Choosing Vulnerability Part 1

Rilke quote
Lately I’ve been feeling so inspired by my community in Asheville and the people in my life. My friends are musicians, healers, activists, artists, dancers, connection-builders, and change-makers in every sense of the word. They are people who address others by looking them square in the eye and often speaking directly from the heart. They aren’t afraid to shy away from challenging questions or dive deeper in.

I am so thankful for this community of people who want to inspire and bring out the best in others. Being around them activates me and inspires me to look within myself and ask myself how I can be the best version of myself, how I can share my gifts and how I can grow and flourish.

Influenced by my friend Dominique Warfield’s event Indigenous Soul and my friend Jai Dee’s ‘Choosing Vulnerability’ playlist at Dance Church (ecstatic dance), I’m inspired to share a writing series entitled, ‘Choosing Vulnerability.’

To me choosing vulnerability means taking the risk even if the outcome is unclear or cloudy, being authentic with myself and being authentic around others, sharing my heart in every moment even if pain looms around the corner, following things that frighten me, listening to my body, establishing boundaries, and more. Vulnerability opens up darkness and a place to be wounded. But because of this, it also opens up a sweet spot of lightness. We can’t have one without the other. There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

The picture for Dominique's event

The picture for Dominique’s event

This series will enfold on my blog as direct excerpts from my journal, essay-like excerpts that try to make sense of my ever-conflicting ideas of living in the moment and letting go, questions revealing my curiosity in polyamory and how people love in Asheville, and any other form of storytelling that I want to express. I’ll be reflecting on my last six months or so of living in Asheville. I’ll be looking back in my journal sporadically but also giving present day updates. To me choosing vulnerability means sharing myself through my personal writing. I want to explore these thoughts, these themes. The best way for me to explore these thoughts and questions is to share them with others. To first go within and then seek without. I want to share a piece of myself with you. I choose vulnerability.

This past weekend I felt activated through various events and interactions. It all started with my friend Dominique’s (Shamanique’s) Indigenous Soul exhibit at Lush-Works, a gallery in downtown Asheville. On Friday night there was a free event featuring prayerformance, inspiring talks, and dancing. On Saturday and Sunday nights there was a blindfolded shamanic journey dance. I didn’t get a chance to attend the blindfold dance, but the Friday night event was enough to awaken realizations in me. Watching Dominique perform made me realize how often I’ve shyed away from embracing my own sexuality. With a stark ferocity she fearlessly expressed primal and raw emotion through dancing and drumming. At first this made me feel uncomfortable, but I realized I felt uncomfortable because those are things I want to work on expressing as well. Those are things that frighten me. Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. Dominique’s prayerformance awakened in me a primal feeling of longing, desire, connectivity and sexuality.

Sunday morning at Dance Church I realized these feelings further as I shyed away from interacting with anyone on the dance floor. When I saw a group of people tangled together, I felt curious, but also unsafe. These feelings of sexuality, connectivity, and touch have frightened me in some way or another. Because of that I want to explore them deeper, to figure myself out and navigate my emotions.

These are common themes I’ll address in this series. Others include: loving without attachment, giving without expectation, seeing people for who they are on their own path and accepting people for who they are in each moment without expecting or needing more.

I choose to be vulnerable in sharing my wild, bleeding, raw, aching, pulsing, happy heart. I choose to step towards the things that frighten me. Do you?

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New Moon in Virgo: Surrender to being

After a beautifully busy and full past few weeks I’m finding time and space to ground down again. This re-rooting coincides with the new moon in Virgo, an Earth sign. The more I pay attention, the more I realize how aligned my emotions and actions are with the moon cycles and the cycles that exist around and within us constantly.

Divine Encounter by Simon Haiduk

Divine Encounter by Simon Haiduk

We are interwoven with the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of the moon and the natural cycles of life. As human beings we represent the cycles of life. As beings on this planet we live by the cycle of the sun every single day. We are cycles. Our whole existence as we know it is a cycle. Often distractions and busy day-to-day details pull me out of this connection to source. I want to take this time and this new moon cycle to remember and to honor the cycles and our connection to them.

This new moon cycle is about taking time for stillness, for mindfulness, and for healing.

The previous moon cycle spun and blazed a ball on fire, constantly catching momentum and moving. The cycle ended with an eruption: one of the largest earthquakes in 25 years to strike San Francisco. If that’s not a sign to pay attention then I don’t know what is.

