The Wisdom found in the Colors of Autumn by Bella Cirovic

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

When I have heavy thoughts on my mind, I like to go for a walk in the woods. Actually, I go for a walk in the woods everyday, but it seems to feel more therapeutic when I’ve got internal things to work out. This is easy enough because my home is surrounded by lush forest and right now, the colors are beginning to change with the turn of the seasons. It is such a beautiful time for nature lovers like myself to be outside as much as possible. I often say “nature is my church” and it really has become like a house of prayer for me in times of distress.

What I’ve been keeping an eye out for on my walks lately are messages. Maybe I’ll find a random feather or a stone on my path in the midst of a thought. What could it mean? I often wonder about that and soon let that idea drift away, keeping my found treasure as a comfort item rather than looking for a spiritual meaning in everything. Who am I kidding? It all means something!


There is one infinite kind of wisdom I have been in search of all season, and I think I have found it within the colors of autumn. I could talk about how the arrival of color coming to life in the forest has awakened something deep inside of me for days. I walk with my head held high in a state of wonder of it all.

I drink in the reds, the color of the root chakra and remember that my feet are connected to the earth and I am grounded. Red also instigates a spicy desire to tidy up my home and finish up odds and ends projects that promote a cozy nest feeling. I feel anchored by this color.

I’m blinded by the oranges that stir my creative juices and activate ideas for hot dates with my husband. Orange is my favorite color. Its energy feels warm and inviting, like a cocoon.

The yellows give me a sense of renewed energy. They remind me of citrus fruit and sunshine, infusing me with all the happy feels. If my thoughts are overwhelming, the color yellow helps lighten the load. I can’t help but smile every time I see this color.

The bit of shadow and mystery that I am so very drawn to is represented by shades of brown. I believe hugely in the idea that there cannot be light without dark in the emotional sense. Brown is that final touch of color before fading to gray then to black. It is present between the glittery leaves, a reminder that even our most solemn complexities can coexist alongside our jovial highs.

Finally, the ever present hues of green, the heart of nature and the forest. Green is a blanket of calm, a color that reminds me of where I am and how to come back to my heart center. Nature’s green is a soft landing, a place where I can lay down my armour and lean into trust.

I wonder, what does the seasonal shift look like for you and does it contribute positively to your soul nourishment?

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

Sunday Brunch: The Ghosts We Choose

Copyright: captblack76 / 123RF Stock Photo

Sunday Brunch With Melissa Bartell


Do you believe in ghosts?

On the surface it’s a simple question, answered with a definitive yes or no. But before you respond, take a moment to consider: what is a ghost, exactly?

Are we talking about the literal spirits of our dearly departed?

Copyright: <a href=''>captblack76 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Well, if those are real it would explain why I smell my grandmother’s perfume when I’m longing for the sound of her unselfconscious singing to her African violets every morning, or feel her cool hand stroking my forehead when I’m feeling hot and sick and feverish.

(She had such elegant fingers. Mine are short and chubby.)

That kind of ghost – the gentle spirit that guides and soothes, in the form of sense memories and inner voices, that’s the kind I want to believe in.

But, if we believe in helpful, loving ghosts, aren’t we then obligated to believe in the other kind, the malicious entities that seep into the walls with every argument, and linger in the backs of our minds even when we say that we’ve given and accepted forgiveness?

Can we pick and choose which ghosts we invite into our lives, and which we banish forever, doomed to the land of unresolved issues, empty CD cases, and unmated socks?

Maybe it’s just that it’s October, and my neighborhood is slowly being decorated for harvest and for Halloween, or maybe my mind is on the spiritual and supernatural because I’m involved in an autumn/horror project, but I’ve been consideCopyright: <a href=''>design56 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>ring ghosts a lot lately.

Specifically, I’ve been considering the ghosts we choose.

For me, those ghosts come in the form of memories.

