What is Sacred Sensual Living?

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Do you enjoy savoring delicious food and spending time in nature? Do you listen to your intuition and honor your need for self-expression? Do you choose to have face-to-face chats and buy hand-crafted items?  Does your day-to-day life reflect your beautiful spirit?

If so, you’re probably already aware of the importance cultivating your mind-body-spirit-heart connection. Our bodies are designed to receive layers of input through our senses, including our intuition, and we can revel in this buffet of stimuli to strengthen our connection to the divine and create a more meaningful life.

Our daily lives can sometimes feel whirlwind, flat or routinely mundane. Sacred Sensual Living can help you drop into your most soulful state as you go about your daily life. It encourages you to immerse yourself in what feels good – emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. When you do, you’ll naturally align with your highest vibrational energies and get rooted in your authenticity. A holistic lifestyle, one where your daily rituals are in tune with your highest self, leads to joy, soul-peace and connection.

Welcome to Sacred Sensual Living!

A Few of My Favorite Things

I’ve come across several “I’m taking a break for the holidays” messages on other sites lately and I agree with that idea wholeheartedly! With the Winter Solstice upon us, it’s natural to lean toward rest and reflection as we await the magic that a new year brings. I’ve decided to do the same by enjoying quiet candlelit evenings, time with family and loved ones, long walks in the woods, cooking delicious and nourishing meals and cozy afternoon naps, and then coming back here refreshed and rejuvenated in the New Year. I hope you’ll do what feels good and natural to you over the next 2+ weeks too, and I’ll leave you with one last post for 2014… it’s a long (but fun) one so make a cup of Mayan hot chocolate and settle in. May it inspire your senses and soothe your spirit.

I deeply appreciate the many soul-stirring things I discovered, experienced and saw over the last 12 months or so. Here’s a shortlist of some of my favorites that might inspire you as this year closes and the new one begins. (I’m not formally endorsing these things in any way or receiving any compensation for including them. I just like them and want to share.)

Soundtrack for reading: My Favorite Things (John Coltrane)

  1. I hadn’t traveled much in the years leading up to 2014, so I indulged my pent up wanderlust as I visited Red Rock Canyon (near Las Vegas, NV) and Mount Desert Island in Maine. If you’re looking for unusual and breathtaking natural beauty, these treks are for you.

  2. When I started working at a local art center in 2000, there was an encaustic painting by local artist Tremain Smith hanging on the office wall. I always felt very drawn to the sublime layers of texture and color. A few months ago, I went to one of her gallery openings and finally had the pleasure of meeting her. This was shortly after I had started making my own collages, so it felt like divine timing was in play when she told me about the spiritual nature of her artwork.

  3. I love to hike and try to go several times a week if possible. When it’s really cold or windy, or when I need a different kind of movement, I do Mary Helen Bower’s Ballet Beautiful. I took ballet as a 7-year-old and wish I had stuck with it – it just feels good and it’s a great workout.

  4. Ever been to a burlesque review? Ooo la la! Sexy & suave, witty & talented, clad in velvet, sequins and good dose of panache – and that’s just the audience! I had the pleasure of attending a show and I’d highly recommend it. Inject some fun & fanfare into your life while celebrating the curves, bumps & grinds of true beauty. (You’ll thank me when you’re snowed in for a week in February.)

  5. I created a Melody Gardot station on Pandora – it pulls up the likes of Amos Lee (also Philly-born like Melody) and some lovely Latin guitar instrumentals. It’s perfect for cooking a romantic dinner, writing in your journal, dancing or even just looking out the window on a rainy Saturday afternoon. C’est si bon!

  6. I like a nice glass of red wine – sometimes with manchego & crackers, sometimes alone – and this year I found Santa Julia, an organic Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina, that’s well-priced and yummy – think: un-sweet black cherries + pepper + vanilla. Best to drink it with a very close compadre while wearing brown suede boots (just try it).

