt, spices, and eggshells together in a dish or bowl. Place the candle in the middle of the dirt and arrange the coins around it. You can place them strategically if you wish. I just go with instinct. Do whatever feels most comfortable for you. Add your sacrifice to the dish. 

Standing before your spell, hold your palms near the spell and envision money falling from the sky all around you. Literally picture money tumbling through the air and amassing at your feet in a billowy pile of fluffy bills.

When you are ready say:

As if from the sky, money easily flows;
All around me abundance wildly grows.
I open myself to prosperity;
It is as I will it and so it shall be!

Then declare your sacrifice to the Universe, Goddess/God, etc. For example, if you used daffodils you would say:

As a sacrifice to the Universe, I offer these daffodils from my garden.

Now it is time to light your candle. As you bring the match to the wick, say aloud:

I open myself to wealth and prosperity.
Wealth and prosperity flow easily to me.

Allow the candle to burn for at least an hour. As you extinguish the flame (I tend to use a snuffer when casting, but you can carefully blow out the candle), repeat the above incantation:

I open myself to wealth and prosperity.
Wealth and prosperity flow easily to me.

Remove the coins from the dish and tuck them away somewhere safe, where they won't be spent. This is to represent that you will always have abundance. If you have a piggy bank, especially one you don't actively use, "feed" the coins to your piggy so your bank is always fed. 

Take the remainder of your spell outside and bury it in a desired location where it won't be disturbed, preferably on the north side of your house or property. North is the direction associated with the earth element, which is the element of nourishment and sustenance. Burying your spell in the north is sowing for financial sustenance. Make sure to bury the spell rather deep, usually about a foot or two, so a curious animal won't be tempted to dig it up. 

When you are done, stand before your buried spell with your hands out, palms toward the earth, and repeat once more:

I open myself to wealth and prosperity.
Wealth and prosperity flow easily to me.

And you're done! Well, sort of. As I stated earlier, changing your perception of money is an important aspect of drawing abundance to you. Mind your thoughts and make sure they stay positive, or at least neutral. If you continue to think, "My boss will never give me that raise," he probably won't. Have faith in yourself and your spell! Change your thoughts and you change your world!

Hmm...I wonder if there's a saying about changing your underwear?

Searching for more spells to cast? Check out my full moon spell book, By the Light of the Moon. Now available in paperback!

Have you made changes to heal your relationship with money?

By using this site, you agree you have read the full DISCLAIMER.

NOTE: As with any recommendation found on this blog, consult your doctor or naturopath before use.

Monday, May 29, 2017

You Asked for It!

Someone get me a calming mug of lemon balm tea, because I'm ridiculously excited over here! For months you wonderful readers have been requesting a paperback format of By the Light of the Moon. But I couldn't fulfill it. And I got frustrated. And maybe I swore a time or two. There's really no way of knowing.

But then the idea came to me! An answer so simple, I felt downright foolish for not seeing the trees through the forest. Or, in my case, the dirt through the cactus. 

In order to offer you an affordable paperback, I could remove the color photos (which kicked the price to over $20 a copy!) and replace them with beautiful, carefully selected black-and-white illustrations that would help save you money! 

...I take the name Penniless Pagan seriously. ;)

I'm not going to lie, I was apprehensive about the print quality. But then my proof arrived and I was downright giddy! Check out this adorable illustration for the Full Moon Dream Drop Wishing Well spell. 


Or this beautiful Goddess for the Moon Beam Blessing Braid. 

Of course, I didn't want paperback readers to miss out on all the colorful photos I took specifically for By the Light of the Moon. Therefore, when you receive your copy, you'll find a special web address inside where you can view the photos on a computer or tablet. And while you're there, it's possible there *may* be a surprise gift waiting for you!

I'm so excited to finally offer By the Light of the Moon in paperback. I can't thank you enough for your enthusiasm and support. If it wasn't for the many e-mails and comments requesting a paperback, I would never have thought outside the box and discovered this solution. And don't worry, there won't be a delay on paperbacks for the next book!

Get your copy today!

How do you prefer to read books: e-book or paperback?

