Month: June 2013

Kayaks and killer bees

I’m not very good at relaxing and not having packed schedules.  But I’m realizing that it’s a skill well worth developing.  Every now and then, a few days of nothing could be just what the doctor ordered. 

That’s what I did this past weekend.  I came up to Atlanta Thursday afternoon, my only objective being that I wanted to go dancing.  It was the 4th anniversary party of Wicked Westie, and I really wanted to be there for this one.  In years past, I had always been out of the country and never able to make it; since I was so close, I figured this was the best chance I may get!  So I went, and it was fun; albeit swelteringly hot and suffocatingly packed.  But I’m still really happy that I went. 

The rest of the weekend, though, was what I truly needed – no structure.  I slept in Friday morning, visited a few friends over the course of the next two days, and generally was just able to recharge a bit.  On Friday night, I went on a moonlight kayak ride with some friends from Wicked Westie – so much fun!  We started while it was still light, so we got to see the whole spectrum – from full daylight, to a vibrant sunset, and culminating in a beautiful moonlit night.  I’d never done anything like that, and I really enjoyed it.  We were on the water for just over 2 hours; my body was definitely feeling it the next day!
Aside from the random attack of the killer bee, it was a lovely weekend.  That bee, though…I swear it was something straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  I was sitting in a little park reading, minding my own business, when all of a sudden a bee flew in my face.  I absentmindedly swatted it away and didn’t think anything of it.  And then I suddenly realized that my ear felt a bit weird.  That little monster had lodged himself in my ear!!  And man, by that point he was mad.  If you had been there, you would have been laughing at me.  I’m sure I looked completely insane.  I was running around, violently shaking my head to get him out of my hair, swatting madly at the air, trying to fend off his persistent attacks.  Judging from the throbbing ear that I’m still suffering from where he stung me, I would say that the bee definitely won that round.  But I eventually killed him, so I won the war, hehehe. 

Random story, I know, but I thought it was worth sharing.  Thank goodness I’m not allergic to bee stings!!  I wish I had some pictures to show you, but this weekend my camera was on vacation, too :).

The gem of Albany

People who say that there’s nothing to do in Albany really just haven’t looked hard enough.  I often say that boredom is simply a lack of creativity, and that statement is applicable even if you’re living in a small town like Albany.

Case in point: the Radium Springs park.  I found this beautiful gem nestled on the outskirts of the city a few weeks ago.  I could give you directions to it, but couldn’t include any nearby landmarks, as there is really nothing of note anywhere in the vicinity.  You are driving along, passing old houses and country roads, and then out of nowhere, you see a huge white fence – the entrance to my new favorite place in Albany.

Landscaped gardens, beautiful winding footpaths, majestic trees, whispering water running from Georgia’s largest natural spring…walking into the Radium Springs park felt like stepping into another world.  The remains of the historic 1920’s casino that used to be one of the main revenue generators in Albany only serve to add to the general allure.

I sat there, imagining the bustling business, the patrons lounging on the deck or frolicking in the water or strolling the grounds, and just drank it all in.  It was so peaceful and beautiful and relaxing and…in a world, wonderful.  I’m firmly of the opinion that anyone experiencing writer’s block or artist’s block or any other kind of block can come to Radium Springs and get a quick jolt of rejuvenation.  It’s just that lovely a place.  And while you’re at it, bring a picnic lunch.  And a book.  And maybe even a frisbee or a football :).

My friend James, who introduced me to the park

People who dance

People who dance have an aura about them that is found among few other people.  They have the ability to walk into a crowded room and be instant friends with everyone there.  In fact, people who dance don’t even need to share the same language – they can have whole conversations with each other without ever uttering a word. 

