Love is my religion.

img_2158
You can check out my Etsy shop here!

I have played around with religion my whole life. My mom raised me Catholic and I do cherish a lot of the experiences I had as a Catholic. I’m a sucker for the ritual of it all, the smell of incense escaping the openings of a thurible, the dichotomy of the creepy sounding liturgical music at mass and the very thin line between what is light and dark about Catholicism. The thin line between everything has always been my biggest interest, which may be why I’ve always fallen off of the tight rope of religion into a sea of arguments and questions.

When I became older and sat face to face with my thoughts, which were no longer the thoughts of a carefree youth (or ignorance as bliss) but that of pain and responsibility, I found myself in a state of depression. It was then that I began studying Buddhist doctrine. I needed more than anything a blueprint to live by that told me was in control of my mind and heart, that I was not a puppet held by the strings of God. (I am an English major whose passion is American literature—I’ve read Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” more times than is normal.) The idea of leaning on a higher power until something changed never resonated with me. I’d rather take action.

Buddhism did help me during that time. I can still remember letting go of unhealthy attachments, being able to “change the channel” in my mind when it was venturing into The Lifetime Channel territory, all while managing to love others more than ever. But was I able to stick to it? Do I consider myself a Buddhist today? Mmm no. I don’t. As a matter of fact, almost four years ago my husband and I convalidated our marriage in the Catholic church. (We had eloped back in 2004.) It was a requirement in order for our children to be baptized in the church, which was something they had expressed a desire for and we had no problem fulfilling.

At the end of the day, I don’t think I will ever be able to commit to a single religion. I live by love and good will. That is my religion. I delight in the fact that I have Gregorian chants on my iPod playlist (take a listen to hear what that is), Virgin Mary paraphernalia here and there, and a some buddhist breathing exercises to dust off when I need them.

WHAT IS YOUR RELIGION? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?

When Life Gives You Old Bananas…

Cause the lemonade analogy is trite, right?

img_2120

We’re pretty terrible in this house about eating all the bananas before they become overripe; and because I try my hardest not to throw out perfectly edible food, I end up making a crap load of banana bread all the time. No one here is complaining. The five of us devour a whole loaf before it even cools from the oven. So delicious!

This morning I made a loaf, and for some reason the lemon/lemonade analogy popped in my mind and I wondered why bananas don’t get the same treatment. I mean, mushy, spotted bananas on their own are just as terrible as sour lemons, right? How many other one-day-left-before-it’s-rotting foods can you turn into something so delectable? (Besides cured meats and cheeses, which deserves a post of its own.)

Anyway. My life bananas have overripened on occasion. I think our lives are full of cycles of mushy, spotted bananas and then delicious, warm banana bread. Sometimes we just have to take what we have, apply some heat to it, give it some time and watch it rise again. I’m in a banana bread phase right now. (Well, except for the election depression.) Friends are plentiful, creativity is thriving, family is content, it’s autumn…

I know I will run out of loaf, scrounge for some crumbs, and wait for some new bananas to ripen again. And then repeat. I’m acquainted with my life cycles enough to know this is true, and that sort of clarity and acceptance helps.

I hope you are all in a banana bread phase as well. If not, I’m sure this post made you hungry. Go treat yourself to some dessert. You deserve it!

WHAT FOOD ANALOGY WOULD YOU USE TO DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW?

5 Reasons Why Cyber Monday is the Best

Did you do some shopping this past Friday? I’ve never been much of a Black Friday shopper, especially ever since I acquired kids. Who in their right mind wants to brave the crowded stores with a bunch of kinds in tow? NOT ME. You can find me snuggling under a blanket and bingeing on leftovers. Green bean casserole is my joint.

Introverts and extroverts with introvert tendencies, UNITE! (In the comfort of your own home.) Cyber Monday was made for us. Here are five reasons why:

  1. You wear enough black on Fridays.
  2. Elbowing people out of your personal space is socially unacceptable.
  3. If you can stay in bed on a Friday morning then you do it.
  4. Spending too much money online doesn’t feel as bad as swiping your debit card a bunch of times in one day.
  5. Finally, something delightful about a Monday.

