The Magic of Living: Part 1

 

Part 1: How I Found My Inner “Yes Woman”

This is how magic happens:

Spontaneously. Unplanned. Unexpected. Without searching for it.

Since uprooting across the country to San Diego on my own, I have expanded healthily into my personal courageous form of “yes woman.” I suppose we could reference the Hollywood film involving Jim Carey, but I’m not too exposed to pop-culture in that sense (though I do love Drake, some tropical house music and Game of Thrones) and I thoroughly enjoy molding my own, experiential meaning into things.

“Yes woman” is a form I have embodied wholly in my young adult life just once before. I was reaching the conclusion of a 4-month South American backpacking journey with my adventure-partner when it was time for our paths to part: he returned home, I went on alone to Brazil.

img_5396
Wandering the boardwalk in Rio de Janeiro.

It was my first time traveling alone internationally, and while Brazil was the country I had been subconsciously journeying toward, it was a complete surprise and self-learning moment on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro when I burst-morphed unexpectedly and excitedly into this mentality and state of being.

It was a spontaneous and eye-opening moment of lying on the beach in the city that I had always dreamed of visiting and the revelation that I was indeed looking at the small ocean-islands of vegetation, the inland hill-mounds hosting favelas, a boardwalk of sun-kissed, active sunbathers, and Brazilian vendors selling bathing suits, Caipirinha’s and crawfish. I had done it.

 

And I decided in that very moment, in utter joy, that I was going to do everything. Try everything. Taste everything. I was going to dive into my experience and live it fully. Granted, my day did end in a tourist police station with the Brazilian cop ordering me dinner, but that’s a story for another time.

Morphing into one’s version of “yes person” usually occurs when one realizes and accepts that they know nothing. One who has lost sight of, discarded, and removed oneself from everything that is familiar and close to them. Every direction is equally the “right” direction to take, because one has no destination, and nothing will leave one any worse off because one just doesn’t know any different. One no longer has the comfort and luxury of knowing. And that is when the magic happens. The magic of not knowing, of trusting and of welcoming. The magic that can never be planned.

img_5652-1
@Goodgrateful: The view from Sugarloaf at sunset.

 
Now, let me disclaim here, for the sanity of my parents and others who care about my well-being, to enter a state of “yes woman,” or “yes person,” means accepting every opportunity that comes, within one’s own safety. It requires a great deal of courage and flexibility, but even more-so, self-awareness, the willingness, ability and practice of self-exploration and knowing and setting personal boundaries.

Alas, in this Sun Diegan stage of my life, I am once again, “yes woman.” So when I received an invite to surf this morning after having planned to apply to 1,023 jobs, I said yes. To justify this, I determined that I would start my morning earlier, healthier and more clear-minded if I allowed the ocean to humble me. And I did. And it did.

And that was when the magic happened.

img_5305-1
@Goodgrateful: Iguazu Falls in Brazil, looking into Argentina.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

 

The Great American Road Trip: Part 4

In the spirit of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday this week, we proceed on the Great American Road Trip from sweet, flashing Nashville, to the entirely magical NOLA.

New Orleans, L.A.

My first trip to New Orleans, Louisiana, had me head-spun, swamp-enamored, voodoo-entranced and quite possibly considering ending the cross-country road trip early and setting up shop. It was in all senses delightfully overwhelming and magical. A melting pot concoction of culture seeps from the city’s every crack, crevice and corner, and my anthropology loving mind was absorbing it all like a sponge.

New Orleans, a province of colonial Spain sandwiched between two periods of French rule, retains traces of around-the-world today as it exists as part of the U.S. under the 1803 Louisiana purchase. Toss in an incredible amount of African influence and the ever-entrancing voodoo religion, a touch of spicy cuisine and blaring brass bands, and the high-energy, semi-addictive personality types (like my own?) who have come to get a taste of this culture-soup and gotten their feet happily planted in the Louisiana swamp. Now, paint everything with the brightest, most vibrantly cheerful and charming colors and year-round Christmas lights and celebration beads: NOLA.

img_2550
Some of the beautiful colors of the Big Easy.
img_2432
Valence Cemetery. Much of NOLA is below sea level, so the graveyards are above ground!

 

Our killer weekend in the Big Easy began with nothing other than piles of crawfish at the local NOLA brewery, beautiful art at the NOMA, and even better live music: an intimate show of Arkansas blues-duo Handmade Moments, at the Apple Barrel, a cozy venue that plays live music every night of the week.

img_2552
Crawfish at the NOLA Brewery!

