Floating In A Sea Of…..

If you are anything like me, you are probably feeling more stressed out than normal. Reading the news is enough to make anyone depressed,afraid, and hopeless.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”-Krishnamurti

When I feel really stressed out, I know I need to spend more time in nature. It is the best way to connect to the Divine, and get a real boost of healing energy. I feel closest to God when I am camping. ūüôā

We went camping in the Florida Keys this weekend. We camped at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and snorkeled pretty much all day Saturday, and all morning on Sunday.

P1120601
Snorkeling at Cannon Beach, Key Largo

Sunday afternoon, we drove further south, down to Islamorada for a picnic lunch and a swim. If you know the Florida Keys, you know in summer time, the water is warm, like a bath.  It was sunny. It was bright.It was HOT.  According to my phone it was 94 degrees but with the humidity, it felt like 110. 

At¬†midday, the sun’s rays were extra¬†intense, ¬†so I found a place for us to have a picnic in the shade.¬†I looked down at the water by the shoreline and instantly felt depressed and angry. There was garbage everywhere floating in the water. There was garbage in the bushes too.

P1120644 (1)
How is this for a Florida Keys Postcard?

There literally was trash everywhere!! But it was the only area with shade, so we sat down, made sandwiches and ate them quietly as we looked at the trash bobbing around the water. ¬†It was hard to eat my almond butter sandwich because the garbage was so upsetting.¬†¬†I kept shaking my head wondering¬†“who does this?” ¬†

Feeling upset and grossed out, ¬†I walked out onto a limb of a tree and looked around. Just beyond the trash, was clear, beautiful, blue water. I saw small fish swimming around. I knew the plastic could easily end up in the belly of a sea turtle, a fish, a shark, or a bird. I argued with myself that “I didn’t create that mess, so why should I touch it or get involved”. But I realized that¬†the tree I was standing on, also didn’t create that mess, a mess that was ¬†choking it. The animals that live there and depend on the ocean didn’t make that mess either, but they are now forced to swim in it.. Seriously, can¬†you imagine, floating in a sea of trash?

With that, I jumped in the knee deep water and fished out a plastic bag.  I began cleaning. My son joined in and within 20 minutes, the area was so much cleaner. It was beautiful. Amazingly, (sarcasm) there was a garbage can less that twenty feet away.

However minor our impact was, we made an impact. We felt good. We were working to heal the Earth, not harm her.

P1120646
The Tree- (After We Picked Up Garbage)

 

We jumped in the water to cleanse and cool off. And the ocean seemed to bless us with a particularly magical swimming session….

P1120661
Sea Blessings

 

I keep thinking of that experience as a big lesson. It applies to all aspects of our lives.. There are many messes in the world right now, that maybe we didn’t make, and maybe we try to argue that “it wasn’t our fault.”¬†but regardless of who is to blame, these messes are here, and if we truly want to make changes, we have to do something.

 

I prefer floating in a healthy, happy sea ~Tiff

Advertisements

Wild Adventure-Grayson Highlands State Park

For the entire month of July we were on¬†vacation.¬†¬†YEAH! We camped, hiked, swam, and visited friends as we slowly made our way up to New York City and then back down again. Our whole trip was based around my son’s acceptance into an “elite”¬†theatre ¬†intensive with the Broadway Artists Alliance¬†in New York City.¬†¬†On this trip, we experienced the powerful magic of nature and the¬†crazy-making magic of the city. ¬†A little bit of everything. Perfect Gemini road trip!

One of the most beautiful places we explored on our trip is called Grayson Highlands State Park, in Southwestern Virginia. The park is home to several herds of wild ponies.

There are signs telling visitors not to pet or harass the ponies, but in all honesty, those sweet little ponies walked right up to us and forced us to pet them! We had no choice!!! (Not sure how wild they really are, but we loved them!)

ponies

 

 

The weather on the mountain is known to change very quickly, and it did. The first afternoon we were there it was warm and sunny, but by late afternoon, and with no warning, strong winds began to blow. The temperature quickly dropped from perfect to freezing, and as the wind howled, heavy rain poured¬†out of the sky. We huddled in the tent, feeling both excited and nervous…rain began to drip into the tent.¬†Would our tent hold up?¬† Thankfully the storm passed quickly but the cold stayed with us. It was¬†so cold that we had¬†to bundle up in our winter jackets, the only time we needed them on our trip.¬†IMG_4122

The air was so fresh. The views so beautiful. The energy so calm but so alive. The forest speaks a language my soul remembers.

