Packing (or procrastinating from packing writing a blog post)

Procrastinating

I have been having a hard time forcing myself to pack up.  And I am an organization freak too, so that is odd for me.  I realized that this is because this is really the first big step that makes this all real.  It will also mean living minimally for several months here in Florida while I am working.  I have had this plan for so long, but most of the plan involved sitting tight and saving money and waiting for the right moment.  Well the right moment never came and I realized I have to really take the moment I want.  So, although it is not leaving the country yet, it is a first step to being there.

Also I think the unknown of no address and no stuff to keep me “comfortable” and “secure” is something I am more nervous about than traveling.  Traveling sounds exciting.  Moving and selling things and not having “my own space” is terrifying.  I am giving up a lot of stuff I thought I needed to be happy because I could not do what I wanted to do in order to do what I want to do.

“You are not your words, you are your actions.”

I have been told this many times.  Now it makes so much more sense.  You can say I am the type of person who likes to travel or you can say I am a traveler.  Saying you like or want to do something does not tell if you are a person of action or just a dreamer.  People say a lot of crap but their actions prove those words and put dreams into actions.  So I am going to be a packer for the rest of the night.  I am going to put up our garage sale on Craigslist with a list of pictures of my big ticket items.  I am going to be dedicated, dedicated to myself and to my dreams.

This weekend I need to pack, pack, pack.  I have an eye appointment Friday to get glasses and a massage and therapy appointment on Friday (necessary for all this stress).  I am going to be a packer not a pack rat.  I am going to live a life of memories not of stuff.  I am going to be a doer and not an I will do it tomorrow-er.

Any other site suggestions for posting garage/yard/moving sale items?

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Things I will miss most #3: yoga community (also how I found yoga – also very long)

Before Yoga

I used to do yoga in college and then when I graduated and there were no more free yoga classes I thought, crap, I am not paying 12 dollars a class for yoga.  Even three times a week at least, 4 weeks a months.  That is a lot of money.  So what did I do?  After trying to use the gym at my apartment complex and running outside on black racer snakes because I lived in an apartment complex in the middle of a swamp in Winter Haven, Florida  (I like to hope they were black racers I just made sure to wear thick socks and pants) I joined Gold’s Gym, of course.  The first time I made that mistake and sadly not the last.  Not that the facilities of Gold’s Gym are not nice, but contracts are horrible and even with moving out of town or tearing a ligament I paid hundreds of dollars until they canceled my account.

But I digress, I took Body Flow, which is sort of a mix of yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi and cardio kickboxing.  I also lifted some and used the elliptical (still nursing ACL injury, elliptical felt good at times over running).  I did lose a lot of weight but was not advancing in yoga and ended up going to a Pilates studio with reasonable prices to fill the gap.  Two moves later I joined a Golds Gym where I currently live because of the awesome Pilates instructor, who sadly does not work there any more, and body pump.  Only instead of losing weight I was gaining bulk and on my larger frame that looked sort of scary, as my father told me.

So I started running a lot in a half marathon training group and doing resistance band workouts and yoga tapes at home.  Only my legs have never appreciated running a lot.  My calves were sore by quarter of a mile and screaming by 1.5 miles, which is why it never occurred to me one should run more than 1-2 miles.  I started learning about trigger point therapy and necessity of massage.  Only it kept getting worse, only to find out I have bone spurs in my heel bothering my soft tissue and muscle on the back of my leg.  So I ramped down my running some and missed my half marathon.

Reintroduction, via the “Hippies”

So last year for Memorial Day weekend my friend Ni and I went to the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, my tradition for the past 4 or 5 years.  Its great and FREE for general seating.  (Though get premium.  I keep saying after each year I regret not getting premium seating but then the next get cheap and do not get it again but regret it.  It will be sold out the day of show.)  The forever cheap person that I am, I get the cheapest hotel Priceline negotiator will give me above 3*s.  Usually it is 30-40 dollars a nite but this year it was 50-60 and not as close downtown, it is across the river.  Each day two to three times a day we would walk the several miles to the stage, including up and down the bridge.  We would walk the half mile to two miles to get air conditioning and a large cold water for 50 cents at the cookie shop at the Jacksonville landing (just inside the door).  We would walk back and forth from the different stages, about a quarter of a mile.  And we went all three days.  So in all, there was a lot of walking.  By the last day my right leg was killing me.  I could hardly place my foot down.  My arch hurt, my calf hurt.  It was horrible.  Horrible.