By using this site, you agree you have read the full DISCLAIMER.

NOTE: As with any recommendation found on this blog, consult your doctor or naturopath before use.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Truth About Anxiety and Herbs to Help

Note: Anxiety can be a symptom of a medical condition, such as hypothyroidism or heart disease. Please seek the advice of a trusted healthcare professional before instituting any advice given in the article or on this blog. This post addresses generalized anxiety with no medical cause. 

You know what's weird? Getting anxiety about writing a post about addressing anxiety. That shit is weird.

But it's also telling. Let me explain why.

This morning as I made breakfast and began my morning routine, I found myself restless and unable to focus, mostly because I was planning on writing a money spell post. (Don't worry. There will be a money spell, just not today!) Because I've grown accustomed to addressing anxiety as a signal and not an illness, I mentally took a step back and asked myself what the hell the problem was. After all, there's no need for nail biting fifteen minutes after rolling out of bed.

The problem was I wasn't prepared to write the spell post. I hadn't finalized the spell and therefore felt rushed and, well, anxious! But I had spent time preparing for this anxiety post, so that's what I decided to do today.

And the anxiety went away.

That's the funny thing I've learned about anxiety—it goes away when you learn to listen.

Now, before you start a scathing e-mail, everyone is different and I'm not admonishing anyone's decision on their chosen method of treatment for any maladies. Just like anything else in life, a person needs to make their own decisions regarding the best path to take for their own personal health and happiness. But the focus of this blog is to help people embrace a natural and spiritual approach to life. I can only write from my own experience, and my journey is one of spirituality and natural medicine. So if you're not looking for spiritual or herbal alternatives, you've stumbled into the wrong place. Sorry about that. Take a cup of tea before you go. It's dandelion. Great for the liver.

It took me years to realize anxiety was on my side. As is my body, a lesson that took me decades to accept and appreciate. But we're taught to go against instinct. We're taught we are powerless in our own healing.

That's complete bullshit.

You have more influence over your own health and healing than you probably realize.

I can say this from experience, from healing illnesses I was told would never heal. The body was meant to heal. It was designed by a beautiful, omnipotent energy to be healthy and strong. And regardless of what you've been told, you—more than anyone else—have the ability to attain health and happiness in your own body. This is a subject I'm deeply passionate about, but for now let's stick to anxiety. =D

Despite how debilitating anxiety can sometimes feel, anxiety is actually a powerful tool once we've learned how to listen to its message. Anxiety is the warning sign, "Do Not Enter! Danger Ahead!" But we've been told to tune it out. "Silly, mind/body/spirit! You don't know what you're doing!" And we push ourselves further and further until we have panic attacks and emotional breakdowns.

When I take the time to listen to anxiety, life is a whole lot easier. Not perfect. Not without challenge. I'm not selling you a fairy tale. Life isn't easy. This is a learning plane and we have work to do! But in learning to trust and respect my inner voice, I've found peace.

Let me ask you this—what danger is there in listening to your anxiety?

If you're struggling with anxiety, have you taken a moment to evaluate what is causing it? If you have, have you asked yourself what you can do to eliminate the cause? If you know that answer, have you taken measures to remove the cause?

Anxiety over a blog post is obviously a very small, trivial thing that I mention solely as an example of listening to the signal. But there was a time when my experience with anxiety had blossomed into a fruitful tree of stress vomiting and panic attacks caused by a job (and eventually, I learned, the whole damn career) that was causing me great distress and unhappiness. It took me years to accept the career path I had chosen, that I went to college for, that I spent more time paying off than working in, was not the right career for me. I felt like a failure. I'd abandoned my dream. I was embarrassed to admit to people I no longer worked in a field I worked so hard to become a part of.

Yet the anxiety was gone. I didn't dread waking up every day. Life wasn't simple. In fact, in some ways it had become more complicated, like money being far tighter. But I was happy. I was free from self-imposed chains. I wasted time being unhappy and made myself sick because I didn't listen. Because I was ashamed. Because I was afraid. Had I listened to my inner voice, presenting itself through anxiety, I could have been a whole lot happier a whole lot sooner.

