Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.
- Dorothy Day

When I visited my friend Peter at his place in Rhinebeck, NY a couple weeks ago, we joked several times about how we were creating Sacred Sensual moments - from sipping ginger pomegranate martinis on the porch during a hail storm to hiking up Overlook mountain and eating his homemade avocado-tomato-cheddar sandwiches while surveying the lush Hudson Valley. Only a few days after I returned home, his 87-year-old mother passed away unexpectedly. The process of arrangements ensued, and on top of that, Peter was committed to running a three-day retreat at Bard College, his alma matter. After that concluded, he geared up and went to his hometown for the memorial service. I joined him there as did relatives, friends and neighbors.

By the time Peter returned to Rhinebeck the following night, he'd been busy just about every minute since his mom had passed. For better or worse, there were no more distractions. When I texted him the next afternoon to ask how he was doing, he wrote back: "I'm doing what I always do when I'm upset: cooking." Later, he sent me this email:

I slid the golden roasted chicken out the oven. I saw the course salt atop the crisped skin and smelled the combination of herbs and lemon and garlic. I just had to slice off a piece of the breast to try it. But before that I cracked open a 2012 Cabernet Savignon and poured a ruby red glass. As I brought it to my lips I was hit with the lush smell of ripe black cherries with a softer note of tobacco in the background. The sip was rich with just a hint of pepper and the slight tang of tannin. As the knife broke in to the tender flesh, hot juices escaped with a hiss. The first bite melted into a buttery, salty, lemony, garlic fusion. Followed up by another sip of the berry juice, I breathed in a sacred sensual moment. 
 
I really really needed that. Since losing mom I've been experiencing such a roller coaster of emotions. I'm finding comfort in these small moments - a snippet of my favorite song, the weight of my beloved Fritz [his dog] sitting on my lap, the warmth of a glass of hearty Cabernet. They help ground me, allow me to take a breath and remember that I'm still here, still connected, and that with time, things will settle.

I grateful to Peter for letting me share this because it shows the direct connection between our sensory experiences and their effect on our hearts and souls. Comfort food is more than just drowning our sorrows in a store-bought chocolate cake - it's about returning to the rituals and sources that nourish us and choosing to love ourselves enough to, "breathe in a sacred sensual moment."
Reflection - Peter and me in Woodstock, NY, July 2014.

Reflection - Peter and me in Woodstock, NY, July 2014.

carpaccio 2 smallSitting under the lavender sky toward the close of the longest day of the year, I savored just-picked squash carpaccio drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette and topped with feta. As I pondered the simple pleasures that dot my life - delicious organic and local food, the option to work outside in warm yet breezy shade, pots of jewel-toned flowers, special times with friends - I felt connected and blessed.

Spring had tested my mettle, bringing blood-pumping highs, unexpected lows and a long series of "whaddya got left?" challenges. These bumps and bangs had forced me to dig down a few layers to unearth what was no longer working - namely, my own doubts, excuses and fears. When I finally uprooted the most entrenched beliefs, I thanked them for their service and then blew them away effortlessly, like dandelion puffs in the wind. I no longer needed them.

Growing up, I loved digging in the dirt - making a bakery's worth of mud-pies, burying treasures, or planting random things that I thought might grow. The feel of the cool, moist soil in my hands, coupled with the aroma of surrounding Lily of the Valley or Rhododendron, grounded my heady nature. My young mind swirled with ideas and imaginations, but when I fully engaged my senses, I felt connected to the entirety of the world in whole different way. zucchini

One Sunday morning when I was about ten I asked my Mom why we weren't going to church. She said she was headed out to work in her vegetable and flower garden because that's where she felt closest to God. It was the first time I'd heard anyone speak about worshiping in a non-church setting. Her words soothed me because I finally understood: immersing myself in nature and the sensual world was sacred. And that's exactly how it still feels today.tree reflection

Put me on a hiking trail and I automatically step into a meditative state with a clear and open intuitive chute pouring into me. The sensations - feet-on-earth, leaves brushing my skin, sounds of water rushing - transport me.