Ni had visited what she described as a “hippie” tent and got a massage the day before.  I stated there is no way that a 5-10 minute massage would be worth it.  I have trouble relaxing enough for it to benefit.  By now I was desperate, not liking the prospect of the walk to dinner and then the walk back.  So trying to decide if I would miss Herbie Hancock or not by going to get a massage (and how would I ever allow myself that, he is awesome!) I finally gave in and went and got a massage.  We left our spot in the charge of our neighbor we called pimp daddy (he was wearing almost all coordinating red and had a cane) and walked back to the hippy tent.

At the tent I asked who was there if I could get a massage on my calf and not a chair massage (I think Ni got a Thai yoga massage).  I explained what was wrong and he said he had the answer.  The guy, who I learned was Keith at Ananda Kula Yoga, Holistic, Health, and Pilates, agreed and here I was face down on a blanket on the street in Jacksonville with a guy I had never met and knew no credentials testing out my pain threshold in my calf.  It was amazing though.  10 or 15 minutes and my calf felt like new!  No pain at all!  I never had experienced that before.  Keith mentioned maybe I should not run so much, which was not an option at the time, but has since become the norm because when I run too much it hurts still.  So I run a few times a week at most, but the most helpful thing he suggested, was to find a holistic yoga studio to go to in order to stretch and in general get to a better place in health.

Community

So I took a flier and wished I could get a full massage (the next day was Memorial day and no availability).  But I did go back to Orlando and find Serenity Now Yoga Corp.  Now, my therapist had been telling me to go to yoga for a long time.  So I went to a Happy Hour Yoga class with Juliette Woranov and loved it.  So I came back again and met Lee Clise.  It stuck me immediately as a place where people ask your name, they ask how you are and want to listen.  They want to know what your goals are and any problems you are trying to work through with yoga.  Everyone knew each other and went out to happy hour after class and went biking and running and did all of these things as a community. Dacia Milescu, the owner, has this vision of it being a one stop shop for your health.  There is yoga and massage and psychotherapy and acupuncture and meditation…they offer everything their clients want and are constantly changing things to meet the clients needs.

Suddenly I was with people in yoga class and really realizing the difference of having friends in your life who are very attentive to what their wants and needs and health are.  I had always been taught this is selfish, but being around people who are really aware of who they are has shown me how much more free, open, and accepting people are when they accept and nurture themselves.  Conscious living I hear it referred to.

A few weeks after meeting Keith at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, I found out that R. Carlos Nakai, my favorite Native American musician was going to be at Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival and so I called up Keith and scheduled another massage for that weekend and had a great time on a mini vacation and an absolutely AMAZING full hour massage on my calves.  It was the first time I really realized there were different types of medical massages.

My muscles in my legs, and most of my body, are really tight.  I am, or used to be, a very stressed person.  Now I am just a somewhat stressed person.  I have had anxiety problems since I was a teenager.  He did a neuromuscular massage on my calves.  I since found a great massage therapist who was a friend at Serenity Now and works at a chiropractor’s  office and had an appointment with both Stephenie and the chiropractor for a neck issue.  After several sessions just working She gave me my first full body neuromuscular massage, working her way from my elbow and neck down to my hips, working through the entire line.  I was introduced to energy lines and how well the body is interconnected.

I have since traveled to Jacksonville for a yoga festival (this is where I took the picture of the crazy tree in Jacksonville) and went to a yoga class at Ananda Kula, and of course a massage.  It was amazing how much I had changed just a few months later being able to release and let go of the things that were not making me happy.  All the yoga and regular massage/health treatment and genuine people made my body so much more receptive to healing.  The Kula has awesome events and everything has been amazing that I have been to there.  I hope to spend some time up there at some point. Also in Orlando there was a yoga festival called Rasa-Lila which was awesome.  I loved it.  I have been around a lot of studios in the area, I love mixing different classes of different levels and styles so I do not over work one part of my body.  You can see links in Where I Yoga.

Support and Gratitude

The yoga community in the area is amazing and supportive.  Sure there is some of the pretentious stuff or artificial stuff or overly competitive and petty stuff.  I cannot imagine any community without some of those shortfalls, but for the most part it is a great way of connect and being supported by understanding people.  I am starting to get the idea that the travel bloggers out there have a lot of that too and I am trying to get into it before I leave.  I know I will always be a part of the community and have access to the support when I need it.  I also know I will be building an even bigger network but, I will miss being in and having direct access to the yoga community here.

