Ray LaMontagne (Inadvertently) Talks About Sacred Sensual Living

1225151546~2I was moved to hear Ray LaMontagne sum up in a beautiful way some of the main ideas I play with through Sacred Sensual Living:

 

“I work really hard to stay grounded, to realize everyday how lucky I am, and we are, just to exist on this planet in this universe, and be aware of it. We’re so lucky and it’s so beautiful. And awesome in the true sense of the word. Really just awesome. Existence is just awesome.

Our culture is so far removed from that and people get so consumed with stuff and things, and things that just aren’t really important. And a total disconnection from nature, which has been here forever and is gonna be here forever. I want to stay connected to that.

That’s where I feel, like, that’s church for me, laying in the grass watching the moon come up and looking at the stars. That’s like talking to God, I mean that’s as close as I’ll ever get to talk to God. And it’s right there at your fingertips everyday.

Anyone can do it. You can just take a minute and lay on the ground. And it’s right there for you. That sense of peace and groundedness is available to you all the time.

I think people get so separated from it, they get anxiety and depression, and what you don’t realize is it’s all right there, it’s all available every second of every day. All you have to do is look at it.”

– Ray LaMontagne, in an interview with David Dye on World Cafe, 4/5/16

Ray’s new album is Ouroboros (produced by Jim James – see Music Spirit Love). Listen to Ray play Ouroboros live and hear the complete interview below. The album is meant to be listened to in its entirety, but I can’t help but point out two beautiful songs: In My Own Way and Wouldn’t It Make a Lovely Photograph – dreamy & sensual. Check them out…

 

Change Your Perception, Change Your Life

0213161258b~2A chunk of ice… A frozen heart… Or maybe nothing at all if you’re distracted by your dinging phone or some negative thoughts.0213161259~3~2

Maybe you notice the craftsmanship. These amazing sculptures were made by ice carver, Peter Slavin.

But do you see the beauty? What about it moves you? Maybe the textures of the ice, the curving lines or the way it glistens in the sun. Do you see the whole or the details? 0213161259~3~3

Taking the time to observe beauty and let it have it’s way with you is a surefire way to feel good. Give it a try next time you’ve got the blues or can’t seem to think straight.

Let beauty distract you.

1455395136404Beauty resets your emotional gauge back to it’s natural state of contentment. From here you’ll soften and start feeling clarity return. Inspired ideas will start to flow again.

Once you regain that contented feeling, you’ll start seeing even more lovely sights… it’s a beautiful cycle. frozen roses 1Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.  – Amit Ray

Finding Inspiration: Nature, Music and Magic Mushrooms

You never know what’s going to catch your eye or move you in some way. I like to snap things here and there to record striking colors, interesting patterns and whatever I find beautiful in its own way. And sometimes I just can’t let the face of a cherub on my shiitake get away without documentation. Here’s what turned up in the past week…

Ice-melting creek, an impromptu colored-pencil drawing I did while listening to an odd music mix, a journal/sketchbook that I dolled up with handmade paper and an old pendant, the aforementioned cherub (I didn’t eat him), a rose from a magenta and orange bouquet that has been making me smile everyday for a week now, ice crystals creeping up my window pane, and the first page of a new chapter.

Inspiration Collage

And here’s what I conjured up today…

icy rose in frame art backgroundBeauty awakens the soul to act.
– Dante Alighieri

 

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.

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.)

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p style=”text-align: center;”>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.

Inspiration: It’s Closer Than You Think

If you’re looking for inspiration, sometimes there’s a whole world of it right nearby. You might be in the habit of walking or driving around without really noticing your surroundings, but if so, you may be missing out on some idea-generating treasures right in your midst.

When I need a change of scenery to get my creative juices going, I usually just take a walk through my neighborhood – Chestnut Hill (a section of Philadelphia). I’m very lucky to live in a place where residents and business owners take great care in making their properties look enticing and attractive. Even so, sometimes I breeze by the beauty a little too fast and miss the special details (hello, Mr. Cricket!). I took all these photos within a block of my house (except for Woodmere), and just that little jaunt has given me some new ideas and fresh photos to use in my next round of collages.

Chestnut Hill 1The little lending library (top left) is a new addition – you can take any book and bring it or another back whenever you like (I took Awaken Your Senses, of course, and a steamy-looking novel by Paul Theroux). Everyone’s flowers are crazy lush this year – eye candy everywhere! I often pop over to Paris for a La Vie en Rose cocktail on Friday evenings – there’s even a jazz club downstairs, bien sur.

