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Ho’oponopono, by Ulrich E. Duprée

Ho’oponopono: The Hawaiian Ritual of Forgiveness, by Ulrich E. Duprée
Earthdancer Books, 978-1644118801, 112 pages, September 2023

“Ho’oponopono is a simple way to regain unity, inner peace, and harmony.”1

The quote above is a deceptively simple statement about a practice that in application is difficult for one to embrace, particularly in a society that is hyper-vigilant about who has done what to me. How can I retaliate when forgiveness is not part of the equation. Ho’oponopono: The Hawaiian Ritual of Forgiveness by Ulrich E. Duprée is a small, yet powerful book of self-healing and forgiveness so that we may offer the same state of grace to others.

“Ho’oponopono is a way of solving and resolving internal and external problems and conflicts while at the same time healing relationships: your relationship with yourself, with other people, and with your environment.”2

Ho’oponopono is separated into four main sections with an introductory portion entitled, “The Adventure Begins”. The reader immediately is drawn into the concept that the practice of Ho-oponopono is more than simply reciting special words, offering up specific emotions, and then going about your daily activities until the next “flare up” that needs forgiveness arises. It is indeed an adventure that requires self-reflection, honesty, and most importantly a continued stance of SELF love and forgiveness. Duprée gently reminds the reader throughout that the reconciliation at the level of self is first and foremost in the deeper meaning and success of the Ho-oponopono practices. 

The subsequent sections–“What is Ho-oponopono?”, “The Spiritual Laws-Ho’oponopono in Practice”, and “The Desire For Peace”– take the reader through the nuts and bolts of the history and evolution of the Ho’oponopono ritual and its application within any culture’s beliefs. Duprée also masterfully weaves core principles of living in harmony with all life, respect for all life, and the interconnectedness of all life.

I especially took note of the section, “The Core of the Simplified Ho’oponopono”. This core has been rendered down by Duprée into four statements:

As soon as something annoys you, whenever you feel like turning around and running away from a situation, and especially whenever someone is “pushing your buttons”, please join me in first saying to yourself:
I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Thank you.3

He discusses each at length, and although the initial response of many would be that of feeling a contradiction to forgiveness towards the situation/individual that you feel victimized by, this speaks volumes to the verbiage of we are all connected and the actual implementation of recognizing that in the heat of the moment.

There are many exercises throughout Ho’oponopono that are brief in what is asked, but if used wisely, reveal and transform the reader’s perspective and view of themself, others, and our collective place in the world. 

Duprée covers multiple aspects of humanity’s existence and these are woven into the Ho-oponopono practices of restoring health, balance in work and home, global implications, and challenges and ultimately the desire for peace and everyone’s role in that aspiration.

Would I recommend?

Ho’oponopono is one of those rare books that looks by appearance to be a “light” read, suited more to those who have interest or personal resonance with Hawaiian practice and spirituality. But there is nothing “light” about this book, other than perhaps the enlightened state that is possible for those who take the time to read, self-reflect, and then apply. This should be a required read for everyone who has felt victimized, who desires harmony, who seeks to be the “change” we often speak of, who wants to remember that regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or geographical location, we all want to acknowledged, heard, loved and feel safe in giving love and forgiveness. Ho’oponopono is absolutely point-on for these troubling times. It’s definitely a keeper and a life-long lesson to be referenced frequently. 

About the Author:

Ulrich Emil Duprée is a spiritual seeker, visionary, and seminar leader. He has studied both Western and Eastern philosophy and lived in a Hindu monastery for four years. He has taught Ho‘oponopono, the ritual of forgiveness, since his mystical initiation by a Hawaiian Kahuna priest in 2009. The is also the author of Family Constellations. He currently lives in Germany.

Manifest Your Everything, by Nicci Roscoe

Manifest Your Everything: Love yourself and create your dream life, by Nicci Roscoe
CICO Books, 9781800651920, 144 pages, February 2023

What if you could create the life of your dreams? For many of us this can seem out of reach, but in Manifest Your Everything: Love yourself and create your dream life, Nicci Roscoe assures us that with the right mindset we can change our lives to match our dreams. This colorful, creative book teaches the three steps needed for manifestation discovered by Roscoe and provides tons of exercises to put these steps into action.

