Blackberry Farm Retreat
I recently had the sincere pleasure of leading a yoga retreat at a very special place with some very special people. From the moment I stepped foot on Blackberry Farm I thought I had died and gone to heaven — if heaven had a 160,000 bottle wine collection and bred its own Italian truffle hunting dogs to sniff out what would later be shaved onto your dinner plate, which I’m pretty sure it does.
So like I said, heaven.
There were so many things I loved about Blackberry Farm — that the obvious focus on luxury was never ostentatious, but rather an expression of understated simplicity; that the sprawling 4,200 acre property felt untouched, almost wild, despite its quiet paths and endless miles of white fence; that the food was beyond words, although I will try my best to do it justice. What I really loved, though, were the people. Much like my beloved Jungle Bay in Dominica, the people who work at Blackberry Farm seem like they’re part of one big family. Each member of the staff, from the waiters to the farmers to the artisans, treat Blackberry Farm as if it were their own property; they each display a genuine joy in welcoming you into what feels like their home. This is rare, and it’s what makes Blackberry Farm so special. You feel like you’re a part of the family.
Rodney Yee defines discipline as being a disciple of something. His teacher, Ramanand Patel, says that the traditional idea of discipline is an imposition on the mind, arguing that it’s impossible to force the mind to do anything. “If you want proof, close your eyes and don’t think of a black cat!” Ramanand suggests that rather than trying to be disciplined, we should devote ourselves to something meaningful.
Billy and I took a trip to Charleston last week and we had such a great time! I had visited the city a few times as a child, but all I really remembered from those trips was that it was hoooooot. My grandmother, though, has always loved Charleston. It’s her spirit city. She used to tell me stories about how she and my grandfather would wander the streets and look at all the beautiful old homes. When my grandparents moved to Sanibel Island, they built a home inspired by the architecture of Charleston. My grandfather, an engineer, even traveled to Sullivan’s Island after Hurricane Hugo to investigate the homes that were still standing to see how they had been made; he infused those structural elements into the Sanibel house.
New Year. Real You.
At the beginning of every year there’s usually a lot of hype around trying to be the “new” you. While I totally understand the motivating power of New Year’s and support any path towards positive change, I have to be honest and admit that any attempt to chase after the “new” me has always left me feeling a little worse. It was around this time of year—deep in the trenches of February—when I would surrender to that invisible force working against me, pulling me under as I tried to swim in earnest towards the surface. Change, however clear or necessary, seemed impossible and I could never for the life of me understand why it was so difficult to manifest the results I so desperately craved. Everything—my happiness, my wholeness, my sense of self—was riding on my success, and so I would put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to deliver results. But after years of “New Year. New You!” disappointment, I arrived at a place where I could no longer endure the overwhelming feelings of shame that washed over me as I proved to myself (yet again) that I, Chrissy Carter, was a huge failure.
Billy and I drink tea and coffee in bed every morning. We started this ritual back in January when I was teaching the 200hr teacher training intensive and didn’t have a lot of time (or energy) to talk. After a long day of holding space for others, all I wanted to do when I got home was retreat inward and be quiet. Since the training had rearranged our daily routine, we decided to make time in the morning to be together.
Marigolds and Memory
I went to the flower district after class today and bought a huge bunch of marigolds. I felt drawn to them and thought their bright orange color captured the golden light of fall. I scooped them up into my arms and took a full inhale and suddenly memories of my mother’s garden came rushing in — she always planted marigolds. I felt the crisp air of Heathen Hill up in the Catskills and could hear Lisa King’s voice as she demonstrated how to soak calendula in coconut oil to make her Heal-All Salve. I saw the flash of magenta, teal, and emerald green silk saris worn by the women at the ashram who were plucking out the orange pedals, amassing what seemed like a thousand pounds of marigolds for their puja. There I was, standing in a wholesale flower shop on 28th and 6th, and it was as if I had been transported into a completely different time in my life.