People who dance stay up all night, not to welcome the sun, but rather because they simply can’t go to bed when there’s good music playing.  People who dance simply can’t let a good song go without moving their feet.  And so they stay in hotels, even when they live in the same city, just so that they can get a few more songs in without having to drive home. 
People who dance are often called obsessed by people who don’t.  But people who dance prefer the term passionate.  People who dance are passionate about life, passionate about their friends and family, and passionate about dance.  People who dance spend inordinate amounts of money and time pursuing their passion.  They take private lessons, go to workshops, and travel to distant cities, all for the sake of exercising their twinkling toes.
People who dance refuse to let their lives pass them by while they sit on the sidelines and watch.  They have chosen to be active participants in this thing that we call life.  This I know…because I am one of those people.
So anyway, I went to a dance weekend (Grand Nationals Dance Competition) in Atlanta a few weeks ago…check out some pictures below!  I probably averaged about 13 hours of dancing every day – it was great!!  Highlights would definitely be meeting awesome people from around the world (and getting to spend more time with my friends from Atlanta!), and entering the Jack and Jill competition.  I was the first alternate for making finals – missed it by one point.  Dang.  Buttttt….Kellese Key, one of the pro instructors, complimented me the next day, saying that she remembered me from the competition and that I had done really well.  That was enough for me!  I can place in finals next time… 😉

People in Strange Clothing

It’s so strange some of the clothing that we have deemed culturally appropriate for certain occasions.  Who decided that graduates should wear a shapeless robe with a square hat on their head?  Or that brides should almost universally wear a white dress on their wedding day?  Or that performers should wear skin-tight and brightly colored outfits?  Whatever the reason, my second weekend in Albany gave me run-ins with all three.
I went up to Atlanta on Thursday night so that I could go dancing at Wicked Westie.  But then Friday morning I was off to Birmingham, to see Micah, a dear family friend, graduate from high school.  Our moms have been friends for years, and most of my memories of Micah are from when he was younger than Matt, so it was super weird for me to see him in a graduation cap and gown.  But I was also very proud of him, and it was great to see his whole family again – I’m always traveling, so it had been years since I had seen them. 

Nathan and his wife, Emily – I haven’t seen them since their wedding!

The whole Roberts clan

Saturday morning, I headed back to Atlanta to attend the wedding of my good friend, Philip.  Philip is the one who introduced me to west coast swing dancing – we used to practice together for hours when I was a student at Berry.  He also loves to travel and learn languages, so we always had a lot to talk about.  He’s such an inspiring, motivated, encouraging individual, and I was so happy to be able to be there for his wedding.  The reception was a blast, too.  He and his new wife are both dancers, so of course there was a lot of dancing.  But there were also fun little things that I had never seen before, like a trivia contest in which they asked questions about themselves, and the guests competed to see which table collectively knew the most answers.  It really was a ton of fun.  I’m going to have to ask them for tips when I’m planning my own wedding, lol.  It was even better because my wonderful, good-natured fried Elizabeth came along with me – even though she knew absolutely no one there.  She’s such a good sport.  But I think she really had fun, and I know that I certainly did – it’s amazing how much more enjoyable something is when you experience it with someone you love.

I loved the groom’s cake!!

The next day I met up with Elizabeth again, along with two other dear friends, Amy and Jen, to go to the Renaissance Festival!  When I was a student at Berry, I always enjoyed going down to this annual event in the Spring, but between traveling, graduating, and starting grad school, I haven’t been able to go for a couple years. 

But I finally made it back, and it was such a blast!!  Spending time with dear friends totally made up for the fact that it was pouring cats and dogs for much of the time that we were there.  We took advantage of the shops while it was raining – dodging from one vendor to the next during lulls in the rain, and then cutting up inside while the floods raged outside.  But it was also clear for enough of the day that we were able to see some cool performances and demonstrations, too.  We listened to a ‘gypsy’ storyteller, watched a guy throwing clay for a while, and then sat in on a glass-blowing demonstration that was absolutely mesmerizing.  Of course there was also the prerequisite joust reenactment and acrobatics, as well. 

Jousting competition

Fire juggler / comedian.  His performance got cut short because of the rain 🙁

Being silly while we waited out the storm….

That’s a real person.  So….terrifying….

Watching a potter do his thing 
…and the glass blowing demonstration!  Incredible!!

My favorite performers of the day.  Acrobatic fire-juggling virtuosos 

This year’s Renaissance Festival just goes to show that you can enjoy whatever you’re doing, as long as you decide to focus on the good.  Despite the chilly weather and torrential rain, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a Renaissance Festival so much as I did this year.  I’m so grateful for the lovely ladies that I got to share the experience with!  God had truly blessed me with some incredible people in my life.