Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Out There Early Couturier --- Day 4/61

Walk: Mindful Body, Nopa Restaurant
Distance: 1 mile and teach yoga class

Elsa Schiaparelli, Nature-based Fantasy Dresses (1930's)

Ciwt enjoyed learning more about Italian-born Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973).  While Schiaparelli was unrestrained and often whimsical in her originality, she didn't let that override fashioning her garments to flatter the female form.

Buttons on this Opera Suit are small grand pianos.

Dinner Ensemble is inspired by Spanish traditional dress.

Ciwt would love to have this Evening Jacket.  Schiaparelli developed a lifelong interest in the heavens from her uncle, who was a prominent astronomer.  She used celestial iconography in several collections between 1935 and 1940.  This jacket was a collaboration with master embroiderers Albert and Marie-Louise Lesage.  With its beadwork stardust, silver and gold planets, rhinestone crescent moons, and other fancy stars and zodiac signs, it is considered Schiaparelli's ultimate personal and artistic statement on the planetary theme that was so important to her.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Tutu Too Much --- Day 4/60

Walk: Day of rest
Distance: 0, home yoga


Fresh off her afternoon at SF Ballet's Don Quixote, Ciwt's mind has turned to the tutu.  The garment's origin is mysterious, but it showed up memorably in an 1832 Paris ballet performance and soon became standard wear for ballerinas.  It also soon acquired a dual significance.

On the one hand, it was light and graceful emphasizing the airiness of the dance and ethereal beauty and lightness of its dancers who flitted across the stage like sparkling sprites and princesses.  But on the other hand, the tutu revealed the leg, which at the time was scandalous, so the garment was immediately controversial.  Furthermore, while the the famous ballerinas enjoyed a celebrity lifestyle, their attendant fairies and princesses on stage were mostly poor, low class girls in reality.  On them the tutu went a long way to transform them into sexual objects. Solicitation of ballet girls by rich and influential gentlemen of Paris (and often their acceptance) became institutionalized.  Probably it is no coincidence that the skirts became progressively shorter and stiffer.

Interestingly, this garment made it to the runways in Spring, 2011 when an attempt was made to revive the couture House of Worth.  One of their earliest collections featured none other than the tutu.  Photobucket  Photobucket
Lovely, and surely very costly.  But...Where, By Whom, To What would these be worn? Ciwt was not surprised to learn that the fashion part of the revived House of Worth has been discontinued while the fragrance division remains. All of which will eventually seque CIWT into the original enormously successful and multi-generational House of Worth.  Stay tuned....

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Utterly Different and Two of a Kind --- Day 4/59

Walk: Cinema Club, Woodhouse Cafe, Trader Joe's
Distance: 3.5 miles and home yoga

Two recent movies plus life these days has highlighted a topic that is on Ciwt's mind but which she probably won't write about.  Too sweeping, too political, it's all been said - in any number of contradictory ways - so Ciwt's words aren't necessary.

The topic?  The insanity of war.

Why now?  Two excellent movies about war she saw recently.  Very different in style, but the bottom line is exactly the same in each.  The first movie was '71, a visceral, violent portrayal of what is euphemistically referred to as 'the Troubles' in Northern Ireland.  '71The year chosen was 1971, but the conflict has been given the dates 1969 when the first bloody riot erupted until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

Those dates are as fluid and inexact as the action in '71, the movie.  Ciwt goes to many movies, and this is the first where it remained incomprehensible throughout which characters were killing for what cause.  Really it was hatred, rage unleashed and untethered so, when the killings came, they were instantaneous and nobody - even if they started with an ideal or a cause - really had any discernible reason for doing them. It was violent beating and shooting and bombing and yelling completely out of control - by everyone.

At first Ciwt thought the filmmaker sort of didn't realize how confusing this all was for the audience to watch.  Then she assumed at some point all would be explained.  No, the ultimate message was in the utterly chaotic, random medium.

