Pleasure is underrated. I have a pretty good life. I live in the most spectacular place of the Appalachians. We own a wonderful retreat center. We get to indulge in nature as much as we can. But sometimes, we try deeply to avoid simple pleasure due to an unjust sense of responsibility. I love watching children dive into their desires. They can get into a piece of chocolate cake with such immense guiltless pleasure and a part of me envies that relentless behavior. When did we forget to indulge as adults? When was the last time that the diet went out the door, play took over, and food once again became an aphrodisiac. Chocolate: scrumptious, devouring, yummilicious…ahhhhhh! Is there anything more enticing and primitive as the tongue unraveling a great piece of excess cocoa, twirling in pure ecstasy begging for more?
Yesterday my best friend and I took a short drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway. It started out beautiful but the weather soon turn into fog and rain. We turned around with coolness impregnated on our skin from the open convertible. She said she wanted chocolate. She had been watching the movie Chocolat for a few nights. After some silence and a subconscious suggestion (I am so easily influenced that it is sickening at times) I answered, “Let’s go get chocolate in downtown Asheville. Let’s go to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge.” Like two insane hungry Thelma and Louise we found ourselves inside the cafe.
We ordered two hot chocolates with lavender and honey. We shared a carrot cake for breakfast and a chocolate cake called Quitessential for lunch all in one sitting. The experience was exquisite and sublime. I remember a line from the movie Chocolat, “I could do with a bit more excess. From now on I’m going to be immoderate—and volatile—I shall enjoy loud music and lurid poetry. I shall be rampant.” I might add I shall be free to do whatever I please while eating guiltless amount of real chocolate…!
Each mouthful was a chattering divulging ecstatic experience. The explosion of bitterness, softness, and sweetness all in one mouthful was overwhelming. I sat in front of my friend, fork dancing in the air, eyes shut as if conducting an orchestra mesmerized by the essences of all the senses combined with the drink. If I was to pick a moment to die…well that would have been the perfect exit to my life. That would have said something valid about love and chocolate. It was that divine. All their desserts are organic and one munches with the belief that it’s good for you because it is. How can something that Godly be anything but divine!
What can we celebrate in life if not the simple taste of living to the fullest, through food, drinking, loving and sharing? From the moment we embark in this journey we are surrounded by excess and limit ourselves on a daily basis. Walking into that lounge, the smell of confection, sugarplum, frosting, lavender, and childhood memories recollect of a chubby kid on her tip toes pointing to the glass of bonbons allows anyone in a moment to fall in love with chocolate all over again. Doesn’t chocolate fix just about anything? As Charles M. Schulz says, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
Once we were done I walked out intoxicated. I was in such a sugar high that I had to stop and compose myself laughing at the gratification of the moment. I sat in the car in divine light telling myself that the dessert was the best pleasure I had experience in a long time. My friend, laughing in her own mystical moment of extraction, rejoiced in the decision of breakfast and lunch in one sitting. Everything looked sweeter and joyful on the way home. Our hearts and tummies were full of mischievous actions like children who got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. “Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that, as far as chocolate is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain.”~ Dave Barry
If you are ever in Asheville I urge you to visit the French Broad Chocolate Lounge on Lexington. Indulge for a few moments. You won’t regret it. https://frenchbroadchocolates.com
It’s April! I love this month. Spring is here. The world, my world of nature, is starting to bloom slowly and I get to start playing outside. I feel like a little girl in a candy store each day observing the changes in our surrounding landscape. I can feel the breeze coming in through all the opened windows in my house. I watch the birds feed on their feeders. The fish await food each morning in the pond by my deck. The deer visit our woods freely as things blossom. But also, April is the month of my birthday.
As a little girl and even as a grown up until the age of 40, my birthday came and went without much of a ripple. It was just another day in a busy life. I rarely even celebrated it. Truth be told, I hated the thought of getting older. I just ignored the entire day. In the past few years I have opted to celebrate all thirty days of April. My friends and family start wishing me birthday greetings from April 1st until the end of the month. They all know I take this month as an entire holiday. I also have many close friends who share this birthday month and I take it upon myself to celebrate for them as well.
Each day I do something special for myself. It is my gift in honoring this grand privilege for existing. I take a different country scenic road. I will go bowling one morning (which I haven’t done in years). I will go test drive a car I really want but cannot afford. I will head to the beach for a few days. There are so many simple things to do on this month, many are free. And as the days go on I break the pattern of my life by doing something memorable to celebrate my forty-five years on this gorgeous planet.