  7. Here’s a DIY spin on tea-lights: when they get liquidy, drop in some essential oils for a fragrant and sensual experience. I like these combos: ylang-ylang + lemon; bourbon vanilla; cinnamon + orange + clove; lavender + frankincense + clary sage. Your heart and head will swoon a little.

  8. I had a dream I was making this so I plan to try it, maybe for Christmas brunch: slice the top 1/3 off of a croissant and set the bottom in an oiled baking dish (obviously you can do as many as you want, but since it was developed in my imagination and is untested maybe try just 1 at first?). Pour a scrambled egg mixture with whatever add-ins you like (brie, scallions & chopped spinach maybe?) into the crevasses of the croissant (it can run out a little into the dish. Bake at 350 degrees till the eggs are cooked. (I woke up before it went into the oven so I’m guessing on the temperature.) I suppose you could top it with the top of the croissant, right? Certainly someone in Paris has done this already. I think I’ll try it first and then see if I can find a recipe – more fun that way!

8b. In case you don’t want to risk it, here’s something that’s been tested and approved by a foodie dinner club I had the pleasure of attending. It’s my version of the one you can often find on the Whole Foods buffet: wheat berries (look up how to cook them), dried cranberries, chopped celery & scallion, small cubes of Gouda cheese (and/or nuts would be good too). Mix together. In a separate bowl combine: raspberry chipotle mustard (I get this regionally-made one at my local co-op – crazy good), pomegranate (or similar) vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup (or similar), salt & pepper and a pinch of cayenne. I make up my own dressings so I just eyeball the amounts – if you’re not used to doing that, go easy on the vinegar and add a little bit at a time till it tastes yummy and balanced. Whisk well to emulsify (mine was pretty thick) and stir it into the wheat berry mixture. You can add chopped flat leaf parsley at the end if you like. Overall, it has a nice chewy-crunchy texture with a little sweet/tart/heat action, and it just feels healthy.

9.You know how you can hear something several (or many) times and it doesn’t quite click until one day it does? That happened to me in early 2014 – I finally really listened to and absorbed the teachings of Abraham-Hicks. In the length of one video, all the random ideas that I’ve had while forming Sacred Sensual Living came together into a cohesive and viable “what and why.” Deep down I knew my ideas and theories had merit because it’s how I live and thrive: immersed in the beauty & pleasure of life, connected to my intuition, nourished in my heart, with a joyous and peaceful soul. But discovering that the under-pinning was aligned with the A-H philosophy helped me see how I can make Sacred Sensual Living highly practical and useful (in addition to beautiful, of course). I’ll be writing much more about this and creating a variety of new resources for you in the New Year, so check back (and/or sign up for the mailing list) to learn more about how to mine your life’s sweet spots and create a more meaningful life – it’s easier than you might think!

  1. And last but not least, here’s a present for you. It’s the mantra I’ve had going through my head for months now. (Sometimes Ray LaMontagne’s voice sings it to me with a different last word to his title lyric: “Let it Be Me” Sorry, Ray, it just happens. It’s a beautiful song as is too, of course.) You can download the piece below and use it as desktop wallpaper or do with it whatever you like (sharing on FB, Pinterest, etc. is always appreciated!). (Note: for best resolution, click on the image to open full size then right click and choose set desktop wallpaper.)

let it be easyThanks for hanging out with me as the year comes to a close. Remember: release, relax, rejuvenate. You deserve to enter 2015 feeling gooood. And most importantly, just enjoy.

PS – If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you’re missing out on some Sacred Sensual goodies! Make 2015 the year when you awaken your senses in a whole new way, connect to your powerful essence and feel how meaningful life can be… by learning how to let it be easy.

Beautiful Things & Golden Moments #3

It’s been too long since I’ve done a BT & GM post, but not because life hasn’t been full of both. It has! Here are some recent ones – hope they inspire you to find the beauty in the world and let it speak to your soul.

