The Things You Can See When You Open Your Eyes

I know, I am bad blogger. I have not posted for a reason though.  A reason I still cannot say.  But, I realize that is no reason not to update!  So, I am back in Cali Colombia.  Maybe to stay for a while.  I finished my TEFL certificate and just need to get the number.  I have started an English group for kids a nearby park, and two yoga classes a week too.  One class is for kids and one for women.  My Spanish is improving leaps and bounds and I feel I am really starting to understand the culture more. But, the more I see and learn, and the longer I am here, the more realize the culture different and the more I realize it is the same.

I mean, when will you see a sheep in need of shearing head butting a pet dog on a very nice patio with the door open and both goat and dog wandering freely?  In the middle of the third largest City in Colombia?  Just as frequently as you see the chickens hopping from patio to patio in search of some food.  Or horses pulling carts to haul away rubble pulled up by expanding the sewer system and fixing the streets.  Oh, and don’t forget the horse or goat that is “mowing the lawn.  I t probably isn’t even their goat or horse, they just shoo it in and let it out when they have eaten their full.

The City is so full of contradictions.  Poor, but dressed nicely.  Modern, but antiquated.  Friendly and open, yet protective and wary.  Incredibly conservative, but incredibly promiscuous.  Simple yet complicated.  Eager to learn yet unwilling to change.  Hardworking and yet lazy or drunk.

It is an enigma waiting to be explored.  I have not taken any pictures yet, but I will be soon and I have tons from Peru and Ecuador.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  I did.  I made baked chicken quarters, biscuits, Mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, and something similar to an apple crisp on the stove top. I invited some friends over and it was a big success.

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Stillness

I have always had two sides of me that struggle with each other.  I am sometimes quiet and elusive and at other times a chatter box that hums and vibrates with excitement.  I think there are even some people who think I am quiet and shy and others that think I am brazen and outspoken.  There are a few who know both sides of the coin and deal with it amazingly, and I love them for it.

I can be a person who walks through a crowd, head up smiling and greeting everyone who walks by.  I can take in all of the energy of the people and activity and become energized, reveling in the commotion.  I can also be the person with her head down, overwhelmed and self conscious.  In these times I feel as if I cannot connect with the crowd and that I am not a part of the crowd.  In these times I wish for nothing but to get to where I am going and get out.

In the same way, I can find a quiet evening alone lonely and oppressing.  Other similar nights the evening feels calming and full of still energy.  There is so much potential energy in the stillness of a rock before it falls or a dam before it breaks.

Traveling can sometimes feel like crazy commotion that never ends or a lonely place where you do not know anyone.  It can also be a place full of new adventure and new people and pure amazement at what exists in the world.  But as much as constant movement seems like high energy when you are in the situation, I am realizing how similar everything and everyone is.  I am also realizing how much we are in control of that feeling everywhere we are and yet how insignificant it is.

I overlook a town that is bursting to the seems with people on the weekends and seems dead silent during the week.  Unless of course you venture into the market or near the school.  There is still the ever persistent buzz of daily life.  Life that is similar to anywhere in the world.  Happening to walk by the school when the children are release, chatting excitedly.  Listening to a women discuss her cut of meat with the butcher.  Watching a mother marvel at the pure joy of their young child learning something new.  A warm and sunny Sunday evening with families in their lawns, dogs bellies being rubbed, young girls squealing with laughter and their parents sharing a content smile.  A young couple holding hands and gazing into each others’ eyes.  Its so familiar without any words.

In our lives, all of the big moments, scary, exhilarating or both, fade in their enormity.  The butterflies abate, the fear softens, and the excitement simmers instead of flares.  If you can look past the things that distract you from the moment, you can find the same stillness in a crowded market as in the empty plaza hours later.  It is the clear head and the knowledge of my existence in the crowd that makes me confidently walk through the world with a smile on my face.  You do not see the noise and are not distracted by the people because you are a part of it.  Ever evolving and changing to what is around you on the surface, while never changing at the core.  At the core your big exciting adventure of the day is normal and average on the scale of a lifetime or the scale of everyone’s lifetimes yet it is so unique.

