Sometimes things just work out

So I have not been to worried about the fact I am homeless come Sunday night.  And I cannot explain why I am not worried.  Maybe it is because I have other places to go.  I think it is mostly because, unencumbered by “stuff” I can go wherever the wind blows.  This is truly the most liberating feeling in the world.  So much freedom.  I can do where I want when I want and stay where I want.  Its amazing.

This also allows me to wait for the best opportunity, where I really feel as if the universe is offering me exactly what I need, instead of taking the first thing that comes along afraid of “securing” something.  In fact, many of the choices I have made in the past are to be “secure” or to get something before someone else does and constantly looking for something better that I missed out on because I chose to be secure. Being able to choose what I want and waiting for opportunities is really allowing me to listen to the world or god or universe or intuition or myself.  Whatever it is, I am listening to it.  I am learning who I am and about the world and people around me like I have not been able to before.  It really is amazing.

And I have not even left yet!

This afternoon the Universe told me where I will be staying, for part of the time at least, after Saturday.  I had given up on the apartment search temporarily and was thinking I would have to couch surf around friends hoping not to bug one friend too much.  Only, a lot of my friends live 45 minutes to an hour or more from downtown Orlando, where I work.  I have done that commute before, but it is a beast.  So I texted my friend M that I would like to take her up on an offer to stay at her place.  She told me she had just talked to a girlfriend of one of her clients who works half the time in Florida and half the time out of state.  She has a really nice loft apartment about 5 miles from where I work.  Perfect location because I can bike to work, most of the way on a bike path.  I just need to find a bike. When she is in state I have other people who I can stay with, including M. All possible because I am sans “stuff.”

I am meeting the boyfriend today to check out the apartment and can be in there before Sunday if we agree!  Amazing how things just work out sometimes.  Paulo Coelho says the Universe conspires to help those chasing their dreams.  I think it might possibly be that if you truly listen to the Universe it is always there to offer you nurturing and solutions.  It is the beginning and end of us, it is us.  Its existence is our existence.  So people – listen!

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.

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).

It’s Boney James Ya’all!

I love music.  I especially love live music.  I recently went and saw the jazz saxophone player Boney James for the 4thish time.  I love Boney James.  His music is, as my girl Ni likes to say, “baby making music.”  His concerts are a mix of jazz and soul and R&B and he is just amazing.  He blends so many genres it is great for everyone with such a smooth soulful sound you want to groove along.  Did I say I love Boney?

I bought the tickets for my friend Kathy and I to go to for her Birthday.  I much prefer gifts that are trips or experiences.  Because of car problems and a Thursday night show, we could not have dinner together before the show.  So I used my Cheesecake Factory gift certificate I won at my work Christmas party and bought us avocado egg rolls, crab and shrimp dip, and stuffed mushrooms for dinner and a piña colada cake cheesecake for desert.  And the best part?  We ate it off of the trunk of my car.  As I was setting it up waiting for Kathy to arrive, people were slowing down as they drove by.  For a few minutes I wondered if I should go someplace else to set up our picnic, until I realized I had done stranger things and will do even stranger things, so why worry.

After a nice sugar high, we went in to see the concert where there were several empty rows.  The venue was Plaza Live Theater in Orlando.  It is a stage theater converted from an old movie theater.  There are two stages.  There is a bar and food vendors inside but decoration and finish inside is minimalist. Its no frills but smaller, more intimate and has good sound.

Finally a good concert photo!

Before the show started we finally got a good picture of us together at a concert.  Opening act was a guy who pretty much played every sound you would want on his guitar and recorded them into the background and played and sang vocals over the recording.  He recorded it on the stage.  His name is Chris Burns.

Chris Burns February 2012

Right before I the end of intermission is when I found out the Japan results were up but I could not find my application number before the show.  I tried to forget about it, but like that was going to happen.  So here Kathy and I were using my phone to view my ap and hers to record the number in the middle of this concert. I apologize to the concert Gods and Boney and the people around me.  But when I found out I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, even though I did not get in.

Except for the crazy guy.  There was a guy who was telling his wife not to yell out.  it was funny since he went frickin crazy.  CRAZY.  “Boneeeeeyyyyyyy!  OHHHHHH!!!  Ohhh, yeah!!”  We wondered if he wanted a room.

But Boney was hot as ever.  The entire crowd was grooving.  Women were dancing in the aisles and next to the stage.  Boney did his dancing as usual and passed right behind us through the crowd.

It is a great way of spending one of my last weekends in the Central Florida area.  Next up?  March 2 in Clearwater to see Chris Botti!

The pictures kind of suck, but here they are!

Can someone explain to me how to wrap the photos so I can align two photos next to each other?