Go with the Flow

It’s been a busy week in the D’Annolfo household. In addition to the general craziness of life, this week I helped staff the middle school’s 6th grade camp experience. A dozen or so crazy dedicated staff members + a couple dozen adventurous parents + a bunch of high school students with a passion for service got together and tag-teamed a 3-day outdoor adventure for 250 6th-graders at Camp Wanake, just southwest of Canton, Ohio.

If you saw my Facebook video post from Wednesday morning, you have an idea how I spent those few days, teaching campfire cooking to groups of VERY excited 11-year olds. It was exhilarating…and exhausting. Yesterday, I slept most of the day. And I could probably manage that today, too, but life needs to get back to what passes for normal around here.

The weekend leading up to my camp experience was busy, too. Kassidy and I attended the first ever Columbus Yoga Festival, held at Camp Mary Orton.

The event was sponsored by Columbus Navigator which, according to their web site, “exists to showcase everything that makes Columbus special.”

Even if our daughter wasn’t a Buckeye (O-H…), we would agree that Columbus, Ohio is a special place. A big-little city, a whole lot of college vibes, tons of green space, and everything from theatre to comedy shows to hockey makes the state capital a great place to visit.

Given that this was the Yoga Festival’s kickoff year, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect, but what’s life without a little adventure? So Kassidy and I bought our $25 tickets and hoped for the best.

The day of the event dawned in typical Ohio fashion. It rained. A light drizzle transformed into a downpour before tapering off to a light, steady rain at 11am – kickoff time.

We decided to brave the elements anyway, counting on a forecast that promised a break in the weather around 1pm.

The event was very well-staffed. Two rain-jacketed individuals greeted us at the entrance, directing us to the correct parking area, where another staff member pointed us to the closest parking space.

The tickets were electronic, in keeping with the generally eco-friendly vibe, so I pulled them up on my phone and we were scanned in.

At first glance, it was easy to see this was a first year event. There were just over a dozen vendors sheltered under a series of connected tents. Food trucks were on standby, and a huge tented area was staked out off to the side – the outdoor space for various yoga sessions.

Yes, the sun did eventually come out!

A lodge-type area offered clean restrooms and a large room for the indoor sessions. Different sessions ran in two-hour increments, overlapping each other to keep the flow going. Sorry, just couldn’t help myself there.

We began our first session outside. Someone had clearly put up the tent before the rain began, as the ground was dry. Run by Heartfelt Yoga – the session was billed as an Intuitive Mix that combine yoga, reiki, and oracle cards.

The rain was actually a peaceful accompaniment as we moved through the various poses, focusing on our intention cards. If the intention on the card wasn’t for you, it was easy enough to choose your own. I decided to make being ‘present’ my intention for the series, as I have a difficult time shutting everything off and out in order to focus on the moment.

The session was great. The instructor had her hands full, given the number of participants, but she eventually made her way through all of us, touching each of us with essential oils that mixed with the scent of fresh rain and damp grass. By the time we ended, I was relaxed and ready to take on our next session.

We moved indoors for that, to a Sekoia class run by Yoga on High.

This class was meant to be an experiential session, combining “music, essential oils, meditation, restorative poses and reiki.” Unfortunately, similar to the previous session, there were so many participants that we filled two rooms, and the instructor had to modify. With poses that were more challenging than our first session, the focus was still on dropping into meditation.

My easily distracted self had trouble here, as the floors were creaky, and people kept coming in late. Two women carried on a whispered conversation right outside the door – at a volume that was just loud enough to be noticeable. Another guy sat at the back of the room and crackled his way through a food wrapper. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Could they not tell that we were supposed to be focused on peaceful thoughts? My thoughts ranged from a desire to quietly shush them to the desire to sit up from my child’s pose and “Yo!” them out of the room. Have some consideration people!

Anyway, we had some time between sessions, so Kass and I decided to explore the vendors. I am NOT a shopper. But give me local artisans selling funky stuff and I’m in.

It has been a long-running discussion that I would like a tattoo (nope – needle-phobic here!), so the sight of a henna tattoo artist sent us into delighted laughter. We chose designs, and sat patiently while they were painted on. Henna, if you are unfamiliar with it, stains your skin with the pattern of the dye, and lasts anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month.

We also discovered a must try. Vegan cookies from Ladybug Cafe.

I know. I know. Vegan never tastes quite right. Remove the buttery goodness and cut out the eggs, and well…. No.

But these were seriously some of the best cookies I have ever eaten. The oatmeal cherry could become my new favorite cookie. Owner Emilyjo Levy has mastered the flavor combination that makes for a perfectly balanced cookie. They are so good that I didn’t realize they were vegan until I was halfway through my first one.

We ended our day with a session that was delightfully different – Hikyoga. Nicole Kazimer founded Hikyoga with the goal of taking yoga outside. The practice combines hiking and yoga – two of my favorite activities – with events all over Ohio as well as New York state and Washington, D.C., to name a few.

Our session was run by Alison, from Cleveland’s Hikyoga. We began with a short warm up before hitting the trails. Once again, there were a lot of us, probably close to 30 people, and there was limited space to move, but Alison made it work.

We stopped twice along our short hike to engage in simple yoga flows and a guided meditation. For me, nature is where I go to find my soul and recharge. Everything else just drops away in the quiet.

I liked this session so much that I decided to follow Hikyoga Cleveland on Facebook and Alison on Instagram shortly after we wrapped up our cool down.

Spending time with my kids is never boring. But now that they are growing up, we have way more options for hanging out. This mother-daughter weekend was so much fun. We took a chance on an adventure and, not only were we able to benefit our minds and bodies, we were able to do it together.

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