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#GetOutandExplore: Corneille Bryan Native Garden

web. cropLemon Trillium

It’s Earth Day. For lovers of the natural world, Earth Day is kind of like our Super Bowl, March Madness and the World Series all rolled into one. There’s a lot at stake. Except in our version of “the big game,” we all win. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and marks the birth of the modern environmental movement. That was not a particularly bright time in American history. Yet this big burst of light shot out across the globe giving voice to an emerging consciousness that social, political and environmental change was called for—no demanded. In 1970, over 20 million Americans “took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.” To celebrate Earth Day 2016, my family and I spent some quiet time meandering through the Corneille Bryan Native Garden. Inside the spiritual retreat of Lake Junaluska, Appalachia’s most threatened plant species find a place of refuge. The sanctuary is tucked in a ravine that overlooks the lake, naturally forested by mature trees, where a variety of ecosystems thrive shoulder to shoulder. What better way to honor my brothers and sisters, past and present, who have worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between environmental public awareness, ideas and action than to seek sanctuary in this beautiful preserve. Continue reading…

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#GetOutandExplore: Charleston, SC & Thereabouts

web.Washington Park.Houses

“It was my father who called the city the Mansion on the River. He was talking about Charleston, South Carolina, and he was a native son, peacock proud of a town so pretty it makes your eyes ache with pleasure just to walk down its spellbinding, narrow streets. Charleston was my father’s ministry, his hobbyhorse, his quiet obsession, and the great love of his life. His bloodstream lit up my own with a passion for the city that I’ve never lost nor ever will. I’m Charleston-born, and bred. The city’s two rivers, the Ashley and the Cooper, have flooded and shaped all the days of my life on this storied peninsula.” — Excerpt from Pat Conroy’s, South of Broad. Conroy captures, with lyrical beauty, the romantic draw of the city of Charleston. This week my family and I spent a few days exploring the low country including downtown Charleston, Mt. Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island. Spring gardens in the Holy City were filled with fragrant blooms, the air was warm, skies were blue and the locals welcoming—check out our adventures! Continue reading…

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#GetOutandExplore: Purchase Knob

The view from the Science Education Center.

There are a number of well worn quotes about the joy of getting outside and exploring nature—Abbey, Keats, Thoreau, Whitman, Blake, Madame Curie, the Book of Jeremiah (6:16) and even Yogi Berra. Perhaps my favorite was penned by John Muir when he mused, “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure some of them are dirt.” Like my grandfather, Muir knew that getting into the wild was essential to a life well lived. Spending time outdoors in nature keeps us grounded, gives us perspective, and rejuvenates the soul. In an era of increased sedentary lifestyles and hobbies, even doctors are touting the benefits of unplugging and taking the road less traveled. One of my favorite paths, in any season, leads to Purchase Knob. Continue reading…

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You say it’s your birthday?

Downtown Asheville

I turned 44 this year—cue the music. Unlike some women my age, I love birthdays. More than just another year older, my birth day is a celebration of where I’ve been and presents the opportunity to re-focus my intentions on where I’m going. A reset. I lean toward celebrations that are meaningful and reflective of where I want to go in the coming year over big parties and gifts. Not being much of a “stuff” girl, planning my birthday requires creativity. This year my husband and daughters surprised me with an Urban Crawl in downtown Asheville filled with amazing local food, art, architecture, culture and spirits. Looking for some out-of-the box ideas to celebrate the birthday of someone special? Here’s how I spent mine.

Continue reading…

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Travel in Your Own Back Yard

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Fall is the time of year that I really start to feel that “travel” itch. Summer vacation was months ago, a new school year is in full swing and the rigor of our work/school/extracurricular activity schedule is starting to wear on everyone in my family. All I can think about some days is how GREAT it would feel to “get away” and recharge. If schedule and/or budget don’t allow a mid-year escape, being a traveler in your own back yard can do wonders! It is one of the most overlooked and cheapest ways of maintaining a sense of adventure. Continue reading…

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