City tip: The Apple Barrel bar is located in Marigny, a history-rich, authentic NOLA neighborhood. Live like a local and delve into the area’s delicious food and great music, or, start your night here and make your way down to the French Quarter, where the craziness is only a stroll’s away.

fullsizerender
The madness of Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.

The city embraces an open container law, so our walk to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street was extra warm and enjoyable. Like in Nashville, live music typical of the city sounded from every bar. Some of our quieter moments that night were stumbling upon an open-air artist’s market on Decatur Street and Galerie Rue Royale, a sweet and small art gallery that was bustling even at 9 p.m. on a Friday night.

City tip: The French Market District teems with trinkets, treasures, traditions and tasty treats and makes for a great daytime activity. Don’t forget to get a beignet from Cafe Du Monde: the cafe is famous for the city’s traditional treat of a square of fried dough topped with confectionary sugar. Check out the nearby Mississippi River to imagine the historical trading, importing and exporting that took place in this port city in years prior.

After a night on Bourbon Street, our Saturday in the Big Easy called for a relaxing morning of yoga and wandering through Audubon Park. The low-key day prepped us for dinner at the famous Parkway Bakery and Tavern for what USA Today named “The Best Po’ Boy In Louisiana” in 2016. The Obama’s even made a trip there!

img_2496
The best shrimp po’ boy in all of Louisiana at Parkway Bakery and Tavern!

 

 

City tip: Po’ boys originated in New Orleans as free, hearty sandwiches for union workers on strike. It comes from the term, ‘poor boy’, a name that gives insight to the work ethic and conditions of NOLA natives in the 1920s and 30s. Order it dressed– topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayonnaise– to sound like a local!

 

We topped off the best shrimp po’ boy in the state with the best spontaneous performance of NOLA live music one can hope to find: the epic, up-and-coming Tank and the Bangas. An eclectic combination of jazz, soul, funk, folk and extremely high energy, this band is a name to remember. Check their upcoming tour dates to see if this band is performing during your Big Easy visit- you won’t want to miss it.

City tip: Get a better taste of the magic encompassing you in the Big Easy: check out the Historic Voodoo Museum near the French Quarter and gain a deeper understanding of the mysterious religion. The museum is a small, dimly-lit hallway that connects three rooms full of voodoo history, talismans and shrines. The voodoo religion has its roots in Africa and arrived to the U.S. during the time of slavery in the 1800s: a cloud of racism combined with the religion’s lack of scripture and inaccurate Hollywood portrayal all contributes to its mystery and conceptions of evil. In truth, it is benign and empowering like any religion.

img_2505
Beautiful architecture in the French Quarter.

There is only one way to end your weekend and Sunday in NOLA. The final adventure capping off your Big easy experience is to witness and partake in a second line parade. Second line parades descend from the city-famous jazz funerals, and usually take place on Sunday afternoons with joyful dancing, brass bands and outrageous uniforms. Today, many organizations perform second line parades, and while for varying reasons and in varying neighborhoods, at any given event you can find locals and tourists alike spilling their open-container drinks, dancing and walking the route.

We danced and paraded with the second line members for miles until our feet ached, our stomaches growled and our cheeks had tightened from laughter. It was time to wrap up our New Orleans adventure and we had one last experience to cross off our city bucket list.

In the spirit of Mardi Gras, we bought a King Cake: traditionally a Christian honor to the three kings and now, a NOLA Mardi Gras favorite. The King Cake comes with a small plastic baby, in which you hide somewhere in the cake. The story goes that the person who receives the slice with the plastic piece in it must throw the next party. We enjoyed our King Cake with some wine and friends on the Mississippi River as the sun went down: our weekend in magical NOLA had us contently partied out.

img_2537
An incredibly decorated (and delicious) King Cake!
img_2546
Sunset on the Mississippi River.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beneath the captivating surface, locals helped me understand that NOLA was a city of extremes. For every vibrant house, there was a homeless person in the French Quarter asking for a sip of beer. For every victorious band, like Tank and the Bangas, there were the sounds of second line parades that once voiced their aching losses of loved ones. For every tourist that comes sweeping full force into the city to get a taste, there are natural disasters, like flooding and hurricanes, that the area is prone to enduring. For every person that gets sucked into the magic of the swamp, there are people who cannot get out and get un-stuck from the sinking land.

