Annual Anthology: 2016

Favorites from: What’s Next? – Nourishment – Wisdom

When we envisioned a new Literary/Arts Magazine, we wanted to not only be a part of the digital world, but also breathe life into the works of talented people by taking their work to the flesh: real paper.

This book is the first venture into going from the circuits of computers across the world into something you can hold in your hands.

We are thrilled to share with you the First Annual Anthology from Modern Creative Life. The Editorial Team has chosen a handful of favorites from the first three issues of the digital magazine and gathered them in a beautiful paperback book for your reading pleasure.

Within the  376 pages of this delightful book you’ll discover poetry, essays, stories, letters, and other works from thirty-two different makers.

The cover features a photo from Lawrence Davanzo.

The Modern Creative Life Annual Anthology: 2016 is available from Amazon in Paperback and a Kindle version.

As a bonus, we’ve joined the Kindle Match program, so for those of you who can’t decide which version you want for your personal library, purchasing the paperback will make you eligible for the Kindle version at no additional cost.

This is a stunning collection: perfect for lingering over with your morning coffee and reading by the fire in the evening.

We hope you will reach for this book whenever you yearn for a moment of connection with other creative souls. May it encourage you and inspire your own creative living.

With love,

Debra Smouse
Editor in Chief

Typical Tuesday with Theresa Reed


I never sleep in. I’m up and at ‘em before my husband even begins to stir.  The quiet time in the morning is essential for me. I use this time to get my brain – and day – in order.

I rarely need an alarm because I’ve trained myself to wake up around 6AM.  Once my eyes are open, the day is started.

My day begins with brushing my teeth. I am a compulsive tooth brusher and like to brush ‘em throughout the day. I like the minty-fresh breath thing.  Next up, a big glass of water. Water is important because we become dehydrated in the night.  A fresh glass gets everything in my system refreshed.

Now it’s time for meditation and movement.  I need to move my body in order to get the blood pumping. That might be with weights, yoga, or with energy work.  Whatever I can get in.  A little meditation stills  my mind, which preps me for starting my work.

Every morning, I post a tarot “Card for the Day” post on social media.  Once that’s done, I check my emails and put out any fires there.  Then, I sneak in a little writing. It might be my blog post for the day or the new book I’m working on.  Or maybe something else.  Morning is my favorite time to write because I know I won’t be disturbed.

After a bit, it’s time to get to these cats.  They are bugging me by now.  I feed them and then grab a bite to eat.  I’m not a big breakfast person so it’s usually a bowl of organic oatmeal, Greek yogurt with berries, or a bagel.  Copious amounts of green tea follow.  I’m not a coffee person at all. The only way I can do coffee is in a Frappacino – which, as my son so sagely noted, isn’t really coffee – it’s dessert!

I take my breakfast at my desk and then write some more. If it’s a blogging day, I’ll post that morning and put links on social media. Otherwise, it may be some other project I’m jamming away on.

Then, it’s time to hit the showers!  I love a blistering hot shower.  Like, mega-steaming to the point where my skin is red when I’m done. I know it’s probably bad for my skin but it makes me feel purged and alive!

Once I’m outta there, I love to slather my skin with body lotions and potions before getting dressed and getting my face on for the day. It takes me about five minutes to put on my makeup most days. I always say: if it takes you more than ten minutes to put on your face, you’re wearing too much.  Most days, it’s just a little tinted moisturizer, a swipe of eyeshadow and my signature black eyeliner with a little gloss. I don’t even bother with blush or mascara.  I don’t have time to bother.

I will do a check in with social media and emails – then it’s time to run errands with my husband, who is by now awake but bleary-eyed.  He’s a night person so I have to nag him awake.

Our mornings together are my favorite. We get in a walk and discuss whatever needs discussing.  It might be talking about our day, the latest news, or some project we’re working on.  We’re both workaholics so you can guess that most of our conversations center around that.  Post office, banking, Starbucks, and groceries are next – usually in that order.  I buy fresh groceries almost every day because I cook every night.  It’s my way of winding down plus fresh food is important to me.

Once we’re back home, it’s time to begin client work.

That starts off with email readings.  I used to do a lot of them but they are extremely time consuming so I’ve been limiting myself to a few a day – and no weekends.  I spend about two hours doing these – no more.  Remember, I’ve already been writing for most of the morning.  A few hours of email readings on top of all that and my arthritis is kicking in!  Gotta save those paws so they must be used very mindfully.

