Fisheating Creek, Stress Melting Magic

My daughter turned two last week and to celebrate, not only did we have a fun little birthday party, but we also spent two days camping and canoeing at a place called Fisheating creek.

Mother and Daughter: Nature Witches
Mother and Daughter: Nature Witches under a magical Oak Tree

Fisheating creek is about two hours northwest of where we live, and it is truly a wild and sacred place.  This time of year, the creek is high, and I mean really high. I didn’t know what to do when we arrived and the trail I usually take was completely underwater. In my mind, I had planned out that we would be camping under some oak trees way down the trail. Well, this knee-deep water covering the trail, told me that sometimes plans change.

Anyways, it took a little while to figure out what to do..I have been camping many times at fisheating creek, but never at this time of year.  This place has seasons, wet season and a dry season, and coming out at this time of year is a completely different experience.. In summer and fall, the water levels are high, sometimes extremely high, and the mosquitos, are everywhere. So are the alligators. In winter and early spring, the water level is much lower.. the mosquitos aren’t nearly as bad, and the alligators, on colder days you wont even see them.

We walked around, swatting mosquitoes, right away we saw a huge alligator and a huge black snake slither right in front of us.. My sweetheart was a little freaked out, I know he was wondering “why are we here, this wild swamp is insane.” My daughter stepped on a fire ant mound. Actually we all did. And getting bit by those tiny ants is awful. Ant bites burn and sting and hurt and itch!! It seemed like the camping trip was going to be rough..

During that time, we got a phone call from some friends who said they wanted to come and camp with us.. They were on their way.

The beauty and magic of the Cyprus Swamp
The beauty and magic of the Cypress Swamp

Then we ran into a man who has a small cabin out on the creek. I had met him a few times in the past, but this trip was the first time we really talked. He is close to my age, a real country boy with a strong southern drawl, and big pick up truck.. but he is a man full of surprises, and he loves the land. To him, the swamp is home.  The trees, the animals. He offered to show us some good places to camp, and invited us to camp right on his land… We went exploring with him, he had lots of stories and wisdom to share. He talked to us for hours about the seasons, the animals, and he invited us to go canoeing with him. AWESOME.

Our perfect campsite
Our perfect campsite

Anyways, our friends arrived and soon after, the rain began. We all ran to our cars, and took shelter as thunder roared overhead. We hung out in the safety of our cars until the thunderstorm passed.. and once safe, we made a fire. Although it was dark, it was hot outside. We didn’t need a fire to stay warm. But I needed a fire for my spirit. Feeling the energy, I danced around the fire. It was so hot, it was like a sweat lodge!

Dancing around the fire
Dancing around the fire

We sat around the fire, occasionally swatting mosquitoes, talking story, until our eyelids became heavy.

We woke up as the sun was rising and went on a walk… The land, the colors, the sounds, the smells, everything was so beautiful.

Group Photounder an Oal Tree (with a strange purple light)
Group Photo under an Oak Tree (with a strange purple light)

Then we went on a very long canoe trip out to a place called Paradise Lake. I saw some of the biggest alligators I have ever seen. And there were a few times, when they were a little too close to the canoe. Heart pounding.. but for the most part, alligators stay away from people.

Canoe trip to Paradise Lake
Canoe trip to Paradise Lake

My spirit felt happy.  And as muddy as I was, my body felt cleansed. My Energy light.

The camping trip was completely different from what I had imagined. And even better.

Fisheating Creek, Stress Melting Magic~Tiff

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Earth Warriors

We have spent the past few days out of the city. We are staying and working in an Equestrian community in Wellington Florida.

We are planting hundreds of trees for close friends of mine who live out here. We are planting Indian Beech Trees, and while these trees are not native, they are beautiful trees with some really magical properties. The seeds in particular have a wide variety of uses and can be harvested a few years after planting.

Peaceful Planting
Peaceful Planting

The property we are staying on is huge, with a pond, a swimming pool, and a small Buddhist temple.