New Orleans was a bursting city, overflowing in every aspect. It wasn’t until our drive out of the swampland to our next destination of Austin, Texas, that I felt a moment of clarity about my heart-set move to San Diego. It was as if I regained consciousness after a trance that had claimed me finally broke– but for a colorful moment there, I had my feet and heart firmly planted in the swampland of NOLA, too.

IMG_516bjh7x2.jpg.jpeg
Colorful, bustling artwork by talented Deveney Williams Productions. More at deveneywilliams.com.

 

The Great American Road Trip: Part 3

From our nation’s capital, we headed south to Music City: the capital of songwriting and country music.

img_2268
A light-bulb sign in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Nashville

Hello, flashing lights, buy-one-get-two cowgirl boots, home of hot chicken and the Man in Black. Nashville, the first official stop as co-pilots on our cross-country adventure, was only slightly warmer in temperature than D.C., but lightyears warmer in southern hospitality. We saw sun here for the first time in weeks, and light shone on the incredibly kind friends who hosted and welcomed us with homemade beer and great taste in music, and the equally friendly strangers who shared locals-only city tips and histories.

City tip: Head to East Nashville for a more hip, locals scene. Visit Drifters and sit at the bar for some good stories and even better BBQ!

It was a taste of the south, a taste of aforementioned hot chicken, which is absolutely no joke and caused my road trip partner to shed (or sweat?) a single tear of fiery deliciousness, a taste of a Bushwacker, a very boozy adult milkshake originating from the Caribbean and milking its way up the U.S. east coast, and a taste of rich entertainment industry history.

Our daytime activities consisted of seeing the Johnny Cash Museum, visiting Acme Radio and hiking in Percy Warner Park, while our nightlife involved strolling down Broadway, with its Honky Tonk music pouring from every bar, a Country Burlesque show at Skull’s in funky Printer’s Alley, and karaoke and mechanical bull riding at Wild Beaver.

FullSizeRender.jpg
Country performers flooded the bars up and down the famous Broadway strip, also known as Honky Tonk Highway.

City tip: Musician’s etiquette asks for a dollar in the performer’s jar upon entry to a bar. Consider it a thanks-for-getting-up-there-and-making-Honky-Tonk-for-us, and a great-job-tip because in Nashville, every performer is talented enough to win on The Voice (we met one who actually had).

IMG_2317.JPG
The meeting of back doors: the Ryman Auditorium and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.

City tip: In the 1960s, Nashville’s early years in becoming the booming country capital it is today, musicians would perform at the Ryman Auditorium and head over through the alley entrance of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge for a night-cap. To this day, the bar brings in performers and tourists alike.

All in all, Nashville was pleasing to the senses: great music for the ears, delectable treats for the tastebuds, intriguing history and sight-seeing for the mind and the eyes, and twangy charm for the heart. It was a city recognizable to this day for its role in shaping the country music genre and proclaiming itself as a place of hopeful and determined musicians and songwriters with aspirations of making it big time.

When sitting at Drifters’ bar chatting with a local, I asked, “Are you a musician?”

I caught myself instantly rephrasing my question in response to his jaded chuckle- “Is everyone a musician here?”

“Throw a rock in the air.” He responded. “It’ll land on one.”

So long Nashville, the city of aspiring dreams, rockstar karaoke singers, Honky Tonk bars, Country Burlesque and flashy lights and cowgirl boots. Next up, the Big Easy.

Check out the adrenaline rush below that was post-mechanical-bull-ride: my karaoke version of ‘He Can Only Hold Her’ by Amy Winehouse at Wild Beaver in Nashville!

I am Ready, 2017

16106025_10154222435802135_3309140613089659465_n.jpg

I woke up this morning feeling like it was spring. Not in the sense of temperature, but rather in energy. I felt newness, refreshment, about-to and growth. I rested my selenite and amethyst crystals upon my dormant perfect-birthday-gift dahlia to bath in the full moon light last night, and I cleansed my own soul with a quiet night of self-care, self-learning, self-containment and self-love. I will be moving to California on Tuesday; a dream of mine for the past 4 years. Feeling overly inspired, appreciative and accepting of today’s springtime-feel callings, I found myself not packing for the future but ironically reflecting on my past. I have been blessed with opportunities to see the world, and I am sure that it is part of my truth and calling. The draw I feel to absorb other cultures is an inseparable piece and constant craving of my soul. These items are a combination of treasures I’ve collected from my own travels, and puzzle pieces from friends that have only fueled my anthropological love-fire. I am ready, 2017. For west, for east, for ups and downs and for pursuing all of these sparkling entities that send my soul into full-blast rocket launch. I appreciate all you’ve been, and I accept all that you will be.

