Monday, August 31, 2015

Sharing is Caring or Why I Write

When I first began writing this blog last summer, the issue of a name came up pretty immediately. For a split second I considered using my own name, and then about 30 seconds later decided on The Everywhere Place. It just came to me and I didn't question it. It's a concept that made real sense to me but I've never really explained it to anyone, not that anyone has asked! No one asks me for book recommendations or why I meditate or for 1,693 photos of my dog either. Blogging is based in a self-centered need to share your thoughts with those who could probably care less, or have 10 minutes to kill and have some voyeuristic tendencies. That's why I read blogs, don't you?!

In reality, yes I am nosey and yes I like to write about my own life, but the real reason I started this little old thang is because sharing is caring (!) and all of it can potentially bring people together into this super newfangled idea of "community". For example, there was a particular blog I read religiously after college that inspired me to move to Asheville to get my yoga teacher certification. The writer has never met me and we live on opposite sides of the country, but reading her stories infused me with a sense of excitement and motivation that led me to take the plunge. It was like a strange one-sided pen pal situation. A pen pal who was living a life that I found interesting and exciting and sparked my curiosity about a different way of life.

All of this is a long-winded explanation of a familiar concept: home is where the heart is. That's the idea behind The Everywhere Place, the place that is everywhere! No matter where I am, who I am with, what's going on, being able to tap into my experiences, my values, my core self keeps me grounded. On the flip side, being able to hold these ideals allows a connection with all sorts of people. As a concept, I think this is valuable because it can easily be shared - across the internet! My goal is always to share thoughts and experiences that can maybe help bond two people, or spark an idea, push forward a quest for health, happiness....a full life lived in nature, enjoying beauty wherever it can be found.

I am passionate about many things: health, art, yoga, Instagram, family, bed-making, the direction the toilet paper goes. It's endless! We are all such diverse and interesting people. If I didn't talk to strangers or learn from my friends and neighbors, I would be a much dumber person with a very limited perspective on the world. As my mom just quoted to me from Benjamin Franklin: "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." It's hard to ignore the people around you, I don't really recommend it. Even the neighbors who narrate your gardening habits have nuggets of knowledge to give. Not that I have one of those, of course.

This past weekend was a trying one, my dear sweet grandmother passed away. But knowing the experiences we shared, that I did my best to show her love and comfort, made it all okay. Doing our best to show, give, and best of all, receive love is the best we can do for ourselves and our family.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Currently on My Reading List

On my bed side table lives my stack of recently read books, books I'm currently reading and those I want to dig into soon! In the same way that I get stressed out if I don't have water nearby, I hate not having a book lined up for when I finish my current title.

Unless I've promised a book to a friend after I'm finished with it, I usually keep the one I've just finished nearby. Ever since I was a kid I have hoarded quotes, I'm obsessed with remembering lines from books and poems that I love. After I finish a book, I whip out my trusty Moleskine and write down the lines I like best. You just never know when they'll come in handy, right?!

Out of my current stack, I'm officially reading one and casually reading three others. So here we go.

1. How to Grow Up by Michelle Tea.

Perhaps best known for her book Valencia, Michelle Tea is a fascinating human. She grew up as drug addict and alcoholic in San Francisco and has been a writer since that time. It's totally mind blowing to read a memoir in which I constantly relate to her thinking, and yet we grew up in almost exactly opposite ways. As an queer woman she always confronts important topics in an awesomely blunt and humorous way. I love her writing for the exact opposite reason I love the writing of the next author!

2. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Holy crap, this is the most beautiful book. In contrast to the blunt direct nature of Tea's writing, Kingsolver weaves in long, gorgeous descriptions, setting the scene down to minute detail before you even know what is going on. A dear friend loaned me this book and said that it rid her of her fear of spiders. That's what makes this book so fantastic, the sheer amount of biological knowledge that went into writing this book means you'll learn a ton about the world we live in. Also, I am a total sucker for books that leave loose ends and then tie them up,at the end in the most unexpected way.