I feel intimately connected to the divine when cooking fresh market morsels, and the aromas of Egyptian musk incense, real vanilla and freshly-brewed coffee make my soul smile. I'm completely present and delighted by the mysteries of the universe when listening to bird songs at dawn or sharing a warm hug with a favorite corporeal being.lettuce small

While creating Sacred Sensual Living these past few years, I sometimes wondered if what I was proposing was too easy: How can spirituality be so pleasurable? Don't you have to suffer a little to feel holy? Doesn't it take some work to catch those glimpses of the divine? There's never one right path to feeling fulfilled and at peace; it's different for everyone. I choose the sensory road. Dangling my feet into the cool stream to feel the slippery mud or biting into a ripe nectarine, my soul feels nourished.

A million things can grab our attention, but many of those merely numb us or distract us from our natural state of intuitive flow. Living through our senses helps us be present, aware and open to the pleasurable effects created by the simplest beauty, the subtlest sensation. From here it's easy to feel gratitude for all of the ways we're able to partake of the world's sensual delights.

headhouse marketAs a few stars started to sparkle overhead, I finished off the squash melange and realized that something had been shifting over the past days, weeks, months: the dots that I consider simple pleasures had formed clusters, and the clusters were now snuggling up to each other to form a whole field. The Summer Solstice is a time when we think about fertilizing to promote growth, and I finally felt like my freshly-tilled life was ready to sprout and grow.

Do you wish you’re your days were filled with more beauty & wonder and less mundane busy-ness? Do you want your life to feel truly meaningful and authentic?

If so, the answers are much closer than you think!

12 Questions cover_small
12 Essential Questions for Sacred Sensual Living
is an e-book starring you. Because the truth is, there’s no magic formula that will improve your life. Only you hold the answers for feeling more fulfilled, connected and in tune with what your heart really wants.  The book just poses the crucial questions to get you there.

The e-book and companion workbook guide you through a series of questions that extract what makes life feel meaningful and special. Starting with exploring sensory experiences as a way to be more present, engaged and pleasured, you'll then go deeper into what really makes you tick and why it's so crucial that you honor your intuition.

And then there's love... we'll explore the single most important thing for living in love no matter what your external circumstances.

12 cover b&w frame_smallThe 39-page workbook goes way deeper... lots more questions, exercises and quotes to get you thinking, digging down and creating your Sacred Sensual life. It's easily printable so you can write, draw, paste in images and make it into your own Sacred Sensual journal.

The question format really worked for me - providing a unique entry to deeper self-exploration. - Peter C.

choose love always small size
The e-book includes 12 original photo collages (and an extra surprise at the end). And, the e-book package includes a free digital download of "Choose Love, Always," a digital collage you can use as desktop wallpaper for a colorful reminder of the power of love.

It's a great tool for reflecting on what you really want in life and how you can move towards your goals and dreams. The questions get to the heart of what stands in our way and what is just waiting to be revealed. - Kasey T.

You already have the answers inside of you –
12 Essential Questions for Sacred Sensual Living
will help you unlock them, beautifully!

verdant b2"Although everyone feels rivulets of wonder, and even awe, from time to time, not everyone is as comfortable expressing those feelings as freely as John Muir, Ralph Waldo Emerson or Walt Whitman. Amy's rainbow

 

 

 

I suppose what people fear is loss of objectivity. But life doesn't require you to choose between reason and awe,  or between clear-headed analysis and a rapturous sense of wonder. A balanced life includes both." - Diane Ackerman, Cultivating Delight

pastorius panerama 2 sm size

It's easy to love what we perceive as our own good qualities - bakes killer brownies for friends, loves unconditionally, always helps a seemingly lost pooch, lends an ear when needed. But what about our faults, are they lovable too?

gorgeous chaos

It's no secret that self-love is the key to feeling peace in your soul. Just try it. Look in the mirror and say, "I love you," to yourself. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier the more you do it. Wink at yourself, flirt a little. Let it feel fun, pure and warm.