  1. Love is Here – it’s “here” because it’s everywhere!

Love is Here
2. Sleeping for 11 hours on my new, incredibly soft flannel sheets!
3. This simple bouquet makes me smile first thing in the morning…

posies
4. Last weekend’s burlesque show – Celeste Giuliano’s 4th Annual Pin-Up Peep Show – featured talented women, dapper men, a good cause (Pin-ups for Pitbulls). Sexy fun!
5. New friends made during Susannah Conway’s December Reflections photo challenge. One photo per day for the month. So many beautiful ones getting posted! And if you’re up for a challenge or feeling creative, it’s not too late to join! Here’s Day 8 – Reflection:

Sunset Reflection smallCadillac Mountain Sunset, Acadia National Park, Maine.

So let me know… What have been some of your favorite Beautiful Things and Golden Moments lately?

She’s Got Guts. Do You?

Do you stand in your own power and make decisions based on what you truly align with? Or do you hem & haw, justify and then acquiesce even when you know better? If it’s the second one, how does your body feel when you give away your power? (I’m not talking about power over others; rather, the power of honoring your own authenticity.) Maybe you feel a little queasy or tangled in the core, as if someone’s tickling (or wringing) your intestines from the inside. Our bodies are wise, and it’s imperative we pay attention to it’s signals (or screams) as we develop our mind-body-spirit-heart connection.

For the past few weeks I’ve been editing a book called She’s Got Guts, by holistic health coach Laura Sprinkle. Besides being witty and incredibly informative about the many crucial factors that affect our health, the book also draws a direct correlation between gut health and personal power. Laura points out that a weak 2nd and/or 3rd chakra can cause gut issues, but if we only focus on healing the physical body, we’re missing an opportunity to heal our spiritual and emotional bodies as well. (The 2nd chakra is related to creativity, money, sex; the 3rd is related to gut intuition, personal power.)

The gut area, including our stomach, is a good example of how our systems function holistically because there is a direct correlation between what we eat and how we feel. If our diet consists of nutritionally void foods such as preservative-laden packaged snacks and sugary sodas, we’re going to feel lousy, both physically and emotionally. And most likely, the reverse is even more true: we eat poorly because we don’t value or love ourselves on some level.

One beautiful thing about understanding and working with the body-mind-spirit-heart connection is that it gives you more options than just popping a pill. You can pick up on the signals your body is giving you and then listen to what your heart says about it. Then you can use your mind to figure some stuff out and employ your spiritual practices to assist you in releasing and evolving. One affects the other, so you can weave together all of the information they provide to keep getting closer to holistic healing.

Stomach ache? As yourself if you’re feeling short-changed or powerless in a situation. Journal about it and read some helpful articles. Then do some yoga poses that massage your internal organs or go for a brisk walk. Check in again… How’s the stomach? Did the pain move to somewhere else? Did some anger or jealousy get stirred up? Keep asking yourself questions and letting the answers come to you from a variety of sources. Be as kind to yourself as you would be with a sick child. Nurture yourself. Rest (without guilt).

Recently I’ve been informally counseling several friends who are in the process of making big decisions or are on the verge of major life changes. Some are relying on a strong intuition to guide them, while others are only listening to their mind (in a conventional “I should do this” way) and ignoring what their heart and body are trying to tell them. Who do you think is having stomach/intestinal trouble? The lack of will to stand up for what they truly want is in direct correlation to their gut issues and weak 2nd & 3rd chakras – all of these need to be addressed so they can strengthen each other and heal in tandem.

I learned some helpful new tips and tricks from She’s Got Guts, such as the best and worst foods to eat for gut health and the most effective forms of energy work and exercise as part of a gut-healthy lifestyle (and gut health leads to overall health). I recommend it to people who have digestive disorders (or even just some symptoms now and then) and to anyone who is interested in health and healing.

I not only listen to my gut (physically and via my intuition) but I also pamper it with nutritious food that I thoroughly enjoy eating – no need to sacrifice pleasure! (And hey, red wine and chocolate are health foods as far as I’m concerned.)

How about you? Do you listen to your gut? What’s it saying? Feed me better food, love me more, stand up for us, get a massage, you are fantastic as you are. Listen. It takes some guts, but just listen.

