Downtown Winston-Salem (+photo gallery)

My dear darling friend is moving to another state today. I will miss her tremendously. We’ve been friends since we were 17 and have always had that uncanny ability to pick up right where we left off no matter the amount of time or distance that had been between us. You know what I’m talking about. So, though the time and distance between us will now be greater than ever, there’s no doubt our (kindred) spirits will remain close. Cheese! 🙂

My friend has interesting plans. She’s going to live with her sister and brother-in-law and will be arriving at their home in Connecticut just a few weeks before their new baby! I know she has caught some flack for what might seem like an odd living arrangement, but back in the day a woman living with and helping care for her sister’s newborn would be counted as lucky. And when it comes to generations within a family, Nicole from the fantastic blog Intentionally Small says, “It is becoming more common for families of multiple generations (including grandparents and adult children) to live in the same house, or on the same property. This cuts down on costs, helping everyone involved.”

I think my friend’s decision is generous and brave. Plus, her and her sister are twins! What do you think? Would privacy be an issue for you?

I recently stayed with her in Winston-Salem, NC—we visited her ‘Cheers‘, enjoyed a typical southern breakfast, and drove around the neighborhoods and downtown. Winston, as most people in North Carolina call it, is a small city (population about 300,000) and an hour and 45 minutes west of Raleigh. It is home to Old Salem, the School of the Arts, and the famous author and poet Maya Angelou. The rich history of the area and influence of the arts makes Winston’s downtown eclectic… and honestly, fascinating. I had no idea what I was in for and was stunned by it’s character and personality. Here are a few shots from the day!

P.S. If you’re looking for a new home, I lost count of the number of For Rent and For Sale signs in the front yards of beautiful, southern homes in really great neighborhoods.

Orange building, Chop Shop

Big wall art

Silvermoon Saloon

6th and Vine garden

Jen in wine garden

Ideas Boutique + red door


YogaFest (and Raleigh Raw), y’all

Tuesday evenings from now (began August 13) until October 22 (except for September 24) anyone is welcome to join a group of yogis for Sunset Salutations at City Plaza (at the end of Fayetteville Street, in between the Sheraton Hotel and the Marriot Hotel). It’s free. It’s good for you. And, they’ll loan you a mat (thanks to Yoga Teachers of the Triangle).

To me, it’s about sending a message—to myself: slow down! And, to my community—it’s good to slow down, disconnect, unplug, and get offline! I’m going to try to make as many YogaFest Raleigh appearances as I can before winter comes and they turn this spot into an ice skating rink! And, please, do come say hello if you see me!

YogaFest Raleigh class taught by Patricia Wigington. Photo by Julie Dixon.
Class taught by Patricia Wigington. Photo by Julie Dixon.

YogaFest Raleigh is coordinated by You Call This Yoga, lead by Dr. Howie Shareff, who is a dentist-turned-yoga-instructor due to arthritis and two major surgeries. He is dedicated to teaching yoga, mindfulness, and breathing techniques to EVERYONE who didn’t think they could do it, or that they needed it, or that they understood it and wouldn’t like it. Well, that’s my assessment at least.

I love this approach. Baby Boomers, wake up! Tight muscled men, listen up! Yoga is not just for the slim, limber, female. I’m only 1/3 of that description (female), and I’ve been among the many folks I’ve seen loosen up in the almost year I’ve been consistently going to Indigo Hot Yoga at Oberlin Court (Hooray! I stuck with it!).

Chair Yoga, y’all. Let’s hear more. Read on for more deets in this interview with Dr. Shareff.

P.S. Diet is another big part of better focus, energy, and health. Check out the brand new Raleigh Raw juice company based in downtown Raleigh. Tang, mmm!

How is YogaFest Raleigh a natural extension of the mission of You Call This Yoga?

YogaFest Raleigh is a free to the public, outreach effort to provide accessible yoga classes to anyone willing to attend. The teachers are all volunteers. The presence of people with varying skill sets and diverse ages and backgrounds demonstrates the universal appeal of yoga. The group effect also adds a positive energy to the experience, helping everyone to feel better. Together, these factors address You Call This Yoga’s mission’s goal of providing accessible yoga through various channels.

What would you say to other men in Raleigh affected by muscle tension and tightness who don’t like to run but do like to stretch and aren’t sure about yoga classes? Do you feel like there are many men in the area suffering in silence?

There are countless men who tend to minimize the importance of their health. Men can be focused on goals, necessities, and fun but also narrow minded in their approach to achieving personal balance. The disparity in gender participation in my opinion can be explained by the tendency for men to act individually (versus going with a friend) and to not seek out as much information about their health and caring for their bodies.

My words to men are to consider that the correct choice of a class can help address the problem. Muscle tension can result from many issues. Physical as well as mental stress can contribute to tightness. Gentle yoga classes such as ours foster awareness of one’s body, breathing, and focus. This provides a means to: safely check out what’s going on, then help it and/or seek further attention.