A bottle of Clinique make-up, left in the medicine cabinet in my guest bathroom, smells like clay, but it also smells like Halloween, 1976, when my mother costumed me as Pocahontas and used her normal color to darken my fairer skin. (Cultural appropriation wasn’t a hot topic, back then, but even if it had been, my costume was an homage, not a mockery.)

Forty years later, that scent is so closely associated with my mother that when I see her and she no longer carries that aroma (because she’s long since changed her make-up routine), I have to stop and remind myself that she’s the same woman who bore me, raised me, and whose opinion is still, always, vitally important.

I catch a many-times-rerun episode of an old television show, one where the children in the fictional family are playing with a slinky, and I’m thrown back to my high school chemistry class, and the teacher who used the helical spring toy to illustrate wave forms.

The remembered sound of the whispering of the metal coils sends me deeper into memory, to my grandfather’s basement, filled with cobwebs, clutter, and a vintage oscilloscope. I loved to talk into it and watch my recorded words become a wavy line on the tiny screen, decades before we could use our Copyright: <a href=''>waynerd / 123RF Stock Photo</a>smartphones or tablets to produce entire audio productions.

I see an antique hand mirror in a garage sale, or catch a whiff of homemade raisin bread, and welcomed ghosts use those overtures to visit me for a while, reminding me of special moments, and beloved people, some of whom are still with me – if separated by geography – and some who have moved on, beyond this world’s constraints of linear time.

Intellectually, of course, I know the other ghosts, the less welcome ones, still exist. Those are the ghosts that creep into our thoughts, our senses, in the bleakest moments of our lives.

I suppose, we must all, at some point, learn to vanquish them forever, but until we do, calling in the friendlier spirits, the positive memories – the ghosts we choose – keeps the darkness at bay.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I do.

About the author: Melissa A. Bartell

Melissa A. BartellMelissa is a writer, voice actor, podcaster, itinerant musician, voracious reader, and collector of hats and rescue dogs. She is the author of The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Holiday Tub. You can learn more about her on her blog, or connect with her on on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

The Dream Job and Listening to My Inner Wisdom by Rochelle Bilow


All I ever wanted was to work at Bon Appétit.

It’s why, after earning my bachelor’s degree, I enrolled in culinary school. Why I worked as a line cook. Why I moved to a city that didn’t speak to my heart. All this just to get a shot at earning a spot on the magazine’s masthead.

Spoiler alert: I got the job. And in August, I walked away from it with no regrets.

After a stint in 2012 through 2013 working as a farmhand and cook in Central New York, I sold my car, traded in my overalls for pencil skirts, and made my way to NYC. I knew that to make it—to really make it—as a food writer at the national level, I had to live in the epicenter of the industry.

Besides, Bon App’s offices were located in Manhattan.

Bright-eyed and hungry, I found an apartment, settled into an interim editing job for a lifestyle website, and began strategizing. And praying.

I prayed a lot.

It was not all for naught—in early 2014, the position of staff writer for BA became available. I fired off my resume along with an eager (but not too eager, I hoped) cover letter, and prayed some more.

I got the call. I nailed the interview. I nailed the follow-up interview. And the one after that. And then, two weeks after it all started, I got another call: I got the job.

Now I don’t want to toot my own horn but then again, if you don’t toot yours, who will?

I crushed it.

For the next two and a half years, I rocked that job. I was promoted to associate editor, and then to senior associate editor.

Then I was given the keys to BA’s Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, creating the role of social media manager for the brand. I worked hard and worked long. There wasn’t a night or weekend I didn’t spend hunched over my phone, obsessively monitoring clicks and comments from BA’s readers.

The job was my entire world, which was fitting, because—quite frankly—I didn’t have a life.


It’s not that I didn’t want to nurture friendships, try new activities, or open myself up to the potential of a romantic partner. It’s just that, for two and a half years, while I was working my dream job, I was too depressed to make the effort for a life outside of it.

I have never jived with large cities, but something about New York and me felt deeply, intrinsically rotten. For two and a half years, my spirit was slowly crushed under concrete and broken subways and expensive rent.

