The Unbelievable Circus Show: a free PDF ebook

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I recently wrote a chapbook called The Unbelievable Circus Show. It’s a chapbook of poems that tell stories of magical, mysterious characters. It’s written for young adults and it’s mostly intended to put a smile on your face 🙂

You can find the book on my Free Ebooks page.

If you like this project, please consider buying me a coffee. Your support would mean a lot ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

In the meantime, here’s a sample poem from the book:

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Circus Peanuts

Get your world famous circus peanuts!

Two bags for a dollar and fifty cents

Come get our world famous circus peanuts!

You’ll love munching on them beneath our tent

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Hey you, yes you!

We have other snacks as well

We’ve got buttery, hot pretzels

And ice-cold soda pop we sell

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We’ve got gold-wrapped chocolate candy

And bags of caramels and gummy bears

Salty, popped pop corn

So let go of all your cares

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Enjoy some fresh potato chips

And cotton candy is a must

Our pumpkin seeds are the very best

From the Peanut Man you trust

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There’s water, wine, and beer

And for the kids, there’s juice in boxes

Get your crackers, soup, and hotdogs

And your cookies shaped like foxes

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Get your world famous circus peanuts

Two bags for a dollar and fifty cents

Come get our world famous circus peanuts

No one can resist the tasty scents!

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Thanks for reading 🙂

Read the rest of the book at my Free Ebooks page.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

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15 Tools To Help You Meditate

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There are many benefits to meditation, and I find those benefits are much more accessible to me when I have some tools to work with. For me, many of those things involve a physical object that I can see and hold in my hands. Here are fifteen tools to help you meditate:

Crystals – Working with crystals makes me meditate almost every day. Most people talk about meditation in terms of a daily practice and long-term benefits, but for me, it’s all about the short term. I do it because it allows me to have peace of mind IN THAT MOMENT. I keep crystals by me when I sleep, and reaching for them to meditate whenever I feel so inclined is a natural extension of working with them.

Prayer Beads – This is a great tool, and you don’t necessarily have to be religious to use them. They can help you to focus, especially if there’s more than one thing you want to meditate on.

Zen Garden – I don’t have one of these personally, but they look like so much fun! It’s basically a mini version of a Japanese rock garden. It includes stones and a little rake so you can make patterns in the sand. One way you may use it is to draw a symbol or word in the sand, and then meditate on that!

Mantras – A mantra can have different meanings. For some, it’s a word or sound to repeat over and over. (“Ommmm” is probably the most common). But to me, it can also mean a word or phrase in your own language. The most effective ones are short and to the point, and it works well when you use it while focusing on your breath. I’ll usually say the mantra in my head each time I exhale.

Wands – These can also be a great tool for meditation and focus. They can be handmade or purchased, and some are decorated with gemstone or engraved with positive affirmations.

Tibetan Singing Bowls – I’ve been wanting one of these things for a long time. They’re so pretty! Also known as standing bells, they come in all shapes and sizes, and are often used in meditation, and religions such as Buddhism and Taoism.

Statues – Especially those associated with religion, can be good visual reminders and points of focus. If they’re small enough, you can also hold them in your hands.

Candles – These can be a great way to spend some time meditating. You can light them and then blow them out when you are done. You can also look at the flame for a visual meditation. If you have scented candles, your focus point can be the sweet smell. [Note: Always practice fire safety]

Tarot or Spirit Cards – These can help you to get into a spiritual mood, and you can use the message of the card to create a mantra. Similarly, you can use a quote from a spiritual text or inspiring book.

Baoding Balls – Also known as Chinese medicine balls, these are small, made of metal, and both can fit in your hand. You rotate two or more in one hand, and they are good for improving motor function or recovering from surgery. They are also great for meditation.

Music and Nature Sounds – Music is good because you can meditate for the length of the song without noticing time is passing by. YouTube has many eight hour videos that feature relaxing music, nature sounds, and ocean waves. There are also guided meditation videos. Audio books may be good as well!

Pillows – It can’t hurt to create a cozy environment.

Tea – Hot tea is a great accompaniment to meditating, and it may put you in the right mood to have a moment of peace.

