Doing what I want, when I what, how I want

So, I went to a yoga class tonight that was just not my thing.  I am very proud of myself in the way I did not get angry or frustrated at myself, the situation or the teacher.  I was slightly annoyed at somethings but nothing I could not get over by laying on my mat and enjoying the heat and the sweat. In that past that would have driven me crazy.  I have read many funny or sarcastic articles on things in yoga that are annoying or just silly.

Not as much annoys me any more, but there are a few things that just get me annoyed or in some situations, angry.  One that gets me the most angry is people, and many teachers, tell you not to skip a pose just because you do not want to, only if there is something that is not serving you. To me this is hypocrisy.  I understand that you should try doing things that make you uncomfortable to get over whatever is making you uncomfortable.  But there is a time and place for all of this.  If I am really paying attention to who I am am and how I feel and I do not WANT to do something, then it is NOT serving me.  The spiritual side of us does seem to manifest in physical problems and sometimes I do avoid things to avoid something I just do not want to do.  But if I want to be lazy, I will be lazy.  If I want to not do vinyasas because my body is just not feeling it, who is to say that I should just get over that feeling because it is not a feeling worthy of being listened to.

I spend long hours at work doing things that do not make me happy, I am not going to spend money and free time doing the same and having to justify a reason for doing it.  This whole letting lose and floating with the breeze thing is really showing me how much people tug on you in life.  They tug you in a direction in life because they think it is good for you or good for them.  No one can tell me what is good for me but me.  Sure you can give me advice and point me in a direction.  But if I do not go that direction do not assume it is because I was too weak, lazy or unskilled.  It was simply not the best path for me. I do not have to be challenged to feel as if I am doing good.  If I do not enjoy the challenge or the path I will walk another.  I am not giving up, I am being compassionate to myself and others around me.

Just because you feel something in meditation, or travels, or a yoga pose, does not mean I do or ever will.  There seems to be a feeling that there are too many lazy Americans.  What I see is people doing things they do not want to do because they feel this shame for not wanting to be the lazy, fat or ugly American.  When you spend all your time doing something you do not want to do you feel you deserve to be lazy and eat that piece of pie.

Instead, I feel that I deserve everything in my life.  I do things because they serve me in some way.  And I do not feel ashamed any more.  I do not feel shame masked as guilt, because if I had to do it over again, I would skip that vinyasa again.  People seem to think that our desires and wants are something that we should not listen to.  The point is to not be attached to them so that you can see what lie below them and what drives them.  You will never find out what is beyond them, without facing them head on.  I do.  I am.  Do not assume I am not.

I am very proud of being in this place.  I was afraid I would not be by the time I left for my travels and I would not enjoy the places I am in because I would either feel guilty or feel as if I need to worry about making things work.  Instead I am listening to my body and the world and figuring out how I want to make things work and what is available.  This is much more logical and then I do not do things just because they are available, easy, secure, or acceptable.  I will do great things because of this and I will be a great person doing what I want, when I want, and how I want.

Building blocks (long philosophical)

Running away

I have not been able to help feeling as if I am running away lately.  I have been discussing my feeling as if I am running away with my therapist from the beginning when I talked about being unable to leave a job that was not only, not serving my professional needs, but also hurting my emotional and basic human needs for respect.  I feel as if I am running away.  As if I am in this situation and I need to make it work.

It has been a hard lesson that I keep relearning that choosing an alternate path away from conflict is not always a submission to or avoidance from a conflict.  Half the time in my life I have merely nodded and given in, giving up part of my soul to someone trying to get something out of me without a fight, defeated before even stepping up to battle.  The other half of the time I look at a situation already prepared for it to be a conflict, expecting a conflict, weapons drawn before i even step up to the battle.  I have swung back and forth so much, I did not realize there was an alternative.