I wrote this post because I've had so many readers reach out to me regarding anxiety journaling. (which is awesome to hear from you, so thank you!) If you haven't read it I recommend you do so now. It's a wonderful method for listening to what our inner voice is trying to communicate without overthinking or blocking ourselves with judgment.

If you're struggling with anxiety, I truly empathize with you. Anxiety can be complex, but I encourage you to explore the root cause. Because anxiety is, at its basic essence, a symptom. It's easy to get overwhelmed when learning to trust your inner voice, and even easier to get frustrated with ourselves if we have a perceived backslide. But please be patient with yourself! You deserve the time it takes to find peace. You're worthy of the work it requires to understand yourself and the messenger that is anxiety.

And until then, here's some herbs and natural approaches to help you quiet the storm. Since you need to, you know, function.

Lemon Balm
According to Brigitte Mars, who is a brilliant herbalist, lemon balm causes the "mind and heart to be merry," a quote she attributes to Avicenna, an ancient Arabic physican. 

Personally, I love lemon balm for anxiety and to help with sleep. It can even be used to control general restlessness, nervousness, heart palpitations, and nausea, all things people experience when struggling with anxiety. 

Lemon balm is safe enough for use in children but can lower thyroid function, so please exercise caution if you have hypothyroidism. 

California Poppy
I loathe flying. I'm not afraid to fall out of the sky, but I strongly dislike dealing with security and the general icky energy that exists in airports. When I have no choice but to fly, I use California poppy tincture, which is a gentle way to soothe frayed nerves, exhaustion, stress, and even headaches! And according to Mars, California poppy is non-habit forming and contains no opiates. 

When used as a flower essence, California poppy encourages listening to one's inner voice. Huh. Isn't that convenient?! 

If you suffer with depression, California poppy can exacerbate symptoms, so avoid this herb. Excessive use can make one feel as if they finished off the boxed wine and a half a pack of Oreos, so please use in moderation. 

Most people are familiar with this gentle herb, but it wasn't until I began studying herbal medicine that I realized it's really quite a useful little flower. A steaming mug with a little milk and honey really chills me out, so much so I use it when I'm having trouble sleeping. 

Chamomile isn't just useful for sleep and anxiety, it can also help soothe digestive distress (including irritable bowel), nightmares, ulcers, and even help combat the urge to urinate. In fact, this is a go-to of mine for UTIs. It's even useful as a compress for irritated skin, rashes, and skin infections. Really, chamomile is a fantastic herb for nearly any irritant—inside or out.

Please be advised, chamomile is not recommended for people who are reactive to ragweed and should also be avoided in high doses during pregnancy. 

Ignatia Amara
Ignatia Amara is a homeopathic formula used to treat nervousness caused by "everyday" stress, but I personally use it when I need to manage anxiety, regardless of whether or not it's mundane stress or a visit from the ol' mother-in-law. In my opinion, homeopathy is a rather gentle approach to healing, which is quite necessary for some individuals, especially those with autoimmune disharmonies. This isn't going to knock you on your butt like Xanax, but it will help take the edge off and nudge you back to a nice, calm parasympathetic state. =D

Homeopathic medicines are generally regarded as safe, but it's always prudent to exercise caution when trying a new substance, especially if you're taking other medications. Boiron is the brand I most often use. This homeopathic formula is in pellet form, which you take by holding the pellets under the tongue until dissolved. 

Rescue Remedy
Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic combination of Bach flower essences that is designed to treat stress and anxiety. I keep this product on hand, especially when traveling.  Four drops under the tongue, and you're on your way to calm-down town. It can also be added to water and sipped throughout the day, but I've never used it in that manner. 

In general, I'm a big fan of Bach flower essences, especially when treating emotional disruptions, like grief or guilt. I've found them to be extremely helpful when struggling with grief last year and highly recommend them if you're experiencing anxiety in conjunction with grief.