But, I have to give all of these people credit for helping me make the decision I have made to let go of everything and start a new adventure and a new layer of my life.  Only now I am accepting who I was, who I am, and who I will be.  I have so much more to bring to the plate because of this.

Much gratitude to you all.

Travel Planning Links

I thought I would give you guys the tip that if you go to my Travel Planning Links page, which I recently updated, you can get travel tips and travel blog recommendations.  I am so sorry if I read your blog and it is not up yet, I seem to be doing more blog reading than blog organizing lately.  Soon to be up, I email myself all the links I just have to put them on here.  I have not used most of these since I am still sitting in Florida, but they come highly recommended.  Soon to come more Visa information and more blog recommendations. Have a blog you want me to recommend, leave a comment and I will check it out.  Unless you are complete spam I would probably be so giddy to have comments I would love it!  😉

Also I added travel articles so I have a reference of the articles I read on traveling.  Most of them right now are on budgeting!  Again, they are not all up yet, but will be eventually,

New Purchases for Trip

I have been getting rid of a lot of stuff and getting a few things here and there for the trip so I can break them in before I go.  My first purchase was a pair of Merrell sandals and my second and third were a couple pair of cargo pants from old navy, which I will probably only bring one with me, I just need pants for work because I ripped my last pair of pants last week.  The one pair is dressy enough to be business casual so I can wear it to work.  The other is not as nice but much more durable feeling.  It is great for walking on the trail with my dog.

However, I bought a pair of pants I really love at Columbia Sportswear Outlet at Premium Outlets Orlando (the ones near Disney World).  They line is called Omni-Shield Blood and Guts and I was actually looking for a shirt, which I also bought.  After Ni and I laughed a bit at this, I had to look up why they are called Blood and Guts.  It does make sense for me to wear something stain resistant and that releases stains easily because I tend to get dirty sitting on a bench twiddling my thumbs.  I am not sure how it happens, but stains find me.  This line is actually a fishing line of clothes, makes sense for cleaning all those fish or messing around with the bait.

I really like these because they are roomier (yes a little baggier not as “cute”) so that when I am trying to lift my leg climbing up steps, or hopefully boulders and rocks in my future, there is enough give that I am not worried about tearing something.  I could have gotten away with a size smaller, but I like them at this size.  Also because it is looser they are much cooler.  It is only in the upper 70s and low 80s here and it is already a nice relief to have breathable pants.  They are also super light weight and plenty long and will pack nicely.  The pants are convertible and have a nice length.  They are not too long and not hot pants short, hard to find in women’s shorts sometimes.  The legs zip on and off easily and there are two normal pockets in the front of the pants that are mesh and one zip pocket on the left leg about mid thigh and one button clasp pocket on the other side.  I really like the position of the pockets because they are not too low and they are a bit lower than normal pockets so they are not pulled as snug when I am squatting down or sitting. I bought the like khaki color.

The shirt is also super light weight, which I was particularly looking for so that when I go to India I have a cool light weight shirt that has long sleeves.  Don’t want to be that trampy girl with the short sleeves.  Also, long sleeves are required at some of the Ashrams I want to stay at.  The sleeves roll up and have a clasp that clasps just above the elbows for a shorter look.  The back has a mesh ventilation panel.  It is dual tone and I bought the orange and grey version which is not on the website in women’s sizes.  If they had the turquoise I would have bought it, but the outlet store only had orange and white in long sleeve.  I was so happy to find this line runs a little bigger because I have a need for wider shoulders and a bigger bust.  However the reviews for the shirt are very unhappy about this because people buying size xs were swimming in it.  Take from that what you want.  My favorite part, out of pure humor, is that there is horizontal zippered pocket right over each breast.  It am not sure what I am supposed to put there, but at least I will know if someone tries to steal anything out of it ;-).

I have only wore then for two days.  I will let you know if my view changes.  If I lose much more weight I might need to get a size smaller on the pants.  I would never fit in a size smaller on the shirt because of my shoulders. The outlet mall is cheaper than I think every link I checked online also.

The only big things left are a pair of hiking shoes, if I buy them now, I might just bring my running shoes and get buy with those until I need a pair of hiking boots and can get more opinions from people, and a pack.

Things I would like but I am waiting on garage sale $s to come back because they are not necessary:

  • Wifi Memory card
  • Tablet or book reader (I am thinking nook tablet with an SD card that can boot full Android though with ICS coming out maybe I should wait)
  • A new computer (I probably will not right now but maybe instead of a tablet or reader especially if I could get one of the ultrabooks).
  • A new unlocked phone (which is getting closer and closer to the necessity list)
  • New DSLR camera.  I still shoot with a point and shoot.  I am not sure I want to travel with tons of stuff for the camera though.I have even thought I might want to get a smaller point and shoot. I saw someone with a nice small point and shoot Olympus that also had detachable lenses the other day though…

Any other thoughts on what I should pack?