Sometimes in life there are puddles

You can walk up to a mud puddle, and give in and just walk through it knowing you are going to get your shoes dirty, you can gauge the mud puddle from a distance and figure out how hard you are going to have to run to jump over it.  If you are anything like me in option 2 you land in the puddle with so much force you splash water up your pant legs or worse.

But what if you calmly see the puddle ahead, do not judge that puddle, and then see a simply way of avoiding the puddle.  You certainly would not say you were running away from the puddle.  You were avoiding getting dirty, not the puddle.  You saw it, you might remember a day when you played in puddles and fondly smile as you walk by.  But getting dirty that day did not serve you, so you simply walked on by.

It sounds like something that would make us say we are objectifying that situation or being selfish.  What if that situation was a person, is ignoring that person’s self-worth and only concentrating on its worth to me selfish?  I would say that it is selfish, but that it is not wrong if you go into the situation or up to that person realizing that the only thing you will gain out of the situation is your perspective?  That the worth of that person is the same, that the worth of all people is the same.

Who is to say what a life is worth

We like to think in the abstract that it is wrong to take a life.  Then we give exceptions to this rule based on what makes us feel safe.  What if we realized that outside of that core definition of what people are and where that fundamental respect for life lies, it is all perspective.  So if I judge from my perspective, something is not good for me without judging that thing or situation, I can clearly, consciously, make decisions for my life and what I need.  Before I can do this, I need to wipe away all the guilt and shame societies lies on us when we truly determine what is important to us and what we need.  That our needs are not just for basic things.  That our desires and wants have a meaning to us, and without exploring them we can never unattached ourselves from those desires.  When we are unattached we can find the root that drives desire and that drives our wants.  It is normally love.

But, for me, once I was attached to less stuff, it is much harder to ignore that this suffering is unnecessary.  I realized tonight that I am living in a women-who-I-have-never-met’s home, feeling the same feeling of home.  Even more of a feeling of home lately.  Because I am finding the building blocks that I want to make me MY home.  Not the home available, not the nicest house, not granite tiles or a nice kitchen.  What really makes me happy being who I am and living the life I have.  Every morning in the shower I used to ask Jack if he wanted to go home in an excited voice like we were going someplace special.  I never felt at home.

Laying my foundation blocks

But, instead of feeling guilty and trying to change myself into something I am not to alleviate that guilt.  Instead of feeling ashamed of what I want and who I am.  Tonight I am taking stock of who I am.  These are the things I will gather up on my time off and organizing and reevaluate when I need to.  Slowly I will put these blocks together and start building, foundation first, who I am and what I want.  Hopefully some day I will fully realize I already posses all those things.  That my home has always existed in myself, in God or the Universe or Buddha or a collective soul of the world.  I hope I realize that all these things are really one and I am one with them.  We are one with everyone, so there is no need to judge anyone, they cannot control who they are any more than I can, so I should not judge myself either.

I think I feel as if I am getting my first block set off of a dusty shelf.  A set of those big plastic blocks that have one or two big round holes and pegs.  No matter how you rearrange the blocks you cannot change their components.  Sometimes you need a house because you have people to live in it, sometimes you need a rocket-ship because you are going to explore, sometimes you just pile them as high as you can, just because you can. But the blocks they are the same.  There are bright reds and blues, long ones short ones, some that have been deformed out of use or manufacturer error, result is the same though.

I am always being told yoga is the flow from pose to pose not the perfect execution of a pose and that life is the journey, not the destination.  We are all what we are given, we all have similar blocks, some that came broken, some we broke ourselves.  Sometimes someone else has a block we need and we make strong fortified structures together, sometimes for a day sometimes for forever. But we carry the blocks with us everywhere we go and it is the only thing we need. We can make anything with those blocks.  We can shape them however we need to or want to.  We can share as we please or do not please.

