Archive for category Fall self-care
Ready for a little self care? Get in the spirit of Halloween with these magical and relaxing rituals.
Have you ever blown out a candle and made a wish? That is a version of candle magic. Jack o’lanterns? Originally created to chase away evil spirits.
Just as with stones, the colors of candles are associated with particular intentions. You might light a green candle to attract wealth, a black one to banish negativity and a pink one to bring love into your life. How about a delicious smelling, pumpkin orange one? That is said to help you focus and sharpen your intellect.
Often now, if I want to get in touch with my creative side or remove a little writer’s block, I light a candle and just pause for a moment. I really find that this harmless bit of “magic” works for me.
There are a number of spells in Gillian Kemp’s book, The Good Spell Book. Here are a few…
- For money: light a green candle. Let it burn for five minutes, then snuff it out. Rub your hands in the smoke and imagine money coming to you.
- To find your lucky word: light a white candle, take a dictionary, and face south. Close your eyes and turn the book around several times. Keeping your eyes closed, fan the pages until you feel ready to stop. Let your finger explore the page until you feel ready to stop. The word under your finger is your magic word. Whenever you need a boost of luck or energy, say this magic word. Snuff out the candle.
- For love: on a Friday night (dedicated to Venus, Goddess of Love) take a new, never used pink candle. With a pen in your favorite color and white piece of paper, clear your mind of distractions and write your name and your loved one’s name. Draw a circle around both names. Close your eyes and visualize the two of you happy together. Then watch over your candle for a short while. Snuff it out.
Another simple spell is to cleanse a room of bad vibes by burning sage. You can purchase white sage bundles at Whole Foods and crystal stores for this purpose. Native Americans have been burning sage for who knows how long.
I complained once to a friend that I could not seem to get the smell of my ex out of my apartment. She burned some sage. Poof! The lingering odor disappeared…and I felt as if we had scrubbed his nastiness and bad humor away. A simple ritual but it made me feel a lot better. Try burning sage if you’ve had an argument and want to move on in a positive direction.
So you know about the superstition of throwing salt over your left shoulder to undo the bad luck of spilling salt? That’s a salt spell! Salt is reputed to have magical properties, especially purification and protection.You can rinse something in salt water to purify it of negative energy or get it ready for a spell — crystals, coins and keys are rinsed in this way. Or you can sprinkle some salt in the corners of a room to purify the space (for example, if you had an argument or bad dream while in that room). Throw a handful out the door after a person leaves so they can’t come back and bother you. I imagine some of you surreptitiously sprinkling salt in the corners of your cubicles and offices at work! But, seriously, try it. It feels empowering and it’s not expensive. A ritual like this can help you affirm to yourself that you are not going to let toxic people (or bad energy) mess with you.
There are many divination spells — that is, spells that foretell the outcome, or provide a “yes” or “no” answer to a posed question. The apple and nut divination spells associated with Halloween party games (bobbing for apples, peeling apples, roasting nuts) are age-old examples of Celtic pagan divination traditions.
Try to peel an apple without breaking the peel. Then throw the peel over your left shoulder. The peel may form the initial letter of your love’s first name.
How about palm-reading? Learn some basics in this video…
You’ve heard of Galentine’s Day, right? Well, a lot of Halloween fun is happening this Saturday, October 26 all over Northern Virginia.
I think we should call this day “Her-o-ween.”
Her-o-ween is the chance to go out with your squad on the most fun day before Halloween occurs and make some memories. With combined efforts, your costumes, makeup and hair are going to be fabulous. Instagram-worthy.
And if you don’t want to celebrate with your gal pals, here are some family-friendly events, as well.
Check out these fun events happening in Northern Virginia on Saturday, October 26. For even MORE events on October 26 and other days, check out my full Halloween month calendar.
10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Family-friendly event! Pumpkin Palooza festival in Herndon.
10:30 a.m. – Halloween Spook-a-Sana Yoga and after-class beer at New District Brewing Company in Arlington. $20 in advance; $25 at the door.
11 a.m. – 1 pm. Family-friendly event! Dulles Town Center Mall-O-Ween mall-wide trick or treating, magic show and crafts.
12 Noon – 6 p.m. The First Annual Witches’ Market and Healer’s Open House takes place at Samskara Yoga in Sterling.
12 Noon – Spoons, Toons and Booze comedy show at Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. Enjoy Halloween episodes of throwback cartoons and an all-you-can-eat cereal bar.
2 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Halloween Zumba-thon at Daventry Community Center in Springfield. $20; includes water and healthy snacks.
