Witches Redefined.

“To me, a witch is a woman that is capable of letting her intuition take hold of her actions, that communes with her environment, that isn’t afraid of facing challenges.”
Paulo Coelho

Since the beginning of time, witches were looked as single, lustful women in cahoots with the Devil, conjuring spells for the sake of torturing others. In popular culture, witches blended in with humans, hiding their identity due to the fear that they would be misjudged or persecuted for their ‘powers.’ However, now the term ‘witch’ has become a rather empowering statement for women all over the world who are self-proclaimed healers in today’s society.

The Origin of Witches

There is no clear data that shows when witches first appeared. However, one of the first documented witch was in the Bible-the book of Samuel, between 931 B.C. and 721 B.C. (https://www.history.com/topics/folklore/history-of-witches). The story touches on the Witch of Endor summoning the spirit of the dead prophet, Samuel, per the request of King Saul. But it wasn’t until the mid 1400s in Europe, where witch hunts became all too common. Many were executed by burning of the stake or hung. Women targeted were often single or widowed. By the late 1600s, witch hunts traveled to the New World and kicked off the very well know witch trials in Salem, MA. During the Salem Witch Trials, 150 people were accused and 18 were executed. Shockingly, these numbers included 6 men, who were also convicted and executed.

Modern Day Witches

Yes, they do exist. Just not in the way you are used to perceiving them. They don’t have warts, or fly on brooms, or stand in front of a cauldron with oozing, green liquid spilling out of it. Wicca became a US religion in 1985. It is practiced by witches or wiccans, as a spiritual system that fosters the free thought and will of the individual, encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature thereby affirming the divinity in all living things. ‘Power’ is derived by the Earth and all of its natural resources. If you believe in the power of stones and crystals, this is a way of practicing witchcraft. If you utilize sage to rid negative energy, this is a way of practicing witchcraft. What is often associated as evil or against religion, is the opposite. This belief system is used to help and heal others. As a matter of fact, “Harm None” is the whole of the law in Wicca. Also, witches are not Satan worshippers because they do not practice Christianity, and Satan is a evil symbol based in Christian religion. However, they do believe in good and bad sources. The usual goal of a wiccan is to influence the greater good. But honestly, Wicca barely scratches the surface. There are many other pillars that exist within the modern witch’s belief systems.

Witches and Halloween

Witches don’t necessarily celebrate Halloween. Instead, it is usually observed as a time to honor loved ones who have passed on, much like Day of the Dead that is celebrated in Mexico. The reason behind this is because the veil between the living and the dead is the weakest, making it primetime to communicate to spirits.

My Opinion of Witches…

Personally, I like to dabble in research. I believe that certain people on this Earth have been granted ‘gifts.’ Abilities to know the unknown and predict future events. I fully trust my intuition and the internal power I have within me to change certain circumstances. My crystals are sacred to me. My sage and Palo Santo stays stacked in my household! I burn incense on the regular. I believe in the power of manifestations. My beliefs don’t fit in one box. I thank God and the Universe. I believe both are very powerful forces in my life. I believe it is all connected. But that’s just me! I would never force beliefs on anyone else and I do not tolerate others to do the same to me. I don’t often speak on my beliefs because I come from a Catholic family. Anything out of the norm and misunderstood, normally gets a bad rep. And I rather not have to defend my beliefs or make anyone else understand why they are my beliefs. I just know what works for me and makes me feel whole. Do I consider myself a witch? Mm, I don’t know. Lol I would like to be considered that cool! What I do know is that I am a lover and believer of magic and miracles. I believe in the healing powers of natural herbs. I believe in the power of energy and frequencies. I believe there are so many unexplained forces in this world that we cannot even begin to wrap our heads around. I am open minded to all possibilities. But more importantly, I love the idea of women coming together to celebrate their feminine divine power. There is so much beauty in that alone.

I’m curious to hear from all of you. What is your take on witches? Do you think you can be labeled a modern day witch? Or do you think it’s just all a bunch of Hocus Pocus? Would love to hear from you all! Stay witchy, my friends. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

My IG: @ang_meets_soul. Photos of me taken by @sophies_eye_813. Be sure to check us out! 🙂

Tips on How to Build a Savings: A Guide to Being a Financially Responsible Adult

Do you often find yourself scraping for coins or wondering where all of your money in your account has gone? Chances are it didn’t disappear- you spent it. And if you have no recollection of what that money was spent towards, then chances are you are not budgeting effectively. As most of us silently exit our twenties, we are faced with the dreaded reality that we are just not in a position to make careless decisions anymore, especially when it comes to finances. Some of us have families to support. Some of us have an overwhelming amount of bills to pay. Some of us aspire to own a home. Whatever the goal may be, it usually requires money. With the way society is currently, cost of living seems to rise in price, but no raise in our salaries to be found. This is where the benefit of savings comes into play.

