How to Live an Enchanted Life
Celebrating Colorful Humanity Enchants Us
What Does It Mean to Live an Enchanted Life?
What do we mean when we use the word "enchantment"? Do we think of being under the spell of an otherworldly influence? Do we think of it as something magical? Have you ever felt enchanted by a moment where your attention was focused on something special? If so, did the world around you change in some way? Did you feel differently than you did a moment earlier? Did you feel changed permanently in some way? Did you feel more whole? If so, what was the source of that enchantment? There is a good chance that it was something that made you happy and lifted your heart and soul.
Under a Spell
Most of the time, we find pleasure in our moments of enchantment. We feel as if part of the world has touched us in a special way, and we respond to the moment with wonder and joy. We feel that something magical has touched our lives. Our hearts grow bigger with the memory of such an encounter. If you have ever felt enchanted by something, what was it that brought you to a place of fresh appreciation for your source of enchantment? Has your relationship to your world been changed since then? If so, in what way?
Meet Sammy Bear and RumiClick thumbnail to view full-size
Hamsters Turn My World Upside Down
I love all animals, but one species of the critter world enchants me the most—hamsters. We started out by adopting one at a time, but at the moment we have two in our home. One belongs to our daughter, and the other was an anniversary gift from her to my husband and me.
I just love to pet and play with hamsters. I love watching them roll around the house in their balls. I love watching them drink from their water bottles. When they chitter and squeak I wonder what they are trying to say to us.
Sammy Bear. Our first hamster's full name is Samantha Gamgee Meriadoc Brandybuck Bear. Can you guess what fantasy series set in Middle Earth we are fans of? I love to see her poke her head out of her fluffy bedding when we talk to her at night. She was born last April, but my daughter adopted her last June. She is the third hamster my daughter has mothered. The other two were named Chocolate Chip and Elsa.
Rumi Pippin. Our second hamster's full name is Rumi Peregrine Took. He is very quick and adventurous, and he vibrates when excited. After we have held Samantha, he licks our hands because he loves her scent. He is very musical and squeaked in response to my practicing flute the day we brought him home. Since then, he usually emerges from his nest to visit when I am playing flute.
The Magic of a Path in Harmony With Nature
Nature as a Source of Enchantment
I am most often enchanted by nature. I love watching colorful sunrises and sunsets. The only real reward for rising at 5 a.m. and piling into my car an hour later to drive to work is that I enjoy the pleasure of watching the sun rise on the journey. Right after a snowstorm, I love driving on local back roads as the sun makes the snow sparkle. The world around me becomes a magical winter wonderland. On sunny days I love to walk our wooded labyrinth. The splashes of sun on the earthen path, the colorful fallen leaves or the freshly fallen snow are magical. The earth seems like it has been touched by the angels.
One of my favorite rites of spring is opening all of our windows and setting out a giant jar of water with tea bags to make our first batch of sun tea. When the breezes blow, I love to hear the music of the wind chimes. When my daughter finally settles into the house at the end of a day full of play, I am enchanted by all of the funny stories she has to share.
Nature: A Source of Simple Pleasures
A Simpler Time, Revisited
We may think of the Middle Ages or Renaissance as eras rife with barbarism, but there were also some positive elements for the people who lived during those times. Even the Victorian Era is a time we can look to for inspiration. There are ways we can bring back the simple pleasures that connected people to one another before the industrial age, and we can weave these lessons through our modern lives.
The food was richer and more satisfying when it was harvested and prepared fresh from the garden or field. Preparing the food was a labor of love, and people engaged in rituals around eating. People connected with friends and loved ones over food, and food was a significant element in festivals that people gathered to celebrate. Connecting with others seated at the table through lively conversation added to the enchantment of the meal that was served and shared.
People surrounded themselves with only a few simple decorations in their homes that were earthy and held memories. They were enchanted with spirit and contributed to the warmth of their homes. Humans took great care in choosing the items that they surrounded themselves with, and books were often considered to be treasures, held in high esteem. This may have also made homes easier to keep clean because there were fewer things to move or dust off.
3. Community Life
The predominant forms of entertainment were live: storytelling, theater, and music. Church gatherings and town meetings were also means for social engagement, and people made the extra effort to attend. Humans made eye contact and gave the people they spoke to their full attention.
Beauty in the Age of Sail
4. Adventures and Exploration
Because there weren't many of the modern conveniences we have today, people more readily laid aside their own comfort and safety to travel on adventures and discover new places. They encountered fresh sources of enchantment to share through storytelling when they returned home. That spirit of adventure is the source of the knowledge we have about those times today, and the larger world beyond our homelands.
5. Arts Education
Encounters with art inspired reflection and open sharing of ideas. Art was linked more closely to other disciplines, such as science, math, history, and theology. Art told stories, and those stories were respected. People responded to them by engaging each other in reflective conversation about them. Their imaginations were engaged. Leonardo da Vinci was respected as an artist as much as he was respected as a scientist and an inventor.
6. Schooled by the Natural World
The people who lived before the industrial age knew more about the elements and depended on reading the natural world for signs that indicated when certain things should be done, such as planting. They collected water in rain barrels for irrigation. They read the stars for navigation. They identified plants to determine which were safe to eat and use, and which were not.