The second movie was a small Estonian masterpiece which Ciwt saw today: Tangerines, about a Abkhazia-Georgia conflict as the Soviet Union was collapsing. Tangerines The writer-director here made a quiet, melancholy, small-scale statement.  But the message is identical: war, once begun, quickly devolves into pure chaos utterly removed from any human values or ideals.

Adding to the canon of war - or anti-war - writing is not for Ciwt, but she can report that these two movies, while not perfect, go deep and stay with her.  You might want to see them.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

SF Ballet: Just Go --- Day 4/58

Walk: SF Opera House (Don Quixote ballet)
Distance: 5.5 miles and a little bit of stretching

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Ciwt was sort of dreading  two and a half hours of ballet.  Light, but it just flew by.  She actually laughed out loud at a few of Sancho Panza's antics in this comedic and lyrical take on Don Quixote.  Gorgeous visuals: dancing, sets, costumes.  Not to mention that SF Ballet's dancers are right out of Hollywood central casting   Image result for don quixote ballet san francisco Image result for don quixote ballet san francisco

Friday, March 27, 2015

Once More with Feeling (Ciwt wishes)* --- Day 4/57

Walk: City Centre Theatre ('71), Mindful Body
Distance: 2 miles and teach yoga class

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Once more, presenting Charles James.  Just look at all that gorgeous fabric, creative construction and drapery.  And try to imagine all the techniques that don't meet the eye but hold the gowns in sculpture like position.  Truly a fashion genius.

*At this time, if one of these gowns - the most expensive in the world when created in the 1950s - was up for auction, it might fetch somewhere in the six figures. Touching would be out of the question for Ciwt (or most) - financially or, for conservation purposes, in fact.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wellness Break --- Day 4/56

Walk: Whole Foods Van Ness
Distance: 2.4 miles and home yoga

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We interrupt our latest cruise through the Scottish Galleries Art and the Brooklyn Museum Costumes to bring you a wellness reminder.

Specifically a reminder that, no matter the body, we all lose flexibility as we age, and one activity affected by ongoing tightness is walking.  For example if there is tension between our calf muscles and our heels, we can tend to catch our toes, stumble and fall.  Since our bones also weaken with age, falls can lead to fractures - especially of the hip. Then there is the potential hospital care, etc, etc.  (I have friends who remind each other daily "We cannot fall!")

The good news in this dire recital is Yoga!  In the case of the calf-ankle connection, the good news in particular is Downward Facing Dog which works that area as well as many other parts of ourselves. In many yoga modalities, Down Dog is the most frequent pose in each practice session.  For good reason: it inverts us so prana can flow to our hearts and brains; it strengthens the hands, wrists, shoulders; it opens the entire back body from the feet, through the length of the spine into the arms and hands.

And more. Like all active stretching*, Down Dog improves mind/body connection, alignment of joints, mental focus.  And more.

There are modifications depending on your physical condition.  For instance: bending your elbows and doing down dog from your forearms, keeping your knees bent, straightening one leg at a time/bicycling them, simulating the pose against a wall, table or chair, or other modifications you might invent.  And Ciwt always recommends a warm up of your choice to prepare for more demanding, fully extended poses.

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*Also, bike riding, swimming, doing the stretches in the classic Anderson book "Stretching." Tai Chi is great. Too there are excellent alternatives to hatha/movement yoga (which she teaches): restorative, Iyengar, chair yoga, yin yoga. The main thing is being present (which usually means listening to your breath and body)  in whatever active wellness you choose. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Tree Goes to the Ball --- Day 4/55

Walk: Mindful Body (2), High Tech nails
Distance: 1.5 miles and teach yoga class

Charles James was a man of restless, unpredictable and unorthodox creativity.  It almost wasn't in him to create the same fashion twice, and there was no knowing what his next garment might be except that it would be an unforgettable, utterly original amalgam of mathematics, architecture and sculpture.  And it would be made of rich delectable fabrics - usually yards and yards of them - tucked and draped and seamed with utter precision often over rigid underlying corsetry of his own invention.

Although James inspired and fascinated generations of designers, admirers and collectors, his name is not generally known. He was prominent for less than 10 years (1947-54 in New York) and his total output was fewer than one thousand garments in his entire fifty year career.

