Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Longing

Lately I've been in the vortex of a longing that instead of going away  had only grown stronger over the passing days. This yearning had no name, only a feeling and certain images and things seemed to bring it out more. 

I've had a trying year on so many levels (as evidenced by a lot of these blog posts) and through it all, I think that I tried my level best to always see the good in the situation as well as take care of myself mentally and emotionally. But perhaps I had not taken care of myself as well as I thought.

Every year when I was still working at a stable company, I had amassed as much vacation time as one might have. And every year, rather than getting out of Dodge and having a proper vacation that either included driving more than one hundred miles or simply hopping on a plane, I chose what folks like to call the "Staycation" where one stays home and does a lot of local activities. I did these sort of Staycations mostly due to finances. The last proper vacation I had was a five day weekend to Myrtle Beach with my former car club, in which we all drove up to an event called 'Cruisers At The Beach'. (I once owned a PT Cruiser and was in an active club from 2001-2013.) The last proper week-long vacation  was in Myrtle Beach and that was in 2000. 

I had tried hard to sort of tamp down the restlessness but it would not go away. It changed from the small not-so-silent voice into a roar that I could no longer ignore. It's funny the things that trigger the parts of us that we think we're so powerful against. The things that are never spoken or hinted at and yet something innocent is a trigger and then the floodgates open. 

Last weekend, I had gone to see the new Robert Downey Jr. movie  'The Judge'. I am not going to give spoilers but I got so much more out of it than I expected to. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love my RDJ and even if the movie sucks, I will still go see it. At any rate, this movie took place in Indiana yet the location they actually used was Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. I am from New England, via Connecticut and had spent some of my happiest times in Massachusetts. Seeing this old familiar scenery awakened something in me that only grew stronger within the passing week. 

(Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA)

(Shelburne Falls, MA)

I saw the movie twice last weekend mostly because of seeing Robert and the greatness that he brings to any scene of a movie that he is in. I also could not get enough of that scenery. And that small voice in my head kept screaming "You need to go somewhere now!" Seeing this scenery just made me miss going away somewhere and it made me realize that I needed a lot more of that in my life. 

Well, I came to the decision during this past week that yesterday (Saturday) would be the day that I cleared my calendar and obeyed whatever Spirit would whisper in my ear in terms of an escape plan for the day.  I wanted to get as far away from home as I could where 1) I felt like I had actually gone somewhere and 2) it had to be within driving distance. I had a Post-It note that was covered with ideas of places to visit.

However, I ended up visiting a place which I had gone to in the past and while I had enjoyed both those times, I really wanted to experience this place in a way that I had not in the past. I went by myself and have never had an issue traveling anywhere alone, ever. As fun as things are with others, I just wanted one day to go as Spirit directed me and if something felt right to do, I'd do it. So I ended up in Mount Dora, FL where it's said that this is the highest part of Florida. 

On the drive up, I had a feeling inside that was indescribable. I felt my energy level soar in a way that it hadn't for some time. I felt instantly better and in a positive frame of mind. I took a highway to get there and then off onto a country road that was only two lanes. I was in heaven. 

This jewel of a city is far inland in Florida and is about 2 hours give or take from my home. It only took less than a tank of gas to and from. I left home and got there before noon. I found a nice public parking spot and just set off on foot. 

                                                               (Mount Dora, FL) 

                                                                  (Mount Dora)  

I spent a lot of time simply walking around, camera in hand and just went crazy taking photos of anything that struck my fancy. I had no plans really. The whole day stretched before me with no sort of itinerary and I loved it! I went into maybe two stores tops but mostly was out and about, wanting to immerse myself within this town. 

I took something called the 'Mount Dora Canal Cruise' and it was about two hours of bliss. I was able to get out on Lake Dora and experience it in a way that I hadn't before. I had always known that the Lake was there but had never really seen it the first two trips to Mount Dora. 

(Seaplane at Lake Dora)

(Cypress trees in Lake Eustis) 

(Big cool building on wharf at Lake Dora)

The whole day I just did what the little voice in my head told me to do. I walked until my feet and legs were ready to give out. As an aside, it is truly amazing the people that one finds on their journeys. 