In the introduction, Roscoe shares how she overcame the pain of healing a brain tumor, which involved risky surgery, through focusing on her positive intent for recovery. Soon she learned that when positivity is coupled with self-love and one is dedicated to making the changes needed for new beginnings, then manifestation naturally happens. To help guide readers through this process for themselves, Roscoe starts at step one, letting go, and teaches readers through empowering exercises how to call in the manifestation they desire.

Roscoe provides the much-needed reminder that we must love ourselves to make changes to our life, otherwise we’ll most likely stay stuck in outdated beliefs and negative thought patterns. In the first part of Roscoe’s manifestation process, the goal is to help readers to accept their challenging emotions, rediscover their confidence and self-worth, and set appropriate boundaries. She also emphasizes the importance of forgiving oneself and others and cultivating inner peace.

Some of the tools shared in this section are meditation, working with crystals, connecting to nature, energetic cleansing, and rituals for release and protection. Each exercise has step by step instructions to make it easy to learn and practice. There’s also space to write directly in the book, which is very helpful for organizing your manifestation process and staying focused.

The next section is a deep dive into cultivating self love by focusing on your best qualities, nurturing yourself, and celebrating your authenticity. Roscoe includes a ton of fun ways to care for one’s well-being, including affirmations, using pendulums to discover what’s needed for one’s self care, rebalancing chakras, and using essential oils for aromatherapy.

My favorite part of this section was how she also mixes in using crystals with each of the self-love exercises, including a whole section on how crystals can be added to baths to bring in certain energy. For instance she shares the recipe for a Tiger’s Eye Bath for Courage and a Citrine Crystal Bath for a Fresh Start. I would have never thought to use crystals in this way, but I definitely felt an energy shift in the water when I tried it out!

After having mastered self-love, readers are encouraged to begin their manifestation process with gratitude and prayer. Roscoe shares tips and exercises for reframing negative thoughts and beliefs to make them into potent positive energy. And once the reader is in the right state of mind, Roscoe shares all her methods of manifestation, ranging from vision boards to wish jars to crystal grids to musician motivation. There’s definitely at least one way that will resonate, and most likely, quite a few you’ll want to try out!

Then to ensure the manifestation process stays flowing, Roscoe teaches the reader how to maintain their vision as it comes into fruition. She offers a checklist of questions to make sure the reader is keeping the course and encourages them to focus on their physical, mental, emotional,and spiritual well-being. By implementing Roscoe’s suggestions, actions that support manifestation can easily become part of one’s daily routine.

Before I started reading, I didn’t realize there were so many self-doubting thoughts in my head or that I was running on autopilot most of the time. I appreciated the many tips that Roscoe included for waking up the body too, such as spending time in nature, dancing, eating mindfully, and exercise. These embodiments seemed to physically bring about the changes of my manifestation, grounding it in reality.

And what are some of the things Roscoe provides instructions to manifest? Your dream home, car, job, vacation, confidence, creativity, and more! Even if what you’re seeking to create doesn’t have a specific exercise in the book, Roscoe’s step by step process will guide you through your manifestation process. There’s plenty of room to mix and match exercise to find a method that works best for you.

What I liked most in the book were the testimonies of clients Roscoe has worked with. I enjoyed reading other people’s success stories because it bolstered my confidence that these practices work and I also could benefit from them. I also loved the layout of the book and how there were tons of visuals, charts, fill in the blank spaces, and colors! Each page was captivating to look at and made reading much more exciting.

If I had to describe Manifest Your Everything in a few words, I would say “good vibes.” You can’t help but feel uplifted as you move through this book, releasing doubts and fears to attune to love, confidence, and inspiration. While there’s plenty of effort required to shift your mindset and create space for your manifestations to materialize, Roscoe has made the process easy and fun to implement.

All in all, Manifest Your Everything teaches everything you need to know to bring your vision into reality. All the tips and techniques Roscoe offers are easy to incorporate in your day to day life, though this is sure to start shifting as your dreams become reality. Her focus on self-love and positive thinking will guide you to cultivate an upbeat perspective that opens new doorways of possibilities.