I know what you’re thinking- HOW? How can you build a savings when you barely have enough to cover the bills? Honestly, it’s more attainable than you think. Here’s how:

1. Process of Elimination:

Many times we don’t realize that some of our monthly expenses are more of a luxury rather than a necessity. Make a list of your expenses and cancel those that are not necessary. For example, that Ipsy bag you invest in monthly is definitely a luxury. By cutting that you automatically have 10 extra dollars to tuck away in savings each month. Paying for a cable bill? DON’T! There are plenty of streaming services that are way cheaper or even free. I personally do not have cable. I have Hulu and Netflix, and whenever I want to watch live tv, there is a free streaming site, ustvgo.tv. You’re welcome.

2. Split Your Paychecks:

This is something I’ve started doing as of last year. I opened a new account in hopes of building a savings that is stored securely. Once I did that, I set my direct deposit to have my net pay transfer into one account (my main one that I use to pay bills) and then designated 10% of my paycheck to transfer into the new account I opened. 10% is what I decided but it can honestly be a smaller percentage as well. Determine what is doable based on your own finances. This has helped me tremendously. Since the transfer is automatic, it’s like I never see the money to begin with. You can’t miss what you do not have. It has trained me to work with the money I do have in my main account, while the money in my other account slowly builds.

3. Cash Stash:

This is similar to splitting your paychecks, just at a smaller and more tangible scale. In addition to having my paychecks split, each paycheck I withdraw $5-$10 and place it in my ‘Cash Stash.’ The money you gain from the ‘Process of Elimination’ step is also perfect for this, by the way. Often, I place this stash in a hidden place in an attempt to hide it from myself. Out of sight, out of mind. Plus, it is always helpful to have easy access to cash in case of an emergency or natural disaster.

4. Acorns are NOT just for squirrels:

For those who are unfamiliar with the Acorns app, it is an app that charges you a monthly subscription and invests that money into multiple stocks within the market. You can set the monthly amount to whatever is most comfortable for your situation (I do $10 a month), and watch the investment grow. You also have the opportunity to do one time investments in addition to the monthly ones. What I like most about this app is the compounded interest and dividends added. Often, this app also has promotional partnerships where you can gain more towards your profit. For example, if you book a flight through CheapOAir through the app, a percentage of your purchase is also invested into your Acorns account. Basically free money! And this app can serve as a savings account. You have the ability to withdraw the money from your account and have it deposited into your bank account. I believe its only a 3 business day process time.

I’m not sure if you’re keeping count, but I have given you 3 different streams of savings… anyways, onto my last tip!

5. Save Your Coins!

It seems simple, right? That’s because it is. My fiancé is constantly dealing with cash and so many times he is left with a bunch of change. I always encourage him to give me the change and drop it into a piggy bank. I keep collecting the change and normally won’t cash it in until we are traveling somewhere. Granted, a fee is associated with Coinstar to convert coins into cash. I’m personally too lazy to go old school, and roll my coins to give to a bank to cash out. However, that is always an option if you don’t want to pay fees. You don’t think that the change adds up, but it really does! The minimum amount I have cashed out is $30. That might be considered a small amount, but that is extra money you did not have before.

I hope you have found this information helpful. I cannot stress enough the importance of handling your finances responsibly. How many of these steps do you think you can start practicing? Are you using any of these tips now? I would love to hear feedback! And of course, if any of you have additional suggestions, I am all ears 🙂 Happy Fri-yay everyone!

Travel Series: Wanderlust takes France

“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” ―Asian Proverb

Whenever I think of France, I think of the city of Paris. Paris was the goal, initially. But you cannot want what you do not know, and all I knew of was Paris. Of course, I would love to see the Eiffel Tower, shimmering in the night sky. However, when a company you work for offers to send you to France to present a topic on one of the articles you’ve written, all expenses paid, you jump on that opportunity! So that’s exactly what I did. I had no idea what to expect, or what part of France we would be. Honestly, I didn’t care. All I knew is that I was grateful to have this opportunity. As a matter of fact, this trip taught me the art of gratitude and the beauty of disconnection. I will admit that this trip was far different than any of the other places I’ve traveled. A pleasant surprise. But more importantly, this trip taught me what it really means to step out of your comfort zone. Ironic- that was the topic I was presenting while in France. I had no idea that I would be pushed even more outside of my comfort zone than I already had prepared myself to do.

