Acting My Age Traveling

So the area around Guatape is very mountainous and hilly.  There are also a lot of incredibly slick and crumbly gravel roads and trails to walk where you can see absolutely amazing and beautiful scenes of the area, the jungle, the waterfalls, etc.  So you are mostly walking uphill on rubble or literally climbing up the side of a mountain or through a mountain on a little .  I love this about Guatape.  My knees, however, do not.

I remember sitting in a therapy session once talking about weight and health issues.  I was very frustrated that I could not lose weight the way I used to be able to a few years before.  I cannot believe my therapist was able to keep a straight face through the entire conversation we had because looking back at the memory I laugh at my audacity.  He kept saying things along the lines of “but that is years ago, this is today,” or “I am not trying to be mean, but you are older now.”  I must have looked at him like I did think he was mean or crazy.  I guess the thought never occurred to me.  I have always felt older because of my actions and my lack of feeling fulfilled with my life, not my body.  It was eye opening I suppose.

But now, I am definitely feeling the difference between me at 20 and me at almost 28.  I cannot hike everyday uphill because after about three days my knees are swollen and sore.  I am hoping some of this is just not being used to mountains as Florida and Michigan do not offer that type of landscape.  I am thinking of picking up some kayaking or something to give my legs a break.  Though it is a bit intimidating since my neighbors here are professional rowers and kayakers.

I also need break days, fairly often.  This is the difference of me physically and emotionally now.  I do not like being on the go traveling around constantly.  In fact I dislike it and it makes me tired without the benefit of feeling as if I have accomplished anything.  So, I go to bed early, wake up early, enjoy watching the sunset on the hammock and have not been out partying once since I have been here.  In fact, most of my nights consist of calling my grandmother or mother, cooking dinner, a beer or hot chocolate, and a book.

My memory is horrible.  It really is hard learning Spanish.  I try as  I might to not have to use the words for have (tener) or to go (ir) because they are irregular verbs with conjugating patterns that I can only remember for saying I have or I go.  if all else fails I use the  not conjugated word and hope people understand what I am saying. Sometimes it works.  Sometimes we laugh and I just point to something.

I like to talk to small children and animals more than adults.  It used to be the opposite, I liked talking to adults more than children when I was a child.  Now I much prefer the nonsense or non verbal love given from dogs and children.  Except here the dogs have little packs based on what community they live near.  The small community near by has a different pack that the one near the hostel which is different from those in town.  When you walk through the other areas, sometimes it is better to carry rocks or let a dog see you pick up a rock.  A younger me would have felt bad intimidating dogs that are probably used to being hit by rocks.  The me now just enjoys not getting rabies.

So, my traveling and who I am is different and in some areas I need to catch up to getting older.  It is somewhat sad because I am just getting used to acting young and feeling young in ways I never had.  The pure selfishness of traveling for no purpose except to travel because it is what I want to do at the moment is exhilarating.  So is not having a plan and knowing any day can contain whatever I want it to, the possibilities are endless.  However, in some ways I do need to start acting my age and taking care of myself as I need to at this current moment.  Re-tearing old injuries from younger days when I could afford the healing time because I healed quickly is not something that will benefit me today where I cannot even communicate with the doctor in the same language and will take a longer time to heal.

Also, maybe I should grow up and wear shoes. I tend to wear sandals and flip flops in the most ridiculous circumstances and have some pretty funky looking feet because of it.  I blame Florida for the habit through.  Oh, and uncomfortable sock seams.  I hate that feeling of sock seems rubbing against your foot.  I used to not wear socks with my shoes when I was a kid because of it.  Not much has changed since first grade I guess.  Only now I have the oddest suntan lines on my feet…

Maybe I should act my age and wear shoes with socks occasionally.  For now I think not…

Lessons I Need to Learn Before Travel

Maybe it is just because I had such a horrible commute, where 5 miles can take me 1/2 hour minimum, but I have been having lots of personal realizations while driving.  Last week I realized that I am having a problem turning perceived threats into real threats because I do not trust my judgement.

Later in the week I realized the reason I do not trust myself:

Lesson 1

I do not trust myself because I was conditioned to not feel my feelings.  I was always told a young lady does not get angry or sad or too happy or…  And I was also told girls that go to college read these types of books and do these types of things.  So when I got mad I would cry instead.  If I got too happy and too much energy I would work.

Lesson 2

Once you are well conditioned to ignore your emotions this it leaves an underlying sense of anxiety at every change of circumstance or decision that would normally involve you using your emotions.  Eventually you even re-pattern from this, you stop trying to access your emotions for daily tasks, you just do as your told or what a responsible person would. Different people react to this differently.  Some people abuse drugs and alcohol.  It also leads to bad food choices because we try to choose to what makes us happiest out of the choices that we can control and do not involve too many emotions.  I was a classic over achiever which leads too…

Lesson 3

I use measurements to define myself.  My weight, my height, my degree, grades, internships, research grants, how many medals you have, how many scholarships you have, how many solos you have, being first chair, how many vinyasas you can do, how advanced your practice is, how many miles you can run, how many times you work out, how often you work out….  Recognizing this is helpful, it is harder to rely on it when you realize it does not really matter and those things are not really important  to you.  After you start realizing this you can start getting into what your real emotions are and stop with the measurements.  You can find out what really makes you happy and who you really are.

Lesson 4

You might have done so many good things, Realized your dream for travel, sold everything to realize your passion, lived week to week in different arrangements to save money and avoid a lease, and a myriad of other incredibly gutsy, emotion and passion driven actions…but there is always more.  Also, these old habits really do die hard.  You restart doing it before you even realize it.

Right now everyone around me is moving on in the “right” direction. People are getting married, having kids, getting advanced degrees, advancing in yoga and even getting certified in yoga training, losing weight, etc.  All these things I have either struggled with, do not want, or are not the right time to be in my life at this moment. I need to let this go before my travels turn into how many cities I saw, how many continents I have been to, how little/much I spent, how much more jet lagged I am, how many frequent flier miles I have, how good my pictures are, how often I blog…. you get the picture.

Lesson 5

“Do not give up what you want the most for what you want in the moment.” is a quote off of a magnet from my friend S’s ‘fridge. I cannot give into buying a ticket and just leaving when it is not what I want most.  What I want most is to be able to travel without having to worry about a job (if one does not show itself up right away) for at least a year.

I also cannot be around the type of people I was before who think people who can live their dream are “lucky”.  I also cannot give up my health for crash diets or over-use or injury.  I need my feet and stomach for travel.  I also cannot be around people who focus too much on measurable things instead of qualitative things that are not necessarily measurable with numbers.  This is so hard for me as an engineer.  I like numbers, people I know like numbers.  And people in yoga seem super obsessed with weight and place too many chips on their physical appearances.  Maybe since so many people in my family have died, become disabled, or got cancer this year, I can see how fleeting that really is.

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.

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.

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.