Insiders Travel Guide: Asheville, NC

Peppermint Sticks,

It’s been almost three years since I left New York City and moved to “The Paris of the South”, a.k.a. Asheville, North Carolina.  (Note: I don’t think the person who invented that term has ever been to Paris.  But anyway.)

It’s been quite the culture shock to go from Friday nights dancing at The Roxy to Friday night Barn Dances in Fairview! Living here I have gained amazing friends, beautiful adventures, and wonderful lessons in the art of simplicité.

My favorite way to get to know a place is through shopping, cafes, dance/yoga classes and great food, which is why you won’t see anything too touristy on this list (like the Lazoom tour or the Biltmore, though I do recommend checking those out too.)

If you’re ever passing through this charming little gem of a town, here are some of my favorite spots to check out:

Summit Coffee House

Coffee Shops

Liberty House Coffee

Try the Mountain Fog latte: lavender, honey, almond milk and earl gray.  Heaven! And the breakfast tacos.  Delish.

High Five Coffee

A great place to work, snuggle up with a book, people watch, or just relax with a delicious, creative baristas choice.

Trade and Lore

A sweet, romantic little gem right in the heart of the city.

Dobra Tea

Slip off your shoes in their moroccan style lounge and page through a robust menu with over 200 varieties of tea.  The roobois bubble tea is my favorite!

OWL Bakery

Mon Dieu! This sweet, charming patisserie has the best croissants on planet earth. Seriously. I’ve never tasted pastries like the ones they make here. Bring a book, a newspaper, a friend or a journal; relax and luxuriate.

Sovereign Remedies

Drinks

The Times at S&W

Chandeliers, velvet couches and craft cocktails you say? Sign me up!

Sovereign Remedies

The epitome of charm, this atmospheric delight is the perfect spot for a late afternoon bite and bevvie. (it does get quite crowded at night and on the weekends.)

The Bywater

A rustic little wonder right along the river. Grab a cocktail and head down to the riverside to enjoy the view. In the evenings there is usually live music (often bluegrass) under strings of twinkle lights.

Little Jumbo

Delicious cocktails, milk glass pendant lights and friendly service. Who could ask for more?

Battery Park Book Exchange

Oh, the whimsy! Vintage books, red leather couches, a delicious wine and champagne selection, charcuterie for days.  And you can bring your (well behaved) dog! This place is charm on wheels.

Desirant

Shopping

Desirant

Ok y’all. This is not only my favorite store in Asheville, it is one of my favorite stores in the WORLD. Glamour, simplicity, elegance, stunning design – Desirant has it all. A must see!

Minx

Sassy and classy, distinctive clothes and accessories.  A true gem.

Cornerstone Minerals

A beautiful collection of gems and crystals, with a friendly, knowledgeable staff.

The Herbiary

A sweet little treasure that offers handmade tinctures and herbs, as well as a beautiful display of bath and body products.

Gaea

Itching for a new deck of oracle cards and more incense than you can shake a stick at? This new age emporium awaits.

Malaprops

God save the independent bookseller! Malaprops has a dazzling array of thought provoking books, as well as a corner of staff favorites wrapped in brown paper.  The title and author is hidden, and on the wrappings you’ll find adjectives like like “romantic” or “spine tingling.”

Posana

Restaurants

Bull & Beggar

Heavenly food and gorgeous atmosphere. (Needs a reservation.)

Haywood Common

Farm to table YUM!

Plant

All vegan but you’d never know. Chic and delicious for you plant based babes.

Smoky Park Supper Club

This is where I bring all my guests passing through town. The food, atmosphere and service are all a delight!

Posana

Delicious, luxurious, and gluten free! Will not disappoint.

Rhubarb

More farm to table, local loveliness.  One word: burrata.

Cúrate

Tapas that are each works of art. Probably the most popular restaurant in town, if you can get in, you will not regret it!