People often watched over others and helped those who were suffering with comforting gestures, blankets, soup, etc.. Antidotes for illness often involved household herbs. Medicine was not always accessible and doctors were expensive to employ, so most people took care of themselves through methods passed down by older generations.
Resurrecting the Best of Past Eras in the 21st Century
I agree that in many ways the Middle Ages and Renaissance were brutal times, and in some ways the Victorian Era seems as if it were a little too stiff and formal, but people often managed to live everyday lives that were happy and charmed by simple pleasures. Many of the methods we use to recover from minor illnesses between visits to the doctor come from people who lived long ago. Many of the things that connect us to each other have been passed on to us from those who lived hundreds of years ago.
Appreciation and Wonder for Recent Inventions
There may be an overwhelming amount of modern technology that we can use a vacation from, but there are some changes that we want to keep, like having stoves that allow us to cook without lighting ourselves on fire, and indoor plumbing that helps us wash more often and avoid preventable diseases. We may want to keep the landline telephone, too, so that we have a way to talk to family and friends who live too far away to see very often without the distractions that come with the trappings of modern technology. I know that my sense of adventure is enhanced by having a GPS attached to my mobile device, which helps me stay calm when I am driving through an unfamiliar city in order to reach a unique destination. But given all that, there are ways to enjoy the world more fully that echo the ways of our ancestors...
The Center of Our Home Life Is Our Kitchen & Dining Table
Steps for Living an Enchanted Life
If you are feeling blue, or just feeling like something is missing from your life, there are ways to reconnect with yourself, family, friends, and the world that will add enchantment to your days. Consider it a way of exercising your deepest human freedom through engaging in activities that enrich your life and touch your soul during your moments of leisure. The following are some habits that can bring you to a new place filled with fresh energy.
- Slow the pace of your life and say "no" to the things that don't feed your soul.
- Always approach other living beings with wonder and respect. They are potential teachers. Adopt a pet if you don't have one already.
- Pay attention to your dreams. Write them down. What do they say to you about your life?
- Walk at least a mile every day, especially with company.
- Grow your own food or support a local farm by participating in their CSA (community supported agriculture).
- Create something at least once a week: write a poem, paint, make music, etc. If you don't play an instrument yet, learn how to play by taking lessons.
- Play with a child at least once a week if you don't have one enchanting your life daily.
- Write more letters than emails.
- Connect with family and friends by talking on the phone, preferably a landline, which will help you focus more deeply on your conversations.
- Light a candle and listen to music when you eat your meals.
- Decorate your home with colors that waken your soul and items that hold comforting memories.
- Gather with friends and acquaintances in ways that encourage storytelling, such as lunch or afternoon tea.
- Volunteer in a soup kitchen so that you can look into the eyes of the people you are feeding.
- Design rituals that celebrate the changing of seasons.
- Keep a daily journal. Fill it with writing, art, and keepsakes.
- Keep a gratitude log of three things you feel grateful for every day. Do it in the morning.
- Collect fresh stories by traveling to places you've never been to before. Renew your passport if it has lapsed.
- Walk a labyrinth in every place you visit. They attract gatherings of soulful people.
- Learn a new language. There are a bunch of "teach yourself..." kits out there.
- Spend an hour before bedtime unwinding each night.
- Spend quiet time with nature.
- Find at least one reason to smile and laugh. Laughter helps build immunity.
- Take the scenic route anywhere you go if time allows.
- Walk barefoot in the park.
- Notice the beauty when the elements interact; e.g., the sun making snow sparkle.
- Attend live performances: theater productions, puppet shows, music concerts, storytelling festivals, etc.
- Buy and hang a wind chime close to your home: porch, garden, etc.
- Take a boat to an island and stay there for a week(end).
- Climb a lighthouse.
- Attend or host a masquerade party.
A Burbling, Splashing Water Fountain Has the Power to Enchant
A Never-Ending Story
The list above is not exhaustive. It's a start. If you think of something that feeds your soul that is not included, please share it in a comment below. With your permission, I would add it to my list.
Humans Love Stories
I welcome you to share enchanting stories about times your soul has been fed by simple moments of pleasure that increased the level of wonder you hold for your world.
Find Enchantment in "Just Add Magic"
The Enchantment of "Just Add Magic"
When we prepare food, we are all magicians. The cooking scenes in this series are my daughter's favorite. They inspire her to create her own snacks and to spend time working with me in the kitchen.
One reason I chose this series to recommend in this article is that the story line and the characters portray magic as a force to be respected and approached carefully. The girls have a responsibility toward the magical cookbook they use and pay a price when they cook from it. They must think carefully about who they are affecting with their magical treats. The cooking scenes are enchanting, as are the characters. Enjoy them all with friends, sipping from a cup of your favorite beverage and/or eating a favorite snack. My daughter and I spent the winter watching the series while sipping cocoa topped with whipped cream.
A Book About Everyday Enchantment
I have just finished reading this book, and it is the inspiration for this article. I recommend that you read this book, too. It will open a new world of enchantment before you, from which you won't ever want to look back.
© 2017 Karen Szklany Gault