Sit Down to Rise Up, by Shelly Tygielski

Sit Down to Rise Up: How Radical Self-Care Can Change the World, by Shelly Tygielski
New World Library, 1608687449, 256 pages, October 2021

Self-care is all the rage right now, but how often does it extend outwardly to encompass a community? Sit Down to Rise Up: How Radical Self-Care Can Change the World by Shelly Tygielski is a beautiful reminder of what can happen when honoring the need for mutual support and community as part of our self-care practice. This isn’t a “Ms. Independent” tale of how self-care is synonymous with “me-first”; it’s a potent story of struggling to make one’s way through life amid challenge and still choosing to show up each and every day for yourself and the people who count on you.

Through this book, Tygielski candidly recalls stories of her past, even some of her family’s tales too, as she guides readers to rediscover meaning in their life, overcome limiting mindsets, and build encompassing communities that redefine the structures of society. She starts off by reminding readers of their own agency, which she likens to free will. In the section “Forget the Guru, Find the Yuru” (which I loved!) she writes:

“We all spend a lifetime climbing the proverbial mountain with an expectation that we’ll find a wise person at the top who will tell us the meaning of life. This person doesn’t exist, I promise. The ability to thrive, love, be happy, and fulfill all comes from within. Every single bit of it. It comes from the realization that we have been bestowed with the gift of agency to choose how and when to cultivate it in ourselves.”1

Once the reader has been reminded of the importance of them actively participating in their journey, Tygielski moves through a whole range of heartfelt wisdom she’s cultivated in life, channeling through her relatable stories of how she built this practice for herself. I for one always love hearing someone else’s story; it gives me motivation and affirmation that if they can do it, I can do it. Chapters include “Good is Good Enough”, “Not Broken”, “Familiarization”, “Sustainable Self-Care”, and more.

I will delve into each a bit more, but I wanted to mention how much I like Tygielski’s style. Tygielski has a way of writing about her experience without making it feel like this book is a tout of her success. It’s almost as though a close friend is having a heart to heart with you about all they’ve gone through recently, revealing their own vulnerabilities, fears, and doubts, as well as how they mustered the strength to keep going.

For instance, Tygielski writes about “deconstructing” ourselves to learn more about the narratives shaping our lives (many of which aren’t the healthiest and deserve some care from us) and then “reconstructing” ourselves in more realistic ways that allow for self-acceptance, grace with our mistakes, and affirmation that we are enough.

I tried this practice myself, after a few months of feeling woefully inadequate and caught up in a comparison-game with others, and found it to be very relieving. It helped me to see what stories I was telling myself and then actively reshape them into a more accurate and honest perspective, bolstered with a dose of “good enough” and self-love.

One of Tygielski’s defining moments in her life is finding out she has uveitis, which is an inflammatory disease of the eye, when she woke up blind one morning! I honestly can’t even imagine how scary this would be for her. She described the sensation, as well as how she had to get her toddler son ready for school without her sight, trying to remain calm until a friend could take her to the hospital.

Since it’s the leading cause of what makes people under 40 go blind and she’d require treatment the rest of her life, being diagnosed with this was a huge shift in her life. Naturally, she spun down a rabbit-hole of fear, but she made a decision to lean into her emotions, rather than try to suppress or deny them, inviting the reader to also stop masking their own pain and find happiness that isn’t based on the condition that things are all good. Tygielski writes, “I came to recognize that by changing my perception of these problems, or if I saw even the worst experience in a different light, I experienced them all differently. I felt set free.”2

It was at this point in her journey that Tygielski began examining her Jewish faith, taking up meditation, and learning more about the path of Buddhism. She describes racing thoughts and the challenges of starting this practice. However, by breaking things into small chunks, she was able to move forward with her goal of practicing self-care.

One of my favorite things Tygielski did was creating “chunks” in her to-do list (which she shares an image of!) that breaks things down into categories. I started doing this with my own to-do this and have found the organization of it to be both practical and pleasing. So, the book has not only meaningful inspiration, but also real examples that can be practiced in one’s life to cultivate this foundation.

Tygielski realized this path to change wasn’t going to happen overnight, yet her dedication to working towards getting to the root of her negative thinking, make changes in her life, and develop self-care practices never waivered. Through trial and error, she was able to find a self-care practice that works for her. And while she suggests times to include self-care, such as when transitioning from one thing to another during the day, her message encourages readers to find self-care practices and routines that fit their own lifestyle.

