I took this photo in Killarney, Ireland, on a trip that was extremely magical for me. I’m happy to announce that any reader who subscribes to my mailing list will get access to a free download of the image above, Fairy Creek, and exclusive access to the flash fiction story that the image inspired.
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You can also buy prints on Society6 or get the full digital image package in several sizes on my Etsy store.
Most people don’t need to be told to Go Play Outside as much as they can in the height of summer. My pre-teen son, maybe, when he’s eyebrow-deep in videogames and YouTubes of other people playing videogames. But otherwise, we all know July is a playground, don’t we?
Example: When you find yourself free for half an hour while your kid is in drum lessons (in person again, thank God and Goddess), walk up the hill so steep you have to zig-zag in switchbacks to spare your ankles.
Find an intriguing path through unfamiliar woods.
Follow the path as it loops around a park, empty but for an ancient swing set, made of wood and rusty metal, replete with one broken swing.
Count four varieties of butterflies. Pause at mossy trees, like twisted skeleton hands, among the riot of green life. Get scolded by a blue jay. Startle from an animal crashing through the woods, across your path and into the bushes on the other side, so suddenly and loudly that for a moment you aren’t sure what it was. A dog, surely, as you are surrounded by neighborhood and farmland. But those woods, that whip of a tail, that speed….
It was a dog, chasing a rabbit. Must have been a dog.
Stumble across daisies. Dare to pick a few, hoping no one in the neighborhood that is not yours will notice, or mind.
Find a complicated purple flower bubbling up on fountains of green leaves. Learn by a Google Lens search that this has the romantic name of “crown vetch”.
Wonder what a vetch is, and whether it’s some sort of curse or blessing.
More daisies, glorious daisies, all the daisies you could dream of picking. No neighbor would scold you for collecting them, for no handful could be missed in this vast galaxy of white and yellow stars.
With your fist gripping your bounty, recall that summer, and wildflowers, are free.
I’m always on the hunt for other people who create joy around them and explore the world with an eye for wonder. The Disney+ show, “The World According to Jeff Goldblum,” is a short-form series that basically lets the actor and connoisseur run amok while exploring a singular topic in our modern world.
Denim. Ice Cream. Bicycles. Tattoos. He picks a subject and seeks out its history, its evolution, the makers and gurus of it, and the ordinary people devoted to it. He gives an overview, he deep dives, and he tries his darnedest to get to the bottom of why people love whatever the thing is.
The documentary and human interest stories are charming, but the real star is always Jeff Goldblum himself. Quirky, curious to a fault, game for anything, he brings the perfect combination of gravitas and whimsy to his interviews and narrations. He takes everything seriously and nothing too seriously. He deals out thoughtful interview questions and hilariously unexpected comments with equal ease. He never, ever mocks an enthusiast, even when they seem bizarre or over-zealous, but respects them and genuinely tries to understand them and their passions. His commentary is unique and highly specific, and I can’t help but watch, mesmerized, with the feeling that no one else could stand in his place.
I feel like Jeff gets it, that quest for magic in the ordinary. Here are a few examples.
On a “denim safari,” Jeff explores an old mining camp with a curator and merchant of vintage denim. Their infectious enthusiasm plays off each other, until Jeff says they’re like two sticks about to combust. At the end of the adventure, he declares, “This is the most fun I’ve had in my whole life!”
In his eyes, cotton is “cheeky”, and each pair of jeans tells the story of the individual who wears them. At a weekly line dance held by the Dallas Pride LGBTQ group, surrounded by fabulous be-denimed cowboys, he meets someone from Kansas and begins a spontaneous sing-along of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
He makes his own ice cream flavor and shares it with active military troops, asking them to close their eyes and describe the memories the ice cream brings. “Ice cream is like a time machine,” bringing back fun memories with family and friends, perhaps from simple joys in childhood.
“Studies have shown that nostalgia can uplift feelings improve self-esteem and make us feel connected to people for whom we deeply care. It gives comfort. A torch that lights the way to a brighter future. Lady Ice Cream, I say,” – Jeff sings – “I love you, tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you….”
