Breathwork and Baby Pines

This past year, a friend recruited me to be a part of an online meditation group led by a friend of hers who teaches yoga in Costa Rica. I’m not an expert yogi, but I do attend yoga classes from time to time and I always experience a sense of calm when I do yoga. Something about the stillness and the stretching wrings out my tension and gives me a sense of peace.

Recently Ashley, the instructor from Costa Rica, was in the US. She has ties to my hometown and stopped in to teach a few classes on breathwork at a local studio. I had never taken a class focused solely on breathwork, but I like to try new things so I attended one of the sessions. Before the class, Ashley asked me if I had an intention, something on which I wanted to focus during the class. I shrugged.

“There are a few uncertain changes going on at work,” I said.

“Well, that is something you can think about,” she answered.

When the class started, I didn’t focus on anything, at first, except for breathing. The idea of breathwork, as I understand it, is to breathe fully in a circular motion, from the diaphragm, through your chest and out of your mouth then back. We breathed in the air through our mouths and we exhaled out of our mouths. Ashley asked us to breath throughout our entire body. I imagined the air moving from my feet through my legs into my belly and my chest, then up into my head and out of my mouth. At times, I was distracted by the sounds of other people breathing around me, but I focused on the breath. I started to imagine the breath as a circle, traveling the length of my body then looping to go back around. Somewhere along the way, I started to think about other things, but not about work, and my thoughts took me to the heart of something. I started thinking about how most people play it safe with other people. We share enough of ourselves to be seen as friendly, but little enough to protect ourselves from being hurt. I know I do. This prompted me to start thinking about forgiveness and letting things go.

After the class, Ashley paired us with a partner and we talked about our experience. I was paired with a woman on a mat behind me. We sat cross-legged on our mats and looked at one another. She was older than me and a little weathered. Her silver hair was cut in a very hip style and she had two of the most alert, smiling, clear blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I told her about my thoughts.

“Wow,” she said, “that’s very similar to what I was working on.” And she shared some things about herself with me.

Before we left, Ashley suggested that it might be a good day to spend some time in nature since we were already in reflective moods. That worked well for me as I was already going for a walk.

I went to a local park, Hugh McRae Park, and walked for about 45 minutes. Hugh McRae is filled with established pine trees, but as I walked, I noticed that the park has planted new pines, as well. Several baby pines were nestled among the older pines. The scene of pines filled me with pleasure and I stopped for a while to look at them. Now, that I look back on it, I know why they made me happy. Not only were the pines a bright, happy green and quite pretty, but they were new little lives releasing oxygen back into the air. Breathing their own cycle like me. There was a sort of synchronicity to finding them right after my breathwork. Pretty cool.

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Beach bunny

Little beach bunny

steals attention as we stroll

towards the water

 

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This little fellow lives behind some condos at my favorite access point to the beach. He’s obviously being fed and cared for. He doesn’t seem fearful as we walk by on our way to the beach. I’ve seen him several times now and always look for him on my way to the ocean.

 

 

Evanescent

There is something magical about wandering into a scene when the light is just so. It is one of the greatest rewards of walking outside. A fleeting moment can merge the senses into an imprint that sits on your soul for hours, maybe longer. And it can be a simple view in a place that you visit frequently. Below are a few pictures of those evanescent moments from one of my afternoon walks in a park that I visit often.

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Exploring the Wrightsville Beach Loop, Unmoored

via Daily Prompt: Unmoored

I don’t enjoy housework. I don’t live in filth and I enjoy the finished product of a clean house, I just don’t like the process of getting it that way. It’s overwhelming to me. After working full-time, attempting to stay in shape, keeping up a yard and trying to find time to write, the last thing I want to do is clean house-which is ironic because I have many ideas about things I want to do with my home. I dream of a life where I am unmoored from housework, where I have lots of time to explore and write, to be active and creative. Lately, I’ve started putting some thought into what I can do to solve this problem. How can I have it all? In my own small and humble way, I have found some avenues for “outsourcing” some of my housework. Today, I benefited from taking those avenues and was able to tend to both my domestic duties and my need to get outside and poke around. I did two things: I ordered my groceries online and I offered to pay my cousin to come over for three hours to help me clean.

Did you know that for $5, you can order your groceries online and someone will do your shopping for you? All you have to do, at least for Harris Teeter, is set up an account online, select your groceries and select a time that you would like to pick them up. I ordered my groceries last night and opted to pick them up this afternoon. Earlier this week, I set up a time for my cousin to come over today and help me clean. By doing those two things, I freed up my morning to go for the 2.45 mile walk around  Wrightsville Beach Loop  and to explore Lee’s Nature Park along the way.

Parking for the Loop is located at Wrightsville Beach Park. WB allows two hours of free parking for anyone using the park or the loop. I parked my car, got my parking ticket and set off on my walk. Lee’s Nature Park is located along the Loop. I have walked the Loop many times and just recently noticed the nature park. Today, I detoured off the Loop to slip down the path into the park for a few minutes. It was small but quaint. I could see myself reading a book or eating lunch there. A sign at the entrance of the park states that it was created as a bird sanctuary and is home to egrets, brown pelicans and many types of butterflies. I did not see any of those creatures today. I guess they were either off hunting for food or quietly observing me from the trees. The park overlooks the marsh and is quite peaceful.

After I examined the park, I got back onto the loop. Today was overcast, but there were still plenty of walkers and runners out. When I crossed the bridge over Banks Channel, I saw boats, paddle-boarders and canoes dotting the waterway. I made my way along the back of the loop until I traveled to the opposite side. I looked over and spotted a path leading down to the marsh. I glanced at my phone and confirmed that I had enough time to check it out. Like the park, it was also a quiet excursion from the primary loop. I looked across the marsh and saw a row of canoes which presumably belonged to a business that rented them out. Good to know. Standing on the edge of the marsh, I remembered the Fort Fisher Hermit who lived in the marsh at Fort Fisher. I headed back to the loop but instead of walking on the sidewalk, I took the beaten path which runs parallel to the loop through a row of large swooping trees.

