when the universe conspires.

all my books. i'm in love.

all my new books. i’m in love.

sometimes there’s just this flow in the universe. like things are unfolding & connecting in ways that send out messages, or affirm thoughts. or at least that seems to happen to me at various times in my life. it’s a moment that just happens, without warning or understanding. a joyous surprise. i believe that it is a response from the universe. a confirmation that i am being true to myself. and i had the joy of experiencing this blissful kind of moment again a few days ago.

let me back up & give you the lowdown:

  • in april, my love and i are going to china for 2 weeks. helloooo, dream. i can hardly believe it. so surreal and such a once in a lifetime experience.
  • i love books. and for christmas, i received a gift card to barnes & noble (awesome, huge bookstore in the states).
  • all things spiritual always interest me.
  • with my gift card, i had plans to buy a book that was recommended to me by ashleigh paige, the tao of travel, and to find a book that i could use as a daily meditation guide.
  • a few days ago, i saw “eat, pray, love” again & all of my spiritual life journey emotions flowed to the surface of my consciousness. i felt that connection again with myself. combination of travel & spirituality.

on sunday, the universe conspired to bring all these things together into something that i now understand as a focus, vision, inspiration for the first half of 2013. here’s what happened.

i searched for that book that i wanted, and i found it. score. i think it’s gonna be amazing. then, totally satisfied, i headed over to the spirituality/philosophy section and began checking out book spines, hoping to find something to inspire my mornings throughout 2013. i found myself drawn to the easter spirituality area. no idea why. i looked and looked, and then i remembered “eat, pray, love” and a book about taoism found itself in my hands. then, i found another one. and another. before long, i had about 8 books on the tao, christ, and travel on the floor all around me. i sat down int he middle of the bookstore aisle (you can do that in barnes & noble) and began thumbing through them all. the words on the pages connected with me. i wanted the books. all. of. them.

i wondered why i wanted them. and then, i remembered that i am traveling to china in april for an amazing 2 week experience. i remembered i was searching for some inspiration for 2013. and i remembered “eat, pray, love”. and suddenly, though it didn’t fully understand, i knew that i was meant to be sitting on that floor with all those books around me. i knew that i was drawn there for a reason. i knew. i needed all of those books. for inspiration for research. for something to soak up, learn about, & experience.

as i gathered all of the books in my hands and headed (embarrassingly) over to my love, something clicked. it all made sense. the first book i found, the reason i was there, was “the tao of travel”. i had never considered that it was about the tao (the way). and here i was with all these books about taoism (& christianity). and then there is this trip to china in my near future. and finally, there is the inspiration i received from elizabeth gilbert once again.

for the first part of this year at least, i am immersing myself into studying, experiencing, and exploring taoism, the way straight from the heart, a belief in the journey of life as a balance between the inner soul & the outer world. what better time to do this than just before i find myself in china, surrounded by the mysticism of tao in its original setting?

what a gift. these moments of clarity. of connection. of knowing that you are on the right path. so, expect a post here, every now & then for the next few months, inspired by my journey and discovery of what taosim means at this point in my life, on my spiritual journey.

“There is no need to run outside for better seeing
Nor to peer from a window
Rather abide at the center of your being
The more you leave it
the less you learn
Search your heart and see
For if she is wise who takes each turn the way to do is to be”
― Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching in Translation: Five Translations with Chinese Text

thanks for reading, my dear friends. peace & love along the way.

a sunday just the way i like it.

driving & sipping starbucks peppermint mocha. two of my fave things.

tired out a new asian fusion restaurant. cool & pretty yummy.

a new asian fusion restaurant. cool & pretty yummy.

a simple spring roll. love it.

a simple spring roll. love it.

ready for a cosy afternoon at barnes & noble... reading & drinking coffee in a cozy corner. but guess what?! b & n has taken all of their chairs & tables out of their stores. gaaahhh. i was a very disappointed girl.

ready for an afternoon at barnes & noble… reading & drinking coffee in a cozy corner. but guess what?! b & n has taken all of their chairs & tables out of their stores. gaaahhh. i was a very disappointed girl.

but, then i found a crapload of books. and i bought them with a gift card. now, i'm a happy girl.

but, then i found a crapload of books. and i bought them with a gift card. now, i’m a happy girl.

exited about seeing "the hobbit" in 3D.

exited about seeing “the hobbit” in 3D.

popcorn. ready. amazing american movie theater seats. yes!

popcorn. ready. amazing american movie theater seats. yes!

time for a little beer hang with my bro & his wife at the amazing wedge brewery in the river arts district in asheville. love me some local beer.

time for a little beer hang with my bro & his wife at the amazing wedge brewery in the river arts district in asheville. love me some local beer.

