Archives for posts with tag: hiking

Sunday morning was bittersweet as it was our last day at Hope Springs Institute, but we were excited about the activities Lotus Flower Studio had planned for us.  The day started off in the Spirit House for pranayama and meditation around the fire.  I mostly reflected on how simple all of this seems here at Hope Springs and whether or not I will be able to incorporate these techniques in my daily life.

Breakfast was amazing.  In fact, all the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at Hope Springs were amazing.  I was thrilled that they were able to handle my crazy diet without it causing any problems.  In fact, the gluten free options tended to go as quickly if not quicker than the regular options.  It was amazing to have someone take care of you like that.  I’m still not used to having to make my own meals and it’s been a few days.  I was thrilled that Hope Springs has their own cook book ($20.00) so once I feel like cooking again I can recreate the meals I enjoyed there.

After breakfast we went on a hike, this time through the meadows and we got to see more butterflies and the clear blue sky.  I could get used to going on long walks after every meal.

I started not feeling great so I thought I would rest a while and took the time everyone was in the final yoga session to get completely packed and even felt ok enough after a while to venture to Spirit House since I think this is the place I will miss the most.  My sister came along later and we had fun recapping the whole experience.

After lunch, we had a raffle and I won a yoga strap and Beth gave me her eye pillow that she won because she says she can fall asleep anywhere at any time under any circumstances.

It was tough leaving such an amazing place and I’m really hoping to go back someday when I need another recharge.  (Umm, like this weekend maybe…)

For some reason, my mom and sister didn’t want to get up early for the morning yoga and pranayama practice so I went by myself and enjoyed the cool morning air and sun salutations.

After breakfast, we went on a hike to explore Hope Spring Institute‘s 100 acres of undisturbed nature trails.  I loved walking in the early morning before I would normally be done drinking coffee and thinking about what to do that day.

Later that morning, we assembled in the yoga studio to learn about how Pilates came to be and practiced some of the moves before seeing a Pilates Reformer in action for the first time.  It was very neat looking but I was a little afraid of it.  After lunch, we had some time to do whatever we wanted but we all had some scheduled appointments.  One was for a reflexology session with Donna Miller of Natural Balance Reflexology, LLC.  The other was for a session on the Reformer, which ended up being a very fun workout.

After free time, we got back into the yoga studio for a yoga session aimed at teaching us ways to grow our practice at home.  It was really helpful because we talked about ways to keep working toward your goal poses little by little.  I secretly have always wanted to be able to do full pigeon and I didn’t ever think of it as being particularly achievable until after this session.

Flowing right from the yoga, we got set on our mats for Yoga Nidra, which is the deepest relaxation I’ve ever had.  I didn’t want to leave the studio, even for dinner.

After dinner, we walked the labyrinth, which was the most enlightening experience considering I didn’t think I was going to get anything out of it whatsoever.  We all really came to the same conclusions even though we were all walking it separately.

My favorite part of Saturday came at the very end when we had a campfire in the woods (don’t worry, there was a clearing).  We had a drum circle, made s’mores, and looked at the stars.  I saw constellations I hadn’t seen since taking Astronomy in high school (and then the stars were in the planetarium, not in real life).  The best part was that there was a meteor shower that night and we saw so many shooting stars.  I think I’ve found my new happy place to imagine when life gets rough.

My mom, sister, and I just got back from an amazing wellness retreat weekend hosted by Lotus Flower Studio.  It was so relaxing and wonderful and packed with great things that I decided to make it a 3 part series on my blog to make sure I don’t miss anything. (Sorry the pictures are blurry!  I don’t know sometimes how to get my iPhone to behave.)

We started out on Friday around 2:00 pm and headed south to Peebles, Ohio where Hope Springs Institute is located.  We got there a little before 5:30 and were so happy with our rooms.  We had the opportunity to share a suite in the farmhouse because we were the only group of three.  That meant we each got our own room and a separate bathroom we didn’t have to share with anyone but the three of us.  We even had a little living room to hang out in and do a little extra yoga.  What made the farmhouse so great to my mom, sister, and me was that it looked and smelled just like my great grandmother’s house in Missouri.  It felt like we were transported back in time to the summer vacations spent in the country.

Right after orientation and dinner, we walked to Spirit House to meditate and talk about the weekend ahead.  The country air is so fresh and there is nothing to interrupt the calm and quiet except for the hum of bees and chirping of crickets and crackling of the fire.

Friday was the evening we started learning about Yin Yoga, which incorporates a lot of the postures from Hatha yoga and stretches the time to hold the posture by several minutes.  So instead of holding a posture for a quick minute or two, you might be keeping it going for 5-20 minutes depending.  It was pretty neat to learn about a new style of yoga and I plan on using that at home since the routine wouldn’t have to have a lot of different postures involved.

We watched a movie called Titans of Yoga, which is about yoga teachers and why they started doing yoga in the first place.  We ate popcorn and drank tea and when the movie was over we went back to our rooms to relax and rest up for a very full Saturday.

Below, my sister, Sad Robots, continues her ongoing fitness rant (first seen here and then later here) by getting my readers primed and ready for the impending zombie apocalypse.  

Zombie Training

I’ve found that getting in shape is a lot more fun when I focus on being prepared for the impending zombie apocalypse. Personally, every time I get into one of my health “schemes,” it dies out because I get bored with the same old same old. Training for the zombie apocalypse keeps things interesting and ensures that I try new things from week to week. My friends and I have thus done the following so that when (not if) the zombie apocalypse happens, we will not only survive, but we will be the new leaders of the free world.