She also reflects on the importance of authentic self-care, as well as how it has been misconstrued in society “by corporations to create a very profitable industrial wellness complex, one that focuses on beauty, happiness, and comfort in the name of self-love and self-compassion.”3 YES! I am really glad she pointed that out, while also explaining how self-care is a key component to making the world a better place through participatory transformation.

What I like most about Sit Down to Rise Up is how Tygielski brings it outward to her community. During the pandemic, she created a grassroots mutual aid organization called Pandemic of Love. She explores the importance of mutual aid, which once was the center of community-life, but has recently disappeared in our modern culture.

Reviving this solidarity and calling upon the strength of one’s village is a self-care practice in itself, one that has a power to change the very fabric of society as people choose to offer love, kindness, generosity, and support, even to those who seem very unlike themselves. Tygielski’s organization has grown exponentially, and I’m glad because she has her priorities straight and an agenda that is truly devoted to service.

“The success and growth of Pandemic of Love proved that mutual aid goes beyond charity by mobilizing humans on behalf of humanity. It provides us with a powerful vision of the type of alternative society that is possible, one where we can be a global community connected by cooperative compassion and where we are no longer consumers in endless capitalist competition.”4

I am all on board with this call to practice self-care on behalf of not only oneself, but the entire world, so perfectly framed by Tygielski. If this message speaks to you, if you’re ready to change the world by going through the effort of changing yourself first, then Sit Down to Rise Up is definitely a must-read. It’s inspiring, empowering, and liberating to one’s spirit. As we change ourselves, the world around us changes too. By caring for ourselves, we learn how to create communities that care for others as well. I’m thrilled to see Tygielski’s community thriving — its success definitely points to what the heart of society is longing for right now.

Self-Love Journal, by Akal Pritam

Self-Love Journal: A Journal to Inner Peace and Happiness, by Akal Pritam
Rockpool Publishing, 925924459, 208 pages, March 2021

“Dear Soul… May you surrender to self-love, the blooming of your joyful heart, as you journey towards more inner peace and happiness… May you love yourself through the process of transformation, not judge yourself and stop that inner blooming… I celebrate your beautiful creative rhythm. I bow down to you for all that you are. You are invaluable…”1

Self-Love Journal: A Journal to Inner Peace and Happiness by Akal Pritam is a feast for the eyes and a treasure for the heart. The pages of the journal are beautifully illustrated by the author and lovingly separated by color into sections moving through the energies of the chakras and their associated visualizations.

The quote above is part of the opening 2-page invitation from the author to step into the beauty of your divinity and ability to generate and be love. This small excerpt gives clue that this journal is not like any other you may already own and this invitation echoes within the spiritual nature and capacity for self-love and acceptance inherently within all of us.

Let me begin by saying that this is not a journal I would traditionally have selected for myself. I tend more towards the crisply lined unadorned pages and leather covers. But, as is true of many things, particularly those of a spiritual nature, first choices are necessarily what is needed, nor where you find the most self-growth.

These thoughts and more have been especially relevant in my case, and what I have learned of myself simply by going through the offerings for this review would, I believe, hold true for any reader. Pritam has skillfully produced a visually beautiful space to write your inner most feelings, judgments, and transformative moments, as self-acceptance and love begin to flower in response.

One of the reasons I chose this journal for review is because I have been feeling “raw” after the events of the past year and a half, as I am sure many of you are as well. Self-Love Journal is the perfect soothing balm to begin the healing. As you move through the pages, it feels much like a cocoon from which we can again find strength and joy within; embrace the metamorphosis and emerge with the beauty and lightness of spirit of the butterfly.

Images of beautiful women in soft-colored pastels grace the pages with ample space for journaling and inspiring words of encouragement accompany image or footer of a blank space to write. Each section that denotes the transition from one chakra into the next provides the reader with basic information about the energy they will be working with regardless of familiarity with the specific chakra. These include the English and Sanskrit names, the Bija sound, corresponding body parts, affirmations and more. The entire page is dedicated to the naming of opening this center within the reader’s etheric anatomy in preparation for the work to follow.

The page directly opposite is a beautiful illustration of a woman’s face adorned with the symbol of the chakra at the center of a geometrically patterned heart. The skill of Pritam’s artistic talent shines in these illustrations with the eyes of the women depicted looking back in loving gaze, determination, and support. These felt very much like gazing into the gentle strength of a dear friend hoping to share the reflection of beauty that she sees within you for you to claim as your own.