Next up, it’s time for readings.  Meaning, phone sessions with clients.  I make sure to have time between each reading to grab tea and get off my chair.  I NEED to move as much as  possible because this is sedentary work and I’m a believer that the chair is the devil.  LOL I find excuses to keep on moving as much as I can. In fact, the tea maker is on the third floor which means I have to take the stairs to refill my mug.  Believe me, I get in plenty of stairs every day.

My office closes promptly at 7PM on Tuesdays but then I’m hitting the computer for #TarotRap, my weekly Twitter chat about tarot.  I’ve only been doing this a few months but it’s a great way to connect with fellow tarot fanatics and talk about all things tarot!  I’ve been having so much fun – and the best part: I’ve even been learning a few new things.  You CAN teach an old tarot dog new tricks!  We’ve got some amazing people showing up every week – both newbies and old pros.  I am not sure how long I will be doing this but for now, it’s been great fun.

Once #TarotRap is finished, it is time to cook a meal, grab a glass of wine and relax with my husband and the cats.  We’ve been watching InkMaster on Tuesdays but often, it’s more likely just quiet time and reading books, side by side, with one of the cats jammed in between us.

I am usually in bed no later than 11PM.  As you can probably guess, when my head hits the pillow, I’m out like a light.

My days are long and challenging but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my work and my life.  It’s engineered to suit my workaholic nature and introvert tendencies.



About the Author: Theresa Reed

theresareedTheresa Reed (aka “The Tarot Lady”) has been a full-time Tarot card reader for close to 30 years. She is the author of The Tarot Coloring Book (release date: Nov 1, 2016), an illustrated tour through the world of Tarot with coloring sheets for every card in the deck.

In addition to doing private Tarot readings, teaching Tarot classes, and speaking at Tarot conferences, Theresa also runs a popular website——where she dishes out advice, inspiration and tips for Tarot lovers of all experience levels.

Follow Theresa on Twitter and Instagram for her daily “Six Second Tarot Reading”—plus photos of her extremely handsome cats, TaoZen and Monkey.

Ghosts as Truth-Tellers by Andi Cumbo-Floyd

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach! ― Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol

I can’t tell you what I really believe about ghosts.  Are they real in the sense that they occupy time and space and energy with the living? Are they the spirits of dead people or the energy echoes of those who lived before us? Are they figments of our guilty, grieving, hopeful imaginations?  I have no idea. . . like I said, I don’t even know if they exist.

But I do know this – they are powerful in our American culture and in many cultures around the world. They occupy a liminal space between the real and the magical, a space that allows them both the authority and the transcendence to speak truth with a power that a mere mortal cannot.

Some of the first stories I remember being moved by as a child were ghost stories from the Appalachian Mountains where I was raised.  There, the ghosts of American Indians walked the woods with lanterns, and the spirit of a teenage girl who died young gets a lift home from a man on a foggy night.  Those stories scared me, yes, but they also taught me something really important about human nature – that we cling to our histories, our heritages in every way we can and that this clinging can create beauty and power that stretches beyond a lifetime.

I see this in my own work as I write about the history and legacy of enslavement in Virginia, in the way I feel the presences of the people who have gone before, in how the ancestors speak to me in tingles and in the research finds that propel me forward.  Do I think it’s the spirits of the actual people who were enslaved that help me in these ways? I’m not sure. But I know that when I am open to their experiences, when I am seeking their stories, when I am letting the tingles of intuition and the tidbits of information resonate through me, I find history and story that I would never discover on my own.

It’s for this reason that I chose to use ghosts as the great teachers and guides in my Steele Secrets books.  I take my cue from Dickens here, who knew that a ghost might speak a truth that could ring like a bell when it was free from the living entanglements of prejudice and self-interest.  A voice free from the chains of society and the worries of a life cuts through the clutter of our dailyness and widens the cracks where the light gets in. (Perhaps Leonard Cohen will haunt us with his blessing forevermore.)

People are wary of ghosts because we are afraid, I expect. We sometimes claim religious reasons or science as a reason for our fear or disbelief, but I wonder if sometimes we are also afraid of being the Scrooge in the story. Are we concerned that we need to be taught a lesson and will be whisked off to our fondest and darkest moments? If so, maybe we need to take our cue from Scrooge again and give in to the journey so that we can come out the other side with softer hearts and a way of being that gives Tiny Tim the space to share his words that bless us all.

About the Author: Andi Cumbo-Floyd

andibio1Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and farmer, who lives on 15 blissful acres at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, 6 goats, 4 dogs, 4 cats, and 22 chickens. Her books include Steele Secrets, The Slaves Have Names, and Writing Day In and Day Out. The next book in her Steele Secrets Series, Charlotte and the Twelve, is now available.