Random goodies that help me:

Go to the movies
Okay, I know this one sounds odd, but I've always found going to the movies to be an effortless way to dispel anxiety. Not renting, going. Between the pitch-black darkness and the loud soundtrack, I don't have the option to entertain nagging thoughts. It's my cheap version of a sensory deprivation tank. If you're sensitive to noise, this may not be the best option. Strangely, I am sensitive to noise but I'm okay in a theater. I have no explanation for that. 

Animals are my answer to everything. Sad? Hug an animal. Happy? Hug an animal. Hungry? Eat an animal.

Aww... okay, now I feel kind of sad. I'm going to hug the cat and then have a meatless salad for lunch. 

Seriously, though, who can be worried in the presence of an exuberant Labrador? Many studies have been done on the positive health effects of owning an animal, so I won't delve into that here. But if you can't adopt a furry compadre or don't want the responsibility, spend some time in nature. Feed the birds. Watch the rabbits. Just enjoy the simplicity of the furred and feathered. The fresh air and sunshine is always good for the mind and body, plus a little grounding never hurt anyone! 

Alternate nostril breathing
I felt like a fool the first time I tried alternate nostril breathing despite being alone in my house. But it works! It not only focuses your thoughts away from anxiety, but it helps balance the left-right brain, which is often exacerbating anxiety symptoms due to imbalance. Adriene, the entertaining woman featured in the link above, is an entertaining yogi who doesn't mind making a crude joke. Now that's my kind of yogi! I also recommend her Yoga For When You're Angry. I use it when annoyed, but I mostly practice it when I'm anxious. Seriously. Go try it. 

Anxiety journaling
I mentioned this earlier in the post, but it's worth repeating. I've found anxiety journaling to be a pivotal tool in clearing mind clutter and listening to my inner voice. It's easy to become so engrossed with worry that we don't even know what we want any longer. Anxiety journaling is a simple yet highly effective way to help our ego—who seemingly enjoys causing anxiety—step aside and make room for our true desires to come forward. I'm often surprised to discover the cause of anxiety isn't even what I was fretting about!

Go to water
Did you know water is symbolically linked to emotions? It's also what cleanses undesired emotions. The weightlessness we experience while swimming is quite cathartic on a subconscious level. But even if you can't get to the ocean or a pool (like yours truly), a simple shower often helps me to feel refreshed and reinvigorated, especially if you end with a cool rinse. Just do yourself a favor and allow yourself to be IN the shower. Don't think about the bills. Now isn't the time to solve world hunger. Your sole priority is soaping the armpits and lathering your hair—nothing more! ...Okay, maybe just a *little* singing to the radio! ;)

Remember, it's okay to just curl up on the couch with your favorite book or a funny movie if you're feeling overwhelmed. While you're at it, brew yourself a cup of tea. Try chamomile. I hear it's delightful! ;)

Do you use herbs to settle anxiety? What's your favorite way to quiet your mind?

Wondering where I get my knowledge? The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine by Brigitte Mars isn't just my favorite reference, it's my herbal bible! 

By using this site, you agree you have read the full DISCLAIMER.

NOTE: As with any recommendation found on this blog, consult your doctor or naturopath before use.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Unusual Books for Your Spiritual Path

When I was younger, I had a spiritual teacher who once told me everything comes into your life for a reason, even if it arrives before you need it. "Even books," she said, "may cross your path at a time when you don’t need them. But if they resonate with you, hang onto them. And then, one day, you’ll come across that book when the time is right and the message can be received." 

I know this is a fairly universal concept. But being a mere thirteen years old, her words stuck with me. And not just because she mentioned books, which is totally my vice.

Around the same time, I had a friend in Columbia who I chatted with online. (AIM, anyone?) He was about fifteen years older than me, which sounds kind of creepy in this day and age, but he was really just a nice guy who was eager to move to America. It wasn't uncommon for me to have friends who were much older. Even now, I have more in common with eighty-year-olds than I do with thirty-year-olds. A love of tea, crocheting, and cozy mystery novels to name a few. 

Really...I don’t mean to sound egotistical, but I’m *kind* of a blast at parties. What with me standing off in the corner, petting the dog and nursing a bottled water. I dare you to recall one wild story that doesn't start with, “Okay, so I was adding lemon to my water glass when...”