The park has several hiking trails, there are beautiful waterfalls,  and the Appalachian trail runs right through the park too.  We spent hours skipping rocks into the river. I am certain the world would be a better place if we all spent more time quietly skipping rocks. 

P1110839P1110731P1110853P1110879

 

If you ever find yourself in the mountains of Virginia, go to this park, it is worth it. So beautiful.

image
Beautiful waterfall At Grayson Highlands State Park

Our whole trip was really magical and I will try to write soon about each place.  

Go on a WILD  adventure~Tiff

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”~John Muir

 

 

 

Restoring Under the Hammock

Just a short drive from the overdeveloped madness of South Florida , is a state park called Highland Hammock. The drive and the surrounding town, are not spectacular, but as soon as you enter the park, you enter another world.

Highland Hammock is one of the oldest state parks in Florida. There are trails all around the park. And all of the trails are so different. So beautiful. So healing.  There are Oak trees that are estimated to be over 1000 years old. Cypress swamps, and wildlife, we saw so much  wildlife.

P1110083
Barred Owl

Some of the park feels very prehistoric. Especially the Cypress swamp. Early in the morning on a hike, I spotted a cottonmouth, a very venomous snake, swallowing a large fish. We watched in fear and amazement, as the snake unhinged its jaw, and swallowed this fish.

P1110029
Cottonmouth Eating a Fish

 

We camped in one of the primitive campsites. As the sunset, with the clear sky, and the new moon, the stars were bright and beautiful. I saw a shooting star. I made a wish.

The whole trip was so restorative. We hiked slowly on the trails. We gazed up at the stars. We hugged trees. I did Restorative yoga everyday, (which my son called “sleeping”), and we ate good nutritious food.

 

We saw deer, pigs, hawks, osprey, owls, turtles, alligators, snakes, opossums, armadillos, and even two river otters.

Being in nature is so healing. Like a soul shower. We feel balanced.

Nature is the best teacher. We can never have enough nature.

P1110184

~Tiff

 

The Gypsy and The Sorcerer

There once was an evil sorcerer, who lived in a large dark cave, on a mystical mountain, in a land far, far away.

Everyone in the region knew  that this man possessed a mysterious gift, and people traveled throughout the lands to seek his magic. But his powers fueled his ego, and he became hungry to gain more power. He wanted more followers, more gold. As his ego and lust for power grew, his true soul began to shrink, into a tiny  tightly closed, marble sized ball of energy, which settled in the bottom of his belly.  This was a powerful man, with no compassion. A master manipulator in every way. He took advantage of men, by emptying their wallets, he took advantage of women,by putting them into a trance, and entering them.

One day, a traveling gypsy¬†came to¬†a village, near the mountain where the Sorcerer lived. The Gypsy had her own magic and wisdom, but unlike the Evil Sorcerer, the Gypsy, had a warm heart. She smiled through her eyes. Her life had always been different. She was often¬†“sent” places, for reasons that even she didn’t understand. She traveled by faith. Trusting ¬†her life was being weaved together by the strings of Fate.

When the Gypsy neared the village, the Sorcerer felt her presence, her strength, her power. Wearing a dark black cloak, he set out down the mountain, to get a glimpse of this powerful Gypsy. He noticed her right away, and for the first time in a very long time, he felt a real sense of fear. He knew she had the power to destroy him.

The Gypsy felt his eyes burning on her, she looked up, stared straight in his eyes and felt his coldness. She knew right away, that this man was dangerous.¬†Fully aware of the stare and potential threat he posed, the Gypsy felt that fate wanted her to spend some time in the village. At first, all the villagers stared at her, but one woman, walked right up to her, smiled, and held out her hand. The Gypsy instantly became friends with one of the most beautiful women in the village. The woman asked the Gypsy about her travels, her strange life, her strange stones and tarot cards.They talked and laughed and shared tea. The beautiful woman, wanting to share some knowledge, told the gypsy of the powerful Sorcerer up the mountain. She told the Gypsy stories of her visits to the powerful Sorcerer and how he chanted¬†over her head¬†causing her to become paralyzed. He “worked” on her, while she was unable to move, unable to speak.

