Writing, Working and Paying Attention: A Day in My Life in Charlottesville
This is the room I’m renting in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’ve been here over a week now.
I found it as a sublet on Airbnb (referral link) for the month. This is the second time I’ve used Airbnb to find a really cool place to stay during my little nomadic adventure (without having to sign a lease!). I used it to find the place I stayed at in Baltimore, which was a great experience. You can use the site to find a room to stay in for a night or a week or a month (or more), in pretty much any country it looks like. To me, it’s like a cross between Craigslist and Expedia. I love that the site allows you to see who your hosts are, view photos and details about the room they’re renting out, plus read reviews of guests who have stayed in the room before you. My current host has about a dozen positive reviews, so that helped me with my choice. She is also an artist and I love artists. Her home is beautiful and old and full of original art and flowers and light. The neighborhood is very walkable, lined with trees and plants and situated just a few blocks from the University of Virginia. This is why I didn’t mind paying $800 to stay here for a month. I have full house privileges, so I’ve been able to cook, do laundry and drink bourbon on the porch whenever I want.
Last week I attended the Virginia Festival of the Book for the 10th year in a row, I believe. The festival is the main reason I came to Charlottesville, really. I majored in English and studied poetry at Virginia Commonwealth University about an hour from here, so that probably further explains my intense love of this area.
Plus, I love it here in spring. Plus, the authors and poets that speak at the festival events always inspire me to write more and better and with a full heart. My favorite part of this year’s program was hearing Nikki Giovanni and Nikki Finney read poems about love and what it means to love people. I also learned a lot from Lisa Russ Spaar, who spoke beautifully about poetry, spirituality and the practice of paying attention.
It strikes me that what I’m doing here in Charlottesville is paying attention.
In the mornings, I get up around 8:00 am and read the daily passage from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening. After my reading, I meditate by sitting and stretching in silence on my yoga mat in the corner. Well, almost silence. The birds begin singing long before I open my eyes. After meditation, I go downstairs for water or tea, then I start on my writing for the day. I try not to read any email before I write so that I can stay focused. I write best in the mornings or late at night, no doubt about it. I write until about 10:00am in my room, then I get up from the desk and go downstairs to make breakfast. Right now, I’m having a love affair with hashbrowns and eggs from a local farm, fried and topped with sauteed mushrooms and green peppers.
Yes. It tastes just as divine as it looks. Especially if you crack lots of black pepper in your hashbrowns and season your veggies with just a hint of rosemary salt.
Sometimes, after my morning writing, I get in my car and drive down the road to Hotcakes. They have THE best muffins. And every day, they feature only one type: blueberry, lemon poppyseed, pineapple-coconut, you never know which, but it doesn’t matter, really. They all melt in your mouth.
In the mornings, I write blog posts. I eat breakfast, I shower. In the afternoons, I process email. I talk to speaking clients and work on upcoming speeches or Powerpoint presentations. I talk to my mom. I talk to my grama. I take walks. In the evenings, I cook dinner and talk to coaching clients and work on my longer-term writing and web projects. (I’m developing a new online training that should be rolling out in the next few weeks!)
Now that I’ve written it out like this, it sounds like a boring routine compared to my life of dates and happy hours and events in DC. But maybe that’s the point. The pace of everything is slower here. I feel calm and at peace. I feel like I have the time to enjoy poetry and clean air and trees and fresh farm eggs.
For whatever reason, I am able to do things here (and in some of the other places I’ve lived in the past 6 months) that I struggle with making time for when I am in my familiar surroundings. Kind of like when you go on vacation and suddenly discover that sleep exists and that 8 hours of it is good.
Right now, I am just enjoying the quiet productivity that’s been possible for me here. I am writing and working and I am happy.
Where are you living now? What do you like about it? How do you spend your days there?
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