O Angelina

A Girl and Her Dog: Living, Loving, & Enjoying the Little Things

Chinese Latern Festival

Charlotte, Living Well, ThankfulAngelina OberdanComment

I grew up going to the annual Japanese festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and seeing the lanterns there. They were the stuff of dreams; I imagined the fairies of my story books playing in the garden, and geisha dancing in the glowing lights. 

The touring Chinese Lantern Festival, currently at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens is just as awe-inspiring. The light filled animals, their bright colors, stirs even the imaginations of adults. This not just for kids. 

These elephants--which create an elephant fountain of sorts--were made out of tea sets, saucers and plates strung together, none of the elephants exactly the same. 

These elephants--which create an elephant fountain of sorts--were made out of tea sets, saucers and plates strung together, none of the elephants exactly the same. 

Some of the lanterns even moved like the dragonfly below. 

There was even a moving T-Rex, but Dan and I were to busy being silly while our neighbors took pics for me to record it. 

Ah, a former Philmont ranger in his natural habitat! Hope he secured his bear bag.

Ah, a former Philmont ranger in his natural habitat! Hope he secured his bear bag.

In the collage below are some of my favorites: cranes that can see into your soul, a festooned butterfly, alligators that remind me of Louisiana, a fox pup, and a kaliedoscopic water bird in a fountain of lotus. 

This is actually the first lantern as you walk into the garden. We walked the garden twice, once while it was light and once in the dark 

This is actually the first lantern as you walk into the garden. We walked the garden twice, once while it was light and once in the dark 

While, clearly, you don't have to be a professional photographer to take some good snaps, once it gets dark put your phone away and just be. 

(Also, I'm apparently obsessed with lantern festivals; I'm headed to Las Noches de las Luminaries in Phoneix in December.)

Denver: Last Post About My Summer 2017 Adventures

Angelina OberdanComment

Really, the best part of visiting my dad, Keith, in Denver at the end of the summer was that I got back on track with all running, swimming, and biking that I love doing. 

And, as some of you know, I'm on another interesting adventure, so I wanted to make sure I got this one posted first.

Denver is the only city other than Charlotte that I'd consider living in because it's quirky and gorgeous and has even more green space(There are a larger predatory animals in Denver, which freaks me out; I do not want to have to worry about mountain lions.) 

Let's be real. Since I was diagnosed with RA--or really, since before I was diagnosed and my hands were swollen and I was exhausted--, I haven't been working out as much. And I love working out. I kept swimming, because it's the only thing that doesn't have too many bone-related risks. However, the summer pool schedule is wonky, and I wasn't making as many practices as I wanted. I started running again in May, but was really scared and slow. After all, RA usually effects hands and feet. It's not in my feet yet, so I had to get over it. I love running too much. I also had to get over not being as fast as I used to be. And I hadn't been on my bike since sometime last fall. While biking is good for RA because it's low impact, I was scared the pressure on my wrists would make my fingers swell and I wouldn't be able to brake or even steer. 

So our first mission in Colorado was to get me some confidence in running and biking. I was super slow running, but my dad was pretty nice about it.

And biking was actually fine, although I'm going to get my bike refitted before I hop back on it for a long ride. We also got to see some Bighorn Sheep! 

We didn't just work out, of course. We also drove up the beautiful mountains to the Breckinridge Wine Festival, where we also grabbed some heavenly Mountain Top Cookies. I did not hold back even though they aren't gluten free. 


We also hit the Renaissance Festival. I've never been to one, and the costumes we saw were totally worth it! Plus I got Keith and Nancy to wear those hats! 

While I didn't take pictures, all of my favorite breakfast places are in Denver, too! 

There was also some napping, an Arctic fox on the wing of my airplane, and my mom happened to be in town for work, so we met for a glass (or two) of wine. 

I did have the most fun swimming in Chatfield Gravel Pond with Keith! 

I gained a ton of confidence back about what my body can do, and spending time with Keith is always good for my soul. Already planning my next trip.... But hopefully he'll come out to Charlotte soon (wink, wink- Keith are you reading this?) 

Mother-Daughter Yoga Retreat

Adventures, Events, Living Well, ThankfulAngelina OberdanComment

My mom and I spent a weekend at The Art of Living Retreat Center this summer. We'd been looking for yoga retreats for years, but most of them didn't fit our calendars. This one finally did, and it was in Boone, NC, so it was easy for my mom to fly in. 

When we went, we took advantage of the mother-daughter retreat, which we could schedule any time, including (in coordination with my summer teaching schedule) Thursday through Saturday. 

Our stay there included a room near the spa, pottery, yoga and meditation, massages, and three vegetarian meals every day. 

Our pottery session was scheduled right after we arrived, and it was so much fun! Getting dirty and doing something with my hands (which I haven't really been able to) was a great way to start off the weekend of relaxation. 


In addition to the planned activities, we came up with some mother-daughter stuff that, while cheesy, was a lot of fun. Honestly, a few weeks before our trip, we both got worried that the retreat would be too yoga-y, that everyone would be really intense, that our Diet Coke habit would be shunned. So we started planning things that we liked to supplement the trip. For example, we bought a handful of books on our way up to the mountains, committing to read at least one each while we were there so that we could trade before my mom left.

I also ordered us One Question A Day books, in which you can record the answer to one question every day for five years. That sounds like pressure, but it's really not. The questions are short, and if you skip a day, it's not a big deal. It also gave my mom and I something to talk about while we were there and a conversation to carry on afterwards. 

The best part, I think, was that we brought our laptops, but neither one of us opened then.

Of course, the mountains and facilities were gorgeous. We had not idea that this place was there. It's a huge retreat for the Art of Living Foundation founded by the mediation guru Sri Sri. 


The truth about the yoga and the meditation and the chanting is that some were better than others. I was not into the chanting at all. It was fun watching other people get into it, but it was not for me. I basically just said "banana" over and over, so we only went once. The mediation was actually really good; it was fun to just be quiet and center myself, be just in my body. (Okay, I admit it; I did fall asleep one time, and my mom almost interrupted all the other mediators by laughing at me.) And the yoga wasn't quite as awesome as some yoga studios I've been to, but it was fine. It was different and the atmosphere was amazing. 


Finally, we see that the woman we’ve come to think of as Mom — whether she’s nurturing, or disapproving, or thoughtful, or delusional, or pestering, or supportive, or sentimental — is also a mysterious, fun, brave babe.

"Our Mothers as We Never Saw Them" by Edan Lepucki

I actually think it was the best trip my mom and I have taken together in years (not that our other trips weren't great). This was just the best. We both got away from our lives and were able to connect to ourselves and each other. 


Our pottery turned out pretty cool, too!