Some days doing this exercise is harder than others. You made a bad decision. Your words hurt someone you care about. What the hell is your life about anyway and why haven't you figured it out by now? In these moments where fear and doubt have gripped you, are you still lovable? Do you still deserve your own love?

These are precisely the times when it's imperative to love yourself. Berating yourself and withdrawing your compassion toward yourself will create a downward spiral into desperation and confusion. More bad decisions will be made. Guilt heaped on. Flame doused.

Love your mistakes as much as your triumphs because the goof-ups help you to grow. They point directly to where your attention needs to be - not as a reprimand, but as a guiding light. Love the part of you that doesn't know how to do it better yet, because that part of you needs it the most. Like fertilizer on a droopy plant.

Then take it one step farther and love your pain. Love the hardships and the whole mess of life. Not because you want them to continue, but because you want them to transform. Love nurtures positive change. Acceptance yields a sense of compassion. When we feel safe to admit our mistakes or look honestly at what isn't working, we can begin to see through a lens of love toward a better way.

Love is a balm and love is a catalyst. Love all of yourself - dark, light, happy, sad - and feel yourself bloom.

bleeding hearts

IMG_20140507_162811_358True confession: I'm an information junkie. I've got thousands of bookmarks, Evernotes, magazine clippings, binders full of images/info/ideas... it goes on. And I love it! Everything sparks another idea and gets my brain twirling. But lately, as I've been working on some very specific projects (to be revealed soon), I feel like I've gone from twirling with potential to swirling in an eddy. I need to get some flow going, so I'm passing on a few of my recent favorites that I think you'll enjoy. Happy reading!

I studied at the Violette de Mazia Foundation and it shaped my entire perception about how to look at art and how to find the art in life. If you're an artist, scientist or interested in psychology or aesthetics, check out  Neuroaesthetics: Researchers unravel the biology of beauty and art

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Good life advice too:  18 Things that Highly Creative People Do Differently

trees 2If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.
Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.

- Raymond Inmon

If sitting on a meditation cushion isn't your thing but you want the same benefits, check this out. Or just drool over the amazing views. Where Purposeless Walking Lives On

 

scents pageWith the intention of bringing you more offerings, I made the jump from my blog to a new website - Sacred Sensual Living!

If you've been following my blog, please sign up for the mailing list to keep receiving notifications of new posts and to get occasional newsletters and special announcements. Your feedback and engagement has been wonderful for the past 3 years - sign up to see what's next!

be a star page

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

These photos are pages from the Sacred Sensual journal I started making back in 2008. Clearly these ideas have been swirling around in my mind for a long time, actually for my whole life, and finally it felt like the right time to build a more stable and expansive foundation.

Have you had a dream, an idea, a burning passion you wanted to share but it took you years to bring it to fruition? Sometimes it feels impossible, other times it feels almost too easy, like, doesn't everyone already know this? We all have gifts to contribute, whether it's an ER nurse's compassion or the farmer's organic vegetables or the violinist's heart-softening solo. The world needs it all!

Each of us has an inner dream that we can unfold if we will just have the courage to admit what it is. And the faith to trust our own admission. The admitting is often very difficult.
- Julia Cameron

serenity pageWhen you create from your heart and soul, people feel it and they appreciate it. For me, it's an honor to dive more deeply into Sacred Sensual Living and shape it into a useful resource for you.

I believe beauty, pleasure and sensory experiences are one way - absolutely the way that works best for me - to feel connected to your most authentic self. Inspiration is all around us - the key is to be conscious of it and take the time to relish the sensual ("of the senses") world.

balance page

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.
- Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

I hope you'll grow along with Sacred Sensual Living as it unfolds and expands over time. I'll be sharing ideas, images and inspiration that combine the Sacred and the Sensual in unique ways to give you a new spin on living a meaningful, fulfilling and soul-peaceful life.

Indulge your senses today!