Updated: Jun 21, 2020
One of the best things about living in a small town is knowing the people who work it. You know the same person is likely to be at the post office when you go, or at the coffee shop, the stationers, or in the museums. It brings a sense of familiarity and comfort as we move about our daily lives.
And to that end, I’d like to say a little about who I am, why I purchased Gaia’s Blessing, and what I hope for my sweet little shop as she grows.
First, the fun facts:
I live in Peterborough, where I share my beloved old home with my wife, Natalie, our two teenagers, seven cats (yes, seven), and an incredibly spoiled pit bull.
I was raised in Texas, but knew New Hampshire was my spiritual home the moment I stepped foot on her soil. We had come up from TX on a road trip in October of 2018 to show the children where Natalie had grown up in Merrimack.
Literally the first moment I stepped out of the car at that first stop in NH and placed my foot on the ground, it was like floating in a warm lake. Complete and utter peace. A stillness of the soul. A heart connection.
I’ve rarely felt anything like it, and apparently I cursed out loud according to my wife. I do not recall this, but that's often my initial, human reaction to spiritual revelations - especially ones I know will turn my life on its ear - so I believe her.
Thankfully Natty has known me for three decades, which meant she barely blinked when I told her shortly after that I felt we should drop everything and move. Two months later our house in TX was sold, this one was bought, and we were completely transplanted to NH.
That will go down as absolutely one of the Best Big Leaps of my life, right after marrying her and having our children. And I have no regrets whatsoever.
Brene Brown talks about the important difference between ‘fitting in’ and ‘belonging’. Fitting in is assessing the situation and adjusting yourself accordingly. This is not an authentic way to live, but it was the best we could do, as the people we are, where we were living in Texas.
Belonging is finding your tribe and existing alongside them as exactly who you are, no assessing or adjusting necessary. That is what New Hampshire – and Peterborough specifically – has brought us. We truly feel like we have found our tribe, and I’m still amazed by it every day.
For the first year, we simply reveled in our new surroundings. The lush nature, the kindness of strangers…intrinsic respect for the humanity of others, regardless of their beliefs or choices. We absorbed. We engaged. We healed...oh, how we've healed. All four of us have processed so much difficult and sacred work on our souls since we’ve been here, and we are all the better for it.
Now I’m not saying this soul work is finished – it never really should be – but in January of this year I began to feel like I was in a place I could start giving back to this community that had given us so much. I was already doing tarot readings and classes and energy work on the side, and I had been fortunate enough not to have to work a regular 9-5 for several years.
So what did I want this ‘giving back’ to look like? Volunteer work? Expanding my services business? I wasn't really sure which way to jump.
We’ve been customers of Gaia’s Blessing since a day or two after we moved in. It was actually one of the things I checked before we moved – whether there was a metaphysical shop nearby. Mind you, ‘nearby’ for me at that time was within an hour’s drive. (I know. Flatlanders.) I was over the moon when I saw one within walking distance of our new home.
What Michelle has built in that amazing little shop is incredible. She has poured her heart and soul into that store for years, and it absolutely shows. She quickly became my go-to resource for all my spiritual supplies, and also just for fun conversation. I know her customers are going to miss her terribly. I certainly will.
Natalie and I had tossed around the idea of purchasing Gaia’s when we first saw it was for sale, but didn’t know if it was the right move for our family. The kids were used to 24/7 access to me, and my wife was used to having someone who could handle all the errands and daytime stuff so she didn’t have to worry about it. We’d worked peacefully with this model for years. Could our family really adjust to me owning a shop and all that meant?
Turns out, the answer was they were at least willing to try.
We sat down with the kids and discussed what this would look like, and also had some tough talks between the two of us about what it meant for the household in general. Mostly in regard to me letting go of the idea I had to be Supermom. Essentially it came down to my family being compassionate and supportive, and pushing me to follow my dream of being a witch with my own shop.
I want to take an important moment here to address the varying attitudes around the word ‘witch’, and explain why I choose to use it so freely and proudly.
There are centuries of negativity associated with the title of Witch, and also many current connotations that are not altogether positive. Throughout the years, it has been used to describe those who make pacts with a demon or devil, those who raise the dead, those who craft horrible poisons, and those who place curses. It's been depicted as a frightening, green-skinned hag with a warty nose and a scraggly cat on a broom. Not that there's not a place for cartoon humor like that - I enjoy poking fun at myself. But the concept of witchcraft as a whole has been feared and loathed and derided through time.
However, the actual history of the witch is very different.
In truth we were the midwives, the healers, the counselors. We were the ones the village came to when they needed help (albeit, often surreptitiously), and the ones they consulted when their bodies and souls were tired or in need of relief. We do not make pacts with evil spirits - in fact, we work to remove and clear negativity, both personal and collective. None of us have raised any dead that I'm aware of, and the closest I've come to poisoning anyone is using too much cayenne pepper on my chicken. I'm also relatively sure no poor soul has ever been successfully turned into a newt.
(Personal bonus points from me if you know that reference)
Instead we use the gifts from Gaia, from our Mother Earth, and the energies inherent in and around all of us to affect change for others, change in the world, and in our own lives.
'Witch' highlights the creative and giving nature of the Divine Feminine, and taps into that ancient, collective power. I choose to use this word to describe myself as a statement of personal strength, to reclaim it from misinformed history, and to help redefine it as what it always actually was.
And now, back to the shop.
The idea of being granted this role and helping my community through spiritual support and education had been such a deep wish of mine since I was a very little girl, and now before me was the chance to realize it by buying Gaia's with my family's blessing. I decided I simply could not pass that up.
I have so many ideas for the shop itself and for the programs I want to get off the ground to fully engage the community in spiritual growth. I’m ready to dig in and get my hands dirty, offer whatever knowledge I have, and gain what knowledge I can from all of you. We are all learners and teachers on this journey together.
My fondest hope now is to earn that distinguished title of village witch every day, through becoming a resource and refuge for the lovely, loving people who have welcomed us with open arms.
Thank you for letting us into your tribe. I will always strive to honor that gift.
All love, fellow travelers.