day 30: i’m going north.

i found myself driving on i-26 north today. and that could mean only one thing.. i was headed to weaverville, a small town just about 10-15 minutes from asheville. i had not planned this at all. like i said, i just found myself on the highway, headed north.

i had gotten a tip from a fellow customer when i was at asheville coffee traders the other day. he told me that his all-time favorite cafe/coffeehouse was allgood in weaverville. so, i guess that’s where i was going. it was a nice day for a drive, and just north of asheville, things turn much more mountainy and nature-y. and i’m all for being up in nature. plus, i hadn’t been to weaverville all that much… like, ever. so. exploring a new town felt like a great plan.

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what i found when i arrived in weaverville, was a classic, all-american small town. and the fact that it’s autumn made it all the more picturesque. like a norman rockwell painting, capturing the essence of american life on canvas. there were little streets lined with houses with white picket fences. pumpkins on doorsteps. a small main street, buzzing with people and business, but not overcrowded. the school was just a short walk down the street as well. and in the surrounding hills are organic farms and homesteads. everything felt simple, idyllic, and welcoming.

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i had heard about weaverville before… that it’s a great place to live outside of expensive asheville. a little town removed from the hustle and bustle, but still so close. a place where nature lovers live a more simplistic and intentional life. i found myself dreaming of having a little cottage here within the first 5 minutes of exploration. but, now it was time to set aside the dream and drink some coffee. i could ponder the beauty of weaverville over a latte…

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i parked my car in a parking lot behind main street and walked up to the street. when i rounded the corner, this is what i saw. i mean seriously people, all of my favorite things in one place: wine (and cheese), coffee, and a pub all in a row. move me in now! on top of it all, there were autumn decorations in their outdoor eating areas… soooo cozy.

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and then, a deep, melodic sound captivated me. it was as if the sounds was calling me to prayer, to a spiritual moment, to a time of meditation. bells tolling. i looked up, and there were beautiful wind chimes, moving ever so slowly in the breeze, just enough to make that beautiful, mysterious sound.

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i peeked in through the open door and saw people sitting everywhere… working, chatting, reading. i love realizing that a place is filled with people living thir life, doing their thing, and doing it in a cafe – a place that just begs you to slow down a bit. it’s like, why sit at an office desk all alone, if you don’t have to? at least that’s my opinion.

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stepping into the cafe, it was a little dark, but in the best way. it was cozy and inviting. i breezed past the people sitting at the tables, turning my head up, down, and all around, just taking it all it. it felt earthy. natural. and yet warm, even with soaring ceilings. there was wood and metal everywhere. shades of golden and brown took center stage. i walked directly to the counter toward the back and ordered a hazelnut mocha… another autumn-inspired coffee.

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there were a few people in front of me, and the barista/owner, eric, took his time in preparing each coffee drink, so i had time to look around and really feel the vibe. plus, snap some photos, of course. i noticed that there was a lot of local art for sale: jewelry, pottery, paintings. i love that. local business supporting each other. and it is a pretty common thing in the asheville area.

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i chatted with eric for a little bit, as he prepared my coffee, and i found out that all good has been open for about 6 months. he and his wife owned a coffee shop/cafe in north georgia, but decided to move up to weaverville about three years ago (i think i remember that correctly). after some time, the opportunity arose, and allgood was born. so, here is yet another family-run business.  perhaps my love and i should do something together later on… hehe.

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coffee in hand, and totally aware that i need to come back and hang out longer in this place, i looked around once again and felt the warmth and goodness in this place. then i headed outside to sit at the table and watch the weaverville world go by. i ended up taking care of some business on my phone, but it was all still so relaxing giving my coffee and the atmosphere. plus… there was a pumpkin on my table. that made it all the more better.

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 i’d say it was a successful day of celebrating the autumn season, discovering a new little town that i love, and feeling productive all at the same time. thanks, allgood. i left feeling, well, all good inside.

DSC_0444namaste. /liz.

allgood coffeehouse. 10B south main street . weaverville, nc . 28787 . 

