Florida

Leaving Florida for the winter

So I guess we're not real snowbirds after all. It sure looked that way at first though, arriving in Florida on Halloween, planning to stay through the end of April. And here we are, two days after Christmas, and we are on our way back out west. 

Coming to Florida was dreamy as an idea, and a lot less appealing in reality. Our two months here were spent bouncing around five dropzones and yet never quite finding what we were looking for. Whatever that is. Other than Nick getting his riggers ticket (YAY!) and us getting to meet up with friends, I'd say we've had a fairly unproductive time here. But that won't be the case next time we go to Florida to soak up the beautiful winter weather because we learned a lot while making our rounds.

IMG_4844.PNG

The decision to drive 2700 miles back to the place we just left six months ago was a tough one to make. We have gone back and forth on it for a couple of weeks now until finally making the decision yesterday that we would leave today. 

So here we are in Pensacola, Florida at the end of an eight-hour day on the road together.

Our driving time is usually spent listening to podcasts and so I'd like to share what we listened to today. We love true crime podcasts about unsolved murders or other crimes.

Today we started a new one titled Someone Knows Something. Thankfully it has tons of episodes so we could binge listen. This one is well made, with my only complaint being sound levels in the recordings, but the story is interesting. 43 years ago a 5 year old Canadian boy disappeared into the woods while out fishing with his family. There's been no trace of him since. We are only half way through the season and looking forward to more tomorrow.

Nick doing Thrusters using a box.  

Nick doing Thrusters using a box.  

When we arrived in Pensacola we drove straight to Mako Crossfit for a workout. It was Nicks first time doing Fran, and my 6th. It never gets easier doing pull-ups and thrusters like that. Mako Crossfit was a super cool gym that I'm excited to drop into tomorrow morning before we hit the road to New Orleans.

Everyone cheering Nick on as he finished his last 9 pull-ups of Fran.  

Everyone cheering Nick on as he finished his last 9 pull-ups of Fran.  

In the spirit of full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Purchasing products through these links incures no additional costs to you, but helps support our endeavors to inspire and educate. Thank you. 

A Florida Christmas 2016

A hot and sunny Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Yes, please!  

We spent our holiday with Bart and Kimmy Rogowski at their home near Skydive DeLand. Kim's family drove out from California creating such a fun and very unique environment for us to be in. 

We weren't there for the gift opening madness, but the prep was just as fun!  

We weren't there for the gift opening madness, but the prep was just as fun!  

Doing the whole "Santa thing" with four little believers on Christmas Eve was super cool. Milk, cookies, wishlists, stockings, wrapping toys... it was a lot of fun to see and experience. I'm trying to remember the last time, if ever, that I've actually been a part of Christmas spirit like that. 

So glad they had a gingerbread house competition. Those candies were delicious!  

So glad they had a gingerbread house competition. Those candies were delicious!  

Don't get any crazy ideas though, Nick and I won't be having any little shits of our own, but I can honestly appreciate the magic of it all after seeing it up close. 

I'm a Scrooge, obviously. I have been for a long time. Years of confusing feelings about my own complicated family structure coupled with feeling alone since my Mom died 9 years ago, well, fuck the holidays. All of them, not just Christmas.

But, but, but! But this blog is about how cool our Florida Christmas was. 

Nick and I didn't exchange gifts of course, but we spent the day time of Christmas Eve installing a new slide awning on our trailer to prevent future leaks. Merry Christmas to us!

Exploring Blue Springs in central Florida on Christmas Day. 

Exploring Blue Springs in central Florida on Christmas Day. 

Christmas Day we took a quick drive over to Blue Springs State Park and saw some manatees swimming along doing barrel rolls. What beautiful, gentle creatures! Now my time in Florida is complete! That's really all I wanted for Christmas. We called my Dad and Nicks mom to give them love, so that made our day really special too. 

IMG_4941.JPG

Christmas night was the most fun because we got some serious quality time in with Bart and Kim. I've been buddies with Bart longer than I've been with Nick, he's like my brother. These two are family. And so is their family. 

IMG_4948.JPG

We had such a wonderful time connecting with Kimmy's folks, our other parents, Al and Debbie, Kim's sisters, and the kids. Kristy made some incredible pies, pumpkin and turkey pot. So good! 

Between all the love, and ending our time with them laughing to the movie White Chicks, we had a fun and memorable Christmas in Florida.  

Thank you all for including us nomadic, holiday orphans. We love you guys. 

