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.
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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

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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.

Continue reading

Learning How to Love Chocolate

I have a confession to make: I don’t really like chocolate. This single taste preference has excluded me from many crucial bonding moments with other females. I’ve never devoured away my pain in a pint of chocolate ice cream or bought a chocolate bar when it’s that time of the month. I’ve never spontaneously bought a chocolate bar in the grocery store line or willingly chose chocolate cake at a birthday party. When I’ve received chocolate for various holidays, I’ve always given it away.

I’ve felt like this about chocolate for as long as I can remember. So when people have offered me some, I’ve politely declined. But recently I’ve learned that chocolate isn’t just one set thing. Chocolate comes in all different shapes and sizes. I’ve learned that even though I don’t like chocolate, I love cacao.

Cacao, chocolate before it’s processed, originates in Latin America. In its purest form chocolate is not sweet; it’s bitter. In the United States and Europe chocolate is inundated with milk and sugar, and most often, the ceremonial aspect of cacao is forgotten about. Until I went to Central America I had no idea that people used cacao as a plant-based medicine in ceremonies. Until I went to Central America I had no idea that chocolate is a plant, that chocolate grows on trees. Continue reading

Happy Valentine’s Day, I love you very much.

Feeling the spirit of love and friendship all around at the Mystical Yoga Farm, I decided to indulge this Valentine’s Day. As I was growing up I enjoyed having a special someone be my Valentine. This year I’ve decided that that special someone is me.

Leela, a lovely Karma Yogi who inspires me every day, led a poetry and yoga workshop last week. It was my day off so I missed the workshop, but Leela gave me the prompt: write an ecstatic love poem to yourself. Be as mushy and loving as possible. Read Leela’s gorgeous love poem at her blog Zen BootCamp.

Love and acceptance are broader themes to personal subjects I’m working on constantly. Loving myself is an important part of that process. Happy Valentine’s Day to the people I love very much, including myself. Please share your self-love poems in the comments section. Click to read my poem and be swept away in self-love

What Life is Really Like at the Mystical Yoga Farm

Most days at the Mystical Yoga Farm feel like a dream. I feel like I’ve been here for an eternity. I’ve been here for 32 days.

I’m living in a lush roadless forest without a town name. I’m surrounded by the growth of green plants, flowers, vegetables and fruits. Sunlight dances across the lake almost every day. I stare at volcanoes every single day.

Loose leaf tea is served all day along with fresh fruit. Most of the food is cooked in coconut oil. The salad greens are picked fresh from our garden for every meal. A gong is rung when meals are ready. We sing songs to bless the food before we eat. I eat hand rolled freshly made tortillas a few times a week. We om before and after everything. Click to fall in love with life at the farm

24 Hours in San Pedro

San Pedro La Laguna is a town on the southwest shore of Lago Atitlán that sits beneath Volcan San Pedro. With a population of about 13,000 people, it’s primarily inhibited by Tz’utujil Mayans, expats and backpackers.

From the farm a group of us took a private boat to San Pedro and got dropped off at the west side dock: muelle municipal. This is also the dock where boats, lanchas in Spanish, arrive from and depart to Panajachel. Continue reading

Market Life in Santiago Atitlán

Hoy was mi primero tiempo going to the mercado in Santiago Atitlán. Santiago is the town diagonally across the lake from the Mystical Yoga Farm. To get to any other towns from the farm (other then the village of Chacaya), we have to take a boat to Santiago first.

Santiago is a mostly indigenous Mayan community of around 50,000 people on Lake Atitlán. The locals speak Tz’utujil (pronounced two-two-hill). There are a handful of ex-pats who also live in Santiago.  Women and most of the young females wear traditional woven stripped long skirts and huipiles, shirts embroidered with colorful birds and flowers. Continue reading