Day 23: Where everybody knows your name.

i found the coffee version of Cheers (you know the 80s tv show about the pub/bar in Boston) in a strip mall just north of Asheville.

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it was an incredible indian summer weather day and i had no idea where i was headed. i checked my list of the 40 cafes i planned to visit, and perused through the ones that had not been crossed off. i had the cafes listed by areas, to make sure i bounced around the city instead of getting stuck in just one place. i noticed that there were no cafes left in north asheville, but i decided to drive that way anyway. or i didn’t really decide, i just drove. i actually considered re-visiting a cafe i’d already been to, which would be cheating, of course. i wouldn’t write about it again, i’d just take the day off.

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but, i kept driving. and driving. and then, i realized i was exploring some areas of asheville i’d never seen before. the weather was so great. my windows were down. and i was just enjoying my little ride. i thought after a while, that i might run into some little, out of the way diner or cafe, so i trusted my intuition and just kept driving north on merrimon avenue/highway 25.

i think i was in the woodfin area, when i saw it: a strip mall with a cafe looking type place. of course i drove past it since i saw it as i was passing, so, i turned around in the nearest parking lot and headed back. i drove up the hill, and came to a stop in a parking place just to the right of the cafe. i first knew it was a cafe because of the chairs and tables outside, but then i noticed that the sign said that it was a cafe and coffee roasters. cool.

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inside, it was homey and inviting. there were comfortable places to sit… a sofa, chairs. all arranged to promote conversation and hanging around. on of the owners was outside when i walked in, so she followed me in and asked me if i was a photographer. this time i said yes. and i said that i was doing a blog project/writing a book on cafe expereinces in asheville. she thought that was interesting, but before we could talk further a woman walked in. the owner knew the woman’s name who had come to pick up her fresh bag of roasted coffee beans. they chatted some and i went to the counter to order from the other owner. i decided to go for a mocha latte. a little celebration, just because. as i waited for my latte, the two women kept chatting and catching up, obviously knowing quite a bit about each other.

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i got my latte, which was artfully decorated, which i loved, just as the woman was going to pay. so, now, i was at the counter with the woman paying for her coffee. the two owners, andi and greg, were behind the counter. to make a long story short, and to skip over some fairly personal details that i was privy to, we stood there together for at least 30 minutes. talking, laughing, discussing. it was so warm and inviting. i felt as if i was immediately accepted and one of the crowd here. come to think of it, everyone who entered while i was there, it was the same way with every single person that came in the door.

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greg and andi knew every customer’s name. customer’s came to pick up coffee that the owners already had ready for them. they joked with each other, inquired about each others’ lives, obviously knowing what’s going on with each other. this cafe was a community in the middle of a little community just north of downtown. it was simple, friendly, real. and i felt like i fit right in… thanks to the owners and the other customers. of course, greg and andi’s influence isn’t only in this little cafe in the woodfin area. they are involved in the community as well, taking part in markets, special events, and catering. of course, it’s their presence and love for people & coffee that sucks you in and makes you feel like a long lost friend.

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after standing at the counter and being a part of the regular interaction that obviously happens between greg, andi, and their friends (customers), i realized i had to go. they invited me to come back one morning and hang out, to see it buzzing with all the regulars who come in to grab a cup of coffee or who sit to catch up on each others’ lives, discuss the local news, and anything else on their mind. all the while, sipping yummy coffee and smelling those amazing beans roasting in the back.

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don’t worry, guys. i’ll be back. i love a place that knows my name.

namaste. /liz

85 weaverville highway . asheville, nc . 28804 . www.ashevillecoaffeeroasters.com

 

Day 19: Sunning in the city.

It was a totally last minute decision to head to Charlotte Street and visit the City Bakery Cafe. It’s a fairly popular place for people who live in Asheville, at least I think it is. Though I am not sure where I am getting that information from. In any case, it was another beautiful day and I was just dying to be outside. For some reason, this cafe popped into my mind and I headed to Charlotte Street, hoping they had outdoor seating.