You can connect with Andi at her website,, or via Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday Sanctuary: Crisis of Faith


I sent a one line email to one of my most trusted friends:

“I almost applied for a secretarial job today.”

It was a distilled synopsis hiding behind the deeper truth: I was smack-dab in the middle of a crisis of faith.

Weeks earlier, I had completed the process of turning two of my digital coaching courses into hold-in-your-hand books. It should have been a pinnacle moment for the year, but once I got beyond the first giddy experience of seeing five years of my work become flesh, I felt like the gardener who’d made the mistake of planting too many zucchini plants in her garden and was secretly leaving baskets of veggies on her neighbor’s porch in the dead of night.

In my office was an unopened box from Amazon containing the book of a friend. I left the box untouched for days, lost in feeling both aggravated and downtrodden. I had been a strong supporter of every book written by friends and happily touted – and often purchased – the many digital courses created by friends and colleagues. Yet, in the midst of that week, I was feeling that no one was willing to step up and support me.

I knew for a fact that none of my friends or colleagues had purchased either of my books because I had zero sales. Everyone was “zucchini-ed” out and I couldn’t even give the damn books away!

Being a maker of any sort is often a solo act and can easily lead to the feelings of aloneness and isolation. My partner, John, is a huge supporter of my work, but he doesn’t quite get what my work is, let alone what it feels like.

So, the morning an email from a head hunter arrived in my inbox touting the “perfect” job for me, instead of the immediate “no thank you” I had penned dozens of times over the last six years, I clicked on the link and read the job description:

“Executive Assistant to CEO of COMPANYNAME. Need project management skills (preferably with PMP Certification), top-notch communication skills, both verbal and written, flexible attitude, be a great problem solver, and posses a deep understanding of the demands and stresses of an executive of a multi-million dollar business. Pet lovers only. Great benefits, including health, dental, and 401k. Bonus: bring your dog to work.”

I began to imagine going to an office and being around people. Every Day. I envisioned the need for sheath dresses, skirts, pantsuits, and high heels. All clothing I have loved wearing in my past life when I was a full-time consultant. I fantasized about an office Christmas Party! And though we are currently pet-less due to our frequent travel, daily affection – given and received – from well-behaved dogs whenever I wanted!

Not only was the fantasy I was imagining fulfilling, the job fit another requirement of mine: close to home. So close to home, in fact, that I could easily bike to work if I wanted.

I went as far as sending a quick response to the head hunter that I would give the job a strong consideration. I also dug out my resume, which hadn’t been updated since my last Government Contract seven years earlier.

I will be frank with you: it wasn’t about the money. I am in the position that every writer I know desires to be in: no need for a day job to ensure the mortgage gets paid.

It was about the potential to escape the desolate isolation and deeper loneliness of being an extrovert living the life of an introverted creator.

I walked away from my desk. Showered, dressed, and left the house to do one of my go to activities for lonely days: errands. I got a coffee at Starbucks and had a nourishing exchange with my favorite barista, Chase. I strolled through Pier 1 Imports and complimented the manager on the remodeled store. I picked up light-bulbs and giant bags of salt for our water softener (the most awkward bags ever). And then it was off to the Dry Cleaners to drop off John’s suit pants, pick-up of previous left pants and dress shirts left, and to hear the update on the owner’s wife’s cancer treatment and his daughter’s soccer tournament.

Though these errands can seem unimportant or mindless, the last several years of working exclusively at home have taught me to channel my extroverted need to interact with people by seeing the management of household needs as a form of ministry. I have learned to cultivate a connection with strangers that I meet through this tending of our life. I know the names and a few personal details of my favorite grocery store folks. I know that Chase, my favorite Barista, collects Starbucks Cards from faraway places and have brought him cards from DC and Hawaii for his collection. I know by sight, if not my name, the cashiers at my favorite stores. The ladies at the post office all know me and are genuinely happy to see me when I walk in laden with packages or just to buy some stamps.

Yes, I plan the occasional lunch date with girlfriends, but everyone’s lives are busy and few have the time for spur-of-the-moment lunches. Most of them work day jobs.

I forced myself to step back from my surface emotions and examine the deeper, more vulnerable thoughts and feelings.

Did what I do even matter? What was the purpose of what I did each day? Was there a point to continuing toiling away over words that few might ever read? In the sea of the thousands of life coaches these days, did my voice matter? Where was I keeping myself from being happy? How was I squashing my own joy? Was considering a day job just an escape? Was it an excuse steeped in fear of my writing and work?

The Kismet of timing, my phone rings. My girlfriend had finished a work call, gotten my email, and called to confess that she, too, has applied for a job here or there over her decade of being an entrepreneur.