This is the best book I have read in a really long time.

3. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso.

Okay, please know that it pains me to type a title that includes a hashtag, especially such an annoying one like #girlboss. It's so overused and obnxious. That said, I find that when a book receives so much attention, it's usually deserved. I learned this the hard way when I boycotted the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, which I now count as some of my all-time favorites reads. Anyway, Amoruso is a badass, to say the least. She had no fear taking and quitting a slew of terrible jobs, gaining experience along the way... and now she owns a company with over 350 employees. Just a little bit motivating, yes?

4. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Alright, I have been reading this book for about...6 months now? For a while there I read a few pages every morning, and I need to get back into the habit! It is such a dense book I feel like I need time to process every few pages or so, which make this the perfect sort of daily read for a little centering. It really does get my head on straight every time I pick it up!

5. One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

I've always gotta have a backup book. My mom finished reading this when she was at my house earlier this summer, so she left it with me. Score! This one I have yet to crack, but I love me some historical fiction! The main character of this one moves west in the late 19th Century America to participate in a government study in Cheyenne villages. I'm totally in awe of this time period and can't wait to dive into this one.

6. Putting Food By (by a number of authors)

We planted a gazillion tomato plants this year and I mentioned to my dad that I want to learn to can, a summertime process I remember watching my parents do when I was a kid. Soon, this book showed up in my mailbox, courtesy of my pops! According to him, it is the quintessential canning reference. I was happy to discover that it covers all types of food preservation, including the lazy person's modern convenience...freeze that ish! Right up my alley.

7. Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountains (An Environmental History of the Highest Peaks in Eastern America) by Timothy Silver

Now I would call this a niche interest here, but I love learning about my favorite spot in the world... Montreat! Heather's dad gave me this because he knows of my obsession. Silver tells the history of these mountains I love so dearly, literally from the beginning of time. When I hike here now, I love knowing which glaciers created which peaks and the history of the area's civilization. Like I said, this one ain't for everyone, but to me, it's so cool!

That's what is current residing on my bed side table. A combination of fiction, non-fiction and memior/biographies. Let's see how long these will last me! I find that I do much less reading when the weather turns cooler. When I'm forced inside I will succumb to the ever rewarding temptation that is Netflix. I refuse to admit that Fall is almost here though, so I'm telling myself I'll have lots of time to read these outside on my porch!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Big Piney Ridge

Sometimes you just have to get your butt out into some nature.

With its proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Smoky Mountains, Asheville is known as a hiking destination, but most of these spots require a bit of driving. Because being lost gets my panties in a twist, I tend to do the same hikes over and over. According to Heather's memory, the first time we fought was when I thought she knew where a trailhead in Hot Springs, NC was....and she did not. Whoops.

Yesterday, though, we did some thorough research and found a new spot. Our typical hikes are pretty well-known and popular, so I was excited to try a new one, especially after a week of solid socializing. Don't get me wrong, I love the people. But this is what nature is for, getting deep in some woods and being quiet for a bit.

The hike we went on was called Big Piney Ridge and it's in Montreat! For all the years I have been going there, I still tend to do the same few hikes, which apparently is a bit nuts since the official Montreat trail map tells me there are at least 20. Derp.

Big Piney Ridge was only about 1.5 miles long, but the entire ascent was at a fairly steep grade and I was huffing and puffing the whole way up. I love a hike with a little butt-kicking action! In the beginning we were traipsing across lots of switchbacks and little mountain streams buried deep in dense forest. As we gained elevation, the vegetation thinned out the sun peeked through the trees, making for a fairytale-like scene.

