Metamorphosis

The Universe Provides: Release your fear, and live your love

When I quit my corporate job to focus on building my portfolio, I never expected it to be easy. I knew it would involve cutting back, living leaner, indulging less. I’ve never been good at saying no–my parents raised me to be incredibly self-sufficient at getting what I want. If you have the money to spare, go ahead. Get it. Don’t wait for it to find its way into your life some other way, because it might slip away forever. This mantra was truly meant for can’t-live-without situations–the perfect party dress for an event that weekend, a necklace on clearance sale that sparks your inspiration, a gadget that will make your daily routine that much easier–and eventually, I took it too far. My room is a graveyard of cheap dresses worn once, shoes worn for a week straight and then lost to the void, hair products and makeup that didn’t quite perform as well as I’d been convinced they would. Working in cosmetics, there are many, many, many of these failed products cluttering up my surfaces. I will also admit that I am a first-class retail therapist. Depression, anxiety, and stress all manifest as new clothes, tubes of lipstick, and jewelry. I am not in debt, but I’m not saving either. And because I have nothing to fall back on, the cycle of anxiety, lipstick, and stress continues…

When I handed in my notice, I told myself the cycle would stop. I would be out of retail, I would want less because I wouldn’t be near it, and quite frankly I wouldn’t have the money for it. It felt exhilarating. The prospect that I would be free of the consumer cycle made me giddy. I should have anticipated the eventual depression that would lead me back to old habits. When my credit card bill came, I paid it in full, like always, but nearly emptied out my savings to do so. “Never again,” I told myself. …I’m sure you can tell where this story is going. This month, when I got the email that my statement was ready, I couldn’t even look. I didn’t have the money, and I didn’t know where it was coming from. I spent the better part of my month fretting over it, wondering what jobs I could pick up to cover it, who I could borrow from, what I could return… Then, something came over me. I was totally calm. Things would be okay. I had a few freelance jobs, I would be able to pay. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to pay in full like I normally do, but I would at least make the minimum payment and I’d be able to pay the rest when I had more. It would be okay.

And then, something truly magical happened. My tax return came. It covered the entire amount with some to spare. Some of you might read this and think, “wow, what a lucky coincidence,” but I suspect most of you will smile knowingly. I don’t believe in coincidence. Magic happens, and the universe provides. When you put out the right energies, the right energies can find their way back to you. Panic and anxiety are forms of negativity, and negativity is a plague that simply breeds and multiplies. It’s hard to banish fear. Even in our comfortable modern age, fear is pervasive. We may no longer be afraid of predators and illness quite the same way our ancestors were, but each primal fear we’ve chased away has been replaced be thirty first-world worries. I don’t check the skies for giant birds of prey when I leave my house: I worry about reckless drivers, lost phone signals, and anaphylaxis instead. Fear kept me locked in my dead-end, joyless job for too long. How would I get ahead if I didn’t have money? How would I provide myself with a future if I was penniless? I wouldn’t even be able to afford the film and paint I needed to work on my portfolio, let alone take care of myself and maintain a lifestyle I could be happy with. It turns out, none of those were things I should be worrying about. Fear would be my undoing when all was said and done.

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The minute you can push fear away is the minute you start living your life. The surge of energy you feel when you can say, “I am going to be okay,” and mean it is enough to power you through. Fear is an addiction, but positive energy is addicting too. Confidence is exhilarating, and once you’ve tasted it, you’ll never want to go back to that cold, dark place of fear. You are a creature of the universe, and the universe will take care of you if you allow it to. Breathe in–the universe has given you everything you need, you just need to take it. It provides you with oxygen, water, nourishment, but if you allow, it can also provide you with joy, hope, and love. Breathe out–release the fear and negativity that has been growing in your heart. You don’t need it. Do not mistake fear for ambition: fear can drive us to great heights, but we will never achieve happiness if we push ourselves out of fear. Once you replace that with love–love for yourself, love for the universe–you will realize you can do so much more.