Instead of feeling boring or as if there is no point or the need to squelch desire and still the energy around me, I can feel the stillness more inside me and all around me.  And it is wonderful and beautiful and awe-inspiring.  It is life and death and the sun rising and my whole world expanding.  It is peace and bliss and I am the one who controls whether I recognize it and cultivate it.  I have heard people say before that trying to reach nirvana/bliss/overcoming humanity/buddhism would be boring because there is no good without even, no life without passion, and no success without strife.  Where I am does not matter.  Who I am is all that matters.  Right now I am a traveler and writer and nap taker and I know whatever I am tomorrow I can bring this bliss with me if I choose to.  That is not resigning to fate but living it. This is there in good times and bad and I do not need either to see it.  I simply must choose to see it.

Some times it is so easy to see, to feel.

Final Good-Byes pt 1

Rough Beginnings

It has been a crazy weekend full of emotions, food, and of course some drama.  It started out with a bang, or a fire.  less than 5 minutes after leaving Kathy’s, red in the face and in tears, of course, I realized my car was burning oil.  Not little wisps of smoke, but billows of black smoke were leaving my tail pipe.  I pulled over to the closest parking lot and amazingly enough there was Valvoline Express Care (I do not see an entry on Google Maps but it is behind Advance Auto Parts – I think – in the Win Dixie Plaza). Thank you fate!

I pulled in hoping they could just make the car work enough to get me to the closest shop, and provide a referral for a shop, but when I got out of the car, they immediately saw how upset I was.  I explained, through choked sobs, that I had just said good-bye to my best friends and, yes, all of those bags are because I am leaving.  They kindly calmed me down and told me they would take a look.  And wonders of wonders it was just a part of the fuel pressure sensor that needed to be replaced.  A $20 dollar replacement, plus since I opted to get an oil change also (I was going to get one the next day any ways) no labor fee.  Thank you again fate.

So, I did get on my way and right when I got to I-4, the sky just opened up to a full flow down pour.  Of course, this means that people drive like even bigger idiots and there were around 10 accidents on the way back to Altamonte Springs.  So much for making one last happy hour yoga.  I finally got here and immediately had to get ready to go out.

Something about it reminds me of a part of Paulo Coelho’s book The Valkyries.  When they were out trying to see their guardian angels at night in the desert, their guide forgot the flashlights.  While the guide goes to retrieve the flash lights, he takes his time and Paulo is getting annoyed.  When the guide comes back he explains that when he forgets something or something takes him out of his way or takes extra time, he knows that it is his guardian angel helping keep him safe by changing his path.  I am going to think my car problems in this light and be thankful I am safe.

Girls Night Out

First up, Jazz Tastings in Maitland.  Jazz Tastings is a Jazz bar that serves a limited amount of wine, small plates, and has live jazz.  There were about 10 tables and a small 10 seat bar.  The only problem, reservations had been sold out for three weeks.  My fail everyone. What I gathered for the small amount of time i was there is that it is an okay place.  The sound was ok, the band was great, the wine was ok, the ambiance was good, but there is no room to just stand around and wait to see if a table opens up.  There is no room to dance, even sitting was cramped.  It is a great concept that the area has a great demand for, but it is not that comfortable and does offer the options that famous smaller jazz clubs, such as the Blue Note, offer. The chairs are plush and huge, I think if they got smaller chairs, or instead of a set up for tables of four, offered more social seating or just had a bigger space, it would be a great concept.  If, as a single person, I have to get there at 7:00 or 7:30 to get a bar spot for a set that starts at 8:00, but really starts closer to 7:30, and I do not even have a full menu to keep me entertained there is not a lot to get me to come back.

