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. 

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

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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

 

 

 

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Purifying Force

A few nights ago, at sunset, I taught yoga on the beach to my very dear friends.We started class, soaking our feet in the water. (Partially because of an injury to my foot. A very sharp piece of wood stabbed through my shoe and straight into my foot, two days ago, and it hurt and was beginning to look infected). We put ocean water in our mouths, to taste, to feel, to cleanse, to connect. We “washed” our bodies, rubbing magical ocean water on our arms, shoulders, face, third eye. Feeling both the vibrations of the setting sun and the rising moon, we did the first part of class,standing in the water. The waves were strong and splashed up on us, forcing us to balance with strength and flexibility. 

There was a powerful energetic intensity to that class, it felt like a huge energetic upgrade. That sensation of floating between two magnets.Physically our practice was soft. Energetically, so strong.  The wind blew with purifying force. I felt so free, at peace, energy pulsing. We all shared wide grins. Our energy was so open, so connected. We were absorbing the magic of the sea..

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We celebrated the Full Moon in Scorpio.  Earth Day.  We went to a Drum circle, dancing with the moon as she rose over the ocean..

It seems  like most people I know are going through some heavy stuff. Emotional basket case time. Detoxing. Cleansing. Processing the reality that this life is temporary. And it goes by so fast. We are all receiving big lessons, along with subtle little messages, reminding us of our true purpose, path, mission. We are being challenged to make changes in how we live. We know there are many problems in our world right now. We have to try as hard as we can to begin to live the solution.

All that you have is your soul. ~ 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.

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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. 🙂

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.

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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

 

 

 

The Great Transition

Tuesday was moving day. It was a day full of tears, saying goodbye to so many people we love. It was also the beginning of three days of flying. The start of a great transition.

Looking Forward
Looking Forward Together

Back to Tuesday, we packed and cleaned and cried all day. Leaving a place you love, and people you love, is never easy. We had a house full of friends who came to say goodbye, and even at the airport, many of our closest friends came to see us off. The day and our situation could be described as the perfect Fado song. Fado is beautiful and mournful Portuguese music with lyrics of longing and sadness.. 

Back To Tuesday, after all the crying and goodbyes, we took an airplane to the island of Sao Miguel, where we spent the night. We stayed with a dear friend who lives there. Outside the door to her house was a welcome banner my friend’s son made, that read “Bem Viendos.” It was very sweet. We sat around, ate pizza, talked, and laughed, and cried.

We woke Wednesday morning and went to the park, I kept thinking that maybe we should move to Sao Miguel.. it is a big island, with a big modern city.Maybe someday. 

Sao Miguel fun
Sao Miguel fun

Before lunchtime, we were on a plane to Germany. A 1 day layover in Dusseldorf, felt like a mini vacation. We decided to take the train to our hotel. It was a good way to see the city and it was fun. Well, it was fun after we figured out which train to take. A very helpful couple from India, helped us figure out the train schedule and we rode the train with them into the city.

Train To Germany
Train To Germany
Old Dusseldorf
Old Dusseldorf

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We stayed in a hotel right in the center of the city. Right next to the “Old Town”, the fashion district, the main train station. We walked around for hours.  We had a dinner at a restaurant that played Portuguese music (that dinner is quite a story, maybe next post). The night was fun, we wanted to keep exploring, but it was cold, it was late, and we had an early flight to catch the next morning.

We woke early yesterday morning and went to the airport, dreading our 11 hour flight to Miami. 11 hours is a VERY LONG TIME. Especially when traveling with a 22 month old. But we made it. And we made some new friends.

Our friend picked us up at the airport, and we drove up to West Palm Beach. I felt exhausted. I felt culture shock. I needed to sleep. But sleep wasn’t an option. We dropped off our suitcases, and I took my son straight to rehearsal. My son did a video audition to be in a musical, and he was cast, and last night was his first rehearsal. 

My daughter and I watched the end of rehearsal.   I felt so much joy watching my son onstage. He was shining, back in his element, performing. When he left the stage, smiling from ear to ear, he skipped over to his sister, picked her up and said “that was the funnest rehearsal of my life.”

I am awake early. I miss my sweetheart. But I am strong. I know why we are here. Life is always in transition. And great big transitions can offer beauty, growth, and possibilities. 