A Hot Bath – You can always meditate in the bath or shower, and then you’d be accomplishing two things at once. Between the hot water, and anything else you may include like candles, flower petals, and music, it creates the perfect environment. [Again, when it comes to fire, safety first]

Incense – Incense can also be used to help keep you grounded and relieve tension.

Those are some of the tools you can use to help you meditate. Naturally, you don’t need any tools. Just you, yourself, and something to focus on. Like with any spiritual practice, it’s not about hard and fast rules. Do what works for you. ❤

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If you like this post, you may also enjoy my poetry and fiction books. Check them out at AshleyLillyBooks.weebly.com 

 

 

 

 

12 Benefits of Witchcraft

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There are many benefits of witchcraft as a spiritual practice. There’s no one way to practice magick, and no two witches are alike. People practice magick from all religions, backgrounds, and for a variety of reasons. That being said, there are several underlying traits that those who practice can benefit from. Here are twelve benefits of witchcraft:

Anyone Can Be A Witch – Witchcraft is often associated with the religion of Wicca, but one doesn’t have to be Wiccan to practice it. People from all religious backgrounds practice magick, and nonreligious people do as well.

There Are No Rules – Sure, there’s spell books, guides, tools, and different things people recommend, but your practice is your own and it can be as complex or as simple as you like.

You Can Do It From Anywhere – A lot of witches have designated sacred spaces and altars to perform magick, but in reality it can be performed anywhere. All you really need is you, your intent, and a space where you can focus.

Time In Nature – One of the biggest benefits of witchcraft is that it gets you to spend more time outside, working with nature, meditating, and developing more respect for your surroundings. It also gives you time to unplug from the internet.

Knowledge – Witchcraft requires a lot of studying, and you never really stop learning. You can learn a lot about herbs and their medicinal benefits, the phases of the moon, astronomy, flowers, trees, animals, crystals, meditation, chakras, natural healing, tea, myths, history, and the magical uses of all these things. You can also learn more about yourself!

Knowing What You Want – Spellwork requires you to be clear about your intent, and this can give you a lot of clarity about what you really want in life. As a result, it can help you to take more steps to work toward those things.

Time To De-Stress – Witchcraft is, at its heart, a nature-based spiritual practice. As children of the Earth, few things can ease our minds more than connecting with nature and the elements. It also helps you to meditate and reflect on a regular basis.

There Are Many Paths – Since there’s no one way to practice magick, you can find the path you resonate with most. You can be a green witch, a sea witch, or a hedge witch. You can practice with a coven or on your own. You can follow spell books or create your own rituals.

Reasons To Celebrate – There are many sacred days that some witches honor, including the summer and winter solstices, the spring and autumn equinoxes, Samhain, Beltane, and others. People celebrate in different ways, but they often include preparing a special feast, rituals, nature walks, meditating, honoring ancestors, bonfires, and gratitude.

Inspiration – A lot of witches share their inspiration, positivity, and light with others, and social media makes it easy to soak up all that wisdom.

It’s Inclusive – One reason I think witchcraft resonates with so many people is that it’s inclusive. It empowers women and doesn’t discriminate against the LGBT community. It gives people space to explore spirituality in a judgement-free environment that also promotes kindness, self-care, balance, and healing.

It Promotes Healthy Habits – Drinking tea, cooking with herbs, spending time outdoors, journaling and reflecting, meditation, getting clear on what you want, connecting with the elements, taking care of the earth, caring for plants, reading books, and expressing your emotions are all things you may do more if you practice witchcraft.

These are a few benefits of witchcraft as a spiritual practice. Above all, I see it as being about connecting with the Earth and taking care of yourself. Thanks for reading. Blessed be! ❤

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If you like this post, you may also enjoy my poetry and fiction books. Check them out at AshleyLillyBooks.weebly.com

 

Cozy Morning

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Bonnie sat in her warm, cozy bed. She sipped tea from her favorite mug, watching her girlfriend, Rya, sleep in the sun’s gentle light. Marble, their black and white cat, hopped onto the bed, curled up on a spare pillow and purred in preparation for a mid-morning nap. A vanilla candle burned on the nightstand, filling the room with its sweet scents. The only sounds were birds chirping outside and the occasional soft swoosh of cars going by on the road. Bonnie brushed her ginger hair out of her eyes, and pulled out her journal so she could get some reflections done. Still lost in her dreams, Rya smiled and hugged her pillow. So far, today was a good day.

