In this the fourth chapter of The BrocanteHome Workshop, I am going to introduce you to a way of thinking I hope you will apply to every aspect of your world as we progress along the road towards a life less ordinary: the art of practical magic.
Don't worry there is no abracadabra involved and I won't be asking to don a pointy hat and boil a frog, but I will be asking you to think beyond what already exists and to consider whether each aspect of your life brings you both ease and joy.
Practising Practical Magic means that we look at each and every aspect of our lives, from the vintage loveliness we acquire on treasure hunting weekends, to our intimate relationships, the products we use to clean everything from the sink to our skin, the routines and rituals we live by and so very much more - and we ask the following two questions:
Is it practical? Does it complicate my life/house/emotions or does it bring me ease?
Is it magical? Can I make it more joyful? Have I made it as lovely as I can?
This you see can be applied to all areas of our lives and it is an incredibly useful way of dividing those things that are working in our lives, from those that we are capable of improving and indeed those that bring us neither ease nor joy and should be given their marching orders.
Ready to Dive Into the Art of Practical Magic?
The first thing to understand is that once you decide to practise Practical Magic you are essentially agreeing that YOU are responsible for ALL aspects of your life; that YOU are capable of making the changes that will create contentment; that YOU and ONLY YOU can sprinkle a little Brocante glitter over all those aspects of your life that could bring you joy if only you would allow it to happen.
You see practising Practical Magic means switching off your monkey mind and tuning into your most authentic self: she who is seeking ease and joy in all things and is desperately thwarted in her efforts by our own willingness to accept those things we CAN change.
For of course in this life there are things we CANNOT change. Or undo. Death and natural disaster. Chronic illness and accidents. But EVERYTHING ELSE is within our power to either improve or change.
I know its a shock. I know you have been muddling through believing that this is all there is: but it isn't true - at every turn it is absolutely possible to practise Practical Magic: to decide whether this aspect or that one of your life is smoothing your journey on the road to a life less ordinary or simply complicating it. To decide whether you are tolerating that which could be so much more meaningful if only YOU would take responsibility for waving your magic wand and making it matter.
You CAN change.
You CAN practise PRACTICAL MAGIC.
But the second thing that you need to understand about Practical Magic is that it takes WORK... because I'm sorry to say, Practical Magic isn't actually magic at all. It is thought and application. It is inspiration and a can-do attitude. It is the result of the Four C's: Clarity, Commitment, Contentment and Creativity. Practical Magic is in fact a form of mindfulness and it asks that you become present in every aspect of your life and rather than being blind to its truth, to actually see it for what it is.
* We can look at the cupboard under the kitchen sink jam-packed with supermarket cleaning products we almost certainly never use and we can ask ourselves are all those products helping me or hindering me in my efforts to create a house that feels fresh and safe? Are they a pleasure to use or do they add to my dread of keeping house because the chemicals irritate my skin? Am I proud of the choices I am making with regards to keeping house because they keep my family safe from toxic ingredients? Am I using six products when one would do (Ease and practicality) or am I mixing essential oils with natural ingredients that improve my mood and make me feel virtuous? (Joy and magic). Yes of course it is tempting to just chuck yet another product into our trolley, but when we bring Practical Magic into our lives we understand that with a tiny bit more mindfulness we can bring both ease and joy into our day.
* We can stew all day after an argument with our partner and dread him returning home because we know that another argument will start that will ruin the evening. But we have a choice. We can set aside the (usually petty) issue we have been sniping about (Ease) and cook a meal we know he likes, then take ourselves to bed early and read by candlelight (Joy) rather than staying in the room with him and getting even more irritated by his face. By the next day the emotion has passed and life can go on, smoother and calmer than it would have done had we not used PRACTICAL MAGIC to avoid working ourselves into a frenzy all over again.
* And finally we can collect every single floral vintage plate we discover at every single car boot sale we attend and clutter up every surface in the kitchen with stacks of plates we will never eat enough cake to use. and simply create work for ourselves keeping them dust free and un-chipped OR we can decide to practise Practical Magic and get really mindful about all that we bring home with us: to buy only those plates we truly love (Joy) so that over the years we build up a small collection of plates it is a pleasure to look after because washing them doesn't require the booking of a week long holiday (Ease).
Think about it. Practical Magic can be applied to EVERYTHING because it is about choice and we always have choice. The choice to reduce each and every part of our day down to its simplest form and thereafter to make it as special as we possibly can. The choice to choose calm over hysteria and to choose not to aggravate a situation and instead look for ways to find pleasure whether there was only the possibility of pain. The choice to seek ease and joy. Practicality and a sprinkling of the kind of magic that makes life worth living.
You and YOU alone are responsible.
Ready to take a deep-dive into Practical Magic? Move on to the next post...