When my mother died eleven days before I turned 40 I promised myself that April would be the month that I would break free from all structure. It’s a blessing to attend this life. It’s a gift to be able to share it with so many. So April is my Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, St. Patty’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and any other random holiday for me.
In this month I awake consciously while being gentler with myself. I am kinder to my spirit. I don’t take things for granted. I make sure that each day I am fully aware of my existence and those I love. I rush less, love more, and try to learn something new each day, like tackling a different word in other languages. I know we should be doing this every single day but in April, I make sure I am conscious of all my moments. I am working towards doing a whole year of celebrating. April is just my trial run. I am so lucky that it is also the month when new birth springs into action and the winter is left behind. I am tired of the cold. April always brings that sense of anticipation, giddiness and exploration that my spirit loves so much.
Last year a new friend of mine called me up on the 1st to wish me a Happy Birthday. After she sang the song and I giggled through it all, she asked what day was I actually born in? I told her, “Somewhere in the middle.” She got a little snippy and asked what day was that middle part? To this I said, “Everyday.” She laughed and said, “I am jealous. My birthday was last month and I should’ve sucked it all up for the entire 31 days.” Hey, live and learn.
Celebrating your life is the most beautiful gift you can give yourself. I know…I drag it out every single day and each morning I wake up smiling while thanking the Divine for allowing me another precious day to learn. Now, go do something for yourself that is extraordinary!
It’s the midpoint of my birthday month. I have done a lot in the first 14 days. I took a healthy cooking class, created my first Indian meal, visited new hiking spots and waterfalls, and traveled to Charleston. I walked an amazing beach there, and ate in Downtown. That city reminds me so much of Old San Juan with its Spanish architecture, felt a little homesick. I’ve bought several great outfits in Goodwill, explored a few new roads through the mountains, read some excellent spiritual books, and even went to see my therapist after an entire year of absence. I took my last Reiki class certification and have done long-distance healing work. I was able to visit the Biltmore Estate and witness the blooming of the tulips which was spectacular.
These past few weeks have also guided me to write some intense letters to people I believed I hurt throughout the years. Surprisingly, all of them got returned with beautiful notes of forgiveness and letting go. I am even trying to mend the relationship with my eldest daughter who had her second child a month and a half ago. My daughter arrived into my life at the age of 11-1/2 from Romania and never quite bonded with our family. It’s been several years that have placed a quiet distance between us and the time has arrived to slowly integrate our relationship. Now that she’s a mother she can accept love in ways I could have never shown her. Hopefully, I will make it to her home in the near future to meet my beautiful grandchildren. If anything, accomplishing this task was well overdue and, as the adult, I needed to be the first to mend. There’s something so humbling about finding your way back to the unpretentious beginning. My children have always grounded me in this department. I am thankful that they continue to teach me valuable lessons about love and compassion. As with everything, time can only tell what beauty this journey will have for me.
I have always prided myself in being strong and weak at the same time. I fall a lot and pick myself up while trying to not look back. I have tried to relinquish any egotistical qualities in the past year. Even when it doesn’t feel good, I now sit back and try to find a way to get through the emotions, like water finding its way through a creek. It will do just about anything to keep flowing. You can put rocks, boulders, and logs along the way but the water will find a little space to get through. Emotions break dams and barriers whenever they have to be released.
Today my best friend and I painted the gazebo on our property. We have a few weddings here this summer. We also took a waterfall apart in the creek and lined it so it would work properly. So far so good…looks like it has been there for years. These mundane acts, although tedious, brought such joy to my birthday month.
In a few days I will be turning the same age that my mother was when she gave birth to me. I think about this often and don’t know how she did it. I am so blessed to have my time as opposed to starting a family. I am at the age of exploration and excitement. I am selfish with my alone time, the time spent with my kids, family and friends. Each day brings joy. I am a sucker for surprises. I live to receive them. The simplest things as the arrival of hummingbirds or a new chipmunk in the lawn put a smile of my face. I am truly a goof ball when it comes to silliness.
I can’t imagine where the next 16 days will take me. This birthday has been full of beauty, simplicity, excitement, surprises and adventures. I’ve had amazing company visit and teach me so much. I was able to finish several writing projects. Who knows what will appear in the next two weeks! I welcome everything with sacredness and love. Letting go of pretenses and plans is exhilarating. I am always brought to tears when the unexpected comes and visits. Surrendering to the Divine keeps guiding me into the unknown and I’m loving all the miracles!