For the first two, I didn’t notice. I knew something felt off, but I never stopped working—never came up for air—long enough to be introspective and seek the answer as to why I felt so damn sad and hopeless all the time.

It took a birthday to force my attention to the matter. As I turned 29 (I know, I know—not exactly knocking down the door of the independent living home. But not the spry young co-ed I once was, either), it hit me like a ton of bricks: I was alone, I was unhappy, and beyond a job that impressed strangers on the internet, I didn’t have much.

I wish I could tell you that once that thought crept in, I lit a stick of incense, sat cross-legged next to a candle, and meditated on my unhappiness. That would be nice, but it’d also be a lie. I didn’t meditate on shit; I just understood. I acknowledged, deep in my gut, and with every beat of my heart, what I had known all along: This job was never sustainable, because living in New York was not. It was time to go.


The above allusion to gut and heart are not by accident. We do have the answers to the dilemmas we face.

Meditation is nice, but it’s in listening to my physical body that I find every answer I’ve ever sought. I often place a hand over my heart or on my belly to monitor how my nervous, respiratory, and digestive systems are responding to their surroundings. Try it and you’ll see: When you’re calm and content, placing that hand on your skin feels like being enveloped in a warm hug. But perform the same action in a stressful situation, and you can immediately tell that things aren’t right. Your heartbeat is irregular. Your eyes dart. Your stomach clenches. Your muscles tighten.

To understand what was happening in my soul, I had to listen to my body. Friends have asked if I found it difficult to leave my dream job. From where I stand today, in the middle of my dream life, with my hand on my heart and a grin on my face, I can say with complete honesty: It was the easiest thing I have ever done.

 About he Author: Rochelle Bilow

rochellebRochelle Bilow is a writer, yogi, and spiritual seeker based in Syracuse, New York. After leaving her job at Bon Appétit magazine, she moved back to her hometown where she works as the social media at an advertising agency. She is also the author of the romance memoir, The Call of the Farm; connect with Rochelle on Twitter and Instagram at @RochelleBilow

Elder – by Patricia Wellingham-Jones


The neighbor in his rolling chair
unbends from tugging tall weeds,
mops his forehead with a blue bandana,
flips the long gray tail of his hair.
We exchange greetings and he groans
how he hates growing old.
I refrain from that flip reply
about the alternative
and say I’m finding good things.
Sure, the body creaks
and chores take longer
but once in awhile
someone asks me a question
then really listens, wants to know.
I like passing on what I have learned,
realize people do life their own way,
and relish being an elder in the tribe
taking the long view.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Sunday Salon: Silences

Sunday Salon with Becca Rowan

The world is such a noisy place, isn’t it?

We’re bombarded with videos, photos, articles, in-depth news reports, texts, tweets, snap-chats…

cellphone-and-computerIt all vies for our attention round the clock: That nagging urge to “check in” on social media and see what our friends are up to; the itch to snap a photo of the leaves changing color on our favorite tree; the siren call of a friends text message. Add to that the dire and sometimes terrifying news reports of shootings and war and climate devastation, with election news like bad frosting on an overdone cake.

It’s not a pretty picture.

About a month ago, I found myself craving silence, and craving it badly. I realized I had settled into a compulsion – no, let’s call it straight, it was an addiction – to my electronic devices. I literally could not pass my phone without picking it up and scrolling through Facebook and Twitter feeds. I was completely unable to stand in line at the grocery store, wait in a waiting room, or yes, I confess, sit at a red light without whipping the phone out of my purse and looking at email. I stopped short of texting while driving, but only barely.

My real life was suffering too. I was having trouble focusing on one activity at a time, starting projects and then leaving them unfinished while I drifted off to something else (like looking at Facebook). I’d find myself always short on time, running late, rushing from here to there because I’d wasted more time than I realized on the internet. I couldn’t concentrate on whatever book I happened to be reading, having to go back and read paragraphs over several times to comprehend them. I was way behind on my Goodreads reading challenge.

