Getting My Goat Yoga On

A few weeks ago I wrote about my experience with a room full of adorable kittens for cat yoga. But for the last year I have actually been dying to try goat yoga. Nashville, being the hipster metropolis that it is, has at least 2-3 goat yoga companies from which to choose.

I selected Shenanigoats Yoga to get on my nanny goat namaste. Shenanigoats is owned by Jamie (pictured below) and her family and it began as a goat lawn care service. However, that all changed after someone suggested she get into the yoga business. After a post in our local neighborhood Facebook group inquired whether anyone would be interested in local goat yoga classes, and hundreds of excited responses, Shenanigoats Yoga was born.

Shenanigoats hosts yoga sessions a few places around town, but I lucked out that one of those spots happens to be right outside of Bongo East, a coffee shop just a few minutes from my house. The class was led by Janaye Williams from Shakti Yoga.

Fortunately, it was only about 80 degrees outside. Which, for Nashville in August, is basically a cold front. Unfortunately, I still got a good bit of sun because I neglected my sunscreen. Oops!

Enough about me. On to the goats . . . and yoga.

There were a few dozen participants there for my session. Jamie said they sell out every class, which does not surprise me one bit.

We all lined up on either side of the fence, facing the center. I strategically picked a spot near a water bowl in hope that it would increase my goat traffic.

I was right. Several precious goats came by to pay me (ok, the water bowl) a visit.

One friendly little goat even decided to make itself at home on my mat. I, of course, had zero objections to this.

I spent most of my time taking pictures of and petting goats and little time actually doing yoga. But who cares! Goats!

Jamie and her family were also more than willing to assist with the perfect goat yoga poses. It was a little hard to balance on the grass when the sun is in your eyes, but perfect yoga form isn’t why we are there.

At the end of class, we all lined up shoulder to shoulder so the goats could run across our backs. It was adorable.

I had so much fun with Jamie and her goats and I have already promised a friend I’d make a return visit with her.

If you are interested in attending your own goat yoga session, Shenanigoats has all of their upcoming events listed here.

PS: If you want to keep reading about goats, see this post about my experience milking a goat and making goat cheese.

Chilling at an Ice Bar

As the temperature drops, the winter weather activities begin! Every year Gaylord Opryland features Ice, an indoor display of over two million pounds of ice sculptures hand-carved by 40 artisans. This year’s theme is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. (See below for an example of the carvings and a friendly abominable snowman.) The attraction comes with all sorts of festivities including an ice slide, snow tubing, ice skating, and for the adults . . . an ice bar!

ice-bar

The ice bar, like the rest of the attraction, is only 9 degrees so we were given special parkas to put over our winter wear to keep us warm. (The cold air was a dark preview of the coming months.) The parkas helped a little, but it was still pretty icy in there. The cold wasn’t too bad as long as I wasn’t trying to take pictures. Every time I had to remove my gloves my fingers received an arctic blast.

There were 3 drinks to enjoy: A Goose Island Beer; the Jolly Mint featuring Jackson Morgan Southern Cream and Hangar One Vodka; and a Merry Margarita featuring Milagro Tequila. The Jolly Mint tasted like chocolate milk and the Merry Margarita was the first tequila drink I have ever liked. It was a nice revelation.

abominable-snowman

While the ice bar was a cool experience (see what I did there?), I think it may be better suited for places like Las Vegas where you are trying to escape the heat instead of just exchanging one level of cold for another. It also made me rethink wanting to stay in an ice hotel in Québec.

This visit was also a good lesson that my current winter clothes will not cut it this December as I take my very first skiing trip (and that I should perhaps get some of those iPhone friendly gloves). Stay tuned for that adventure in the coming weeks!

Breaking Out of An Escape Room

If you haven’t heard of escape games then you are missing out on one of the country’s hottest new trends. Escape rooms are live action games in which players are locked in a room filled with puzzles and clues with the goal of escaping before time runs out. Over the last few years escape game locations have popped up all over the country and I have been itching to try one out. This weekend I finally got my chance to try to break out with The Escape Game.

Tete-a-Tete Opening and K.O.S. open galleries on Saturday February 6th, 2010 with annual members meeting and gallery talk with Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker.

