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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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

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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!)

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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

 

 

 

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.

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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.

 

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. 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.

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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 Beauty in The Sunrise and Sunset

A few weeks ago, I taught a beach yoga class that I will never forget. A beautiful strong class.We went into a very deep meditation. ¬†We were all blanketed in this magical feeling, and for many minutes after class officially ended, we sat silently, softly smiling, everyone feeling that ‘Yoga high’.

Well, that high ended with an accident, a horrible accident, that shocked us all, and left me confused, frazzled, and ultimately feeling very guilty. 

The ocean was wild that day and the lifeguards had put up a red flag. It was warm out, blue skies, but very rough water.

One of my students (who is also a friend, healer, and a teacher),he walked to the shoreline, and decided to dive into the water. He unknowingly dove into very shallow water and his shoulder hit the sand very hard. He came up with his arm hanging several inches lower than it should have been, and his collar bone sticking out, it was grossly out of place. It felt like this weird nightmare, caught in between these two worlds, ¬†and I ¬†really¬†didn’t¬†know what to do.

The lifeguard came over and kind of knocked us back into reality. He was grounded in the situation, and he gave us firm instructions. He also said to my student, in his macho but caring lifeguard voice ” Dude, I know you are in a lot of pain, but we saw that dive and we all thought you broke your neck. You are very lucky.” I am sure he didn’t feel very lucky. And as reality sat in, so did my guilt.

My student was rushed to the hospital, and had to have surgery. And I ¬†kept thinking, “if he hadn’t come to my yoga class, none of this would have happened.”¬†

I have tried to remind myself that I didn’t instruct him to dive into that shallow water, but the guilt is still there. The concern is there. The pain is there. The memory of this beautiful man, soaking wet with a horrible injury, is still is fresh in my mind. And I have to process and work through that feeling that somehow it was my fault..

I have tried to remind myself that although this has changed his life, it likely has put his life on a track that could only open up because of this accident. ¬†¬†It was the¬†tragedy¬†of my sons¬†seriously broken arm, that forced me to homeschool him, and ultimately allowed us to take a trip to the Azores, a trip that changed our lives, and led to the birth of my daughter.¬†A beautiful path opened out of a very painful situation. ¬†There is a way to look at this situation (any situation) and someday understand the reason. Because there is a reason behind everything. But just because my student will get through this doesn’t mean it isn’t insanely painful. I know it is.

Recently, I have had two very close friends experience intense tragedies, both involving death, in nightmarish ways. My heart goes out to them.

 

We all experience misfortune. And right now, in this moment, my heart goes out to anyone and everyone experiencing grief, loss, sadness, guilt, pain, or fear. Experience it. Surrender to it. Pray. Love. Forgive.

Life and death are mysterious…We can be jolted out of our bliss at any moment. In an accident or even death. Samsara. ¬†This life is impermanent. We only have so many breaths. Everything is in a constant state of transformation. Death included.

I have been doing a meditation about death, and it is surprisingly healing. When we realize our life is impermanent,  we try to make each moment count.We live each breath.  We see the beauty in the sunrise and the sunset. 

Namaste, Tiff12248193_10204499516517914_5042567486272250404_o

 

Half Moon With a Full Moon Behind

 

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It has been raining heavily the past few days. The ground is saturated. The yard is flooded. The trees are happy. We found the fun, the adventure, and the joy…. A little half moon yoga pose with a full moon behind.

Smile~Tiff

Inspired: Bryan Kest Yoga Workshop

Last night I had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting and studying with a well known Yoga teacher, Bryan Kest. It was the first time I had ever met or studied with Bryan, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

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Me, Bryan Kest, and Jessica McCarrick

The room was crowded, full of yogis.  The workshop began with a lecture, or a talk rather. Bryan is funny, charismatic, and a bit of a rebel.. His words are what I will remember long after these sore arms of mine recover.

Bryan shared the story of how and why Asana practice began. He talked about the true meaning and purpose of yoga.“To still the fluctuations of the mind.” ¬†He talked about the ultimate goal of yoga, enlightenment, Samadhi. Not pose perfection.”You are never going to heal relationships with loose hamstrings. We have to try to develop the benevolent qualities of our mind. Through awareness we can start eradicating the shit that is hurting us.”

Something in him, I connected to on a deep level. Perhaps it was his honesty. He was real. He talked about his angry and wild past (which I can totally relate to). ¬†He openly shared that he smokes pot, and he said the “F” word, more than once. He did not come across as a phoney know it all yoga purist. He came across as someone just like me, a person, a parent, who came to yoga to heal. ¬†He talked with passion about the state of our world, and how we are all contributing, creating this world, this chaos. He¬†also stressed that it is up to each of us to change. We have to be the change… or nothing will change.¬†

He also talked about how even within the yoga community, there are fights, judgments, egos, teacher bashing, blacklisting.. Each style claiming they do it correctly and other practices, styles, and teachers are wrong… I have experienced this first hand, and it is really toxic. The snobbery that can be found within the yoga community is intense. Yoga is not about designer yoga pants and a perfect body. It isn’t about memorizing the sanskrit words for poses. It isn’t even about the ability to perform a difficult pose. It is about stilling the fluctuations of the mind..

Bryan is known for teaching a strong physical practice called Power Yoga. And while I am a yoga teacher, ¬†I do not have a very strong physical practice, and I certainly don’t have buns or abs of steel.¬†Since my recent car accident, my practice has become even more gentle. I am very aware of my injuries, and I am very gentle with my body.

Thankfully, during the asana practice, Bryan repeatedly reminded us to listen to our bodies. He said, “No yoga teacher on earth knows where your body should be.” He instructed us to rest in childs pose whenever we needed. “There are 7 billion right ways to do a yoga pose.” ¬†With a strong voice he told us not to look at what other people in the class were doing, but to focus on our own breath, our own body. I was dripping in sweat halfway through the practice.

We ended the practice with a long and quiet Gratitude meditation..

I feel grateful and inspired by Bryan. I feel grateful to connect with a yoga teacher who is sharing (on a much larger scale), the message that I share with my own students..

The workshop was hosted by The Cozy Yogi, a yoga studio in Lake Worth Florida. The workshop was awesome. It ended up running late, past the scheduled time. So, without a proper thank you, I had to rush off and pick up my son and breastfeed my tired daughter.

Bryan Kest, Thank you. When I do my “head touching my leg pose” I will think of you and smile.

~Tiff