She gives me the permission I need: go for that day job if that’s what my heart is needing. She talks me through the options and reminds me that I am not alone. Despite the fact that I felt so isolated just hours before, I am reminded that every single maker of any sort has moments of fear, doubt, isolation, and a loss of faith in their purpose and work.

I step away from the very lip of the ledge and to a safer distance from diving over. But I keep the edge in sight.

Everyone who chooses to live a creative life will have their own crisis of faith. Though money isn’t everything, having my work seen holds value to me, so where is that balance I need?

Who am I to add my voice to the world? Don’t more important people have something better to say than I? Who am I? Do I matter? Does my work even matter?

My logical side encourages me to get out a pen and paper and review the list of pros and cons of A Day Job VS This Creative –Out of the Box – Life I have worked so hard to create.

My choices over the last seven years have not been in any way unconscious.

Each decision has been calculated carefully with my big goals in mind and the clear understanding of what sacrifices I make, measured side-by-side the trade-offs and advantages of each one. Most of the decisions I have made have come down to the core question: how will this affect the quality of our daily life?

Last year about this time I decided to cut the time I spend on my coaching practice in half. There were two reasons: to have the space to write differently and to have more time to keep house.

Yes, you read that right: I wanted more time to keep house.

No, I didn’t get swept up in a time warp back to the 50’s. You won’t find me vacuuming the couch attired in a dress with stockings, heels, and pearls. However, one of the biggest contributing factors in the quality of our daily life is the way I manage our home. I take pride in the creation of beautiful meals that appear on our table. I love that in the evenings, we can cuddle up by the fire with a glass of wine and talk about the day instead of scrambling to pick up the dry cleaning or groceries. Because I manage all the tasks it takes to care for our home, we sleep in, make love, and leisurely enjoy coffee on a Saturday morning instead of me waking with my brain cluttered with a big to-do list.

I know myself well, and I know that if I were to take a day job, my home life would suffer.

One of the biggest shifts in my ability to create has occurred over the last seven years because, for the first time in my life, I am safe. Safe to be myself. Safe to be vulnerable. Safe to write whatever bounces around in my brain. As a child, my mother criticized and even destroyed years and years of my journal writings. Both my ex-husband and my children pried into any written journal – physical or digital. John never peeks and would never pry.

When Virginia Woolf writes about a woman needing a room of her own, this is the core meaning of that: in order to create, a woman must have privacy. The work needs to be safe from prying eyes until we are ready to share it. That’s one of the paradoxes for me in this creative life: I want my work to be seen, yes. But I need the safety of not having it seen until I make it ready for the world.

There is another side of this crisis of faith that I know to the depths of my soul: a crisis of faith is a sign that you are on the edges of an important evolution. Our brains sense that our souls are trying to change, and because our brains try to keep us “safe” from change, it convinces us, through fear, that what we are about to embark upon is dangerous.

My desire to escape the isolation is sign. And a test.

Do I really desire to live a creative life? Am I really brave enough to take that next step? Am I willing to try new ways of creating? Am I willing to fail? Am I willing to deal with the painful emotions associated with creating so that I can access that deeper sense of joy and happiness?

I may not have all the answers to these questions, but I do know that the almost-fifty-year-old version of Debra has more patience and a deeper sense of hope in the value of a creative life than thirty-year-old Debra ever imagined. The thirty-year-old me – heck, even the forty-year-old me –  would have taken the day job. After a few days of sitting with the decision, I tell the head hunter that I am honored. And will not be interviewing for the position.

I have weathered this crisis of faith and recognize three distinct truths. One: I am still in the shadow phase of my crisis and will need to diligently tend my bruised heart and tender soul. Two: this isn’t my last crisis in faith. The flip side of this wildly invigorating and profoundly rewarding decision to choose my own creative soul is that with each stage of evolution, there will be seeds of doubt sown side by side with each seed of faith I plant.

And the third truth is one I hope you take with you as well: a crisis of faith means that life is about to get interesting.  Very interesting.  Because it’s a sign that my creative soul is ready to grow beyond my wildest dreams.

No matter where you may be in your creative journey, know that however you are feeling, you are not alone.

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.
Do not lose courage… ”
–St. Francis de Sales

About the Author: Debra Smouse

debra_Smouse_mclDebra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Clearing Brain Clutter: Discovering Your Heart’s Desire and  Clearing Soul Clutter: Creating Your Vision. When she’s not vacuuming her couch, you’ll find her reading or plotting when she can play her next round of golf. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Finding My Creative Soul During the Holidays by Jeanie Croope

Most months of the year, finding time for me to be creative isn’t all that difficult. This is, in part, because I don’t have a day-job. Though I have obligations, as you do, I can generally build a good deal of creativity into my daily life.