I happened to stop into an ice cream place to get my vanilla soft-serve fix. There was a small line ahead of me and the guy in front of me told me that he liked my shirt. I have a shirt with a VW Bus on it and the saying 'Not All Who Wander Are Lost' and I wore it yesterday. I like the saying as it completely described me yesterday and you all know how much I love anything VW. At any rate, this nice guy went on to ask if I had a VW. I said no but am an artist who is inspired by them and have taken many photos of them. Turns out he is one of the founders of the Gainesville (FL) Classic VW car club. I am a member of most of the Facebook pages for these clubs, including that one as a matter of fact. Amazing! I never imagined I would run into anyone with any sort of connection to VWs or any other club at all. Wow. 

Speaking of VWs, the one and only shop I really spent any time in had this shirt -

And naturally, it had to come home with me. I was walking through this shop and it was  if I was guided to this shirt. So I got it. I showed it to my friend at the ice cream shop and he told me that he too had seen this shirt. 

I returned home at about 7:30pm last night, spent from all the walking and time in the fresh air. Doing this was the best thing I could have done. I just wished I had done it sooner than this. It also ignited the desire to do this more often. I will return to Mount Dora because I want to do this next-

Yep, they have trains up there! I am very fond of train rides and when I was going to college in New England and had no car, this was the best thing to take. The whole time I was walking around Mount Dora, the train horn I heard intermittently was real and not a train horn like you hear down here on some guy's jacked up truck. Hearing that again was music to my ears and awakened a pleasant memory of times gone by. 

It seems that no matter where I am, I seem to find where the classic cars are or they just find me. I disembarked from the Mount Dora Canal Cruise and saw this parked just up the street. It had not been there when I left-

                                                                    (Lil Red SS)

I thought that this car parked by the railroad crossing sign made for a great shot. There was a restaurant on the other side of these signs and I saw some people watching me take these photos from the patio of this place.  They may have been the owners of this car or not. 

All in all, so needed. I just feel like a different person already having gotten out of here. The day had gone well and I felt my energy level kick into a higher plane. Doing this also reminded me that I need to start traveling again and to not cut off that part of me that has always loved to explore. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A year ago....

I had taken a Saturday afternoon to meet and listen to author Tim Dorsey at the local library. At the time, the specter of potential job loss loomed large over my own head and those of my coworkers. I was doing my level best to find cheap/free pursuits that made me feel good as an escape for how much things sucked or the multitude of worries that weighed heavily on my shoulders. Had I known a year ago how much things would change, I would have been floored. I certainly would not have believed it. Little did I know that a mere few days later, I would lose a job that I loved and a chain of events would unfold that would change my life for the better.

I remember being very afraid of what the future held. I also had made the error of trying to maintain a lifestyle and standard of living that no longer fit me. I was doing what I thought I  "should be doing" as compared to what I "wanted to do" or what just felt right and natural. I don't claim to have all the answers and everyone's path is different but one thing I have leaned that when you try to force things, disastrous results are often the outcome.

I will say that the past year has been one of the hardest in my life but really when you get right down to it, I wouldn't trade any of it for anything. I had to go through all of that to get to where I am now and from where I sit, things are not nearly as stressful as they were even as much as six months ago. I can feel the difference tenfold. Most people I see that I haven't seen for a long time have noticed the change. They remark at how 'happy, at peace' and 'not as stressed' I appear to be to them.

I also had to give up a lot and for some people, it might look like great sacrifice but for me it was things that I had outgrown a long time ago. Currently, I am finally again working for a decent company that has a lot of potential and opportunity. I am living in a quaint and quirky section of town that is nice and peaceful. I have given up my old home in the process of starting over among many other things. I am living in a smaller space now and love it! 

Along with the physical changes of moving and growing, I have also bitten the bullet and taken far more creative chances in the past year beyond my wildest dreams. It was in February that I made 'For All Time' available to the masses. Could it have been written better? Yes! Could it have been better overall? Agreed! But I got off of my ass and did it. Same with my art. As opposed to being a shrinking violet, I have gotten out and went looking for the right people in the proper situations to get my photography and such out to the general public, along with a sprinkling of self-promotion.

I am not even close to finished. I was recently made aware of another opportunity which will enable me to both move forward with my life as well as finally purchase ISBNs for my novel. I plan to remain with the company I am working for now with an eye to making a prosperous future with them along with pursuing more creative endeavors in my free time. The things I gave up to get where I am now are more than worth it.

The only regret? Not doing all of this so much sooner. But then again, I am a firm believer in the fact that when we are ready to change our lives, it will happen when it is supposed to. And on that Monday almost a year ago, what was supposed to happen did.