French Broad Chocolates

Dessert

The French Broad Chocolate Lounge

A long line but worth the wait.  Liquid truffles, amazing gelato, heavenly hot chocolate!

Old Europe

Divine coffee, divine pastries, divine macarons!

WHY DON’T YOU…

Go for a Hike
There are dozens of gorgeous trails in and around Asheville. Check out www.ashevilletrails.com for a full listing.

Go to the Movies
The Grail and Fine Arts Theatre have a dazzling array of independent films every night of the week.

Go see Live Music
Live music abounds in Asheville. The Grey Eagle, 5 Walnut, The Orange Peel and The Isis  are all great places to start.

Go to a Yoga Class
Asheville has some of the best yoga classes I’ve ever experienced. Check out Asheville Yoga Center (Lyndsey Azlynne’s restorative classes, Bhakti with Micheal Johnson, Maeve Hendrix and Joe Taft are my personal faves). Asheville Community Yoga is also world class studio with by donation classes (Lauren and Wendy are my favorite teachers!). Violet Owl Wellness also has an awesome gift shop, and is now offering a weekly Qoya class!

Go to the Spa
Shoji Mountain Lodge is GORGEOUS and a wonderful way to spend a relaxing afternoon in the mountains. With amazing massages and private hot tubs, it’s a true treat!

Take a hip hop fitness class
With the queen of confidence, body love and belly dance herself, Miss Lisa Zahiya!

Get an Astrology Reading
Virginia Rosenberg does readings every Sunday at Earth Magick in town, and she also sees private clients. She is BRILLIANT. Highly recommend.

See beautiful Art
Beautiful art abounds in studio after studio in the delightful River Arts District.

Love,

 

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Trust Beauty

Beach Plums,

Do you ever go to the grocery store, and when you get to the check out you think “Dammit! I forgot my reusable bags, AGAIN!”

I do. Every. Time. I Shop.

Recently when I was at the checkout, I noticed a display of beautiful, handwoven baskets that caused me to teem with desire.

“$30 is alot when reusable bags are only $1.99, or free,” I thought.

Then I remembered the LOADS of reusable bags I’ve purchased that just sit in the backseat of my car collecting dust.

“Maybe if I had a thing of beauty hanging off my forearm, and the pleasure of placing my produce in a gorgeous basket, I’d actually remember to bring it in the store.”

Girls, this is where the ego actually really comes in handy.

My desire for beauty, style, and looking/feeling good knows no bounds. I know that STYLE is an ultimate motivator for me. If I had a beautiful basket, I would be a thousand times more likely to use the basket than I would the traditional grocery bags.

Hell, I’d even walk back to the car to get it if I forgot!

So I bought the beautiful basket. And I am SO….HAPPY!

I use my basket for everything – trips to the bookstore, the supermarket, going to yoga, I brought my basket to the spa  and filled it with snacks, a water bottle, my book and my journal. It has become a true companion; my little bundle of wonder.

This $30 purchase has saved many a plastic bag, AND brought so much joy and luxury into my life.

May this be a reminder to always trust beauty…trust beauty…trust beauty.

All my love,

 

 

 

 

P.S. – the basket on my arm is by African Market Baskets, a fair trade company that imports directly from artisans in Africa. They are so beautiful and durable. Use the store locator to check ’em out!

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A $4K lesson on putting yourself back together

 

I once had a friend who was a photographer at a famous NYC auction house.  His job was to photograph very expensive antiques, jewels and art for display in the auction catalogue. Handling these items, you can imagine how careful you’d have to be.

One day, while carrying a $4,000 antique dinner plate from one display table to another, his hand slipped and the plate dropped straight to the floor.

That’s a $4,000 whoopsie.

The company did not dock his pay, nor did they just sweep it into the bin. What they did is carefully bring every fragment of the plate down to the special restorations department. These artisans painstakingly took each tiny fragment and put it back together so perfectly you would never know the plate had been broken.