Part of this behavior I blame on the grief process. Still missing my mom, I was looking for ways to combat the loneliness. Suddenly I had a lot more time on my hands, time I used to spend with her. I needed to fill it by connecting with other people and the outside world, needed to find a way to extract myself from the quicksand of mourning I felt like I was drowning in. The internet was a quick and easy distraction. It passed the time, helped me forget my loss for a while, and gave me a way of connecting with friends and family through social media.

But suddenly it just became overwhelming, the way the internet was constantly clamoring for my attention. I needed peace. I needed quiet. I tried to remember – what was life like before the internet? For the vast majority of my sixty years on earth, the concept of cyber connection would have been the stuff of a science fiction story. What did I do with myself all those years without it? I began to yearn for those simpler, quieter days, when the only electronic distractions were radios and televisions, and those with only a few channels!

Quitting the internet cold turkey was a frightening proposition, but I contemplated doing it. Still, there are so many good things about the internet, so many positive ways to benefit from it, I couldn’t bring myself to let go of all that. But limits must be enforced, and enforced strictly. I made a deal with myself, allowed myself three times a day to use the internet for social media and web surfing – at breakfast, just before dinner, and about 8:00 at night. I “unfollowed” a lot of the most prolific news and political sites.

I removed all the social media apps from my phone.


book-690763_1280The first few days were hard, but not as hard as I’d thought. I keep a book on the kitchen counter where the iPad usually sits, and when I’m tempted to go online I pick up the book and read a few pages instead. (I’m now back on track with my Goodreads challenge, too.) There’s a good audio book in my car that helps pass the driving time.  I went away on a solo vacation for a few days during the second week, and thoroughly enjoyed watching people and scenery instead of losing myself in the wilds of social media.

The constant brain frenzy has abated, there seems to be plenty of time to cook, shop, write, practice piano, read, play with the dogs.

If I haven’t totally silenced the noisy world, I’ve at least muted it to a dull manageable roar.

The internet is a marvelous tool for learning, for connecting with people, for conducting business, and it’s here to stay. But like anything else so powerful, it’s easy to abuse. Neuroscience hasn’t even scratched the surface of the effect internet use (or overuse) has on our brains. But I know from recent experience that my old brain works better with more moderate doses of cyber activity.

How about you? Do you ever feel the need to limit your internet use? How has using the internet affected other areas of your creative life?


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 her 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.

Studio Tour: Andi Cumbo-Floyd

Modern Creative Life Presents Studio Tours

Just now, outside my office, the sun is shining, and the golden days of autumn are descending with the few leaves that have begun what will be a deluge in a few weeks. Here on the farm, we are in the between time that is the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, and I am in the midst of it, even here in my office.


Every day, I work out of what was the summer kitchen on this old plantation here at the edge of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.


Most days, if the weather is at all temperate, I keep the door open to a wide view of the farm yard, the garden, and the cattle pasture beyond.  It’s the view the enslaved woman who was the cook here would have seen every day when she turned from the stove that once sat where my desk chair now settles.


The ceiling above is made of wide, pine planks, the ones that were nailed up right around 1800, and the floor mirrors the ceiling.  The walls have been sheet-rocked and insulation tucked behind to keep it temperate for me when I work, but some of the window panes still have the original wavy glass and a layer of film that is more than 200 years in the making.


I have a table in the corner that was made by my parents’ dear friend Steve more than 25 years ago, and on it rests a printer, paper, and the chicken-tending supplies we sometimes need when we become poultry vets for our flock who lives next door.


I work at my mother’s desk, and every time I open its single drawer, I am reminded of her because of the pile of pens there and because the scent pulls her to my mind, even now almost 6 years after her death.


We bought this farm almost two years ago now, and from the get-go, we knew this small building would be my office.


It’s close to the house – with a side door that gets me right to the kitchen for lunch – but it’s separate, so I can be free of seeing the dishes or the laundry when I’m working and free of working when I’m in the house.  Housework and entrepreneurship can be constant, so this separation helps reduce my stress and keep me sane.


