“Remove all obstacles and let go of anything that happened before you arrived,” Mary said, “Easier said than done”, I thought. “Stay in the present and focus on your breathing” she said. Although concerned that my flurry of thoughts would interfere with my “staying in the present”, I soon began to “let go” as Mary calmly guided my mind and body into a more comfortable state of physical and emotional being. At the close of my first yoga session, lying on my back, breathing, eyes closed as Mary massaged my neck and gently caressed my forehead with a calming balm I made a mental note to share this relaxing experience and bring attention to The Living Light Holistic Center.
During my visit, I engaged in two yoga disciplines offered at Living Light. The first session, Hatha Yoga, with instructor Laura Polant, focused on postures and breathing. Laura’s gentle spirit guided each client through postures while light folksy rhythms softly filled the room adding to the peaceful atmosphere. During my second session, Mary Brown guided clients through the experience of Jivamukti Hatha, a discipline of yoga incorporating postures, breathing exercises, philosophy and Sanskrit chanting. Mary guides through chanting and meditations, encouraging the mind to be in the present and set intentions of focus. Each session is ninety minutes long and clients leave with a sense of renewal and balance in spirit and body.
The Living Light Holistic Health Center is a peaceful, welcoming environment focused on health, tranquility and well-being. Living Light defines itself as “yoga studio and sanctuary for healing.” The center offers massage therapy, reflexology, meditation, and several disciplines of yoga instruction ranging from Extra Gentle Integral Yoga to Vinyassa. Although growing, the center is a well-kept secret, though not intentionally, as people may not realize The Living Light Holistic Health Center is located right off Route 8 in the town of Floyd.
If you would like to experience the relaxation and therapeutic benefits of a massage, or if stress and anxiety are dominating your peaceful nature, visit the Living Light Holistic Health Center and experience the renewal of the yoga discipline best suited for your individual need. It is a center designed by and for people in search of inner peace through awareness and relaxation. Treat yourself. You will not regret it.
The Jacksonville Center for the Arts is a non-profit organization operating in Floyd, Virginia, whose mission is to educate, showcase and facilitate artistic endeavors and rural creativity in our community and region.
The next generation is having a growth spurt in my extended family: one baby girl has already joined us, and by the end of the year two more tiny ones will have become a part of our sprawling family tree. I’ve watched their mothers’ pregnant bellies grow through photos posted on Facebook and have seen the first pictures of the first child on the tiny screen of my phone, texted so soon after birth that she was still red and wrinkled.
Of course, with babies comes an almost overwhelming desire to buy a gift that is tiny and precious and unique, something that we can imagine the babies wearing in place of the hugs from us that distance makes so difficult. For us, that meant one thing and one thing only: onesies from Little Voice.
Our friend, the talented and lovely Angie Ellis, is the heart and hands behind Little Voice, a fiber arts business best known for Merry Monsters. Like babies, each Merry Monster is completely unique, with not only his or her own colors, patterns and personalities, but also with individual back stories and names.
For instance, Margo, according to her description, is a silly heart. “She doesn’t concern herself with the economy, world peace or global warming. Her biggest concern is whether or not dessert with be served.”
These are no stuffed animals but rather wee, inanimate family members.
Angie also makes fiber baubles and accessories: tiny, precious garlands of colorful flags and birds; pins holding felt flowers; felt crowns (intended for kids but available by special order for adults, as evidenced by my own crown, a birthday gift from another friend); and hoop-framed three-dimensional fiber wall art.
And then there are the clothes, organic cotton t-shirts and onesies with appliquéd birds, pinwheels, elephants and more. We chose more monsters, wee happy creatures in bright, beautiful fabrics that somehow spoke to the child to whom they were meant to belong.
I love thinking of those children, states apart from us but feeling the soft and natural warmth of onesies that were made with love, each stitch placed with those specific children in mind, ready for little bodies still tired from being born.
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Sarah Beth Jones co-owns Nary Ordinary Business Services with her husband, Rob. She believes that the warmth and joy produced by a baby sleeping on one’s chest is the 8th natural wonder of the world. Or perhaps the first.
Growing up 38 miles south of the town of Floyd in Rocky Mount, VA, I have known Floyd County my whole life. When I was a kid, my step-dad was a Mandolin player and the family would come up Shooting Creek Road through Ferrum to Cochran’s Store, now The Floyd Country Store. I heard some really good pickin’ and jammin’ on those trips and so began my great love of bluegrass music and Floyd.