Love this little fam. Photo from Al's Captains Log

Love this little fam. Photo from Al's Captains Log

In the spirit of full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Purchasing products through these links incures no additional costs to you, but helps support our endeavors to inspire and educate. Thank you. 

Wrap Up- Kundalini Yoga Winter Solstice event 2016

Wrap Up- Kundalini Yoga Winter Solstice event 2016

Nick and I had extreme swings in emotions during the event. Almost entire paradigm shifts. I'm going to be honest here: we spent the first few days in delight and the last few days completely disenchanted.

In the spirit of full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Purchasing products through these links incures no additional costs to you, but helps support our endeavors to inspire and educate. Thank you. 

Day 3 - Kundalini Yoga Winter Solstice 2016 - First Tantric day

We survived the first of three days of White Tantric Yoga here at Winter Solstice.

Immediately after 9 1/2 hours devoted to White Tantric yoga. Do my eyes give away the fact that I'm stoked to be done for the day?

Immediately after 9 1/2 hours devoted to White Tantric yoga. Do my eyes give away the fact that I'm stoked to be done for the day?

I realize that as I journal publicly about this event that the majority of you guys won't have a clue what I'm talking about.

What the hell is White Tantric yoga? First, it's definitely NOT the tantra you're probably thinking of (thanks Sting) and second, it's going to be difficult for me not to sensationalize it so I'm just going to be honest about my experience.

I'll be the first one here at Winter Solstice to admit that Kundalini Yoga is a bit "out there." And White Tantric is an extended, highly concentrated, and mentally challenging event that Kundalini yogis do to bypass the conscious mind and get right in there and clear out all the mental junk we carry around.

Nick and I were partners, which made this experience so special. I got to stare into his dreamy dark brown eyes for hours on end today while chanting various mantras, in a tent full of hundreds of other pairs doing the exact same thing.  

We did four 62 minute yoga sets, and two 31 minute sets. So, for each set we were given instructions on what to chant and what mudra (hand position) to use, and then sat cross-legged and did it non-stop for the entire 62 minutes while staring deeply into each other's eyes trying not to laugh (or cry).  

White Tantric Yoga is a very powerful practice.

The energy in the tent is nearly palpable. Staying focused and holding still while sitting cross-legged with your damn arms locked in any number of odd positions, while chanting loudly is one massive exercise in "mind over matter." Your body becomes really uncomfortable really quickly, but you have no choice but to keep up. Keep holding the posture, keep staring into those eyes, keep going.

And so that's just what we did all day. Some of the yoga sets were more challenging than others for us. We had waves of emotion rock through us and between us, especially during the second set. That's when I felt my love for Nick boil up inside me and fill me with the pain of regret for the times when I've hurt him. Clearly that's something I'm still working through and White Tantric is excellent for showing you those hidden blockages.

We had moments of immense discomfort, moments of annoyance at the behaviors of those around us, moments of wanting to stop, moments of WHAT THE FUCK! We had moments of clarity, and sincerity, and deep connection without words. Moments of unconditional love and feeling safe despite our vulnerability.

As we sat there intertwined in the chaos, I noticed the inescapable vulnerability that we had no choice but to experience. It opened up our hearts so wide and allowed love and contentment to come pouring in.  

We have two more full days of this. I'm exhausted already.  

Sun setting just past the Tantric tent. 

Sun setting just past the Tantric tent. 

In the spirit of full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Purchasing products through these links incures no additional costs to you, but helps support our endeavors to inspire and educate. Thank you. 

Day 2 - Kundalini Yoga Winter Solstice 2016

Our second day at yoga camp was incredibly fulfilling for both of us despite being bad yogis and deliberately skipping the Sadhana meditation at 3:45am. The extra sleep undoubtedly helped us make the most of the rest of our day and we didn't feel guilty at all.

We got straight to work in the morning on our service crew making lunch. Nick knew how badly I didn't want to stand over the hot stove stirring melted ghee so he took my job.

IMG_4881.PNG

I got to get my hands dirty mixing tabouli in 5-gallon buckets. Now that was fun! And meditative. And not nearly as exhausting.

So much fun! 

So much fun! 

Nicks a champ! 

Nicks a champ! 

