Category Archives: Eco Travel

The Day in The Life of Grateful Sadness

What is Grateful Sadness?  To me, it is a cozy, warm, calm sensation that speaks from deep within our being.  I recognize it as deep satisfaction and fulfillment from how greatly we’ve been touched by our current experiences as we are in the midst of letting them go.  It is the sound of life moving on while deeply appreciating it.

Sometimes we need our friends to convince us of doing what is best for ourselves because it is hard facing certain feelings, like sadness, that are difficult to address alone.  As I’ve come to know myself, I know I need time, space and aloneness between very impactful, touching experiences to reflect upon them.  To take time sifting through the beautiful moments that became lasting memories as they chiseled their way into my heart while I joyously lived them completely oblivious to their affect.

Today I woke up knowing of what was coming.  The last of us would be remaining as we saw another friend off on his own adventure.  This is the way of the nomadic, gypsy lifestyle.  Coming together enjoying community, sharing, delving into deep conversations to boost our self discovery and of course, serving.  The “end” comes along and we are each swept away by our Personal Legends calling upon us to go this way or that.

Just a week ago, there was 13 of us joined together for a grand occassion…today there remains just 2…slowly closing in on our own parting.  After saying our tradition of “see you later,” I felt a rush kick in to head on to my next destination where my Seattle family awaits my arrival.  Where was this coming from though?  As I mentioned the idea to my fellow remaining nomad, he pointed out I should stay for the weekend and not run off.  To let the experience digest for a while and enjoy the time of aloneness.  Something hadn’t felt right about leaving so soon, and the kind of intensity behind the feeling, I recognized as common avoidance to the feelings that were bellowing up inside of me – Grateful Sadness -The last two of us chose to go to the local coffee shop we had staked out just days before as a foursome to be our communal hangout/office space for our stay in Portland, Oregon.

We sit down at a table for two after buying sweet treats and chai and I hear myself say, “Rich, I think I’m sad.”  “Me too.” He replies, and as I take a bite of the delicious cookie we just bought, I begin to cry.  Rich, understanding, reaches out for me and I cry as he holds me close, telling me that he too, feels the same sadness. He speaks to me about the importance of community and how after strong experiences with it along the road we need time in-between to just rest in it all.  “It’s the paradox of Oneness and being only one.”  The time for togetherness and the time for aloneness.  He emphasizes that today is one of aloneness for me and to soak it up for all it’s worth.  What happens is, we’ve been so deeply touched by our communal oneness, taking the time to reflect helps us process all we’ve learned and gained from each other.  This is a time for cultivation within ourselves in order to share even more of our individual one-ness with the oneness of the whole.

While sitting there crying and listening to his words, I knew I’d get here.  Get to this place of writing about it.  The outlet that really helps me understand myself as I discover Who I am in relation to ‘whatever’ as I sit writing my feelings, thoughts, ideas and opinions about my experiences.  So here I am. Sitting in the same seat. At the same table. In the same coffee shop. I sat here just 3 days before with 3 friends – sharing pie, sharing laughs, sharing opinions, conversation and internet time.  Now… I sit alone. It’s kinda perfect though, as the coffee shop plays music to fit my mood like a comforting, encouraging friend saying “C’mon, Ally…just feel yourself through it.”  So I am.  I am gratefully sad today, and here’s why…

I just came from an amazing experience spent with brothers and sisters I didn’t know I had until I showed up to meet them in this lifetime around.   My dear friend Guisepi,  travels around serving free tea along the western sea-board with his faithfully, open mate – Edna Lu – The Tea Bus.  This summer, Guisepi had been asked by one of his big sponsors, Mountain Rose Herbs, to run a Free Tea Pavillion during their Rootstalk Festival in Salem, Oregon which is all about celebrating plants, planet and people.

When Guisepi received the request from Mountain Rose, he immediately called upon his fellow nomad and gypsy friends to come help out and hang out for the week.  With a couple of weeks to go, he finally had his chosen crew and another cosmic family was brought together again.  Meet the crew!

Suzette, Rosie, Daruka, Rich, Gregory, Em, Candace, Johnny, Jade, Sarah and I had the luxury of camping out, serving free tea to our Rootstalk guests for 4 beautiful days with Edna and Guisepi at the beautiful 4-H Center located outside of Salem, Oregon. The festival was filled with music, art, storytelling, local-organic food and upcycled goods for sale.  There were workshops covering all sorts of topics and practices on self-sustainability from at-home herbalism and wild-harvesting to mass conscious environmentalism and community building.  Saturday night, we celebrated with a masquerade ball kicked off with a Samba parade, a fire dancing show to follow and live music for dancing.  Our tea tent was happily packed to the brim for the occasion.