What’s the one thing you would say to ______ about yoga?

busy, working men with tight muscles

I believe that yoga is the best cross training practice that you can do. Whether it be mat or chair yoga, both are techniques to keep you focused, energetic and more at ease.

men who find yoga somewhat painful

Chair yoga puts you in the driver’s seat to reduce pain. And, there are restorative mat yoga classes that can provide personal attention and adapt poses to your needs.

busy, working women who think they only way to workout is to spend an hour at the gym

Yoga provides the opportunity to focus on yourself and improve muscle tone, posture, and flexibility.

women trying to stay active (and maybe keep up with the grandkids)

Yoga offers safe and gentle ways to stay graceful, at ease, and strong.

kids (and their parents)

Yoga is fun, creative, and a great way to begin healthy habits.

For folks who regularly practice yoga, tell us why a YogaFest Raleigh event, or the upcoming YogaFest NC event in March 2014, is beneficial—mentally and physically.

YogaFest Raleigh offers the delightful experience of practicing outside, with the collective energy of scores of people, friends, coworkers, and different teachers sharing their styles of practice. This diversity of practice, away from the usual studio, gym, or home creates a break from the usual mindset and practice technique. Imagine looking up at the clouds while in a standing or seated pose!

The event in March, YogaFest NC, is an all day yoga retreat that allows anyone, on foot, walker, or wheel chair, to enjoy local master teachers, exhibitors, services, meals, and camaraderie in a well managed facility—the McKimmon Center. The specialty practices and educational options can physically and mentally stimulate the attendee to expand their practices of asanas, meditation, and life.

What are the top five most important things you have learned from working with folks who have MS, Lupus, or some other condition that weakens the body significantly?

In addition to working with people who have health conditions, I have experienced disabling arthritis and a bout with paralysis. I have learned…

1. Each day, and each moment in the day, can be more challenging than what others may experience.

2. A tremendous amount of will power is necessary to advance toward normal activity that is tempered with humility.

3. As an instructor, I should be ready to adjust my goals according to where the other person or people are with respect to their goals, energies and symptoms.

4. Students that practice yoga regularly with assistance, I have seen tremendous improvement in mobility, confidence, height, and daily activity.

5. Yoga is a wonderful life practice that greatly fosters emotional and energetic needs.

Thanks, Howie!

Raison d’être

Raison d’être is a French phrase meaning reason for existence. It came up towards the end of my beach travels last week—hence my absence for a little while, glad to be back, dear readers! Then, it came up again this morning in an article I was editing for I just love it. It captures the essence of my summer—and the lifestyle I’ve been dedicated to cultivating a lot over the last two of years. A lifestyle that balances lying back and leaning in. And, I find that honing your raison d’être has a lot to do with being…


mentally—so you can get over yourself a little

physically—so you can relax your muscles enough to allow stress to find it’s rightful place (hint: not front and center)


own yourself. bee yourself. find out what works for you. try hard to work with (50 % of your day or more) and live with (the other 50% of your day or more) people that allow you to talk, think, and act as it comes naturally to you.


give it up for just letting things be humorous (instead of annoying). it’s interesting how easy this turn of attitude towards things and people can be to make. we’re all different, with different pressures and backgrounds and judgments on the world around us. instead of being annoyed by differences, get over how serious and important you think they are. try finding it funny (and interesting) how different we all can be. you’ll probably find it makes strangers into comrades.

P.S. See some of my summertime photos from my Instagram in my Flickr steam.

Wildlife in Raleigh: butterflies, moths, and friends

I’ve always loved butterflies. Have you? You don’t have to be a chick to realize the uniqueness of these intricate yet simple creatures. Do you smile or feel lucky when you see one?

After I studied abroad in Peru my senior year in college, I went back again for 3 months, and a few weeks after I left a friend of mine swore that she found a yellow butterfly in the parking lot that was me visiting her to say hello. It was an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, related to the Monarch butterfly (the orange one we East Coasters are very familiar with). Amazing fun fact: The monarch is the only butterfly that migrates both north and south as the birds do regularly, but no individual makes the entire round trip. Female monarchs lay eggs for the next generation during these migrations.[27]

Photo of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail by Kim Loftis
Photo of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in Saluda, NC by Kim Loftis

Moths can be equally curious and fascinating, just different! Check out this one that I found in my parking lot this morning. She is an Emperor Gum Moth (from what I can tell) with a furry body, legs, and antennae. I was enthralled and delayed going into the office to hang out for a bit.

Photo an an Emperor Gum Moth by Jen Wike
Photo an an Emperor Gum Moth in Raleigh, NC by Jen Wike

Recently, my friend Crystal found this enchanting Luna Moth while out on a run one afternoon. Wow. Have you read Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, Prodigal Summer featuring this lovely creature? It’s a must-read.

Photo of a Luna Moth in Raleigh, NC by Crystal Sullivan
Photo of a Luna Moth in Raleigh, NC by Crystal Sullivan

This post is dedicated to the lovely, fascinating Carla Vicens Rudder on her 30th birthday.