And then December arrives.

I love Christmas. I love the parties, the presents, the wrapping, decorating, get-togethers with friends, baking, lights, candles, music, the memories, the magic. It is my holiday and my holiday runs from the day after Thanksgiving until the day the trees come down. (And that may be well into January!)


But with all the making merry, grabbing time to be creative can be a challenge. I’ve had to rethink my definition of creativity and how it applies to me. As I’ve been muddling this for a few weeks, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve come to realize.

First, there is more than one way to be creative. One of my pet peeves is when someone says to me, “You’re so creative. I’m just not. Not at all.”

I don’t believe that for a minute about anyone. The person who might say that to me could be a marvelous cook or a mathematician whose daily work would tie my mind in knots. And while one might say there are rules to both of those, I would say that any discipline has its so-called “rules” but the creative part is when you bend them to the situation. Modifying a recipe. Thinking outside the box on a scientific research experiment. Violating the principles of the color wheel. Would Einstein have discovered the theory of relativity if he didn’t think outside the box?

So my first thought is to think of all you do as a potential venue for your creativity to explode. The way you decorate the tree or hang your garland. The craft you might reluctantly be drawn into could find you reveling in the joy of creating something lovely. Those Christmas cookies — why not try fun-with-frosting instead of just the sugar sprinkles? Or a new recipe you’ve never before prepared?

Second, think of every holiday experience as a potential jumpstart for your creativity. When you attend your community’s tree lighting or drive through the neighborhood looking at lights, don’t leave it at that. Go home and write down five or ten thoughts about the experience. What did it look like or feel like and what does it mean to you. Chances are, you have just written a poem — or something that could be a poem.

jeanie-december-postAnd the best part about this one is that you can do it with anything — the family gathering, your best friend’s party, the experience of baking cookies with the kids.

Take those thoughts a step further. Write them on bright paper, cut them out and hang them on a tree, put them in a scrapbook or make a “what’s this?” game from them. (Put the phrases into a pretty box. Players draw a phrase and have to figure out the experience.) Make your own rules! Does anyone really know all the official Scrabble rules?

Seek out a creative play date during the holiday, a time when you give yourself a few hours to engage in a creative activity. It might be an afternoon workshop where you paint Christmas cards or a gathering to make a wreath or holiday ornament. Maybe it’s the cookie exchange, but instead of putting your cookies in plastic bags for others to take home, wrap them up in style!

Each December, I attend a workshop that begins with a a lovely dinner followed by a project like this year’s “ice berry wreath” and “bucket o’ greens.” The group engages in a relatively simple activity that ends up looking great — and is useful. Many garden centers or craft stores host classes where you will leave with decorative holiday project. Look for card-making workshops or Christmas cookie-baking classes.

It’s a double win. Creativity without guilt. Not only do you carve creative time into your holiday, you also do something productive, something to be proud of. When you hear compliments on your wreath or baking you’ll have an extra smile because you had the experience of creating to go along with it.

I think of my friend Susan’s wrapping party. She served up cider and soup, tape and scissors and some paper and ribbons. Everyone brought their gifts and their own packaging and when the evening was over, much of their wrapping work was behind them.

Then there was my family’s Christmas wrapping contest. One gift would be wrapped “creatively” — that was the only “rule.” A poster took on new life as a trumpet. Rolls of old movie film turned into a bow. The year my mother was on a felt gingerbread-man stitching blitz inspired my dad to make a giant gingerman that looked like her small ones, and, leaving a small opening on the side, stuffed it with the earrings he gave her. That gingerbread man tops my kitchen trees forty years later.

Don’t forget the Internet. Thanks to blogs, Pinterest and Instagram you’ll find plenty of inspiring ideas for easy and fast projects, many done with a minimum of expense or time. Some of these projects can be done in the company of others — maybe your grandchild or your best friend. From simple ornament ideas to easy-to-make tags, you’ll find plenty of instructions to get you started. Chances are you even have most of the supplies you’ll need right at home!

Creativity and thoughtfulness can go hand in hand. Consider wrapping something you might give the person standing in the snow on the corner something in a pretty package — and include a thick Sharpie so they can actually make a readable sign.

Our creative souls don’t disappear during the busy season. Sometimes they go into hiding, just waiting to be coaxed out. And when you give yourself permission to let it go, you’ll not only have fun but you may discover new traditions in the process.

Now, I wonder what pile the watercolors are under?