Enjoy viewing our Rootstalk experience here 😉

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Posted by on October 3, 2011 in Eco Travel, Gypsy Adventures


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Free Festival Living – La Libertad!

Gersdorf Kooperative

In a land far, far away…from here.  There sits nestled in the woods of EasternGermany, in a tiny village called Gersdorf, a castle, or Schloss as they call it. It was left behind in ruins from centuries ago. Until… once upon a time, 5 years ago,  A small community of people settled here to work the land and renovate the castle.  They are an Intentional Community who are working to own the property someday so they can continue creating simpler lives for themselves, together.

Each year, they host a free festival called “La Libertad.”  All are welcome.

This was my experience…

Festival signage

As I walk the grounds of La Libertad, I could easily be in the U.S. with the Beatles and Bob Dylan playing through the main stage speakers. There is an outdoor kitchen, community fire, outdoor bar, massage wagon, outdoor bath and shower area, compost toilets, beautiful clay oven for pizza making and the very best of all… the one and only… Chai Tent – the hub for socializing, artistry, music, games and just chilling out.

Tomas, the Chai master, is a young, gentle man who oozes the sweetness of his very own special recipe. When asked about his secret, he simply says, “meditation.”


“Oh so you meditate before you make it?”

A sign of the times

“No.  Not before.  I meditate while I make it.”

He simply replies while chopping fresh ginger root for today’s morning brew.  His concoction is strictly herbal blended with hafer milch (oat milk) and raw sugar.


Tomas hard at work...meditating


It’s a tantalizing spicy with the perfect amount of sweet.  He keeps it hot and fresh throughout the day and well into the night where it’s the perfect cuppa (or maybe 4 or 5 ?) for Germany’s cool, rainy climate. One could easily spend hours (and many do) in Tomas’ Chai tent sipping, watching and interacting without leaving and be perfectly content with his/her festival experience.


The Chai Tent

A large part of La Libertad is about collaboration.  The days prior to its weekend are spent building structures, making signs, decorating the tents and structures, making pathways and helping out in the kitchen.


Mom paints the hands of a young man

My mom, Jennifer, is an amazing artist. She fell right into her niche as word got around that an American artist was on the premises.  It is Friday about mid morning when one of the community members, Anna, approaches her about painting a symbolic tapestry of the community that they wanted hung for the weekend festivities.  Their former artists had bailed on the job and so they were in a jam.

My mom, happy to do it, but feeling a bit uneasy about the time crunch, of course, decides to summon me for help.  In turn, I call upon my friend’s independent and very outgoing 12 year old daughter, Magi, for more help.  Magi agrees, but after hearing about the time issue, simply says, “I’ll be right back.  I’m going to get some kids.”  She’s off leaving us thinking she just got her own ticket out this.  However, about 10 minutes later and loyal to her word, she shows up with her promised group of kids. All of them ready and willing to play in the paint.

Kimona gets ready to make her mark

After a while, word was out about the “Santa’s lil workshop” sight happening inside the castle walls. The room began buzzing with a constant flow of admiring onlookers, parents snapping photos and more kids wanting to help.

Hand to hand

A painting extravaganza!

Ivan washes her sons hands after painting









Magi had come through for us and with her help and all the kids, we magically finished in time to have the tapestry showcased as planned on Saturday afternoon.  Needless to say, Anna and her fellow schloss-mates were very grateful.

The Grand Showcase

As all good things must come to an end, I awake upon La Libertad’s final day and decide to take one last walk around.  I see a different picture and feel a different vibe altogether, than what I witnessed just a week before. We’ve all experienced this at some point or another. The morning after a great party. The last day of school and then summer camp.  Truly, the final day of anything that’s made an impact.

Morning After

There’s that serene calm and quiet.  No matter how relaxing the time had been, everyone and everything seems to be moving at a much slower pace than the previous days.  It is just like this – No music. The fire is low.  Chai tent is practically empty.  You can hear people’s individual coughs and sneezes.  Even the kitchen quit. They just put up a sign with leftovers set out that implied, “we’re done.”   There is nothing like this cool, quiet, calm that so kindly states the obvious – party’s over, so…clean up, pack up and go home.  Till next time…


Posted by on September 2, 2011 in Eco Travel


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