As a teenager my mom would let me drive her car to school on Fridays. (I am about to get myself into big trouble with my mom!) My best friend and I would skip school on some of those days and drive to Floyd. We drove the Blue Ridge Parkway, we drove the gravel back roads, we walked trails and down the street. The feeling I got from this place was a sense of belonging, like these were my people and this was my world. My first two years of college at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke were spent mostly skipping class and heading up the mountain to Floyd. My horrendous GPA showed how much time I spent on the mountain and I failed a few classes thanks to it.
I made it back to Roanoke and stayed with a friend. I looked for places to rent in Floyd and continued my visits up the mountain because that is where I wanted to be. I ran into an old friend, a Floyd County (transplant) boy, and one day he called me up and asked if I wanted to go to Las Vegas and get married with Elvis. I said yes and three months later my lifelong dream of living in Floyd was realized. When I moved into this county ten years ago, I put down roots and I cannot imagine living anywhere else in the whole wide world! Floyd County always has been and always will be home to me and my heart.
For a small town, Floyd has so much to offer in the way of locally handmade arts and crafts. St. Pierre Gallery located inside The Station in downtown Floyd is one of the many galleries offering some of the area’s most unique handcrafted items. With warmly colored orange walls, this gallery is quite easy to find.
In Floyd, “walking” our dogs really means letting them run loose in the yard while we trail them, reminding them of when they’re threatening to stray beyond our property. (Between us, I think they know and that they’re just testing their boundaries.) Each morning I do this chore in my pajamas because, well, it’s Floyd and our house is surrounded by cow pastures.
But every so often, I find myself standing in my pajamas, still blearly-eyed, chatting with our old timer neighbors. The Wrays, who live next door to us (that is, across a cow pasture and down the hill) have been here for 40 years or more. They built their house, plowing their own septic system, just the husband, wife and a tractor, back when our now-paved road was entirely dirt.
More often, I see Mr. Goad, who built our house with his family, “in 1941 in 27 days with no power tools,” he says. He still owns most of the property behind and to one side of us, presumably stretching all the way to his current homestead, a beautiful brick place just a mile or two from ours.
This morning, I heard them just about the time my dogs’ ears perked up and their speed picked up, racing to the tinkering sound of two couples standing just on the other side of the fence surrounding our property, chatting and laughing. The Wrays had their overstuffed lab, Blondie, with them.
Blondie never seems terribly concerned about my dogs; in fact, she wears the same unconcerned expression that the old timers wear, even when our younger dog, Cosmo, charges with hackles raised, teeth bared and beagle bark (he’s a mix) blaring.
“Does he bite?” they always ask me, and when I say no, they shrug and smile at me like I’m sweet but a little off-kilter for chasing after the dogs.
Before moving here, we wondered how we would mix with classic Floyd, the large piece of the community whose families have lived here for generations, whose work ethic and beliefs about morality and religion define rural America. We wondered if they’d see us as city interlopers intruding on their beautiful scenery.
From the first warm loaf of banana bread hand-delivered in a soft paper bag to the first snow that was plowed from our driveway almost as soon as it had settled, there were plenty of indications that any concerns we might have had were for naught. But my favorite moment, the one that let me know we were going to live side by side with our neighbors happily and cohesively, was during the 2008 presidential election, when we had only lived here for a little over a month.
We posted a sign for our candidate. The Wrays posted one for theirs. They were not signs for the same candidate. Mr. Wray, as he often does, was mowing the strip of grass on the edge of our property adjacent to the road. He picked up our campaign sign, mowed, and placed it carefully back where it had been.
If we tried, we could easily find a hill of topics we disagree on, but it’s nice to know that our love of this beautiful spot of the Blue Ridge trumps even good fences for making good neighbors.
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Sarah Beth Jones is co-owner and Business Empowerment Consultant at Nary Ordinary Business Services. She, her hubby Rob, their two sporadically rambunctious dogs and their small herd of cats have lived in Floyd for just over three years.
It was a rare, windy August day at our house in Meadows of Dan. Richard, a friend from the Manchester region of England, had to leave town shortly, to continue his US odyssey. We’d taken him to Mickey G’s and local Parkway overlooks. A gentle weekday wander through town and the Jacksonville Center were checked off the list.
Richard is an outdoorsman: He plays at ocean kayaking and moto-cross racing. We have a photo of him on the summit of a European peak.
Well, we have a summit, by Jove.
