I made it to Oregon! I just arrived. It was a super-packed week (exhausting), and the move got off to a late start (a very late start), but I did it. I moved to Oregon. I’m officially here. And officially too tired to write a post, but I will return with a new blog post next week. So stay tuned! :)
This year the words ‘tell the truth’ have been rolling like waves in my head. Not because I’ve been lying, or have been hiding something, but because I’ve come to a breaking point. My desire after 40 years of life, is not to be brutally honest, but to live compassionately with integrity. Living & feeling compassion first for myself, and then seeing myself in others. It’s interesting that the word Integrity means to be honest, but it also means to be whole, undivided.
Two quotes come to mind. (Wait, I’ll share them in a moment.) Often ideas feel abstract in my mind, but sharing them along with other artists’ work somehow helps to paint a clearer picture (not only for others, but for myself), because it allows me to create a context. I don’t like when my thoughts seem obtuse or isolated. I like them to feel like they are part of a conversation, a universal one, that might not be getting the attention that it deserves.
So quickly, before I share the work of others, I just want to say that telling the truth, for me, simply means to stop f*cking around. I’m getting too old to waste time. I’m getting too old to act like I’m not seeing what is looking me dead in the face. And the words ‘too old’ are not implying that 40 years of age is old. It means, that I have lived enough to know when life is being wasted. It means that I know the difference between an authentic conversation and a superficial one. It means I know the difference between falling asleep with the feeling of ‘Is this all there is?’, versus the feeling of falling asleep with my heart wide open, eager to see what tomorrow brings.
This feeling of wanting to be more authentic and open has been bubbling since I was a child, but only in the last decade has it come to a boiling point. I guess I’ve reached a point where I feel like the only life worth living is the one I have, and it’s only worth living if I make it my own. Making it my own, means to be an honest expression of the life force that I am. The very thing that was born of the unknown cosmos, manifesting through a, seemingly knowable, human form.
I’ll stop there. Today’s post is really only a feeling. I’m just sharing a feeling.
Here are a few quotes that I think will provide a greater context of that feeling for you.
“This is not the country we pretend it is. This is a country that turns on the TV everyday, and goes to the movies everyday, and listens to the radio everyday, and receives a delusion about itself. […] There is no space for contemplation. If full grown adults can’t muster the time to sit still for 2 hours, how are the greatest market sectors of these corporations going to be able to resist?.. […] The thing is, that, there are trillions of dollars, trying to capture people’s imaginary and move them away from any contemplative life, from any life of deliberation, from any human rhythm. […] We need time to deliberate, contemplate and feel human. I don’t think you can reconstruct and reconstitute yourself, everyday, without that time. And part of the reason our souls feel so heavy, and so frantic, is because we don’t get the deliberation and contemplation, that can reconstitute ourselves after a day in a society that only encourages you to compete, create hierarchies and accumulate.” -J.D.
The written quote I transcribed from a Junot Diaz Q&A, at the Chicago Humanities Festival. And the video contains several quotes that I would like to transcribe, but don’t have time to. So I’m sharing the entire video of David Foster Wallace giving his commencement speech.
My phone broke last month. Somehow, it got fried or shorted-out. The screen went completely white, and I have no idea why. Instead of taking it in to my usual service provider, I decided to get a new provider, and a new phone number. This was approximately a month ago, and believe it or not, the new phone has been sitting on my dresser. Untouched. I have not turned it on, I have not made a single call. I barely know the phone is there. I also haven’t taken the time to give everyone my new number. This isn’t because I don’t want them to have the new number, or looking forward to hearing from them in the future. It’s only because I don’t like having a phone, or being conscious of my phone, or talking on my phone. At some point I will turn it on, and begin to use it. I’m just in no rush to do it, and I don’t even feel inclined to.
I’ve never been able to explain to people why I love silence so much, or why I’m never lonely when alone. Whenever I do, I seem to come across in way that makes me feel like I’ve failed them, and failed myself (for lack of the vocabulary to share my deepest feelings or preferences with them). It’s very difficult for me to describe something that feels beyond words. The only description I’ve ever heard, that comes eerily close to how I feel, and how I like to live, was an answer that Junot Diaz gave during a lecture about himself and his work. Someone asked about his writing process. This was his answer:
“I wake up early. I write early. I write before I speak. Which is to say, as soon as I have a conversation, if I have to answer the phone, if anyone asks me anything that makes me have to make a decision — I’m immediately out of whatever I need to be in. I guess part of what I need to write [work] — and most people don’t need this — I need to sink deeply into this human space, outside of all these other considerations. As soon as I come up into the social space — the social space where you have to answer questions, were you have to sort of think about things — I’m out. I’ve broken the connection to whatever I need to connect with.”