Chestnut Hill 2The green revolution has come our way, thankfully, and there are some great eco-friendly shopping options up and down the Avenue. My world changed when Green Soul opened – fresh pressed juices, smoothies and yummy salads, all with fresh ingredients… heaven. 054

The outdoor exhibit (top right) is put together by a group called Fresh Artists that works with public schools and businesses to mount shows of students’ work. (Love how the frames are actually part of the print – brilliant!). The Woodmere Art Museum (top left) has a permanent collection and special exhibits of regional artists, and they often have outdoor installations on display as well (and a hay bale maze come Halloween).

I love my neighborhood! It continually encourages me to really look around and discover the beauty and magic right outside my door. Although I love to travel and explore new towns and sites, there’s something to be said for the smaller, more intimate discoveries close to home.

How about you? Where do you go to find inspiration? Your backyard? Down the block? A couple towns over? I’d love to hear where you go for a quick and inspirational pick-me-up!

Magic Gardens, Magic Night

Art should not be segregated in museums; it needs to live free among us.
– Isaiah Zagar (creator of the installation that is Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens)

circle small
The wound is the place where light enters you. – Rumi

statue small

To a dull mind all of nature is leaden. To the illuminated mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

bottles small

Without vision, execution is delusion. – Thomas Edison

No delusion here. Pure light-filled visions of heart-tweaking beauty and soul-spinning grandeur.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Jimi Hendrix Was Wise

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix

holding hands

The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye. – Jimi Hendrix

faded rose

Music is my religion. – Jimi Hendrix

It all has to come from inside, though, I guess. – Jimi Hendrix

music door

Jimi was wise.

11.27.42 – 9.18.70

The Re-Set Button: A Trip to CA

People say that what we are seeking is a meaning of life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive. – Joseph Campbell

California, 2010

California, 2010

Many times over the summer I had to remind myself that becoming enlightened isn’t about living a perfect life, one that looks shiny and perky from the outside. Rather, it’s about staying centered and peaceful in my soul while rinsing out the endless cat food cans, unloading the dishwasher and going back to the market because I forgot to get the trash bags.

These are my Ant duties, and I fulfill them, sometimes with such focused energy that crossing things off my to-do list is disturbingly satisfying. I believe that if I get it all done, then… well, it’s never all done, is it? I will admit it, my priorities are like vegetable soup right now. Pureed even.

Where is my Butterfly with her free-floating imagination and sense of curiosity? She visits now and then but has been sadly elusive for a couple of months now. In defense of the Ant, however, the seemingly trivial duties have served to build my anthill, my foundation. The one that my Butterfly will use as a launch pad and a resting spot. A beautiful one that will inspire her and provide the security she needs to explore new meadows, new worlds.

That’s been my lesson this summer: I need security in order to have real freedom. (As opposed to my former belief: I need freedom in order to create security – didn’t work out so well.)

California, 2010

California, 2010

The Ant has been successful. I’ve laid the cornerstone and paved
the driveway. The windows sparkle, attracting sunbeams and love-lights into my life and my heart.

But now, I need to push the Re-Set Button in preparation for the Butterfly’s return. I need some awe. Vast swathes of nature, intimate moments with whispering winds. California, here I come.

With the past, I have nothing to do, nor with the future. I live now.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

California, 2010

California, 2010

Dipping into Dream World

During a World Cafe interview, Tracy Grammer relayed how her late husband, Dave Carter, explained his songwriting process. I’m paraphrasing, but Dave had said to Tracy something like: I always have one foot in the dream world. MG dark child on stairs

I call this state Writer’s Mind, or whatever mind applies to your art or craft. Chefs get into Chef’s Mind and Photographers switch into Photographer’s Mind. I’d guess many artists are nearly always walking around in this state, where they experience life through the lens of how it applies to their creative process. We all pick up stimulation through our senses, but when I’m in Writer’s Mind, I’m at once experiencing multiple sensory stimuli and already swirling it around and trying to relate it to a more universal meaning.

A child walking up a mosaic staircase could be sweet, scary or dreamy. I don’t know the outcome at the time, but I notice qualities that I want to capture, ones that will relate to subjects I like to write about: beauty, creativity, sacred moments, sublime images, transcendence.

The mundane details of daily life have a way of yanking me right out of Artist’s Mind. My head takes over and I become embroiled in lists, priorities and logistics. It’s nearly impossible for me to be in both states at the same time – I guess it’s a left/right brain thing. Just being aware of this let’s me drop logic mind fairly easily and step back into my heart and intuition. And dip at least a few toes back into the dream world, where the beauty that inspires me seemingly magically reappears.pool toes