You know, I can never get enough of the urban architecture in Asheville. There are so many brick warehouses, art deco spaces, arts & crafts cottages & bungalows… and Asheville businesses and individuals are really into repurposing, reusing, and redecorating. i mean, just look at this building where the City Bakery Cafe is located… above the first floor, where the bakery is, are a few apartments. i can just imagine all of the character and amazingness up there…

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jackpot. there is a small outdoor seating area. it’s a busy road, but, who cares. i was ready for a little cup of coffee – and perhaps a bite to eat. hehe. time to go in…

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city bakery cafe actually has two locations in asheville, one in the middle of downtown, and this one… just north of downtown on charlotte street. as most of the coffeehouses and cafes in the area, they work with other local businesses to create organic, local, and fresh coffee, pastires, sandwiches, and breads. oh, the breads… the cafe bakes fresh breads daily… it smells heavenly, as you can imagine.

the inside of the cafe surprised me (surprising, huh?). for some reason, i pictured it as a more pick up and go kinda place. but, there were people coming in and out constantly, people working on their computers, people chatting with each other. i immediately spotted an amazing red chair by the window that i wanted to snag and soak up the sun streaming in the window. but… i promised myself to go and sit outside. so, after order coffee and a fluffy, american biscuit, i went to find a little space in the sun.

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as you can see, downtown is there in the distance. so, it’s not that far away from the action. actually, charlotte street is quite a coveted neighborhood area, with tons of those bungalows and cottages and arts & crafts style homes. some have been converted into apartments. some are single family homes. but, it is one of the places to be… albeit a little on the expensive side.

i sat at one of the wrought iron tables and watched the traffic moving past, both people traffic and driving traffic. by the way, there were people darting in and out of the cafe the entire time, picking up a cup of coffee to go or fresh baked bread. well, i sipped my coffee and just sat there… watching people and enjoying the amazingly warm indian summer day. i just love the bright blue skies of autumn around here.

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after a while, i decided to cross the street, so i could get a little photo of the front of the cafe. i scrambled across, in between all the traffic, balancing my keys, my coffee, my camera, and my trash. i caught my breath and  snapped a few photos before realizing that i needed to go soon. si i risked my life again, crossed the street and entered the cafe one more time to throw my trash away.DSC_0219

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and , man i am so glad that i went back it. as i threw away my trash, a newspaper caught my eye. my eyes immediately fell on my horoscope, which lay there wide ope, right in front of me. i picked up the paper, sat down in that empty red chair in the sun, and soaked up the amazing words before me. it was such a great message. i’m not usually a horoscope kinda girl, but i do believe that when we are open, there are little messages and signs all around us. it’s actually more about just being aware. here’s what it said:

“the most important thing is to find out what the most important thing is” wrote shunryu suzuki in his book zen mind, beginner’s mind. that’s your assignment for the next three weeks. do whatever it takes to find our beyond any doubt what the most important thing is. meditate naked an hour a day. go on long walks in the wildest places you know. convene intense conversations about yourself with the people who know you best. create and sign a contract with yourself in which you vow to identify the experience you want more than any other experience on earth. no waffling allowed, libra. what is the single most important thing?

i looked up from the newspaper, feeling inspired. directly above me was this piece of art work. a sort of mosaic of the asheville area… the small vertical pieces in the middle symbolizing the downtown area, and the rest of the symbolizing the natural area surrounding the city. i thought it was magical. and i must, say, that it moved me. so, feeling completely connected and grounded and inspired by all that i had seen, felt, tasted, and read, i was quite ready for… well, anything.

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isn’t it amazing what a little fika time can do?

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namaste. /liz

city bakery cafe . 88 charlotte street . asheville, nc . 28801 .  www.citybakery.net

Day 17: i traded in what’s “hip” for a classic american morning.

sometimes you just gotta get back to basics. so i did something completely different for my 40 days of fika visit today. i left the hip, industrial cafes behind and decided to hang out at a typical american diner. you know a greasy, breakfast all day, sit at the counter, casual, regular folk kind of place.

you see, when i made my original list of cafes & coffeehouses to visit, i included a diner, because of the coffee… it is a staple of all diners. i know you’ve seen it on tv. or you’ve been to a diner yourself. you know the scene: people sitting in booths and at the counter. ordering hot coffee from the waitresses. eating hamburgers and fries, or eggs and bacon.

well, that’s exactly what i wanted to experience – even though i’ve been to tons of diners before in my life. so, i chose a local diner, one i had never been to, and not a chain diner, mind you, and parked myself there for a couple of hours to soak it all up.

