Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Island Girl

My friend Franny is a true island girl and can speak volumes on what makes Madeline Island unique.  I met her several years ago and we became friends as our kid’s lives intertwined and she began to show up to some of my yoga classes. 
Often throughout the summer days I would see Franny riding her bike around town, at the cliffs where our kids swim, and sometimes on the golf course.  Her love of the island, her family, and health meant a lot of common ground for her and I.  So when I asked her to be my biking guide for the Yoga, bike, and hike retreat, I was thrilled with her acceptance.
We both return to “the real world” when school resumes: she is  in Stillwater, MN and I return to Eau Claire, WI, but our technologically advanced kids skype and we had an opportunity to chat on the phone recently about the upcoming summer.  Here’s a bit about Franny and her musings on Madeline Island.
Amy:   You have spent many years on Madeline Island.  Give us a little history on your life here and why you spend time on the island in the summers with your family.
Franny: I grew up on Madeline and came from a long lineage of O’Briens that had history there. My father still spends every summer there and six years ago my husband Joe and I built our own summer place to share with our family. 
Amy: You are very active, not only on your bike, but you play tennis, swim, and we see you at yoga classes.  How has your love of fitness shaped your life? 
Franny: I have been interested in fitness and health as long as I can remember and come from an athletic family. Staying active is the best way to for me to relieve stress.  I consider myself a Type A personality and any physical activity is an outlet for me.  I’m a jack of all trades, master of none but never afraid to try something new.  More recently, I’ve become more in tune with the value of strength and flexibility and how that lends itself to a better active lifestyle overall.
Amy: What do you love the most about Madeline Island?
Franny: Where do I even begin? From the moment I board the ferry I leave all my worries behind and get immersed in the magic of Madeline Island.  Since I grew up spending summers here it always bring back this sense of feeling like a kid again.  It’s funny how I remember feeling jilted because as kids we didn’t go to a traditional summer camp and now I realize that we had the best summer experience any kid could ever hope for.  I’m so glad I can pass that same experience on to my children.  Spending time up here means time with family, cousins, and life-long friends. It means enjoying moments in a beautiful surrounding where you can’t help but feel happy and at peace.
Amy: Tell us about your biking hobby.  How long, how far, when did it begin?
Franny: My love of biking is more recent and was kick started (no pun intended) with an interest in spinning classes.  As I began to bike more I started to prefer recreational road biking and the benefits of good equipment and gear became an interest.  On Madeline Island I can get on my bike and ride for miles and miles not worrying about a cell phone or any other distractions. It is a road biker’s haven because it is relatively flat and the scenery is gorgeous.  I am not a hard-core biker and look forward to leading women on a much more casual bike trip with an emphasis on appreciating the beauty of Madeline Island. There are few places that give me that feeling of freedom like the breeze in my face on a bike on the island.
Amy: Our Yoga, Bike, and Hike retreat will be held on July 8-11 and is going to be fabulous time.  You will relish in the beauty of the island, experience a renewing yoga practiced designed to open your body to the physical activity of hiking and biking, and spend time experiencing all of the very best (teachers, accommodations, and food) the island has to offer.  Join us.   

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