 

After the loop I collected my groceries and came home to meet my cousin. She was an ENORMOUS help to me. We listened to 80s music and chit-chatted while we worked which made the housework so much easier. Together, we thoroughly cleaned several key areas in my house and tonight I am breathing a sigh of relief to have gotten some of my housework done. Plus, I didn’t miss any fun 😉

 

 

Meandering along the Basin Trail

In case you haven’t noticed, I quite enjoy walks and hikes. My latest excursion, last weekend, was The Basin Trail at Fort Fisher. The Basin Trail (difficulty: easy) is 1.10 miles one way-so a little over 2 miles there and back.  It begins at the Fort Fisher Visitor Center and winds along the sound side of Fort Fisher across straw, wooded walkways and sand. It travels down a path surrounded by trees, shrubbery, the marsh, a World War II bunker and it ends at an observation deck overlooking the Basin.

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Along the way, you can expect to see Spartina salt marsh, hermit crabs and an assortment of seabirds, including but not limited to, plovers and oystercatchers. There is also an abundance of fish, shrimp, clams and oysters. Depending on the time of year, you may also see loggerhead turtles, hawks, ducks and many more species.

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You will pass a WWII bunker that was originally built by the Army Service Forces in 1942 when Fort Fisher was part of a training and support facility for Camp Davis, located in Holly Ridge. Fort Fisher closed as a training facility in 1944 and the bunker was abandoned; but from 1956-1972, Robert Harrill, a hermit who lived on the salt marsh, found and occupied the bunker. Mr. Harrill fascinates me and I intend to talk about him further in a separate post. 

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Once you reach the observation deck, you will see Zeke’s Island across the water. You may also see Brown pelicans fishing, kayakers or even an occasional wind skier.  

After you walk the trail, you can do like I did and enjoy the beach. The parking at the visitor center is free and provides access to the beach. The visitor center also provides restrooms, tables and an area to rinse off when you exit the beach.

Not a bad afternoon for free fun.

Wanderlust

I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored.
-David Attenborough

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When I was a kid, there were two ways that I could explore: in my head or by going outside. A little patch of land like this one, nestled between homes in a busy housing development, could have represented a number of things to me. It could have been a forest in medieval Europe or a haunted patch of land in my hometown. It could have been the home of faeries, ghosts or a haven for talking animals whose voices came alive at night after humans went to sleep. In my mind, I could have used this spot to travel anywhere. I just needed it to set the atmosphere.

In reality, this patch of land is located in a lovely middle-class neighborhood, not a new cookie-cutter community, but one of the older ones where people have bigger yards, the trees are established, and each home is unique. This neighborhood is in a prime location that is currently under heavy development. In a way that is understandable, but it is also rather sad. I worry for the character of the neighborhood. I worry about the animals that live in these little patches of land. And I worry about our collective imaginations as we lose so much green space.

I came across this spot this afternoon when I was walking with a friend and her dog. When I saw it, my imagination was immediately piqued. I knew that I had to take a picture and I felt the same twinge of excitement that I did when I encountered such scenes as a kid. That heartens me. It shows me that I haven’t completely lost the curiosity and sense of adventure that I had as a kid, even if it has been tamed by the demands of “adulting”. I hope I never do.

This world is but a canvas for our imagination.

-Henry David Thoreau

Brookgreen Gardens

A few days ago, I wrote my Haiku of the Spectacular Pig whom I met recently when I visited Brookgreen Gardens. I actually saw several beautiful sculptures that day and thought I would share a few more with you.

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Brookgreen Gardens was founded in Myrtle Beach, SC in 1931 by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Their intent was to display American sculpture, develop gardens using plants from the South Carolina Low Country, and educate others about art, conservation and the history of the region.

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Archer Huntington wrote that Brookgreen was “a quiet joining of hand between science and art”.  Today, among other things, it contains several plant and sculpture gardens, a zoo that houses animals which are native to the region and an old rice plantation. Brookgreen offers exhibits, classes, pontoon rides, nature excursions and much more.

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I spent several hours at Brookgreen and only saw a small portion of what it has to offer. My first trip focused mostly on the sculpture gardens. I have yet to see the zoo or experience the excursions. 

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But Brookgreen is not a place that you want to rush. I enjoyed savoring the trip. I will go back later to see more. 

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On a practical note, Brookgreen contains two restaurants which are affordably priced so you can stay all day. And if that isn’t long enough, tickets, which are $16 for adults, are good for seven days so you can go back later if you are still in the area!

 

 

Opaque

When I first started thinking about the word “opaque”, snakes kept popping into my head. I guess I was thinking about their eyes. You probably know that snakes shed their skin in one big piece. This process is called ecdysis. Did you know that as a snake gets close to ecdysis, its skin becomes dull and its spectacle, which is a clear scale that covers its eyes, becomes milky? For that reason, when a snake is about to go into ecdysis, it is said to be opaque or pre-ecdysis.  You can learn this by googling the words “snake opaque”. You can also learn that Amazon has snake print footless tights for sale for $11.99. I’m not a big fan of snakes, but I just happen to have a few pictures from a previous visit to the Cape Fear Serpentarium. I’ve already used them to gross out my friends on Facebook so why not share the love and delight you with them, as well? 🙂

Below is a picture of a snake skin I found one day when I was out walking. I would have been running if he were still in it.

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And here are the tights in case you are interested. Very nice.

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Also, as an added bonus, I wrote a six-word story to describe this post:

It’s not tights. It’s a snake!