One of these garments is the striking "Tree" Ball Gown of 1955 designed for Marietta Peabody Fitzgerald Tree.    Yesterday Ciwt how the gown is able to stand on its own.  It turns out there James invented many hidden solutions to this defiance of gravity including zippers, bone, weights.  The gown's embedded structure likens it to standing sculpture. Halston himself referred to James as the Leonardo da Vinci of fashion.  He was far more interested in the construction of his clothing than the comfort.  Looking as the yards and yards of fabric* and thinking of of the rigid seaming, zippers et al,  Ciwt does not envy Mrs. Tree wearing her gown.

*Image result for Charles james 'tree' evening gown There is even more fabric than meets the eye.  When Mrs. Tree walked, white satin facing supported by a profusion of colored tulle added romance to the visuals - and more weight for her.

Tree Gown, other Charles James garments and many more historical high style items are on view at the de Young Museum's Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection Show (March 14 - July 19, 2015)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brooklyn Costume Show Coming up on CIWT --- Day 4/54

Walk: CPMC, Mindful Body
Distance: 2 miles and teach yoga class

How does this dress stand up?  Stay tuned....

Monday, March 23, 2015

Early Tech Lover --- Day 4/53

Walk: Trader Joe's, Davis Foot Comfort
Distance: 2.5 miles and home yoga

Fernand Leger (1881-1955), Woman and Still Life, 1921, oil on canvas

Simple, streamlined, sensuous.  Simultaneous homage to the machine and the female nude.
Ciwt found this Leger work the most appealing of all she's seen.  Soooo many masterpieces visiting us from the Scottish National Galleries.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Glum in the Sun --- Day 4/52

Walk: Sundance Kabuki/Cinema Club (Sunshine Superman), Laurel Village, Trader Joe's
Distance: 3 miles

Glum today.  Maybe because spent yesterday reading a book about  -- death/dying: Irvin D. Yalom, Staring into the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death.  Think it had the opposite effect on Ciwt. Seemed empty, shallow, smug, overbearing and less.  Anyway, not recommended.

Then a movie with Sun in the title: Sunshine Superman about the 'father' of BASE jumping.  Ciwt happens to know a bit about this activity, its history, its pioneers, and Sunshine... just didn't hit the mark for her.  Made her a little glummer.

Oh well, Mamma said there'd be days like this  (< click on this)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

You Are There --- Day 4/51

Walk: No (being a little careful with feet)
Distance: 0, home yoga

Andre Derain (1880-1954), Collioure*, 1905, oil on canvas  (National Galleries of Scotland)

Here you are at the absolute beginning of Fauvism, before it had a name.  As Derain painted this oil he worked side by side with Matisse at whose house in Collioure he was staying.  Matisse was already in love with the intense light of this small Mediterranean port, and it didn't take Derain long to catch up and to be swept up in Matisse's enthusiasm for the intensely bright and sensuous energy of colors he felt himself (and probably was) seeing for the first time.

All summer the two painted together and remained friends even though their artistic lives went in nearly opposite directions.  Derain ended up renouncing not only Fauvism but abstraction in favor of embracing neo-realism.  (See CIWT Days 344, 345, 2/21, 3/218 for more on Derain's painterly path). But for Matisse the abstract use of intensely colored forms remained with him to his dying day, culminating - Ciwt would say (along with Many) - with his poetically reduced cut-outs.

*Please see CIWT Day 3/317 for Matisse paintings of Collioure

Friday, March 20, 2015

Scotland's Visiting Matisse --- Day 4/50

Walk: Fillmore Street, Mindful Body
Distance: 2 miles and teach yoga class

Henri Matisse, The Painting Session, 1919, oil on canvas

Probably loyal CIWT readers assume Ciwt loves all things Matisse without qualification.