Final Stop

After having just an ok glass of Pinot Grigio, we decided to leave to the second stop for the night early.  We got to Tilted Kilts in Lake Mary an hour or two early.  Craig Thompson from the local band In Transit was playing that night and UFC was on the TVs.  It was not very crowded but there was a large group of people in front of Craig for a while, so we enjoyed conversation and some good food.  I had fish tacos and their home-made potato chips.  both were yummy.  Had a couple Sam Adams Summer Ales that always remind me of summers in Boston.

When the party in front of us left we got to listen to Craig better.  I suggested the place because he was playing there.  He played at the Rasa Lila Yoga Fest last year in Orlando during a flow class and it was the perfect match.  He is a great musician with a great voice and the band played really well also.  Craig can sing anything but my favorite is his more soulful jazz reggae fusion style.  Laid back chill. His version of Purple Rain was really amazing.

This was not taken at Tilted Kilt, but is Craig performing with his guitar and key board.

Anyways, we ate, we drank, we laughed, we swooned over Craig and over all it was great.

Rainy Days

When I woke up I was tired and had a head ache.   Thankfully the guy I was supposed to walk the trails with was not in town so I got out of getting up early.  The rest of the day it has been spitting rain on and off so I did not want to risk carrying my camera around the trail.  It is however, thankfully, cooler out outside.

Stay tuned for Final Good-Byes Part II and the beginning of my Road Trip to Michigan!

Head Stand Prep with Chairs

I will be sticking this in my Passport

I went to a couple of yoga flow classes at Ground Work Yoga while I was house sitting and visiting friends in Winter Haven.  It is a small one room studio on Central Avenue.  Both times I went Jody was the teacher and I loved it.  I loved Jody’s flow style, very free and warm.  I would have gone a couple more times had my car not decided it did not want to start a couple of times (great thing to have before a huge road trip, I know). I guess that should be the lesson not to try to leave to something last-minute.

But, the cool part was we did something I have never done before.  We used two chairs to do a supported head stand.  With blankets on each of the chairs for comfort and a mat underneath the chairs to stop the chairs from sliding, you could get into an easy supported head stand without actually sitting your head on the ground.  That means you get all the benefits of the balance, inversion, shoulder strengthening, but with no neck strain.  I wish I could have got a picture but I did not think to bring my camera.  Plus it was pouring rain on my way to the studio.

But, enjoy this video on YouTube from which does something very similar.  Jody just had us use the edge of the chair to hang on to.  I would like to try it at home (with a spotter of course) and practice bringing up my legs without placing pressure on my neck.

Blog Updates and New Purchases!

Hey everyone! I am house/dog sitting for my friend S again! I have been staying on and off with my friend’s C and J and their cute baby who smiles whenever he sees me, I think I am in love! It is great catching up with friends and blogs and traveling information and in general doing inside stuff because it has rain ever single day, all day since I have been back!

Blog Updates

New Purchases

I have been a busy busy bee.

New Computer
Acer Aspire One AO722-0473 11.6-Inch HD Netbook (Espresso Black)

I bought my new computer.  After months of agonizing over what to buy (ultrabook, tablet, Macbook, netbook, laptop…) and then physically agonizing over carrying my huge laptop and accessories bag around the Minneapolis Airport, I finally bought my new computer.  It is an Acer Aspire One.  I decided my budget was cheap and I needed something I would not cry about if I lost it, broke it, or someone stole it. However, it still had to be functional.  I need to be able to bulk edit photos, browse multiple websites to blog and keep in touch, video chat, use Google Voice/Chat/Talk, and watch Hulu Plus.  This is a good one so far. It is light, keyboard is large, it’s not so tiny it is difficult to use, it works with Google Talk/Voice/Chat really well, and Hulu is even better than my old computer (hello Daria and Bones).  I still need to check out photo editing.  To boost the computer a bit I also bought…