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just north of downtown, only a few short blocks, in fact you can still see the buildings, is five points restaurant. my diner and cafe of choice for the day. it’s called five points because it is located on the corner of an intersection where five streets meet. it’s also just down from the hip coffeehouse, high five that i visited a few weeks ago. 

i parked my car among the random array of models and hung around outside for a while, snapping photos, greeting customers on their way in or out. all of them were friendly, even if i looked like a weirdo taking photos from strange angles and such. from what i could tell, this was going to be a fun time in the diner, based on the many different kinds of people entering and leaving.

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i couldn’t wait any longer. i opened the glass door, heard a little bell ding, and was greeted by a woman behind the counter saying hello and offering me to take a seat wherever i liked. the counter stretched out in front of me and to the right, men dotted the stools. i considered joining them, but then my back would be to the rest of the diner. so, i turned right and walked toward the far end of the diner, the counter on my right and the booths by the windows to my left. it was full. but, i snagged a little place at the very end and sat so i could face the whole place. awesome.

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a sweet lady came by and asked asked me what i wanted to drink. coffee, i replied. and in a minute i had a piping hot cup in front of me. i knew i’d be ordering some home fried potatoes, so i went ahead and told her when she brought my coffee. then i pulled out my camera and began to wonder how in the world i would take a bunch of photos without looking creepy. there was a middle-aged man at the table directly in front of me, and we were basically looking directly at each other. so, i decided to write instead. he read the paper. i wrote in my journal.

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the diner was noisy and busy. the waitresses were yelling at the cooks (to tell the orders), people were chatting and talking, food was sizzling on the griddle. but, it wasn’t annoying… it was life. it was clean, but no where near modern. still, it was exactly as it should have been. and it was functional.

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and there were all kinds of people. business men stopping for a cup of coffee and a burger . hippie 20 somethings who walked in without shoes. an african american woman, all gussied up with about 20 bangle bracelets, rainbow eyeshadow, and fancy clothes. a hispanic motorcyclist. two mom meeting for coffee. constructions workers. of course, there were regulars. usually they are older people, and it was no different here.

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a sweet little man entered the door in front of me, and just stood there. soon i realized that he was holding the door open for his wife. they finally made it in the door, literally after about 5 minutes. i had never seen a woman move so slowly. i watched intensely, but i never saw her really move, even though she did move across the floor. she held only a cane in her left hand, and her husband held on the her right arm. it was so touching, watching his patience, watching them both take about 10 minutes to get from the door to a seated position. i was amazed that they even left the house if it was this much of a process to do anything. when the woman finally sat in her seat, the husband then lifted her and scooted her in.  by now, tears were streaming down my face.

the thing about diners is the people. it’s not about the coffee. it’s certainly not gourmet. and it’s not about the food, which is most likely not organic and local, an definitely not healthy. but, it’s a community. whether you are simply passing by or an everyday regular… you belong. everyone belongs.

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whenever you just need a pick-me-up moment, or some time to ground yourself in a dose of reality around real people, and, of course, to eat some yummy food, find a diner near you. and give me a call. i’ll be sure to join you.

namaste. /liz.

five points restaurant . 258 broadway street . asheville, nc . 28801

Day 8: Coffee & a… pug?

it was bound to happen at some point. daily fika overload. not that i’ve had too much coffee, by any means. i’m not even sure that that’s possible. but, the daily finding a new place and experiencing something new is actually exhausting . the impressions, the feelings, the leaving my comfort zones are all good, but it requires a lot of attention and action. so, today, this self-proclaimed introvert had the desire to just go to a comfortable, familiar place. and just be.