Anywho, said Colombian friend (who did finally move to America. Yay for dreams!) recommended a book entitled Brida by Paulo Coelho. Most people have heard of The Alchemist, which is another fantastic read by this talented author. Being the late nineties, a time before Amazon was really huge, I scoured the shelves of bookstores but never found Brida. After an internet search, done on a Macintosh when Apples were still called Macintosh, I discovered Brida was only published in Spanish and had yet to be published in English. 

For years, any time I was in a store I kept an eye out for this book. And then, in 2009, I found Brida in a little brick-and-mortar called Barnes and Noble—in English!

"Michaela, it was 2009. Why didn’t you just order it online?" you ask.

Great question. Wish I had an answer. But I don’t. Tunnel vision, maybe? My propensity to act like an octogenarian? I’m not entirely sure. The point is I bought this book in 2009, which I know because I stuck the receipt in the book. A book I just dusted off and decided to read... in 2017.

Eight years almost to the day, I finally began reading this book. Weird, I know, since I spent years keeping an eye out for this novel. But for whatever reason, I wasn’t compelled to read it then and I stashed it away for another time. Which, evidently, was eight flipping years later.

But today, as I combined two boxes of books into one (I told you, vice.), I found Brida and knew I needed to read it. How? Because I’d been thinking about it a lot lately and meant to search my bookshelves for it, not knowing it was in a box. So happening upon it in a place where I wasn’t excepting to see it felt like a small sign. Now is the time!

So I began reading, and within the first few pages I was hooked. Not just because it is an interesting story that takes place in Ireland, a country I’m pretty sure I’d never leave if I ever decided to visit, but because the intention of the novel resonated with me at a time when I really needed affirmation. Which is precisely my point. 

In 2009, those words wouldn’t have held the same meaning. Life has changed, as it tends to do, and the message of Brida is something I needed right now, at this very spot in my life path. It's also what inspired me to write this post, which may have been why it resurfaced now. Maybe one of these novels is meant for you, and the timing had to be juuust so for you to have found your way to this site, on this very day, at this very time.

The Universe is mysterious that way. 

Here's to hoping one of these books changes your life! Books in themselves are such a magical thing, a wondrous binding of pages that let the mind explore and the soul wander.

....I love books!

For One More Day

From Amazon
For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?

Why I Recommend it:
Mitch Albom holds a special place in my heart with The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The book itself is amazing, and the hardback copy safely tucked away on my shelf is a treasured gift from my father.

...who is still very much alive. I realize it may sound otherwise there. Let me just text him to confirm....yup, alive and well! *Whew!*

Albom's books became a thing between my father and me, and he eventually gifted me For One More Day. What I love most about this novel is its lesson in forgiveness. Humans are odd creatures, and it's much easier for us to experience anger than pain. This seems especially true in regards to resentment towards one's parents. And that's what For One More Day addresses.

We don't always have the full picture on others' choices. Barring extreme circumstances, people are generally doing the best they can in that very moment, even if it doesn’t feel like enough, or doesn’t fulfill a need we had as a child. With a captivating story line, this novel addresses the importance of letting go, of making peace with the past, and recognizing a painful truth—that life is unstable and often too short. Love while you can, because we do not know what awaits.

A similar and equally profound message is beautifully-written in The Five People You Meet in Heaven, though this speaks more to regrets over your own choices and the unequivocal, irreplaceable purpose each and every one of us has on this majestic planet. I highly recommend both!


From Amazon: 
Brida, a young Irish girl, has long been interested in various aspects of magic but is searching for something more. Her search leads her to people of great wisdom. She meets a wise man who dwells in a forest, who teaches her to trust in the goodness of the world, and a woman who teaches her how to dance to the music of the world. As Brida seeks her destiny, she struggles to find a balance between her relationships and her desire to become a witch.

Why I Recommend it:
Spiritual growth isn't always a pleasant thing. I'd venture to say it's almost always uncomfortable, akin to physical growing pains. I find this to be especially true for solitary practitioners. 

