Asking the Right Questions

Jumping Through Hoops

I have been having some figurative writers block problems and some literal writers block problems.  The internet connection here is horrible. It took more than an hour to download the printer driver.  Also, I have felt like a circus performer lately.  Getting finger prints or any thing official in towns like Big Rapids and Stanwood is almost impossible, especially in the summer. They want to complain about there being no work but there is no infrastructure to support that work.  Also unemployment in Florida seems to think I need to show up for an in office meeting that I cannot reschedule so to Florida I go for a meeting the 25th. If I do not I am considered a no-show.

Writer’s Block

Then there is the writer’s block that is all in my head.  There is the fact I have so many things swirling in my head that I cannot keep up.  The drive to Michigan, the fact my car is dying and made me stop my road trip early, being around family drama, all the cigarette smoke, and the fear that had been slowly dripping into my veins has been compounding.  And worst is that I have not done yoga since Asheville (I miss Asheville!).  There are NO classes here except some you have to buy a whole series to attend.  I have not been even walking the trails as much as I like.  I keep finding excuses.  The bugs, the heat, etc.

So, I finally started writing and I think I will be submitting them for articles for other sites and reference them here, if they are accepted.  I do have a couple of original posts for here written that just need editing.  Also I am trying to get pictures up, but the internet connection is a HUGE hamper to that.  Until then, I wanted to pose a question that is at the forefront of my mind lately.

More Questions than Answers

How do we incorporate play as a regular part of our life, so we do not even think of it as play, while maintaining and evolving our rules we need as adults?  It seems much easier when you are at yoga or with friends you know or at places like the Hostel in the Forest or Asheville.  When amongst family or other people who expect you to contribute to the ball and chain and not think of anything else, this is difficult.  The boundaries you set and rules you play by mean nothing to those people who simply see you as irresponsible.  And I do not know how to counter that I am being the responsible one.  I am securing long-term happiness and trying to find the rules and the game that not only allow me to see the love and wonder and adventure in life that a child does but also how to maintain the discipline and rules that are required to cultivate that into passion and into a lifestyle that is more sustainable.  Isn’t that worthy of my time?

Is that not the question that all the hippie generations have been facing?  How to feel the love and see the love and turn it into something that is more than just being self-centered and irresponsible.  There are people who have done it.  How do I do it?  How do I keep it around people who disdain it?

I guess the first step to finding the right answers is to ask the right questions.

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!

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!

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).

Things Fall Apart and I go to Yoga

Picture by my friend Niyoga

Me in Crow at Rasa Lila Festival Central Florida 2011

So, my mom and dad  were going to come down from Michigan and help me empty my apartment and take a few things back to Michigan.  My mom is having a hard time with things and she reacts with nerves and anxiety.  Meaning every time in the last several years she said she was going to come down to see me, she has not.  And yet again she has canceled on me.  Now, I am used to living alone.  I am also used to dealing with things and mom canceling.  But after Japan did not go through.  It hit me hard.  I was very upset and starting to think I am not doing the right thing.  If those two relatively small setbacks throw me off, how am I going to get by on the fly and on the road.  So what did I do?  I sat and felt sorry for myself and then over came the urge to go to bed early and went to one of my favorite yoga classes (I will say that about a lot of classes, beware!) at Altamonte Springs Yoga, warm and slow with Julie K.M. On my way I just kept thinking “I want to melt this all away!”

I love this class because it always brings to me what I need.  It is like there is some weird connection between me and this class and the intention set for the practices is always what I need.  This class was about things not working out as you plan but using what you do have to your advantage.  My blog theme even.

She has been doing many classes lately without using vinyasas.  Sort of a challenge for her self and a different point of view for us students.  I was so focused in the class.  I can still describe my main drishti points.  Yet I was flexible enough in my practice to back out when I needed, grab a drink of water, or modify as needed.  And even though I was focused everything felt much lighter and easier and less forced.  Well except the crazy balance pose sequence.  It was hot and sweaty and my nose ran (like it does at any good yoga class) and I melted.  My body and brain and soul felt they had melted into exactly where I was supposed to be.  I went home, walked the dog, and then melted back into my bed.  How I am going to miss my bed.