4 p.m. – 9 p.m. Family-friendly event! Olde Towne Winchester Halloween Faire with screening of Hocus Pocus at 7 p.m.
6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Family-friendly event! Sensory-friendly. Arctoberfest Halloween Extravaganza at the Columbus Club in Arlington. Sponsored by the ARC of Northern Virginia, this is an all-ages event for people with and without disabilities. $25.
7:30 pm – 10 p.m. – Cox Farms Fields of Fear in Centreville. Advance purchase of tickets recommended.
8:00 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. Jimmy’s of Old Town 23rd Annual Halloween Bash and costume contest in Herndon. DJ and no cover.
12 midnight – Rocky Horror Picture Show at University Mall Theatres in Fairfax, $6.
Do you know what ASMR is? Well, it’s a really long term that we abbreviate, but I bet you guessed that.
It describes a wonderful prickly-like but also relaxing sensation people experience when hearing certain sounds or seeing certain things. There are common “triggers” but they vary among people. Not everyone responds, but those who do seem to really like it, as I do. I had to experiment with it a bit. I like the whispering and tapping sounds, I LOVE the soft brushing sounds, and I like the wavy fingers. The personal experience ones are really fun.
ASMR practitioners on YouTube create videos — anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour long — full of these triggers, often with a story line or theme. Many people who like ASMR watch these to help them relax or fall asleep.
Here is one with a Halloween theme from my favorite ASMR expert, ASMR Darling. She has a huge following on YouTube. In this episode, she pretends to put Halloween makeup on your face. So much fun! Enjoy and let me know if you like it.
The weather is often nice in September and October in Northern Virginia. Why not have a picnic? I had first envisioned this as an outdoor tea party — and you could do that if you have your picnic tea on your deck, yard or patio. Hot tea would only be steps away, and you could prepare whatever you like to go with your cuppa.
But what about setting out and having a picnic tea somewhere else? If you trade the hot tea for cool, iced tea or Arnold Palmers, that’s perfectly feasible.
Where to Go
- Gravelly Point in Arlington.
- The gardens adjacent to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester.
- Gunston Hall in Mason Neck.
- Bon Air Rose Garden in Arlington.
- Along Skyline Drive in Front Royal.
- Montpelier near Charlottesville.
- Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria.
- Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly.
- The Alexandria waterfront.
- Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane.
- Bartholdi Park in Washington, DC
- My secret spot! I’ll never tell…
What to Bring
You’ll probably want a picnic hamper (or a sturdy re-usable grocery bag may do), some cups, napkins, plates and utensils, a blanket to sit on, and insect repellent. A couple of pillows or cushions to sit on (or nap on) might also be nice.
What to Make
Here is a suggested fall menu for two people. Increase amounts for more people or more hungry people! Or reduce the amounts if you think it’s more than you’ll need. And don’t hesitate to take yourself on a picnic tea! Tea for one can be delightful and relaxing.
To drink, prepare a container of iced tea with lemon or Arnold Palmers, at least a quart for two people. Also, pack a quart of Fiji water or spring water.
- Chicken salad sandwiches on Parker House rolls or White House rolls (2 to 4 rolls).
- Herbed cream cheese sandwiches on wheat bread, cut into triangles (1 to 2 sandwiches).
- Cucumber sandwiches with mint butter on white bread, cut into fingers (1 to 2 sandwiches).
- A leak-proof container of bread and butter pickles.
- A container of grape tomatoes or baby carrots.
- If you really want to add a prepared salad, Giant makes a good sesame noodle salad that is a little spicy. It might be a nice departure from the more expected potato salad or pasta salad, although it might have too much bite for kids. A half pound container would be plenty for two people.
- Bartlett pears or gala apples.
- Pumpkin bread – make your own or buy a delicious loaf at Whole Foods. Bring along about half a loaf for your picnic for two people, and spreadable butter and a plastic knife, if desired.
- About 6 Pepperidge Farm jam cookies, Fig Newtons or other favorite cookie.
Chicken salad. Mix shredded rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast with halved green or red seedless grapes, Hellman’s light mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste, and a couple of dashes of dried tarragon. Chill. Spoon onto rolls with a green leaf lettuce portion, or use arugula if you prefer. Wrap.
Herbed cream cheese. Mix a bar of softened cream cheese with a tablespoon of lemon juice, a dash of Tabasco sauce, and a 1/2 cup of a mixture of chopped fresh parsley and chives (or your favorite herbs). Alternatively, use Philadelphia light vegetable cream cheese. Spread on wheat bread, cut off crusts, and cut into triangles. Wrap snugly.