Let Us Choose Light

In a very small town in the smallest state of the country, there is a tradition among my close friends and our families to celebrate the winter solstice. We voyage across the country and across the street to circle around a bonfire during one of the busiest weeks of the year. Add in a powerful gong ceremony performed by a talented local friend and her words to remind us of the untethered connection and symbolism between nature and our lives; the winter solstice is the longest night of the year and it marks the lengthening of lightness in the days leading us to summer.

fullsizerender
Sunset on the pond, December 24, 2016.

Past ceremonies asked that we toss a stick into the fire representing something that no longer serves us, and then another to wish something into our lives for the upcoming year. This year, in response to some of the uncategorized and disheartening happenings of 2016, we altered our performance. We reflected on our heavy year and focused on something that we loved about it. How can we incorporate those pieces of ourselves and our lives that we love? How can we cultivate more of that this year?

I thought about my whirlwind year: spending four months in South America, conquering my fear of singing at open mics, volunteering with my state’s chapter of Women March on Washington and my upcoming plans to move to San Diego (stay tuned for cross-country posts!!). With a whole lot of smiling and maybe even a tear, I wished for myself to continue following my intuition and desires despite unconventionality or others misunderstanding. My deepened relationship with my heart and intuition is after all, what I love most about myself- and if you know me, you may know my heart lives on my sleeve.

Perhaps for that reason, one of the many devoted mama bears and hostess of the annual celebration of light and dark, Mama Pilk, asked me to write something this year. At the conclusion of my poem, our gong spiritual leader voiced,

“You can only see the stars when it’s dark out.”

“Or when you choose to look up,” said Mama Pilk. And our circle squeezed together just a little tighter.

FullSizeRender copy 6.jpg
The whole high school gang fireside and full of wine.

 

Two Thousand-and-Seventeen
Olivia Morrissey, Dec. 2016

Two thousand-and-seventeen.
I am 23.
Life has hurt me and it has scared me
It has graced me and humbled me.
Just as it has you all.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing bits of the world and I have grown up encompassed in endless love.
And this is what I’ve learned:

That happiness is gratitude and it’s about all you have than what you can’t see
And that love is the common tongue trans-culture universally
That it is so much more about who you’re with instead of where
And that peace comes from celebrating our differences rather than what is shared.

I’ve learned that true hope is not never having felt the darkness;
It is having been immersed in it and still choosing to see the light.
And strength is not being devoid of weakness;
It is how we accept our weaknesses and hold them equally tight.

I’ve learned that sometimes, things must hit rock bottom.
They must get to the lowest of the low; the darkest of hours
In order for them rise to lightness once again:
The winter solstice; karmic powers.

Two thousand-and-seventeen.
I feel a shift and a transformation
I find solace realizing the reason I’m here right now
To stand for the beautifully diverse people of my nation
It is why we’ve all found ourselves here; under the stars at this time
It is your call and truth to right now
As it is mine.

And it is often not what we’re dealt, but how we choose to react that makes all the difference.
So let us choose not what’s easy, but rather what’s right.

Let us choose hope. Let us choose strength. Let us choose each other. Let us choose love.

And let us choose light.

 

Surf, Sunshine & Sisterhood

Three weeks ago, I went, slightly impulsively, on a women’s surf, fitness, yoga and adventure retreat in Lagos, Portugal.

14590372_10102818192034349_3143488789357904068_n
Surfing on Portugal’s West Coast. Hannah Edy Photography

Envision: 7 a.m. beach circuits, learning how to surf in warm, green waves, the most delicious, locally sourced meals thrice a day every day, bottles of Portugal’s famous vinho verde, and the most amazing, encouraging group of women all living together for one week.

 

img_0675
Day 1 began with a sunrise run on the beach.

 

Read: the healthiest, most inspiring and well-intentioned week of my life to date.

 

 

 

It was a food critic’s most delicious dish yet, and an artist’s palate of all things brilliant and beautiful: green wine, 50-shades-of-turquoise blue water and fearless red energies of first-times mountain biking, horseback riding and jumping off a 30-foot dam. Add in constant sunshine, orange sunsets and purple zinc painting the faces of every unstoppable surf-chick-warrior in our tribe.