I can’t help but see the metaphor here, in how we put ourselves back together after a fall.

Yes, there are the big sweeping moments like our life altering choices, taking big risks, venturing out on a wing and prayer; these are like the big pieces of the plate.

But then there are the tiny fragments. The daily grind of things like making the bed even when you’re depressed, calling your senator even when you’re discouraged, not texting that certain someone who treats you poorly, even when you are aching with loneliness.

It reminds me of the time at my friend Rochelle’s wedding when she kicked off the weekend by saying, “Thank you all so much for being here for this important moment. But even more so, thank you for every single moment that led up to this one.”

Here’s to the ALL your pieces, great and small.

Much Love,

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Healing Trauma Through Beauty

When I was a kid, I struggled in school. Bullying from other kids mixed with a learning disability made it REALLY hard to focus on learning. I passed  classes by the skin of my teeth, often feeling stupid, lost, and exhausted by trying to make sense of things that just didn’t seem to make sense.

Thank goodness, there was one shining beacon in my week: our art teacher Marybeth.

When Marybeth walked in the room, it was like the gleam of sunshine after a week of rain. Things like multiplication and phonics went right over my head, but art went straight into my heart.

Art made me feel uplifted, empowered, and excited.

Later in life during a traumatic time, I remember working with a therapist for weeks and weeks without making any progress. One day, rather than asking me to talk about how I was feeling, she asked me to draw it. That day, everything changed. The image of that drawing is something I still reflect on 25 years later.

Since the beginning of time art has been a way for us to heal, process, honor and express.

That’s why I am thrilled to share that today begins a special summer flash sale for a great cause. 

Now through Friday evening all my courses are $100 off, and 20% of all purchases goes to The Art Therapy Project.

Remembrance of Peace, mosaic by war veterans served through The Art Therapy Project

The Art Therapy Project is an organization dedicated to bringing free art therapy to traumatized individuals.  They work with veterans, domestic abuse survivors and at-risk youth to help heal trauma through the creative process. Together, the participants work to turn negative energy positive,  repression into expression, and to transform their pain through BEAUTY.

Right now my signature programs – The Art of Self Massage, Body Church, and The 7 Virtues of the Seductive Woman, are all on sale. And, as a special bonus, you can also purchase a copy of my new book Club Macaron, usually only available to club members!

This sale ends Friday at 5pm  –  click to shop and support The Art Therapy Project now!

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Meditating in High Heels

 

Recently I headed back home to New York City for a very special event. Jo Weldon, the woman who first taught me how to fan dance and founder of the New York School of Burlesque, wrote a new book called “Fierce: The History of Leopard Print.” Jo was doing a book signing and a burlesque show with some of my favorite performers of all time. I knew I had to be there, so I packed up my leopard velvet fascinator and hit the road.

Being back in the city after a long absence quenched my senses in a way I didn’t even know they were thirsting.  I zoomed in and out of the streets of Soho wearing a vintage black wiggle dress and bright white Keds. Femme Fatale on my body, Chantilly lace on my feet.

As I neared Crosby street where the event was being held, I pulled over to switch my footwear to something a bit more elegant. With pointed toes I slid my feet into a pair of camel colored, suede, T-Strap stilettos. These were really more of a sitting shoe, but I felt confident I could handle the half block walk to my destination.

I steadily strode the short distance to the show, but when I arrived, all I saw was a long row of garage doors. I pulled out my ticket. The event was being held at 126 Crosby St. I was at 26 Crosby street.

FACK.

It was just far enough to make walking in stilettos painful, but not far enough to warrant another shoe change. So I began my 4 block journey to the correct address.

When distance walking in stilettos you just want to get it over with, so my strategy is usually to walk at a brisk pace. But after just two minutes I was entering the red zone; pinched toes and burning in the pads of my feet – so I slowed everything WAY down.