No, for instance the painting above which to her lacks much life or resolution.  It seems more studious; like Matisse had something on his mind he was working out.  The washy, uniformly undifferentiated artist/self portrait indicates to Ciwt that Matisse was not trying for a finished work but working through an unfinished concept. This is reinforced for Ciwt by the fact that the artist in the painting is looking away from the apparent subject, the girl at the table with the mirror and still life. His attention is not on her but on a Madonna type figure which he is loosely roughing out. And both he and she are portrayed in gold tones often associated with the Orient.  Perhaps Matisse, now in Nice and becoming deeply aware of and smitten by the Moorish Occidental and African cultures, is sharpening his turn away from Western perspective and toward abstract form and essential color.

In any case, Matisse appears to be a man of two minds here.  This would be completely in character as he was obsessively driven to work and continually called by - he might say at times at the mercy of - creative artistic sirens.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Good, The Better --- Day 4/49

Walk: Union Square, Inverness
Distance: 1 mile

Good: Haircut and will update officially complete
Better: Got to do latter on a beautiful day in Inverness

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Patient Painter --- Day 4/48

Walk: Legion of Honor (Costumes from the Brooklyn Museum Show), Mindful Body
Distance: 1 mile and massage

Richard Dadd (English, 1817-1886), Sir Alexander Morison, 1852, oil on canvas

What have we here?

After traveling by the paintings in the preceding entries as well as many other tranquil masterpieces, Ciwt was taken aback by this unsettling painting. Certainly unlike the proud, resplendent full length Clansmen portraits in the room before it, and, to Ciwt's mind, creepy wherever encountered with its gaunt, staring figure, unsettled sky, and odd perspective.

As it turns out the painting was done while the artist, Richard Dadd, was an inmate at a psychiatric facility and is a portrait of one of his doctors.  One wonders what he actually thought of his physician in this recuperative environment.  Dadd had been in one years before when he was diagnosed to be of unsound mind and taken by his family to recuperate in the countryside.  That was early spring 1843, and in August Dadd became convinced his father was the Devil in disguise, killed him with a knife and fled for France.  En route there, Dadd then attempted to kill a tourist with a razor.  At this point he was returned to England where he was committed to psychiatric institutions and put under the care of various physicians including the esteemed Sir Alexander Morison above.

Knowing this, Ciwt wondered why Dadd's work would be purchased and displayed by the Scottish National Galleries.  Apparently Dadd was a renowned artist in England before his drastic mental collapse, and was encouraged by his doctors to continue his painting while institutionalized.  It was in his various hospitals that Dadd created his most celebrated masterpieces full of obsessively minuscule detail such as The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke (1855-64) which hangs in the Tate Gallery:
The Fairy Feller's Master- Stroke (1855-64), 26"x 21", o/c

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ah Dinnae Ken* --- Day 4/47

Walk: The Mindful Body, Pet Express
Distance: 1.5 miles and teach yoga class

Remember Henry Raeburn's portrait of  Colonel Alastair Mac Donnell of Glengary from CIWT 4/40? Ciwt was interested to see another Raeburn portrait at the de Young show of treasures from the Scottish National Galleries.

Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823), Portrait of Sir John Sinclair, 1794-5, 93.7" x 60.63", oil on canvas

There are many Raeburn poraits as he was both popular and prolific, but what intrigued Ciwt was the difference in outfits  between Sinclair and Mac Donnell.  Both are full length, hand on hip and in full tartan, but Mac Donnell is clad in a kilt while Sinclair wears Argyll pants   or, more precisely, trews.

Ciwt wondered which - kilt or trews - was the most proper for Highland formal dress.  This led to research but no exact conclusion except that the wearing of Highland dress represents the proud heritage of a proud people and very few liberties are allowed.  As far as Ciwt could understand, trews and kilts are equally acceptable. But, on this point, she would be of opposite mind from Sir John Sinclair.  It is said he personally devised the trews uniform for his portrait because he wished to convey that the trews garment - as opposed to the kilt - was the most ancient and proper Highland dress.  The fact that Mac Donnell's portrait followed Sinclair's makes Ciwt wonder if he was visually stating his opposite sartorial opinion.

