My Bag Of Tricks

My Bag Of Tricks



Nora Ephron is a hero of mine. When she died last year, I felt like one of those fish I see on the docks of this island I live on: gutted.

The beautiful thing about writers is that they live on through their words. In this case, Nora Ephron stays present through wonderful films like When Harry Met Sally and Heartburn. Still, a piece she wrote about her purse has perhaps stuck with me the most.

Having worked in magazines for years before moving here, I know that usually an essay or article about a purse’s contents touts makeup products. But I’m an au natural gal and that’s not what takes up space in my bag. It's more like everything else. At certain points, my purse has been so full that it warrants comparisons to Mary Poppins’ bottomless carpet bag from which she pulls lamps and kitchen sinks.

There’s a quotation from writer Chuck Palahniuk: “Your handwriting. The way you walk. Which china pattern you choose. It’s all giving you away. Everything you do shows your hand. Everything is a self-portrait. Everything is a diary.” 

I would add a woman’s purse to that list. The contents speak to who we are.

So, without further ado, here’s an inventory of what’s in my bag—a brown suede, fringed number bought two years ago on sale at a local shop called, Midnight Farm:

1. Face Paint

Odd, yes. But I use it for women's moon circles. It's amazing how a little paint on the forehead or forearm rouses the warrior within. Celtic Priestesses used to paint upside down crescent moons on their third eyes before they did ceremony or ritual. A little ceremonial paint on your third eye draws focus to the seat of your awareness, which releases you from the bonds of suffering. So, here's to more third eye adornment, whether it be painted or a bindi. Pull into it, awaken it. A teacher of mine says, "Fire the judge. Hire the witness."

2. Business Cards

It’s a very western thing to learn a skill and immediately think we have to market it. I fell into that trap when I made cards for my Reiki, yoga and moon circles. But then I realized I didn't want to sell those skills. I had learned them to process them into my cells, to become them. They just became more books in the library of my mind and body. So, besides wanting to offer someone I meet a way to keep in touch with me, I rarely use my business cards. I find them, and the labels on them, rather limiting. 

3. Sage

You never know when you’ll need it. I clear the energy in my little cottage often. I also use it before or after yoga in private sessions and to clear the space before a moon circle. My favorite time to use it in yoga is during Shavasana or "Corpse Pose." In Shavasana, we are already asking that the dead cells and patterns that no longer serve us in our lives and bodies be released. Sage helps clear and carry that energy away, as well.

4. Half A Packet of Raisinets

These were my mother’s favorite candy and that penchant for chocolate- covered raisins seems to be hereditary. They remind me of going to the movies with her when I was little because it was the only time we ever really got to have candy or soda. My mother would take us to movies she wanted to see and my sister and I would sit on either side of her, so that during the sexy scenes she could put a hand over each of our eyes. We'd watch through the cracks between her small thin fingers anyway. At the moment, I don’t drink or do drugs, so don't get between me and my chocolate.

5. A Silver Wallet

My best friend got married a few springs ago outside the Virginian town where we grew up. It was one of those perfect settings: a sprawling farm, a barn lit up with lights, white tents, roaming dogs and a big live band. She gave all the bridesmaids these beautiful wallet/clutches by Christopher Kon. Mine was silver and my blonde twin sister's was gold, which seemed fitting. I still use mine every day and it feels special every time I pull it out. I was never big on buying my own wallet; the ones I love are always so expensive. If I bought one, I’d have nothing to put into it! My father is a real spendthrift, so I get that (lovable, I hope?) vibe from him.

6. A Sharpie

I make people mixes a lot. I'm one of those people who prides herself on her mix-making skills, and I use the Sharpie to label the blank CDs, introducing people to songs I think will make their lives complete. My former career was as a music journalist. Music was my first love and my first taste of magic; I'm still deeply in love with it. Good music takes you somewhere dream-like, somewhere larger than life. 

7. A Sticker For Jess Phaneuf’s Blog

Martha’s Vineyard is a magical and musical place. I have a theory that most islands are that way because, being isolated from the rest of society, you have to make your own culture. Famous residents have included James Taylor and Carly Simon, but there's a ton of lesser known amazing talent here, as well. Jess is a DJ for the local radio station, WMVY. I was super depressed when they lost their FM signal last year and you could no longer play them on the lonely dirt roads of the island: WMVY had truly become the soundtrack to my life here. Somehow they always seemed to know exactly what song mirrored my life. It was hard not to wonder if the DJs were reading my diary! Luckily, Jess and friends will be back on the FM dial this spring. Hope returns. I remember as a little girl on the summer drives up from Virginia to the Cape, my sister and I would lie in the way back of the Volvo station wagon. As soon as WMVY was audible on the dial, we knew we were close and we'd perk up: vacation was about to officially begin.

8. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream

I know I said I wasn’t a cosmetics person, but my mother always slathered this classic all over her body and ours. Now, my sister and I both keep it in our bags. It’s great for chapped lips, dry hands and dry skin. It’s definitely a winter weather staple.

9. Key To My Jeep

My whole life I have wanted a Jeep Wrangler. My father always told me they weren’t practical, but, since I’m stubborn, that only fueled my desire. I finally got one this summer and I’ve never looked back. I love being as close to the elements as possible. Nothing could be finer than a ride to the water down the open road in an open car.