I Didn’t Expect to Find This in North Carolina

Two things happened this week that I didn’t expect. The first is that my new book hit #1 as a new release in Eating Disorder category on Amazon!
Thank you to all of you who have made this possible. If you haven’t yet checked out the book, please consider supporting me by ordering it here, and then leaving a review for it on Amazon.
The second unexpected thing that happened this week began with this catalog and encouragement from my friend, Sherry, who has gone to the John C. Campbell Folk School for years.
The school offers year-round week-long and weekend classes for adults in crafts, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and storytelling. It’s a place that still makes things by hand.

I register for Healing Through Story Telling. A week before departure, the class is abruptly canceled. I’m offered an alternative. I ponder. The timing is awful – my book launched January 30 – I should be spending my time hunkering down at home and riding the publishing roller coaster.

“What the heck,” I think. “Seize the opportunity.”

I switch to batik on paper and bookmaking – having no idea what my choice of class will entail.

The trip starts off great. I arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare.

I’m upgraded to Delta comfort.

Red is my favorite color – and Hertz has one bright cherry red car on the lot in Atlanta. The check-in girl even hands me a bottle of water for my two and one-half hour trip from Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport to Brasstown, NC.

I start to get uneasy as the miles flow past though. I notice that the last Starbucks is sixty miles from the school’s isolated location. Needing a caffeine fix, I continue on the windy mountain roads, somewhat unsettled by the rural starkness.

As I pull into the school’s entrance, the rain gets heavier and the gravel paths connecting the main house, the dining hall and the various studios are muddy, puddled and slick. A tickle of apprehension slivers through me. Then a sigh of relief descends. Though I had packed very lightly, I was well-equipped to brave the mountain elements: old jeans, sturdy black worker shoes sporting rubber soles and my rain repellent hooded jacket.

To my immense relief, I was not given a roommate, but was assigned a cottage with a private room. Immaculate, but spartan.

What’s missing in this picture? Yep. No television. CNN withdrawal creeps in, and the silence of the room is eerie.

I make friends.

Cliff – lives in South Carolina, in a log cabin without Internet and TV. Two red tail boas, two Dumeril boas, and a Columbian rain boa keep him company. Mostly self-taught, he plays guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, dulcimer, banjo, flutes and didgeridoo to name just a few of the many musical instruments he has mastered.

Anna – wears a different brightly colored felted flower every day. Her grammar school in Zebulon, Georgia, was built in the 1920’s and is in a state of disrepair. She tells me she sells her winter flowers for $25 per piece and the money goes to the restoration project of the school.
Morning Song begins at 7:45am. This Danish custom of singing, folklore, and camaraderie is a wonderful start to the day. Meals are served family style, featuring as much farm-to-table produce as possible. And everyone randomly sits where they choose, thus ensuring your meeting a great number of fellow students.

Studio Time is Friday evening, most of Saturday and two hours on Sunday. It is go at your own pace.

We learn batik on paper – and finish up by using one of our creations as a journal cover for a book we made. How ironic that I spent the weekend physically making an actual book while so busy promoting one virtually.

Five students – one teacher – here is our studio.
And here is our group:
What did I get when I allowed myself to step out of my self-imposed silo and experience something different and strange?

A chance to replenish my soul in the mountains and get my mind off my book launch, the size of hips and the latest headlines.

An opportunity to be true to my brand – Preserving Your Bloom – in the midst of a very busy and stressful time, I removed myself and let myself re-fuel in an idyllic setting.

And the ending was just as perfect. I woke up early Sunday morning and as I’m brushing my teeth, my eye catches a bright dot above me where the ceiling meets the wall. What do I see? A ladybug, which is a spirit animal who brings luck and abundance wherever she goes.
I was fortunate to experience the tradition and history of the Appalachians. I departed with energized inspiration and renewal that came from visiting this special place.

When is the last time you did something that fed your soul and rekindled your creative juices?

Occupied your hands?

Called on new talents and strengths?

Don’t wait.

Keep Preserving Your Bloom,

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