Things I’ve Accomplished In My Twenties (so far)

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To speak like an elementary school kid, I am 24 and a half. It’s easy to look back on this decade in my life and feel like I’ve gotten literally NOTHING done. I’m “between” jobs, I’m single, don’t have my own apartment, and I don’t drive. It’s easy to feel like I’m not getting anything I want done, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t accomplished anything in the last four and half years, right? Of course not! Here are ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far):

I Graduated From College: This is probably the first big thing that comes to mind. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in English just a few days before my 22nd birthday. I completed it in four years, which not everyone does, so I guess that’s pretty awesome?? I graduated with honors, cum laude, and all that fancy stuff. And I made friends I still chat with today!

I Made Friends: Ya know, I spent a huge, and I mean huge chunk of my life believing that I was bad at making friends. Starting in elementary school I had bullies, in fifth grade I moved to a different school district (you know what THAT does for a kid’s social life), and it wasn’t until middle school that I started having “best friends.” In high school I had a few best friends, and then in college I had even more.

I have one or two friends I’ve kept in touch with from high school. And about four or five I still keep in touch with from college, so you can see how things improved! And it only took like a quarter of a century! Seriously, I hadn’t thought about making friends as an accomplishment until this moment, but it is one, isn’t it? You’re lucky if you can find good, kind friends. But it’s also something that requires effort and good habits to keep in touch.

I Embraced My Sexuality: This is a multi-faceted, complex one, the main part being that I embraced being bi/pansexual with a preference for women. I still have some anxiety here and there, but ultimately I feel really good about who I am, and I couldn’t be prouder to be queer. Learning and connecting more with the LGBTQ community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

But there’s more to sexuality than my orientation, so it’s kind of like I’m working on phase two of my sexuality confidence. For me, this means learning to feel more comfortable in my body, and feeling sexy, beautiful and confident by own standards, not by society’s. It means conforming sometimes to my culture’s standard of beauty for women (i.e- shaving my legs), while also needing to love my body for everything it is in its natural state.

This is a big thing to work on, and honestly, it’s a no wonder it feels so daunting. The U.S has to be one of the most sex negative countries in the world. Especially if you’re a women, it can be hard to unlearn all of the toxic things we internalize. Like needing to be “pure,” waiting until marriage, slut shaming, etc.

Sooo this is a work in progress for me. Maybe I need to watch more French films. The French are cool with sex, right?

I Wrote Things: One thing I’ve definitely focused on since I graduated from college is writing. I self published six poetry books and a book of short stories, and gave a book to one of my favorite bands. I wrote articles for a magazine in Manhattan, did freelance work for a marketing agency (short-lived and under paid, but it still happened!), I started (and maintained) this blog, submitted poems, articles, and stories while facing rejection, persevering with my work like a BOSS, and I worked on bunch of other projects that only my eyes have seen.

I’ve also seen how my words have been able to move, comfort, and inspire people, whether it’s in my poetry books, or something I post on the internet. It’s confirmed that words have power, and that this is one of my gifts in this life. I’ve learned that it’s hard, I mean really hard to make money as a writer, but I’ve also learned how satisfying it is for me to take a DIY approach to this craft, and other artsy things as well. It’s a huge part of my life, and it’s one of the best things to come out of my twenties.

I Went To Vegas: It was rad. First time on the West Coast ❤

I Voted For A Woman For President: Okay, we all know how this one turned out. But still, I got to vote for a woman! How cool is that?!

I Applied To Grad School: Applying to grad school is something I considered doing for a long time. I thought about applying for something related to my current degree, like English or creative writing, but it didn’t create more job opportunities like I wanted, and needed. Eventually I decided to apply for a master’s degree in social work, and if I get accepted, I’ll be starting school next fall. Fingers crossed!

I Went To Concerts: I’ve gotten to see a few awesome artists in concert. Demi Lovato (got a photo with her, too! Thanks to my cousin), Miley Cyrus, Tegan and Sara, Kesha, DNCE, Kristen Chenoweth, Christina Perri, Kiesza, and Little Mix. Here’s to many more!

I Learned How To Navigate The NYC Subway: For reasons I can’t explain, I had this weird thing where I associated being an adult with being able to navigate the NYC subway system. I guess I felt like, if I can learn my way around Manhattan, I can learn my way around anywhere. Hit me up if you need directions to the Financial District.