14650665_10210317249785037_2739955299576604729_n
Purple zinc became our chosen markings.
img_8680
Paella! Photo courtesy of Courtney Brokaw

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond the divine meals and wine, we got a taste of the life of the unmatchable Sophie Everard, (who actually oozes radness) and was the chief-organizer of the Mad To Live Women’s Retreat in partnership with Lagos’ very own, The Surf Experience.

Fearlessly fit: featuring iconic Portuguese hand-painted tiles.
Fearlessly fit: featuring iconic Portuguese hand-painted tiles.
Sophie treating me with all of Portugal's delicacies.
Sophie treating me with all of Portugal’s delicacies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sophie is a traveling, writing and endlessly-exploring fitness blogger, sponsored by great organizations and companies for her own drive and very greatness. She alone was an inspiration in embracing unconventionality in part of one’s pursuit of truth. How can I ever thank you for providing a space that turned into the best week ever for so many of us?!

Photo by brilliant, Hannah Edy Photography
Photo by brilliant, Hannah Edy Photography

There is something to be said about the power and brilliance of a group of women who have come together as a team. I have experienced it before within my own group of girlfriends, and even more so on athletic teams in high school or college.

Women are intuitive and capable, instinctually maternal and because of this (evolutionarily speaking) created to take care and to love. We women are vessels with complex depths, and it is this empathetic intelligence that is both the essence of our magnificence and at times, the root of our aching.

Thus being, there is a special type of community, companionship and comfort in a group of women that has chosen to support and encourage each other’s depths. There is a wholeness in feeling understood by one of your own.

Hannah Edy Photography
Hannah Edy Photography

It is the understanding that you are not alone. You are not crazy or small in this world; rather in your safest space, surrounded by reassuring people who understand and appreciate your depths, you are grand. You are undoubtedly the very best being for everything your heart dreams of doing.

Yet we live in a world, swarming with distorted representations in mass media, that aim to keep us women apart.

It is oppression stemming from fear, and the imbalance of energy and the suppression of the Sacred Feminine over centuries that now requires many years of healthy, perpetual restoration from both male and female counterparts.

Humans have a less-than-grand history of making certain groups of people feel small out of fear of their potential to be great; perhaps even greater than the fearful themselves. But a true partnership in this life is bringing the other up to their fullest potential, understanding that they could never fill your particular role in this life-web; only you can do that. Lifting someone up to their greatness could never take away from your own, for they could never succeed in your role; it is not, nor can be for them, just as their role is for them alone, and could never be for you.

14469687_10102818205681999_4718627969328770068_n
The surfing, dancing, jumping, purple-zinc tribe. Hannah Edy Photography

I’m learning that it is not a man’s role to understand those depths of a woman, or to mirror them. The Chinese principle, yin and yang, the union and dance of opposites, honors exactly that: the differences between the two energies.

 

And I believe that a true man is not threatened by equality of the sexes; rather, he finds discomfort in the privileges he experiences in a system without it.

First-time mountain biking was exciting, especially when it led us to this view of the Algarve.
First-time mountain biking was exciting, especially when it led us to this view of the Algarve.

There was divine energy among the group of women collaborating with intentions of being healthy, driven, open-minded and full-spirited that week in Lagos.

In the very most, this is a prayer for the rejuvenation of feminine sacredness and a restoration of male-female balance. In the very least, it is my whole-hearted hope for all women to experience the community that a women’s retreat offers, as a stepping stone to a life system where all of us have each other’s best interests and spirits in mind and heart.

A wise friend of mine recently said to me, “there is perhaps nothing more powerful than a group of women dancing together– so long as they have each other’s backs.”

And during our time in Lagos, Portugal, we danced. And we laughed and explored and cheered each other on and saluted the sun and ran and fell and stood up once more every time. And it was not until the very end of the day when it was time to rest that we finally stopped– only until the sun came out again the very next morning, and we were ready to take on the world all over again.

img_0709
Magnificent sunset after a beach yoga session.
Hannah Edy Photography
Hannah Edy Photography

 

Check out below for Sophie’s video compilation of all of our fun activities during the week! Disclaimer: there is a clip of me being dragged on stage from the bathroom and free-style singing in front of a crowd before a DJ was to come on. My hands were wet. Enjoy! 😉

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: