One of my ongoing life goals is to get better at being present and in the moment, that is to say: mindfulness.
I’m a planner by nature, always looking ahead and assessing progress toward whatever goal I currently have my sights on, and because of these innate, Type-A tendencies, life inadvertently becomes one big set of to-do lists to accomplish, tick, and account. I find myself having to make the conscious decision to let loose. To be inefficient. Meander. This is coming from the girl who just referred to her calendar as a “time budget”… I only have so much time. I can only spend it on so many things…
Thinking about this, and how I miss writing just for the fun of it, coupled with the fact that I think my creative brainwaves may (finally) be unclogging, I thought it might be useful (fun, even) to look back every so often and reflect on life in the Queen City here on the ole blog. I guess you could say I’m attacking mindfulness from the backside, which isn’t being PRESENT, per se, but I hope it will help me to improve that skillset, in a roundabout sort of way.
It’s an exciting time to live in Charlotte (well, except for the annual inch worm infestation, anyway); the city is growing rapidly and there are new things to see and do and eat everywhere you look. This past week alone, I helped judge a round of the Competition Dining Series; stopped into Ri Ra to check our their new Whiskey Room; ate lunch at Draught and met Ted Williams of Charlotte Agenda in person(!); went to Tuckfest at the US National Whitewater Center, ate some awesome tacos, and saw Jason Isbell play (amazing); got breakfast sandwiches from Laurel Market (Mercado, for the win) and ate them at a tiny table on the Sugar Creek Greenway; checked out the J Crew Warehouse sale (still asking myself WHY.); inhaled too much pizza at Revolution Ale House; spent an absurd amount of money at Trader Joe’s; dined with friends at Viva Chicken; saw Spirit Family Reunion play at the Visulite; and ate my weight in barbecue pulled pork at Midwood Smokehouse. Boom.
My favorite part of the week? Hands-down, the Charlotte Storyteller’s StorySlam. Charlotte Storytellers is a relatively new group in Charlotte that meets once a week to share and hear stories, and this was the group’s first public event.
Listening to someone tell their story, whether big or small in focus, is magical. It can transport you in time, it can open your eyes, it can provide an out-of-body connection to experiences that are not your own. To be successful, storytelling requires an admirable level of vulnerability in the storyteller as well as open-minded listeners. It takes two (or more) to tango in this intellectual and emotional safe space.
We arrived at the StorySlam via a twinkling lit path; it was straight out of a childhood fantasy. At the door, we traded our shoes for Oreos and milk, then piled onto the floor, sitting cross-legged, among mismatched pillows and blankets, with dozens of sockless strangers.
(I should probably mention here that I hate feet, and that it would take nothing short of magic to let a stranger’s foot graze my bare skin. But it happened, once or twice, on accident (allegedly), and I didn’t die. It truly was a magical night.)
Throughout the stories of misunderstandings, learning, and exploration, listeners blew bubbles (literally) when words hit on resonating points. Like when one storyteller learned there were “different kinds” of vegetarians in the United States, some of whom eat chicken, and when another recalled the teenage angst of working too hard for the man, and yet another detailed the pure and simple joy of holding hands with someone you love. It was such an interesting evening, a unique social experience; hearing the stories of six strangers made me feel closer, more connected to the people in Charlotte than I ever have before. I cannot wait for the next event, bare feet and all.