When you need something in your life–really need it–the universe will put it there. Several weeks ago, I told someone I needed to read the Bhagavad-Gita in full. I had read parts of it in college, and I’ve always found myself fascinated with Vedic spiritualities, but I’ve never read the full text. It felt like something I needed to do for my spiritual growth. The other day, my sister came home with literature from a missionary she encountered at a festival. She donated what she could with no intention of reading the books he offered, but decided they looked like something I would read and passed them on. “It’s some sort of Indian bible,” she said, handing them off. There, in my hands, was a pocket-sized version of the Bhagavad-Gita. I put my intention out into the world, and the universe agreed by giving me the means to follow through. Coincidence? Maybe, but I prefer to see it as evidence that magic happens when you’re ready. Release your fear, and start living your love.

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Metamorphosis

Growth and Trust, Lessons from Al Fuentes

Sometimes, we end up at just the right place at just the right time. Such was the case last week, when I found myself in a room with thirty other individuals, trusting our breath and meditating on trees. How I arrived here isn’t important–it was simply the right combination of changed plans and obstacles that landed me the seat, and I knew as soon as the evening began that I was in the right place. “It’s like a group meditation,” my mother had said, as if trying to convince me to go, “and it could be good for you.” It’s no secret that times have been hard. Everyone has felt it, and the more sensitive you are, the harder it becomes. It showed on the faces of everyone in the room that night, a shadow under the eyes, a crease between the brow, a tension in the hands… yet by the end of the evening, they had all melted away, replaced with ease and empowerment.

Al Fuentes sat in front of the window, a travel-cup of tea at his side, looking every bit the part of the guru. But when he began to speak it became clear that he wasn’t some inaccessible spiritualist at all. In fact, he’s incredibly down-to-earth. Sure, he has stories about meeting enlightened masters in India, but he has equally engaging stories about having his iPhone stolen at the DMV. Anyone who compares one of the most profound human experiences to a cheese pizza has to have both feet planted firmly on the ground and at least one in the modern American world–surely, swamis don’t eat Dominos. To Al Fuentes, Enlightenment isn’t at the top of a mountain somewhere in the Himalayas, or at the end of a long and trying religious path. According to Al, the first step towards Enlightenment is simply taking a breath.

Take a breath. Go ahead, do it. Take a real breath, a conscious, considered breath in through your nose. Think about that breath and all it’s doing for you. Think about why you breathe. Feel the breath filling your lungs, feel the oxygen absorbing into your bloodstream, feel your cells receiving that nourishment. How did you know that breath would satisfy so much need? Trust. Every time you take a breath, you trust that you’ll be getting oxygen, and that your body will synthesize it. Every day, you could breathe over 28,000 times. In any given minute, you might breathe twenty times. That’s twenty demonstrations of perfect trust in the universe around you. Twenty times when you share control over your life with a totally unseen force–you might command the breath, but the universe ultimately decides how the action is fulfilled.

But breathing is a two-part action. You breathe in and demonstrate perfect trust, but you also breathe out. For each time you take in nourishment from the universe, you release as well. You cleanse your system of things you no longer need. You never hang on to the carbon dioxide that your body has produced–it’s a waste product and it would poison you. Almost reflexively, you purge it. There are so many things in our lives that poison our well-being, things we cling to out of habit or comfort. We don’t need them. Think about it: when you read that statement, your head turned over several things that you know you don’t need in your life. Clothing that no longer fits, tech gadgets that no longer serve your purpose, maybe even people that no longer uplift and support you. Letting go can be scary–what if you need those things later on? What if you feel lonely or empty once they no longer take up that space? In reality, you’re only holding your breath. Breathe out. Now breathe in again. The universe restores what you might have lost, and fills those empty spaces with things you truly need.

