We Pray with All of Our Senses

I was driving through the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania — an unplanned five-hour trek home due to my friend’s canceled flight — feeling annoyed and disappointed. Suddenly, my busted-plan weekend shape-shifted into a sweet gift.

The beauty of the terrain lifted my spirits: clear morning sunbeams lit up the ice-covered craggy mountain walls, like white icing on molasses cookies. A few glittery flakes were falling gently through glazed tree branches — white, dark, white, dark — creating a pleasing rhythm. As I drove, I clicked through the many soft rock and Christian radio stations till I heard this snippet:

We pray with all of our senses.

Cut to…

At home the next day — a 75-degree sunny Sunday with nothing to do but take a hike in the woods. Afterwards, I was sitting in my backyard garden feeling that satisfying kind of tired from moving my body around out in nature.

Suddenly two people appeared. They were dressed in heavy layers of black clothing, him in a suit and tie with an overcoat, and her in a dress with black stockings and a hat.

I’m sorry, it’s a confusing neighborhood,” he said. I thought they were going to ask me for directions so I smiled and perked up. (For some reason I love giving people directions.) He continued: “Can I offer you this… it’s about a talk on Tuesday night.”

I looked at the glossy pamphlet with a picture Jesus on it but didn’t extend my hand to receive it. The rest of what the man said was a blur because I was transfixed by his face: smooth skin was pulled taut over pronounced cheekbones, like a wax figure at Madame Tussauds.

“I’m good with everything,” I said, still smiling. The man thanked me for listening and they went on their way.

I didn’t mind that they had walked up my driveway and into my backyard to try to share what’s clearly so important to them. It doesn’t matter to me what people believe as long as they’re kind and respectful, as these folks were.

But here’s what I really wanted to say to them:

ambrosia 1000

Lovely people, come sit with me for a while. Take off your heavy wool coat and enjoy the warmth of spring. Do you smell the honeysuckle? Let me serve you some ambrosia I made this morning. Taste the sweet, tangy, creamy, crunchy… Savor.

Kick off your shoes and rip off those black stockings… walk around… feel the crisp green grass beneath your feet. Connect to the power of the earth itself. Raise your hands up and stretch your body. 

Turn your face to the sun and bathe in the rejuvenating light. Do you hear the birds songs? Sit with your eyes closed and focus only on that — they all sing a different tune but together they make sweet music. They’re singing for themselves… for each other… for you.

This, my lovely friends, this is the most powerful prayer you could ever offer. Appreciating this excruciatingly beautiful life you’ve been given by reveling in it with all of your senses — that’s what your soul wants for you. 

0413171545a~2You don’t need to study or repent or work to prove your worth to God, Christ or me. We know you are divine. We know how elegantly your five senses line up with the pleasures of this world — that’s not a tease or a reward, it’s a huge hint. 

Now go… go walk through this beautiful neighborhood if you enjoy doing that. I certainly do. But be sure to look up at the squirrel’s nest perched in the highest branch. Peer down at the tiny, brave crocus that has arisen yet again. 

And if you ever drive through the Laurel Highlands, take note of how the white icing glistens against the dark, ragged rocks… Say a prayer with all of your senses.

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Amy's Ambrosia recipe

Live inspired!

Sacred Sensual Home: Everyday Soul Scents

I stepped into a warmly lit bakery and caught a whiff of what I imagined was a lemony vanilla cloud made of love. That happy scent swirled around me and I inhaled deeply, eyes closed, luxuriating in the yummy, uplifting aroma. I felt joyful and comforted; my day got infinitely better from there.

meyer-lemon

It’s these little everyday sensory moments – a chorus of chirping crickets lulling you to sleep, the flicker of candlelight – that boost your mood and keep you in sync with your highest self. This is the sweet spot where you find flow and can easily access your inner guidance.

With the holidays upon us (yay!) I thought it would be fun to focus on scent (think: pumpkin, pine, cinnamon and sage). Yes, scent triggers memories and has therapeutic benefits, but there’s a simpler reason to inhale: sniffing something nice makes you feel good – body, mind, heart and soul.

Your home can be a scent sanctuary. Although essential oils are a reliable go-to, it’s nice to just grab what’s on hand – a jar of ginger, the grapefruit shampoo – as an easy way to tap into your soul-self throughout the day.

So how do you use those everyday items to get the same benefits as sitting on a meditation cushion?