my bro & me. love. love. love.

my bro & me. love. love. love.

outdoor light at the wedge. one last little conversation in the chilly air, and then home.

outdoor light at the wedge. one last little conversation in the chilly air, and then home.

now, i’m ready for another week of adventures & fun in the states! happy new week to you all!

peace & love.

do you hear what i hear?

day 5: i got a cute message from my love this afternoon. and guess what we're doing right now? yep. having our cozy night at home.

day 5: i got a cute message from my love this afternoon. and guess what we’re doing right now? yep. having our cozy night at home.

about 6 years ago i was in anchorage, alaska. i stood in line at a starbucks in a barnes & noble, waiting to order my latte, killing time before heading to the airport to fly home to north carolina. my mouth was watering for a starbucks latte. it had been over a week without one, and i was going through withdrawl. i had 5 teenage girls and one of my dearest friends with me in alaska. we had been doing volunteer work (and a little sight-seeing, too, naturally) and having an amazing time together. it was the last few minutes before we got on a plane and headed back to our everyday lives.

but the week we had just completed left us transformed & touched. we had prepared & served lunches for the homeless, provided free haircuts & showers for anyone who needed to freshen up, played with kids who came from rough neighborhoods, and sorted clothes at the salvation army. we were exhausted, but our hearts & souls were overflowing from all that we had received from the amazing people we came in contact with during our stay.

but, in that moment, i wanted my coffee really bad. i could almost taste it. i remember the girls sitting at a table behind me, patiently waiting & chatting about all their experiences. i turned & looked at them. probably out of instinct… checking that they were all there & all ok. when i turned back around again in the line, i was met with two piercing blue eyes staring into mine. a woman was standing directly in front of me. facing me. and then it happened.

she placed her hands on my shoulders and she opened her mouth, and began talking, and i felt as if i left this world for a few minutes. her eyes. so deep & bright. so blue. and her voice.

“you are john the baptist.”, she said without hesitation.

i had just a split second to register in my brain that what she said did not make any sense to me. and yet, i knew she was speaking about something i should hear.

with her hands still on my shoulders, she continued,

“you tell the truth. keep doing what you are doing. i see you with those girls. you are like john the baptist. just be you.”

at that moment i had no idea what was happening, and yet, knew exactly what was happening at the same time, though i couldn’t (and still can’t) explain it with words. i just remember those eyes. i felt them. they knew me. they were looking not at me, but inside me. they were not speaking to me, but to my soul. for a moment i forgot that the woman was even there. all i felt was warmth, truth, love. i felt completely known.

and then, she was gone. i don’t remember her walking away, but she did.

i turned to my girls, left my place in line, and sat down in a hard chair at the tiny round table. i was shaking. the girls said they saw the lady talking to me. “what did she say?”, they inquired. they knew something was up. they could feel it.

i told them what happened, what the lady said, how i felt. they were stunned, and yet calm. during our week in anchorage they had met amazing people themselves. people who touched them, who taught them, who inspired them – kids in poverty, homeless men & women, people living on the fringes of society, outcasts. some who chose to live that way in order to live more simply. my girls knew that amazing things happen every day, and they knew that this lady who spoke to me, had given me something amazing…

a message.


i’ve spent the past 6 years thinking about that experience off & on. i’m not sure if i have come to any more exact conclusions than i did that day. i tried not to process it too much right after it happened. i knew that i could read something into it or twist it into something else. instead, i just let it soak into my being and become part of my life. i let it become something that i returned to in my thoughts when the time was right, when it just came to me.

and so, today, i thought again of that day when the lady with the blue eyes gave me a message.

i thought of her immediately when i read & meditated this morning. today’s photo theme is “message” for a reason. we are still on our advent journey, whether we call it that or not. in fact, we have just begin. we are still waiting. we are still longing for light & love & peace. however, we wait with hope. but why do we do something so silly as to wait with hope? because, i believe we have all received a message – from each other, from our faith, from nature. we have been sent a message, that, even though the world is screwed up, even though wars, famine, injustice, violence, and suffering exist, we cling to the hope that one day all will be made whole. we believe that it can and that it will be better. that we will be made whole. that peace & love will reign.

first it snowed & snowed. a real snowstorm. with drifts of snow & everything.
but, what about my message? who is this john the baptist guy? well, john the baptist was a wild man. an outcast. a man who lived in the desert, ate berries & bugs, dressed in organic clothing, a went around giving a message to people that their lives could be transformed. he was a first century hippie for sure. living alone, contemplating life, and inspiring people with his words. he said that he was not the truth, but was here to point people to the truth.