It's common to feel alone during a period of spiritual development. Even if you're excited about what you've discovered, you don't really have anyone else to share your enthusiasm with, as people are rarely on the same path at the same time. This can lead to a depression-like period that many refer to as The Dark Night of the Soul. 

Brida speaks to this time, which is why I think it's such an important read. I read this book with a highlighter, because there were so many profound lines. My particular favorite? "She was beginning to understand that there was a big difference between danger and fear." At the time, this spoke deeply to me, and simply reading the words brought me peace.

Into the Wild

From Amazon: 
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Why I recommend it:
For earth-loving, sensitive people, I think we've all experienced times when we wished we could walk away from society and disappear into the woods, to commune with that which makes sense to us and escape the chaotic mess that is humanity. Into the Wild explores just that. 

McCandless makes a profound statement in his journal, which is later recovered alongside his body, in which he says something my husband and I have incorporated into our lives ever since reading the book several years ago—"happiness is only real when shared."

While I think happiness (and certainly spiritual growth) can absolutely be found alone, I don't think it can be sustained in solitude. Even now as I type this prose, my heart is heavy thinking of McCandless alone in the cold darkness, desperate to see his loved ones one final time. As someone who thrives in solitude, this was an important message that we can't escape the pain of life in order to embrace the beauty. Beauty is woven into everything—even the pain—and life is meant to be shared, explored, and celebrated with those you love. This book will leave you in tears, I guarantee that much!

The Little Prince

From Amazon: 
Much more than the story of a little boy and his sheep, it is a story of individualism and determination told as a fairy-tale.

Why I recommend it:
Children's book? Yes. A profound message of losing belief in magic somewhere between adolescence and adulthood? Yup! 

If you don't want to read the book, the film adaptation on Netflix is equally moving. I actually read the book after seeing the movie so I could fully digest the wisdom gifted to us by De Saint-Exupery. Do yourself a favor and grab a box of tissues, because this story is a tragically beautiful tale that speaks deeply to adults who are determined to hold on to wonderment for life and the belief in miracles. 

Bonus Book: Winter of Fire

From Amazon: 
A slave girl's strange visions earn her a coveted place as the Firelord's handmaiden, but when the Firelord dies and is replaced by the handmaiden, she pays the price for her powers.

Why I Recommend it:
This is actually a young adult novel written before a time when young adult novels were mainstream, but don’t let that detour you. If you asked me what my favorite book is, this would be first on the list.

...But let’s not be coy. There’s most definitely a list. ;)

This poignant story of truth, fate, and following your intuition had a profound impact on my childhood and, honestly, my adult life. I’ve read this book so many times, my husband took pity on my well-worn copy and surprised me with a shiny new paperback for Yule several years ago, one where the pages didn’t fall out and you don’t have to hold entire sections like loose leaf.

This book is no longer in print, so it can be a little difficult to come by at a reasonable price. Upon peeking at Amazon just now, I just saw the paperbacks start at over $400. Because that’s totally reasonable. The hardcover is slightly more affordable, which was the exact opposite when my husband bought this super sweet gift. At this point I feel compelled to state my husband spent well under $25 for my newer copy, so hang tight and they may return from Mars with their outrageous prices! ;) 

If you happen upon Winter of Fire in a used bookstore, which is where I acquired my first copy many years ago, I recommend you snatch it up! And not just because you can apparently make a mint on Ebay. This story spoke to my soul so deeply, I vowed to name my daughter Elsha. She is such a strong, dignified, enchanting character, and I would want any child of mine to have her same virtue and self-love.

Side note, I don't have children. But if I did, I'd make her read this book and paint her walls with the cover and have her dress like Elsha. And then she'd grow to resent me for it because, well, see For One More Day.

Maybe with enough demand the publisher will re-release this book. I included this book as a bonus because I normally I wouldn’t recommend a book with such an unreasonable price tag. But Jordan's message in this novel is important—your life has a destiny. You have a purpose. Follow your fire. 

What are some of your favorite spiritual books?

By using this site, you agree you have read the full DISCLAIMER.
NOTE: As with any recommendation found on this blog, consult your doctor or naturopath before use.