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BUT, i stuck it out. i drove up merrimon avenue in north asheville, and parked my car at edna’s of asheville. i totally was not feeling it, though. nothing against the cafe, it was all me. the decision of where to go had been annoying – i have my list of 40 places, but i don’t have them planned out so that i can be spontaneous and go with the flow every day. the problem was, i had no idea where i wanted to go. didn’t feel any inspiration about it. and had a limited amount of time. it was soooo tempting to go to my safe place. but, i managed to make the choice to stick to my plan, to stay disciplined, and to not give up.

was it worth it? oh, yes.

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edna’s of asheville is, as i said,in north asheville. so it is a stand-alone building with a parking lot around it. actually, merrimon avenue is in front, and parking lots/the entrance to a strip mall-ish type place is on all the other three sides. so, there is edna’s, all alone. my first impression was that it was a remodeled diner/fast food restaurant. i was just going on the shape of the building & the fact that there was a drive-thru window, which i noticed when i left, they still use. cool!

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i passed by the outdoor seating, which was quite large and headed inside to find a nicely designed cafe. of course it was filled with organic, fair trade, and local coffees and snacks/food. the coffee is roasted in-house and the pastries are freshly baked, so that’s even better.what was good about this place so far, was that it was not a chain – as it is for most of the cafes i am visiting. it was a unique space, with it’s own niche, or so to speak.

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edna’s is not named after the owner, but after a dog. a pug, to be exact. edna is the owner’s pug, who has been known to take quite a few licks of her owner’s coffees. so, when it came time to name the cafe, edna just seemed to fit. apparently edna the pug makes appearances every now and then. but, don’t worry, you will see plenty of pug faces, pug art, and pug stuffed animals when you are there. the good thing is, it’s cute and not overbearing. in act, i suppose you could come in and never really make the edna the pug connection. but, it’s a sweet little theme when you realize it.

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i ordered my regular coffee, tapped it off with milk, and went searching for a place to sit down, hoping that my mood would change. you’ll be happy to know it did. and you know why? two words: sofa and fireplace. that’s right, folks, in this industrial-styled space, with tons of tables and chair for eating, conversing, and working, there was also, on the far wall, a fireplace and two leather chairs, a sofa, and a coffee table. heaven! a sitting area! and better yet, no one was sitting there. so i plopped myself down, pulled out my journal, made a few notes and then sat quietly, just reading. it was exactly what i needed.

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it was clear that this place was a popular college student hang out, as it is very close to UNCA. it’s warm tones and hip, urbanish atmosphere creates a perfect work space or space for intimate conversations. you know that you are welcome to come in and sit for a while at edna’s. in addition to the amazing (i love it!) sitting area, they have a rack with magazines, shelves with board games and cards, and even a place to swap books.

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so, thanks to edna’s, i worked my way out of this funk and feel rejuvenated. but, you know, that’s all part of the cycle of everyday life. we can’t be excited and pumped up all the time. it’s good that we embrace those amazing days and enjoy them as they come; but it is also good for us to allow ourselves to simply feel and be how we are. and then, to remember that we have a choice. we can always choose how we want to respond to any situation. it’s natural to feel exhausted or uninspired, but the question is, what are who (and how) are we going to be in those moments?

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let’s grab a cup of coffee & ponder these things together…

namaste. 

* just incase you are wondering, namaste is a greeting that means “the light within me honors the light within you.”

edna’s of asheville . 870 merrimon avenue . asheville, nc . 28804 . www.ednasofasheville.com

Day 5: High Five!

IMG_2785just down the street, under the highway 240 bridge,  and only a few blocks walk from lexington avenue, lies a little coffee shop in the bottom corner of a fairly newly built, arts & crafts style building on broadway (just behind greenlife grocery).  i think i had passed the coffee shop before, but never really noticed it. it’s not that flashy, and it just sort of blends in with the rest of the building, which is used for offices on the bottom floor and apartments on the top floors. of course, that’s the point, i think. i was expecting a very hip, starbucks-like atmosphere inside, but what i found what completely different.

i am beginning to learn that nothing is every anything that i expect it to be. for real.