I especially enjoyed the writing inspirations, color, and visuals used for the journaling pages corresponding to the work of the Solar Plexus Charka (Manipura):

“… I am future ancient, born now. An infinite soul of love empowered by the cosmos. Activated from the core of my true self; and invaluable, radiant, incomparable individual. I know how to serve in loving truth…”2

Much of what the focus centered around was that of stepping into your own power and owning the truth that evolves from that space. Energetically, the Solar Plexus is the seat of the individual’s strength and fuels the forms that action and will take. It is depicted as yellow sun-filled energy.

The colorings used in Self-Love Journal were actually more of a honey-gold that immediately took me to thoughts of the honeycomb, bees, and the power of the queen to command and oversee the production of the sweet nectar of honey that will nourish and sustain. This gave a very warm feel to what is often an intensely heated engagement with this chakra. This, coupled with imagery, provides the reader with a truly organic calling into the heart of the sweetness of the hive, the intricate and beautiful patterning of the comb and preparation to take on the mantle of the “queen bee”.

Self-Love Journal is truly a journal to be experienced. There is something of connection to be made by anyone, whether it is the guidance of the chakras, the inspirational statements, the beautifully rich illustrations or the overall visual beauty. And, if you are interested in supplementing your journaling with oracle or mini cards of inspiration, Pritam also has available an oracle deck (Self Love Oracle: Find Peace and Happiness through the Chakras) and inspiration cards (Let Go: Mini Inspiration Cards). I’ve just ordered the oracle deck!

Permission Granted, by Regina Louise

Permission Granted: Kick-Ass Strategies to Bootstrap Your Way to Unconditional Love, by Regina Louise
New World Library, 1608687268, 320 pages, June 2021

In a world filled with many voices claiming to be able to easily and quickly show readers the pathway to self acceptance, Permission Granted: Kick-Ass Strategies to Bootstrap Your Way to Unconditional Love by Regina Louise is really the only book you need ever pick up. Packed full of information and actual real-life strategies that make sense, this book cuts through the noise and provides the tools needed to go on this journey and find the pot of gold at the end.

As a speaker, coach, author, and teacher, Louise is no stranger to hard work and dedication. Her frank prose allows you to connect instantly with the source material and to make connections within yourself that previously you might have overlooked. With fourteen “Kick-Ass Strategies” in the table of contents, readers can jump to whatever they need in the moment or go through the book in a methodical way. Personally, I always read the whole thing front to back, although in this case I was sidetracked by Kick-Ass Strategy #6: Be Big (and Small).

In this chapter, Louise explores what it means to take up space and to lean into it. Having been told for much of my life that I need to tone down, be quieter, watch my language and all that, this chapter resonated with me so much I needed to put the book down and take a few breaths  Louise pinpointed precisely what I feel during those moments, saying:

“…if you’re anything like me, and you’ve been told that you’re a big personality, that you’re too much, which you translate as ‘I’m not wanted’ and ‘I’m about to be abandoned’, then the next thing you know, you’re lost in a big-ass trauma response.”1

I hadn’t thought of it like that, in terms of a trauma response. In reflection, it makes sense, and it’s these moments of realization that makes this book so worth the time investment. Louise writes with such authenticity and awareness that only comes from someone who has walked this path before.

Along with this is the sprinkling of personal anecdotes, a skill that not all books in the same realm as this one can say they’ve mastered. I find that in most situations, anecdotes can be overused as the writer might not have enough content for the actual book, and so it ends up reading more like a memoir. Not that I mind reading about other people’s journeys: I am completely interested in hearing about their challenges and how they overcame them. I just want the book that is sold to me to be the actual book I get after purchasing. This book is precisely what it says it is and I couldn’t be happier.