Temple
Temple

The other day we went on a long walk out here and I saw up close a large plot of land that was freshly clearcut… I felt so deeply sad and sick in my stomach.   After our walk, I worked extra hard, wondering why humans are so destructive, why we don’t see that what we do to the earth, we are actually doing to ourselves.. Then i realized, while someone was working to clear a forest, I have been working to help build one.

Balance

Lets be real, Earth is out of balance right now, and because of it we are all out of balance. And I see it. I feel it.  And it is scary and depressing. BUT we have the power to make a difference. We have to ask ourselves whether we want to be part of the problem or part of the solution. (I look at my own life and I know there is more I can do to help)… Whether it is simply picking up garbage at the beach, planting trees, buying organic, local, or planting a garden. Live mindfully. It really is up to us.

I am much calmer and relaxed in the country. I love trees, the hawks, the deer, the owls at night..The energy..

I feel good about the work we are doing. Hands covered in dirt, butterflies flying by, shoveling until my arms burn and I can’t lift the shovel anymore… It is exhausting, a real workout, but it is rewarding. Therapy at its finest.. 🙂

Earth Warriors
Earth Warriors

With Gratitude for our Mother. ~Tiff

Kiss The Earth With Your Feet

So I am not really sure if it was me telepathically communicating with a gopher turtle, or me having a conversation with myself imagining what I would say, and how I would feel if I was a gopher turtle. And it doesn’t really matter.  But, the other day, while hiking through one of the last remaining wild scrub areas in all of Southeast Florida, I had lasting eye contact with a large gopher turtle. In our connection, I felt a moment when the turtle seemed to be looking deep into my soul,and truly asking me to wake up and help heal Earth. Almost a “Tiffany, you see what is happening,  if you aren’t going to change, who will?”

You may have never heard of a gopher turtle. I had never heard of them before I moved down here. But, anyways, they live in underground dens. The entrance to their homes has the same sort of warm welcome that a fireplace and a cup of tea share… the entrances are cute, tidy, and decorated..

Gopher Turtle
Gopher Turtle

These turtles are endangered species. Loss of habitat.

We held hands in a circle and the Kids Started Chanting
We held hands in a circle and the Kids Started Chanting “No Cutting Trees”

Anyways, we also saw manatees this week while kayaking in the mangroves. High tide, King Tide, the power of the moon. My daughters first time in a kayak, and she saw Manatees. So amazing.

Kayaking In The Mangroves
Kayaking In The Mangroves

Manatees are also endangered species.They are gentle, beautiful, graceful-And they need our help and protection.

I want to help. I am not writing with a ‘know it all’ solution, because I don’t have one. But I know, with every cell of my body and soul, that we have to start living with the Earth.

I know if we all search deep inside, we will figure out how to help heal our planet. Our mother. Ourselves. Each other.

We have to cultivate gratitude.. We have to “Kiss the Earth With Our Feet.”

 South Florida , Yoga On The Beach..
South Florida , Yoga On The Beach.. A great way to heal! “Kiss The Earth With Your Feet.” 

Happy November 1st, Day of The Dead. Messages all around. Listen. ~Tiff

Buzz Buzz

Well, there really is so much to write and share. Lots a buzz. My sweetheart is here, My son’s play has opened (and is amazing), and we are getting more and more settled in our new home (the fairy shack) and life in South Florida.

A beautiful swamp close by our Shack.. Fall in Florida.. Sunny and HOT!!!!
A beautiful swamp close by our Shack.. Fall in Florida.. Sunny and HOT!!!!

When we first moved into the fairy shack, we learned there was a large beehive in the roof very close to our shack. I have a love for bees and a love for honey, so I watched the bees in awe, a respectful awe.. I know first hand that you don’t want to piss off bees..

It must have been the second or third night living in the shack, that I noticed there were bees all over my windows. A few nights later, I awoke to a bee in my hair and another crawling on the bed, right near my daughter. I managed to move like a ninja and get the bees out without getting stung. But I was freaked out, and again I noticed there were several bees outside on the windows. They were attracted to the light, and wanted to get inside.

