Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Pilot, teacher wears many hats

Annie Harper has tried her hand at numerous activities and careers.

When Annie Harper’s mother told her she could be anything, she listened. And she has spent her life trying on different careers and hobbies to see what fit best.

“I have had a lot of transitions. A lot of it was simply because I had to do something different ... just to put food on the table. But it is great when you can have fun putting food on the table,” she said with a laugh.

And she certainly has done that. She is an equestrian, a pilot, a boater, practices meditation, is a yoga instructor, a Realtor and artisan. Harper has done a little bit of it all.

The North Carolina native began her eclectic journey with horses. She grew up training the animals and taught lessons, even riding professionally for a number of years.

Eventually, the winds of change blew her on to other ventures. One of the grandest was studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the spiritual leader that drew the band The Beatles to India in the 1960s.

“This was later ... in the early 70s. I did (meditation) teacher training with his program in Europe. We did six months total and some of it was with him, not all of it ... the course was mainly taught by others,” she said. “We did two months in Germany, two months in France and two months in Switzerland. So I taught that for a while, which is how I got into yoga. They gave you some simple yoga poses to do before you began the mediation. So that is where it started.”

Over time, Harper expanded her practice, especially after moving to the Golden Isles around 2000. She completed her yoga teacher training and now instructs bi-weekly at Balance Wellness on St. Simons Island.

“I do a vinyasa flow now and I just love it,” she said. “I don’t do (transcendental meditation) in my classes but I do some short meditations in my classes.”

Transcendental meditation and yoga were the beginning of passions that would last decades, but certainly not the only ones nurtured over the years. Harper also took up flying, obtaining a pilot’s license, and eventually becoming a mechanic.

“I had my own plane ... and it was an aerobatic plane because I loved being upside down. I was working in financial planning at the time, but ended up to work in aviation,” she said.

As with her previous experiences, aviation became the foundation of another interest. When her plane needed repairing, Harper was hands on, learning from a master mechanic.

“My plane needed to be rebuilt and it was a fabric covered plane. I found someone to help me but then I discovered that I really love working with my hands, so I became an aircraft mechanic,” she said. “I was in aviation for a long time in Atlanta. I took care of a fleet of 13 at a flight school. I took them for test runs. So all my flying was either a test run or upside down.”

Today, she volunteers with search and rescue missions.

“It is one of the oldest units in the country. It was started during World War II,” Harper said. “I go up with another pilot and we look for stranded boaters. This place is so beautiful from the air.”

The beauty of the Isles — from the air or the earth — amazes Harper on a daily basis. On many days, she can be found boating or paddle boarding in the waterways, something Harper loves dearly.

“Aviation, that was more of a career. Yoga is my heart. And the water ... that’s my passion,” she said.

But ever open to new challenges, Harper continues to discover new things. She picked up wood working and recently started to make malas, which means “garland” in Sanskrit. She creates both bracelets and necklaces, which contain 108 beads and are used for meditation or chanting.

“My friend made one for me and I told her ‘I’d like to learn how to do this.’ So I went to a workshop in Jacksonville and really fell in love with it. I love the stones and making them is very meditative for me,” she said. “The beads have to have a knot between them so it takes some time but I love doing it.”

Harper sells her malas, based out of Balance, but only does so to be able to continue making them.

“I just love doing it and really only do it to support my ‘habit,’” she said with a laugh.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://thebrunswicknews.com

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