After her research Ciwt has come to the following conclusion: "Ah dinnae ken" which is Scottish for "I don't know."*

Monday, March 16, 2015

I'll Have the Next Masterpiece, Please --- Day 4/46

Walk: Trader Joe's
Distance: 2 miles and home yoga

Sir Henry Raeburn (Scottish, 1756-1823), Reverend Robert Walker (1755-1808)
Skating on Duddingston Loch, ca. 1795, oil on canvas

So, what's not to like, starting with the complex and softly glowing colors?  Sir Henry Raeburn was Scotland's premiere portrait artist, entirely self-taught and electing to stay in Scotland for his entire painting career and life.  Such was Scotland's gain.

Ciwt found the de Young's description of this special painting to be excellent (statue added): This portrait of Robert Walker, the minister of Edinburgh's Canongate Church and a leading member of the city's highly selective skating society, is regarded as an icon of Scottish culture and one of Raeburn's greatest achievements.Walker's balletic pose overtly recalls the Renaissance sculptor Giambolgna's famous statue of Mercury in flight Image result for mercury in flight giambologna, while it also illustrates a sport increasingly popular among the city's elite.  Raeburn's inventive spontaneity extends to the painting's foreground, where he painted a dense network of hatched lines that represent the grooves made by the skaters on the ice.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Only a Mother.... Day 4/45

Walk: No - Fluff up deck and flowers day
Distance: a little around the 'stead and small yoga

Only a mother could love these fresh new faces of her miniature maple's first 2015 blooms after their annual (scary) long and desiccated dormancy.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

As Modern As An Old-Fashioned Girl Can Get --- Day 4/44

Walk: Trader Joe's, Sundance Kabuki (Cinderella)
Distance: 4 miles and small yoga

So now Ciwt has seen the animated Disney, the ballet, the opera and today's modern/psychological new movie of Cinderella.  The latter wasn't all that modern so the Cinderella story is essentially the one we know.  The movie is a bit uneven but punctuated by many wonderful moments: Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy GodmotherImage result for cinderella movie 2015
for one and the coach  Image result for cinderella movie 2015 turning back into a pumpkin Image result for cinderella movie 2015     for two.  Also fine acting by Cate Blanchett and Derek Jacobi, some delightful nods to the original Disney movie, and you won't be as likely to cry Eeeek when you see your next mouse.

Kenneth Branagh (Director) keeps all ages engaged, but never lets the movie totally transport the adults.  (Ciwt can't speak for the children in the audience, but they were quiet).  For Ciwt, Diana and Charles, Princess Grace and some of the real princess stories we're aware of by now hovered out of sight but in her consciousness.  So, when she returned home, she was happy to see Callie and didn't feel the least gypped that her Prince wasn't there.                            

Friday, March 13, 2015

Next Scottish Galleries Masterpiece

Walk: de Young, Mindful Body
Distance: 1 mile and take yoga class

So, did you recognize this painting as a Vermeer?  Ciwt actually did not.  Perhaps because of its unusually (for him) large size and unusual (for him) biblical subject matter.  Probably both of these anomalies mean the painting was commissioned, most likely by a Catholic Church.

But still there is that glowing light of Vermeer's, the quiet intimacy among the subjects, and have you ever seen a more human and relaxed portrayal of Jesus?

Johannes Vermeer
Dutch 1632-1675
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, ca. 1654-1655
5'3" x 4'8"
oil on canvas

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Masterpieces All --- Day 4/42

Walk: CPMC, Corte Madera
Distance: 1.5 miles and massage

Sandro Botticelli (Italian, 1444/5-1510), The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child (The Wemyss Madonna), ca. 1485, tempera, oil and gold on canvas

Goodie, Goodie, the art loving part of Ciwt is Happy to announce the de Young has an outstanding collection from the National Galleries of Scotland on view and, at last, a new reason to return again and again. Exceptional, virtually all masterpieces, almost took Ciwt's breath away.

Ciwt wasn't sure where to start writing, but then thought "The Early Italian Renaissance of course - and one of the most celebrated masters." Also one of the first paintings/masterpieces in the exhibition.