Here’s the scoop on Laura and the book:

Laura Sprinkle is a holistic gut health coach, creative business mentor, speaker, and author. Learn more about her services at www.laurasprinkle.com and receive a book or other goodies by contributing here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/she-s-got-guts

go deep then bloom watermark med

The Maine Event: Coastal Beauty & Soul

A recent trip to coastal Maine reset my beauty barometer and invigorated my soul. It was waves crashing onto craggy rocks and forests glowing with yellow and orange foliage. It was an owl nearly grazing my head as it swooped by. It was crying over the lavender sunset light and marveling at divine timing, my lost gold ring found, and the freshness of local seafood. It was perfection, in it’s own craggy way.

I now understand why artists love Maine: breathtaking beauty, sublime light, unlimited inspiration. I took over 300 photos and I’m eager to use many of them in new collages. Here are a couple glimpses of the raw photos:

sunset with rainbow smallFrom atop Cadillac mountain in Acadia National Park. I think my point-and-shoot was feeling the divine spirit as well – no idea how that rainbow happened!

beach view 1Sand Beach taken from the climb up Great Head trail in Acadia.

Bubble PondBubble Pond. (Acadia)

sunset leavesCadillac Mountain sunset. Even the professional photographers were saying how spectacular the colors were that night.

balance rocks

Balanced rocks near a balanced rock, in Bar Harbor.

seed pods I got a little lost near Yarmouth and ended up on a beautiful island. I had a conversation with a local who had been digging in the bay for clams, and then I saw these angelic seed pods.

flower wavesBeauty and the sea at Cape Elizabeth lighthouse. According to a marker at the site, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would walk here from Portland, and it’s where he likely derived inspiration for his poem, The Lighthouse.

Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Pink Moment

For many years now I’ve had reverence for “the magic hour” – that brief time before sunset when the light becomes golden or amber or pink. It’s the photographer’s sweet spot, providing a boost of glowing color and shadowy definition to natural scenes. A friend once said it makes us look like “Italian goddesses,” and sometimes when it bathes my surroundings I feel like I’ve been transported into a Maxfield Parrish painting.

My latest collage – “How Do You Spot a Blessing?” – was inspired by how this magical time seems to calm me down and make my soul smile. So, I was thrilled to read the paragraph below in a Conde Nast Traveler article on Ojai, California (the state is a slight obsession of mine):

…Ojai has been a cherished place for any number of California cultures over the years: the Chumash Indians who first settled the valley; citrus and avocado ranchers; theosophists; Krishnamurti; and Hollywood stars, who’ve long owned discreet retreats here… All of them are drawn at least in part by the town’s famous “pink moment,” a fleeting period before sunset when the jagged Topa Topa Mountains that frame the northern edge of this fertile valley take on a dusky-rose hue: It’s an enchanting time that draws the eyes up and clears the mind.

It’s an enchanting time that draws the eyes up and clears the mind…

Sunday evening I was sitting on a bench overlooking the Delaware River sharing a tall Negro Modelo (leftover from our byob Peruvian lunch) with a good friend. We were deep into a meaningful conversation when puffy pink clouds started to float over the mountain across the river. A few of the trees were just starting to exhibit the golden leaves of fall, and the pink light made them glow a vibrant orange amidst their green neighbors. The puffs turned to streaks and soon the sky, the river and my friend and I were all bathed in lavender light. I stopped him mid-sentence and told him about the pink moment. We were silent for a bit, looking up and appreciating the beauty. Soon everything greyed out into dusk and we finished the warming beer. Our conversation continued, but we both came back to it with a slightly heightened sense of awe about the beauty and magic that appears, and disappears, with each day.

Blessing“How Do You Spot a Blessing?” is a digital collage I made from photos I took in New Orleans, LA; Rhinebeck & Woodstock, NY; and my own backyard (the pink sky and dark trees). May it bring you some clarity. And, remember to look up.

Hiking to Cathedral Music

When I started out along one of my favorite trails in the Wissahickon Woods, I was in a confused state, feeling overwhelmed and unsure of my direction. Within minutes I started hearing music – at first I couldn’t make out the song but as I trekked down the path it got louder.

