Anya and I paddle her green aluminum canoe while our toddlers run their hands along the water’s surface or snack on nutritional food Anya has remembered to bring along (I consistently manage to forget. Anya not only remembers toddler snacks but also beer for the mamas). We met in prenatal yoga class and both enjoy getting out on the river whenever we can coordinate our schedules, and her husband, Gen, graciously sets our shuttle, then bikes home.

On one epic toddler canoe adventure, my son, Tobin, wouldn’t stop crying. He kept saying he was “all done.” The red shame of a misbehaving child on public display crept up my neck, turning my face flame red. I tried to console him. I tried to distract him with birds and clouds. Nothing worked.

And then Anya sang.

ky and anya canoeingHer voice was like listening to liquid sunshine. Tobin stopped whining and from his perch in the middle of the canoe, gazed up at Anya’s long blonde hair in total rapture. I stopped paddling, resting my blade on my lap, feeling myself relax. I wanted to somehow cup my hands and catch the sound to save it for later realizing that an amazing voice is perhaps the best skill in a mama’s arsenal.

That’s how I learned that Anya sings. She’s the female vocalist, guitarist, and fiddler for Tellico, an acoustic band infused with an unbridled organic Appalachiacana sound that hit the Asheville music scene a year ago. Before forming Tellico, Anya played with the Asheville-based bluegrass band Dehlia Low. They recorded three independently-released albums together between 2007 and 2010; their fourth album, “Ravens and Crows,” was released on Rebel Records in 2011. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign last fall, Tellico has been busy recording their first album, which will be released in June.

I’ve had the pleasure to run and paddle with Anya, and see her on stage. The more time I spend with her, the more I’m inspired not only by her many talents and accomplishments, but also by her unassuming nature and couldn’t wait to interview her.

How have your work-outs changed since having a baby?

My workouts have acquired a new, enormous, expensive, overbuilt but very light and maneuverable accessory: the Bob stroller. There have been many phases involving Sachi and the Bob throughout her three years, but in contrast to what their advertising photos might like to make you think, she has never consistently liked actually being IN it. When she was really little, much of the time I walked and pushed the empty stroller while she was strapped to my body in her papoose/carrier! I would get a short run in during the periods when she fell asleep if I could gracefully transfer her into the seat without waking her up!

Now that she is a toddler, she wants to do everything herself, including running too, which really is pretty great even though I desperately need MY workout! But ultimately I love that she sees that exercise is an important part of our lives and that she wants to run too.

Being unable to have as much control over my workouts has freed up my mind to appreciate what’s going on around me a lot more. When I’m out, it’s especially great to see all the different bodies, ages, and ability levels out getting exercise. Running slower allows me to do ridiculous things like running and smiling at the same time. I’ve been amazed by the power of smiling, even when I don’t feel like running at all. Smiling helps me appreciate my body and its efforts more fully.

What advice do you have for other parents looking to run with a toddler?

I guess my advice (to myself and anyone else that might be reading) is to keep it simple so it happens. I’m opportunistic about running, embracing it when I have the chance and letting it go when it isn’t going to happen. It’s actually a nice way to approach life, if I can actually remember to take my own advice. Plus, sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s totally epic, so don’t worry too much if there are some fantastically miserable moments.

Does running inspire your music?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with life and its contents and just getting out for some fresh air and exercise is a way to feel human again. To look at the sky and remember that I’m a part of this whole big thing, but just a very small part, and that it’s ok, everything will be ok. The things that feel frustrating, or uninspiring, or terrifying, become more manageable after a run. I get ideas and gain some courage, small steps forward to help chip away at that feeling, that heavy dark threatening presence that follows us all around.

Going for a run here and there, as often as I can may seem like a small thing. Actually, a few miles at a time can create seismic shifts that happen naturally with the modest but notable effort to get out and lumber around my neighborhood on foot.

There have been times that I’ve been interested in monitoring my workouts closely, have had ambitious performance goals (during a number of years racing road and CX bikes), but these days I want to be as unconnected to fitbits and power meters and heart rate monitors and runkeepers as possible. Sometimes I might have a surprising thought, or a snatch of a melody, or a memory come out of nowhere. A window opens. I can feel my brain get all squishy and I know things are working differently up there.

Where can readers listen to your music? How can they connect with Tellico?

We have a lot of shows in the region coming up, including a special release show on June 5th at the Isis Music Hall in West Asheville and some fun outdoor concerts (NOC, US Whitewater Center, summer concert series in Cashiers, Franklin, Jonesborough, Winston, etc.) and lots of other things that will be a blast. Our website and Facebook page list upcoming shows and have all the info plus music and other fun stuff.