Cucumber sandwiches. Peel an English cucumber and slice it thinly. Spread softened butter lightly onto 2 slices of white bread. Lay on the cucumber slices and add chopped mint, if desired. Seal and cut into fingers. Wrap snugly.
The Harvest Moon is here! Some believe this Harvest Moon — the closest full moon to the autumnal equinox — has special significance this year because it takes place on Friday the 13th. There are 13 full moons in a year and Friday is associated with the goddess, Venus. The moon is also associated with the Moon Goddess in Asian cultures and some religions, and is in Pisces, so that is a lot of feminine energy to be harnessed!
A Harvest Circle
Harvest rituals expressing thankfulness and celebrating abundance have been performed by numerous cultures for thousands of years. Today, many people are interested in things like circle casting and crystal energy. To celebrate the season, I have adapted and created this Harvest Moon Circle. I drew from several sources on circle casting online and added my own Harvest theme twists. You can make it your own however you like.
The Mindfulness of Casting
In many ways, carefully constructing, casting and deconstructing a circle is a mindfulness activity. Meditation, affirmations, prayer, gratitude, acceptance and creativity are all positive elements that can come into play. In some ways, it may even be considered a form of self care! I intend to use mine to meditate, harvest and send out positive energy, and to give thanks. Hopefully, you will find this activity relaxing and centering, but if you don’t, it’s just not for you, and that’s okay.
Constructing a circle
Casting a circle means creating a space for magic that incorporates four elements: Air, Fire, Water and Earth. You can also make it about prayer and/or meditation, because there are no hard and fast rules. Because it is almost fall, I selected items and crystals that are associated with these elements, and also the beautiful colors of fall. Many of these items can be found around the house, and the crystals can be purchased for a dollar or so from crystal shops and nature centers.
You can cast a circle indoors or outdoors, but I think this one is best conducted outdoors. You will not need much room to work in — maybe 5 or 6 feet. I made mine on my patio! To create your circle, you place items representing the elements at the four points of the compass, making a circle (kind of like a clock – 12, 3, 6, 9). To determine position, you may need a compass or an compass app on your smartphone. Google Maps sometimes works to orient your location, as well.
Start with the East (imagine this like a 12 on a clock) and put your Air element items on the ground there. You can choose a feather (you know, like flight) or a paper fan (because it creates a breeze). Another way to represent air is by using a lit incense stick. I used a cinnamon one. I like how you can kind of “see” the air as the fragrant smoke waves around. Crystals of fall hues associated with the element of Air include citrine, smoky topaz and rock crystal.
Next, go to your South point (imagine this like 3 on the clock). Put your Fire element items here. Easy to remember, right? South = hot. Of course, a lit candle goes here. Green is associated with Venus and with harvests, but if you don’t have a green candle, you could use the traditional fire element colors of red, yellow or gold — or even a pumpkin scented candle! I put a beautiful red carnelian crystal on this spot.
Next turn to the Western point of your circle (imagine this like the 6 on a clock face). This is for the element of water. This is meaningful because the moon tonight is in Pisces, a water sign, and of course, the moon affects the tides. So easy — a little glass or bowl of water. A seashell is a nice touch. The crystal I select for this point is moonstone. You could also use aquamarine, pearl or the water-loving gem, opal.
Lastly, you will set your Northern point in the circle (the 9 spot on the clock). North is associated with the element of Earth. Here, a crystal can do double duty, since rocks and crystals represent the earth. I suggest black tourmaline, which is grounding and protective, tiger eye, and/or golden pyrite. Then add, whatever you have: some flowers, an apple, some oats or a pinecone. You can also use a dish of salt, or herbs, leaves or acorns. Earth elements that suggest fall: an ear of corn or a small pumpkin.
Near the center, I like to place an offering. Something to please my ancestors – something to drink and something to eat. Of course, you will have to eat and drink it for them, but the idea is they appreciate the gesture 🙂 To drink, I’m choosing a glass of apple juice. You can choose a pumpkin spice latte, if you want! To eat, I’m choosing bread, because bread has been put on altars as an offering at harvest time for thousands of years. An Asian moon cake would also be traditional and timely!
Since it was really quite dark, I added more candles so I could see what I was doing! I placed a salt grinder, the candle lighter, my selenite stick and the offering near the middle.
Lastly, when I stepped into the center of circle, I tossed salt around the periphery. It is said to cleanse and protect. Some people put salt around the house or in corners to fend off negative people and energies. I also dash a bit on my offering of bread. Bread and salt have been used in many cultures to convey welcome, gratitude and trust.