136Let me sail, let me sail,
Let me crash upon your shore,
Let me reach, let me beach
Far beyond the Yellow Sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I looked up at the canopy of green, yellow and orange leaves high above my head. Surrounded by tall trees and enveloped in the beauty of the melodic sounds drifting through the woods, I felt like I was in a wilderness cathedral.

142From the deep sea of Clouds
To the island of the moon,
Carry me on the waves
To the lands I’ve never been,
Carry me on the waves
To the lands I’ve never seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recognized the song – Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” – as it followed me along the trail. I realized  it was coming from a large house that I’d walked past many times; it’s on a nearby path but I couldn’t see it from where I was. The music was ringing through the woods (thanks to a really good sound system) and it carried me away on a wave of sheer delight.

221Sail away, sail away, sail away
Sail away, sail away, sail away

Sail away, sail away, sail away

Sail away, sail away, sail away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[The italicized paragraphs are excerpts from the lyrics of “Orinoco Flow” – a 1988 song written and recorded by Irish singer Enya for her second studio album, Watermark.]

Art, Inspiration & Synchronicity

studio 2Inspiration has been popping up everywhere lately – I love it! Have you noticed that when you commit to something and focus on it, resources seem to just appear and synchronicity kicks in? Especially when you’re really onto something that authentically lights you up.

Today’s post features some interesting and talented people I’ve come across – I think they’ll inspire you too!

Pepa home

Photo from Artist at Work article in Lonny magazine – lonny.com

Pepa Poch is an artist and a color trend forecaster (that literally makes my stomach flip with excitement – to be immersed in color!) living in Spain. Lonny Magazine did a lovely article with beautiful photos about how her home, creativity and inspirations are all woven together into one rich life. If you make any type of art or want a glimpse of what an artistically integrated life looks like, do yourself a visual and soul-nourishing favor and check it out: Artist At Work.

 

 

 

Goddess Lakshmi

Goddess Lakshmi by Alice Mason (photo from society6.com/alicemason)

In the spirit of adding some good Feng Shui and original art into my space, I bought this print of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi from fellow Society 6 artist Alice Mason. Lakshmi is known as the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. I love this representation of her – the color combination is gorgeous and the technique Alice uses reminds me of glittering mosaics. Alice’s work is colorful and dreamy in general – I get lost in the patterns and transported by the imagery.

 

 

Artwork by Mae Chevrette (photo from her blog - http://togointotheworld.blogspot.com/)

Artwork by Mae Chevrette (photo from her blog – http://togointotheworld.blogspot.com/)

 

I just started turning my photo collages into mixed media canvases. It has been challenging but also satisfying for someone who loves color, layers and patterns. I’m in awe of Mae Chevrette’s mixed media work – she uses her own photos, often from her travels, and creates highly layered and rich images like her “Sunset Over Newport Harbor.” Living in Boston, she is clearly inspired by the sea and harbor culture of the northeastern coast. And, by strange coincidence, she just did a quick trip to Mt. Desert Island, in northern Maine near Bar Harbor… Guess where I’m going in October? See, coincidences. Look at her travelogue and gorgeous photos here.

Shades of Grey

gates small

There is no black-and-white situation. It’s all part of life. Highs, lows, middles.
Van Morrison, musician

Ins and outs. Ups and downs. Gives and takes.
Are you okay in the grey?

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. what you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.
Aaron Siskind, photographer

What do you want to remember?
What do you want to forget? How do you want to see it?

grey & silver, small & crop


To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.
Elliott Erwitt, photographer

001
Poetry is the art of substantiating shadows, and of lending existence to nothing.

- Edmund Burke

Light. Magic.
Mystery. Shadows.
Creative flow.
Ins and outs.

I think that’s why artists make art – it is difficult to put into words unless you are a poet. What it takes is being open to the flow of universal creativity. The Zen artists knew this.
Alex Grey, artist

For the poet and the lover and the artist and the seeker:
Play in all the shades of grey.