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

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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.

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Dancing With My Shadow

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It is a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~Pema Chodron

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Balance between light and darkness. When the shadow self comes to visit, don’t fight it, invite it, learn, dance..

Balanced~Tiff

 

The Swamp to The Salty Sea:Everglades National Park

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling tired.   Even after a cup of ‘bullet coffee’, (coffee with butter, coconut oil, and a little cayenne pepper), I still felt low energy. Luckily, we had plans to go camping, and I knew some leisurely hiking would be the perfect cure.  Nature is the best healer.

We packed up and headed out for what we thought would be a camping trip in the Everglades National Park. The drive down to the Everglades, into Homestead, is one of the most awful, depressing, (what have we done to the earth?), drives one can take. We listened to Harry Potter, and The Half Blood Prince on CD, and that made the drive much better.

Slowly the concrete nightmare, gave way to large commercial crops, and then the park entrance. Once inside the park, we entered a whole different world.  Nature. Beauty.  Quiet. Healing. Balance.  MOSQUITOES…

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And Alligators-Such different, ancient, scary energy

The park doesn’t take reservations, and while the campgrounds are very rarely full, they were full. Booked, for the holiday weekend. Once again, as often in life, we had to be flexible, our plans were forced to change.

While swatting mosquitoes, and walking on a boardwalk over a swamp,  we all agreed we were a little bummed but not totally devastated, that our camping trip would become  a day-trip.

Winter in the Everglades, is said to be less “buggy,” but the mosquitoes were intense.  Not everywhere or all the time… BUT, we could be walking quite comfortably, and out of nowhere,  swarms of mosquitoes would rush out and attack us… and yes, we were all wearing repellent. We saw the sweetest (but also funniest) seeming family wearing matching mosquito suits, faces fully covered. There was a moment, where mom, dad, and kid, were all looking through there binoculars at the same time, and in the same direction, with matching clothes. 🙂 

We saw Hawks and Ospreys literally EVERYWHERE. I felt the need to be very quiet and just listen and feel. As to be expected, we saw several alligators. And in Flamingo, which is the very southern part of the park, the southern tip of the Florida, we saw two manatees.   Manatees are fascinating to watch (and swim with), so gentle and magic, and very different from alligators.. ..

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Hawk Watching Over Us-Spirit Animals

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Down in Flamingo, where we saw the manatees,. there were hundreds of birds, called Black Skimmers hanging out on a pretty shoreline,  they literally skim the water when they fly, it was so beautiful to watch them. They are beautiful and VERY loud.

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Mermaid Pose By The Salty Sea

We stayed in the park exploring, until after sunset, and Florida sunsets really are beautiful.

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Driving back, that night, we snacked on gluten free and vegan (uncooked) Smores. Dark Chocolate. Mmmmmm..  I smiled, feeling so grateful to have these moments, these memories with my kids, my family, our mother Earth.

From the Swamp to The Sea, Mother Nature, You Amaze Me.~Tiff

 

 

The Beauty In The Storm:Florida Keys Camping

We headed down to the Florida Keys last weekend, knowing well that a cold front was scheduled to arrive, and with that cold, it was predicted to storm. We felt a little nervous about the weather, but we already had a camping reservation (which can be hard to come by in winter), and we all wanted  to get out of town, and enjoy the beauty of the islands, only a few hours south of where we live.

 

We arrived to Long Key State Park, early in the morning, and the weather was beautiful and warm. After setting up camp, we headed into the warm water, on the Atlantic side.. For hours, in some sort of trance, silently we all wadded in knee deep water. Observing the crabs, the seagrass, the fish, the sand, the mud, the coral.  I felt every cell of my body being cleansed, purified, renewed. The healing of the element of water.. I did some gentle yoga, it felt so good.

 

We went on a late afternoon hike, and soon after, we felt the weather change.

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The wind blew stronger, and with it, crisp air.  The temperature quickly dropped. With the setting sun, and the dropping temperature, we made a fire, and cooked tofu dogs on a stick. As soon as my son finished heating his last tofu dog, the rain began.

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The rain was heavy, cats and dogs for sure. We ran inside the tent, but even with the rain guard on, it wasn’t enough. The rain was so strong, that it began to drip inside the tent. The wind was howling. My sweetheart and son, rushed outside to put a large tarp over the tent.They came back in the tent, drenched, but smiling.  With that, the storm raged on, but we stayed dry.

The entire night, it poured. The wind was so strong. The tent blew from side to side. But we stayed dry, we stayed warm, and we slept soundly lulled by the energy of the ocean and the rainstorm.

Before the sunrise, I woke up. The rain had stopped. I went outside, and sat near the ocean.  The air so fresh and clean. As the sun came up, my family woke up and we all went on a morning walk. It was chilly, but the colors of the sky, the water, the trees, everything seemed to be extra vibrant.

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We had a morning fire, and the sky very slowly shifted from stormy into blue..it wasn’t warm enough to swim, but somehow that cool weather and the colors of the sky seemed to make everything even more beautiful.

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I felt really sad that we had to leave. But more than that, I felt really grateful that we got to go.. We all felt that with the storm, the trip was somehow more magical, more sacred, more healing. We took a chance, and we are glad we did.

The beauty in the Storm.

~Tiff

Yoga: Stage Sailing

Yesterday morning, I woke up, made a cup of hot Yerba Mate, and got ready to teach a yoga class. I picked great music, created  some fun flows, kissed my family, and headed to class.

Every  Monday and Friday, at 9am, I  teach yoga at a theatre downtown. I teach in the dance studio, a rehearsal room that we Yogis lovingly call the “cave.” It has a large curtained window, beautiful wooden floors and a fully mirrored wall. There are often chairs and props in our practice space, but we barely see them. I set up a little altar, we turn off the lights, and we flow. We have really tapped into some magic in that cave. I love that space.

Anyways, yesterday when I arrived to teach, I tried to unlock the door to the studio, but it wouldn’t unlock. I tried and tried but the door knob was broken. Feeling defeated, my head and shoulders instantly dropped, and my mind sarcastically said “Oh GREAT!”

I kept trying to get the door to open. But, as student after student arrived, I realized our only option was to practice yoga on the main stage. I wrote a little note, saying the class was moved, put the note on the door, and we all headed over for “Stage Yoga.”It took a few extra minutes to get everything figured out. We had to figure out how we to fit everyone, making sure no one would fall into the orchestra pit. Adventure Yoga!! It turned out there was exactly the right amount of space. We almost always practice with music, but yesterday we practiced without music. It felt good to practice with only the sound of the breath.

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Even though it was completely unexpected to practice on the stage, with a sailboat behind us, and a sea of empty chairs in front of us, it was still fun. And enormously beneficial.

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It was different than we had all planned, but it was good. We had to let go of any expectation of how class should look, and enjoy it for what it was. Life. Sometimes we make these plans, and they don’t turn out the way we expected.  Modify. Breathe.  And Enjoy. 

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“Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor.”

~Tiff