It’s also ideal because our hound dogs, Meander and Mosey, can visit me here, sleeping in the rocker or on the bed at my feet, but then wander the farm and pastures when they’re so inclined. And I don’t have to open and close the door 500 times to allow them that freedom.


This space is also entirely mine. I painted it a golden yellow hue called “Macaroni and Cheese” because I wanted the room to be bright and warm, and I have adorned the walls with some old crutches – my husband finds them creepy – that we found in the attic above (the space where the cook may have slept), and in other corners, I have placed some of my mom’s quilts. I have art given and made by friends around me, and the bulletin board above the bookshelf filled with writing books is covered with reminders of why I do what I do.


This office is my haven and my remembering space. It’s sacred.

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.  Her latest book for writers – Discover Your Writing Self – will be available Oct. 3rd. You can connect with Andi at her website,, or via Facebook and Twitter.

Typical Tuesday with A.R. Hadley


I wake up and make my way to the kitchen and dip my finger into a jar of peanut butter.

No. Wait.

That’s what the sexy character does in the book I’m currently reading on a Tuesday morning before the sun and my kids wake up.

Jesse dunks a finger into the Sun-Pat and licks. It may not sound sexy, but trust me — it is.

The story is part of a trilogy (I’m in book three), and I read him before I exit my bed, when I go to bed at night, and sometimes (shh… don’t tell) I sneak away throughout the day, hoping to find fifteen minutes of quiet space away from other humans, tiny humans, so that I may continue to indulge in my own jar of peanut butter — books.

They are yummy.

I am lucky.

Every day is like Tuesday.

I spend each day with books, a notepad, my husband and my two kids.


Tuesday could be filled with a homeschool group game of friendly kickball or doctor appointments or walking by the river, and they are always filled with math problems and hugs, breakfast and pencil sharpeners.

In the late afternoon I fold five baskets of wrinkled laundry as Turner Classic Movies blares a black and white. I laugh at Spencer Tracy.

His presence looms large, forcing me to acknowledge things I have numbed or forgotten.

It’s on the screen — life — and it’s in the spaces between the dialogue. It’s on the faces and foreheads and lips of the actors. It’s in Tracy’s eyes and frown lines.

It cannot be ignored.

Maybe I’ll cook an actual meat and potato dinner or I’ll buy tacos, and at bed time there will be a struggle and a snuggle.

Mom and dad win. Eventually.

The kids are in bed. I’m writing this essay. My eyes are heavy. I tap away on my iPhone. I wonder if anyone can relate to my words or thoughts, the endless spin cycle my brain functions on. I wonder who might be out there, in the universe, listening to my silent key pounding.


My husband snores.

I can’t shut off my working mind. I’ll go to sleep soon. Maybe I’ll read about my peanut butter dipping Lord or I’ll dream up my own fictional character. It works, you know — dreaming. It leads to all kinds of possibilities and rainbows and friends and amazing, amazing things.

About the Author: A.R. Hadley

ARHadleyBioA.R. Hadley writes imperfectly perfect sentences by the light of her iPhone.
She loves her husband.
Her children.
And Cary Grant.
She annoys those darling little children by quoting lines from Back to the Future, but despite her knowledge of eighties and nineties pop culture, she was actually meant to live alongside the lost generation after the Great War and write a mediocre novel while drinking absinthe with Hemingway. Instead, find her sipping sweet tea with extra lemons on her porch as she weaves fictional tales of love and angst amid reality.

A creative writer since elementary school, A.R. all but gave it up after her children were born, devoting herself to the lovely little creatures, forgetting the pleasure and happiness she derived from being imaginative.
No more.
She rediscovered her passion in 2014 and has not stopped since — writing essays, poetry, and fiction. She is currently working on completing several novels as part of a romantic trilogy.

Day or night, words float around inside her mind. She hears dialogue when she awakens from sleep. She is the one who has been awakened. Writing is her oxygen. Cary Grant fans the flames.