During the previous moon cycle I skipped, pranced and danced from one gathering to another. Every moment struck with such fierce and precious intensity as a reminder to wake up, as a reminder to how fleeting and chaotic and beautiful life is. Yet everything kept moving so fast that I rarely had a moment to myself to ground and center with this information.

I felt a strong pull in multiple directions. And I’m still navigating these feelings. I feel the need to root, the need to ground, yet I feel the pull of wanderlust again, the desire to kiss the lips of the unknown and hit the road, to head back down south to Latin America.

I’ve also felt myself getting swept up in other people’s stories, imaging how I can weave my way into other people’s paths. I’ve had to question why I’m interested in venturing to Latin America for another winter and if it’s coming from a heart place or a desire to be around friend’s who are going. Last week especially I spent a lot of time questioning where I want to be, what I want to be doing, worrying about what’s going to happen next, how I’m going to make money, how I can live more align with my beliefs, how I can contribute to the greater good, how I can be conscious in every aspect of life, and how I can balance it all out.

Bloom by Ashley Foreman

Bloom by Ashley Foreman

In my community in Asheville I’ve talked with a lot of people lately about the previous cycle. Most people felt the same intense energy and momentum, the same pull in multiple directions: the desire to ground, yet the pull to leave. The collective consciousness continues to build.

As the heat from the summer winds down, let’s all take a moment to build this consciousness into stillness. Let’s bathe in the subtleness of the end of one cycle and beginning of another. Let’s recognize the slight changing in vibrancy of the leaves, the cool air slowly inching in. Let’s pay attention to what is actually happening.

This is an invitation to surrender to the doing, the questions, the doubts, and just be. Give yourself permission.

As this Virgo new moon sets in, focus on what’s necessary for you to do to heal yourself. What do you need to do for yourself to heal? What do you need to do to heal others? How can you balance your standards, your desires, your needs and your commitments while still going with the flow of life?
Give yourself the nourishment to stop the doing and embrace the being. Hold yourself accountable and responsible for the life and love you want. You weave your reality. Be compassionate and loving with yourself. Forgive yourself. And then forgive again and again. Surrender. Let yourself surrender. Let yourself let yourself.

A new moon is empty, how will you fill it?

Go For A Walk In The Woods Today

Today I was en route to a meeting when it got rescheduled. Errands to run flooded my mind. Before I had a chance to reroute Plan B with my GPS, I ended up at the Asheville Botanical Gardens. Before I turned in, for a split second the thought crossed my mind, “Maybe I should Google to see if they’re open.” This thought partially stemmed from thinking I had too much to do to spend time elsewhere. It also showed me the unnecessary reliability I’ve had on technology lately.

“But, I’m already here,” I thought and turned in.

Trust that life organically takes you where you need to go.
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It’s okay to let go of control.

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Once I started walking around, I realized how much I needed fresh air, green plants, trees, and grass. How much I continually need these things. Nothing else I “needed” to do just to “fill my time” mattered.

Trust in the path even if it seems confusing, painful, challenging or impractical.
flowered path

Sometimes it looks like the path goes nowhere. And sometimes the path goes nowhere. It’s okay to take that path anyways. You never know what you’ll discover along the way.
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Being outside is the best medicine. I grew up with acres of woods in my backyard. Being in the woods surrounded by plants and trees has always soothed me. Sometimes I spend so much time indoors that I forget how nourishing and replenishing life outside is. Spending time in the woods helps me understand that what we are a part of is so much more than broken hearts, aggressive drivers and to do lists.

tree river

Watching a dragonfly flutter from one plant to the next helps me appreciate the depth of a moment.
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Getting up close to a bug reminds me that life exists in so many other realms.
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Trees remind me that sometimes beauty can’t fit into frames and parameters.
tree at botanical

It shows me that we’re not the only ones who get all tangled up.
tangled plants

Even in the prickly places life blooms.
prickly

Wild bleeding hearts can still be beautiful.
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Today I walked into the woods feeling hurt and upset about recently discontinuing a romantic relationship in my life. I left the woods feeling hopeful, replenished and happy.

At the end of my walk I saw this quote in the information display case:
do not let the world make you hard

The world is still filled with so much sweetness. Sometimes the best way to figure this out is through having a broken heart.
botanical bumper

Asheville Botanical Gardens:

The Botanical Gardens at Asheville is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization. They aim to preserve and promote plants native to the Southeast with an emphasis on the Appalachian region. The Southern Appalachians have the richest diversity of native plants outside of the tropics. The gardens are open from sunrise to sunset. There’s no admission fee, but donations are appreciated.

Directions: (Or you can just trust that life will guide you)

151 W.T. Weaver Blvd.
Asheville, NC 28804-3414

From Downtown Asheville
Take Broadway/Merrimon Avenue (US 25) north for approximately 1.5 miles to the traffic light at W.T. Weaver Blvd. Turn left. Pass the entrance to University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA) at the traffic circle.  Entrance to Gardens is the about .2 mile on the right.

From the South (Hendersonville)
Take I-26 West. As you approach Asheville, I-26 will be joined by I-240.  Continue to follow signs for I-26 (future I-26). Once the road begins to cross the Smokey  Mountain Bridge, move IMMEDIATELY into the left  lane. Take LEFT Exit 4A. Go to Exit 25 which comes up quickly.  At the bottom of exit ramp turn right. At second traffic light turn left on to W.T. Weaver Blvd. BGA’s parking lot is first driveway on left.

From the North (Weaverville)
Take I-26 East to Exit 25.  At the bottom of exit ramp turn left. At second traffic light, turn left on to W.T. Weaver Blvd. BGA’s parking lot is first driveway on left.

Once I got in my car I put on the Sim Redmond Band’s Live at GrassRoots album. When I can’t get outside, Sim Redmond and GrassRoots will usually do the trick for an uplifting, soothing outlook. Here’s the soundtrack:

 

One more reason to trust and know that everything’s going to be okay.  Once I got home I saw this quote a guest left:

happiness is a choice

Asheville: Planting Roots to Rise Up

After traveling and being on the move for three years, I’ve found a place to stay for awhile.

Blue Ridge Mountains photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Blue Ridge Mountains photo courtesy of Creative Commons

In April I returned to the states from Guatemala and packed most of my belongings in my car. I left my childhood home to drive south on the night of a Taurus new moon.

“The moon in Taurus is a time of recognizing and aligning with what we truly value, and then vowing to live our lives in a way that truly upholds and reflects it.”

A few things I truly value: clear and honest communication, lasting relationships, people who aren’t afraid to look you in the eyes while speaking, community, caring for and preserving the planet, conscious consumerism and repurposing, health and wellness, spending time outside, practicing yoga consistently, and eating local plant-based diets. And so I headed south to Asheville, a big city with a small town feel where I can foster all these things and more into my daily life.

COURTESY FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Downtown Asheville Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons

Asheville is the perfect meeting point of north and south. I’ve never lived in the south and want to experience life in this part of the country. I grew up vacationing at the Outer Banks and have always had a deep love for North Carolina.

I’ve spent so much time getting to know the ins and outs of other countries, and now I want to get to know more of my own. When I first visited Asheville in June 2013 I knew I’d end up here someday. It’s a traveler’s haven with a mystical allure. Being here will help me understand the concept of place and how certain places have a pull on us all.

What is it about certain places that call to us? What makes one place more alluring then the next? How does place and our attachment to place affect who we are?

For the past few years I’ve been exploring jungles, rainforests, mountains, beach towns, volcanoes. Each environment has had different effects on my well-being and circumstance.

Now I’m ready to remain in one place, in one piece and see what happens when I just let myself be. I’m ready to embrace one place, one region and see how that affects me.

For me stillness has always been in the motion. I’ve found clarity from running, from escaping, from dancing, from road tripping, from plane hopping. I’ve needed to keep on moving to find peace in my mind. The movement has been my meditation, my way to quiet my brain, my way to sort things out. Like Bob Dylan says, for awhile the only thing I knew how to do was to keep on keepin’ on.

Now I’m planting roots so I can rise up. I’m planting roots so I can branch out in ways that only come when there’s stability.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

I’m ready to be a local at the community yoga class, know the farmers at the farmers market, build lasting connections, attend weekly bluegrass jam nights, complete projects, have a favorite coffee shop and so much more. At least for now.

“Perhaps the most radical thing we can do is stay home so we can learn the names of plants and animals around us; so that we can begin to know what tradition we are a part of.” -Terry Tempest Williams

Not long after I landed in Asheville I read that quote somewhere.

Here’s to being radical, getting to really know a place and through that getting to know a community and myself.