We share our breath with millions of others, every day–other people, other creatures, other things. We breathe the same oxygen as our partners, our friends, our family. Our exhalations provide an abundance of chemicals needed by flowers, grass, and trees. And in addition to trusting and letting go and sharing the cycle over and over again, we can learn from them. Al shared a story in which several people asked him what they were supposed to be doing with their lives. It’s a common theme–even when I read cards, people always want to know what their life’s purpose is. But this was a peculiar number of people in a peculiar period of time, and Al felt that there was something more at work. He posed the question to the universe and what he received in response–in true universal fashion–was so simple and elegant that it answers for absolutely everyone who has ever dared to ask. Like a tree, we are meant to grow up and out. We are meant to root, to attach firmly to the earth, and grow towards the heavens, spreading our branches to shelter loved ones and touch people around us, to bud and flower and achieve great things, to bathe in sunlight and cast off the leaves that no longer serve us and grow new ones all over again. We are meant to do all of these things, relative to our own stories. My achievements will not be yours, and the people you shelter will not be mine, but as long as we continue to grow towards the sun and spread our branches, that’s okay. We’re both accomplishing all that the universe wants from us. And as long as we continue to breathe–in and out, over and over–we’ll get there.

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You can see more of Al Fuentes’ work on his website, including his blog, testimonials from clients, and his work as a mental coach

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Metamorphosis

Antimony Blue : creation, faith, and moving forward

I am firmly of the mindset that life is cyclical. Things begin and end and roll around again, always finding a way to complete and evolve. We have lessons to learn and roles to grow into, and nothing can be forced or rushed along, even though we might try. We try things on, we wear purposes and identities like hats and masks until we start to feel uncomfortable in them. There’s a beauty and a sadness in casting them off again, letting the cycle continue and allowing ourselves to get swept back in. It was a slow, creeping realization that one of my cycles had come to a close. It took a while for me to cast it off, because while it no longer brought me joy or contributed to my growth as a person, it paid my bills and gave me financial freedom. For nearly half a year, I spent my days in a fog–I showed up where I needed to be when I was told, I took appointments on time and did my best to assist clients, but my heart was no longer behind it. It was a shell I occupied, and I felt totally vacant inside it. It sounds dramatic, I know but there’s something terrifying about the robotized monotony of a passionless job. My mind needs room to expand, to create and meet challenges or it turns back on itself, becomes destructive.

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So I took a leap of faith. I decided to shed the old skin, to see what I would grow into. I quit my job. It was scary, but it felt like the right step. I started a business, which was also terrifying but has been incredibly rewarding. My creativity has soared. I’ve produced more work in the last two months than I have in the past year, and I’m incredibly proud of it. By cutting out the parts of my life that no longer served me, I’ve been able to explore the things I love and do something I’m passionate about. It might be a long time before I can pull in the amount of money I left behind, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last few years it’s that passion can get you farther than you’ve ever imagined.

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Antimony Blue was born out of one of these passions–scent is one of my favourite senses. It can make or break a mood, it’s inexorably tied to memory. When I get dressed for an event or plan what to wear on an evening out, I always select a particular fragrance to tie it together. In my mind, scents tell a story and a well-crafted perfume can wrap you up in its tale. When I created the first Antimony Blue fragrance, I wanted to tell a particular story, create a fairy tale that would add a little magic to someone’s day. Each fragrance is blended exhaustively, sniffing and mixing and pouring until I feel like it’s just right. And to make sure that magic stays with them, I took crystal chips from my personal collection and added them to each bottle, allowing them to steep in positive energy. I design each label using my own art, rounding out the vision I have for each scent to create a complete mood. When I’m playing olfactory composer, it transports me. It’s very zen. It’s a totally different artistic medium, and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with people who will appreciate the stories inside them.

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I’m not quite sure what my next step is, or what the future holds for me, but I’m excited to see where it takes me. I hope to grow Antimony Blue beyond a handmade indie fragrance company and build it into something that can grow and stretch with my passions and dreams. I’m so proud of the work that I’ve put into it and I’ve had such a good time putting it all together. I was born to do this!

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Metamorphosis, Music

One Small Part of Forever: Radio Omens and the Wisdom of Stevie Nicks

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Sometimes, things don’t quite go as planned. When I set my intentions for 2014, I cast out my nets for opportunity, travel, and good times with friends and family. But like any road we travel, we sometimes hit some bumps along the way–and just weeks into the year, I’ve been faced with some particularly impressive potholes. It’s frustrating: just when you resign to put all the bad behind you and achieve better in the future, that negativity places itself directly in your path again. But that doesn’t mean the Universe isn’t listening.

