“Enchanted Life: Unlocking the Magic of the Everyday” By Sharon Blackie
Find Your Everyday Magic
By Samantha Shrider / June 12th 2018
Title: The Enchanted Life: Unlocking the Magic of the Everyday
Author: Sharon Blackie
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley, eARC
Page Count: 356
Genre: Non-Fiction, Self-Help
Enchantment. By Dr. Sharon Blackie’s definition, a vivid sense of belongingness to a rich and many-layered world, a profound and whole-hearted participation in the adventure of life. Enchantment is a natural, spontaneous human tendency — one we possess as children, but lose, through social and cultural pressures, as we grow older. It is an attitude of mind which can be cultivated: the enchanted life is possible for anyone. It is intuitive, embraces wonder, and fully engages the mythic imagination — but it is also deeply embodied in ecology, grounded in place and community.
Taking as her starting point the inspiration and wisdom that can be derived from myth, fairytales, and folk culture, Dr. Sharon Blackie offers a set of practical and grounded tools for enchanting our lives and the places we live, so leading to a greater sense of meaning and of belonging to the world. To live this way is to be challenged, to be awakened, to be gripped and shaken to the core by the extraordinary which lies at the heart of the ordinary.
I love non-fiction memoirs and self-help books and have since I first picked up Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” back in 2009. Reading advice from someone else, who has lived a different life than mine and therefor knows things I may not know, has always been its own kind of thrilling for me.
I want to start this review on a positive note: I was instantly drawn to the cover for “The Enchanted Life,” this is my favorite kind of cover even in fiction books: dark with pops of color and minimalist design. The synopsis captured whatever attention the cover had left lacking: a self-help book about finding the enchantment that I still occasionally felt in deep woods on my own? That feeling that magic might still exist? I want that all the time! I am in!
“Enchantment isn’t about magical thinking; it is about being fully present in the world.”
Right off the bat Blackie’s style of writing was much more in depth than I had anticipated. I don’t want to say that I thought I was going to be picking up a fluffy magical read about planting toadstools in your garden and finding magic in bumblebees- but, ah, yeah I kind of was and that was not what I got. And yet, I strove on because when I gave the book my full attention, it kept me intrigued. Blackie is obviously a very educated person, and this shows in her writing style which is why it wasn’t the fluffy fairy tale of a self-help book I was expecting. There is a lot of great advice, suggestions and information in this book but you have to be able to really devote your time to it- in that regard this is what I did wrong: I read the ebook.
I feel like my opinion of this book would be VASTLY changed by picking up and reading a print copy. While the information is the same, the ebook didn’t allow me to really- well, for lack of a better description, “get my hands dirty.” This is the kind of book you really need to get into and mark up, write in it, highlight it, annotate it. The book features plenty of great self-assessments that make you question your own wants and dreams and motivations and how you can add that enchantment into your life, but reading it as an ebook really hurt my ability to participate.
“You can learn to belong anywhere…if you choose. It’s an act of creation, and like all acts of creation, it’s also an act of love, and an enormous leap of faith.”
I do recommend this book for those who have let education and work and life wipe clean that sense of wonder that comes from just enjoying life. I highly suggest buying the physical copy and taking it with you to a park, or beach. If you insist on the ebook, may I suggest a pencil and notebook to accompany you. You’re going to want to highlight whole passages and dog ear pages, and hold your pencil in the air and say “ah ha!” when that light bulb goes off.
“The Enchanted Life” is set for publication August 7th, 2018. You can preorder your copy HERE from Amazon or your local major retailer.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Ambrosia through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
About the Author
I was born in the north-east of England, a Celt through and through: my family and ancestry is both Scottish and Irish, and I was raised on an imaginatively rich diet of Irish myth, poetry, music and history. After studying psychology, I spent several years as an academic neuroscientist/ psychologist specialising in the field of anxiety and panic, and working at the Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris and the Institute of Neurology in London. After a few twists and turns, including some unwise years advising a tobacco company on smoking and health and safer cigarettes, and the acquisition of a master’s degree in Creative Writing, I moved to a croft in the north-west Highlands of Scotland. There I returned to my roots, in practice as a therapist specialising in narrative psychology, myth- and storytelling, as well as in other creative imagination techniques and clinical hypnotherapy. My passion during those years was, and still is, creating transformation in individuals and groups.
My husband David Knowles and I founded literary publisher Two Ravens Press (now under new ownership) in 2006, and in 2012 launched EarthLines Magazine, a full-colour print publication for writing about nature, place and the environment.
My first novel The Long Delirious Burning Blue was described by The Independent on Sunday as ‘Hugely potent. A tribute to the art of storytelling that is itself an affecting and inspiring story’ and by The Scotsman as ‘… powerful (reminiscent of The English Patient), filmic, and achieving the kind of symmetry that novels often aspire to, but rarely reach.’ I have recently finished If Women Rose Rooted: a narrative nonfiction book about women, Celtic myth, place and belonging which will be published in spring 2016.
I run online courses and residential retreats working with myth and storytelling to help people along their individual paths of transformation. All of my work springs from an intense connection to the land, which is rooted as much in the mything and storying of place as it is in the physical environment. For many years I was a crofter, both in the far north-west Highlands of Scotland and in the Outer Hebrides, sandwiched between mountains and sea in one of the wildest and most remote places in the country. (On a clear day, we could see St Kilda from our kitchen window.) We produced a large proportion of our own food, keeping sheep, cows, pigs and a miscellany of poultry; a large thriving polytunnel, and a herb garden. That long, hard work, which required us to be outside in all weathers, as well as a continuing daily need for long walks to explore rocky shoreline, bog and mountain, has given me a deep and nourishing sense of connectedness to place that I feel drawn to share with others.
In 2014 we completed a further migration westwards, returning to Ireland where I lived (in Connemara) in the 1990s. We now inhabit an old riverside cottage near the magic mountain of Errigal, in Donegal. These days we own just a small patch of land, and so I am focused more narrowly on the keeping of bees and hens, and the growing of vegetables and herbs.