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.

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Montezuma: Be a light unto yourself

Attitude of Gratitude:

I’m thankful for these objects and people that keep coming into my life at exactly the right moment. I’m thankful that I’ve had full days to do nothing but read. I’m thankful to have the power of both no-thingness and alone-ness. I’m thankful for all the lessons I continue to learn along the way.

One of my first days walking the beach in Montezuma I found a semilla ojo de buey, eye of the bull seed, washed along shore.

semillas

These seeds drift all over the world, getting picked up and tossed around by the ocean’s pull, but are native to the tropics. Sometimes they spend years drifting along. They are good luck charms with healing properties that help develop strength to face change. I read somewhere that,  “When we know we have to deal with something that requires great effort, this seed gives us all the energy we need.” I instantly felt like I was meant to find the semilla ojo de buey.

In my previous post about Montezuma, I wrote about mine and Elizabeth’s conversation about the people who are drawn to Montezuma. At the end of our conversation she said, “And then I wonder if people look at me and think these things. I’m lost, but I’m purposefully lost.”

Montezuma is the perfect place to be purposefully lost.

While in Montezuma I spent full days doing nothing but reading. I spent a lot of time alone contemplating what it means to be purposefully lost, and I found out more about myself.

Afterall part of the reason I also came to Costa Rica was to be purposefully lost. I was drained from constant years of schooling, taking 16 to 20 credits every semester while working two jobs and maintaining internships, scheduling hangout dates with friends between lunch breaks, going from one relationship to the next, and feeling like my life was turning into a never-ending to-do-list. Since being in Costa Rica for the past four months, I’ve definitely learned a lot about slowing down, being comfortable with doing nothing, and finding the courage to be alone, sometimes with only the roar of the ocean drifting into my ears.

After revealing a few things about myself to my roommate Nolita, she told me I needed to speak my truth more. “You are a powerful being when you speak your truth.” But what does that mean exactly? She said that the Universe keeps putting certain patterns into my life so I can realize that they are happening and deal with them. She told me to shift perspective and be in gratitude for things that happened instead of picking them apart. There’s that gratitude, once again showing up in some form of my travels.

Speaking your truth means standing your ground, not giving up, not giving in, and sticking up for what you believe in no matter what.

The next day at Devaya Yoga I picked a card from a deck similar to a Tarot card and it said,

“Growth comes not by fighting with what it wrong, but by loving what is right.”

Instead of looking at a situation and thinking about everything that went wrong, remember what went right. What went wrong antagonizes you. While this can act as a driving force of change for you to be better, you need to also focus on what you know is already true in your heart, what is already right for you. If the reason for why things went wrong has been a similar pattern in your life, then be in gratitude that that pattern presented itself once again, and move forward with what is right. This can also be applied to people and relationships. Learn to love what is right about someone instead of picking apart their flaws. Of course all of this is easier said than done, but another lesson in growth is good for all of us.

03

A few days later at the 03 Institute I picked some Osho Zen Tarot cards. Lately anxiety kicked into my brain as I thought about the future and life post-Costa Rica. The present moment slipped away as my mind constantly wandered to the nonexistent, the future. Before I knew what the Osho Zen Tarot cards were, I picked a card from the top of the deck to look at it. It was completely black and said in white type, “No-thingness.” I thought that was a little weird so I put it back and walked away. Later I shuffled the deck and picked the card, “Alone-ness.” I laughed, showed Nolita and she said, “There’s another one in there that seems bad too,” and showed me “No-thingness.” I couldn’t get away from this card.

No-thingness says, “Relax into the nothingness of not knowing. Treasure each empty moment of the experience. Something sacred is about to be born. The nothing is not just nothing, it is all. It is vibrant with all possibilities. It is potential, absolute potential. It is unmanifest yet, but it contains all. Why in the middle become so worried, anxious, why create such despair? Nothingness to nothingness is the whole journey.”

It’s okay to not know what comes next. In Western culture we are taught the opposite. We are pushed into college straight from high school and then pushed into careers and family life. We often have plans far in advance. We have family and friends who nag us about what we’re doing with our lives. The future looms over us. What we forget to realize is that, it’s okay not to know. It’s okay to let the Universe unfold exactly as it should. It’s okay to not be in control of every little thing that happens to you. It’s okay to let go. Everything, even the nothingness, is part of the experience.

Which goes hand in hand with Alone-ness:

“When there is no significant other in our lives we can either be lonely, or enjoy the freedom that solitude brings. We can either feel isolated and bitter, or celebrate the fact that our vision is strong enough even to survive the powerful human need for the approval of family, friends or colleagues. Take responsibility for the choice you have made. The humble figure in this card glows with a light that emanates from within. Gautam Buddha said, ‘Be a light unto yourself.’ Ultimately each of us must develop within ourselves the capacity to make our way through the darkness without any companions, maps or guides. There is a tremendous difference between loneliness and aloneness. Loneliness is absence of the other. Aloneness is the presence of oneself. Aloneness is very positive. It is a presence, overflowing presence. You are so full of presence that you can fill the whole universe with your presence and there is no need for anybody.”

Remember that being alone is okay. Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely. Remember that each one of us carries a light inside of us. We can access this light, this power, anytime.