I wrote an ex-boyfriend an email and told him about our bee situation. My ex-boyfriend is a traveling beekeeper, he might actually be more bee than human. I knew he would have good advice and contacts.
He told me that the bees would try to get inside my shack as long as they saw light.. Basically, move the bees, risk getting stung, or live without lights.

My friend (who owns this property), set up another light, outside and far away from the shack, in hopes the bees would be attracted to that light and leave my little shack alone.
A beekeeper came to check out the hive. We set up a date for the removal. (While we waited, we had a few more unwanted visitors fly inside at night-time)..

The day of the removal came, we were safely in our shack. (I kind of wanted to participate in the removal, but something told me just to watch.) Almost as soon as the removal began, it ended. Like a scene from a horror movie, we saw both of the beekeepers covered with bees. The bees were everywhere and they were angry. We watched from the windows. These were the most aggressive bees I have ever seen. And there seemed to be millions. The beekeepers, even through their bee suits, were stung, repeatedly. Any attempts of removal were abandoned. We waited inside, wondering what would happen next. There were literally bees everywhere.

About an hour later one of the beekeepers, still in a bee suit, knocked on the door and said “Don’t open the door, don’t come outside!” She continued “We have never dealt with such aggressive bees, even the neighbor was stung. We are abandoning this removal and going to wait for the bees to calm down.” She then said “We have the contact information for someone who is more experienced dealing with such aggressive bees.”

Took This Photo While We Were Trapped In The Shack
Took This Photo While We Were Trapped In The Shack

With that, we waited. For hours we were trapped inside the shack.. We knew if we even opened the door, painful venom would be waiting.

Eventually, (hours later) the bees calmed down, and we quickly ran to our car. It felt like an adventure for sure. That night we had two bees fly inside our shack. But none of us got stung. 🙂

Bees And More Bees ...Buzz Buzz
Bees And More Bees …Buzz Buzz

Two days ago, the bees were finally removed. It was a big job, a huge hive, and the beekeeper said they were some of the most aggressive bees he had ever removed. It is impossible to remove all the bees in a bee removal, so right now there are still hundreds of confused bees flying around, trying to figure out where their hive went. But no more bees on the windows, and all that buzzing is much quieter.

Florida is known for having a thriving bee population, and beehives in attics are very common. If you find yourself in a similar situation, make sure to call someone who will relocate the bees (instead of killing them), as bees are so important. We cannot survive without them.

Have a good day, with lots of sweetness! ~Tiff

Those Bumps in The Road

Well, we have been back in Florida for a couple of weeks now, and life has been about as weird as ever. Maybe weirder.

We started off by staying at a friend’s house, a very fancy home on Palm Beach island. This island is the complete opposite of Santa Maria!!! Palm Beach is known for its mansions, celebrities, and wealth. Donald Trump (who better not become president!!) lives on the island,and my ex-husband grew up on the island too.   Some people envy the super rich, but life has shown me that “with each new material thing we acquire, we acquire a new worry.”~Dalai Lama 

Lifestyles of the Happy Gypsy
Lifestyles of the Happy Gypsy

For me, the island is a place that is both beautiful and creepy. So much wealth and power concentrated in one tiny area, while so many people around the world struggle and live in poverty.  I have never lived anywhere where the grocery store has valet parking.  Hmmm.

But, regardless of my mixed feelings of Palm Beach island, I was grateful to be staying near the beach and grateful  for the quietness the island provides, and really grateful for the pool and the hot tub!

Path to the Pool
Path to the Pool

The beach on the island really is magical. We saw sharks and manta rays, schools of fish, and sea turtle nests everywhere. I will cherish those mornings and evenings on the beach, forever.

Palm Beach Island
Palm Beach Island

Anyways, we began to settle in, my son is so happy to be performing again! He started an art internship and online school. My daughter loves the beach, the warm water, and all her baby friends. I started teaching yoga, and I accepted a job at a health food store. We were really getting  into the groove of sunny South Florida living.

Super fun Playdates
Super fun Playdates

So things were flowing along nicely, until a few days ago. BUMP.