Sunday Sanctuary: The Discomfort of Evolution


It’s disconcerting, sometimes, to learn about yourself. Especially when you consider we humans are ever evolving creatures.

Those of us who are drawn to be creative – to make things,  to have the need to bare our souls through our art of choice, to desire to make our mark upon the world on canvas, paper, or the stage – dig deep into what allows us to do img_20160723_092630our work. The rituals, the routines, the discipline, and the support structures  that serve us and allow us to create the work we are called to make?

We cling to them.

What works for us when we are twenty no longer works for us when we are thirty. The routines that fueled our discipline to come to the table daily when we were forty fall flat when we are forty-eight.

As we evolve, what we need to fuel us, support us, fill our well and allow us to dig into our depths… Those must mature and shift, too. The challenge to this transformation and, frankly, demand of our need to make art, comes when we cling to old ways or realize we are a beat and a half off of what works.

After two weeks away from home – some solo time in The Big Apple followed with a cruise with my partner – I find myself not just a beat off of the rhythm, but in the midst of the maelstrom.


My creative life is shifting. The call to my work spinning like a record on a 78, yet I’ve been tending my creative life as if it’s spinning at 45. My routines, my rituals, my tried-and-true tricks no longer fit me as they did, even six months ago.

It’s uncomfortable. It’s frustrating. It’s infuriating.

Yet, it simply IS. It’s a part of evolving as a human being, and evolving as a creative being. To cling to old ways doesn’t serve me, even though I wish it could.

The biggest discovery for me during the past few weeks is that I need solid pockets of silence.

Yes, me, the girl who, from second grade to seventh grade wrote the sentence “I will not talk in class” hundreds and hundreds of times needs to be quiet.

I have lived in Ohio now for six years. Where my world was once filled with drama and chaos and both physical and auditory noise, now my daily life is mostly peaceful. Though we don’t live a Spartan nor minimalist life, my environment is mostly uncluttered.  I always desire a space of beauty, but in order for my home to be my sanctuary, I have discovered I crave the elegance of solitude.

timesquareThere’s nothing like Times Square or a Cruise Ship full of 2000 souls to bring crystal clear clarity to the truth that in order to create, I need both solitude and silence. Where I once thrived on drama to fuel my creations, I now need the contrast of tiny bits of input with huge doses of calm for output.

Home from my travels, faced with the reality that in learning about myself, I am once again the space of facing the uncomfortable and disconcerting feelings of evolution. To realize that in order to tend my creative evolution, I need time to find my equilibrium.

I am in the space of searching for those new routines and rituals. To seek new paths to what works  and what doesn’t. Though it was made clear to me during my time of travel, the only way I can bring discipline into the mix, to shift the filling of my own well and, in turn, create the work I am called to make will happen here.


This kind of work is done best in a place of safety. So, as we are thrust back into the “real world” of work schedules, laundry, and making dinner, I also have work to do. Yes, here. At Home.In stretches of silence and solitude. In what has become my Sanctuary.

Because my creative life depends upon me dealing with – and working through – this discomfort.

About the Author: Debra Smouse

debra_Smouse_mclDebra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Create a Life You Love: Straightforward Wisdom for Creating the Life of Your Dreams. She resides in Dayton, Ohio where she practices the art of living with the Man of Her Dreams. 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.

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Meditation by Hilary Parry Haggerty

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

I fidgeted. My back was killing me. My eyes were fluttering, my thoughts racing with to-dos. I had an itch on my ankle I desperately wanted to scratch. I silently cursed and berated myself for thinking of my to-do list instead of the mantra. I wondered at how much time had elapsed… Surely it had been ten minutes already, and my timer must be broken. I dared to open my eyes and look at the clock: Only a minute? How the heck was I going to last for another nine minutes of this shit?!

Does this sound a bit like your meditation practice? Trust me, I hear you. Take it from me, the world’s laziest meditator, that meditation is not a walk in the park when you first start, and sometimes even now I still have those sessions of meditation where I’m like let’s just get this over with already!