Call for businesses and groups to claim their 9/11 day of service project

September 11th this year arrives in 5 weeks, it’s on a Wednesday. And, there are 40 or so projects that need adopting by a local business or group to meet the goals set out for this year’s upcoming 9/11 Day of Service in Raleigh: Activate Raleigh 2013. An evening service option will also be available this year for anyone who wants to lend themselves but can’t take the workday off. This will be at the Red Hat Amphitheater. For individuals looking to volunteer, go here to get a reminder to sign up starting August 14.

by Activate Good and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance

To adopt a service project:

  1. gather a group of colleagues and/or friends who want to give back on 9/11
  2. assign a leader to your group to coordinate group members before and during the project
  3. choose the right project for your group by contacting the Activate Good team (email [email protected] or call 919-578-2280)
  4. feel good about giving back

P.S. Check out my interview with Activate Good’s young and talented entrepreneur and Executive Director, Amber Smith.

Featured artists at First Friday August

Hello August! First Friday is happening in downtown Raleigh tonight—the whole district gears up for it starting around lunch time, the energy is just in the air. Then, after work, participating vendors, musicians, artists, and many others set up.

The Morning Times hosts a street market outside their coffee shop from 7:00 – 11:00pm. City Market retailers like Amplified Art and Epona & Oak host special events. And, this weekend, Darling & Dear will be at Deco Raleigh, the fantastically curated shop at the corner of Hargett Street and Salisbury Street, tonight from 5:30 – 9:00pm.

Photo by Jake Kitchener
First Friday at Rebus Works, Photo by Jake Kitchener
The Morning Times cafe, Photo by sarahriceNC
First Friday at The Morning Times cafe, Photo by sarahriceNC
Crank Arm Brewing is new to First Friday, Photo by Charles Rudder
Crank Arm Brewing, Photo by Charles Rudder

Crank Arm Brewing is new to the area (and First Friday!), they are located at 319 W. Davie Street in the Warehouse District. Check out these unique growlers (above)! And, they have a rickshaw business too. Tonight, their featured artist is Nate Sheaffer (he makes neon light art).

Darling & Dear is a cards and prints project my sister Kim and I started in 2011 when our talk of a card business turned into action.


Online, we started selling on Etsy, where we have a great little shop—our Congratulations on your little peanut! card does really well. And at home in Raleigh, we sell at:

Epona & Oak in City Market, where we got our start and sell a dedicated line.

DesignBox in the Warehouse (art) district, a unique work and play space that particularly loves our hand series cards.

Deco Raleigh near Fayetteville Street, where we’ll be a featured artist tonight for First Friday!

P.S. Tomorrow we’ll be at the Saturday Market located at Rebus Works in the Boylan Heights neighborhood, just across the bridge (from Boylan Bridge Brewpub) and down to the left.

‘Beautiful living’ in downtown Asheville

Bele Chere means beautiful living. Every summer since the 1970s people from all of the state of North Carolina (and elsewhere) gather in downtown Asheville, NC for three days of music, markets, and food. It was originally created to boost the local economy, but this past July could have been its last.

Some say it costs the city over $400,000 to make Bele Chere happen from start to finish, despite street permits costing $250 per person (or more) and vendor tents costing thousands. (Entrance is free.) But, no one knows the fate of Bele Chere quite yet.

This year I overheard people saying they hope a do-gooder, benefactor will waltz in with enough funds to carry it on. Or, may it really is just time for change—for the show to end in one sense but start anew in another. By welcoming events in the fall and spring instead, like the Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit and Moogfest, perhaps the citizens and the city will both benefit. But, I can’t help but wonder if something altogether different, and more important, will be lost by ending a festival like Bele Chere where such a diverse group of people come together in one place they all call home.

Whatever the outcome going forward, the past remains that every time I’ve gone, for most summers over the past 10 years, I’ve left feeling that I left my heart in Asheville. There’s something magical about the festival, the people, the cool and calm swagger and vibe to it all. Maybe it’s my western North Carolina roots. Maybe it was you, maybe it was me, but it sure felt right. 

Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

Check out the cute family to the left, sitting down on the sidewalk. Their little tike could not get enough of the puddles!
For lunch both days we got street food and chose our own locations. I had my eye on this food truck from the start and on the second day had their BLTP (P is for pimento cheese!) sandwich.
Friends through friends of ours started this awesome brewery in downtown Asheville. It’s called the Wicked Weed after a King who thought hops would ruin beer. How wrong he was!

Saluda, south of Asheville : The Gorge zipline

We had amazing weather. Not too hot and only rained once while we were inside!
The Gorge is a newly constructed zip line in Saluda, NC: 11 zip lines, 2 huge rappels, and a sky bridge! The steepest and fastest in the United States!
Watching zip liners head off for their 3.5 hour tour of the Green River Gorge!