|Bender Gallery, with cool glass sculptures|
|A must-have for federal employees and fundraisers|
|Life imitates art|
The next day, we had about a half day in Asheville before heading to the meditation retreat. We hit up Vortex Donuts for a tasty chocolate iced ring, then went back to Tupelo Honey for the banana pudding we were too full for yesterday.
On our way out of Asheville, we visited the River Arts District, which had cool galleries and will probably be a lot more finished / commercial in the next few years. Our favorite was the Jonas Gerard gallery; we definitely could have bought a few of his pleasing abstract pieces.
We stopped at the teensy-but-cute North Carolina Botanic Gardens, although I think we meant to go to the arboretum. Either way, it was a nice respite in nature and a good way to get some steps in.
We couldn't resist stopping at one of the new behemoth breweries in town: Sierra Nevada. The facility is truly immense. I bet they have cool outdoor concerts in summer, too. It reminded me of big brewery facilities we've seen in Wisconsin.
|Sierra Nevada monolith|
I'm a 20-minute-a-day meditator at the best of times, and I hadn't really found a purpose or deepening of my practice, so I thought it would be a good time to really double down on it during a retreat. Dave hasn't meditated in a while and seemed to be forgetting the benefits, although he's having a stressful time at work and could really use it. So the retreat was well-timed for both of us.
It was a transformative experience that I (mostly) enjoyed heartily. It was more meditating than I probably do in a month otherwise - about 7+ hours over 48 hours - so it was both challenging and refreshing. I was proud of both of us for being able to do it. I found new insights into myself and the way I want to live my life, and deepening of my Buddhist meditation practice will help me focus at work, relax in my personal time, and be more mindful generally.
I want to mention how wonderful Heartwood is. They are a small staff with tons of volunteers. The facility was impressive and the food was delicious and healthy. I got to help prepare one of our meals with a Buddhist nun, which was a blast. We each had "yogi jobs," which included sweeping, cleaning, ringing bells, etc., to encourage a practice of dana (giving) from the heart.
No photos from the retreat, since I left my phone in the room the whole time, but I do sort of wish I had taken my phone with me on my walks at least once so I could have gotten a picture of the cute ducks and geese around the pond. There was a family of three adult geese and two goslings that I kept seeing, and Dave and I called them "sister wives" since it's obviously a complex family situation (more so because one of them was a white goose and the other two appeared to be Canada geese).
Thanks for a thoroughly enjoyable and spiritual weekend, Asheville! We'll be seeing you again soon.