There were several different games from which to choose, including Mission: Mars, Prison Break, Classified, Gold Rush, Underground Playground, Nashville Escape, and The Heist.

nashville heist paintings

We chose The Heist. I don’t want to say too much about the game and give any secrets away, but the gist of The Heist is that a famous piece of artwork has gone missing and has likely been stolen by the curator. It is up to us to recover the masterpiece. If we succeed we will be national heroes, but if we fail, we will be treated as common criminals by the authorities.

nashville escape heist elephants

In order to succeed, the team had to work together to finish in under 60 minutes. We were in a group with four strangers, but as soon as the clock started we worked as a unit to solve each puzzle. There are multiple clues to solve so the key was to split up the manpower but to also simultaneously communicate well with the rest of the group. There were way too many things to solve to try to attempt them one at a time.

nashville heist scrabble

I’ve always loved logic games, riddles, and mysteries, so the Escape Game was right up my alley. However, there were a few points during the game where we started to stall and needed some guidance. Fortunately, we were able to get a few “hints” from the Escape Game crew. I’m not sure if there were some red herrings in the room, but there were definitely some possible clues that seemed to go unused.

escape game nashvilleThe Heist is their second most difficult game with a success rate of only 26%. But, with just 1:56 to spare, we broke out! I didn’t think we were going to make it, but everything seemed to come together in the final moments. Everyone in the group had a great time and I know that I can’t wait to go back and try it again. I am already recruiting friends for another trip.

Attending a Rugby Match

I love sports. All sports. Seriously, I will watch anything with a ball, stick, or fast engine. (Trust me, I have a fish named Peyton Manning). However, I go a little stir crazy January-August when I can’t get my weekly dose of college football. Fortunately, the summer weather brings outdoor sporting events like the Bingham Cup.

The match I attended was between the Ottawa Wolves and the Madison Minotaurs. Having no allegiance to either team, I used a very scientific approach when choosing who to cheer for: I picked the team from my favorite city. Sorry Madison, but Ottawa is like Canadian Disney World to me.

Rugby Line-Out

This was the first time I ever attended a rugby match, and while I picked up some of the rules as I watched, I am still pretty confused by the sport. There are quite a few differences from American football (though honestly, I would not object to incorporating some rugby rules).

First, when a ball has gone into touch (out of bounds), the play is often restarted by a “line-out” (see above). The ball is thrown is thrown back in to members of both teams. The player receiving the ball is hoisted into the air by two of his teammates. The lifted player in the line-out will attempt either to catch the ball or to knock it back to another player on the team. It looks pretty impressive.

Rugby Scrum

The only thing about rugby I was familiar with was the scrum. Mainly because I watch too much Friends. A scrum is a method of restarting play that involves players packing closely together with their heads down and attempting to gain possession of the ball. It looks like a lot of chaos and I was really unable to determine how it worked because I could not see the ball through the mass of men.

Rugby Conversion

Otherwise, there are a lot of similarities between the sports. The ball is advanced through forward movement and plays are ended when a ball goes out of bounds/into touch or if a player is tackled and forward movement is halted. However, in rugby, it is common for the player in possession to “off-load” the ball, passing out of the tackle (before forward progress is halted) in order to keep the play alive.

In rugby, a “try” is the equivalent to a touchdown. Despite the names, a try requires the ball to be “touched down” to the ground in the goal area, where, ironically, a touchdown does not. An American football touchdown scores 6 points and a rugby league try is worth 4 points. Both sports also have after-goal kicks for extra points. In rugby, it is known as a conversion and worth 2 points.

Rugby Tackle

As is no surprise, rugby is a tough sport. I was really surprised to see that the players did not wear any pads. As a result, I was unsurprised to see several players get injured. For example, one player had a laceration to his forehead and he was simply bandaged up and sent back in.

At another point late in the game the referee noticed that one player had blood on his leg. The ref ask “is that open, or someone else’s blood”? The player determined that it was his own, to which the ref responded, “then rub some dirt in it, there’s no blood on my pitch.” The player then picked up some dirt, rubbed it in his wound, and resumed play. If that isn’t badass, I truly don’t know what is.

Rugby Kickoff

Rugby season and finals last through August 6, so if you are in search of a football summer supplement, look no further. In case you were wondering, the Wolves beat Madison in sudden death overtime 17 to 12. Go Wolves!