About the Author: Jeanie Croope

Jeanie Croope bioAfter a long career in public broadcasting, Jeanie Croope is now doing all the things she loves — art, photography, writing, cooking, reading wonderful books and discovering a multitude of new creative passions. You can find her blogging about life and all the things she loves at The Marmelade Gypsy.

Christmas Magic and the Practice of Omen Days by Briana Saussy


In our family December has a deep stillness about it that can be heard underneath the hustle and bustle. It is a deeply magical time of blood red holly calling to mind all of the ancient Goddesses who were so in love with life that they just kept creating and birthing new creatures, and ivy that calls to mind the strong Gods, surefooted protectors of all that is virginal and wild.

This is the time of year in the Southwest when the trickster tales of Coyote are allowed to be told (being forbidden at other times of the year in many tribes) in the hopes that Coyote’s antics will hurry on the coming of Spring. In much of the Northern Hemisphere, December marks the beginning of the true season of storytelling and in the United Kingdom there are certain tales about faeries that can only be told during this month, once safe distance from Samhain has been attained.

Where I live, in South Central Texas the weather is typically mild and so it is a time for being outside and watching the deer and other creatures as they move across the land.

In Catholic tradition much of the Christmas celebration occurs “out of ordinary time” indicating that this we are now in time beyond time, we are in liminal time. The many festivals marking re-birth the occurred in the ancient world during this time of year support the liminal feeling as do the many stories of Christmas ghosts, perhaps made most famous by Charles Dickens in the Christmas story. Old stories claim that on Christmas eve night just as on Halloween, the spirits of the Dead are given license to walk the land once more. To those of us that honor our Ancestors this makes perfect sense: why wouldn’t our Beloved Dead want to get in on all of the parties, festivities, and delicious foods?!

The Wild Hunt, a mythic procession composed of faeries, elves, and the Dead and led by various mythic male figures (most often the Norse All-Father Odin) is traditionally said to be most active from Halloween through Christmas as well.

Anytime our Beloved Dead are seen as especially active is a good time to perform divination and exercise foresight. Christmas is no exception to that and there is actually a lovely tradition supporting this endeavor known in Brittany and Wales as “Omen Days”, more popularly known to us as the Twelve Days of Christmas. The Twelve Days of Christmas is a bit confusing because they actually begin after the celebration of Christmas on Christmas Day (December 25th).

The Twelve Days begin on December 26th and run through January 6th, commonly known as Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night is also known as the Feast of the Epiphany or simply Epiphany and celebrates the Magi visiting and blessing the infant Jesus. Twelfth Night is also known as the Day of Misrule and in Tudor England was a time when noblemen and women would switch places with their servants for the entire day.

But let us return to the Omen Days and the art of divination.

As we move from the old year into the New Year it is natural to wonder about what the new year will bring. Many tarot readers offer special new year type readings and many astrologers do the same. The happy news is that you can be your own oracle by participating in Omen Days.

The process is simple. Keeping in mind that this is a liminal time when our Ancestors and your Otherworldly allies have better access to you, you simply have to pay attention. On December 26th the question you hold in your heart should be concerned with the month of January, what will the month of January bring into your life? Another way to phrase this: what do you need to know about your upcoming January? On December 27th you will ask about February, December 28th turns your attention to March, and so on and so forth until you reach January 6th which will give you insight into next December, a year from now.

Once you ask your question, the Celtic traditions say that you wait for a natural omen to appear, some of the omens I have received in the past include: a black cat, a white deer, a fruit ripening out of season, and a feather just to give you an idea of what you might be working with. You can also receive literal signs like “road closed” or “detour route” as omens on these days.

Interpreting signs and omens can feel a bit like treading water at first but my experience is that as long as you record the omens in some way so that you have a record you will be fine. Often when the omen first appears an immediate interpretation comes to mind and you simply know what the significance is for you and your coming year. In other cases like a dream, an omen might take awhile to crack open. Make a note of what it was and what month it is attached to and simply go about doing other things, the answer will reveal itself in time.

I recommend that you DO NOT go to a book of signs and symbols in order to “decode” your omen because a deer can mean many things to many different people but the important information at the moment is what the deer means to you and only you can say what that might be.

My community of sacred seekers has been participating in Omen Days for several years now. Starting on December 26th we go into our days with eyes and ears open and mouth closed to see what there is to see. I invite you to join us, share your own omens, and see what others are discovering by using the hashtag #omendays in your social media updates.

My holiday wish for you all is that you will allow yourself to peer below the surface glitz of this season into the heart of the very real mystery and magic that it carries. The land is quieter as are we, which means that this is the perfect time to listen deeply.

About the Author: Briana Saussy

briana_bioHi, I’m Briana! I am a writer, teacher, and spiritual counselor, and I am part of a growing community of soulful seekers, people who are looking for wholeness, holiness and healing – for better, more rewarding lives.

If you enjoyed learning about Omen Days and would like to learn more about folk magic traditions and practices then please join me for the Remembering Way.

‘Tis the Season by Bella Cirovic

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

‘Tis the season for creating new rituals. It is a time for long walks in the afternoon just before the sun fades into the early evening. Allow yourself the space to breathe in the fresh air. Notice the scents that travel on the breeze, the textures of the trees around you, and the firmness of the ground beneath your feet. Watch the sun fall behind the horizon. Take the wonder of nature indoors with you. Grab what speaks to you. Maybe it will be a leaf or a twig or a stone or a piece of bark. The piece will infuse a sense of harmony between the outside world and your sacred space.


‘Tis the season to nurture our body’s energy center with pungent and aromatic delicacies like fresh turmeric and ginger. It is said that yellow and orange colored foods fan our creative fires in addition to fueling our solar plexus chakra. Feed yourself food that mimics the sun now that the days are shorter. Indulge your senses with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, peppermint, and cumin. Swirl one or more of these spices into a mug of hot cocoa for a magical treat.

‘Tis the season to create cozy corners in our homes. Layering a couple of blankets and pillows to the couches and love seats of our family rooms creates an intimate vibe. Think about how inviting a plush, comfortable space would be for work, rest, entertainment, and play. Set aside a half hour to go through the rooms of the house and make a checklist of what can be moved around or added onto. Bring candles and oil burners to nooks and corners of your rooms. What about a string of twinkle lights? Vanilla and patchouli blend well together and both have properties that lend to the warm atmosphere we are going for.

‘Tis the season to move your body. Create some playlists or cd’s of music for all of the upcoming holidays. Don’t forget to add one for when you’re cleaning the house, one for cooking dinner, one for solo dance parties, and one for relaxing. Now that it’s colder, we’ll be inside more often. Movement, even simple stretches, revitalizes the body and gets blood circulation going. Move at a rate that feels right to you, whether that’s high energy steps or simply swaying from side to side. Shake away old energy. Sweat your feelings out. Movement is our sweet release.

‘This the season to gather with loved ones. In these tech heavy times, we need more coffee dates and get togethers with our friends and loved ones. Don’t settle for relationships that only exist because of text messaging. Make phone calls and pencil in some time to hang out and get lost in conversation. Enjoy watching the sun rise or set with your mate minus your smartphones. Read a good story to the kids before bed. Smother your family in hugs and kisses. The most heartfelt gift one can give is their time and their presence. These are things that cannot be bought.

‘Tis the season for tending to our hearts. The holidays are not always easy. This season in particular is known to amplify feelings of sadness, anxiety, and the blues. Check in with your spirit and feed yourself what you need. Be tender and merciful with yourself, you deserve it. Wave hello to your neighbors and smile at strangers. One kind gesture could mean the world to the person on the receiving end. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need or to offer your hand to help out. We are all in this together.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Sprache (Language) by Æverett

Table by Web Agency via Unsplash

Table by Web Agency via Unsplash

From the other side of the wall, she hears voices. They wander in and out of volume. But even when she can hear, she doesn’t understand.

Unfamiliar tones and patterns bounce gracefully around in a floating melody. The whispered hisses of a babbling brook. Smoothly halting around quiet boulders.

Then another voice, sharp and terse. The same soothing sounds made harsh and grating. Dangerous. Stern. The deep rumble of an angry Earth.

But it’s still the same words, the same melodious, dancing sounds, struck down by a militant bearing.

She doesn’t understand. She can’t understand.

Laughter is familiar. The bubbling brilliance of joy.

She listens, lost, for a long time. The… family?… behind the wall is having an argument, debate. Stern, deep voices are countered by light, flowing ones. Others, which almost sing in their cadence, speak up in a void. All drift and wander and move around one another like a river. A foreign song with unknowable words.

She smiles. Because once the words are known, she knows, the music will be dulled.

About the Author: Æverett Æverett

Æverett lives in the northern hemisphere and enjoys Rammstein and Star Trek. He writes both poetry and fiction and dabbles in gardening and soap making. She has two wonderfully old cats, and a dearly beloved dog. He also plays in linguistics, studying German, Norwegian, Russian, Arabic, a bit of Elvish, and developing Cardassian. Language is fascinating, enlightening, and inspirational. She’s happily married to her work with which she shares delusions of demon hunters, detectives, starships, androids, and a home on the outskirts of a small northern town. He’s enjoyed writing since childhood and the process can be downright therapeutic when it’s not making him pull his hair out. It’s really about the work and words and seeing without preconceptions.

