Finding big meaning in a small town

Published 11:31 am Saturday, April 8, 2017

Living in the country has its challenges, especially where reliable wi-fi is concerned.

A few times each day, my trusty laptop will lose communication with the router and I get the following error message:“Trying to establish connection.”

Well, yes. Aren’t we all? Isn’t that the fundamental impetus for being alive, that urge to find meaning in our lives and our relationships with others? Those things and moments that remind us we are more than simply shifting molecules?

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As Thieilard de Chardin says, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” To work well, the soul needs connection, just like my laptop needs wi-fi.

Here are the places I find connection.

— As a mom. Of all the hats I wear, I’m most proud to be a mother. Being a parent is my favorite job, though I constantly wonder how I don’t get fired or at least demoted.

The learning curve is steep and I always feel a few steps behind the right choice. Luckily, I’m married to a man far wiser and more patient that I, so he balances my parenting missteps.

— In books. I’m a life-long lover of the written word and was a librarian before I opened a yoga studio. Heaven, to me, looks a lot like a used bookstore.

I always have three books going at once: a non-fiction to teach me something new, poetry to connect me to the divine and fiction to transport me to another world. The books I’ve read over and over are “Charlotte’s Web” and “Lonesome Dove.” The book I wish I liked but secretly hate is “Pride and Prejudice.”

If my house caught fire, I’d run back in for Cat Stevens, my poorly-behaved feline, and my thesaurus. My favorite authors are Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Gilbert, Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen King and J. K. Rowling.

I wrote and published a book last year, “Sensible Wellness for Women,” with my friend Andra.

— My home.

My 10 acres on Quisenberry Lane are my haven. The habits that give shape to my life are reading in my hammock, watching the sun set and the stars slide into view, walking the lane to bear witness to the changing seasons.

It is a place overrun with coyotes and wood bees, a place to hear the rushing melody of Lower Howard’s Creek, a place where the sunrise beams through my stained glass window turning my kitchen into a kaleidoscope each morning.

It is my asylum, a soft place to land, a place to fall apart and then put myself back together.

— In music. We tell stories to make sense of our world. Music is how our hearts tell stories when words aren’t enough.

Music is a force for finding purpose and reminding us what is humane and decent within us. My daughter, Izzie, and I have been taking guitar lessons together from Steve Cope in a tiny storefront on North Main.

I’ve given her Fleetwood Mac; she’s given me One Direction (don’t judge me).

It is my favorite hour of the week.

— In nature. I believe we are our truest, best selves when we are deeply connected to Mother Nature.

Exploring this great green marble improves our quality of life. I’m never more connected to God than when I’m in the woods.

I’ve traveled all over the world and am convinced there is no more beautiful place than Kentucky.

I love our seasons — Aprils where you could have snow one week and swelteringly hot days the next, Indian summers where the colors of the leaves on the sugar maples outnumber the crayons in the big box.

— In food. Food nourishes our cells and our souls.

I’m a nutritional advisor, but you won’t hear me talking diets or cleanses. No food is off-limits.

To build a healthy relationship with food, we must simply eat foods made with love from ingredients found in nature.

Food connects us to the earth and to each other. I love to eat and I love my body.

I eat a mostly plant-based diet. But with sushi. And those french fries from the Engine House Deli. And craft beer. And coffee. And occasionally bacon. Sometimes I practice self-love with bacon.

— Through yoga. I own the OM place yoga studio and am proud to say we’ve been in business for 17 years.

Yoga is my favorite way to move because it is cheap and available to everyone, regardless of age, body size, body shape or athletic ability.

I believe so strongly that everybody can, and should, do yoga; to support this, I created an online yoga channel with Eppic Films to provide quality instruction for those who can’t always make it to a class.

Yoga improves the efficiency of every body system, calms the mind, builds bone density and lean muscle mass, lowers blood pressure and generally makes us far nicer people to be around.

— In practicing mindfulness. My body needs movement, but my mind needs stillness.

I find this through meditation, deep breathing and restorative yoga poses.

Intentional stillness has made me a more patient, compassionate, decent human being. A more present wife. A better parent. A finer friend.

If I had one wish for the world, it would be that every person on the planet start a mindfulness practice.

This is pretty much me in a nutshell. Please join me here each week as I seek to find big purpose in our small town.

Erin Smith is the owner of the OM place in Winchester, the author of “Sensible Wellness for Women” and the online host of a yoga and mindfulness channel for Eppic Films. When she’s not standing on her head, she enjoys being a wife, mother, dancer, reader, flower sniffer, guitar player and wine drinker. Send her a shout out at or play along at