Like most people when Ciwt thinks Botticelli, she thinks Birth of Venus  Image result for birth of venus or
Primavera Image result for botticelli primavera both beautifully dramatic allegorical paintings.  So she was arrested and moved upon encountering his exquisitely quiet and tender Wemyss Madonna.  Where has this painting been?  Why out of the history books?

Well, it turns out Ciwt was not alone in her unawareness of this Madonna - which Botticelli himself considered his masterpiece.  The artist's judgement did not gel with that of a couple of influential art historians, particularly the renowned Bernard Berenson who pronounced it a workshop copy.  It is even speculated that the famous art advisor to millionaire collectors made this pronouncement in order to reduce the price.

Berenson was not able to buy it, but the painting was relegated to virtually obscurity in a remote Scottish estate until a Christie's expert visited it in 1980 and realized immediately what he was looking at: the best Botticelli he had ever seen.  And that was with many coats of yellowed varnish!  As the masterpiece revealed itself in the slow, laborious cleaning process, its brilliant colors and serious, melancholic presence became more and more evident. This to the point where the conservator working alone, patiently and closely with it not only uncovered one of a handful of authentic Botticelli signatures but began to feel he was encountering a sacred moment. For good reason.

From Botticelli to Braque at the de Young

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Picture Before They Go --- Day 4/41

Walk: Union Square, de Young Museum
Distance: 2 miles

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bonnie Art Tomorrow --- Day 4/40

Walk: Mindful Body, Fillmore Street
Distance: 2 miles and teach yoga class

Henry Raeburn, Alexander Ranaldson Mac Donnell of Glengarry, (1812), 95.1"x59.1",o/c

Ciwt is looking forward to encountering this consummate Scotsman again (he was visiting the Frick when Ciwt was also visiting New York) tomorrow at the de Young's Masterpieces of the National Galleries of Scotland.

Monday, March 9, 2015

And...It's alright --- Day 4/39

Walk: No; (yesterday 4 miles, no yoga)
Distance: 0, home yoga practice 

Edward Hopper, Morning Sun, 1952, oil on canvas  (Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio)

Ciwt was back in the will update business today but enjoyed the sun and beautiful weather streaming in her windows.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Please Pass the Earplugs --- Day 4/37

Walk: Fillmore (2), Geary P.O. to mail thank you
Distance: 4 miles

Ciwt (once aka Pooh) is so old she remembers dinner parties where no one discussed politics.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Always the Best Day --- Day 4/36

Walk: Fillmore Street (x2)
Distance: 5 miles and small yoga stretch

Busy enjoying the day; catch you tomorrow.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

See You At The Met --- Day 4/35

Walk: Corte Madera
Distance: 1 mile and home yoga

Ciwt thinks this upcoming Metropolitan Museum project sounds very worthwhile.  Maybe you too?
The link to the video above is here, and the Met's description of the series is below.

Ever since it was founded in 1870, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been a place where artists come to gain inspiration from works of art from their own time and place, and also from across time and cultures. 

Beginning on March 25, the Museum will launch The Artist Project, a new online photography/video series in which we give artists an opportunity to respond to our encyclopedic collection. 

For one year, we will invite one hundred artists—local, national, and global—to choose individual works of art or galleries that spark their imaginations. The artists will reflect on what art is and what inspires them from across five thousand years of art at the Met. 

Episodes will be released over the course of five seasons, and these artists' unique and passionate ways of seeing and experiencing art will encourage all Museum visitors to look in a personal way. 

Want to stay informed about featured episodes and new released? Sign up nowto receive updates. Help us spread the word about The Artist Project byforwarding this email to friends and family, or by sharing it on Facebook.

Justified Sadness -- Day 4/34

Walk: Union Square, T. Joe's
Distance: 6 blocks,  home yoga  (still trying to stretch out those feet)

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 Last six episodes ever of Justified, and Ciwt is going to be justifiably sad when these two frienemies are history.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Under Consideration --- Day 4/33

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 1 mile and teach yoga class

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