General health and fitness

We have to get the basics down before going into full-training mode. We’ve been getting into lifting and improving our nutrition in order to maximize fat loss, not necessarily weight loss. Our aim is not to be thin, but to be badass.


Navigating difficult terrain quickly, quietly, and with massive weight on our backs is a high priority in the zombie apocalypse. What is particularly helpful is the beautiful, varied, and vast Metroparks in the area. There are some great trails around here that have fairly difficult terrain, which maximizes utility. Eventually, we’d like to go on a weekend backpacking trip on the recently opened 22 mile backpacking trail, which has convenient campsites that you can easily obtain a permit for.

Note: I have yet to pee in the woods. I don’t think I really need to train this skill pre-apocalypse. I’ll deal with it when I need to.

Edible plants

We took an edible plants class at Aullwood recently. It was a Saturday morning (to the rest of the world: afternoon) so I kind of rolled out of bed and went, not giving a crap what I looked like because I assumed the class would be filled with elderly people who are tired of tending to their lawns so they want to learn how they should best eat their weeds.

I was not wrong.

However! The instructor was, well, “wowza” is the only adequate word to describe his appearance. The first hour of the class was a lecture and I would recount some of the information I learned, but it was very, very difficult to concentrate. The gist of it is that he recommended some books, warned against specific poisonous plants, blah blah, I really wasn’t paying attention.

Then we went outside to gather some plants, where the instructor promptly started grabbing random things and eating them. He called this activity “foraging.” He pointed out some plants for us to try and although most of them tasted like what you would imagine them tasting like (grass), some of them were actually really unique, delicious flavors. He also taught us which families were across the board edible and which you could eat the roots of, etc. and so on.

He frequently pointed out the best way to prepare most of the plants, and the answer was usually, “You could make a salad.” And then one of the elderly weed-eaters would point out, “Or you could make tea out of it.” It got kind of tedious.

The last stretch of the journey was actually cooking a meal with what we “foraged” plus what the instructor had partially already prepared. Our meal consisted of dandelion fritters and, erm, fried onion type things I guess. It tasted exactly like you would imagine such things would taste.

In all, it was a fun class, not really worth the money we paid for it, but we gathered some excellent resources and unique perspectives for surviving the zombie apocalypse.


We went to our first archery class a couple weeks ago at The Tackle Shack in Troy and it was a blast. The class is every Saturday morning from 10 – 11am and it’s a $10 flat fee. They also provide all of the equipment. There are people of all ages (and by that I mean there are a lot of young’ns but they were all very well behaved at the class I attended) and skill levels so it’s really not intimidating to go. My favorite part of the class was this conversation:

Instructor: So are you guys here because of the Hunger Games?

Friend: No. I’ve never seen it.

Me: [Looks down, shuffles feet because it’s secretly part of the reason.]

Friend: We’re here because we’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Instructor: [Totally serious] Ohh, I completely understand. I hear that’s gonna happen sooner or later. Well, I have some friends who got into blacksmithing to prepare for the zombie apocalypse. Maybe you guys would be into learning how to wield a sword too?

All of us: YES.

Story writing

Although I am not often bored, one particularly slow day at work, I decided to text a few random friends the question, “You’re watching the news and see that a zombie infestation has begun in New York. It hasn’t spread elsewhere yet. What do you do?”

From there, I roleplayed my friends via text through their own zombie apocalypse. What I found was that the longer and more detailed their stories became, the more I was able to cohesively arrange their plotlines so that they were eventually all part of the same story. It was a really cool experiment and I’d be interested in making it into a series of short stories. You know, if anyone would be interested in reading them. [Looks down, shuffles feet again.]

What’s next

We plan to go on that backpacking trip, shoot some guns (I prefer bows… silence is preferable in the zombie apocalypse), get fully caught up on the pop culture lore of zombies (there really isn’t much to do there; as I’m sure you can tell, we’re kind of zombie experts), take more classes that we find available with the various organizations that focus on survival skills, and continue getting in better shape.

Since I’ve gathered decent participation among my friends, I was wondering who else would be interested in joining our little zombie apocalypse training camp. Members wouldn’t necessarily have to do things with us (especially if you’re not in the area), but maybe we could keep in contact with each other and our activities somehow. I also wouldn’t mind designing and making some badges (they’d actually be 1.25” pinback buttons because that’s the machine I have) as long as the shipping/supply cost was covered. They’d probably be about $3 a pop, which includes shipping.

So basically, my question is, if I turned this little hobby into a little club, would you guys join? Would you like badges for accomplishments? What have you already done to train for the zombie apocalypse?

The weather in Dayton, Ohio has been a rollercoaster ride this spring.  We went from 85 degrees in March to temperatures in April reaching an all time low of 35 degrees.  Earth Day this year was in the 30s and very cold and uncomfortable to those of us used to around 70.  Since it wasn’t raining, my husband and I saw no reason to skip our Sunday walk at the park.  We packed up Julia! and went to Eastwood MetroPark, this time to explore the Buckeye Trail.

We had a great time seeing a totally different view of buildings we’re used to seeing from the front – we even found a really cool abandoned building. When we got as far as the Findlay Street bridge we turned back.  I think we’ll try to make it all the way downtown sometime, but probably on bikes.  Or with at least a picnic basket.

Some of these pictures show graffiti on structures around the creek, which I think is such a neat contrast and reminds me of Tadmor a little bit.  In this case, it’s the intersection of a dying city and decaying cement structures with nature, bursting with life and renewing itself again and again.  It was oddly uplifting.

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