The Things You Can See When You Open Your Eyes

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

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

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

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

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

Head Stand Prep with Chairs

I will be sticking this in my Passport

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

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

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

Saying Good-Bye

House Sitting…Again

I have been staying at my friend Kathy’s who you might remember from the Boney James concert or from my House Sitting page.  I was house sitting when I first got here Wednesday, her  family was in South Carolina visiting their families.  They have a little chihuahua, a black cat, and…a pool.

What time I was not spending going to the doctors to get some last-minute checkups since I still have my health insurance until the end of the month I was spending sleeping, sunning, and writing.  Good news though, I already have Hepatitis B shot in my blood so I do not need any shots!  Just had my tetanus shot a year or two ago so that is good.

Well, I was also trying to keep peace between the cat and the dog.  The cat would go over to the sleeping dog and jump attack and would chase him around when he came in from a walk.  Then at night the cat would come and try to chase the dog out of the bed and then try to sit on my face.  When no one would pay attention to him, he would start tearing at the blinds.  It was interesting.

Saying Good-Bye

The day before Kathy and her family came home I went to the store looking for a birthday gift for Kathy’s oldest daughter Helen.  We have been best buds for five years.  I was her first sleep over that was not family.  I took her to Disney to get her Princess Makeover.  From birthdays to Christmases and Thanksgivings we were all a family.  Her mom has been like an older sister to me and she is like my niece.  Her mom’s last presents were tickets to see Boney James and Chris Botti but I had not found something for Helen.  Normally, I like to give her presents that are something we can do together.

As I walked around the store, an entire flashback montage came back to me starting five years ago when I moved to Winter Haven for my first job after I graduated from college.  From buying my first curtains and my nice living room and patio furniture and plants for my garden where I threw many dinners.  I used to sit out on my patio on my swing that converted to a fixed, flat bed with a fire pit and watch the stars and listen to the crickets.  I would cook with my fresh herbs on the grill.  Jack would dig up every pineapple I tried to grow and ate my cinnamon basil if I left him outside.  I met Kathy and her family, who lived one building down in my apartment complex, and then every night Jack and I would walk to Kathy’s house.  Almost every night.

There was the time Jack got out from the patio when I was at work and Kathy’s husband found him sitting outside of the gate barking at people who went by.  Or the Halloween when the stray kitten I tried to adopt ate my bird, Sunny and Kathy and her husband came and cleaned the entire mess up. Including the mess the dog left behind because he shaking in the corner scare. The bird was friend.

Or maybe the only Thanksgiving I spent living in Winter Haven when I went down to Kathy’s house and used her girl’s wagon to haul a load of beer and liquor from my apartment to her’s, with the then two-year old girl in the wagon (there is a picture somewhere).  Hours of sitting and talking gibberish with said two-year old.  Experimenting with so many recipes.

So many memories.

So, I was walking through Wal-Mart trying to find a fitting present and trying not to cry.  I thought about a scrapbook but I already bought her one of those.  Then it hit me.  I should get her something we can interact with while I am gone.  So I bought her a picture album with pages you can organize pictures in any way possible (not just 4×6 slots) in a binder.  I also bought some stickers and matting pages.  The premise is that everywhere on my trip I can send her postcards, currency, map pages, paper momentos etc. Hopefully along with Google Chat and Google Voice we can stay in touch.

Then on Monday the family came back.  We have been just hanging out all week.  Cooking great food with the now seven-year old and trying to entertain the teething 18-month old with Disney Jr. games on the computer has been fun.  I still cannot get the baby to say my name but she calls my computer Kicky (Micky) because we watch Micky on my computer.

For dinner two days ago we had corn on the cob, asparagus, beef and chicken kabobs with my renowned (thanks to Alton Brown) marinade, picked cucumber and onion salad, and milkshakes.  It was amazing.  Tonight we had bow tie pasta with pancetta, peas, corn, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese, herb and cheese stuffed mushrooms, garlic crostini with some of the stuffed mushroom filling on top, and grill pineapple and bananas with white chocolate sauce (which I did not partake in) and pineapple syrup over vanilla ice cream.  I have never made either sauces or grilled fruit but they turned out pretty good.  The kid was a great sous chef.  She husked the corn, mixed ingredients, stuffed the mushrooms, and in general was a great kid.

The First of Many

I realized this week how many good-byes I am going to have to give this weekend.  And I do not know when I will be back to Florida.  So, I set up dinner and dancing and yoga and trail dates with friends throughout Central Florida.  I also set up a massage appointment with the guy at Ananda Kula who helped me get into yoga seriously and taught me how I needed to heal my body from over use injuries and

Yoga

On Friday I found a yoga studio in Downtown Winter Haven called Groundwork Yoga.  I went to the 6 PM flow class with Jody so I went back Wednesday.  If you want the full story (including headstand prep with chairs) please read my post about the yoga in Winter Haven coming up shortly!

Blog Updates and New Purchases!

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

Blog Updates

New Purchases

I have been a busy busy bee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photobucket Pro

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

New Shoes

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

Winter Park, Florida

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

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

Winter Park Village

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

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

Downtown Winter Park

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

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

Yoga

Full Circle Yoga

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

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

Food

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

Mitchell’s Fish Market

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

Chipotle

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

Croissant Gourmet Bakery

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

Cafe 118 Degrees

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

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

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

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

For next time…

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

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!