First, the car I was driving, that belongs to the woman who owns the palm beach mansion, well, it started smoking in the middle of a busy road. It was stressful to say the least, especially because it looked like the car was on fire, but even more stressful was realizing it needed major repairs and it would be impossible to live on that island without a car.There are no buses on the island and it is pretty far away from all our friends and the theatre. Time to move.

Moving off the island really was no problem.  We have a huge community of friends and we quickly made the transition back to ‘normal person’ land.  Right now, we are living with some friends, the same house where I lived when my daughter was born, the last house I lived in before leaving the country. And we are in the same bedroom. (And this house has a pool too, so, woohoo!)

The big bump in the road came a few days later.

I was in the car with a dear friend of mine, sitting in the backseat, next to my daughter. We were stopped at a stoplight, talking, and laughing, when all the sudden a large SUV slammed into us. He hit us on the right rear of the van, then scraped along the side, sped up, and quickly drove away. A hit and run.

We were absolutely in shock. Shaken up, scared, and in pain.

After the police came, we went to the Dr. We were there for many hours. After a few x-rays and exams, I was told I had severe whiplash and would need at least a few months of therapy. I was told “No yoga!” I was also told “No picking up the baby and no driving.”  UGH!

To be honest, 4 days later, I am still in a tremendous amount of pain. I literally can barely move my head, and there is fear and frustration that comes with that.  But my daughter did not get injured and for this I am extremely grateful. And I know that slowly, I will regain use of my neck.

I can look at this situation, this pain in the neck, from a place of anger and fear, which doesn’t feel good, or I can count my blessings, and look at this situation from a place of gratitude, which feels a whole lot better.

We all have unexpected bumps in the road, and some of them are scary and painful. Deep down, I see this bump as an opportunity for great spiritual growth.

To all of you in my life who have offered love and support, I am so grateful..

X~Tiff

Manta Magic

Yesterday I had an experience many people dream of. I swam with 17 giant Manta Rays.

Blessed by the Manta Magic
Blessed by the Manta Magic

One of my closest friends on this island is a dive master from the mainland of Portugal. She knew it was a dream of mine to see the Manta Rays, so she invited me to join their dive group and go explore under the sea.

I had no idea what to expect, or where we were going. I knew it was possible we wouldn’t see any Manta Rays at all. But if we didn’t see any, it would be fine. I was along for the ride. Which was beyond beautiful. 

We left the harbor at about 9:30am and headed out to our first dive spot, a place called ‘Joao Lopes’. There were 3 of us snorkeling (I took a dive certification course years ago, but because of ear problems, I cannot dive), the rest of the group was diving. This spot, about a mile offshore, was deep but we could still see the bottom. I swam around, looking at fish and trying to stay close to the boat, when I spotted my first Manta Ray. It was really incredible. She was huge! She swam near me, then past me. I swam as fast as I could, trying to follow as the graceful giant flew through the water.

We passed a fishing boat on our way to Ambrosio
We passed a fishing boat on our way to Ambrosio

I was smiling, feeling happy and peaceful when we headed to the next spot. A famous dive spot called ‘Ambrosio’. This spot is three miles offshore and in very deep water. Very deep, very blue.  At 45 meters deep (about 150 feet) even the divers did not go to the bottom.

The Beautiful Island of Santa Maria at a Distance
The Beautiful Island of Santa Maria at a Distance

The captain of the boat spotted them first, he stopped the boat and said quietly “Tiffany, get in the water right now, nice and slow” and as soon as I did, I was surrounded  by Manta Rays. They were swimming in a beautiful spiral formation. I was literally inside their magical circle.

Manta Rays in The Azores
Manta Rays in The Azores
A friendship blessed by the Mantas
A friendship blessed by the Mantas
Snorkeling with Mantas Azores
Snorkeling with Mantas Azores

I was quiet on the boat ride back to the harbor. I felt a little seasick, but mostly I was just in awe, speechless. Nature.  So much magnificence.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ” – Albert Einstein

Adventure ~Tiff

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