Relax & Renew: Costa Rica Yoga Retreat

I planned this yoga retreat long before I knew how much I would need it at this time of my life. I did my first yoga retreat several years ago, in Nicaragua, and I loved it. I’ve been doing yoga for more years than I can count at this point, but retreats are special. It’s a great opportunity to deepen your practice and spend time with like-minded people, exploring a new place. Ever since Nicaragua, I’ve kept an eye out for the right retreat and timing and, luckily for me, a studio I practice at locally, Radiance, was putting together a retreat. Before I could find a way to talk myself out of it, I put down my deposit and was locked in. I didn’t anticipate that by the time I was boarding my plane, I’d be in the midst of a divorce and trying to come to terms with my senior dog being a newly diagnosed diabetic, but I’d like believe the universe had set me up to be right where I needed to be when I needed it most, connecting with the best people to help me on my journey.

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After two flights and a long, sometimes bumpy van ride, we arrived at Ahki Retreat. I’m not sure I can do justice describing how it really is a paradise setting, so I’ll just let the photos do the talking for me. We spent a week here, doing two yoga practices a day and eating amazing vegetarian food for all our meals. I am the furthest thing from a vegetarian in real life, but I promise you, if the staff at Ahki were cooking for me at home every day, I would be in a heartbeat. So good. When we weren’t yoga-ing (or eating), we were hanging by the pool (there is no better nap in your life than one on a swinging bed in a poolside cabana), getting massages and body treatments, and exploring everything Costa Rica had to offer by going horseback riding, surfing, shopping, stand-up paddleboarding, and ziplining.

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I did both the horseback riding and the ziplining. I don’t have photos from the ziplining – I was way too terrified to even think about taking photos! – but I do promise that it was worth it. After I got past wondering how to say “holy shit!!” in Spanish, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I am terrified of the idea of falling, so doing it was a big step in addressing and overcoming that fear, and the ziplining guides were awesome. I highly recommend both a sunset horseback ride and ziplining if you find yourself in this area of Costa Rica!

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We also spent some time in the closest “big” town, Nosara, getting ice cream and shopping. Towards the end of the week, we went out for dinner at La Luna, where we enjoyed a lovely, leisurely dinner literally on the beach while we watched the sun set into the Pacific Ocean.

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I am so grateful for this trip, the experiences I had, and the people I met. I can’t wait to do it again. Pura Vida!

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The Library of Congress

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, containing over 164 million items, including over 38 million books. The Library is the research arm of Congress, but anyone 16 and older can register for a reader card and have access to the Library’s resources for doing research. Twice a year, the Library opens its main reading room to the general public for viewing. Being such a huge bookworm and having Columbus Day off work, I headed down there to check it out.

I am embarrassed to admit it, but I have lived in the DC area for almost 15 years, and this is the first time I’ve set foot in the building. And I was really missing out. Aside from the reading room, the whole building is really a work of art. I was so happy to be able to spend some time enjoying such an amazing space that houses so many treasures. I hope you enjoy some of the photos I took, and if you are ever in DC when the reading room is open, I highly recommend taking the time to take a peek.

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Yep. They have a *real* card catalogue.

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Most of the items they had on display were (really impressive) facsimiles, but this is the real deal – a Spanish dictionary from the 1600s. They have others in storage so are allowed to have this original out for people to touch. The librarian who showed it to me said a lot of people who do research on that time period will use the dictionary so they are getting the original meaning of the words. So cool to be able to see and touch a book that old!

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Nostalgia: My Alma Mater

I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic lately. Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons, or the season of change I am going through personally. Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking back on the people and places that have helped shape who I am. As for a lot of people, a big part of that for me was my college experience. I went to a very small liberal arts college in the hills of West Virginia called Bethany College.  Bethany was affiliated with the church denomination I grew up in, and when I took a trip to Bethany in middle school as part of a church history education trip, I decided that was where I was going to college. I toured only two other colleges (Miami of Ohio and the University of Cincinnati, in case anyone cares) and applied only to Bethany (which, in retrospect, is not really an approach I would endorse, because what if I hadn’t gotten in? But that’s what I did). And then I spent four wonderful years there.

