Thoughts from Places: Sterling Renaissance Festival

I had the pleasure of attending my area’s Renaissance Festival just yesterday, and upon returning back to reality, I found I needed to collect my thoughts.

The short version: It was awesome. How can you say no to playing dress up for a day and feasting on turkey legs and fresh apple dumplings, immersing yourself in a crowd among peasants and jesters and knights, and just forgetting about the outside world for a little while?

The long version: This was only my second time at the Ren Faire. Last summer was my first visit, and I thought the whole thing was a hoot: the actors being silly and fun and the artisans putting their best foot forward preparing whimsical booths of fine handmade jewelry, natural soaps, various trinkets or even traditional weapons really make it worthwhile. I love seeing little children adorned in flower crowns and fairy wands and I commend each employee for their nonstop devotion to their characters – truly, it’s a sight to behold. We heard beautiful music played by musicians who kept the spirit of it all alive with traditional instruments and outfits. And the mead! Oh, the mead is spectacular. And since it’s all set up in the middle of nowhere in a pretty wooded area, it gives you that idea of being in some magical forest that never seems to end.

But what really stuck out to me yesterday was the fact that this was the first time in a very long time that I’ve gone an entire day without witnessing another human being act like a complete and utter jerk. We were there practically all day and I did not once hear or see anyone being mean spirited or rude, or putting someone else down or picking a fight. Most people were dressed to the nines in elaborate costumes: hoop skirts and headpieces, armor, fox tails, masks and painted faces, pirate outfits, tights, jingly bells, chainmail…. there were people of every size, shape, color, and personality… yet the standard was still upheld: “M’lord” this and “M’lady” that, all glowing smiles, genuine compliments, and good-natured humor. And get this: even though the booze was flowing freely, there weren’t even any drunk assholes. You know how there are kinda always those few drunk assholes at any event who ruin it for everybody else? Not here. They were nowhere to be found. I actually felt as though I could interact with anyone, Fest worker or visitor, man, woman, or child, and expect a positive result.

I’ve got to admit, it does sadden me that this is the exception rather than the rule — that most places will have their fair share of nasty, judgmental people saying nasty, judgmental things, and when you find a place where everyone is friendly and welcoming, you should be grateful because that’s so rare. But it really is astounding how something so silly and whimsical is such a great example of humans being good to each other, being as they should be to one another. I suppose it’s easy to overlook superficial differences that are really so often only based in ignorance and bias when everyone is, after all, all together at the Renaissance Faire in the first place.

But I must say, I walked out of there feeling a little better about the world than when I had walked in, amidst all the violence and hatred in the real world, all the awful things in the news. I felt a confidence in the kindness of others that I had previously lost. The Renaissance Festival is a place that is absolutely filled with people simply being comfortable just being themselves — we should all be so lucky to spend some time relaxing in that mindset.

Simple Ways to Live a More Spiritual Life

We live in a very superficial world, but you don’t have to govern your life based on the unfortunate default setting of our culture. Spirituality can be for everyone – it’s not just reserved for the yogi or aroma therapy healer, it can be as simple an act as monitoring your attitude and actions in a way that aligns with your true Self. But as simple as it may sound, taking the proper care to remain attentive to your spiritual needs requires work and commitment. Even though it can sound like something you don’t think you “need,” it’s one of the best improvements to your wellbeing that you can invest yourself in.

 

We learned back in preschool to always treat everyone the way you’d want to be treated, and it’s even more valuable in adulthood. Treating others with utmost respect will not only make you a kinder, more approachable person, but it will almost guarantee that respect back to you. It’s all about sending out the kind of energy that you want to attract, and why wouldn’t you want respect? Bad manners and negative attitudes will only result in people in your life bringing in more negativity. Close that door and only welcome the positive. Be mindful of what comes out of your mouth, since you never really know what someone is going through. This is also where the three-fold law comes in, meaning what you give will come back to you in some way or another. Take charge of your desires, greet others with a calm smile and always be kind and considerate.

A key to living a more spiritual life lies in harmony with self-awareness, meaning pop that bubble you’re living in and look at life from someone else’s perspective – probably a perspective of someone completely different than you. Remain objective in your life and open yourself to being empathetic, non-judgmental, and totally unblocked. You can also use this objectivity to take a good look at yourself: see what needs changing and improving through your new non-judgmental eyes! We are often too hard on ourselves, but observing your life from a new perspective can bring refreshment and rewards.

Sometimes we all need a social media detox. Keeping up with news, tweets from your favorite celebrities, and Instagrams from your high school buddies can all be well and good – living digitally is practically our way of life now, after all. But is it necessary for personal betterment, honing your spirituality and your psychic self-defense? Absolutely not! I urge you to turn off your smartphone and spend some quality time with you. Get comfortable with centering yourself in peace and quiet – light some candles, relax, spend your time journaling or doodling, try a recipe, explore your town, or simply just be. You’re bound to have some hobbies outside of connecting through social media… at least I hope you do. Taking a break from technology will quiet your mind — making you quicker, healthier, and more spiritual.

As the old adage goes, “change is the only constant.” It’s because our lives are fluid and some change along the way is only natural. Some people really stress out about changes and think of them as inherently negative – not true! When you begin to accept change as a positive thing, more doors will open to you. It can be difficult to accept certain facts of life, since some things are really tough and life isn’t always fun or simple. But realizing change is a part of life will give you a kind of closure that allows you to dwell on moving forward, not remaining stagnant. You’ll see more opportunities flowing your way once you refuse to see change as a necessity to life, not an obstacle to your optimism.

Mantras are positive little reminders just for you, something you can recite and repeat throughout the day when you feel you need it. You can write them down, put them in your phone, or just repeat them in your head. Anything from “I can do this!” to something deeply personal and catered to whatever you’re working through. Chanting a mantra repeatedly will force it to stick with you. If you’re constantly repeating positive affirmations, you’ll really begin to believe it! Some examples:

“I do my best, and it’s always enough.”

“I am deserving of everything I desire.”

“All that I have I give away, all that I give away comes back to me.”

These are some I think can work for everyone, but mantras and affirmations are meant to be personally uplifting — meaning go with the one you think suits you best, or modify some of the examples listed to better suit your needs. Whatever works for you!

Living spiritually in a superficial world doesn’t have to be difficult. What are some ways you add spirituality to your daily life?