I noticed things I never would have seen had I kept my blinders on with the Scissor Sisters blasting in my ear buds. Faces, places, colors and moments that would normally have escaped my tunnel vision snapped into 20/20 clarity. The fast moving city which holds herself like a tight bud began to soften and bloom around me.

When I finally arrived at the show, I was relaxed, open, and grounded. Because my nervous system had been tended to, I was able to enjoy the show from a state of total receptivity, the way a hungry five year-old devours a chocolate chip cookie.

May this be a reminder dear one, that you can meditate anywhere, even in high heels. (click to tweet)

And that any experience can be savored more deeply through surrendering to the miracle of your senses.

Strutting and Savoring,

 

 

 


 

HEADS UP! Next week is our annual…

Ready for a stay-cation this summer? A chance to savor life through the senses, FEEL FOXY in your own skin, save big AND give to a great cause??

Next week is our annual Flash Sale Fundraiser! All courses will be $100 off, and a portion of all proceeds go to a wonderful organization.

I’ve got a few sweet surprises up my sleeve too, be sure to open up on Wednesday!

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The Best Camera money CAN’T buy

 

Last weekend I was curled up reading a fascinating book that was advising me to foster a relationship with spirit that transcends the material, physical world. Essentially it was saying that the best things in life aren’t things.

“Sure, I agree with that.” I thought.

The chapter then finished with this quote from Emerson: “Nothing of the senses can ever satisfy.”

AHEM.

Ralphie, you know I love you. But with all due respect, WHAT A CROCK OF SHIT. 🙂

It is well known that we store a great amount of emotion in our bodies and tissues. It’s common to pour tears during pigeon pose in yoga, or to soak the face cradle crying during a massage as emotions are released from the body through touch.

The body stores trauma and negative emotions for sure, but here’s the thing: let’s not forget that the body and tissues ALSO store goodness, joy, glee, and happiness.

After closing the book that afternoon I headed to the local salon for a blow out in preparation for a photo shoot. My best friend was with me and we were having heaps of fun getting creative about the shoot. It was a perfect summer day, and I felt full, excited and happy.

I wanted to cherish this simple moment of joy for a long time to come, so I captured it with the most hi-definition camera I know of: my senses.

As the stylist worked her fingers through my scalp I felt my hip bones expand and settle into the reclining seat. I inhaled the foamy, fragrant aroma of a coconut shampoo, and with my ears, took in the sacred, ancient music of women chatting while hairdryers hummed.

Thanks to my body and senses, this moment of joy is now sealed into my cells forever, creating a well from which to pull when waters run thin. 

As summer rolls toward the height of its fever pitch, may every bite of watermelon, rush of air conditioning against damp, sweaty skin, and sip of cool water help you to savor more fully what is right here, right now.

Squealing and savoring while running through a sprinkler,

 

 

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It’s June, Let’s Swoon!

Happy start of summer darlings! Let’s kick it off with a brand new edition of Swoon! Swoon is a semi-monthly feature of all things currently tickling me pink, that I think will bring a healthy blush to your cheeks too. Enjoy!


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A Refreshing Way To Open Your Heart

 

Have you even noticed that when you are in the hair stylist’s chair, your lips tend to loosen and secrets tend to spill? Ever wonder what’s up with that?
 
Well I can tell you. Quite scientifically in fact.
 
First of all, it’s an act of intimacy just to allow someone to touch your head. You have put your trust in them by allowing them re-style the way you look. You are surrounded by glorious smells, sweet scalp massage, and the spotlight of one person’s complete attention for at least 45 minutes.
 
In this setting, your nervous system relaxes. Therefore, your heart opens. And when your heart opens, you can’t help but speak from a place of authenticity.
 
The number one need that must be met for your nervous system to thrive is a feeling of safety, but here’s the thing: what creates a feeling of safety is different for every person in every experience.
 