4 GB Memory
PNY 4 GB DDR3 1333MHz (PC3-10666) 204-Pin Notebook SO-DIMM, Single (MN4096SD3-1333)

I opted for the upgrade to 4 GB of memory on my own.  I bought it and installed it easily by myself.  You just need to:

  • Slide battery release at top with screwdriver
  • Remove battery
  • Remove tiny screw on opposite side of battery
  • Slide bottom casing towards the side of the screw
  • Lift casing
  • Push to pins on edges of memory to pop out old memory
  • Slide old memory out (take note of which way the metal end goes – down towards screw end of casing)
  • Slide new memory in paper side down metal into slot
  • Push down to lock pins
  • Replace cover by putting four corners into the correct slots and sliding up towards battery
  • Replace screw

Literally took 3 minutes and it only took that long because I did not notice the slots used to put the cover back on.  Another option is to watch this guy do it in 60 seconds or this guy has a clearer picture but sometimes moves the laptop off-screen.

The package came with a free movie download, have not tried to get that yet.

Amazon Kindle Touch
Kindle Touch, Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers

I actually bought this one a while ago when I got rid of all of my stuff, including my books.  I realized I needed books!  I chose the touch WiFi with advertising because of price, 3G only goes to Amazon’s store and Wikipedia, and because it has amazing battery life.  It can last for weeks of usage without a charge, I have tested this and found it accurate, but remember this is not using it all day.  It can connect to WiFi to get to Amazon store and to its experimental browser which is not really fancy but works better than my crappy old phone to check Facebook.  It has a lot of little games for free or cheap and some other apps.  It is not like the fire or Nook Tablet.  But I really enjoy it.

I was even able to replace almost my entire Paulo Coelho collection for 12 dollars because Paulo Coelho put his entire collection except Aleph and The Alchemist on sale for $0.99 each.  The sale is over now and everything is back up to apx. $10.00 each.  I told you guys to get on it!

Photobucket Pro

As a way to back up photos and track where people are linking to my photos from I bought a subscription.  So far I am slightly upset because my new computer does not read the stats and half the referring pages are unknown.  I have yet to upload my full size photos so we will see how that goes this weekend.  I plan on uploading all my photos into private albums full size so that the photos I already have backed up are accessible on the road.

New Shoes

Sadly my plantar fasciitis has flared up and the Merrell shoes I bought are not going to be able to hold up good enough for my arches.  I bought a new pair of Orthaheel flip flops and slides from Fleet Feet Sports in Altamonte. This is a great all around running store with clothes, shoe fittings, shoes, supplies, gear, and hydration products for running and cycling.  The flip flops, which do not look that dark in real life, are great.  It took a while to get used to the thong in between my toes again (I do not wear flip flops often). The slides have given me blisters the one time I wore them but I think my old pair (which I wore down until there is no more arch) did at first too, I just need to put something over the back seam.  I will only bring one pair with me.  Probably the flip flops.

Winter Park, Florida

I have been trying to think of something travel related to write lately but I have not been traveling.  So goes the dilemma.  Then I realized maybe some of you might be tourists in or near Orlando some day and find yourself in Winter Park.  I have been here on and off every few weeks for the last few weeks house sitting.  I am literally on top of a restaurant!  Not sure I want to tell you which one since I will be here for a while.  But, I can tell you some good places to go nearby. I am going to start taking my camera with me around to give a picture tour at a later time.

Winter Park is North of Downtown Orlando down 17/92 or I-4.  There are several pockets of areas within Winter Park.

Winter Park Village

Winter Park Village is an upscale urban shopping and dining area with a movie theater also.  I believe it is also has I-max.  I could be wrong though (obviously I do not go to the movies often). There are shops such as White House Black Market, Coldwater Creek, Ulta.  There are two grocery stores, Publix and Chamberlains, which has more organic and natural products.  I shop for groceries and at Ulta but do not spend much shopping at other places though.