–Edit to Fix Link–

Things I will miss most #2

I really enjoy Florida skies…

Florida is really gorgeous when we are not having adverse weather, wild fires, or you are so hot you cannot appreciate it.  I especially like the skies.  I don’t think I have ever seen so many beautiful blue skies, even when it is cloudy (which it always is).  Bright blue with puffy clouds, light blue with wispy clouds, gray-blue with huge intimidating clouds, and any mixture in between.  At sunset there are oranges and pinks and periwinkle.  I often spend time walking my dog just watching the colors of the sky change at dusk.

…and I like to enjoy them in Florida’s parks.

My favorite way of enjoying these blue skies?  There are public parks all over the place.  Rails to trails parks, lakes, springs, nature paths, bike paths, family parks, etc.  We run down the Seminole Wekiva trail and at Cranes Roost (both within walking distance) and go to the Pawmosa Dog Park in Casselberry to meet some more doggy friends. Nothing beats sunset at the beach, but I have to admit I have not been to the beach in years.  I get sunburned easily and I am not a lounging in swimwear kind of girl and, although I used to live near the beach and go often, now I live in the center of the state. That does not mean you cannot enjoy the natural beauties of Florida.  They are all around.

So if you are in Florida, check out the great parks throughout the state or you might be missing something.

Jacksonville “Treaty Oak

This tree is really crazy.  It is huge but not in a tall way.  Huge as in you could fit a house underneath of it and it has a natural canopy to the ground.

Cranes Roost

My dog Jack and I spend a lot of time here.  It has an amphitheater where there are free concerts and a fountain that plays to music in a very prettily landscaped garden area and a one mile loop to walk around.

Roll with the punches…but what direction?

So, I have been sitting at work reading travel blogs for a while because business is very slow.  In consulting it is like slow torture.  Your billable percent slips lower and lower yet there is nothing you can do about it when you are at a certain level.  I am not allowed to market nor do I have a PE (professional engineering license) to do so.  When I finally give in to the fact that I am not going to make it, I make plans.  I am leaving this job where my most common work task is to make copies.  Yes, that is right, they pay me a lot of money to make copies.

Now, some people in the world might say.  Wow, pay me lots of money to make copies and reading blogs, sounds cushy.  Not me.  I am not that type of person.  I am the type of person who needs to feel intellectually or physically stimulated, preferably both at the same time.  Pressing the “copy” button does not count.  I feel the need to be doing something that makes a difference or is productive.  I want to be cultivated skills that will be able to break me out from the pack and be able to be successful so that I can carve my own path.  I am not going to get that by making copies or surfing the internet.

However, today I was given enough work (only HALF of it copying and scanning) to get me through June at least.  However, I was beginning to think June was my estimated time of departure.  I have not applied for my visa yet, nor have I bought my ticket yet.  I am not quite to my savings goal.  So I could stay.  If I stay until August I could take more classes this summer to defer my loans and prepare for graduate school.  If I stay until October I could get my PE and probably be sponsored full time in many countries because I have a degree in Chemical Engineering and work in Environmental/Water and Wastewater Engineering.  But that is the slippery slope I have been on for the last 5 years.  I will just work a few years to pay off some of my loans, get some experience, and figure out what I want to study and where I want to study for my masters or if I want to get a PhD instead.  Always next year, and the next year it always seems more impossible.

So what is the answer.  Push back a few months?  If I go in August it will be right before my 28th birthday.  If I want to do Australia and New Zealand for the entire year then I have to leave by then because I got the impression New Zealand cuts off at the day you turn 30 (Australia was inclusive of 30, I suppose I could reverse the order).  But if I work until August/October I can make that much more money, especially if I get my PE. If I quit in June it would be mid project which is kind of rotten.  But its business right, would I be afforded the same thought if they were going to let me go?

So.  Here I am at a crossroads, a test I am sure life is throwing at me at an opportune moment to test my on the fly decision making and flexibility.  I am willing to roll with the punches, but I am not sure which way to roll?  Which path do I take?

Why I am Blogging (Warning – Long and Personal)

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day!This is a little belated but I went out and had a great time with my girl friends, we had some drinks and some fun.  Stephenie even bought us presents including a Mad Lib we all did together.  I left mine at the table so I can’t post my results, sorry.