For example, one of my core spiritual practices is Body Worship – a ritual of looking at your naked body in the mirror through the eyes of appreciation. I had done this exercise several times and my attempts were earnest, but they were usually done in the reflection of a bathroom mirror under overhead lighting with no seduction of the senses whatsoever.
 
When I really came around to it was when I lit multiple candles, set out a soft, fuzzy blanket, warmed coconut oil on the stove, set up a gorgeous antique mirror to gaze into, and played Cleopatra inspired music.
 
Because I had tended to my body’s need for beauty, music, luxury and pleasure, my nervous system felt safe enough to soften. I let down my guard, and it was a rapturous, life-changing experience.
 
Do you tense up every time someone tells you to “just relax”?
 
Are you sick of people telling you to “just open your heart”, like it’s a latch you can unhook at any given moment?
 
Do you yearn for someone who understands the needs of your mind AND your body when it comes to your healing and growth?
 
Well my dear, your chariot awaits. Club Macaron was created exactly for YOU.

You who wants a way to bring more softness and relaxation into her life, but prefers the sound of a New Orleans jazz trumpet to that of a singing bowl.
 
You who finds holiness in a gorgeous vintage cocktail ring.
 
You who suspects that the art of everyday pleasure can be equally if not more healing than analyzing your pain.

Right now you can join Club Macaron for only $47/month.

When you enroll you receive:

  • Weekly charm school lessons that explore healing through the arts of sensuality, spirituality and style
  • Live, playful meditations to soothe your feminine nervous system every week
 

  • A print copy of Club Macaron book (filled with inspiring journaling prompts, powerful stories and choose-your-own-adventure style assignments, all in full, glorious color) delivered right to your doorstep

  • A live monthly “Date Night” with Kitty and the Club Macaron community

  • Content that speaks to the needs of your nervous system with themes like: simplifying luxury, beauty as prayer, how to tell the truth with confidence, the art of savoring, flirtation mastery, style as a spiritual practice, and more.


Enrollment closes Thursday night. Click here to join us now!

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When Gratitude Is Toxic

Of all our spiritual practices, the one thing we know we can depend on is gratitude, right?

WRONG.

Gratitude is indeed a blessed, beautiful, important practice, when it is sincere. But when forced, gratitude can be manipulative, toxic and a waste of time.

I spent my 20’s dating, engaged, then married to a wonderful man. This was a man who served me at every turn. He was supportive and caring. I thought I had the husband of the century. So when I felt that something was off in the relationship and developed a mysterious resentment towards him, I figured the problem had to be me.  I was convinced I just needed to become more grateful for what I had.

I wrote gratitude lists for all the qualities I loved about him, which sounds like a nice, wise, spiritual thing to do. But when it came down to it, I wasn’t writing those lists because I was grateful. I was trying to turn up the volume on “grateful”, in order to the volume down on my truth.

Ten years into the relationship, he revealed a deep betrayal that had been going on since day ONE.  Do you know what I feel grateful for now, five years later? MY INTUITION.

In this instance, gratitude caused me not to trust myself. It quieted the spiky, suspicious voice of my truth; soothing and smoothing it like a honey-voiced Professor Umbridge from the Harry Potter movies.

Gratitude was like the shrunken gel air freshener in a smelly gas station bathroom.

Genuine gratitude is of course, important. But when used to push our feelings away, gratitude can be downright toxic. (click to tweet)

An example of this from my current life is the city in which I live. I hate living in North Carolina.

There, I said it.

Am I grateful for the lessons I’ve learned here, and the wonderful people I’ve met? 100%.  Am I grateful for the river, the mountains, the crickets I hear at night? About 20%. I’m a city girl, through and through. In the words of Walt Whitman, “Keep your quiet places by the woods, give me the streets of Manhattan!”

Here’s the thing – that does not make me ungrateful.  It makes me HONEST.

In my new book Club Macaron (available now through May 31st), there is an entire chapter dedicated to this particular kind of honesty, which is what I call Vérité.

