I am strong, I am grounded. I am on my path.
All photos by Laura Austin.
Restival may have been a couple weeks ago, but I am happy to report that my aura is still sparkling! (Yesl I picked up some new vocab whilst there.)
I’d like to share with everyone that I committed to an adventure but came back changed, connected, and eyes wide open. We are all surrounded by so much light if we just take a moment to stop texting, put our technology down, and just slow down and be present in the moment. Here’s what I learned…
It all started with the car ride – my girlfriend and I embarked on this adventure, really, as a call to duty. Artist reporting for duty! Lets help people be creative! Oh, how silly and naïve I was. In fact, I was the one that was helped: I came home lighter, filled with hope, and invited to be part of an “intergalactic family."
“I found out how to communicate with them.” That’s what the pretty lady with the most gentle, sparkling eyes said to me as we juggled 7 pizza’s, a car full of blankets, 5 women, and their luggage. Needless to say I was delightfully tickled at my circumstances. Pizza juggling, breadsticks sliding, she continues, “yes, I asked my bestie, a psychic who talks to them all the time, how to call them. I’m so excited to try!”
Lots of questions now…Them? Pizza? Psychic bestie? Ummm…I have a bestie but she’s a plastic surgeon… She did mention a patient with a third eye issue during med school… not sure if this is helpful here or not…I realize very quickly that though I am still in the US, this trip is going to be vastly more interesting, colorful, and exotic, and educational than most of my other recent international trips.
“They” turn out to be our intergalactic family ( since we all come from stars). The pizza was for the crew still putting Restival together. And this is how my story begins. I was invited to go “with the band” and help inspire people to be creative. That is how I arrived. I left a different woman – a being with restored faith in humanity, a deeper sense of connectivity, inspired to live closer to nature, and to believe in the power of intentional wellness. I believe in magic more now. I experienced it, came back filled with it, and realized that I belong to a tribe of fellow believers. Now, I have been asked to be a more permanent part of Restival – brand ambassador, artist in residence, and believer of magic.
Join me on my journey – welcome to Restival.
Restival founder Caroline Jones took a moment to answer a few basic questions from this civilian on what this event is and what she describes as the “psychic change” that overcomes those who are lucky enough to experience the rejuvenating force that is Restival. There is a new luxury and it is experiences, resting, unplugging. It is connecting, nature, and wellness. Join me, in my journey to understand better what the earth is trying to say – she whispers so it’s best to turn your phone off for a sec. xoxo a
Ms. Caroline Jones, Founder of Restival
AS: Some of us have never heard of Restival. What is Restival and is it and how did the idea come about?
CJ: Restival is a brand-new thread – it’s called a wellness festival. One of the guests called it a “big hug.” It’s a combination of retreat and festival, held in collaboration with artists, makers, indigenous people wellness workers and spa practitioners in unusual locations around the world.
Billion a Star Rooms
The idea came about when I was daydreaming on London Underground watching all the people try to get a signal on their phones when they were underground. I was musing on this when I realized there were so few places where we could go to switch off, to truly disconnect from the modern world and reconnect with what’s truly important. We held our first event with the Berber Nomads in the Sahara Desert, then in Arizona with the Navajo people. We’ve held two Restivals in Arizona to date, the Navajo people make such an impact on our guests as we’ve created a level playing field where people can come together, in harmony, without judgment and regardless of where you are from and who you are. It’s a once in a lifetime journey to experience a kind of utopia and bring about change from within.
Simple living – just the essentials.
AS: Why is “unplugging” important?
First night of sleep – I woke up to sunrise, not to an alarm… there were no modern sounds – no cars, no planes, nothing but mountains, desert, and volcanic ash.
CJ: I remember when we were unplugged – before emails became a priority over everything else and before the birth of the “NOW” culture. It was a different world then and a lot less stressful. Now we are bombarded by messages from social media constantly, news only stays relevant for 24 hours and this interference is affecting our ability to truly connect with one another. It’s paradoxical – we think we’re connected with people because we are friends with them on Facebook but we are more disconnected than ever – social media is bringing about a disease of isolation that’s affecting our lives. It is also influencing our decisions as clever algorithms “pen” us into these false constructs with other people who “like” the same things. These algorithms then push messages to us that affect our buying, voting, dating, eating, living, etc. The modern world is addicted to technology and Restival is an antidote to that. People say that they’re scared of missing their families when they come to Restival but there is Wifi, it’s just that our guests choose not to use it. By day three they are truly reconnecting with one another, the land and themselves – Restival is needed for the sake of humanity and it’s my goal to take it to places where it’s needed to shine a spotlight on marginalized indigenous cultures whilst enabling the modern city dweller to disconnect and reconnect with a whole new world.
My first friend at Restival – Henry.
AS: You are on a journey with Restival – how has that affected you? What are three things you have learned from Restival that you may want to share with us?
CJ: I’ve learned that this journey has a life of its own – Restival is much bigger than me – so I have to go with the flow, let go of any outcomes and expectations and allow myself to be carried along with the positive energy and goodwill that it’s created. I have learned to live in the moment more than ever before.
I’ve learned that it’s ok to have a day off, it’s ok not to answer my phone every time it rings, it’s ok not to answer emails past 7pm, it’s ok to sleep in sometimes, and so on. I’ve learned to be kinder to myself.
Thirdly, after being in the presence of indigenous people from the Sami in Sweden to the Berber to the Navajo people they have reminded me to show this precious planet some love. The indigenous people have taught me to tread on this earth very lightly and respect mother nature. We take the earth’s eco-system for granted, but it’s a finely tuned balancing act and if we don’t treat it with reverence, it won’t last.
AS: What is your spirit animal?