It had been a couple of years, but I knew shade on the top of Buffalo Mountain was scarce. I remembered delighting in a flock of young ravens off the steep side, playing in the (rather significant) wind.
A hike would be a good energy-drain for our two terriers, Jazz and Radar, and Richard volunteered to mind one of the leashes. We filled our water bottles, donned our shade hats and drove to the parking area.
The path has been re-constructed and re-routed to discourage four-wheeler abuses. The new path switch-backs up the slope, through the trees, totally shaded. It is rock-lined and in some places, might be tough on the pads of a dog’s feet. Volunteers made a bench at a turn, looking back through the trees to the lower lands, and created stone steps along the steeper spots.
You can tell that the new path was constructed and carved by hand with great care and attention. It is less steep but longer than the old one. An excellent addition to the entire Up the Buff Experience.
We met a couple from Montana with their standard poodle, Rufus. The path is quite narrow, and especially with the dogs, Richard and I exited the track and stood in the woods to let them pass, then carried on with the pull up the hill.
We popped out of the shade into the very hot sun at the top. Somehow, being just that many feet closer to the sun makes it seem an inferno. I wished I’d brought sunblock.
The air was still, except where you could see it rising off the rock faces in waves. We took a draught, and headed for still higher ground, hoping to find a breeze. This time, the ravens were nowhere to be seen, although we were treated to a wonderful air ballet of turkey and black vultures. Little swifts pelted back and forth, up and down, and around again. We tried to identify landmarks, but as is usual with us on the tops of the Buff, we had a hard time orienting ourselves. We did find the Parkway, I’m happy to report.
The dogs tried to drag us into the shade of the low, scrubby bushes on the slope-sides. There was a ghost of a breeze rising off the eastern slope, but hardly anywhere to stand to actually catch it.
It was great to see the hazy August scenery from the tops, but when we entered the shady path downward, it was a relief. We enjoyed a great couple of hours spent getting some exercise and introducing a visitor to some of the best our region has to offer. I never make “resolutions,” but I did that day: I will not await the next set of visitors to “have an excuse” to go Up the Buff again. I will visit my bald-headed, rock-studded, craggy, 3,971-foot friend again very soon. For more, see http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/natural_area_preserves/buffalo.shtml
Lee, her husband and menagerie live in southern Floyd County, very near the Buff. She is active in the artisan/arts community regionally, as a grant-writer for the Jacksonville Center for the Arts, but also as a board member for `Round the Mountain. She has been a freelance writer for 30 years, and a licensed falconer for 20.
This is how art happens in Floyd (well, at least with me!).
My family was recently at the seashore, giving me a total-immersion art week, with all of my time to myself. However, toward the end of the week, I ran out of my first days of enthusiasm and was left feeling a little stuck artistically. Following my own child rearing advice of, “when they’re crabby, put them in water,” I decided to go out to the hot tub.
Sitting out there in the water, with it foaming around my chest, I started thinking about the symbolism of water which is emotion – emotion flowing from my heart. I cupped my hands by my heart as if it is helping the emotion flow forth and NOW I’ve got an idea for a painting. Eureka!
Since I was alone at the time, I ran inside, and stood in front of a mirror naked and dripping wet with a digital camera, trying to take a reference photo, but found that it’s incredibly hard to take a photo of both hands.
So I thought, aha! I’ll run over to Harvest Moon. I’m sure to bump into a friend who will be a good sport and model for me! (I DID remember to put my clothes on. I’m not as bad as Archimedes!)
I found Denise Hicks, a local waitress that I knew. “Um… Denise… My family is away at the seashore and I need someone to model for me. Could I just take some photos of your hands?” Floyd being Floyd, she didn’t run off to get a restraining order; instead she said, “Sure! Let me just put down my groceries.”
There we stood in the store, while I asked her to stand with her hands in various positions and I took photos. Thank goodness for good sports who put up with crazy artists! Then back to the house, with some great organic food and all afternoon to draw away. By the end of the day, I was thrilled to have created, “Open Heart, Open Hands.”
Patricia Robin Woodruff, an artist who’s inspiration and creativity is rooted in the mountains. She came to the artistic mecca of Floyd, VA drawn by its art, music and creative kindred spirits. When she needs solitude, she retreats to her homestead in the Appalachian mountains of PA, which is a geodesic dome run off of solar power, deep in the woods. You can see more of her work in Floyd at the Floyd Artists Association or http://www.InnerArtSpirit.Etsy.com