Learn to feel joy in solitude. Learn to know the thoughts that flutter through your mind when no one else is there to influence them. Learn to know how you want to spend the day when the choice is completely up to you. Learn to feel comfortable with nothing but your presence and your breath on your skin. Learn to sit in silence and observe. Then you’ll see how beautiful everything can truly be.

anamaya

Envisionary Enlightenment

Attitude of Gratitude:

I’m thankful that I’ve been spending the winter at various beach towns away from snow.

I’m thankful for strangers who lend me their computers so I can blog.

I’m thankful for every single thing that happened to me since leaving the La Fortuna area.

Sometimes in life things happen so fast that they don´t even feel like they´re happening. After three weeks of volunteering at Rancho Margot I left to venture to Envision, a music, arts and movement festival in Bahia, Costa Rica. I didn´t have a ticket and I wasn´t registered to volunteer, but I knew I didn´t have anything to lose. Sometimes all you have to do is show up. I don´t think we give ourselves enough credit for showing up. If one thing doesn´t work out, something else will. As long as we enter situations with an open mind and an open heart, things will be all right.

The day we left the ranch (I tagged along with another ranch volunteer who was set to volunteer at Envision), we spent most of the day traveling to Jaco. When we passed through San Jose I felt like someone picked me up and dropped me onto a spinning top. After weeks of solitude at the ranch, the movement,  litter and concrete of the city was overwhelming to say the least. We arrived in Jaco around sunset, ate, slept and caught the 6 a.m. bus to Uvita. When we arrived to Envision, I lined up with all the volunteers to sign-in. I asked them if they needed any extra help, said I was willing to do anything and they signed me up for the Envision Cafe and Tea Lounge. I was ecstatic with the way things were working out.

As the festival went on it quickly became one of my favorite festivals. Part of Envision’s mission is to elevate people to live a more conscious lifestyle through education, music, art and sacred movement. Throughout the day there were countless yoga and dance classes and all sorts of informative workshops on topics like healing plants, building community and feeling empowered. The music (mostly electronic) started at 5 p.m. and went on until 7:30 in the morning. The crowd was a mix of like-minded travelers, festival lovers, Burners and ticos. It was set deep in the jungle with multiple types of palms outlining the grounds  and the nighttime hum of cicadas.

Envision highlights: showing up without a ticket and being able to volunteer, serving people at the Envision Cafe and Tea Lounge, Random Rab’s sunrise set, seeing Rising Appalachia for the first time, discovering a divine love for jackfruit, taking a contemporary dance workshop with the performers of Quixotic, the question and answer session with Alex and Allyson Grey, randomly running into friends from the States and recieving some of the best hugs I’ve ever had.

After Envision I spent two nights in Bahia then joined the rest of the Envisionaries in Dominical which quickly turned into an Envision after-party. The street along the beach usually has typical beach vendors selling towels, jewerly and art, but after Envision many craftsmen joined the vendor row. People camped right behind the vendors and on various spots along the beach. Post-Envision transformed into Occupy Dominical. At any given moment interesting characters swayed and stumbled along that vendor road.

We arrived just before sunset, found an open room for the two of us that transformed to six in Bahia and went straight to the beach. I’ve never seen so many people on one area of the beach for sunset before. Three of us sat close to the water and meditated as a man played his trumpet and the sun sank below the horizon. Everyone clapped and cheered. People drummed, hooped, spun fire, threw sticks, danced.

Dominical

Sunset

French loves

IMG_9083

I spent the next few days falling in love with everything and everyone around me. I had so many great conversations with people I just met. And the beautiful people were everywhere: on the streets, on the beach, at the supermarket, at the hostel. After the festival it was so nice to still see festival friends. It was a chance to get to know them outside the festival while letting go and sayin nos vemos at the same time. A slow, easy transition back to the “real world.” Even though for most of us traveling the real world is a bit like festival life. The festival just gave us a gathering space to merge together.

After Dominical I went to San Jose to regroup while visiting a friend and now I’m writing this from an island in Panama. Life has been filled with so much sweetness.

Begin

Before I got back into the swing of blogging, I’d become discouraged when I thought about where to begin. Should I begin at Burning Man? At Bonnaroo? At my college graduation? Those questions tainted my thoughts before I even started writing.

I was discouraged because I thought it was too late to tell those stories. I was discouraged because I didn’t have a theme picked out or fonts or what type of style I wanted my blog to be. It took me awhile to quell the perfectionist in me and just begin. Just begin with a story. Begin with a word. Begin with any post. I’ll begin here.

I felt I had so many stories to share, but the memories already passed. The time wasn’t relevant. I would be blogging about things that happened months, years ago. But what does it matter? The lessons and meanings from the story still hold true regardless of when the story is told. Begin anywhere. Begin.

Vincent Van Gogh didn’t start painting until he was 27. Bill Withers started his singing career in his late twenties.

Never let anyone tell you you’re too old or too young to do something. You can begin anywhere.

There are no rules to this thing. Sure there are other people’s experiences, but those are only guidelines. No one lives the same life. You can start anywhere you want.

Life is beginning every single second. Even when it’s ending, it’s still beginning. Begin on a Saturday. Begin on a Monday. Begin on a Wednesday afternoon. Begin on a day, on a second, on a whim. Life is always beginning and you can always begin.