In December, I came across my old copy of Belladonna–once inside my car, it kept a firm hold on my CD player for the better part of the month. The songs were familiar, the music all part of distant memories of my adolescent years–but it was as if I was hearing the lyrics for the first time. Perhaps now, as an adult, I connected with them on a different level, but it was as if everything I was thinking about life was reflected back at me. Although the CD player in my car has spun a few albums since, I’ve been hearing Stevie’s words everywhere–I can’t seem to turn on a radio or be near a sound system without hearing one of her classics. I’ve even heard a few Fleetwood Mac gems. Some people would probably tell me it’s a coincidence, or that her involvement with a certain smash hit television series has renewed some of her public interest, but I can’t help but feel that the Universe might be trying to tell me something.

Listen carefully to the lyrics–think of them as an incantation for peace of mind. No matter what life throws at you, you are infinite. Within you are all the tools you will ever need to overcome any situation. The Universe has not given you anything you cannot handle because you can handle anything. Just reach inside yourself and draw out your power. You are a magical creature, “one small part of forever”…

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Metamorphosis

New Skies and Uncharted Paths: the Magic of New Years

Oh, what a ride it’s been! We’re closing in on the final hours of 2013 and in just a few more days we’ll be staring into the glittering newness that is 2014. These post-holiday days are perfect to sit back and reflect on the lessons we’ve learned, the goals we’re going to set, the places we’ve been, and where we want to go. For some, New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate the passing of the old year with friends, drowning fears and anxieties at the bottoms of ever-full glasses; for others, it’s a chance to ring in the new year with a romantic flourish, staring into the eyes of a lover or counting down the minutes to midnight to fall into the arms of a pretty stranger. To me, New Year’s Eve is one of the most magical nights of the year, so thick with potential that intentions hang in the air in front of us. It begs for contemplation, divination, and meditation.

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2013 was a year of facing truths. Challenges were posed and met head-on, revealing strengths and talents we never knew we had. We found our way out of the darkness, learning how to shine all on our own, banishing shadows of doubt from our path. Not everything we saw was beautiful–we’ve witnessed true ugliness at times, but as long as we learned to cast it aside and look for the lesson, nothing was in vain. We’re stronger people for the experiences we’ve had. 2013 reopened wounds for me–it was full of fear, sadness, and profound loss. But it taught me how to grieve, it strengthened my resolve, showed me that I have stores of courage. It taught me that I am a dazzling, magical creature that rises out of desolation and regenerates endlessly. 2013 brought back my magic. I won’t let that magic slip away in 2014. I plan on reading every tome that falls into my path, seeking new knowledge and stretching my magical muscles regularly using new and exciting methods and tools. I will tune my instrument, add to my repertoire, and build my understanding of my personal universe and how to control it.

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In 2013, I learned how to be a World-Weilding Web Warrior and met fabulous friends both new and old in the City of Roses. I traipsed after ghosts and gods and visited one of my oldest friends in the ever-magical Crescent City. This year, I plan to take more of America by storm, drinking in new and different skylines and sunsets, but I also plan on expanding my literal horizons, bringing myself to the shores of new and foreign lands. I want to breathe the air of my ancestors, walk the same ground as my beloved’s forebears, feel their wind, learn their magic, sleep their nights. I want to smell every perfume in Paris and Milan and taste every tea in London and Kiev. In 2014, I firmly intend to make this happen. My wanderlust has been too long unsatisfied, and 2014 is going to be my Super-Sagittarian Gypsy-Witch Wonder Year full of new skies, uncharted paths, and changing winds.