Vérité is the French word for truth, but its meaning goes deeper than one word. Vérité is the truth beneath the truth.  Vérité is not nice, nor is it mean.  It is the truth that can’t be glossed over with gratitude.  It is the truth that takes a bit longer to rise because it is not coming from the knee jerk reaction of “I’m fine.”

The moment you enroll in Club Macaron you will receive instant access to the print and PDF book with a whole chapter on Vérité (how to listen for it, speak it, and live it) as well as a members-only class on The Art of Assertiveness.

Ready to trade in forced gratitude for silver tongued truth telling?

Club Macaron is only available for a limited time, click here to join us now!

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Announcement: Love Made Visible

Last night I hosted a gorgeous launch party for my brand new book and program, Club Macaron. (available now through May 31st!) Right before the launch I had an energy work session with my friend Marianne, and heard a message loud and clear:

Work is Love Made Visible. – Khalil Gibran

When I was a child, I had a fairy godmother. Not the portly, gray-haired, wish-granting kind. More like the Mists of Avalon, purple-robed priestess kind. She was wise and beautiful, expertly adorned, kind, and smart as a whip. Especially on rainy days I would roam around the grassy yard barefoot and communicate with her in a secret language.

My fairy godmother, this wise woman with long dark hair and queenly adornments, lived in my heart. But as time went on, she began to feel more like a distant fantasy than a guiding force. I would see glimpses of her throughout my life but mostly reduced her to a childhood game.

Then, one day when I was all grown up, I found her staring at me right in the face.

In the movie Advanced Style, the creator of the film roams the streets of Manhattan looking for incredibly stylish women, preferably over the age of 60. He lavishes them with well deserved attention. They are walking works of art.

These women are more than their Chanel handbags. They are explosions of unexpected, unbridled beauty.
These are our Fairy Godmothers in human form. They bundle crone-like wisdom with timeless sex appeal and an indestructible joie de vivre. They on the cutting edge of The Great Divine Feminine Comeback, and they embody the power that forms the basis of Club Macaron: La Femme Vitale: The feminine life force.

La Femme Vitale is a power we see play out in movies like Mary Poppins where the innocent genius of children calls forth exactly what the family needs, even if it is not what the family wants. A strong-willed, fiercely loving woman who knows her own mind and is in charge of her own magic appears, and the entire family, not just the children, is forever changed by her attention.

La Femme Vitale plays a starring role in the movie Chocolat, where the lead character Vianne sees an entire town suffering under the crush of puritanical doctrine. She fearlessly unleashes the sensual power of her ancient Mayan chocolate recipes on the town. Like a superhero, sporting red shoes instead of a red cape, she faces enemies at every turn. But she refuses to censor who she is and what she loves. As a result, the entire town springs forth into a newer, freer, more loving existence.

In real life, the examples of La Femme Vitale are endless. It lives in Maya Angelou’s poetry, Frida Kahlo’s painting, Aretha Franklin’s voice, Jane Goodall’s activism, Coco Chanel’s innovation, Julia Childs’ roast chicken, and so…much…more.

It’s the tears that form in the corners of your eyes when you hear the song, Ave Maria. It is the ecstasy you feel when you bite into a ripe fig still warm from the sun. It is the ache in your heart when you see suffering, and the conviction that courses through your veins when you take a stand for change.

La Femme Vitale not only lives in you, it IS you. YOU are a Femme Vitale.

Club Macaron, very simply, is a place where Femme Vitales gather to celebrate the arts of sensuality, spirituality and style.

At the start of last night’s class, I was surprised to introduce myself not just as Kitty Cavalier, but as Mary, my birth name. I believe it is because this is the most authentic, genuine work I have ever produced. It comes straight from my heart. My Fairy Godmother is smiling.

Club Macaron is love made visible, and I am so excited to share it with you.

This offering is only available through May 31st. Click here to learn more, get your hands on the book and join us.

J’adore,

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