There are a lot of upscale chain dining areas and several moderate dining areas.  Cheesecake Factory, Brio, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Crispers, and several other places I have not tried yet.

Downtown Winter Park

Downtown Winter Park is directly east of Winter Park Village.  You can take Fairbanks or Morse or any of the other streets over and find a cute brick pavers area with lots of green areas mixed between.  The drive through the neighborhood down Park Avenue, even after you go through the shopping area is gorgeous.  There are a lot of large houses that are not all cookie cutter.  Made during different times of architectural influence it looks very nice.

The shops are fairly upscale and have chain stores to independent small businesses.  I like walking along and window shopping, especially with some ice cream.  There is a Kilwins, Tutti Frutti (frozen yogurt), Cafe 118, etc to get ice cream from.  There are also a lot of wine bars I have not actually been able to sample yet.  I might have to do some investigating.

Yoga

Full Circle Yoga

So far the only place I have gone to yoga in Winter Park is Full Circle Yoga.  The biggest difference between this studio and others I have been to seems to be that this studio is always full to the brim.  Get there early to get a spot!  It is actually two studios.  There is a hot studio and the main studio.  For some reason the main studio reminds me of summer camp at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan (yes I am that geeky, I played the trumpet).  Its has exposed wooden beams and screened door and I am not sure why, maybe its the color it is painted. It is open and airy.

I have been to three instructors and they all seem knowledgeable and there is a different flow from all teachers. They have a great variety of classes and class times. I will do a separate review of Full Circle Yoga under the yoga section.

Food

There are hundreds of restaurants in the area, or at least it seems that way. Here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order).

Mitchell’s Fish Market

It’s a chain, but I do like it.  Mind you I have only been twice.  I am adding it because they have some of the freshest mixed drinks and an awesome happy hour where you can get their shrimp tacos 2 for $5.  They are very yummy. They also had a jazz duo (or maybe trio) there one night though I have not heard them since.

Chipotle

I know another chain.  And fast foodish.  But I like it because I can get easy vegetarian food, the portions last me for two meals at least, and it is a fairly fresh option.  Best Tex-Mex lunch option to me.

Croissant Gourmet Bakery

This one probably does not need an explanation.  I mean really?  Just in case, awesome, flaky, buttery, crunchy yet chewy, yummy, croissants.  Plain or chocolate.  Yum.  Plus lots of other French desserts and sandwiches.  Awesome baguettes.  I try not to go there often simply because it could become a very unhealthy habit.

Cafe 118 Degrees

Just in case you want to offset your yummy croissants with something super healthy, right across the street is Cafe 118 degrees, which really means everything is cooked under 118 degrees Fahrenheit, or is raw. I have met the owner of the restaurant Joe, and he is really passionate about the restaurant and the entire concept of raw living.  In fact, even though the food is amazing, the most impressive thing about the restaurant is how knowledgeable and passionate all the staff are about the food and concept.  Ask away and you will get answers.

Like maybe, how do you make raw vegetables into lasagna and what is in the raw dairy and soy free ice cream. Really, I love the ice cream, it is my favorite place for ice cream in the area.  Actually, I am not regretting not going and getting some after yoga.

They also serve fresh raw juice and smoothies and wine.  I have not tried anything here I have not liked.  I do have a hard time getting people to go though…

Also, I really like the music on the website.  Just thought I would add that.  Never listened to it before I looked up the link to add here.

For next time…

And this is just the beginning, more food, parks, and shopping coming later.  Any suggestions of places to try?

Finding My Voice

Lately I am realizing that some of my discontent of feeling as if my decisions do not match the path I am on (but the path I should be on) is that I am having problems communicating my frustrations.  I have always had a hard time walking my OWN path while including other people and their visions of their (and my) path.  They do not always coincide.

So, as a general getting this out there I am just listing things that have frustrated me.  This is not a bash time on people, it is not about that.  This is about me simply showing my process of finding my own voice so that I can use it to carve out my own path.  That is essentially what any personal blog is about.