Casting the Circle
So, now your circle is constructed and you are standing in the middle of it, but it is not yet cast. Casting the circle involves calling on benevolent beings or energies to engage and protect you while you are in this magical or spiritual space.
Remember when Hermione created that big protective sphere around the camp site in the last Harry Potter movie? She turned and turned? Imagine doing something like that. You are not really creating a circle so much as this lovely sphere around you, like a safe bubble of positive energy that keeps negative energy out. Or, you know, Death Eaters 🙂
She used a wand but if a wand hasn’t chosen you yet 🙂 you can raise your arms, a branch of fall leaves, a selenite wand, or whatever makes you feel magical.
To begin casting, stand in the center of your circle, facing east. Breathe deeply and embrace the moment. Listen to the sounds of nature all around you. Inhale the aroma of the incense or candles. Feel the cool air on your skin. Sense your most loving, healthy and positive energy inside of you and emanating from you.
Begin at East (Air). Imagine what air means to you — an autumn breeze shaking loose crimson and gold leaves, for example. Say something like: “Spirits of Air, I call on you.”
Next, turn to the South (Fire). You will actually have a flame to look at but you could also picture a crackling fireplace. Say: “Spirits of Fire, I call on you.”
Next, turn to the West (Water). Envision a lake, ringed with bright maples reflected in the water. Or would you rather see the ocean? Say: “Spirits of Water, I call on you.”
Next, turn to the North (Earth). Visualize fields of ripening crops of corn and pumpkins, or trees heavy with ripe apples, or vines of juicy grapes. Conjure up the smells and sounds of walking through crunchy, dry leaves in the woods; the chattering of squirrels and songs of birds. Say: “Spirits of the Earth, I call you.”
Now remain in place at the North because you are also going to call on the Earth and Sky or your divine creator (or both), as you choose.
Feel your feet firmly planted, benevolent energy coming from the ground. Say: “Mother Earth, I call on you for your blessings and protection.”
Next, visualize blessings or energy coming from above. Say: “Father Sky, I call on you on for your blessings and protection.”
Alternatively, you can call on the deity of your choice, or say something like: “Spirit of the Universe, watch over this circle and fill it with peace and love.” Again, make this your own so it is meaningful for you.
Now imagine you are in that beautiful sphere of positive energy, gratitude and wonder. You are loved and protected and part of nature. You may now choose to say: “Thank you. The circle is cast.”
Inside the Circle
What you do inside of this circle is up to you. You can perform magic, pray or meditate. Perhaps you will think about how fall is an opportunity to let go of what no longer serves you to make room for new growth.
I will take some time to reflect on the season of harvest and the concept of abundance, and the gratitude I feel.
Finally, I will honor my ancestors for leading the way for me. I will drink the offering of apple juice and eat the bread.
Finishing and Clearing Up
After you have finished your contemplation, invocation, prayer, meditation or other work, it is time to open the circle back up — basically, to undo it. To do this, you essentially work backwards. But some people do this differently and never go in a counter-clockwise direction. It’s up to you.
Stand and face the West (water) and say, “Spirits of Water, I thank you.” (Or whatever feels right in the moment. I empty the water.
Then, turn to the South (Fire) and say, “Spirits of Fire, I thank you.” I then extinguish the flame.
Next turn to the East (Air) and say, “Spirits of Air, I thank you.” I extinguish my incense.
Finally, turn to the North (Earth) and say, “Spirits of the Earth, I thank you.” I toss a bit of the grain away in the grass.
If you have invoked Mother Earth, Father Sky and/or other spirits, angels, or deities, you would now thank them.
To finish, you can say something positive, like “Go in peace and love” or “Goodbye and farewell” or “I walk in light and love” or whatever feels right. There are many suggestions online.
Collect your items, sweep away the salt, and perhaps leave the crystals outside in the full moon overnight to recharge their energies.
Consider following this ritual by gazing at the full moon in happy contemplation or taking a warm bath with scented epsom salts.
If you try this, I would love to hear about it! It sounds complex, but I think you will find it is rather fun and easy!
Disclaimer. This ritual is combined from several sources, as well as my own spin on the harvest moon theme. I mean no offense or disrespect to Wicca, Paganism or any other religion. I am a Christian, and my personal belief is you can employ creative rituals without compromising religious beliefs and connections as long as they are done in love and not to effect an outcome in other people or events, just as with prayer or affirmations. Some Christians disagree and I intend no disrespect or offense to them. This post and the activity are for entertainment purposes only.
