Allowing Grace

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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”.

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What happened in North Carolina?

western north carolina

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.

Living Off-Grid

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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Something Is Brewing – Part 2

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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.

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The Power of Outrospection

Roman Krznaric's Outrospection

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John Frusciante – Oneness Revisited

John Frusciante - Oneness Revisited

While having a conversation with a friend, I was reminded of the Oneness of everything. Not in the way we usually hear it, “we are all one”, said in a euphoric tone. We’ve heard that so many times, I think most people are num to it. What I was sharing in that conversation I had, is that there is no beginning and no end, and we really never go anywhere. By ‘we’ I mean spirit. I think of it (us/spirit) like water. There is no such thing as new water. Scientists are constantly correcting themselves, and currently declare water to be billions of years older than previously thought. Right now, the theory is that water is older than the sun, older than our solar system (which means that water is older than 4.6 billion years). I think scientists simply don’t know, and may never know exactly how ‘old’ water is. In my mind, water simply is.

Water takes many forms; some seen, some unseen. From the visible sweat on your skin, to the invisible air you breath — there is water. Water is everywhere. Sometimes you see it, sometimes you don’t. It takes on many forms, and it makes up what we are, and where we are. It’s constantly changing & shifting. Water is integral to our lives, and when we (our bodies) die, we (our spirit) take on a new form. Just as water becomes vapor — transitioning from the seen to the unseen. I think of life/water/spirit as ever changing, and seen or unseen at various stages — with no final stage.

Once something is apparent to us, we feel that we know it. We take it as truth. As final. As having a beginning and an end. When something is unapparent to us, we are unaware and that unseen/unknown something doesn’t exist (to us). This lack of awareness can create confusion and often fear. This is why most of us fear the unknown and don’t like when things become too unpredictable. It makes people uncomfortable, vulnerable — it gives us the feeling of being out of control (which we are). This is why people live their lives in fear of death and endings, and often live their lives from a place of confusion.

Somehow this ‘all is one, all is connected, all is seen or unseen, all simply is’ rambling reminded me of a blog post I wrote in 2012, titled John Frusciante: It’s all one thing. I’m going to re-post it for you below. I’m only sharing it to say, that some things are beyond the mind. Beyond the telescope. Beyond our imagination. When I talk about Oneness, I’m simply saying that we/it/everything is connected on every level. Some of those levels are clearly seen, but most are not. If something appears to happen to a piece/person/thing, and not the whole — it is in appearance only. If something appears to age, there is a part of that something that never ages (spirit).

Anyway… this is all just me sharing thoughts. Let’s just leave it as that. If you’d like to read the John Frusciante blog post. I embedded it below for you.


I was trying to explain the unexplainable this week. I was teaching meditation online, as I do from time to time, and it’s always such a strange thing to try to describe the indescribable, or explain the unexplainable. Saying things like: “Moving away from the idea that someone is doing something, or that someone needs to do something in order for something to happen” and “If suddenly I tossed a ball your way, you would catch it without thinking. It would be effortless & thoughtless.”

We get so wrapped up in the ‘survival of I’ world. So embedded, even lost, in the world of distractions, that we have drowned out the subtleties of life. Our innate & intuitive knowing, and our spontaneous effortless nature, has become a mystery to many of us. Beingness & awareness have become words to explore, instead of who we are as a whole.

No one does anything. No one makes anything happen. There are so many factors involved in everything — in even the smallest most minute thing/action. It’s all joined forces together at work beyond our comprehension.

If I think of the greatest things, or most significant things in my life right now. What I love most, what means the most to me, what is truly contributing or important to my life. If I make a list — not one thing on that list would be anything I would have/had control over. Nothing on that list would be something that I solely put together or chose for myself. They are things that happened for whatever reason. Things just fell into place. They all happened because of many factors and many things at work in unison.

I stumbled upon this John Frusciante video a day or two after that meditation session. As I listened to John speak, it reminded me of so many thoughts that I had.

As John Frusciante was speaking, I felt such an affinity to so much of what he was saying. Many mental notes of past thoughts I’ve had ran through my mind…
Nothing is new
Love is unconditional
Creativity births itself

They would pop into my mind as he shared his ideas.