1-senses

The key is being in the moment: after zesting the orange make sure to take a good whiff, savor the scent and revel in the pleasurable sensation. (Many times I’ve let out loud groans when sniffing coffee beans at the market). For extra credit, actively appreciate the miracle of your five senses and how this physical world is set up to make them swoon.

So easy, right? And you’ll feel like you’ve been perched in lotus position – peaceful, inspired and at one with your true self.

When I got home from the bakery I looked around to see what I could use as easy-to-reach scents for staying (or getting back into) in a high vibe state. I found some very basic stuff you might already have on hand too, and then I just started playing around. Here’s what I came up with…

Meyer Lemon

I had a bag of these in the fridge – they’re goldeny yellow and sweeter than regular lemons (but the old standard would work fine too). First I put them in a bowl on the counter so I could enjoy their cheery color and subtle, uplifting scent. Then while making dinner I cut one and started squirting it on, well, everything. That continued for the next several days, the tangy acid brightening fish, garlicky kale, white bean soup and a yogurt/ginger/vanilla concoction. With each squeeze I inhaled deeply and let the fresh, energizing scent have it’s way with me.

Another good option is to slice a few of the glowing beauties and toss them into your bath along with some luxe oils and Epsom salts. Don’t forget to breathe, breathe, breathe as you sink into the warm water.

Essential oil alternative: try mixing lemon and vanilla oils in a glass bottle filled with water (about 20 drops each in 8 ounces of water, I usually just guess) then shake like crazy and spray your whole kitchen – it smells luscious and feels celebratory!

Clove

There was a little jar of whole cloves hiding in the back of my cupboard. I’m not sure why or how long they were there, but they still had a strong aroma – spicy, earthy and autumn-y. Cloves go well with a sweeter citrus like orange, so I pulled the old Girl Scout trick and poked the cloves into a few tangerines. You could use them as pomanders to spruce up a stuffy closet, but I just set them in a bowl on my dining room table. Whenever I walk by a wave of orange spice kisses me right on the cheek – very high vibe.

Essential oil alternative: make a custom autumn mix for your diffuser with clove, cinnamon, orange, clary sage and rose… warm, grounding and spicy-sweet.

eucalyptus-sq

Eucalyptus

I’d bought a drape-y variety to fill out a simple arrangement of purple Alstroemeria. The aroma was very subtle (okay I couldn’t really smell anything), but then I remembered when I visited a friend over the summer he had a bunch of fresh Eucalyptus tied to the shower head. I felt like I was getting an aromatherapy spa treatment as the warm water relaxed my muscles and coaxed the plant’s oils into a cleansing and rejuvenating steam. My sinuses cleared. Even better, the gunk in my energetic vibration evaporated. Sweet release.

Essential oil alternative: eucalyptus oil is earthy, but in a more medicinal way than, say, Myrrh, which is much sweeter. Put a bunch of fresh or dried Eucalyptus in a vase on your bathroom vanity and sprinkle it with the oil. Mellow it out by adding lavender or boost it’s invigorating effect with peppermint.

Lavender

Ah, the reliable go-to relaxer. Even though it’s nearly the end of November, I hadn’t had the heart to cut the plant that had thrived outside in a pot all summer. But the temps were expected to drop quickly so I trimmed off all of the remaining sprigs. Right now they’re in a vase, but I’ll dry them and maybe zhush it with some dried baby rose buds to nudge it in a romantic direction. I just like the way it looks in a pretty dish on my desk – when things start feeling stressful I pick it up and inhale.

lave-boost-for-reals-or-too-much

Essential oil alternative: I admit that I use the oil more than the actual plant. It’s one of those home staples – there’s always an organic lavender-infused shea butter next to my bed – that has infinite uses. It’s good straight up and also mixes well with all sorts of company: ylang ylang for a sexy vibe, pine to rev it up, citrus to be playful and clove to add zip. Create your own collection by mixing your favorite combos into unscented body lotion. Apply often.

Enjoy experimenting and remember… happy nose, happy soul.

Feeling Blue? Soothe Your Senses

Heartache enriches you as much as victory.

Some consolation, right? You feel crappy. Screw the enrichment. It’s time to wallow, dammit.

There’s no shame in that. Wallow big, wallow deep. Make it the best wallow you’ve ever had.

Eventually, something inside of you will yearn to feel good again. That’s your natural state of being – your spirit always hangs out in that high-vibe state – and you’ll seek to rise up to it, over and over.

Here’s the bad news: You can’t go right from feeling devastated to feeling happy.

Here’s the good news: Yes you can.