The Gypsy sat quietly listening to the story. She knew fate had brought her to challenge that Sorcerer. She would spread true wisdom. She began to teach techniques of energy healing, she taught about nature magic, yoga, reiki, meditation, protection.

CIMG6510

 

The Sorcerer used black magic, to try to destroy the Gypsy. He sent curses her way, and even planted seeds of hatred in some of the villagers. The Gypsy endured accidents, misfortune, exhaustion, heartbreak, poverty, but still she continued.

At times, she felt his vampire energy trying to drink up her soul. She often saw him riding a horse by her house. He always stared at her. After a few years in the tiny village, and a few years of his attacks, the Gypsy was exhausted. Worn down, and feeling a little lost, she left the village, and continued her travels.

Time passed quickly. Four years past, and oceans apart, the Sorcerer was still sending psychic attacks. She met many shaman on her path, and they imparted wisdom and healing. During one healing session, it was revealed to her that it was the Sorcerer who was continuing to try to harm her. She worked to strengthen her protection magic and she developed a strong relationship with the angels, particularity Archangel Michael, and he shielded her from harm.

 

As the Gypsy grew in spirit, the evil Sorcerer grew old and tired. He developed a sickness in his belly. ¬†It ravaged him. He shriveled down to bones.When he had only hours left to live, he looked back on his life with regret and sadness. All his power was gone. In a vision, The Gypsy appeared at his bedside holding a small teacup. With compassion in her eyes, she looked at the dying¬†man, smiled, touched his arm and said, “I forgive you.” She offered him a cup of healing tea. She held the cup up to his mouth and helped him drink. ¬†And after enjoying every sip of the special tea, he smiled at her, with warmth in his eyes, and took his last breath.

The Gypsy kissed his forehead and continued her journey.

 

Sacred Land

A few months ago, I attended a Mayan New Year Ceremony, with my family, a close friend and her children.
The Ceremony was performed by two Mayan Shaman, behind a small house in a “bad” neighborhood in Lake Worth (South Florida). The yard was situated right next to the train tracks. And the trains pass by several times a night. And here was this magical ceremony, incense, resin, flowers, candles, and other offerings. Nature mandalas of flowers and pine cones. ¬†We circled around the fire while the shaman chanted magic ancient wisdom.

Beautiful people, gathered together to honor our Sacred Earth, cleanse, purify, bless, and welcome a New Year, a new cycle. Much of the ceremony was in Spanish, and I was surprised how much I understood.

One of the Shaman called out the names of sacred places all around the World. He called out the names of the Oceans, the Mountain Ranges. He instructed us to invoke the Energy of East, West, North, and South. He told us to “Bend down and kiss the Earth, this Sacred Land”. Even in this crowded overdeveloped area, you can feel the pulsing of Mother Earth. Even in this crowded overdeveloped area, this bad part of town, the Divine is here, and the land is sacred.
I often think about that ceremony, it was extremely beautiful and powerful.Sacred Earth. All is connected.
OM~Tiff

The Past 6 Months Back in “America”

It feels like many lifetimes ago that we were living in the Azores. Sometimes I cant even look at photos from the Azores, because there are so many people who I love and miss, and the island, well, I miss her terribly. So beautiful. Like Magic.  Atlantis. Mystical. Persephone and the seasons.  There are many reasons why we left, and I know it was the right decision (at least for now). But there is something about that fairy-tale land, that pulls at the heartstrings of all who have lived there. I frequently have dreams of the island.

cropped-p1060848.jpg
My Fairy Tale Land

Anyways,  South Florida is another world for sure. A crazy, intense place to live. I am a person who loves to spend a lot of  time alone in nature. Here, I live in crime filled urban sprawl. There is literally next to no wild space left here, and they just keep developing. Very hard to witness. Along with the unattractive sprawl are these awful, horrible, dangerous, giant roads. Highways, Freeways.Tension makers.  Traffic.

Speaking of roads, My neck is still injured, and recovering. It turns out that I have 4 herniated discs from the car accident. It has been painful and annoying. Lawyers, court, orthopedic surgeons. A very humbling experience. Ginger shots help ease the pain and inflammation, so do essential oils. I might never do headstand or shoulder stand again, with my “neck injury.” But this is life. These bodies are not permanent. I drive to nature. I breathe. I meditate. I stretch. I feel better. I feel gratitude for my body.