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So while will ring in the new year surrounded by beautiful strangers in festive streets or huddled with close friends in dark clubs and bars, I’ll be lighting candles and flipping cards, setting my intentions and channeling all my positive energies to make 2014 the best year yet. Not just the best year, but the Wonder Year…

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Metamorphosis

Handcrafted Happiness: holiday misery and gifting handmade

Since just after midnight the day after Halloween, we’ve been barraged with a constant stream of Christmas commercials. Whether it’s in glossy print between magazine articles, on during breaks in our favourite television must-sees, or spoken rapid-fire by a radio DJ, we’ve heard about every product, every sale, and every shopping destination within fifty miles. Our inboxes have been flooded with messages boasting the best deals, our mailboxes are stuffed with catalogs, and everywhere we look there’s something newer, better, and shinier than what we originally set out to find. We’re on holiday overload and it’s exhausting. During a time of year when we should be sitting back, reflecting on our year, and enjoying time with our most beloved friends and family members, we’re fighting each other for parking spots at the mall and resenting the togetherness that might be keeping us away from the necessary shopping. It’s enough to drive even the most level-headed person mad.

Working in the retail and service industry, I see some of the season’s worst moments unfold right in front of me. It’s hard not to resent the holidays when it turns people into monsters before your very eyes, but it has an uncanny way of changing people. Suddenly, having friends is a chore. Family members are needy money-drains, more obligation than joy. Loved ones are reduced to a check mark on a to-do list, the sooner done the better. And there’s no living with anyone until that list is completely crossed off. But it doesn’t need to be that way. The thing is, the people who love us want us to be happy–and if buying gifts makes you miserable, they would probably rather you not!

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In the past, I’ve felt that gifting handmade presents to my friends and family was a cheap cop-out, and handing them homemade trinkets felt like a let-down. After all, they spent hard-earned money on me, searching the malls and shops until they had found just the right trinket: I had spent a few hours at my work table, scribbling down pictures and words. For some pieces, I went big and bought frames. But the reception was never as chilly as I anticipated. In fact, people seemed to like receiving paintings or pencil drawings. Years later, there was no greater thrill than receiving a handmade piece from my artsier, craftier friends. Art is no small effort. It can brighten a room, liven up a workspace, start a conversation between people where words might have never happened. There’s something truly magical about holding a personalized gift in your hands; you can almost feel the thought and effort seeping out of it. Knowing the amount of time and care put into creating a singular, unique piece especially for you is intoxicating.

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A drawing or painting of something beloved by a friend or family member is a wonderful gift–try painting an ornament or sculpting a small trinket for their tree. If you’re not an artist, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to show you care with something handmade. Find their favourite stones and make a piece of jewelry, or decorate something for their home. Use colourful paper to modge-podge the outside of a jar candle, or cover a pillar candle with epsom salts for a wintery effect. Sift through Facebook photos to find a favourite snapshot or dive through their Instagram for pictures of pets, vacation memories, or hangout snaps and print them on photo paper. Then, make a frame from found objects or simply paint one from your local craft store to personalize it. Don’t fret if you aren’t crafty–a tin of cookies is a classic handmade gift. Bake a few batches of gingerbread, sugar cookies, pinwheels, and whoopee pies and tuck them into a colourful tin for transport: everyone loves a sugary holiday treat.

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This year, I spent my time in a veritable mad science lab sniffing and mixing and pouring to concoct the perfect perfume for my friends, infusing it with healing stones and topping it off with decorative labels. I probably spent more time working on it than I would have picking up things at the mall, and fragrance oils aren’t necessarily cheap, but it saved me the stress and anxiety of battling other shoppers for that perfect sweater or pair of gloves. I’d much rather spend my time off tucked into a cozy, sweet-smelling corner listening to Spotify radio and contemplating my friends’ favourite smells than hustling through department stores, grabbing things just to have a package to hand off on Christmas Day–and at the end of the day, it saves more than just me from the holiday stresses–no one really wants another pair of clearance gloves or a discounted scarf anyway!