Just not all in one swoop. The chasm is too wide. You can’t see the other side and your legs are too weak to a big leap anyway.

Here’s the key: think in increments. Look for one small, easy thing you can do that feels good.

Look for what soothes and pleases your senses: Pet your dog or cat. Slide into a favorite sweater. Light some lavender incense. Give up your seat on the train to an elder and notice that it feels good to stretch your legs.

These may seem like excruciatingly small steps, especially when chaos seems to be swirling around, but one self-nourishing act will lead to the next.

The morning after the election, the only thing I could do was sip my warm cup of coffee. It was a simple pleasure I had control over when it seemed like the world had turned upside down. It helped me feel just better enough to go to the myofascial release class I’ve been taking. Doing something good for my body lifted spirits. After that I had enough momentum to make a healthy, satisfying soup for lunch.

Feeling bereft was being replaced by feeling fortified. I was slowly but steadily starting to rise back up to my natural state of wellbeing.

Next time you’re feeling blue, don’t try to power through it. Instead, take a warm bath with rose or vanilla essential oil. Find a water sounds station on Pandora and take a nap swaddled in soft blankets. Go for a walk and stop for a hot chocolate. Savor it.

Don’t worry about whether you’re being self-indulgent. You are. And that’s fine. Taking whatever steps you need to feel better isn’t weak, it’s empowering.

In fact, the more consciously you care for yourself, the quicker you will ascend back to your natural state of feeling centered and whole. You might even feel even better than before.

What’s one simple, nourishing thing you can do to feel a little bit better than you do right now?

Do it. Then do another.

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Sacred Sensual Lifestyle: Luscious Lemon

Want to feel clear, bright and uplifted? We’re going to squeeze some precious drops of soul wisdom from that most versatile of citrus fruits, the lemon.

When you experience pleasure and satisfaction through your senses, you naturally create a connection to your intuition. This sixth sense is the divine guidance that helps you make decisions that are in line with what you truly want. The best part? It’s fun! Sensory mindfulness feels good, which is the key for accessing your most authentic self.

Here’s are several ways engaging with lemon can help you connect to your soul’s sweetest spot:

lemon and tulip

Lemon’s Sacred Side
Lemon is generally considered to be cleansing, purifying and fresh. Although the lemon is sometimes symbolic of bitterness, Christians often see it as a symbol of fidelity and love, and they associate it with the Virgin Mary. In many cultures, lemons have traditionally symbolized longevity, friendship and love. Rituals and potions designed to bring in romance often incorporate some aspect of a lemon.

Sweettart Sensory Mindfulness
Use lemon essential oil mixed with distilled water to cleanse the stale, stagnant or negative energy of a room and usher in a fresh vitality. Let it clear the cobwebs (from your house and your intuition) and promote clarity of thought.

One of the five essential tastes (along with bitter, sweet, salty and umami/pungent), lemon’s sour note creates a balance on the palate by tempering cloying sweetness and lending brightness. Lemon pairs with both savory and sweet, so experiment with flavor combinations. Try:

– adding lemon, fresh grated ginger and honey to your tea or your plain yogurt
– whipping up a fresh Meyer lemon juice, vanilla and vodka (or tequila or rum) cocktail
– mixing together lemon zest, black pepper and cardamom, then toss with dried cherries and your favorite nuts

Don’t forget to nourish your body too! Add lemon and vanilla essential oils to unscented body lotion for a delicious, sexy scent that will uplift your your mood and warm your heart.

Use Lemon to Purify Body Mind & Spirit
Does some area of your life need cleansing? Maybe it’s your body, your energy, your emotions, your home. Consider doing an easy cleanse or at least create a morning ritual of squeezing fresh lemon juice into a tall glass of warm water and drinking it down before consuming anything else. Lemon lowers the body’s acidity, which leads to less inflammation and a happier digestive tract.

Or maybe it’s your emotions that need purification. If the color lemon yellow is speaking to you lately, consider it might be a message related to your third chakra. This energy body relates to self worth and self power. Do you give away your own power by compromising when you don’t want to? Are you afraid of losing someone’s love so you turn into a doormat? Strengthen your third chakra by surrounding yourself with the color, scent and taste of lemon yellow.

Want more sensory-based ways to achieve wellbeing and feelings of vibrancy and satisfaction? Download the free mini-course: “7 Days to Satisfaction: Design Your Sacred Sensual Lifestyle” Enter your info below for immediate access to this self-guided pleasure route to creating your ideal life.




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Live Inspired!