 

There are things about life in South Florida that I love. The ocean, the swamp, the Everglades, my yoga classes, theatre, my friends, the weather. ¬†We have been seeing so many dolphins at the beach in the mornings when I teach yoga. And the ocean here is so inviting. So blue. So warm. Nothing like the frigid waters of my home in Washington state! (But I love and miss you Washington.) Anyways, truthfully, there is so much to do here. I feel like we are always on some sort of adventure. I am going on a BIG adventure in a couple weeks. Stay tuned. ūüôā

I took my daughter to her first full moon drum circle. She loved it. 2 years old, and she literally danced for hours. It was incredible. She loves to dance. To feel the moon. Almost everyday now she asks,”Drum circle?” ¬†Ha. Hippie Child!

My son, well he continues to amaze me with his art, his singing, his kindness. He is currently in rehearsal for his 3rd production in six months.He has been in shows non-stop since we have been back.  3 plays! He loves it. He shines. Giving him this opportunity to perform, makes my heart happy. Through connections in the theater world, my son has been able to see very amazing performances, almost ever week. The last performance he saw was the Joffrey Ballet. Lucky kid! The world of performing arts.

IMG_2811 (1)
Mother and Son Date At The Theatre

My sweetheart is learning English faster than I thought possible, and he has connected with the much larger than I realized Portuguese community down here. He goes fishing with his Portuguese friends and he  watches soccer at a little Portuguese restaurant near our house. The Portuguese who live in Florida are just as LOUD and INSANE over soccer as they are in Portugal! He fits right in. Ha.

I am choreographing a dance piece with two of my magical mama friends. We are natural dancers, and lucky for us,  there is a mirrored wall where I teach yoga. Right after yoga class, we turn up the music and dance. I love it. Those mornings are so fun. Movement is such an amazing way to process and heal. We Move through it.

I started teaching yoga at a transitional housing program for women. The program takes 10  homeless single women, provides housing, and help, to eventually see each woman transition to independent living.  I have met some very special women there. There is  a yoga room, a very nice yoga room, with every yoga prop one could think of, and we do gentle and restorative yoga.  I look forward to it, every week. Yoga needs to be accessible to everyone.

Quite honestly, I don’t think we will live in South Florida for too long. My gypsy blood is awake and I really miss wild space. Nature. The pace here is too hectic. Crime too frequent. But honestly, there are things and people I am so grateful for. Who knows what the future holds. ¬†So I am going to do my best to stay present and in gratitude.

With LOVE, Tiff

 

 

 

Studying With The Masters

I had the “karma” to spend the last week studying with a Buddhist Lama, my friend and teacher Geshe Tenzing Tamding. We met 5 years ago. ¬†We became friends, he became my teacher.

 

For 8 days, ¬†several hours a day, I studied with my teacher. These hours, were spent sitting on the floor, with legs crossed, in easy pose (sukhasana), reading sacred texts, meditating, practicing pranayama (breathwork), learning mudras, receiving blessings, listening to Buddhist wisdom, and reciting sacred mantra. Sitting in “Easy Pose” for many hours, is not easy.

My teacher shared many stories of “Yogis” but he was not referring to handstands, or arm balances, or celebrity yoga teachers. He was speaking of awakened masters, mystics, soul shamans. He was speaking of followers of the Dharma.

People started practicing asana (the physical poses), to get the body and mind prepared for long periods of seated meditation. I practice yoga everyday, but there I was studying with my teacher, sitting with a small pillow under me, legs falling asleep, needing to stretch, body and mind exhausted. Even with my yoga practice, my body is not well trained to sit for long periods of time.  And my mind is not well trained to study for long periods of time. Breath by breath..

In the Western world we tend to think of yoga as a physical practice, but in reality, yoga is far more.  There are four main paths of yoga, Bhakti, Karma, Raja, and Jnana. During those 8 days with my teacher, I was challenged to practice Jnana yoga.The Yoga of Wisdom. The most difficult path of Yoga. Intellectual study. Trying to use the mind to transcend the mind. 

I have been a yoga student and teacher for many years now, (practicing mainly Raja Yoga), but the study and practice of yoga is so immense, that I am truly a beginner.

I am grateful and humbled by the teachings and wisdom.

Namaste.

.