I Celebrated Samhain: I didn’t do much, just made some art and had my own little dinner. I’ve been learning more about witchcraft, paganism, and other forms of spirituality. I’ve been meditating with crystals, and following different thought leaders like Mastin Kipp, Gabby Bernstein, Oprah, Tony Robbins, and the Dalai Lama.

This is a super important path for me, because I’m pursuing my spirituality on my own terms without worrying about anyone else’s dogma or approval. I’m finding my own path, and I’d say that’s important for any twenty-something.

So there it is, ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far). I’m four and half years into this decade, and I truly hope more good things are to come. I may not have everything I want, but I’m on my own journey and moving forward at my own pace. Your accomplishments are treasures. I hope you collect many on your own travels.

-Ashley

Thoughts on 24

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I’ll be 25 in six months. I read somewhere that when you turn 25, that’s when your brain transitions more into adulthood, or something along those lines. And I can kind of see that. I feel like I’m at a point where I’m still wanting to experiment, while also looking for constants. The truth is though, being in your twenties is hard. I see this as a decade of my life that’s one big experiment. It’s filled to the brim with failure, and it’s filled with the illusions of what you think your life should look like.

By 24, lots of people in the boomer generation were married, buying their first house, and having babies. At least, that’s how it seems. If my math is correct, my parents were 25 and 27 when they got married, and less than a year later I was born. So, by that standard, I still “have time” to figure things out. Right?

Honestly, by thirty I’ll probably be single. If I’m lucky, I’ll live in a shoe box apartment in Brooklyn, and if I’m really lucky I’ll have a cat.

The thing I hate about being in my twenties is that this is the youngest I’m ever going to be, while also being independent and old enough to do anything I want. But I can’t even enjoy it because I’m too stressed about having a career, AND a relationship, AND a car, AND exercising/ eating healthy, AND earning degrees, AND having an apartment, traveling, etc. Not to mention wanting to be happy 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

I’ll be the first to admit I get stressed because I try to do everything at once. But maybe the truth is, we can’t expect ourselves to do and have all of those things at the same time, can we? In high school and college, the only thing I really truly had to worry about was school. There may have been jobs and skills to build on the side, but school was the one thing that was really important. It was the top priority for my time.

After graduating, it’s like everything becomes the top priority. At least that’s how I feel. Suddenly, work, relationships, and everything else needs to be number one. It’s like everything you want in life is part of a Jenga tower, and if you don’t get one thing quite right, the whole tower (i.e- your whole life), will come crumbling down.

Of course, that’s not really how life works. People I know in their 50s, 40s, and even 30s are either married or not, they have kids or they don’t, they live in their own house, or they don’t. I’m not saying people don’t stress when they’re older, or that they don’t get bummed out about not having things they want, but I do feel like there’s less pressure.

In your 20s, people want to know how you’re using that degree you just got. They want to know if you’re dating if you’re single, or if you’re gonna marry the person you’re dating, or if you and your spouse are gonna have kids, or if you’re gonna breast feed the kids you already have, etc, etc, etc. It’s endless. If you don’t have a job, people want to know if you are looking. If you’re earning a degree, they want to know what you’ll do with it. It’s like being a young adult gives everyone permission to watch you under a microscope, and to make sure your decisions and answers align with whatever can make them the most comfortable.

I always thought my twenties would have a sense of adventure, but instead, it just feels like a long climb toward stability. Now that I’m halfway to twenty-five, it just makes me think. I don’t want to spend the rest of this decade feeling stressed and sad and inadequate. I don’t want it to pass me by while I’m drowning in job applications or worried about being “forever alone.”

But unfortunately, as much as I want to live my life to the fullest, I don’t really know how. I want to do what makes me happy, but it doesn’t always feel that simple. I’ve learned the hard way that no one but you cares if you’re in a lane that makes you unhappy. You have to fight for that on your own. And sometimes that fight is exhausting, or it has to wait.

The past five years have been transformative. I’ve been through a lot, accomplished a lot, and learned so much. It hasn’t all been failure and sadness, but it can feel that way at times. I remember the anxious times more than I remember the good times.

I want the next five years to be better. I hope they are. I hope happiness can be less elusive.