I am building the life I want and sometimes I use my blocks to create a bridge over a mud puddle, realizing that the challenges I choose to meet are somewhere else.  That this puddle is not a challenge for me.  Right now I am building blocks to make me happy and healthy and to fly me away to see things I have never seen and experience perspectives I have never seen.  It is my reason for traveling, for yoga, for seeing my therapist, for laughing and crying with friends, and for writing.

Good night!

Settling in…week after week???

Serendipity.  Really my life has been serendipitous recently.  I could not sell my couch so I posted it again on Craigslist with my bed.  I got a call half an hour later and sold it to a women who needed it for her daughter who just moved into her first apartment.  She found it in the AUTOMOTIVE section where it was accidentally sent to.

MyLinda, the owner of Altamonte Springs Yoga invited me to go to one of her 3 week series.  The series was yoga for back and neck.  I have had some neck problems for a few months, I think caused by too many vinyasa in a bad posture.  I have learned since to use my knees for chaturanga.  I kept worrying I would never be able to get farther in Yoga because I cannot do a single chaturanga off my knees. But, since it was the weekend of my garage sale and I had been sleeping on the loveseat while my parents were visiting combined with my stiff neck, it was nice to have a back and neck class.

I went to class and saw a Facebook friend I had met at a yoga class a month or two prior.  It is nice to meet people of similar thoughts.  And it was really an amazing class.  I realized I was not keeping my shoulders spread out.  It is not enough to keep my shoulders out of my ears, I have to keep the shoulder blades apart.  The class was almost entirely about stretching the shoulders.  It was amazing.

This was Sunday, the serendipity started Monday.  On Monday we started Warm and Slow a little late because Julie talked about the proper alignment for downward facing dog and how the shoulder are wide.  It was putting what MyLinda had been talking about Sunday to good use.  It was also interesting that I had recently asked Juliette and Lee about the proper alignment for down dog.  I was not sure if the line should be straight or arced with shoulders through the arms. Well that is much harder to do with the shoulders held wider.  At first my shoulders hated me for this.  Every time I went into down dog I had to reevaluate and move my shoulders into proper position.  Then I realized this is how my shoulders should be in plank too. Suddenly plank had so much more strength coming from the shoulders and no pull on my neck or elbows.

I am still experimenting with plank, I have not really gotten into a lot of no knee planks yet.  But, my knee planks feel much more stable.  Hopefully this will translate well for me.  It is much harder to do down dogs this way, but I am going to assume that is just my muscles getting used to this extra work.

For now, I am settling in to my new place, until Saturday, then the owner comes back.  It is a good prep for learning to travel and take what accommodations come cheaply.  It is odd being in someone’s home, but it once I decided I needed to just get used to it, I did.  I am comfortably sitting on the couch drinking a bottle of Pinot Grigio, watching Limitless on her Netflix, and trying not to mess up her incredibly clean house.  It is in a nice place with lots of shops and restaurants and has parking and high lofted ceilings.  It is nice to feel somewhat settled this fast.  Moving into a furnished place is almost like living on vacation in a vacation rental.  Only, I have to go to work on Monday.  Let’s see how fast I get used to settling in again someplace new next week when she comes home for a week.

Pay attention to the here in now or you might step into a big pile of dog….

Jack is gone

So, its a bittersweet day.  I am one HUGE step closer to leaving, but that step involved my wonderful, loving, best friend, caring, sweetheart, cuddly dog, Jack, to make his way to Michigan with my parents.  I have to admit, its hard to even type this.  I feel like such a jerk for abandoning my dog, even though I know it is better for him to not be here now.  Heck, it might have been better for him to be there even if I was not leaving. Since this kind of leads into the middle of the story, let me start from the beginning…

Where are you? In Savannah

So my mom was coming and then not coming and then she wasn’t coming but eventually when I told her that she could take Jack she decided she could brave her “nerves” and make the trip to Florida. It is a long drive and they were planning on driving straight through Friday morning to Saturday. Worked out perfectly since Friday night I was going to a Chris Botti concert (review next!) with my friend Kathy.  It also allowed Jack to go over and say good bye to Kathy and her family one last time.