However, I had a secret Valentine put a carnation on my door and rose petals and red ribbons on my mat.  I think it was my neighbor Barbara, she is like my grandma away from home.  She will not admit to it though.

I hope you all had a great day too!

While I Stephenie and I were stuffing ourselves with Moe’s Southwest Grill naked burritos pre-drinks, she got to asking me how exactly I chose to go down the travel path I am looking at.  I realized I needed to go back a bit further and explain a bit of where I was a year and a half ago.

One and a Half Years Earlier

Around a year and a half years ago my boss (who is no longer my boss) was driving me crazy.   Literally I remember calling my parents one day while at work and asking them what the point was.  If this is life what is the point.  I am not airing out his dirty laundry, but lets say that everything was not necessarily on the up and up when I had to have surgery.  He was disliked by many and trusted by even less, which should have made me take it with a grain of salt.  But I did not. I am not the type of person who like to make a scene about something that happens once or twice.  However, I am also not the type of person that can take abuse on a regular basis.  First I tied to take it through the appropriate channels.  This is where my naive self learned that HR is always the EMPLOYERS advocate.  Then I got angry.  Then I gave up, and then angry, and then gave up…you get the picture.  I was cycling through constant anger and apathy.

Then grandpa Bob got cancer.  When grandpa got sick everything really started to spiral out of control.  My mom, who was always the strong never-in-the-passenger-seat always in control type, became the type of person who cannot drive more than a half hour without asking my dad to drive the rest of the way.  She just could not keep up control.  She bought four dogs (named after NCIS characters (Abby, Zeva, Ducky-McGee, and Leroy Jethro (LJ)).

I did not know what to do.  All of my family is in Michigan.  My sister was helping out at my grandparents all the time and I felt like the rotten daughter and sister.  But I did not want to go back home.  I REALLY did not want to go back home.  I felt as if I always had to be someone else around them, because they wanted the old Laura to come back into their life, even though she did not exist anymore and had not for years (I left home at 18).  So I did not know what to do and decided to get expert advice.

The first question, he asked of course was then who are you?  If that is not who you are, who are you?  If you are unhappy at your job why are you still there?  What do you want to do?  And I was completely blank.  I could list hobbies I like to do.  I could list accomplishments I have achieved.  Awards, scholarships, jobs, salary, etc.  But  Who am I?  Wow.  Just the thought nearly put me into an panic attack.  I have always been kind of a nervous type, but it had been getting worse.

So we started with something more simple.  What do I want to do right NOW.  I want to take time and explore who I am.  Travel, cook, travel, write, sew, travel, write, travel…  Okay, so why don’t I do it?  JUST DO IT!  Well that is where things got heavy.  We worked through everything, all my excuses and insecurities.  We worked through grandpa’s death, my families reaction, my mom’s downward spiral, and my lack of boundaries.

One Year Ago – Epiphany

Then one day last January I showed up and said.  Ok, why don’t I take some time off?  Mind you, he had been telling me to do this since day one.  He even would fill out an FMLA form for me (to make my time of a protected health problem so work could not fire me).  “YESSS!!!! You finally got it!”

I have to say my mom was probably the catalyst.  She let so much get to her.  Work, grandpa, etc.  She is the shell of the woman she used to be.  I refuse to let myself get that far.  That is why I got help when I did.  That is why I go to yoga.  And that is why I HAVE to do this trip.

Where I am Now

So my plan started a year ago.  It has changed and evolved and is still not very precise.  But, that is how I got here.  It is why my blog is UpcycledBliss.  The only thing in life i have to work with is what I was given at birth, my mind, my body, and my soul.  I am on a journey to connect with all three and make them into who I want to be.  To bring this into all aspects of my life and to really find my own bliss which I know exists somewhere inside me already.  I always loved cooking contests on TV where the chef contestants were given surprise ingredients and had to make do with what they had.  Mainly because that is how I cook.  I can make amazing dishes out of left overs and what is available.  I am good at swapping out what I do not have in my cupboards and using what I have.  I want that in the rest of my life.  I need to get rid of what everyone is telling me what I should be doing in my life and putting in it what I know I want in my life as I discover what those things are.

If you made it to the end, thank you for reading!  It was a long time coming.

Picture of dahlia with bee taken in October in Michigan at my parents house taken by me, Laura.  Please do not use my pictures without linking back to me and please do not try to sell my images (I know, they are not that good, but it has happened).