Subsequent chapters deal with big topics that could actually be books in their own right. This meaty book delves into a lot of muck that we tend to ignore in our quest for happiness and security and love: things like championing yourself, reconnecting with our inner child, fully engaging in our messiness, and giving ourselves permission. In Kick-Ass Strategy #5: Compose a Permission Statement, Louise takes us through the challenging exercise of drafting a permission statement that ultimately gives you mentorship of yourself. Louise says:

“Drafting a permission statement is an act of enormous generosity toward yourself. It’s evidence of your willingness to get on board with who you are, and it offers you the chance to examine your values and beliefs and to own your inherent right to flex your personal power.”2

It’s writing like this that pulls you in and helps you bypass some of the resistance you might feel around doing the exercises. This chapter also raises interesting questions around being fully seen and feeling psychologically safe in those moments and challenges the reader to fully engage with the material.

Part of this exercise includes selecting words from a list that best describe you. In doing this particular exercise, I found it hard to pick only the suggested number of twelve adjectives, and harder still to reduce that number down to six. Challenging, but not impossible.

It meant I had to sit with myself and really dig deep to find out which words actually resonate with me and which ones I wanted to be. There is a huge difference there. It’s exercises like this that teach us how to connect with who we really are and to start to accept ourselves as just that: not good, not bad, just who we are. 

The combination of anecdotes and writing exercises makes this book an absolute treasure. Louise’s way of taking the reader through the self-discovery process is delightful, if a bit painful at times. Part of this process includes uncovering those parts of the self that might be resistant to change and helps to uncover the roots of why that might be. If this sounds like shadow work, it absolutely is. While it might not take the usual form of what would normally be classified as shadow work, Louise’s book most definitely falls into that category.

If you thought you could bypass doing any actual work just by reading a book, Louise’s book will change your mind and encourage you to engage with the material. Honestly, digging deep into your own psyche is not fun, but feeling like Louise is right there with you, telling you how they managed to get through it and what the results were make a huge difference and helps you to feel less alone while you root around in the darkness. Trust me.

Those who identify as being on a journey of discovery through self-awareness of behavior and societal triggers would benefit from this book. In fact, I would suggest that most people even interested in the idea of being self-aware would derive a lot from Louise’s fantastic book.

Permission Granted is about more than just accepting yourself. It’s also about finding space for otherness, for those who aren’t like you but exist in the same space. Once we discover that those around us aren’t really that different, perhaps that knowledge could lead to a better, more stable foundation upon which we can build a more sustainable society. 

Relaxation For Your Sun Sign

Everyone has their own ways of dealing with stress — you certainly know the habits that come out when it’s running high! Rather than defaulting to your usual patterns of coping, you can find new, constructive ways to navigate stress based on your sun sign. Read on to learn how your sign can relax and get back to a state of flow next time you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Aries

Get physical, take action, and move. Doing something active gets your entire body engaged, releasing the stress churning within you. The worst thing you can do is sit still and let the energy build up – this will only lead to a blow out down the line. Go for a run, put on your favorite music and dance, or hit a class at the gym. Cleaning up the house is another way to distract your mind, while engaging your body. Don’t feel obligated to invite others to tag alone. Some solo time and independence will help you to recharge. Blow off that steam!

Taurus

Spend time in nature. Engaging your senses brings you back to the present moment. By submerging yourself in the beauty of the outdoors, you will feel revived by the fresh air, sunlight, and organic tranquility of the plants and animals around you. Treat yourself to a massage, comforting meal, or small home decor purchase. By refreshing your environment, you are replenishing your well-being and releasing stress. Sticking to your routine also helps you to relieve stress, as the consistency in your daily life brings you stability.

Gemini

Do some research. Letting your mind be idle will only enhance your stress. You will best alleviate this stress by exploring how others have handled your situation, looking up tips and tricks for dealing with what you’re experiencing, gathering resources that makes you more informed about your current situation, and exploring what others have to say. By stimulating your mind, you become proactive in a solution. Having options about how to proceed brings the bit of fresh air you need to clear your head.

Cancer

Ask for support from your soul tribe and family. You are an integral part of many people’s lives, always offering support and reassurance, but often you forget they too want to nourish you. By being vulnerable and sharing your stresses, you create space to be nurtured. You can also tend to yourself emotionally by cooking your favorite meal, taking a bath, and journaling your feelings. The comfort of your home is your sweet spot for rest and relaxation.