For me, I’m not a writer, and my ‘thing’ is not necessarily to write. My passion, my life’s work, is to be. My life is best when I feel effortless and aware. When I feel the wind beckon, gently grazing my skin, or when I feel cool microscopic droplets of moisture in the air as I breathe, unseen, yet felt by my sensitive nostrils, or when I’m counting beads, pinching and plucking them out of the cupped palm of my hand, and I feel the cushy softness of my own skin. This is what I live for — for the subtle, quiet, free, and often missed moments in life. What it means to be a human…. being. I might be a human doing, but I am present to being as I am doing. This is why I say effortless and aware. Because it takes a certain amount of stepping back, of letting go, and getting present. This allows for a perspective or experience of the whole. A witnessing of sorts. A witnessing of how all the parts come together, and of how mystical and magical life is.
Now can you imagine? As you are sensing and receiving the gifts that come only from being in the moment — the phone rings. It startles you. You stop what you are doing and leap up to answer it (mostly to stop it from ringing). Quickly you discover the caller has the wrong number, and you take a few seconds to let them know. After being startled by the phone and the caller, it’s hard to go back to the train of thought that you were previously in. It rings again, after only an hour, and this time, it’s someone you know. They are rambling — stuck in the past, projecting a fearful future, reciting a long list of personal complaints that revolve mostly around gripes about other people. After being on the phone with them, listening and consoling for well over an hour, you begin to settle back into where you previously were in your day. You now decide it’s a good time to take a break to eat something. You prepare your meal, and finally, with eyes wide and hands ready, you happily dive into your lunch. Mmmm… it tastes wonderful, and it’s joyously messy. Ding, ding, ding, ding! The phone rings again. You put your food down and wipe off your hands. This time, the phone rang only to let you know there is a new voicemail message waiting for you.
For some people, these interruptions, or phone interactions, would be a welcomed break from their day. For me it’s the opposite. I don’t want a break from my day. I want to be fully in it, as it is in front of me (in my presence): naturally bare, simple and mundane, yet at the same time, naturally embellished, complex and spiritual. This is what I live for, but it’s hard to justify that type of ‘living’ in this world. It feels like a lost art. I often feel singled out or alone in my appreciation for it. Regardless of it being unpopular or unwanted by most people, I will continue to make time and space in my life to fully appreciate it. I will make time for being on the phone and not being on the phone — but my preference will always be more time off than on.
This post is the meat of a blog post I wrote about grace in 2010. In that post I shared numerous quotes from the website Art of Grace. This week I wanted to be reminded of those quotes, and I also wanted to share them with you, again. I hope you are like me, and feel like when something is pointing to a truth, or to the essence of who we are — we can never hear it too many times. For me, each time feels new, and each time is an opportunity to live with more awareness.
“When you are in balance, you are in grace. This balance is dynamic equilibrium rather than a steady state. Often, this balance seems a paradox: joy and sorrow, fear and love, give and take, dark and light, yin and yang. Yet a Heraclitus noted, opposites are necessary for the balance of existence: “All things come into being by conflict of opposites.”
“A person living in grace depends upon no one person or thing, nor do they feel independent from all. Instead, the person living in grace realizes the interdependence of all existence.”
“Grace is awakening to the natural order of the universe. This awakening allows you to understand, appreciate, and accept reality rather than clinging to illusions. Awakening to reality creates cognitive harmony, in which everything makes sense, as opposed to cognitive dissonance, in which conflicting world views collide. Grace is a prolonged “ah-ha” moment. Grace is awakening to the paradox that we can never be fully aware of reality as it is, only as we, with our limited perceptions, can see it. This awakening may initially be perceived with terror, because at first, greater awareness can be disorienting, just as walking into the light can be as blinding as walking into the darkness. Yet expanded awareness inevitably leads to intense gratitude and actions motivated by compassion.”
“Grace is the realization that you are connected (immersed) in perfect relationship with the ultimate source of existence. In unity with the ultimate source, you are able to let love flow through you, allowing for deeper intimacy with others.”
“Like a ballerina, a person has grace if she possesses strength. As a spiritual strength, grace allows a person to realize their convictions, to do the right thing, even when it is difficult to do so. As with muscular strength, strength of spirit comes from practice, stress, good nourishment, and rest. Grace is cultivated by exercising right actions every day, nourishing your spirit, and taking breaks from the travails of life.”
I’m also sharing a video and quote from Deepak Chopra.
“When the rhythms of our body-mind are in synch with nature’s rhythms, when we are living in harmony with life, we are living in the state of grace. To live in grace is to experience that state of consciousness where things flow effortlessly and our desires are easily fulfilled. Grace is magical, synchronistic, coincidental, joyful. It’s that good-luck factor. But to live in grace we have to allow nature’s intelligence to flow through us without interfering”.
