North Carolina fun

As I write this, I’m enjoying breakfast on the 17th floor of the Marriott in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina – the town where I am continually reminded that I come from the poor side of the Reynolds clan 🙂

Reynolds American Inc. is the parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco (and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco!)

I have a longer post in the works about my experiences at FloydFest X, but here’s a quick update for those of you who aren’t on Facebook and are checking in to make sure all is well.

I am safe and happy and appreciating the relative coolness of the mountains.

After wrapping up work on Friday (thanks again to bd.all – I appreciate you so much!), I loaded up my car, said good-bye to Austin and headed on down the road early Saturday. I’ve done the drive between Texas and North Carolina several times before and needed to get to Charlotte stat, so I just burned up the interstate the entire way. On slogs like this, I find it best to check out and not think about the drive much at all. I spent the night in Tuscaloosa at a total dump (with a very comfortable bed!) and arrived in Charlotte around 5pm Sunday. I had forgotten to factor in the time change – plus my car was acting sluggish from the maintenance drama of the week before – so I arrived just in time for the start of the workshop. I checked in, showered and ran down to the opening reception. It is times like this that I’m grateful for my ability to quickly switch gears, as I was promptly submerged into full-on conference/retreat/networking mode.

Sunday through Wednesday I met, bonded with, brainstormed with, and generally enjoyed the company of a couple hundred smart, inspiring women (and a few brave men). The retreat was put on by Christine Kane, whose tagline is Mentor to Women Who are Changing the World. I took her online course called Uplevel Your Life last summer and found it helpful in tweaking my mindset in some powerful ways. For example, she’s the creator of the No Complaint Contract, which anyone who’s been in my home may have seen. The idea is that complaining, whining and focusing on the negative are a complete waste of our creative energy and utterly useless. The small commitment not to bitch or whine (and just get back on the wagon when I do) makes a huge difference because it allows my attention to remain focused on the many things that are working and on envisioning and creating the life I want to live. As I came to understand I was primed for another transition, I decided to take the leap and invest in myself by attending a 3 day retreat with Christine. I am _so_ glad I did.

At the close of the workshop on Wednesday evening, I jumped back in my car and drove to my friend Jonathan’s house in Asheville. The next morning, we loaded up his car (thankfully) and headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Floyd, Virginia for FloydFest X (as in, FloydFest 10 – the eXperience). We spent 4 days camping, eXperiencing music and performance art, drinking copious amounts of locally brewed beer (and c-c-chilled sangria for me) and making new friends. It was a grand time and I can’t wait to share some pictures and narrative with you!

Post-FF, I drove up the mountain to my old hometown of Boone, NC where I’m visiting with friends.

I ended up in Winston-Salem by tagging along with my friend, Autumn, who had to come down to the flat lands for work. I figured I may as well check it out. We got to visit with our old friend Charlie and explore some of downtown Winston. It used to be kind of scary there, but like many small cities, it’s undergone an urban revitalization in recent years – I think in part to more and more people (like Charlie) who want to live in more walkable neighborhoods and cities recognizing the benefits of a robust, compact urban core. There are a handful of nice restaurants, pubs and clubs, and last night we saw a bluegrass set at the Foothills Brewing Company with a couple of members of Big Daddy Love. The National Black Theatre Festival is going on and town is full of colorful creatives (literally and figuratively!) My understanding is it’s a week where African-American theater companies host performance, as well as workshops, readings and networking. I wish we’d planned a little bit better and could have caught a show. There are some interesting-sounding plays going all week long and the talent is top-notch. I’m sure I’m dining in the midst of some famous people right now 😉

From here I head back to Boone for the night, then to a friend’s mountain cabin in Hendersonville for the weekend and then to Asheville all next week. Stay cool everyone!

Love, Audrey

ps My respect to all of you teachers gearing up for another school year – thank you!!!

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