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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Strength Through Devotion

I woke up this morning to the sound of trees being chopped down. The land across the street is being clear cut to make way for a large Wellington mini Mansion. We have seen hawks and turtles, foxes and possums, owls and ospreys. Where will they go?

I don’t often write about all the sad and awful things that are happening in our world right now. Wars, mass shootings, environmental destruction, ¬†anger, poverty, racism, and hate. But just because I don’t write about it doesn’t mean I don’t think about it, or feel it.. Because trust me, as an empath, I feel it. There is so much chaos right now that it is hard ¬†not to feel crazy. I think we all do. How do we heal?

 

For me, even 10 minutes of yoga, deep breathing, a few juicy asanas, single pointed focus, can shift my mood and perspective, drastically!  I can transform from a place of hopelessness and fear, to a place of strength and healing. Through breathing and being mindful. This is why I practice yoga. This is why I teach yoga, even though truth be told, anyone who teaches yoga knows, you have to do it because you love it. And I do love it. It is through inner healing, realization,  and wisdom that we can create change. Sometimes while we are deep in the surrender of savasana, we truly feel and understand that all things connect.

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Putting down the shovel, for a little Asana Time

We are at a crossroads. Strange and intense times and energy. Times of transformation. ¬†We can’t just talk about the problems, we have to start living the solution. How do we want to transform? What do we want to transform into?

My suggestion is that we tap into our higher wisdom, and transform through love, compassion, and forgiveness.

Wishing all of us a heart healing day. ~Tiff

 

 

 

The Tree Connects Me

When I need guidance and healing, I ask the trees.

I feel their magic.

Trees.

Tree Pose With The Best Teachers
Tree Pose With The Best Teachers

 

Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a deep and special connection to the forest. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I spent my childhood exploring the forest, making friends with trees, fairies, and many animals. I love trees.  I even wrote a song about one of them. 

The island I am living on now has a small forest that I am particularly connected to. Of all the beauty of the Azores, there is nothing quite like this forest.  I feel at home here.  There is no need to speak. I take off my shoes, I breathe.  My wounds and worries dissolve. I went up into the forest today. My favorite place to be.

The tree protects me.

The tree connects me.

Mother Earth you amaze me. With Gratitude and Deep Respect. I bow.

~Yogini Tiff

Jade Fusion Mat: The Most Luxurious Mat I Have Ever Known

The Jade Fusion Mat is designed for both Yoga and Pilates. It is a thick, heavy, sturdy mat. It measures at 5/16″ thick, is available in two lengths, 68″ and 74″, and comes in a variety of colors.

Jade Fusion Mat Olive Green
Jade Fusion Mat Olive Green

Safety and Performance-The mat provides extra comfort while being sturdy enough for even the most demanding balancing poses.  Challenging practice? Sweaty palms? Not a problem on a Jade mat. Jade makes the absolute best slip resistant mat I have ever used.

 Go Green-Jade mats are made of natural rubber and are completely biodegradable. Special note: The mat will break down in direct sunlight. 

Sustainable and ethical practices-Jade plants a tree for every mat they sell. Jade sponsors and supports amazing causes, organizations, and events.

Change begins with us-We have to support companies that are working to create a better world. Jade is a company with amazing practices, amazing people, and amazing products.  I am a long time supporter of their company and I am one of their ambassadors.

The Jade Fusion Mat. Maximum comfort. Maximum performance. The most luxurious mat I have ever known.

The Best Yoga Mat
The Best Yoga Mat/Yoga Paradise

Here is a link to The Jade website. http://www.jadeyoga.com/store/home.php

Thank you Jade.

~Yogini Tiff

Potato Harvesting

My family¬†woke up early this morning. We drank some carrot and lemon juice and got to work. Potatoes!! We would have waited a few more weeks, but our potatoes needed saving. The once beautiful green leaves of our potato plants very quickly started to turn a sickly color of brown. I am not exactly sure what causes this potato problem, potato gardening is pretty new to me. My sweetheart calls the illness “mangra.” He said sometimes the weather causes mangra but that it can be caused by many things. Our neighbors told us it was because we didn’t spray with chemicals... (I just smile and pretend I don’t understand Portuguese) ūüėȬ†

Anyways, whatever it is caused by, the illness causes the potato plant to stop growing. There are 2 choices: Harvest the potatoes or allow them to rot in the soil. There is nothing wrong with the potatoes, they are still edible, but much smaller than they would have been.

Gardening is a good workout
Gardening is a good workout

 

Dirty and Tired…When I think of myself, I generally think I am pretty tough. Well, four hours of hard work in the garden today sure gave me a lesson in toughness!. My body is tired. My hands, they hurt. I have blisters on my (insanely delicate) hands, and pain under the bed of my finger nails from hours of digging around in search of potatoes. Growing food is hard work. But it felt so good!

Hands in the dirt. Harvesting the food that we grew! Every time I found a really big ¬†beautiful potato I felt this rush of joy, like I had dug up a great treasure. I shouted out repeatedly “Wow, look at this one!!”

Luna enjoyed our gardening too..
Luna teething, gnawing on some leafy greens,  enjoying our gardening too..

I am actually really amazed that such a small area of land produced that many potatoes. My sweetheart on the other hand thinks we harvested a very small amount of potatoes because of mangra. Whatever! We have a ton of potatoes.  

Seriously, today’s harvest really got me thinking ¬†about how much food can be grown in even the smallest of yards. And how growing food really should be a part of every child’s education. ¬†We have two enormous crates full of¬†fresh organic¬†potatoes..

Potatoes
Potatoes

We still have another garden bed with healthy potatoes growing. But I am pretty sure we have enough potatoes for a very long time.

Grow food not lawns.