Leo

Channel your stress into creative pursuits. When stress flares, it becomes hard for you to not get dragged along on a rollercoaster of emotions. Pour this excess energy into your favorite hobbies and projects. The simple act of creating, will make you feel more in control of how things are manifesting right now. Feel the empowerment when you do what you love most. Your talents will bring you joy that naturally uplifts you out of stress mode. You will also benefit from laughter; putting on your favorite comedy reminds you it’s not that bad.

Virgo

Perform an act of service for someone. Under stress, you often become a bit obsessive-compulsive, trying to keep everything in line, orderly, clean, and up to high standards. The quickest way to get your mind out of overdrive is to offer to lend a hand or do a favor for someone. Being helpful shifts your focus outward to others and distracts you from the stress you are feeling, clearing your head. You enjoy feeling productive and this act will make you feel more calm and settled as you put your energy towards something practical that makes a positive difference in the world.

Libra

Talk it through and get feedback. Vocalizing and sharing your stressors with another helps you to get a better handle on what’s going on. You’re a very communicative person and having someone to bounce ideas back and forth with gives you affirmation and reassurance. You appreciate hearing perspectives about what you’re going through and in return offer heartfelt advice that motivates and soothes your conversation partner – benefiting both of you! Sharing your thoughts with someone whose opinion you value diffuses the situation and brings levity back into your life.

Scorpio

Embrace solitude. Being in a crowd will only make you feel you need to mask all the turmoil you’re experiencing, which can lead to self-destructive behaviors as you try to conceal what’s going on beneath the surface. Go within yourself and examine the root of the stress in your life. You, unlike most signs, are not scared to face your fears and acknowledge the tension causing you stress. Take the space you need to do this deep dig and make the internal changes that will facilitate your personal transformation.

Sagittarius

Explore someplace new. Fresh scenery and the adventure of going someplace you haven’t gone before helps to alleviate your stress. You may want to take a drive to a nearby town, check out a new restaurant, or find a different hiking trail. Stimulating your need for variety is key. Your mood will change as soon as you’re on the road towards your next journey, and it improves the further you travel from your comfort zone. Looking up travel destinations or reading about another culture are a good way to armchair travel too to broaden your horizons and release stress.

Capricorn

Make a plan. When you feel out of control, your stress becomes more overwhelming. By focusing on the long-term goal, you are better able to navigate immediate stressors. Keeping your eye on the prize helps you to remain cool, calm, and collected in the present moment. Make sure you avoid overworking and take time for yourself, otherwise you will burn out. Lessen the load you’re carrying by delegating some responsibilities to others and try to scale down on your commitments to make space for resting. Always remember, slow and steady wins the race.

Aquarius

Spend time with your friends. When you get stressed, you tend to dwell in your own thoughts and isolate yourself from others. By reaching out to your friends, you shake off the stress ruminating within you. Hearing what’s going on with others is enough to stimulate your mind and broaden your perspective again so that you’re not hyper focused on what’s bothering you. Fresh ideas and communication liberate you by providing some detachment from your stress. Text, call, or Skype your buds: keep them in the loop about what’s going on with you and listen to how they’ve been. Before you know it, you’ll be laughing and at ease.

Pisces

Take a healthy escape to diminish your stress. Exploring unknown, imaginary realms is part of your journey in life. Choose to immerse yourself in the relaxing aesthetic of a museum, the fantasy setting of your favorite movie, or spiritual dimension of meditation. Sink into a deep relaxation and just let your mind wander. Allowing your stress and worries to dissolve in the background for a bit helps you to rejuvenate and find your equilibrium. As an intuitive, sensitive soul you will be replenished by a mellow atmosphere.

Magical Self-Care for Everyday Life, by Leah Vanderveldt

Magical Self-Care for Everyday Life: Creating your own personal wellness rituals using the Tarot, space-clearing, breath work, high-vibe recipes, and more, by Leah Vanderveldt
CICO Books, 1782498513, 144 pages, March 2020

Magical Self-Care for Everyday Life by Leah Vanderveldt is an amazingly comprehensive book that introduces readers to the myriad of ways that self-care can be practiced in our daily life. Leah has a wealth of experience in this topic as a wellness and nutrition expert. As the founder of The Nourish Exchange and Witchy Wellness, her bio notes that she writes with a “focus on intuitive living, creating healthy recipes, herbalism, and self-care with a mystical twist.”1 This book stretched the bounds of “traditional” self-care recommendation by introducing magic through rituals and energy work.