You don’t need to be fancy. You don’t have to have special flowing robes, or a certain type of incense, or even a lot of space, to be able to meditate. That’s part of the beauty of meditation: you can do it almost anywhere. What you do need to have is a willingness to be consistent and put aside time each day to do it.


Here’s how to start and keep a meditation practice, even when you’re a lazy bones like me, and some unexpected bonuses that come along with a meditation practice.

The first and most important step when you are a lazy chick is motivating yourself to meditate. Once you are there on the mat, or cushion, or chair, or lying down, I promise, it will be much easier…. Sometimes getting there is the hardest part.

So, this first part (getting motivated) will not look the same for everyone. We all have our ways, and we all know where our laziness comes from… It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from outright procrastination, or another form of it entirely. For me, procrastinating on meditation takes the form of me telling myself that I simply don’t have enough time to meditate. To which I then say to myself, if you can’t find ten minutes somewhere in the day for it, you’ve got bigger problems! Find the time. I usually quickly realize that the time I use up playing frivolous mobile games would be better spent meditating!

How I motivate myself to meditate:

  • Touchstones or malas – a touchstone could be a simple quartz crystal or pebble that you hold while you meditate. A mala traditionally has 108 beads on it to work while meditating, especially if you are doing a malabeadsmantra meditation; each time you repeat a mantra silently in your head, you turn a bead (similar to working a rosary). You can custom order a mala to suit your esthetic sensibilities or intention (I have two, one for psychic work/intuition and the other for peace and calm). Or you can buy a simple mala made out of wooden beads, such as sandalwood. When you pick up your touchstone or your mala, that’s your physical reminder and signal to the Universe: hey, I’m sitting down to my meditation practice now!
  • Make an inviting space that appeals to all the senses – including incense, nice music, noise-canceling headphones, etc. Now I know I said before that one of the beautiful things about meditation is that you can do it almost anywhere. That’s true, but in order to build consistency, first it’s best to keep it to one place. Once you have this space, don’t dismantle it! Keep it intact, so that you don’t have to recreate it each time. Each time you sit in this space, it is like a touchstone: a signal that it’s meditation time.
  • Don’t overthink it. Know yourself, and know all the ways in which you convince yourself out of something. If you have the thought, “I should meditate” then that’s the time you should meditate. Don’t put it off.
  • Have a set time each day. I do my meditation in the morning right after I wake up. Why? Because if I wait until the end of the work day to do it, then the day tends to “get away from me” and I don’t have the time, nor the energy, to meditate.

How to meditate:

  • Find something to focus on: this can be a candle flame, your breath, a mantra, a quote, a saying, a tarot or candleflameoracle card, a rune, a mirror or bowl of water, incense smoke, or any number of things.

    A nice beginning meditation is simply inhaling for a count of 5, holding for a count of 5, and exhaling for a count of 5. When breathing, take deep breaths and focus on filling up down to your belly like you are filling a vase with your breath. When exhaling, release the air from the bottom of the belly, up.

    When starting out, look down and see the rise and fall of your belly, so you can see what it looks like when you are taking a nice big breath of air. You’d be surprised just how shallow our breathing can be because we don’t do it with intention!

  • Focus on that thing for a predetermined amount of time. Start with 5 minutes. Don’t be too ambitious when you are beginning. If 5 minutes is too much, drop down to a minute. Try a minute first (Yeah, seriously!). Then add on time. It is easier to add on time than begin with too much and get frustrated by it.
  • Keep returning to the thing you are focused on when your mind starts to wander. If you notice yourself enumerating everything you have to do after the meditation is over, or find yourself distracted by itches or pins and needles, return to the thing, such as your breath or the mantra. This is your mental touchstone within the meditation, what you grab onto when you find yourself slipping.
  • When your timer dings, allow yourself one more big inhale and exhale, and open your eyes. Make sure to get up slowly and with intention, and be gentle with yourself. And don’t forget to congratulate yourself on forming a new habit of meditation, day by day!