Our flight was on a Monday night at 7:45 PM. I was traveling with my manager and her husband. While waiting to board the plane, I overanalyzed my presentation and wondered if it was up to par to present in front of other people, let alone to my colleagues. I wondered if I would remain poise during the presentation. This particular topic meant the world to me because I was currently living it. My life had changed so drastically over the past year, that I am barely recognizable to myself- and it’s great! But still, I wondered if I would be considered ‘good’ enough. I am one of the youngest in the company, so it can be a bit intimidating. Finally, we boarded the plane and I prepared to settle into my seat. After 10 hours, 2 movies, and in and out of the worst sleep I’ve ever endured, we landed in Frankfurt, Germany for our layover. What seemed like a short wait, we then proceeded to board the plane to head to Toulouse, France. So I thought Toulouse would be our final destination, but it was not…in hindsight, now I know why we rented a car. We drove two hours to the small, quaint town of La Salvetat-Peyrales. Way high in the mountains, where civilization is questionable, stores are borderline non existent, with dirt roads lining miles of land, and not one sign of a street light lol. Turns out that one of the big bosses in the company bought a house in France with her husband about 5 years ago after finding it during their honeymoon. Honestly, the house is stunning and very much reminded me of my favorite Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. When Belle sung about ‘this poor, provincial town’ she was talking about here. But I do not mean one ounce of disrespect. It is a very simple lifestyle filled with beauty.

The house came with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, an outdoor sitting area overlooking a pool, an upstairs lounge area placed outside of the house, and a family room. Some of us were able to stay here, while the rest of us stayed in a cottage about 15 min. walking distance down the road. I was one of the guests who did not get to stay here, but day in and day out for the next 6 days, we spent the majority of our days here presenting, strategizing, and taking trainings in an attempt to better the company and keep it growing- very cozy and family style. Which speaking of the cottage, I know the country life is not for me for the simple fact that it is way too dark and quiet for my liking. Every night while I was in France, I barely slept because I felt the place was either haunted or there would be some crazed killer out there to get me!

We arrived to the house around 5:00 PM where I met the gracious host for the first time. Between the 6 hour time difference, the long flights, and the long drive over here, I could have used some perking up. And that is when we were greeted with glasses of champagne and wine lol. One thing this trip allowed all of us to do is BOND. And I’m not talking that fake kind of bonding where you try to impress one another and hide all evidence of any flaws. Throughout the trip, we got REAL. And I realized in these moments that I DO NOT work for a conventional company- I loved every minute of it! France has a tradition called apéro which means cocktail hour, served with drinks and small appetizers. We celebrated apéro each day we were there so I ate and drank A LOT. The first night there, while enjoying the cocktail hour outside in their hosting area, I couldn’t believe my surroundings. Candles lit everywhere, a cozy fire burning, and GREAT red wine (I don’t even drink red wine like that unless it’s sweet). Total vineyard vibes.

The next few days we dived straight into work. There was not much sight seeing throughout the week, but in our off hours, we gathered together drinking more wine and champagne, and eating more food lol. This was definitely a social trip, for sure. I was worried I would be pre-judged and stereotyped (which was very possible, since I decided it was perfectly ok to wear my Poetic Justice hoodie with an enlarged picture of Tupac on the front lmao one time for the culture though!) After my experience with my last job, you could say I’m scarred but it was the complete opposite. Everyone was so authentic and encouraged one another to do so. So many jokes and laughs. But anyways, back to the food and drinks!

This is common drink in South France. It smells of black licorice and is definitely an acquired taste. Usually served with one ice cube and diluted with water because it is STRONG. But by all means, if you feeling froggy…

A lot of pork is eaten in France from various hams to salamis to bruschetta. The French also consume a lot of bread, olives, and various vegetables such as tomatoes and lentils. However, all produce has to be in season. Nothing is imported to France, so all produce is locally grown. If it is not in season, it does not exist to eat or sell.

A fig picked from a tree in the host’s backyard

We did venture out to a few restaurants where we ate authentic French food. It was definitely an adventure trying to decipher the menu and then order the items in French lol. Google was my best friend throughout this trip!

We went to a restaurant called L’oustal del Barry. As you can see the portions are much smaller than we are accustomed to in the U.S. However, these are three course meals- appetizer, main entrée, and dessert. Add that with wine and bread and trust me, you’re good and full! I ordered the ravioli, lamb, and a Nutella mousse cake.

When we weren’t going to restaurants, the host was cooking at the house. One of my favorite meals while there was the duck confit. If you’ve never tried duck, you’re doing yourself an injustice. Although I have eaten duck in the U.S before, I never tasted duck so amazing than I did in France.

Duck confit with spinach salad, lentils, and bread…of course!

Another item I tried was unpasteurized cheese…and this is not sold in the U.S. because it is considered unsafe to consume raw milk cheeses. But it is the best tasting cheese you will ever taste in your life!