Before I get into the details of this blog post — I just want to say, thanks. Thanks for the comments and for the interest. I’m writing about North Carolina today, only because several blog readers asked about it. I appreciate that you took the time to wonder, and to ask. Thank you — it means a lot to me.
Sharing My Life (minus the people in it)
For the most part, I try to make this blog only about my thought process and insights, or things I think are worthy of news/attention. I rarely talk about partners, friends, family or my community. (My mom is the only person, or relationship, I have shared in detail. And I brought both of those blog posts to her attention, and I asked if she approved. Fortunately, she did. If she didn’t, I would have edited them or deleted them immediately.)
I have a general rule to not include the people in my life in blog posts. I do this out of respect for their privacy, and also to earn their trust. It’s challenging to share all that transpired in North Carolina, without bringing other people into the picture. I will do my best to briefly share all I can — from only the perspective of my thought process and insights. All details regarding partners, friends, family or my community will be left out intentionally.
The original plan was to own a piece of land and create a life off-grid. I was very naive in that regard. I was a city girl, that spent her entire life on foot. I’ve always been able to walk freely, live without a car, interact with people easily, find creative outlets, and be completely independent. This was not possible on the land I was planning on starting a life on.
The roads were rough and dangerous, full of ditches and switchbacks. The Airstream was going to be a little mobile home on the land, to get things started. A place to live, while things were being set-up — and it wasn’t even possible to get it there (without it being a major undertaking, because of the roads and the location of the land). The idea of building a creative studio and a tiny home, seemed doable at first, then quickly became overwhelming and too expensive of a project, especially since the Airstream mobile home didn’t work out.
When I was in New York, I imagined myself living on the remote piece of forest land, in a tiny home, walking down the mountain into town. Talking long relaxing journeys, in nature, for exercise and transportation, meeting and greeting people along the way. Nope. Not possible. Once I got to the land, I quickly realized what a bad idea it was. Well, not bad. Just not suitable for me. No one walked there. Neighbors didn’t interact, and there were no sidewalks or foot paths. People stayed within their property lines, and within their vehicles — all the time. This wasn’t a life for me.
Places Over People
I decided to put the land, tiny house, and mobile home idea on hold, and to get settled in town. Downtown Black Mountain was great. I could walk easily and interact with neighbors. I found the people there really lovely. Living in downtown Black mountain was great. It was quiet, and convenient, and full of nature’s beauty. I preferred this over the idea of living off-grid (quiet, full of nature’s beauty — but terribly inconvenient).
In the beginning, I felt like living off-grid, in the forest, sounded natural and liberating. But later I realized that my definition of living naturally and free, meant walking as I pleased, and feeling close to my community. I also realized how much I missed dancing. My dance community in New York was a big part of my life. I wasn’t craving New York City after I left, but I was craving the opportunity to dance, and connect with like-minds.
It became clear to me that if I stayed in North Carolina, in a small town like Black Mountain, I would be choosing a place (that filled my need for quiet), at the expense of people (that filled my need for camaraderie and self-expression). And if I returned to a big city, I’d be doing the reverse — instead of choosing a place over people, I’d be choosing people over a place.
I needed to find a middle ground. I wanted to find a place, were I could have it all. I want to dance with friends, to walk and bicycle freely, to feel close to my community — but at the same time, breathe fresh air, enjoy the peace/quiet, and live in a natural environment, in a small town. Ashland, Oregon seemed to have the balance I was looking for. So I packed up my things and moved out west.
Idealistic Notions vs. Natural Intelligence
When you live off-grid, in the country, so many things need to be accounted for. It’s major work. Paving a road, building a house, starting a garden and growing food, securing a water supply, maintaining heat in winter, staving off harmful bugs and snakes, enduring rough and unpredictable seasons, relying on mechanical transportation and fuel, being able to send and receive mail, having access to internet connections and mobile phone towers, fencing land and protecting animals, processing recycling materials and properly disposing of trash — all of this is only the beginning!
When building fires and keeping them burning all day is your only source of heat, you quickly realize why electric heaters and radiators were invented. I’m not saying one is better than the other, I just have a better understanding of why our culture is overloaded with convenience items. Elevators, toilets, blenders, hot water heaters, refrigerators and vacuums — all of this is not necessary, but it sure makes things feel a lot easier.
I now understand how things got out of control in our society. We went from being tired of making fires, to being fat & lazy from cooking with microwaves. I don’t feel that things need to be so extreme, I think there is a middle ground.
At one time I thought living in nature sounded ideal. I also thought living on only fruits & greens sounded ideal too. But when I tried it, I realized that just because it sounds ideal, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is ideal. Sometimes a body’s innate intelligence will override what sounds ideal, for what might be most practical.