What are the benefits of meditation?

Besides a greater sense of peace and calm, unanticipated side effects can include increased creativity and ideas popping up during your meditation. If it’s a good idea, by all means, keep a notebook and pen beside you so that when you complete your meditation, you can get those goodies down! But I caution you: don’t interrupt your meditation FOR the idea, no matter how good you think it is. Calmly tell yourself that it is not time for that, and ask the thought to come back to you at the end of your meditation. I promise: if it’s a keeper, it WILL do as you ask and reappear… As long as you ask nicely!

These moments are not unusual occurrences: some of our best ideas can seem to pop up at the most “inopportune” times: on the crapper, in the shower, handwashing dishes… pretty much every time that a piece of paper and a pen are as far away from us as they can possibly get! It ain’t Murphy’s Law why this is so: it’s what is known as the creative pause (as Racheal Cook the Yogipreneur calls it): a time in which you are daydreaming, not focused on any one thing in particular, almost the exact opposite in mental states as zoning out, however. The ahas that happen in those spaces are BECAUSE you aren’t doing anything! So too can those aha moments appear during yoga or meditation: and because of it, it seems that we do need to let our brains rest, stop overclocking ourselves, and simply BE.


Just being can cause breakthroughs.

Basically, don’t tune out. Tune IN.

Remember that you can’t get the benefits of a meditation practice without, um… practicing. As in, doing the meditation itself. I’ll admit: I am definitely the type of learner that reads about something, and then hops onto the next chapter and the next lesson, skipping over the more practical or experiential elements. But the experiential is where the meat and potatoes of meditation is. Same thing as for yoga: most of your work is done on the mat, not in an armchair reading about it. You don’t get the benefits of a yoga pose from reading about it; you get it from doing it. Same thing for meditation!

About the Author: Hilary Parry Haggerty

hilaryparryhaggerty_bioHILARY PARRY HAGGERTY is a tarot reader, witch, mentor, writer, editor, and teacher. She has been reading tarot for over 18 years (11 years professionally). She was the winner of Theresa Reed’s (The Tarot Lady) Tarot Apprentice contest in 2011, and has taught classes on tarot and spell-work at Readers Studio and Brid’s Closet Beltane Festival. She writes a weekly blog at her website and contributes a monthly tarot blog “Through a Tarot Lens” to

Weekend at Willow Creek Ranch by Pat West


No newspapers, radio, TV newscasts
to link me to the rest of the world. No phone
service for calls from the man I screamed at
on the courthouse lawn, so loud my ears rang.

The owner greets me with a basket
and leads me to the organic garden.
I take a pinch of dirt inhale the thick
and hearty odor of green pasture,
pick my dinner row by row. Basket overflowing,
I head to a cottage that faces a meadow.
A red-tailed hawk circles lazily in the sky, no city
sirens or car alarms blaring.

I unpack like I’m moving in. Do a little dance
when I see the Viking stove in the kitchen,
explore every cabinet and drawer, plenty of pots,
pans and more gadgets than what I own.
I need this get away to absorb the fact
that after a two year battle
the rat bastard got the house and the best kitchen
that ever was, one I designed and paid for.

Alone caramelizing onions, no one to debate
the exact moment when to stir. There’s a hundred ways
to get it wrong and no one way to do it right. Yet,
because I wouldn’t turn those damn Walla Walla Sweets
when he said, everything unraveled.
It wasn’t until we were twenty years in,
I realized I couldn’t explain
a life bundled with episodes like that.

If this marriage was a mistake, it’s one I had to make.
The radio aches a little tune. I lift the glass
of chilled Pinot Grigio, tears falling down my face
onto my plate of Ridiculously Easy Sautéd Yellow Squash
and Onions. The weight of metallic bitterness
sits on the back of my tongue.

About the Author: Pat West

PatWestBioPat Phillips West lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in various journals, including Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, San Pedro River Review, and Slipstream, and some have earned nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.