Have a beautiful day. I am going to the beach. 🙂 ~Tiff

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”  ~Maya Angelou 

A Splash Of Magic

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” … Roald Dahl

The other day, I had one of those happy, healing, restorative, magical days..and I needed it.

With the encouragement of the hot sun, I jumped into the water of Sao Lourenco. I put on a mask and snorkel, and instantly saw I was surrounded by fish. I saw several small flounder, camouflaged and swimming right above the sandy bottom.. Then I saw an octopus, moving, dancing its graceful dance, from one rock to another. It was a small octopus, but beautiful and just incredible to watch. I saw a cuttlefish too. So much life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I came up, swam back over to our friends, and shouted “I saw the prettiest octopus!!!!” My sweetheart smiled and started asking questions.. My sweetheart shines so brightly whenever he is in the ocean..  He knows the rocks, the reefs, the fish..  He knows the seaweeds, the tides, the currents, the moons..  Being Portuguese, raised on an island, and raised by a fisherman, he has so much ocean knowledge.

Our friends said, “You two go snorkeling together, we will watch the baby.” And with that, our underwater date began.. Holding hands, we swam out far into deeper water.. The colors, the plants, the fish, It was like we were surrounded by hundreds of underwater rainbows..  Schools of small fish, schools of large fish, swaying plants,urchins,anemones, coral..  we saw another octopus, A HUGE OCTOPUS!!! I don’t even know how to describe how magical it was..

We swam for a very long time, until I realized how cold I was.. my hands were numb…and they took a while to thaw out.. but I was feeling recharged, happy, blessed.

With a Splash, Ocean Yoga, Azores, Photo by Paula Botelho
With a Splash, Ocean Yoga, Azores, Photo by Paula Botelho

I have spent a lot of time in the water, snorkeling in Hawaii, Florida, The Keys, Washington, California, and even here in the Azores, but this time, this trip, well, it was something I will never forget.. It was an ocean blessing..

Enjoying the Island with our Dear Friends
Enjoying the Island with our Dear Friends

Grateful for the splash of magic.. ~Tiff

That Glorious Solar Return

Saturday morning, I woke up early, to a kiss on the cheek and fragrant wild flowers on top of my chest. Saturday was my 38th birthday. My solar return. And by 7am, the solar rays were already beaming, offering us the warmest day of the year.

We woke early, because we had to go up into the mountains and meet a friend of my sweetheart, a farmer, who was harvesting potatoes. He gifted us with 40 pounds of potatoes!!! That is a lot of potatoes. So fresh. So good. So nourishing. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Malbusca, Santa Maria Açores
The Mountains of Malbusca, Santa Maria Açores
Enjoying the Morning Sun and Views, Malbusca
Enjoying the Morning Sun and Ocean Views, Malbusca

Since we were already on the other side of the island, we went to my favorite spot to collect water. Fonta Clara in Santo Espirito.This artesian well water is the most delicious tasting water I have ever had.  It is a bit of a hike, and much harder on the way back up, with full water jugs. But it is so peaceful and beautiful there. And that water, mmm refreshing. Well worth the effort.

On the Path To Fonta Clara
On the Path To Fonta Clara

After a nice lunch, we decided to go to the beach, and we went swimming. It was the first time this year that I was brave enough to go in the slightly FREEZING water. (I got spoiled living in South Florida and Hawaii). The water was refreshing, early afternoon, the sun was still getting warmer.

Goofing off with my teenage son...
Goofing off with my teenage son…

In the late afternoon, I taught a very special yoga class. The first of 6 special “Yoga At The Natural Park” yoga classes I will be teaching this summer. The classes are in partnership with the Azores Geoparque. Not only was this an outdoor yoga class in a beautiful, remote, peaceful location, but we also had a very knowledgable scientist from the Geoparque give a talk about the formation of the area and the history. We did some exploring, and then we did some more exploring, through YOGA.. It was so awesome. Beautiful. Wonderful. HOT! (My slightly sunburned nose is proof).

Azores Geosite Yoga Classes
Azores Geosite Yoga Classes

As if all that birthday magic wasnt enough, I came home surprised to find a house full of flowers, friends, and family. A sweet little birthday party, a really good ginger and cinnamon cake,and some ukulele playing.

With rays of LOVE, beams of GRATITUDE, and lots of potatoes.  -Tiff