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June 11, 2023-TarzanBrown–Nature, Perseverance & Inspiration-Prasarita-Cranberry Orange Muffins

So, a couple of weeks ago, determined to find the new trail in Carter Preserve dedicated to Tarzan Brown, I set out again. I had forgotten that King’s Factory Road turned right toward Wood River Junction (near my old house) – it included some trails I used to explore many years ago when I lived there. Another glorious hike, this one longer, tranquil, and again filled with a cacophony of bird song. I zipped my phone into my pocket on “do not disturb”, navigated by the blazes and found myself totally absorbed in the present, admittedly a rarity for me.

I suggest trying the trail, or many of the others in the beautiful Carter Preserve.

Although I knew about Ellison “Tarzan” Brown, I took some time to learn more and become inspired by his story. He came from very humble beginnings, often running barefoot in races when he could not afford the shoes. He was very proud of his native American roots and ultimately trained in the traditional craft of stone masonry. He loved both nature and running and often disappeared into the woods running and living off the land for a week at a time. He won two Boston marathons (1936 and 1939) and competed in the Olympics in Hitler’s Germany (but had to drop out due to an injury). He suffered challenges of racism and poverty; and was open about his struggles with alcohol. Many marathon winners garnered good jobs and prosperity after their wins, one wonders if racism was why this did not happen for him.

His life is inspirational to me; I loved the stories his family related about how he could be chopping wood one moment, and see a bird or something in nature, and would walk away to explore not returning sometimes for 2 hours or 2 days. I suppose that could be frustrating to a family, but I understand his passion. (Side note, his wife reports not being worried as she knew that was who he was). I loved reading about how later in life he took his young relatives fishing and walking in nature. For more about him, see the attached articles, especially interesting is how his run in 1936 helped foster the name Heartbreak Hill in the Boston marathon route.

Our Practice - Prasarita Padottanasana (Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold)

In general, back bending asanas (poses) are warming and invigorating, forward folds are inherently cooling and calming to the nervous system. Forward bends feel like they provide easing of the mind and body – even if they do not feel “easy”. Let’s try some cooling forward folds to nourish ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally. After a long hike or run in the woods, this pose may feel really restorative!

This pose is great for stretching your hamstrings, calves, and hips; strengthening your feet, ankles, and legs; and may ease low back pain .

  • Come to the long side of your mat in tadasana (mountain pose)

  • Step your feet apart, with your hands on your hips.

  • Lift tall through your whole torso and fold forward bending from the hip creases (not curving your lower back. When your back rounds, stop the folding, place your hands on the floor or blocks, shoulder width apart; begin to stretch your torso forward.

  • As you fold deeper, your head is toward the floor, your leg muscles firm and activate your inner thigh muscles. Spine is long from your bones to the crown of your head.

  • To come up, after several breaths, you can come to flat back hands on hips to spine or toe heel your feet a bit closer, place hands on thighs, and roll up.

Meditation – Challenge

Finding inspiration in challenges, perhaps taking inspiration from Ellison “Tarzan” Brown.

“Crossing the starting line may be an act of courage, but crossing the finish line is an act of faith. Faith is what keeps us going when nothing else will. Faith is the emotion that will give you victory over your past, the demons in your soul, and all of those voices that tell you what you can and cannot do and can and cannot be.” – John Bingham*

“When we are willing to risk venturing into the wilderness, and even becoming our own wilderness, we feel the deepest connection to our true self and to what matters the most.” – Brene Brown

Nurturing with Food – Cranberry Orange Muffins

I was driving in the car the other day with my friend Paula. I found myself buying a coffee (I have not had coffee for 10 years except for my recent Italy trip and another one I had taken in 2016-I guess the coffee in Italy is that good) and a corn muffin. Not a healthy one like I would make or even one from a good bakery but the kind with too much sugar from Dunkin Donuts. A friend of mine would say “with icing they would be cake!” Still, I ate the whole thing and enjoyed it! I do realize that my taste for all things savory - not sweet - is a bit odd.

I love muffins that are not too sweet and do not taste like dessert. The way I always imagined muffins must have been originally before the “super-size me” effect took over making everything bigger, sweeter, and full of things we do not need. We adapted this recipe from one by Cookie and Kate, a recipe site that I consistently find excellent healthy baked goods on. These taste to me just like holiday cranberry nut bread, in a mini form, and are healthier too! Now this is what a corn muffin should be! (And you can add more sugar).

*Who is John Bingham? He was an American politician who served as a Republican representative from Ohio and as Ambassador to Japan. In his time as a congressman, Bingham served as both assistant Judge Advocate General in the trial of the Abraham Lincoln assassination and a House manager (prosecutor) in the impeachment trial of U.S. President Andrew Johnson.

See you on the mat,


Julia Anne

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