Yoga

I am getting more picky in where, when and what I spend on yoga.  I like the atmosphere that is more laid back and offers a good sequence and adjustment that is strong, deep slower.  My body is not the “average” yoga body.  I am big and somewhat fat and have big boobs but I am also very muscular and have joints that are too flexy in places. I have structural issues I need to deal with in a way that might not flow with your class.  My not doing poses has nothing to do with you.  It is hard to keep my own ego out of my practice if I have to deal with yours.

Also because my body is different, sometimes I cannot get into those positions.  Cow face pose, yeah between my legs and boobs there is no room for a stretch and honestly having boobs in your face is really sweaty and hard to breathe.  I will do double pigeon because I actually get a stretch there and I am not breathing boobage.  I am okay with that, why aren’t you?

Suffering People

I am tired of having people who think they are offering you so much and are suffering because they give so much and think that this suffering is endearing.  I used to feel guilty about it.  Now I realize I am wasting my energy.  This is their choice, not mine.  These people also seem to think their decisions are much more important (kids/mortgage/husband/business/job/no job etc).  Suffering is not endearing, it does not make anyone special, and unless a person learns something from it they will not grow.  I will give them compassion and I might even still choose to love them, but I cannot be around this.  I turn into this kind of person when I am around them, so I will choose not to be around you if you are one of them.

I am not lucky, I am motivated, strong, determined, resourceful, smart, and flexible.

This sort of goes with the above, but I am tired of hearing “You are so lucky you do not have…kids, a spouse, a mortgage, other debts, etc.”  This is not luck.  This is a choice.  You live your choices I live mine.  If you do not like how you are living, change it.  If you are merely thinking you are offering me a complement, I do not think you are.  The reason for this is simply selfish.  I do have my own problems, student loans and me taking the steps to travel is very hard.  I keep hearing “I wish I could do that but I cannot because….”  I have those things.  For people who seem to think that I am doing this because it is an easy point in my life, that is not true.  I have my own commitments and worries and everything else.  If you want to say something like “I wish I had your strength/commitment/passion etc.”  That is a complement that does not make me second guess this decision.  It is a very hard choice to make.  It is not easy.  Moving from house to house every week to find cheap accommodation is not easy. It is so worth it though, to me.

Also, this is almost a phrase that is supposed to make you either feel guilty or shamed for yourself and/or pity for the other person.  How rude is that.  I feel compassion for both of us and gratitude for what I have, but I am done wasting my energy on guilt, shame, and pity.  They gain nothing.

Sorry you feel that way

Sort of like “I am sorry you feel that way”.  Honestly you have no business deciding how I should feel.  You can be sorry for YOUR actions nothing more.  You will not make me feel guilty or ashamed for how I feel.  If you are not sorry for your actions do not try to act like you are giving compassion, you are not, you are trying to disenfranchise my feelings and not feel guilty about your own action.

Lack of Follow Through

This one includes myself in it.  Lately people (again, including myself) say something like “oh that is a great idea, we should do it” and nothing ever happens.  People try to please everyone and no one gets pleased.  Sometimes this is because no one is really committed.  Sometimes people want to say that they want to do it but they really only like the idea of it.  I am living trying to live my life in the moment and really live it.  To do this I need to depend on people being able to take action, including myself.

My Voice

I do not think we should feel guilty for setting our boundaries and being true to ourselves.  There is certainly a nice way of doing this and a not so nice way.  My problem with this is that I let it go to long and then snap. I am sorry if I have done this to you.  So this is my public avowal that I will continue with my mantra of late and put it into practice.

“I will not doubt the decisions I have made, I will make all future decisions with conviction and compassion, and I will have confidence that each step I take is where it is supposed to be.” 

As Rob said in yoga the other day.  You learn something from everyone, even if it is what not to do.  I think you learn something from every decision, even if it is what you would never do again.