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this neighborhood, just north of downtown and close to five points, is known as a walking-friendly area. residents in the cute, cottages that dot the streets behind high five walk everywhere. to the grocery store. to downtown. and to this coffee shop. so, even though there is ample parking in a gravel lot across the street (which i didn’t know to begin with, of course), i parked on the street in front of one of the cute cottages and walked the block to the coffee shop. i actually always like walking places, especially since i don’t walk as much as i did in sweden.

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i walked up to the building and the first thing i noticed was the large amount of outdoor seating in front of the shop. little tables and metal chairs, and then some big concrete slabs with stools. very unique. i like that. let’s see what happens when i open the door…

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i entered the industrial-inspired room and noticed the buzz. there were people chatting, coffee steaming, beans grinding. and music playing. but, it wan’t too much. it wasn’t noise overload or anything, which surprised me. and even though the floor was hard, the tables were high , the ceiling had exposed pipes, and so much was going on, i felt a sense of warmth. it was definitely a hip place. but, it was warm. like a little coffee community.

it could be the community tables. this is a unique and freaking cool feature of high five. and i love it. i made my way to the counter, ordered my regular coffee (but forgot my mug. gaaahh!), and looked around as i waited. there were a couple of tall, curvy tables with stools, which were very inviting. it looked a super easy place to sit and not feel awkward even if you were sitting with strangers. there were also counter spaces facing the windows with bar stools. and then, the mother of all places to sit. little round-ish wooden tables on a platform. but they were close to the ground, so you have to sit on a pillow when you sit around these funky tables.  soooo cool.

i didn’t get to sit at one of these cool tables, because it seems everyone else thinks they are cool too. so i put down my coffee, pulled out my book, and plopped myself down on one of the stools at a tall, curvy counter-table thing. i didn’t even mind that there were 2 other individuals sitting at the table. we could share. ok. i did freak out a little inside – introvert alert.

but, the other two people were quite involved in their own activities… reading, writing, surfing. it is a coffee shop that works well as a place to visit on your own. it’s also a great place for conversation. there seemed to be quite a few students, or at least people studying. but, there were also middle-aged, young families, and elderly patrons. some were funky, some were granola hippies, some were hipster, and some were tourists (you can tell by the maps and the cameras). the thing i noticed most about the people, was that they all seemed to be totally away of what’s going on there = they are locals. still, it was a welcoming place.

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i sipped my coffee and read my book, looking up every now and then to see what was going on. i never really chatted with anyone, but then, again, i got really absorbed into my book. and pretty soon i realized that this was a cafe i could visit quite often.

there is another thing that i have realized as i spend time in cafes around asheville… i love studying and reading. and people fascinate me. i am considering beginning a program in an area i have dreamed about/felt called to for quite a few years now. the book that i am toting around with me is reaffirming that sense of desire. if i do sign up for this program, it will take two years, and then i will be certified as a spiritual guide, a mentor. my idea is to not focus on any one spiritual tradition, but to use bits and pieces from many different ones. as a part of this program, i will also get me memoir done. and the cool thing? the spiritual school is just outside of asheville. more about all of that at a later date…

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what i am saying is, that spending this intentional time by myself has helped me to slow down enough to observe the things that i feel the most passionate about, and the gifts/skills that i have. the quiet time has given me some space to breathe and to just be. and so, i feel a sense of direction. i feel a sense of comfort and inner peace. and all of this from only 5 days in cafes, with limited conversation with people. i wonder what the next 35 days have in store for me?!

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who knew that a cup of coffee could trigger so many thoughts, ideas, dreams, and opportunities?

how ’bout a high five for that?!

namaste. ~ liz

high five coffee bar . 190 broadway street . asheville, nc . 28801 . www.highfivecoffee.com

please let me know (leave a comment) if you’d like to meet up with me one day for a fika. i’d be more than happy to share this project with any of you!

Day 4: Tod’s Tasties.