Sunday Salon: The Magic’s in the Music

Sunday Salon with Becca Rowan

My neighborhood is all decked out for Christmas, and my own halls are quite proverbially decked as well. I love bringing light and color into the dark days of December. It’s an important way I get into the holiday spirit.

Holiday parties and gatherings are starting to pile up on my calendar. I love catching up with old friends, connecting with family, sharing good food and happy conversation. This is also an important way I get into the holiday spirit.

My checkbook is getting a workout these days. I love making donations during the holidays, sponsoring good causes both large and small. Doing small generous acts is an important way I connect with the holiday spirit.

But the real holiday magic? For me, that comes from only one thing.



“There’s a profound sense in which music opens a secret door in time and reaches into the eternal,” writes John O’Donohue in his book Beauty, The Invisible Embrace. When I first read that sentence, it felt as if O’Donohue himself had opened a secret door into my soul and discovered the secret magic music brings to my life.

When you really listen to music, when you allow yourself to enter into it’s particular rhythm and nuance, you can be lifted out of time and place and into another realm, one where beauty and elegance and story and feeling all meld into one. Where precision and tone and harmony and breath come together to create something new and completely organic. When you really listen in this way, with your whole heart, you will be surprised by how it touches your heart, how it finds emotions and memories you had thought long forgotten.

Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes music finds things in your soul you wish would stay hidden. But at the same time, it heals the pain with it’s own sweet, melodious balm. And there are certain times of life when music touches you more deeply than others, evoking more memories, transporting you to different places in time, connecting you with a long line of listeners through the ages. Certainly the holidays are one of those times.

O’Donohue writes: “Perhaps music renews the heart precisely for this reason: it plumbs the gravity of sorrow until it finds the point of submerged light and lightness. Unconsciously, it schools us in a different way to hold the sorrow.” Sometimes, especially during these bleak winter days when the world seems to weigh heavily on my shoulder, I come to music as a way to heal.

It never fails me.

I have played music in some form or other for nearly all of my life. I started playing piano when I was 6 and never stopped. I’ve played in orchestras, sung in choirs. Now I play with a group of wonderful musicians in a handbell ensemble, and you can imagine how busy we are during the Christmas season. (Bells and Christmas are a natural combination, apparently.) We start working on holiday music at our first rehearsal in September, and don’t stop until the last program is over in mid-December.

I have piano books of Christmas arrangements that I started playing over 45 years ago, and I dig them out of the music closet every year without fail. Playing those pieces connects me with Christmas past as surely as Ebenezer’s ghost does- but in a much more pleasant fashion. I remember playing them in the living room of my childhood home while my mother and grandmother were cleaning up the dinner dishes. I remember playing them in my own living room while my son built a fort for his stuffed animals underneath the grand piano. I remember playing them in the house all alone, with no one but my two little dogs to listen. Each time I sit down at the piano and start to play, a lifetime’s worth of memories flow from my heart into my fingertips.

And when I finally push back the piano bench, or step away from the bell tables, or even turn off the speaker on my iPad, I feel a surge of both strength and peace. It’s a feeling of deep soul-satisfaction that like no other.

“The soul is the force of remembrance in us,” O’Donohue says. “It reminds us that we are children of the eternal and that our time on earth is meant to be a pilgrimage of growth and creativity. This is what music does. It evokes a world where that ancient beauty can resonate within us again.”

That is magical indeed.


About the Author: Becca Rowan

becca_rowan_bio_may2016Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan with her husband and their two dogs. She is the author of Life in General, a book of personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. If she’s not writing or playing music you’ll likely find her out walking with the dogs or curled up on the couch reading with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) close at hand. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Fleeting by Pat West


My sister leans against the archway
in my bedroom. Beautiful
even with the shunt
bulging at her left temple
like a goose egg. Her green eyes
stunning over an emerald silk
blouse. I tell her I love her
and treasure how she taught me to ride
a two wheeler, find my balance,
push past the wobbles. And to always
hold on tight to the ropes or chains,
to be in charge of making the swing go,
legs back, legs out, reach for the sky.
And later, how to kiss.
I laugh, though I don’t know why, she laughs
too. We always did that. She smiles
and disappears before I can tell her
my daughter turned out more like her than me.
More Oscar Madison than Felix Unger,
more self confident than insecure
and more Hemingway fan than Fitzgerald.

About the Author: Pat West


Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA.  A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.