I substitute teach, so my clothes have to meet a lot of criteria!
- Affordable and easy-to-wash (no dry cleaning, costs too much!)
- Versatile and coordinating, so I don’t have to think too much about what I’m going to wear in the morning.
- Fun colors and accessible styles kids like and also meet the school dress code.
- Comfortable and movement-friendly (my job involves a lot of kneeling, sitting on the carpet for morning meeting, and sometimes, dancing).
- Shoes that I can run in (in emergencies) and that I can stand in all day.
And because I’m pumpkin-shaped (which mades me PERFECT for fall), I also need clothes that look good and make me feel confident.
I was so happy to find some solutions for my modest budget so I thought I would share these with you. If you aren’t a teacher, maybe these looks would work for you on casual days or weekends.
All of these clothes are from Walmart. The golden yellow top is in a color called “Apple Juice.” The color reminds me of sunflowers 🙂 It’s flattering if, like me, you are shaped like an apple in the mid-section! I love these stretchy leopard print jeggings. They wear a little looser, like skinny jeans.
You can just see the black “faux suede” boots in the picture. I have size 11, wide feet, and thank goodness, they fit and were comfortable, too!
Everything here was $14.98 – the blouse, the leggings, and the shoes. The matching socks came in a 3-pair bunch for $3.98.
Not shown but also matching these leggings — a fitted, crew neck t-shirt in black (marked down to a dollar!) that I’ll wear with these leopard jeggings and the black cardigan below.
I took a picture of me wearing this outfit — same top but in denim blue, same style of jeggings, but in a color Walmart calls “Spiced Cider.” I love how the socks match! (And fit my large feet).
Can I ask your opinion about something? Do you think the denim top would look okay with the leopard leggings? I tried it and liked it…but I wasn’t sure…
This paisley tunic covers up a multitude of sins but looks cute on. It matches everything else, too – the colors are Apple Juice, Spiced Cider, Purple Pearl and Gem Slate, among others. The top was $14.98. The matching cotton leggings are available online from Walmart and come in a 2-pack pair of your choice of color, plus black, for $8.98. This color is called Purple Pearl. 95% cotton, hard to beat that!
See the cute no-show socks? They came in a pack of 6 marked down to $1! Students, if Ms. Jones has a dollar and she gets SIX pairs of socks, how much does she pay for each pair? Answer: Ms. Jones pays 16.6 cents a pair! Woo hoo!
Walmart has denim jeans to fit just about every body and they are often on sale. At school, I can wear denim during the week (blue on Fridays). I picked up these jeans for $11 a pair, so I bought them in black, tan and regular blue. They fit great and I don’t have to even hem them. They are 95% cotton with a little bit of stretch.
I put this together with a $4.44 v-neck t-shirt in Spiced Cider (I also bought it in Apple Juice). The t-shirt is soft and made out of recycled materials!
Autumn here can be cool in the morning and warm by mid-day, so I am showing this outfit with a black cardigan from Target I got on sale for $15. It fits so well, I got one in cream and gray, too, because I live in cardigans as a layer in the fall and winter.
Check out these llama socks! They came in that $1 on-sale-pack of 6 socks I mentioned above. Aren’t they too much? Little kids are close to your feet so they notice fun socks. I got these comfy leather shoes online from Kmart on sale for about $21.
So, here are the tan jeans, the ones on sale for $11 at Walmart. Very comfy, straight-leg, five-pocket style. I’m sure I’ll be wearing them at least once a week.
I fell in love with this striped knit shirt in Apple Juice, Spiced Cider, Gem Slate, Studio Blue and cream. I think the Gem Slate lettuce trim on the sleeves and hem is a nice touch and it was only $8.98. When my sister saw it, she loved it and said she is getting one, too. To me, this shirt reminds me of that character on the Netflix series, “Dead to Me” who is always wearing striped shirts 🙂 like this one.
I put the cream sweater from Target ($15, on sale) so you could see that as a layer. I had an old Vera Bradley purse that I thought looked well with this. The brown leather shoes were ordered online from K-Mart for about $22 on sale. And of course, “Spiced Cider” socks…
All in all, I got 3 pairs of jeans, two pairs of leggings, two pairs of jeggings, 7 tops, 3 cardigans, 2 camisoles, 14 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of leather shoes, and a pair of suede-like ankle boots for about $200. A whole fall wardrobe, basically! And everything matches and fits!
I’m so happy with my new clothes. I hope you saw something you liked. Happy shopping!