Perhaps I have found my calling. :)~Mrs Potato head

"Hahaha, Mrs Potatohead, my mom is a dork"
“‘Mrs Potato head’?!? Haha¬†my mom is a dork!!”

 

 

The Other Side of Paradise

When I was 24, I was a single mother living ¬†in ‘Section 8 project housing in Honolulu Hawaii. I was in college, ¬†lucky to have a cheap place to live, and luckier still to have a huge Samoan neighbor known as ‘The Enforcer’, who looked out for us.

The first day my son and I moved into our little apartment, I called to order a pizza. When I gave our address, the man on the phone apologized and said that they didn’t deliver to my neighborhood. He said too many of their delivery¬†drivers had been robbed.

I remember when my mother first came to visit. She was scared. She was shocked. She said, “Tiff, how do people live like this? When people think of Hawaii they think of Paradise. They think of Palm trees and sandy beaches, not this!!!!”

I tried to prepare my father when he came to visit. But he wasn’t prepared for the police blockade blocking off access to my entire street.

I always joked that I was going to make a calendar with images of the Hawaii I lived in. I was going to name my calendar “The Other Side Of Paradise.” There would be photos of swat teams with guns drawn, children playing in a nasty brown puddle with garbage floating in it, a freaky ice cream truck that only came around late at night and did not cater to children, rats larger than cats, and of course there would be photos of my next door neighbors, a giant Samoan family of 12, who shared a tiny apartment, the same size as mine, ¬†and everyone slept on the floor.

We lived in these “projects” for over two years.. There was crime and poverty in my neighborhood. But there was also laughter, birthday parties, kids playing, dance parties, dinner parties, and neighbors singing opera-style in the shower. There was struggle. There was joy. There were lessons learned. I look back on that time with more fond memories than bad ones. I have so much gratitude.

Here I am several years and many lessons later. Living on a tiny beautiful island in the Azores. ¬†Different ocean, different island chain, different set of problems. But, surprise, surprise, there is ‘another side of paradise here’ too. ¬†I recently saw someone throwing bags of garbage in the river. Financial difficulties are very real for many people here. ¬†Honestly, I am not sure how I will make money here. My dream of making money as a writer, is slowly fading. ¬†There is not a large yoga culture here. Classes are small. My portuguese vocabulary is also small. It is difficult. There is struggle. There are times when I miss my old life so completely that I feel angry with my partner. I glare and think¬†“You are the reason we are here!!”¬†(I love my sweetheart very much, he is the most amazing person).. BUT, there are times when every cell in my body longs desperately for yoga studios, raw and vegetarian cafes, health food stores, theater, my old friends, my old life..which 5 months ago was in Florida.¬†

Well, in life “the only constant is change.”

I can either embrace my new life, or focus my energy on longing for days of the past. ¬†I can choose to live with gratitude this life I have now, or I can choose to focus on what I don’t have, what I used to have. ¬†(Perhaps this is the curse of the gypsy, moving around all the time and missing old friends)

Our thoughts and our behavior have a tremendous impact on our quality of life. ¬†Knowing this,¬†I have painted and posted affirmations and positive words all over my house. Joy, love, magic, peace, gratitude, believe, faith, trust… These words are powerful ¬†reminders. Seeing these words help¬†lift my spirits when I start to feel down.

Sometimes I really love being here. And my life seems very much like a magical fairy tale. I look around in awe that an island this beautiful exists.  Honestly, my feelings about my new life bounce all over the place. I know part of this is postpartum hormones,  part of this is transition, and part of this is simply that feelings change all the time..

myanchor, favorite healing quote

When I close my eyes and take deep breaths, my breath helps anchor me  to a deep inner wisdom and I feel peace.  I recharge.

Refreshed, I open my eyes and I feel opportunity. I feel love. I feel gratitude. Gratitude for my past, present, and future.

“May I be given the appropriate difficulties so that my heart can truly open with compassion.” –Buddhist Prayer

Whatever side of paradise~ Yogini Tiff

Watercress Potato and Rice Soup

When I open my kitchen window I hear the sounds of a small river. A small beautiful winding river that passes in front of my house. And this time of year the river is full of a lovely green plant known as watercress. Some consider watercress an herb, others say it is an aquatic vegetable. Well, whatever it is, it is packed with nutrition and it tastes good. I find it similar in taste to arugula. It has a little kick of spice.

Watercress Potato and Rice Soup/With fresh Portuguese Bread
Watercress Potato and Rice Soup/With fresh Portuguese Bread

We explored the river a few days ago ¬†in search of watercress. I slipped on a rock and fell in, but luckily it was a warm day and the water wasn’t too cold. It woke me up, made me laugh, and left me with a few small cuts and a little bruise.

Watercress growing in the River
Watercress growing in the river

 

Fresh Harvested Watercress/In Portuguese known as Agri√£o
Fresh Harvested Watercress/In Portuguese known as Agri√£o

Having an abundance of watercress I decided to experiment and make watercress potato and rice soup. It was DELICIOUS.

The Recipe:

A large bunch of fresh Watercress (5 cups or more)

5 medium-sized potatoes

1 large onion

1/4 brown rice (dry)

4 cloves of garlic

1 red pepper

1 teaspoon of black pepper

2 teaspoons sea salt (or salt to taste)

1 tablespoon butter

Combine all ingredients in a large pot of water.

Bring to boil and then bring to a lower heat.

Cook for 1 hour.

Hearty, nutritious, delicious. I suggest eating it with fresh bread.

Watercress Potato and Rice Soup.

Our Green Valley: The River Runs through It
Our Green Valley: The River Runs through It

Let food be thy medicine.-Hippocrates

Give thanks to the Green World that Sustains us. EARTH DAY EVERYDAY.

~Yogini Tiff