 

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Metamorphosis

An Anniversary of Being

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Ten years ago, I sat at a table in a small cafe surrounded by three generations of my close-knit family. As I stared into the candle that flickered between us, I knew something was brewing–I was turning 16, and I knew it was going to be a big year. Things had been changing so quickly for me, in my home, in my life, and in my soul. Not all those changes were comfortable: the friends I’d had since childhood were starting to drift apart, my family was undergoing a sort of reconstruction, and my health was still in decline. But there was a lot to be excited about too, like my plans to apply to art school, my newly-cultivated interests and hobbies, and an expanding group of like-minded friends that accepted me for who I was instead of who I had been as a kid. My sense of style was evolving, becoming more reflective of my burgeoning personality. I was downloading music from the Sisters of Mercy, London After Midnight, and the Cure, all bands that were new to me at the time. I was in the throws of my first love, an affair that would open my eyes to previously unfathomable highs and equally astonishing lows all in a whirlwind year-and-a-half. Sixteen was going to be my biggest year yet and ultimately, the year that defined much of who I am as a person today.

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My life has always been a series of deaths and rebirths. As a child, I had only seen what seemed to be the horribly unfair breakdowns, but at sixteen I began to understand that those cataclysmic collapses were a necessary part of the improvement process. If nothing ever fell apart, we would have no reason to grow as individuals. I was beginning to explore my spirituality, laying aside a fairly traditional Roman Catholic upbringing in favor of new age religions that fell in line with my individual belief system. I added books by Alastair Crowley, Allan Kardec, and Margot Adler to my studies. The entire world was alive with magic.

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At the same time, my appearance became as much of an art as the drawings I compulsively produced. I was asserting my independence through miniskirts and colored tights, platformed mary-janes and neon cat collars. My eyeliner was a feat of dexterity, winged out to my temples and often swirled down around my cheekbones. Hilarity aside, it was a major stride towards my personal aesthetic that I had never previously explored. Sure, I had perused fashion magazines in doctors’ waiting rooms and bookstore cafes, but I had never really taken a personal interest in them. At sixteen, I began not only looking, but buying magazines from New York, the UK, Japan, and Italy to feed my flirtation with fashion.

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It’s hard to believe a full decade has passed. The person I am today can be directly traced to that sixteen-year-old and all the radical changes that were brewing inside her. Today feels less like my birthday and more like an anniversary of who I became–a magical, independent spirit who looks forward more than back. And I feel like twenty-six is going to be just as big as sixteen.This year, I’m going to manifest my own destiny instead of waiting for it to happen to me. I’m going to take all my wild Sagittarian desires into my own hands to make them a reality–the world is waiting, and I refuse to disappoint. I’m rededicating myself to the destiny I want, rather than surrender to the reality that people expect. I’m casting off the skins of hopelessness that have weighed me down for years and adopting new can-do colours. Anything is possible if you really want it, and trust me, I want it. It might have taken me another ten years to realize that was true, but everything happens in its own time. Now is mine.

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Metamorphosis

An Ideal Future: propelling forward

On any given day, I have two or three drafts written, waiting for final photos to be added and one last proof before going live. Photos take me a long time to edit and finalize, and I do try to take them all myself whenever possible. But right now, there are five–five–drafts waiting for me to finish them.

What have I been doing? Aside from the obvious (work, school, and life in general), I’ve been trying to figure out exactly which direction I want to go in. You’ve seen several sides of me now–you’ve seen the makeup addict, the makeup artist, the artist, the writer, and the witch–but sometimes I still feel like there’s something missing. At home, I often wonder where I’m headed: I work my day job as a makeup artist, I’m finishing my degree in studio arts, but how to do I reconcile my passions with my job, or make a living with my dreams?

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When I envision my ideal future, what I would most like my life to be, I see a small apartment on the lower east side, and cliche as it sounds, a typewriter by a window where I can drink coffee and look down on the city I love and write. I see myself with my dog in sidewalk cafes, a blue-haired bundle of sweaters and scarves, tapping words into my iPad or sketching characters onto paper. I love makeup and the beauty culture, but I don’t see myself living in it for the rest of my life–art is my passion, in all of its forms, and I desperately want to immerse myself fully in it. Certainly, I’ve worked hard to get where I am now, and I recognize that I am where I should be at this present time. But sometimes, I get lost in the fact that I’m not yet accomplished in the areas I want to be. On the good days, being a part of people’s precious memories is enough–knowing that I’ve helped them feel beautiful on important occasions and particular moments of their lives is immensely gratifying. But on the bad days, I worry that the time I spend surrounded by powders and creams is taking up too much of my attention and that I’ll never get ahead as an artist or a writer because of it. Quitting or cutting back is not an option because that’s where the money is right now, and we all have to live.