While I believe in enjoying the journey, I do like the reward of an epic view at the end of a hike. Ridgeline hiking just ain't my thang. This out-and-back terminated at Rattlesnake Rock and would have been the perfect spot for a picnic! Our other go-to hikes like Mount Pisgah and Lookout Mountain both have 360-degree views and are great hang out spots, but the influx of summertime weekend traffic can be off-putting.  We chilled at the top here for about 20 minutes and didn't see another soul. From our rocky throne, we watched a storm roll in over Black Mountain. I just love watching the clouds move and obscure ridge after ridge until it's time to hustle back before getting wet ourselves!

This photo here demonstrates a few things: An unimpressed dog and a couple of guilty parents. On the way up, I let her go off the trail for a second and she instantly started yelping and chasing her tail. Yellow jackets are super aggressive and pretty hard to get away from once you piss them off. A couple years ago we were chased off a hike by an angry swarm. Luckily, this wasn't too bad but they did try to camp out under her harness and collar and ending up stinging her right between the eyes and on her nose. 

(In an odd foreboding moment, I realized I had taken this bumblebee pic just a few minutes beforehand. Don't be confused though, these guys are lovers, not fighters.)

There may not be anything more sad than a pathetic, hurt dog. She is totally fine now, thank goodness. She'd never been stung, to our knowledge, so there was a tiny moment of panic wondering if she would be allergic or not. After a few minutes and some snugs, she untucked her tail from between her legs and started pulling on the leash to hike on! Lesson learned folks, lesson learned.

While I loved the privacy of this particular hike, I recommend it if you're in the Montreat area. Just stay on trail and look out for stinging insects...and bears!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sanity, a Precious Commidity

Sometimes I can be the type of person to bounce from thing to thing without feeling frazzled. Sometimes I pride myself on my ability to flow from one obligation to another. Lately, that hasn't been the case. I don't fault my job or my family or my circumstances, I fault myself for not slowing down more often. For letting my mind think too far ahead, worrying, planning and imagining all the possible scenarios. Part of me wishes for a slower paced life and part of me wishes for the energy and mental space to handle it all without missing emails or putting off important projects at home. Having long-distance family and working on a new home has occupied a lot of my brain this summer. Occasionally, all you can do is ride the wave of insanity and clean up the pieces later.

But, when I can, here is what I do to maintain sanity when life gets crazy:

1. Morning Sun Salutations

Normally, I don't have time for a full yoga practice in the morning before work. This used to prevent me from practicing at all in the morning. But I've learned that I don't have to be so serious about my practice. A few minutes of few sweeping sun salutations instantly puts me in a better mood. If I've got a few minutes more, I'll use it to meditate. Depending on the morning, at least one of these makes me feel like I can conquer my to-do list and take on the day ahead.

2. Read

Ending or starting my day, preferably both, with a book always feels indulgent. Creating space to get away and live in the world of a novel is the perfect little escape. Or, if I'm reading something more contemplative, I will always take some notes in my journal which never fails to make me feel grounded. Carving out little moments to collect pages under my bookmark or take down some juicy nuggets from Eckhart Tolle or the like, always makes me feel more me.

3. Meal prep

This is hard for me, which is why it's an important one! I like to call myself an assembler, not so much a cook. When I do cook, it's a day-long extravaganza, which isn't very realistic during most work weeks. In a typical week, taking a few minutes to plan some meals before hitting the grocery store means that I don't just stare at my fridge in confusion. Even just ensuring that I have salad ingredients + protein or canned beans + tortilla means that I don't just give up and walk down the street to one of the many all too accessible, and delicious, restaurants my 'hood has to offer.

4. Exercise

Sometimes a little sweat session is all it takes to jostle my brain back into organized thinking. On a busy day or a morning where it's hard to wake the hell up, forcing myself to put on my sneaks and slog (slow jog) around my neighborhood is all it takes to make me feel better. There are tons of studies that prove exercise contributes to happiness and improved sleep, and I can tell you from experience - it's crucial!

If I can cram all of these into one day, I am a seriously happy camper. As I've mentioned before, routine is hard for me but I'm making progress, and it's helping me be a more organized person, mentally and physically!