though i may not have a complete understanding of the message from the blue-eyed lady, i am certain of one thing… that john and i would have been buddies. he was the cousin of jesus, and he said that he was preparing the way for jesus, preparing the people for the experience of salvation – a chance for them to be saved, to be changed, to learn what it means to be truly loved exactly as they are, and to learn to be true to who they were created to be… simply themselves.

i realize i’m speaking about john the baptist in the context of jesus right now, and while you may not believe in jesus as god in human form, perhaps we can simply meet each other in the fact that jesus taught love, acceptance, and peace. and those are things we all wish for.

john the baptist was a messenger of these things. he pointed to the one who would teach love, acceptance and peace in his life & in his death, much like ghandi, buddha, mother theresa, and many more.

and this is where our message of hope comes from. because of john, jesus, and so many others before & after, we have all been recipients of an amazing message. but, what do we do with it? the thing about this message of hope, is that it is something that i feel like i cannot just soak in and keep to myself.

so, today, i have been wondering…

what is the message i have for the world? what is my life saying? what do i want to say through my words or actions? what do people hear from me? what are you saying? what message do you have for the world?

during this time of year, why don’t we try to take a little time to ponder these things?

the lady with the blue eyes shared her message with me. i am certain it was a message from god. i am not certain of what it means. perhaps it means different things to me at different times in my life. perhaps i will use this advent season to spend some time thinking about that message that i received 6 years ago; and how i can use that message, and my life, to share the ancient message of hope & love in a new way.

i believe with all of my soul that the lady with the blue eyes confirmed for me that all i need to do in my life is to be true to who i am. i believe that is the message that we all receive. that is where our hope lies.

do you hear what i hear?

be silent & listen. wishing you peace.

my beloved nc mountains. asheville.

after a fantastic week in the north, it was time for a little taste of the south. yep. down south… where the dialects are long, rocking chairs on porches are the favorite seat, time moves a little slowly, manners are everything, the people are friendly, and you never meet a stranger. it was time to go home to north carolina – where i was born & raised. time to visit asheville – where my heart will always be. and canton – that smelly paper mill town that captured my heart. and, of course, lake junaluska – the beautiful community where my childhood memories live. it was time to nestle myself in the middle of the blue/gray mountains, and nestle i did. well, that, and eat, drink, laugh, chat, hug, rest, drive, visit pubs, catch up with friends, hang out with family, make memories with my love, and reconnect with myself…

here’s the asheville stuff!

finally driving again! i seriously love to drive. so freaking much! headed to asheville!

going to the movies!!!! so much cheaper in the states! we are most definitely movie geeks.

the first picture of downtown asheville. there is truly no other place like it. and, yes, you will see many more pictures. i can’t help it. this place holds a large part of my heart. the diversity, the funky-ness, the uniqueness, the art, the pubs, the people, the nature. everything about it makes lina & i feel at home.

after a visit at my brother & his wife’s new (old) home that they are completely renovating, lina & i headed to barnes & noble… an amazing, wonderful, big, & cozy book store. yep. you can find everything here.

first my brother. then some books. and finally some beer. at one of our favorite pubs, the thirsty monk. love it!

five walnut wine bar. a new place suggested by our amazing friend who lives & soaks up life like no one i’ve ever met before. looove her!

we visited the wine bar with friends (fellow teachers) that i worked with in asheville when i was teacher at a high school. such a crazy, eclectic group of individuals. to spend time with them is to get a glimpse of real life. i will always cherish the year & a half that i worked & hung out with them. and it meant so much to us that they made time to hang out with us! by the way, j, we absolutely loved 5 walnuts!

 there is an apartment for rent above this funky, hippie bookstore in the middle of downtown. cool.

crazy personal ads. cleaning. yoga. music. herbal medicine. beer & pubs. birth dancing (not sure what that is. hehe. but it’s soooo asheville!). religion. crafts. you get the picture, right?

 why, yes, i did go into the tattoo shop at the back of the courtyard. hehe.

 lexington avenue. let me just say… the best.

 the other favorite pub. yes, it’s a brewery. it’s a pub. it’s irish. yeah.

ok. here it is. the new FAVORITE pub & brewery in asheville. the wedge. in the river arts district, where my sister-in-law has her pottery studio. and where i feel like i have walked into asheville’s version of copenhagen’s (denmark) christiana. all i can say is that i am in love. lina is too.. with the people of all kinds. the locally made beer (as in i can see it being made as i drink mine). the outside seating. the informality & relaxed atmosphere. the lights. the hippie vans. oh hell, just everything. i love it.

 the beer. awesome.

 oh, how i love it.

 cheers, asheville!! oooh-pah!

well, my dear friends & readers, that’s a snapshot of my beloved asheville. peace out.