Now, for your enjoyment, the episode of Friends in which Ross attempts to play rugby and fails miserably. It seems like an accurate portrayal.

Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity

Last weekend I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for the first time. On my quest to try something new every week, this has by far been the most rewarding experience.

Habitat has helped more than 5 million people construct, rehabilitate, or preserve more than 1 million homes. Habitat builds affordable homes through volunteer labor and donations. However, it is not a giveaway program. The homes are actually sold to families at no profit, financed with 0% interest loans. The revenue received from the mortgage payments is then used to support Habitat. Additionally, the homeowners work alongside Habitat staff and volunteers and are required to invest up to 500 hours of their own “sweat equity” into building their home and and those of their neighbors. Habitat also requires that families go through background checks and attend homeownership classes on budgeting, savings, landscaping, home maintenance, and safety. 

Habitat for Humanity Day 1

My friend Kimi (from the polar bear plunge adventure) asked me if I would like to accompany her church, West End United Methodist, to a build. This is the 12th year the church has helped to sponsor and build a Habitat home in Nashville. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity. Working with Habitat has been on my To Do List since the very beginning. We showed up on the first day of the build which meant the only thing set up was a concrete slab to get us started.

Habitat for Humanity Pose

Fortunately, previous construction experience or knowledge is not necessary. The Habitat staff and volunteers will teach you everything you need and provide supervision and they will find you appropriate tasks based on your skill and comfort level. What you do depends on that stage of the build. On the day you volunteer you could be assisting with anything that helps get the house built and ready for occupancy, including framing, siding, painting, carpeting, and landscaping. All you need is a willingness to learn.

Habitat for Humanity Walls

Because it was the first day of the build, most of the tasks were related to the general construction of the house. We started with prefabricated walls, the placement for which was already marked out on the concrete. It was merely a matter of putting the right piece in the right place. Kind of like a 3D paint by numbers.

Habitat for Humanity Glue

As the walls were put up, construction glue was used to secure the walls together. After the walls were slid into place, in went the nails. Apparently, glue carries the load across a larger area while nails or screws carry the load in a focused area.

Habitat for Humanity Hammering

I loved how many female volunteers were present and taking active roles in the construction. Habitat runs a “Women Build” training program in which they teach women how to construct housing. Last year, Women Build crews built more than 2,300 homes.

Habitat for Humanity Lifting a Wall

Everything was a group effort and everyone lent an extra set of hands when it was needed. You can’t exactly put up the walls to a house willy nilly, so getting each wall exactly into place took some work.

Habitat for Humanity Internal Walls

By lunch, we had all of the external and internal walls up. We’d come a long way from a concrete slab.

Habitat for Humanity Pose 2

We took a nice break from lunch to enjoy some Southern home cooking and conversation. The weather was great and it was even chilly at times. Fall is finally in the air and temperatures dropped approximately 30 degrees from the previous weekend. It was a lovely day to spend 8 hours outside.

Habitat for Humanity Moving Wood

After lunch, it was back to work. Despite being small and inexperienced, there was plenty I could do on site.

Habitat for Humanity Insulation

My next task was to assist with installing the insulation. Making the homes energy efficient goes a long way towards keeping costs down for the families (the blue board insulation apparently saves about $200 a year). The boards were lined up and then nailed into place. We used plastic cap nails which prevented me from hammering nails into the insulation board.

Habitat for Humanity Insulation Installation

By the end of the day, the house was substantially further along than when we started. I wasn’t able to go back the next day because I had a full day in the office in store for me. This was one of my favorite New Things yet for multiple reasons: (1) it felt good to do something for someone else; (2) I learned a lot about construction, something I knew nothing about; (3) I met a lot of really cool people who made the day fly by with fascinating stories and conversations; (4) the work was actually fun to do; and (5) I got to wear an awesome pink hardhat.

Habitat for Humanity End of Day 1

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, grass-roots organization and does not receive funding from the government or any other agencies. Instead, Habitat accepts financial and material contributions to build the homes. There are many ways to support Habitat for Humanity or get involved. Certainly, the most entertaining way is to give is to spend a weekend (or more) helping construct a new home for a family in need. However, if you, like me, have limited time to give, you can donate money, supplies, or even gently used furniture.

If you are in the Nashville area and want to support Habitat, you can learn more here.

%d bloggers like this: