It’s worth it to keep trying, to keep trusting.

“Trust is a confusing thing. It seems so simple, but when you try to pin it down it can be elusive. We talk about trust as something you build, as if it’s a structure or a thing, but in that building there seems to be something about letting go. What it affords us is a luxury. It allows us to stop thinking, to stop worrying that someone won’t catch us if we fall, to stop constantly scanning for inconsistences, to stop wondering about how other people act when they’re not in our presence. It allows us to relax a part of our minds so we can focus on what’s in front of us.”

“Trust is your relationship to the unknown, what you can’t control. And you can’t control everything. And it’s not all or none. It’s a slow and steady practice of learning about the capacity of the world. And it’s worth it to keep trying. And it’s not easy.”

“I almost imagine trust as these invisible hands that we stretch out into the world looking for someone to hold on to.”

How can you grow your trust?

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Stay Open. Never Close.

In my previous post I shared one of Jack White’s quotes from his Bonnaroo performance. I didn’t get to see his show, but my friend and coworker did, and it sparked our conversation about staying open (minded, hearted) and allowing space to let the magic in.

For the fourth year in a row I worked at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee. When I tell people I travel around the country working at music festivals they are excited and sometimes jealous. “You must see so much awesome music,” they say. And sometimes I do. But usually I work 12 hours or more a day and don’t get a chance to see a full set, let alone a full song. Usually I’m too exhausted, emotionally drained, and frustrated/stressed about work to stick around for any shows.

It wasn’t always like this, but lately the work has felt just like that: work. I’ve forgotten to stop and think about what I’m actually doing. So many times I’ve driven through crowds of beautiful people without even appreciating how wonderful and colorful they’ve been. I’ve been too focused on driving slowly and getting to work on time. I’ve gotten off work, stepped into a magical, festival environment that’s so thoughtfully and artfully created, and I’ve overlooked everything to get to the staff catering tent in time for dinner. I’ve gotten caught up on the small things that don’t matter and have forgotten to look at the bigger picture.

Bonnaroo sunset

Bonnaroo sunset

At the end of Jack White’s set he said, “We all know that in your heart you love music.”

This year at Bonnaroo when I felt frustrated at work, I took a step back. I caught my breath and reminded myself, “Hey, April, you’re working at a music festival. This is something you’ve wanted to do for years and you’ve been doing it for years. You’re working at a music festival, and you’re educating people about something that matters to the planet, to humankind.”

In moments of stress and frustration, it’s so important to take a step back and think about what’s actually happening. I love music. I love music and how it connects us, pulls us, motivates, inspires, and soothes us. I love music, and that’s why I got involved in the music festival industry to begin with. Sometimes, even at music festivals, I get so dialed in to a work problem that I forget about the music.

This is a promise to myself to never forget how much I love music, to never forget how much music binds us. To know that regardless of the work-related issues, there’s always the music. There’s always the connection and magic that music and creation provide.

music connection
My friend who saw Jack White said that he reminded her to leave time for the magic to happen. She realized that this year she was so caught up in work that she didn’t allow herself to be open to the magic of Bonnaroo either. She was just too busy and too tired. We talked about life behind the scenes at corporate music festivals and how working effects your festival experience.

To everyone who works in the music festival business (specifically the corporate ones, although I’d love to hear opinions about smaller ones as well), how do you separate work from pleasure while working events?

Always leave time and space for the magic to happen. Don’t let the stressful moments of life affect the bigger picture. This relates to so many aspects of life: relationships, friendships, adventures, etc. With love and work and all things in between, stay open.

Keep listening, even if you’ve heard a lot. Keep sharing, even if the stories are painful. Keep trying, even if you’ve been rejected. Keep observing, even if you’ve seen many things. Keep listening to the music, even if you’ve been to hundreds of concerts. Keep your heart open, regardless of how many times it’s been broken. Keep suggesting ideas, even if you feel unheard. Keep smiling, even if you feel like no one is smiling back. Stay open to life, love, festivals, new experiences and everything that being alive brings.
life leap

“Anything is possible.

Stay open, forever.

So open, it hurts and then open up some more,

until the day you die, world without end.

Amen.”

-George Saunders

 

 

 

I’m glad I didn’t have something better to do

“I was driving home in Detroit one day, and Brendan Benson, who is a singer in this band, asked me if I could stop by after lunch and help him with this song. I said okay because I had nothing better to do. This is a warning to anybody who has something better to do. The great actor Johnny Depp once drove his friend to an audition. His friend did not get the part, but the director said, ‘What are you doing?’ and Johnny Depp starred in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Well I’m glad he didn’t have something better to do. Albert Einstein was a Swiss Patent Clerk who was expected to crunch numbers all day. In his spare time, well, I guess he just explained to you why you’re here. I’m glad he didn’t have something better to do. I gather that some of you are in college right now…I hope you pay attention because even if you become some sort of businessman or lawyer or something like that…I hope you think about this sentence, ‘I’m glad I didn’t have something better to do.’ Can you agree with me on that? No matter what happens tonight can we at least agree on that?” -Jack White during his headlining Bonnaroo set Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Do you really have something better to do? Or are you just making excuses?

 

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

It’s okay to be private; it’s okay to cry.

Some days I just need to hear this song.

These words have comforted me, encouraged me, made me cry, and inspired me.

Expression is okay. Sadness is okay. Loneliness is okay.

Thank you, Ayla Nereo for oh so many things.

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.

Learning How to Love Chocolate (continued)

The first part of this story is about my realization that chocolate really isn’t so bad. For as long as I can remember I didn’t like chocolate. But things are starting to change. Read Part 1 here.

The second cacao ceremony was a complete heart-opener.

Before the ceremony started, I was having a great day at the Mystical Yoga Farm, the spiritual community in Guatemala where I spent the winter. I woke up and stayed in bed to write myself a love poem (read that here). Then I fasted for the ceremony. Fasting is supposed to intensify the experience.

Cacao, or chocolate before it’s processed, has been used ceremonially for centuries in Latin America.

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