So Friday morning at work I was mostly worried about whether we were going to get there on time if we left at 430 (barely) and if I could get in a nap before I left.  So I get a call at 720.  It is my mom, “So, where are you?.”  I replied cautiously, “Um…I am at work, where are you?”

“In Savannah.  See you soon.”

Soon, like in three hours.  Apparently they left Thursday night to miss those horrible storms that whipped through Indiana and Kentucky.  And thank God they did, they just could have, ya know, called me.  So I call my boss and tell him I have to leave early (at 930) and I already worked over time (which I had hoped to cash in) so my hours were okay.  I worked like crazy to get a job done by the time I left and then ran like a crazy person home to clean, clean, clean.  My house was a mess.  boxes everywhere, dirty floor, dirty dishes, etc.  I cleaned like crazy and a in the few hours I had it was spotless, well almost spotless, just as they pulled in.

They brought two of their four dogs with them to make sure they got along with Jack and because mom does not do well without them any more.  It was an instant hit for my dog.  He just loved their dogs.  Their dogs tolerated him but mostly ignored him.  Abbea would chase the ball and Jack would chase Abbea.  It was funny, Abbea hardly even noticed he was there biting her ankles.

So fast forward to me going to the concert, going to Disney with my parents, packing stuff up for the yard sale, selling furniture on Craigslist, mom getting an emergency tooth extraction, and getting my first pair of real glasses and sun glasses with corrective lenses (love the sunglasses, not the regular glasses) and it was Thursday suddenly.  A whole week flew by.  Friday they were going to leave to Michigan.  I had to give up my precious Jack the very next day.

Final walk

So, instead of  going out to dinner to use my gift card I got for crappy service at a Darden owned restaurant, mom and dad brought home food and cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory so Jack and I could spend the night with each other.  We went for our last walk around Cranes Roost together and then walked with Michelle and her dogs Hercules and H2.  And I admit, I balled.  I cried so hard people probably were wondering what was wrong with me.  As we were walking around Cranes Roost though, I realized I was so busy being upset and missing Jack and being preoccupied with moving that I was not actually spending the last moments I had WITH Jack.  Just being in the moment and walking my dog.  I realized this when I looked up at the sky.  It was a gorgeous sunset towards the west, bright pinks and oranges tinged with gold (much prettier with my new corrective sunglasses I must say).  To the North there were some intimidating black clouds that blew away very fast, leaving the smell of jasmine and orange blossoms in the air.  It was really the perfect Florida night.

If I was caught up in my emotion and attached to my own misery, I was not going to be able to spend this moment with Jack.  I would not have noticed the toddler getting chased by ducks, or the couple walking two massive dogs (not sure of the breed but HUGE) with a third little chihuahua leading the pack, or how in the east the sky was the most beautifully faded colors of blue and pink.  I would not have noticed the couple who wanted to say hi to Jack and who I had a great conversation with.  I also would not have noticed the pile of dog crap in the middle of the sidewalk, that some poor runner ran into.  I also would not have noticed the smile Jack looked up at me with his smiley face and wagging tale, questioning what adventure we were going on next.

My first goodbye

I know he is better off with them.  He was so much happier when they were here.  He was hardly ever alone (and hardly ever will be in Michigan) and when he was he had two friends to play with.  He loves mom and dad and the girls.  He did not chew on anything or pee on the floor.  He is much better off.  And at no point while I was walking around with Jack on our last walk did I think it was the wrong choice.  That did not make it any easier though.  This morning when mom and dad left at 5:30 (and they still have not called me with an update) I was a mess.  I forced Jack to cuddle with me on the couch one last time and took him to the car.  It was horrible, but necessary.