John also exuded an energy like he had so much more to say, but that it couldn’t find its way out. Somethings can’t be expressed in a structured limited language. The written word can never fully describe what one can only feel or intuitively know. But as I continued to listen to John’s interview, I continued to jot down thoughts…
We have no control
Get out of the way
Give up control
Embrace the moment (as it is)
Love who you are
Trust the unknown
Have compassion always
It’s never about you
Don’t take it personal
Allow life to flow
Spontaneity is the key
There is only now
Stop thinking start listening
Intuition is everything
Follow your feelings
Let yourself be moved
Don’t be afraid to risk (you have nothing to lose)
Understanding is overrated
Live without reason

It’s all so interesting. The paradox that life is. How simple life can be when we stop trying so hard. How effortless life is when we allow ourselves to be.

Just like we look at earth like it’s one thing, or the solar system, or our bodies — why not see that It (Life) is all one thing? From the micro to the macro, it’s all the same force. Everything is moving, everything is being moved.

[Photo credit: Nabil]

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Something Is Brewing

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My apologies for the blog post hiccup. There is no blog post for Sunday, May 31st. I was hoping to get back in time to put it together, but I was delayed while on a trip. It was an unexpected and sudden, out-of-state fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants turbo jaunt. I returned so late today, that it’s too late (and I’m too tired) to whip together a proper blog post. I’ll just pick up where I left off next week. The blog will return to its usual Sunday broadcast June 7th.

So what was I doing? Why was I out-of-state? Well… I have something brewing. I’m up to something new. I can’t tell you just yet, but I will announce it on summer solstice. I will tell you all about it on the first day of summer, June 21st.

Until then, you’ll have to sit back, put your feet up and drink chai tea (or any liquid of your preference). Stay tuned, good news & good things are in store.

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The Sensational Life of Iris Apfel

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In a previous blog post I mentioned that I love the hands of sculptor Louise Bourgeois. They are weathered and dimpled like a prune, full of spots and marks of victory and failure. It’s why I love them. It means that she tried, and she lived — she used all that she had; herself and life itself. (Louise was prolific and dedicated to her work until her death at 98 years old.) Louise is no longer with us in physical form, but her legacy and lessons live on.

I remember having a conversation with my mom, about whether or not Mom should return to school and become an interior designer. At the time she thought it was a crazy idea. Mom exclaimed, “I’m too old. By the time I finish I’ll be 44!” In my mind, it was a fabulous fresh new start for her. It was a wonderful idea. In her mind, she felt she needed to be more established. Being in your 40s is the time to show what you’ve accomplished, not what you’ve just started. But today she thinks differently. It’s over 20 years later, and she can see the youth and potential in any age.

Last week my mom and I went to see the new documentary called IRIS. It’s about the celebrated New York fashion-world starlet named Iris Apfel (formerly known as an A-List interior designer). I’m sure you’ve seen her before. She’s been in all sorts of print ads and commercials over the years. Her trademark glasses make her memorable and unforgettable.

iris-apfel-homeThe movie was great. My mom & I really enjoyed it. After the movie we went to a cafe to chat about it. We talked about how inspired we were by how courageous Iris is. At 93 years old, Iris is being being Iris, and she’s boldly sharing her life of creativity & style with the world. Iris doesn’t do anything because it’s trendy or ‘with the times.’ She does what she loves and what she feels inspired to do (regardless of what people think.) The result of that is pure artistic genius that others admire.

One thing that stands out about Iris Apfel, that resonates with me personally — is she knows what truly matters. At the end of her film, she said that health is all we really have that’s truly worth something. She also calls ‘peace of mind’ the greatest luxury that someone can attain. (That comment was made at the New York Times’ International Luxury Conference, to a room full of people that live for famous name brands and evolve their lives around them.)

In the film IRIS, the famed fashion photographer Bruce Weber asks Iris Apfel why he never hears her harshly criticizing the way other people dress. With her elbow bent and hand tossed in the air, Iris replies, “It’s better to be happy than well dressed.”

It’s clear that Iris is not a superficial person living to personify anything. She is simply being herself. It’s also evident that she is absolutely clear on what truly matters: Loving Relationships, Peace of Mind, Joy & Happiness, Contribution & Connection, Living Boldly & Honestly — they are all at the top of her list. Iris Apfel definitely has her priorities straight.

“Some people work so hard, at trying to be happy — and trying to do everything they think they’re supposed to do — that they’re very unhappy. It’s just kind of silly. Pressure is a terrible thing. Societal pressure is an awful thing.” – Iris Apfel

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