On that final note, Jeff skips off along the beach.
My favorite episode is Bicycles.
Jeff gets his own bike custom built and brings it to a weekly event called Slow Roll Detroit. This community bike ride drew 3-5 thousand people every Sunday to ride through the streets of Motor City. The effects on the city have been astounding: residents along the route throw front-yard barbecues, children come out to cheer, and more importantly, people are moving back to the city because of Slow Roll. They stay in the city more once they get there, going to local shops and restaurants and bringing the community together.
Jeff Goldblum is moved to tears as he concludes his opus on the bicycle and the way they make cities feel more human again.
“Community unification – that’s no small thing. The bicycle is mechanical, it’s a machine, but you know, I – I felt it was an extension of my body. It allowed me in a unique and subtle but profound way to be in connection with everything around me. The potential of me and that bike has allowed me to connect with something in me that is – can I say real? Well, it feels like, in some way, I’m home.” Choking up, he repeats wistfully, “I’m home. Gee.”
The World According to Jeff Goldblum is uplifting every time. I watch it whenever I need a treat and a smile. Two seasons are out now on Disney+.
In the Wiccan tradition, the element of Air is all things breezy: the wind, the sky, smoke, birds, butterflies, feathers, bubbles, bells or chimes. Air is associated with the cardinal direction East, and so with the sun and the break of day. Air is linked with the mind, thoughts, creativity, and inspiration. Invoking the element of Air will help you puzzle out a tough problem, find that zap of inspiration, get the lift and drive to start a project, and focus your mind.
Lately I have been invoking Air in my home using scents. Essential oils have risen in popularity of late, in part because of companies like DoTerra and Goop, raising both their profile and accessibility. (Negative flak for essential oils has risen proportionally, but mostly I put that down to rants against popular things.)
Plenty of people have raved about the purported powers of essential oils, but I’m only going to deal with how they smell.
Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog constitutes dispensing medical advice, even my personal stories about remedies I’ve used. Please don’t get your medical advice from blogs.
One way to perfume a space is with scented candles, but dang, those things are expensive. I admit to falling for fancy names and dreamy scents at BB&B on occasion, but only with their ubiquitous coupons lining my wallet. Without the option in the past year to even give them the sniff test, I set out to create my own scented candles. My recipe is cheap and simple:
Unscented pillar candles from the Dollar Store
Jars big enough for the candles
Essential oils and perfume oils
Once I’d thought of it, this method was incredibly easy.
Put candle into jar and burn until the melted wax reaches the edge.
Blow out the candle.
Put several drops of oil into the melted candle wax. Stir it around with a match or toothpick.
Relight the candle, right away or later once the wax solidified.
And like magic, I had my own custom-scented candle for 1/20th the price of the brand-name ones. I can control how much scent there is, and if I can modify it by adding oil as the candle burns down.
Mason jars work, or if you’ve saved old jar candles, you can clean them out with a table knife and then a microwave to get out the old wax. Be sure you remove anything metal, like the wick stub, before microwaving.
Only use oils, not eau de parfum, which is water-based and will pop if burned. Likewise don’t drop oil on a candle flame or it could flare and be dangerous.
One thing I love about this is blending my own combinations of oils. I didn’t have to rely on artificial ingredients or unidentifiable scents. I could make my bathroom smell clean, my dining room warm, my library cozy, while knowing exactly where those scents came from in nature.
Kitchen: Cinnamon, Sweet Orange, Peppermint
Dining Room: Cinnamon, Clove, Sweet Orange
Bathroom: Lavendar, Peppermint, Eucalyptus
Meditation: Amber, Cedar Wood
Focus: Rosemary, Tea Tree, Peppermint
Air magic invites experimentation and play. Imagine the air in your house as an element for you to dress, just like you do the walls and the floors. What do you want visitors to feel when they enter your space? What do you want to feel? Can you find a combination that helps you focus on work in your home office, or relax in your bedroom at the end of the day?
My essential oil collection is fairly basic, with the occasional blend picked up in craft markets and spiritual shops. What do you think I should add? What other ways do you invoke the element of Air in your home? Leave me a comment.