Isn’t it funny (and sad) how certain rituals that once shaped who we were and how we saw the world can completely disappear from our lives? I used to paint. I worked mainly with oil, but I also loved watercolor, charcoal and pastels. I didn’t make a lot of original art; painting was really a form of meditation and relaxation for me more so than an outlet for self-expression. I liked to copy photographs (which I guess, through my eyes, was original art) or the works of other artists. Even if I was just doodling on a scrap piece of paper, art consumed my soul. My creativity has expanded in different ways over the years—cooking, arranging flowers, and creating my home have taken the place of my paintbrush, but I have to admit, I miss making art.
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.