If you’re still doing some Christmas shopping, I have a Cyber Monday deal for you! I’m offering 20% off of your entire order at my shop, Revel Designs. Lots of pretty jewelry for any girls or ladies in your life🙂

img_2121

DO YOU DO BLACK FRIDAY, CYBER MONDAY, BOTH OR NONE?

Dancer and Prancer and Donner and…Procrastination?

img_1914

Are you one of those eager beavers who gets their holiday shopping done throughout the year or does your procrastination problem overfloweth well into December?

I’ve been an eleventh hour kind of person for most of my life, managing to get everything I needed to get done in time…but not without a lot of last minute stress and anguish. Not to mention knowing my end result or final product was not the best I could have done if, say, I actually took my time doing it. The holidays always made this clear to me. 

This year I decided to stay ahead of the game and start my Christmas shopping in January. The plan was to purchase a gift a month. That lasted until about April, after which I just bought gifts as I came across them—some months I came up empty handed, some months I was all You-Get-A-Car-Everybody-Gets-A-Car! And I still feel unprepared. I can’t imagine how I’d be stressing right now if I hadn’t prepared at all.

In this vein I’d like to help you out with your semi-early holiday shopping! Do you have a lady in your life, whether it be a friend, family member, blog bestie, co-worker, etc., for whom you are buying a gift? I am offering free holiday gift wrapping and 15% off at my Etsy shop, Revel Designs by ShellyI make lovely and affordable jewelry and accessories in a variety of styles. I also love working with people for custom orders. If you dream it up I can make it!

Check out my shop and use code: BEMERRY at checkout for the discount and free gift wrapping.

Are you a holiday procrastinator? Or do you stay ahead of the game? Share one of your holiday shopping strategies in the comments!

10 Ideas to Inspire Your Creativity

img_1853
You can find this bracelet and many like it here! 

Our muse goes missing. Inspiration seems elusive. Creative blocks are burgeoning. However you wish to describe it, we’ve all experienced those creative slumps. And it does not matter what your niche is, a lack of inspiration and ideas can be pretty frustrating  when you’re  trying to write a book, run a blog or business, or enjoy a hobby.

So should you let the slump run its course or should you catch up to it and show it who’s boss? Do you have your running shoes on? Good. Leggo…

Here are 10 ideas to get you back in the creative spirit:

  1. Spend a day at a museum. Any museum. Other people’s brilliance and ingenuity will remind you how amazing human creativity is. It is a gift within all of us.
  2. Go to an open mic event at a local coffee shop. Buy yourself a treat, relax and enjoy the beauty of others’ thoughts, ideas and delivery.
  3. Take an art or how-to class. Choose one that is outside of your current niche.
  4. Go to a play or musical. It does not matter if it’s a Broadway production or a local community college production. Just marvel at the pro.duct.ion.
  5. Attend a cultural event. Preferably one outside of your own. You will have fun learning the intricacies of a culture you’ve yet to become intimate with.
  6. Watch any movie by Laika Entertainment. The stop-motion animation studio never ever disappoints. Their creativity, attention to detail, resolve (imagine the patience it takes to partake in stop-motion animation) is astounding!
  7. Attend a writer’s group meeting. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, writing and sharing ideas with observant and thoughtful people (cause that’s what we are ;-)) gets the wheels turning.
  8. Go to a costume party. They’re not just reserved for Halloween! You can attend Cosplay, a Renaissance fair or Victorian era party, Diner en Blanc, etc. Anything that forces you to play dress up.
  9. Upcycle/repurpose something. Make it a project to find something cheap or free from a yard sale or thrift store. Repaint and repurpose it.
  10. Go to a bar or winery. Take your notebook of bright ideas with you. Lord knows all we need sometimes is a little liquid courage to get past our inner critic. Enjoy!

Which one of these would you choose first? Also, name something you would add to the list!

Let’s follow each other on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (shellyscabaret)!