 

From the simple stringing together of lemon garlands for the goddess Durga, to dividing the prasadam or blessed foods for the children first, I came to associate food not only with femininity, but also with purity and divinity.
– Padma Lakshmi

lemon slice

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

 

Embracing Earthy Energy

Iris budI opened the front door this morning and the sweet, warm smell of freshly mown grass rolled into the house. I peered out over the exploding fuchsia Rhododendron blooms and saw the first irises unfolding their silky layers and splaying into fragile plumes. Bird songs filled the air, like a soundtrack for the cinematic colors and lush textures of spring.Iris4

When the Sun in in Taurus, we’re more in tune with our physical bodies and the pleasure we derive from our sensory experiences. We gravitate toward what nourishes us, both physically and on a soul level. Just-picked strawberries and tender asparagus (or maybe for you it’s bar-b-que’d ribs on the grill) soothe our souls. After the wrapped-up winter, our skin welcomes a brush of soft air and it’s mild enough to linger with another under the stars.

Iris3aIt’s the perfect season to ask: What moves your soul? Maybe it’s cooking an al fresco dinner for friends or going to see live music at your favorite local spot. Indulge. Let yourself feel it, hear it and taste it. Relish. Let the physical world nurture your deepest and most authentic you. Luxuriate. irisPleasure leads to well-being. And well-being is the sister of intuition – you’ll get in tune with the signs and symbols that grace your life and show you the easier, more natural way.

So go ahead and linger in the morning bakery, sip the cold glass of chardonnay in the garden while admiring your irises and give someone you love a back rub. It’s all sweet music to your soul.Iris w&p

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.

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

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!

Exploring for Inspiration: Paris

Architecture, food, gardens, museums… What fuels your creativity and inspires your art? Whether you’re a writer, painter, public speaker, chef, gardener, textile designer, songwriter, jewelry-maker… Where do you find the spark for your next creation?

Musee D'Orsay

Musee D’Orsay

My trip to France in 2003 was a sensory feast that has inspired a bounty of creative ideas.

  AryllisLapin sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Color combinations, textures, scents, traditions, flavors…

seafood castle

Is it a poem or a necklace? A floral design or a make-up palette?

shoulders
New experiences can help solve creative problems and ignite fresh ideas.

Colette
You can experiment in your usual surroundings by immersing yourself with all of your senses. If you have the chance to take a drive (or a train or a plane) to an area you’ve never before – maybe Paris, or maybe the little town 17 miles away from your home – inhale the unique history, feel the quality of the air, notice the unfamiliar pace, create a palette in your mind. Your senses will percolate and ideas will pop up like fresh-baked croissants.

What nourishes your soul?

All weekend I felt emotionally rung out and vaguely sad. On the way home from doing errands, I decided I needed to stop in my tracks and figure out what would nurture and nourish me. I turned the car around and drove along rambling country roads dotted with Pennsylvania farmhouses toward my favorite farm stand. Well, it’s more than a stand – it’s a full-on produce/garden/homemade goodies menagerie of healthy pleasures. Starving, I picked up an asparagus & raisin cakey-loaf (made that morning); also, I chose one outstanding coral peony (picked that morning), and I hand-selected, spear by purple-y spear, a bunch of fresh asparagus (harvested that morning).zucchini

As I drove away, eating the small, sweet bread as my lunch, I came upon a $5-for-a-bouquet honor system stand in front of one of the picturesque farmhouses. I stuffed a bill in the metal box and selected the bunch with the bursting apricot iris, several tight peony buds and some other magenta and violet beauties. My weekend went from hole-in-soul to satiated soul.

What soothes and nourishes your soul? How do you turn your world from mundane to blooming?

094For me, it’s beauty – I’m inspired and enriched by wandering through a garden, reading a gorgeous magazine, making a simple and delicious meal (such as a mound of fresh asparagus topped with feta cheese and two fried eggs – it was heavenly) or driving through the idyllic countryside. Through beauty I find my center, my soul-peace – and it’s from that deep and sacred place that I go out in the world to love, create and celebrate.

In bed that evening, I read an article by Ronda Rice Carman (author of Designers at Home) in the May issue of House Beautiful.  In it she wrote:

“I have long wondered what inspires one person to elevate the mundane tasks of daily living and another to despise the regular routines of life. In an age of increasing mass production and a recurring sea of sameness, I hold in high regard those who ponder the idiosyncrasies of living life in a unique, meaningful and deliberate manner.”

How do you live life in a unique, meaningful and deliberate manner?