I also know he will be here when I get back, but in the mean time I have to come home and open a door where no happy puppy dog face greets me, shaking his ears and his collar tinkling. No one to cuddle with if I get scared at night.  No one to walk with at 2 in the morning when I cannot sleep.  No one to be there all the time so I never feel lonely.  No one to give me that unconditional love a dog gives.  I know it is all selfish, but I will miss him.  He was my baby.  No, he still IS my baby.  I just need to get over feeling as if I am abandoning him and feeling sorry for myself.

I realized though that I have been looking for something to come home to.  I did not think I had anything.  No boyfriend or kid.  I do not live near my family.  No house.  No job that makes me motivated to get up in the morning.  But, I had Jack all along.  I should have been a better mom to him.  Those, fairly frequent, times where I spent an hour later at work, were they really worth it?  Staying late and then going to yoga? Jack is definitely the number one thing I will miss.

My therapist pretty much told me today to keep on keeping on, in much more eloquent sounding words.  To use my skills I have developed to get this thing done.  Next weekend my lease is up.  So, I did what I do in such a situation, I went to yoga.  Happy Hour yoga at Altamonte Springs Yoga to be precise.  I even donated two bottles of wine (my parents brought four more down with them).  It was just what I needed. Then I chatted with and sold items to yoga friends, the yoga community is so nice to have at times like now.

So I am going to keep on keeping on.  Soon a post about the Chris Botti concert and Disney!  And I will probably take a trip to Epcot Flower and Garden Festival to take pictures.  I also need to find a place to stay after next week, which I am amazing not worried about.  And there are plenty more good byes to make.  But for now, I am going to go to bed.  There is a garage sale to tend to tomorrow; a day to say good bye to so much stuff!

Serendipity

On Monday I did not go to my normal Altamonte Springs Yoga Warm and Slow class because it was Lee Clise’s birthday!  Happy Birthday Lee!  I went to Lee’s warm hatha flow yoga at 7:00 at Serenity Now Yoga.  I was having many problems figuring out what to get her for her birthday because she did one of the most amazing things ever for my birthday.  No one else in my family had even called me that day but when I came to class she had a Tweety bird balloon and noise makers and cake and everything to go with it.  It was super duper amazing and made me feel so loved on a day I was feeling left out, my own birthday even.

So when it came to getting her something I did not know what to get.  She is gluten intolerant, giving up sweets and alcohol for lent, does not like having the attention a lot, and in general seems to get uncomfortable when you give her something.  I had a mat bag I had made and she liked so I knew I could give her that.  I had bought her a stone necklace at a craft show the weekend after my birthday as a thank you gift to put on her mat bag I made her (a different one than the one I gave her for her birthday) but she had changed the design so many times that it no longer matched, so I had that.  But it really did not seem like enough for what she had done for me.  And then I realized, I could give her my first mala (prayer beads).  I got the mala at an aide for Africa yoga event.  For donation you could take 108 sun salutations.  I loved paying for something which seemed slightly like torture after 50 sun salutations.  They kept saying “sink deep into this chair (pose) and send the love to Africa.”  After 50 squats you might not think you have a lot of love left, but you kind of give into the burning and focus and the intention.  It was also my first 108 sun salutations and a birthday gift to myself.  You also got a mala for your donation. So I thought giving my mala to the most influential person in my yoga life would be a fitting gesture.  I was sure she must have at least one, if not several.

So, I waited around until the line of new people and gift givers had gone to set up in the studio and gave Lee the necklace and bag, which she loved.  The necklace looks so good on her.  Then I explained why I was giving her the mala, and what it meant to me to give her the mala.  At this point we are both nearly in tears and she tells me that she had just given her mala to her brother a few weeks before as he is just getting into yoga and meditation.  Lee had gone shopping the previous weekend for a new one, but just had not gotten one. It was serendipity, just the capricious connection of fate.

