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Day 12: Right in the middle of it all.

ok. i admit it. my tastes are all over the place. when it comes to coffeehouses and cafes, i like everything. or at least, i like something about everything. i think that’s my stubbornly optimistic, idealistic, find-the-positive-in-everything personality. annoying to some, perhaps. but, to me, it’s just how i am. i can’t change. i don’t want to change. and i don’t think i even could change.

i am the eternal silver lining girl. and it’s not that i’m living in some dream world, some little happy place where i pretend that everything is ok all of the time. that’s not it at all. if you know me, you’d know that i face the difficult stuff head on with my stubborn idealism and hope, knowing that transformation occurs because of the pain & suffering. and i know that because i’ve lived through the light that shines through the darkness. i have seen the morning glory after the dark night… in my work with special needs and gang teens. in my work as a minister in a church, surrounded by death and people dealing with all of life’s problems. in my own divorce. in my denial of ordination rights because of who i am now married to. in my wife’s battle  through (and near death because of) anorexia. and so on… i’m not saying i’ve experienced the worst that can happen, i’m just saying… i know what it’s like to suffer, sister. i know what pain and fear feels like, brother. and it sucks.

but more than that, i know that there is hope. i know that, every day, we have a choice of how we want to live our lives. do we want to be messengers of peace and love and joy? or do we want to add to the pain and injustice? do we want to seek out the good in something and appreciate the beauty that is around us? or do we want to wallow in self-pity, anger, and hate? do we want to focus on the positive, or the negative? i believe that we are responsible for the energy that we bring into this world, that we share with everyone we meet.

i want to be someone who brings light and hope and truth.  i want to be someone who chooses, hundreds or thousands of times every day, to focus on the good, who chooses to find something positive, who is aware of what is true, and who spreads that goodness & truth. bottom line, i don’t want to make people smile some fake, let’s ignore all the tough stuff smile, but i want to be with people and see them smile as they discover that all will be well. it may not be happy and fun in any given moment, but all will be well. and in the midst of anything that is going on, there is beauty, peace, and hope to be found.

and that, my friends, is why i choose to see the good in every single little thing.

i’d say that today was the complete opposite of yesterday, in terms of my fika experience. but instead of comparing the two places, i am only going to lift up the two for what they are. they have different missions and visions as business. and that it totally fine. the thing is, both are following their vision for the kind of gathering place they want to be, and they are both doing a great job at it. i found good things to enjoy & respect in both places. just like i have found in all 11 cafes i have visited so far.

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i headed downtown again today. this time, i had no plan. and i really didn’t have much time. so i parked close to the very center of town and decided to walk up to pack square. for those of you who don’t know, pack square is the absolute center of downtown. it may not physically be the center, but it is known as the center. it’s famous for it’s big monument, the vance monument, which towers above the streets, surrounded by a little park area. this whole space got a face lift not too long ago, and i’d say it looks quite nice. but, i never hang out here and take advantage of its beauty. so, today, i decided i would.

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behind the street vendor’s cart is the beginning of the park/monument area. the whole space is known as a gathering place for protestors and on any given day you can see people standing on the street corner, waving their signs and protesting any and everything. of course, i love that people exercise their right to voice their opinions and concerns. today, after i had to leave, there was a peace protest against any possible war/military action in syria. yes!DSC_0893

i decided to spend some time just wandering & soaking up the atmosphere a little before i headed into the cafe, which lay across the street from the park. it was so beautiful out. and people were milling about. and there was this amazing fountain… i must have taken 100 pictures. hehe.

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the biltmore coffee company doesn’t look like much from the outside. but, what did i learn the other day? oh yeah… don’t judge a book by its cover. well, the cafe is located in a rather modern (= boring to me) building which houses the corporate offices for the biltmore estate, a phenomenon that you cannot miss when you visit asheville. it’s the largest private residence in the states, though it’s not lived in now and tours are available. oh lord, it’s got a hotel, organic farm, a winery, stables, gardens, and the giant mansion. anyway, the offices are located right here, and the cafe, i assumed was part of the biltmore company. i was right.

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i stepped inside and was greeted by a refreshingly modern, open room… packed with seating areas. there were people sitting having meetings and a few who ahd come on their own to grab an early lunch. i made sure to take photos without people, so it looks like no one is there, but i was just being sneaky. there was a coffee bar with food & coffees, and then it was just seating. round, wooden tables and red, plush leather chairs. gray sofas and coffee tables. counters & bar stools. big, oblong tables for meetings and such. it was nice. but, i didn’t feel out of place, or unwelcome. it didn’t feel too fancy or uppity. oh it was stylish and posh, but in a relaxed kinda way. and the floors… yeah. i was crushing on the floors. i fell in freaking love with them.

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i ordered my regular coffee, added my cream to it, and made myself at home at one of the round tables in a super soft red leather chair. people came in and out, all kinds of people, but it felt like most of the business came from business people who work in the surrounding buildings. some tourists dropped in, and a parks & recreation worker came to grab some coffee. so, yeah, it was an open place. but, hey, with it’s location in the smack middle of everything, i’d hope that it’d be a place where all people came. or at least were welcomed. of course, i’m not sure i’d see many homeless people coming in to this cafe. still, what do i know?

i sat and stared at the beauty of the cafe, with it’s warm colors and cozy mix of wood, metal, and leather, feeling quite at peace. wishing i had more time to pull out my computer and just sit and write all afternoon. but, the gorgeous weather was calling my name, so i moved outside to the outdoor seating. i wanted to get a good look at all the hustle and bustle on the streets and in the park by the monument.

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IMG_3688you know, the biltmore coffee company may have catered to a different crowd than the cafe i visited yesterday, but it was still a place with a purpose… at least for me. i got some work done. did some people watching. and mostly, enjoyed being in the middle of downtown.  i sat back in my chair, sipped my coffee, and felt quite satisfied and at peace…

there is beauty in every moment. there is beauty in every thing. every person & every place has a purpose.

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namaste. /liz.

the biltmore coffee company. 1 north pack square. asheville, nc . 28801 . www.biltmorecoffeeco.com

About Liz McGuire

Liz is a blogger, writer, and amateur photographer in Asheville, NC. She is a returning expat, re-adjusting to American life after living in Sweden for the past three years. On any given day you can find her planning her next adventure with her wife, blogging away on her blog (www.belovelive.com) about daily life and social issues, and discovering little hidden gems and secret places in the city. She faithfully totes her camera and her coffee mug everywhere she goes. And she’s always up for a conversation about spirituality, politics, or other taboo topics. You can find her on the web at www.belovelive.com.

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