Bethany is so beautiful, and it was about the perfect distance from home – close enough I could go home for a weekend if I wanted, but no so close my parents could just pop in unannounced. :) It was also not far from Pittsburgh, so if we wanted some city shopping, clubs, or food, we could be there in about an hour. And I’m not kidding when I say Bethany was *small* – my graduating class was around 200 people. Even “big” lecture classes were engaging, and for our  smaller seminars and classes, professors would even sometimes host us at their homes. There was one bar in town, Bubba’s, and who can go wrong with a bar called Bubba’s?

Because of its small size, you got to know your classmates really well. I’m fortunate that I’ve retained a lot of friendships from school, particularly from my sorority.  I went into college dead-set against against joining Greek life, but once I met the women from Kappa Delta there, I knew I had found a home away from home. We were, by and large, a band of misfits, but damn, did we have fun together, and loved each other as fiercely as sisters should.

I was up in WV a few years ago for a wedding (my Bethany freshman year roommate!) and had some free time, so drove up to the school to wander around a bit. And then I never did anything with the photos, until this weekend, when my nostalgia encouraged me to finally get around to them. So, without further ado, here is dear old Bethany.

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Abandoned in Virginia

Maybe I’m weird, but I love things that are falling down or apart. Not too long ago, I had the chance to explore an abandoned home in southern Virginia. I hope you find this house as interesting as I did!

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Riley’s Lock

There are no shortage of things to do in the DC area, and they aren’t all museums and monuments! When the weather is nice, we try to get out and explore, taking our dog with us as often as possible. Back in February, on an unseasonably warm day, we headed up to Maryland to check out Riley’s Lock. Riley’s Lock is located in Seneca Creek State Park and is part of the C&O Canal.  In this area, there are lots of parks along the canal, so plenty of great opportunities to get out and explore, walk, bike, or picnic.

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While we were walking, I was *super* excited when we stumbled across the remnants of the Seneca Stonecutting Mill. Abandoned building? Yes, please!

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On our way home from exploring, we made a quick stop at Glen Echo Park. It’s not a very hopping place in winter, but I’d love to go back now that summer is on the horizon and check out the carousel or some of the events they have going on.

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All in all, an excellent day of exploring places I had never checked out before. There is an advantage to being married to someone who grew up in this area and thinks of places to go that may never even cross my mind. I’m looking forward to our next adventure!

Oak Hill Cemetery

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I am weird in that I *love* cemeteries. I love exploring them and have ever since I was a little kid. I think my parents were quite concerned that anytime we drove anywhere, I asked to A) drive past the prison in our town and B) go look around cemeteries. (So far I have seemed to avoid the serial killer career these interests might seem to imply.)

So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that, for my birthday this year, my husband took me first to explore Oak Hill Cemetery, followed by dinner at my favorite tapas restaurant. Headstones and sangria? Win.

We didn’t have as much time to explore Oak Hill as it deserves, so I will certainly be making an expedition back, but here is what I captured for now.

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Fall 2016: A Summary

Yep. Totally slacking. My last post here was 9 months ago.
Oops.

I, for one, am glad 2016 is winding down. I can’t say I haven’t been doing any photography, but for most of the last 9 months, the thought of getting out and doing it has been, frankly, exhausting. Even just working on fun stuff for myself. 2016 was not a terribly easy year for me.

This was a year where I could feel the almost constant nagging of depression and anxiety. I’ve long struggled with those things, but sometimes it’s just a more frustrating fight than others. I hate it because it affects what I want to do, my relationships, everything. Then in August I cleverly managed to break my foot (hint: be careful stepping off curbs…no…really…they can just jump out from under you at any moment).  As soon as my foot was back to normal(ish), I was so eager to get back to normal I promptly messed up my shoulder at the gym and am still dealing with the consequences of that. So, needless to say, I am planning on 2017 being a better, less injury-prone year.

I wasn’t a total loss on photography, though. I did manage to get out and explore a bit, just in my own neighborhood. Fall is my favorite season, and when I do convince myself to get out and play, I am always rewarded by how much better I feel when I am done. So here’s some of my “just for me” work – I hope you enjoy!

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