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So what am I doing with those precious spare moments to propel myself towards that ideal future? Sometimes, I’m not so sure. But I have decided that this is the year I finish the novel I’ve been working at for the past three years. I was afraid that it would sit unfinished on my hard drive for the rest of eternity, but the words have started flowing again and I know that in the next few months I can definitely squeeze out the last of them. Fiction was my first love, and I’m more than thrilled to be working with it again. And once I finish this one, two more neglected projects are nipping at my brain, begging for completion.

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I’ll admit I’ve lapsed in painting again, but I’ve found a new fascination in photography. Armed with my father’s old Nikon FG, I’ve been taking a course in photography and development that’s instilled in me a true appreciation for a medium I never before considered. There’s something so zen about holding that camera, adjusting the aperture, the shutter speed, checking the light meter and focussing just so on the subject, and then just letting it go–all you can do is hit that button and wait until you get into the darkroom to see if you got the shot. When I was little, the camera was sacred: it was taken on family vacations, a fixture at all holiday gatherings, and it was to be touched only by skilled adult hands. Film was also something special–frames were precious and not to be wasted on anything you didn’t want to remember forever. Digital photography almost ruined me. When I got my first digital camera (a 3 megapixel HP point-and-shoot gifted to me by my ever-technologically-savvy grandfather), it turned photos into something disposable. Once they were uploaded, they could sit forever on my hard drive. Prints were nothing more than streaky printouts on an inkjet, and once I got a new computer most of them were deleted, un-missed. With paintings, I can put imagination into something tangible. Photography never seemed more than documentary to me. But not everyone sees the world the same way, and there’s more imagination that reality to some…

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So that’s what I’ve been up to, Internet. The radio silence isn’t really silence at all. I’m simply gathering myself, collecting the bits and pieces I’d like to share. Eventually, I need to learn to stop combing through things unit they’re perfect–they never will be, and there’s a sort of charm in imperfection anyway.

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Metamorphosis

Blossoms and Bulbs: Everyday Symbolism and the Lily

Magic is the thin silver thread that holds together the tapestry of our perception–it’s easy to lose track of it in the weave. Sometimes, it sits on the surface, dazzlingly bright as it reflects our own light back at us and we wonder how we ever lost sight of it. At other times, it dips below, hiding beneath layers of the mundane–at those times, we need to trust that it’s still there. Luckily, the universe has so many ways of reassuring us that magic is all around if only we look hard enough… Think back to a time where you were deeply involved in a personal issue–maybe work wasn’t going well, or you were arguing with a loved one. During a moment where your mind was at rest, or there was a lull in your thoughts, you might have noticed something odd. There was something out of place, or perhaps simply something oddly vibrant or distinct in your perception–you were meant to notice it at that exact time. When we’re not listening, ignoring some vital lesson in life, the Universe has a way of making sure we pay attention.

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Recently, my boyfriend and I took a wrong turn while heading back to the car in a part of town we had never explored before. I knew we were headed the wrong way, but he walked with purpose and determination ahead of me. At the corner, we stopped–in the heat wave, the perfume of sweet flowers was so intense it couldn’t be ignored. There at the corner was a gigantic stalk of stargazer lilies. Stargazers hold a particular fascination for me: I love their velvet petals, the variation in their colours, the vibrant spots and stripes they develop. Several years ago, I even had one tattooed on my body. It struck us both instantly that this stalk was the reason we were walking out of our way that day. We were simply guided there because we were meant to see it.