CJ: I have absolutely no idea! I didn’t want to ask a Navajo that because it’s a very private question. I’d like to think it was a lioness…
Morning meditation wearing my hand painted silks- painted on-site.
AS: How did I come to be part of your tribe?
CJ: Amazing Aviva – that’s another story. I’d been asked to talk about the future of events at a trade show in Las Vegas from a trend spotting company. I really wanted to stay in LA and work, but I went albeit rather reluctantly. I also felt really tired so didn’t think I was going to talk for long and hadn’t a clue what I was going to say. However, I turned up and just started talking. You were one of the only people listening to my talk at the time [from the] beginning but by the end I had a big crowd and everyone was clapping – I still have no idea what I said, I just spoke from the heart about the importance of being kind to one another and so forth, but after the talk you and I connected in a way that was so powerful, we both started crying. I felt that it was really meant to be – meeting you. I’m so glad I did. You bring a creative force and willingness just to “do” stuff! It’s a pleasure to collaborate with a fellow do-er.
AS: Do you believe in magic? What does it look like (feel like) to you?
CJ: Totally – I’ve experienced so much that we now call it “Restival Magic” it’s from the small things like meeting someone who went to my college (in Northern England 30 years ago) in Malibu one day who has become my dearest friend, to sitting next to another old friend by accident in LA, not recognizing him until he picked up my brochure by accident and started talking to me – both of them came to Restival. I meet people I’ve got a connection with in some way all the time but the biggest incident was when I was in Flagstaff – where we hold Restival in Arizona. The background to my spiritual growth and my touchstone to life was studying the Vedas with a maharishi named Thom Knoles. I spent a year studying these ancient Indian books about the cosmic order of life in London and then went on to change my business and create Restival. It was a huge leap for me but it was spurred on by my studies. On one of my site visits to Arizona, I asked the universe to give me a sign that I was doing the right thing. On the way home we stopped at Walmart (of all places) in Flagstaff. I was sitting in the car waiting for my team to come out when the maharishi walked right past my car. I didn’t speak to him, just to see him was enough to know that I was on the right path. It’s not easy, creating a tribe. It’s like giving birth to a busload of children but the love that you feel when you see someone transform in front of your eyes is the most profound experience I’ve ever witnessed. Restival is for people who want to grow – and to see grown men and women have such a huge psychic change in just a few days is remarkable.
Henry and me again – basking in the luxury of nature, calm, and beauty of the desert.
AS: When you travel, what are your essentials you have to have with you?
CJ: I seem to spend my life traveling these days. I used to think I needed this and that and never leave home without my 8 Hour Cream, etc. But as I’m approaching my 50th year, I realise that all I need is my passport, my pashmina and a credit card. Oh and my cell phone to call an Uber when I get to the other end! I’m happier the less I carry but I always seem to be carrying way too much.
“Church of God" - there were “sound baths” there and also sunrise yoga!
AS: When you are at Restival what are the three essentials you like to have with you?
CJ: Lip balm – the desert is super dry. Good shoes / boots – I love to walk up onto the ridge and watch the sun dip behind the San Francisco Peaks at around 6:30pm. The Painted Desert changes colour as the sun goes down. A water bottle – I have a pet hate about plastic bottles at events. This year we banned them completely and gave guests a Restival bottle. Everyone was cool with that.
We were on Navajo land off the grid. The beauty of the Navajo was shared not only through discussions, but in the sharing of traditions such as sweat lodge, conversations in the Hogan, as well as in creating art together. Here, we see Manny. He is a Navajo artist and fellow artist in residence during the event.
AS: When I painted at Restival as an artist in residence you mentioned I fit right into the tribe. What did you mean by that?
CJ: You fit into our tribe like hand in glove. You're a dream collaborator. You love a challenge, are a great teacher and have so much creativity to bring to our experiences. People love you. You're brimming with amazing ideas and so much enthusiasm. We all loved our creations that we made with you and Reve at Restival this year. The photos are a great testament to that.
“I believe in Magic. It is within all of us. I enjoy sharing this magic by painting on silk, working harmoniously with gravity, and inviting others to participate. It is both grounding and fills me with a sense of connectivity. Not just to Mother Nature and our planet, but also to those that may be around me sharing the experience. There is intention to applying colors. I believe that with intention, one can release negativity and invite positivity through allowing the mind and body to just create. I invite you to join me, just for a few moments, to leave the modern world and celebrate beauty – the beauty that is within all of us as human beings, creatives, and believers of magic.” -Aviva on live painting
AS: Crystals are said to be powerful. Did they have power at Restival?
CJ: Oh absolutely. The earth in Arizona is so pure that the crystals have no interference from technology and so they are able to fully absorb the power of nature and as a result they have the ability to truly flourish and express their consciousness. We had a crystal healing workshop, which was a big success. More to come!
I made sacred geometry every day out of my crystals… it's like knitting for me. The other guests helped, moved them around, carried the crystals to other locations, and even used them for healing sessions. Neat!
AS: If you could gift someone a random act of kindness whom would it be? And why?
CJ: I’d give the Navajo people living in the Reservation the means to purify their water. A uranium mine closed recently, but the company didn’t follow the correct protocols and the water system is now poisoned. There is no safe drinking water available on the Res and it’s causing disease. The Star School has repurposed a school bus to have a purification system on board. It tours the Res bringing clean drinking water to people. I’d like to do more to help this. Water is now a commodity, but I believe that everyone should have the right to clean, drinkable water. Don’t you?
AS: What is their address?
CJ: Navajo Nation!
Speaking of giving, we are giving away a limited edition color of our Mineral Pillow in Velvet! To enter email firstname.lastname@example.org with Restival Giveaway in the subject and your U.S. address.
If you are interested in being a part of Restival, and essentially connecting with the earth as well as a new community, then email me at email@example.com for a special discount.