After lunch I left Nick while he was napping outside of our trailer to head out to the lake. At first I couldn't bring myself to get all the way into the cold water. The sun was tucked behind one of the billowing clouds so I grabbed a kayak and decided to go explore instead. I floated along the hundreds of lilly pads around the perimeter sprinkled with beautiful blooming white lotus flowers. I worked my body temp up to the point that the frigid water was actually refreshing when I got in. I haven't swam in ages so I took my time to savor the way the cold water tingled on my skin. What a gift!

Then we went to one of my favorite yoga classes I've been to in a very long time.  Jai Dev Singh taught with the musical accompaniment of his wife Simrit Kaur. Oh my Guru!

"Getting Intimate with the Infinite" was such a powerful class, I just totally fell in love with them. Her angelic voice, his grounded and masterful presence, hundreds of people breathing and moving. So many challenging yoga sets, trying to keep up, being reminded that this is all just a mind exercise. 

And then the rain came. It rained, hard, during a 22-minute chant of Wahe Guru. I had to get up off my pillow, step outside of the tent and turn my face to the rain. Still holding my hands over my heart, still chanting in the doorway, feeling the earth below my feet, and the rain soak through my clothes. It was magical. It's only day two, and I'm already experiencing magic. 

3 days of White Tantric begin tomorrow. I'm nervous. It's going to be intense. But I'm really looking forward to feeling what comes to the surface as we work through the exercises. 

Pausing to gaze at the orange and pink sunset at Winter Solstice.

Pausing to gaze at the orange and pink sunset at Winter Solstice.

At the end of the night Nick and I enjoyed 90 minutes of kirtan while sipping yogi tea. I'm in my element and trying to soak up every moment. 

Tonight's kirtan band

Tonight's kirtan band

In the spirit of full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Purchasing products through these links incures no additional costs to you, but helps support our endeavors to inspire and educate. Thank you. 

Day 1-Kundalini Yoga Winter Solstice

I'm at a point in my life right now where I just don't see 3am anymore. It's way too late for me to stay awake, and it's way too early to rise. But, today at Winter Solstice, I saw 3am. On purpose. And surprisigly, it wasn't difficult to get up and get going either.  

Nick joined me at that sacred ambrosial hour for morning Sadhana meditation with a few hundred others. He may or may not have fallen asleep during the second hour of chanting. I don't care, at least he has an open mind and open heart to experience everything new in life. 

When we finished at 6am we immediately took a nap in our trailer officially making it the earliest nap I've ever taken.  

After our breakfast soup we met with our service team and began to make lunch right away. We joined a service team and received a hefty discount on admission. We thought it would be an awesome way to meet people and diversify our experience through service. 

I spent a few hours rinsing buckets of sprouts, peeling ginger, and melting ghee. Nick got his hands dirty mixing up enough tabouli in 5-gallon buckets to feed 700 people.  

Kitchen crew chopping veggies! 

Kitchen crew chopping veggies! 

I was really looking forward to our afternoon workshop with one of my all time favorite musicians Snatam Kaur. She's a devotional singer with an angelic voice you've probably heard in yoga class.

My fave Snatam Kaur album

My fave Snatam Kaur album

I've been a fan of her forever but haven't seen her live since 2004. The best part is that Nick is also a huge fan of hers and gives her peaceful music heaps of credit for his emotional healing after his accident. He would spend hours listening to her albums on repeat with headphones in the middle of the night when he couldn't sleep. She kept him calm and grounded, and now 5 years later he's getting to see her play live. Priceless! As an aside, I absolutely love to sit behind Nick at events like this. Sometimes I'll open my eyes a little bit and watch him sway to the music catching glimpses of his side profile as he's chanting away in a deeply meditative space. 

IMG_4863.JPG

Our evening class was none other than a lesson on foot massage. I still can't believe Nick wanted to go with me. The teacher was such a sweetheart and suggested I massage Nicks hands when it was his turn after he did my feet. Great idea and very relaxing for him. The class was packed, and the teacher and her husband made us laugh hard explaining how beneficial learning foot massage can be for wives who aren't in the mood so it'll put their husbands right to sleep.

Overall we had a very full first day at Winter Solstice. So many beautiful conversations and meditations. Sat Nam.

In the spirit of full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Purchasing products through these links incures no additional costs to you, but helps support our endeavors to inspire and educate. Thank you. 

Kundalini Yoga -Winter Solstice Celebration. Camp- arrival day

The theme for this years Winter Solstice is:

Understand through compassion, or you will misunderstand the times.

In the spirit of full disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Purchasing products through these links incures no additional costs to you, but helps support our endeavors to inspire and educate. Thank you.