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this was a gem of a surprise, my friends. i had to pull out my gps system again to find where tod’s tasties was located, as i had no idea. but, come to find out, it was just a stone’s throw away from downtown. truly. within walking distance. for real. and, let me just go ahead and tell you, if i am parked in downtown and want an open, airy, outdoorsy oasis, i will take my little feet and do the little bit of walking a few blocks north of the center of the city to enjoy a cup of coffee at tod’s tasties. most definitely.

after doing an amazing job of parallel parking, (really. i rocked it out), i had to just stand there and soak in all i was seeing. i immediately thought of a 50s diner. the building was fairly little with red highlights, especially that big, bright rent tint-of-a-rook. and all i could do was focus on all of the outdoor seating. wooden tables & metal chairs. i quickly realized that this was not really a coffee shop, but a cafe with food., as it smelled heavenly. like burgers and breakfast. and coffee. i smelled it too.

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there were a couple of men sitting outside, both of them sitting alone. i walked right past them and into the little cafe. it was clear that the main focus of this place was the outdoor space. but, the crazy thing was, was that they even had a sign that said that they prefer you to sit outside and take advantage of all the natural surroundings. and they meant it. there were no tables or chairs inside. at all. oh, ok. there was a counter by the front window and about 3 stools, so i suppose you could sit there.  and a little tiny room i discovered in the back when i was leaving. but i actually had no problem heading outside, though, because it was an amazingly sunny day.

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i ordered my cup of coffee (i have to o back and eat there too!), paid my two dollars, and headed outside to stake my claim on the table with the best view. i chose one on the corner of the cafe, realizing that the outdoor seating went around the side of the cafe too. and there were plants, and flowers, and trees, and bushes. it was beautiful. i sat down. pulled out my book and journal, and joined my fellow morning coffee drinkers. the guy beside me was reading the paper. another guy just ate his meal, breakfast foods, i think.

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pretty soon, time had flown by, and people started coming in off the street in droves… walking from their homes, downtown, or places where they parked their cars. it was an easily accessible cafe, but if you don’t get one of the three parking spots on the street just outside, you’ve gotta be creative. then again, asheville is quite the walking downtown area, so i believe that most people came on foot. they came in one by one or two by two and began filling up the spaces around me. many sat by themselves, working on their computer or reading a book. others came to talk with each other – business & pleasure.

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i had such a good vibe at this place. i was sitting outside. taking it easy. reading. writing. snapping photos. and just enjoying my time to myself. i never talked to anyone, but that still felt right & ok to me. it was time well spent. alone. and yet, i felt as if i was in a little community the whole time. there were nature-lovers, eccentric individuals, hippies, college students of the granola kind (tree-huggers), women, men, couples (same sex & hetero), moms & daughters, friends, and loners. somehow i felt very connected to my fellow cafe-goers, even if i spoke to no one.

and that got me thinking about community… the need that we have, as humans, to connect to one another. the desire we all have to be heard and seen and loved. the dream we all have, whether we think about it or not, to be whole. to feel complete. and i realized, that since i am doing all these cafe visits alone, and enjoying them so far, i must be at a place in my life where i am ok with myself. that realization is empowering. and freeing. to know that i am free to be me. and that i can stand alone and be independent and  proud of myself, even though i am no where near being perfect.

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at the same time, as i was enjoying my time to myself and thinking about community and individuality, i found myself longing to be with my love, longing to share this space and this moment with her. it’s a funny balance. we can be strong, independent people and still yearn for companionship. we are created to be in relationship with one another, to celebrate one another, to love another – whether that is within our family lives, with friends or co-workers, or at an outdoor cafe with total strangers. though i spoke to no one, i knew that i was in the midst of a community of people living in that moment, in that place, at that time.

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perhaps i’ll take my love there tomorrow. it is saturday, you know. so, it’s a no school work day! (my wife is studying new media at unca). yeah. i think tod’s tasties will definitely be on my list of “places to return to”. maybe i’ll see you there?

namaste.

tod’s tasties

102 montford avenue

asheville, nc 28801

** just a reminder: as this is 40 day project, i have decided that i will do the 40 days over 8 weeks… which means that i will visit cafes monday -friday, and take the weekends off. i guarantee posts on mondays – fridays, but the weekend posts will be a little of this and that. or perhaps i will not post at all. just wanted to keep you up to speed. so, today’s post is it until monday evening – at least cafe -wise. happy weekend!