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Since then, I’ve been seeing lilies far more often. Of course, the skeptic could say that they’re simply in season, but they only seem to come to me when my mind is feeling less than magical–after a long and frustrating car trip, after a tiresome day at work, after mulling over some extremely confusing and troubling issues, I begin to notice lilies that never seemed to be there before. And lilies are a powerful symbol. Traditionally associated with purity and innocence, they can be seen as a symbol for spiritual cleansing. Most fascinating to me, however, is their connection to growth–Emily Dickenson regarded it as a metaphor for the development of the soul. In dreams, it can be a message of encouragement, and it is depicted on the Ace of Pentacles in the traditional Rider-Waite tarot deck, a card that can herald rewards and fresh starts.

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Lilies are also present on the Rider-Waite Magician, a card of potential and personal power. Perhaps it’s not surprising then that if one dreams of casting aside a lily, it symbolizes the abuse of personal power. Similarly, we might infer that coming upon an abundance of blooming lilies can signify coming into one’s own blossoming personal power. While my life is absent of lilies today, I was reminded of my lily encounters when a speaker on the radio recited the following quote from Anais Nin:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Sometimes, all the pieces fit together perfectly. If they don’t, don’t worry–when the time is right, the Universe will allow you to see clearly. Until then, continue to look around you. Be vigilant. Don’t let the day’s issues cloud your light, and keep sight of what really matters–that thin silver thread.

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Metamorphosis

Living Magic: Transformation and Manifestation

For the last year or so, my life has been in a state of flux, a transitional period. While I can’t really say I knew where I was headed before then, the proverbial rug was ripped out from under me and I was forced to reevaluate the things I thought were valuable. Some were kept close, some were discarded, and some came back again all on their own, but I can safely say that I am a different person today than I was just three hundred and sixty six days ago. And I know that I’m still changing and growing. I don’t know if this season of change will last another week, month, year, or decade, but where I once fought for what I thought was my established self, I’m willing to sit back, learn the lessons I am being taught, and soak in the experience.

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When I was young, the world was a dazzling place. It was so big, so full of new and interesting experiences, mysterious and wonderful things. Magic was everywhere, and I strived to be a part of it. From imaginary childhood games of “faerie,” dancing through falling maple keys with my friends, to teenage witchery on the small homemade altar in my room, I felt magic like the low, throbbing pulse of the world around me. …and then, somehow, I lost it. I don’t know when I really let it go, whether it slipped from my fingers gradually or whether I tossed it away in one great moment of heartbreak or angst or illness, but at some point, that enchantment which was as familiar as my own heartbeat was gone. And it was gone for a very long time.

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Maybe I thought it made me cooler to be cynical and world-weary; maybe I thought it made me seem more intelligent and educated to explain away all the charm and mystery of life. Playing the skeptic became a new way of life, full of scholarly articles and existentialist essays and psychological studies. The cards and crystals that were previously like extensions of my hands were shoved into drawers, all but forgotten. There were even times when I wondered what my peers would think of me if they knew the kind of spiritual background I came from. And then, life happened. After so many years of calculated cynicism, I found myself turning back to the things I used to find comfort in. I clutched my crystals like a rosary and chanted words that I hoped would change the energy that surrounded me. I remembered the power of manifesting and envisioning and began to practice as much and as often as I could. And it began to pay off.

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The Power of Positive Thinking and Manifesting Good Energy has helped me overcome obstacles I thought insurmountable. I certainly have a long way to go before I’m where I want to be, but I’m able to enjoy the ride. I would like to thank you, my readers, for sticking with me through my transition. If you’ve just joined me recently, thank you too–it’s your interest and continued support that gives me the confidence to write these things, which I previously felt too uncomfortable to share. Where I used to shy away from telling people about my cartomancy, my crystals, my star charts, I’m now less afraid of sharing my spirituality with others–perhaps people have become more open to magic and metaphysics, or perhaps like simply attracts like, but I’ve been fortunate enough to find myself surrounded with understanding and even interested individuals.

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Magic is absolutely everywhere, in every aspect of our lives–why not live that magic with our whole hearts?

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