I purposely chose to read this book during my favorite week of the year, the week between Christmas and the New Year, which for me is a time of quiet and introspection. I absolutely loved this book and savored every moment reading it. Vanderveldt expanded self-care to include mind, body, and spirit, while also reminding us that self-care means different things to all of us. As Vanderveldt explains, “magical living gives us an opportunity to claim our power, make the changes we seek, and create a life that lights us up.”2 I was ready to embrace magical living as I stood on the threshold of a new year. I have been using this time as an opportunity to get clear on my intentions, and so far I’ve tried many of the meditations, rituals, and activities described in the book. 

The book is divided into nine chapters: “embracing the Feminine”; “mirroring nature and the seasons”; “creating a magical home”; “lunar living”; “self-awareness with astrology; connect to your wisdom with Tarot“; “herbs and plant medicines for wellbeing”; “healing with energy flow and movement”; “manifesting and honoring your shadow.” The book is very comprehensive, and each chapter offers details on the topic at hand such as gemstones, moon cycles and phases, magical plants and flower essences.

Each chapter also includes related healthy recipes. For example, the lunar living chapter has a recipe on full moon pasta, the mirroring nature chapter has recipes for a spring equinox bowl and a grilled veggie summer solstice bowl, and the Tarot chapter has a recipe for an Empress breakfast. I am planning on making the Winter Solstice Soup in a few days!

The book closes with helpful reminders such as “taking care of yourself first will help you show up fully for others” and “give yourself the gift of time and space”3 The Resource section offers a chapter-by-chapter list of practitioners and websites. 

Intention, energy work, self-care are the main focus throughout. Vanderveldt encourages us with various rituals and recipes to shift the energy within us and the energy that surrounds us with practices such as healthy eating, astrology, moon work, shifting our thoughts, Tarot, cleansing rituals, attunement with the seasons, and working with plants and stones. The book is extremely sensual, a veritable feast for the senses and the spirit. The recipes and rituals indulge one or more of our senses at various times. The photography is amazing and brings the writing to life.

“Magical self-care is the practice of using rituals and tools that might be considered mystical, witchy, or esoteric to identify and address your needs. It requires being inquisitive, diving deep, and trusting yourself and your instincts. It is a process of self-care that combines the earthy and the spiritual for personal evolution and healing.”4

What I like most about the magical self-care concept was that this is a practice, much like yoga, one that best works when it is ongoing to help us grow and become self-aware. I also loved that Vanderveldt recognizes that often our time commitments are sometimes stretched thin and has created it so most rituals or activities can be done in 30 minutes or less. She purposely chose exercises that were quick, adaptable, and affordable (some of which are relatively inexpensive or free). The recipes to nourish the body and spirit are not intended to be difficult to make.

I appreciated that Vanderveldt recognized that “sometimes self-care looks like not taking any action at all. Or like getting serious about my boundaries. Or just going out with my friends and celebrating life.” 5 There’s no right or wrong. There’s not judgement. Self-care is about self-inquiry and self-awareness and trusting one’s intuition, which Vanderveldt reminds us how it is “not always easy to hear it clearly, especially after decades of not being aware of it or ignoring it.” 6

Vanderveldt encourages the reader to try what rituals or activities resonate with us without the pressure to do every ritual in the book. She does recommend, though, that we do the chosen ritual or activity consistently. I was particularly drawn to creating a magical home and lunar living; again, because these are what I focus on as the new year is birthed. I cleansed my home using the rituals in the book. I did a full moon check-in and release. I tried some Tarot spreads of which I was not familiar: three-care spreads on releasing, asking for guidance, and working with the new moon.  Vanderveldt asks us to take a bird’s eye view of things — to see the larger picture and the higher good — while also encouraging us to literally get into the weeds through working with plants such as dandelions!  

I highly recommend Magical Self-Care for Everyday Life to anyone who wants to incorporate a spiritual self-care practice into their life. But don’t just read the book — use the book, treat it as a companion and engage with it every day. Feel worthy to take time for yourself. As Vanderveldt reminds us, “manifestation is a simple energetic equation, but it can get tripped up when we don’t feel deserving of what we want – we only get what we believe we deserve.”7 Believe that you deserve joy and happiness. Believe that you deserve to make magical self-care a daily practice.