Mind you I then went to class and had a horrible time getting into it, especially since my last post was about being so into my practice.  I have been wearing heals more often and my ankles were having I hard time with all the lunge poses (entire standing sequence).  Lee is an awesome and supportive teacher.  She is also very knowledgeable about alignment and if she does not know you answer she will find someone who is.   I love her and wish her lots of light and love for her birthday!

Happy Hour Yoga!

Connecting to the Pose

So lately my yoga has been much more intense and focused for me.  But, my life is becoming much more intense and focused, so this makes sense.  I am evolving.  My drishti (where your vision is focused) is almost always fixed, whereas I used to have to remind myself all the time to stay focused (or I would not even try).  Also, when I am in the pose it is like I am in the pose with an intent to be there in that pose.  I feel my feet and or hands grounded, all muscles involved engaged, and my body is there in that moment.  When I am in extended side angle, I am there not just waiting for the next pose and counting the breaths until I get to move.

It has helped me not to push too far and not to pull out too soon and to not be half-assing a pose.  I really enjoy yoga a lot more lately.  It is like I am preparing my body for life.  Occasionally there are poses like planks held for a long time or forearm plank that I still get to the point” of oh my God can we stand up again” still, but not as many.  I feel as if I am connecting to poses better.  I know intuitively where my body wants to go into  a pose, how deep, and with what modifications.

New Favorite Pose

Extended side angle is one I am really starting to connect with.  This was always a pose I liked to get into and out of quickly.  I hated holding it.  Lately though it is as if I feel my extended arm that is stretching over my ear is strong and reaching out from my body and creating a beam of energy up and out.  My gaze, drishti, is strong and fixed up without my neck hurting or being overly engaged.  My legs are strong and deep into the lunge and I am aware of where the knee is and if it is over the little toe side of the foot.  My supporting arm is almost always elbow to knee lately instead of extended.  I really feel as if the stronger connection and grounding is something I need more now.  Before I would try always to open my arms and place the supporting arm on the ground.

The Teacher

This was the case at Happy Hour Yoga at Altamonte Springs Yoga on Friday, taught by Rob Hefele. I love Rob’s classes because I really do feel as if I can do any pose and it does not matter.  A lot of teachers say that but I do not feel that.  Or I hear, “its okay if you modify this but you should really try it this way, you might be surprised how it feels” after I modify in a way not offered by the teacher.  Rob states this at the beginning of the class and all poses so I do not feel as if he is saying it because he saw that I am not doing what he wants to see. In fact, I get the impression he does not want to see anything in particular at all.  He is an easy-going guy with a great flow an awesome voice to listen to, and as most female yogis in the area will tell you, a lot of very attractive tattoos.

I am always able to feel as if I am exactly where I should be in my pose and not pushed to go anywhere else in this class.  It is also packed with people and includes guys too, not all classes have this addition, and so it has a lot of energy.  He, like a lot of great teachers, takes requests if you need something in particular.

Happy Hour!

After class there is wine and great conversation if you choose to partake.  The class, teacher, and studio in general have a great community of people.  Some nights there are not very many participants and some nights there are many.  I cannot drink after yoga so I normally just have water or head home.  Wine after yoga sounds like a stomach ache and headache to me :).

The Studio

The Altamonte Springs Yoga studio is gorgeous and has two floors.  Happy Hour Yoga is in the bottom floor in the larger room.  It has plastic insulating the room so that it can get very hot during hot classes (this is not a hot class) and they have dehumidifiers, fans, floor heaters, and crazy heat lamps on the ceiling.  There are two mirrored walls and a great sound system.  The floor is wood and gets slippery when there is a hot class or after a hot class.  Especially MyLinda, the owner’s, hot classes.

Hopefully my yoga practice will keep improving like it has.  If I am done I am done and I just sit in Savasana or spinal twist or rock back and forth.  I skip poses I know will not serve me in the moment and ask for other poses that I can get similar benefits from.  I hope I can make it to a few more Happy Hour classes before I leave.

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.