I still eat vegan/plant based foods, I still eat mostly raw, I still have the desire to live in nature, and to live peacefully and sustainably. At the same time, I choose what works best for me. I listen to what my soul craves and what my innate intelligence says is best for me. It might not be something that sounds ideal, or fits my idealistic notions at the time, and that’s okay. I don’t live for what sounds right, I live for what feels right — for me.
In a nutshell, Western North Carolina is gorgeous, and the people there were very kind. I haven’t given up on the idea of owning land, and living on my own terms, in nature. But I also haven’t given up on community, self-expression, the arts, living freely (on foot), and what it means to be an evolving being.
Inventions and technology has changed the world forever. It’s up to us to make it a good thing or a bad thing, something that serves us or enslaves us.
I don’t think any lasting solution is found in extremes, or from turning a blind eye. It’s up to us to live balanced, healthy lives — in what we’ve unconsciously co-created, while we consciously co-create something new. No man is an island. Everyone and everything is integral. I’d like to live in a way that reflects that. It’s an experimental time for me right now, but I guess that’s all life is.
This blog post is the continuation of a previous post titled, Something Is Brewing.
Let me start by sharing a few facts…
What’s old news:
I got rid of almost everything I have owned/collected in my adult life.
I lost well over 20 pounds of excess body fat/body weight in the last year.
I no longer have the same phone number I’ve had since 1996. It’s gone forever.
I no longer live on the east coast (not in New York, and not in North Carolina either.)
The latest news:
I am starting a new business.
I am currently living on the west coast.
I am making Ashland, Oregon my new home and community.
I am clear that change & revelation is on the way, and this is only the beginning.
For years I wanted to get clear. I wanted to clear out old memories, old feelings and old patterns. I wanted to clear out all that wasn’t serving me well. I wanted to lighten up. I wanted a new perspective. I wanted to start again. I wanted to honor how I felt inside. I wanted my outside to match my inside. There was a revolution going on within. Changes happening, ideas brewing, new ways of being bubbling. But somehow I wasn’t clear enough to be the space for new things to manifest. I was waiting on other people. I was waiting on the right moment. I was waiting for change to be easy or self-evident. I was running. Running away from facing the music. That music was the song of my soul. Who I am when I am alone. How I really feel about people & places. What I really want out of life. I wasn’t ready to be honest. How could I be honest with others, if I couldn’t be honest with myself? I wasn’t ready to let go.
Life doesn’t wait. It lets you know when you are ready for change, not the other way around. It’s like death, or the metamorphosis of the butterfly. I’m always reminded that Life is boss — and there is no escaping when it’s your time. If you do not move, then you will be moved.
I often ask myself questions. These are four questions I recently asked myself:
What do I live for?
What lights me up?
What do I always do?
What do I cherish most?
Answering those questions shined a light on my current path. It’s so clear why I need to do what I am currently embarking on, and why my life had to change course.
What do I live for?
I absolutely live for my dog.
I live for (and because of) other people.
I live for (and because of) the mystery that is life.
I live for everyday lessons in beingness & awareness.
What lights me up?
Dancing to upbeat music lights me up.
Enjoying nature or natural things lights me up.
Being in the presence of unconditional love lights me up.
Spending time with positive & inspiring people lights me up.
What do I always do?
I always blog every Sunday.
I always seek & relish alone time.
I always work on creative projects.
I always prepare & eat healthy foods.
What do I cherish most?
I cherish my dog.
I cherish my health.
I cherish the opportunity to connect with others online.
I cherish being able to work for myself and set my own hours.
When the followers of Neem Karoli Baba (aka Maharaj-ji) asked him the way to enlightenment, he would tell them: “love everyone, feed people.” He would also tell them: “serve everyone, tell the truth.” This is the journey I am embarking on. Not a journey of enlightenment, but a journey of feeding people (figuratively and literally). I’m working to start a new business, centered around plant based foods (my dog’s image will be part of the business, she’s my muse). I’m also going to blog much more (on a separate blog). This new direction will allow me to feed people and share my truth — thus, serve everyone.
(“Love everyone” hasn’t been mentioned yet, because I’ve been doing it for years. That’s why I’ve had the nickname AimeeLovesYou for so long. It’s the driving force in all I do, and it’s what sparked this latest adventure.)
So that is the path I am on, and that is the latest news. As things begin to manifest and blossom, you will be along for the ride. Thanks for being there this far! :) Thanks so much for hanging in there with me. I really appreciate you, and I’m glad to share what will be in the works this year (starting with reigniting my Rainbow Farmer blog tomorrow). I’m nervous and excited about all the things I have brewing, and all the things to come. I’ve got butterflies, and butterflies are a good sign.