In France, dessert IS THE LAW. Don’t ever turn down a dessert in a restaurant. I did that once and they looked at me as if I committed a crime. An honorable dessert mention was banoffee, which is basically banana foster pie. SO DELICIOUS…

As the week wrapped up, work slowed down. It was Friday and my presentation was pushed to Saturday due to all of us running behind schedule. In addition, we had to drive two hours to the small village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, where we would tour the Roquefort Caves. Legend has it, that after the Combalou Mountain collapsed and parts of the mountain disintegrated into a giant, chaotic heap of rocks riddled with natural faults and caves. These caves were ingeniously adapted for the purpose of cheese-making. Yes, I said cheese making. Fleurines, which are small tunnels that run throughout the caves makes it the perfect temperature and humidity to develop Roquefort cheese, with the help of microorganisms such as penicillium roqueforti. These caves have been transformed to a cellar that now holds as many as 300,000 loaves of cheese at a time. They had samples of the cheese, in which I tried, but it was a bit too strong tasting for my preference. This cheese is for the brave.

Saturday approached and it was the big day for my presentation. I wish someone could have recorded me or taken pictures. Everyone was so wrapped up in my topic and I had their undivided attention, which is great! My presentation included thought provoking questions that helped others realize the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone. I got amazing feedback and was not mentally prepared AT ALL for how emotional my presentation made everyone. It was a room full of 10 people and not one person was dry eyed. I had stirred something in them emotionally and one by one, they started confessing things they felt they have held themselves back due to staying in their own comfort zones. It became a roundtable discussion with raw and honest answers of circumstances they struggled with. Each one would start crying as they openly became vulnerable and in return, provoked me to cry as well. But it was not until one of my colleagues opened up about her desire to be married with kids. That she felt she held herself back from finding someone to share her life with. That she feels she will spend her life alone. As she approaches her 30th birthday, she feels she has failed in this area of life. And I thought to myself, “maybe she has valid points, or maybe it’s just simply not her time yet.” And in that moment, I felt the need to share a painful truth of my own- the loss of a child. I didn’t share to be pitied. Honestly, it’s been one hell of a journey and I owe it all to my baby in heaven. If it wasn’t for me going through that situation, I would have never had the courage to write again. I would have never had the courage to leave my job and fall into a better one. I would not have the courage to submit my work to a local magazine and score a guest column. I owe everything to my angel. Sometimes, it is just the timing. Sometimes, we need the time and certain situations to happen to force us to learn and grow through. So that’s exactly what I told her. That her time will come, just like it will for me when the timing is right. And then we cried some more lol. I was so raw and vulnerable and yet, somehow poised. I was authentic and I caused others to take a deep look within themselves. Everyone raved so much about my presentation that I caught the attention of the CEO, so that’s an amazing feeling! I don’t want to overkill on this particular highlight of my trip but it was the main purpose of me going to France in the first place. I am just so relieved that not only did I execute it, I connected with my colleagues in ways I could not have imagined having the power to do so. A major accomplishment in my book.

After the presentation (and after we pulled ourselves together lol), we headed into the city of Albi, France for some more sight seeing. Albi was a charming city with streets lined with boutiques and restaurants. It was a nice change to see some civilization lol. We stumbled upon the Sainte-Cecile, a gothic cathedral dating back to 1280. It is considered the largest red-brick cathedral in the world. Every inch of the interior is decorated with extravagant tiles, gold leaf, and frescoes. You can visit the church and attend an audio tour for just 5 euros. It was definitely money well spent. Make sure you click on the slideshow to see inside 🙂

We had a late lunch in the city and continued to browse around in the small shops that paved the cobblestone streets. I was able to snag a cute shot glass that resembled a miniature wine glass, which seemed so perfect coming from France. The trip into the city was short lived and we headed back to the countryside to prepare for our last dinner spent together. We would all leave in the early morning. (Side note: in France, the majority of cars are manual aka stick shift. In order to get your license, you must be able to pass driving a manual before you can even think to be able to drive an automatic).

In the city square of Albi. I couldn’t help but capture this photo of these beautiful flowers splashed with the background of charming architecture.

France was not a typical wanderlust trip for me. I spent more time eating and drinking socially, connecting with my colleagues, and re discovering the importance of being present in the moment and putting my phone down. And in the nights that I spent alone in the cottage, I re discovered the art of solitude. I discovered that I am a force to be reckoned with. That I can stand powerfully in my truth and connect with others through shared pains. I learned that I have a voice. I learned that I never have to doubt myself again. This trip was for the soul. I opened up in ways that I have never allowed myself to before, especially when it comes to coworkers. I always felt I had to keep a certain level of professionalism. To prove that I am competent enough as a minority woman in what tends to be a white privileged corporate America. But the moment I displayed that authenticity, I was applauded. And I will forever carry that beautiful feeling in my heart. You see, often we think the action of traveling is meant to learn about the places we see and yes, to a certain extent that is true. But what about the things you learn about yourself being placed in an unfamiliar environment? I think this realization was my favorite part of this trip, after all ❤