This is the only appropriate title for this blog post. 

It's a funny story, this little journey to India. Let me begin by saying that I am not the most traveled person. I'm not the most untraveled person either, but I'm not affected by a chronic wunderlust like many others that I know. I love my home and I love being at home. I have never lived anywhere other than Tampa. (Yes, I was born here!) And I'm only a 20-minute drive from that home that I lived in from the time I was six-months to almost 21. 

But at the end of a particularly stressful week, one of my best friends sent me a message. She said she was planning on going to India for a wedding, and that she thinks it would be amazing if we traveled there together. Any other time, I'd be like, "I don't have time for that!" But there was another part of me that was screaming, "Get me out of here and go have fun for once!" 

I mentioned this idea to my partner when he got home, and he immediately encouraged me to do it—swatting down excuses like a pro. So, I began to look into the logistics of a plane ticket, and I checked in with my inner committee on its overall opinion. Within about two weeks, I booked the two of us a flight. My friend was working in rural Haiti at the time, on a micro solar grid (because she's a bad-ass!), so I had to do most of the flight research and booking. We were on the phone together when I decided on the final fight. Having lived with me for five years, she knows how much I stay at home. (During the time that we lived together, she traveled to, I don't know, at least three different countries on at least five trips—including to India!) As soon as we made our trip "official," she exclaimed, "I can't believe you did that."

One word Jamie, YOLO ... YO-LO.

That became the theme word for the trip. I was writing our proposed itineraries with the subject, "YOLO 2016." But then later, I realized that in India, they don't believe "you only live once."

So, I decided that it would be YOLTLO: You Only Live This Life Once. 


Almost a Year

It has been almost a year since I had my last post on here. Ironically, it was about why we have interruptions in writing.

It has been quite a year for sure. Since last August when we opened our first "store" and started to move forward with our vision of the Upward Spiral Center, we've manifested our own space in our home neighborhood of Seminole Heights. We've been building this vision throughout the summer and our now ready for a full Fall season. 

I've been inspired by Seth's Blog post from today on SUSDAT - Show Up, Sit Down, and Type. For someone who teaching the virtue of "just sitting down to write" I could use more of this discipline in my life. 

So let's see if the next year will show more time spent "just writing" on my side and we can see where it gets us. Or I can see where it gets me. Because let's be real, I'm not writing for you (no offense), I'm writing for me. 

Closing Out, Looking Up: Days 99-101

So it is time that I close-out this 101 Days of Gratitude Project. I slowed down a lot the past few weeks in my posting, but been grateful none-the-less! Here's the gratitude tribute for my last few days.

Day 99: Morning Walks

If it weren't for my dogs, I would probably never get up and walk in the morning. But as soon as I wake up, the pups are all ready to walk out the door and greet the day with sniffs and pees. Pretty persistent little buggers, so I find I can't help but appease them.

I find that more and more I am happy to be walking out the door, even though only a few minutes before I was tucked away on a comfy bed enjoying the last moments of my slumber.  I find that being outside, seeing the morning unfold in its own unique way, and getting my body moving feels to be one of the most natural and necessary ways to start the day.  I think my body likes it as much as my dog's do.

Day 100: Brunch with my Parents

In the past few years, I've started this weekly ritual with my parents to meet them at brunch. We go to this place, the Riviera Restaurant  up in North Tampa.  We've actually been going to this place since I was a little kid, and some of the staff has been there that long too.

Though we've been patrons of this place for over twenty years, our weekly ritual is fairly new in that time span.  My parents started to go out weekly on Sundays and invited me out once; when I found out they had been going every week, I didn't want to be left out!  Its been our regular thing ever since.

It's great because it give us a regular chance to see each other and catch up. Without something like this it is easy to get caught up in life and not see them for a few weeks.  I like them too much to do that. As much as they are my parents and by virtue can annoy me sometimes, I also know that our Sunday times together is something that I will come to cherish. Wait, it is something that I do cherish. They won't be around forever, so I better hang out with them now.

And hey, breakfast is part of the deal, can't argue with that!

Day 101: This Project!

It only seems appropriate to acknowledge my thankfulness for getting myself to do this project.  It is amazing to see all the transformation that emerged from strengthening my 'gratitude muscle.'  Now, it is a lot easier for me to recognize my gratitude for small to big things.  It is harder to not acknowledge my gratitude even for the unfortunate things, which ends up making them not-so-unfortunate. I find that is even a little bit easier to receive the gratitude of others, because I know what that really means.

May this not be the end, but a new beginning!

I hope I have inspired some others to incorporate more gratitude into their lives in one way or another. And I plan to do this again, next August. Can't wait to see all that I will be grateful for then!

Days 88-95: Time that Flies By and a Whole Lot of Gratitude

I can't believe it is already Monday and that by the time I get to actually posting this Monday will be practically over. It might already be Tuesday, who knows [and as it turns out, this didn't get posted until Wednesday]. All I know is that it seems overnight, all of my time has gotten accounted for.

My last post was Wednesday and everyday since then has been filled with productivity and a whole lot to be grateful for.


: This was my doggy's dental appointment which turned out to cost me much less than I thought it was going to. In addition to this great financial outcome, I saw one of my regular client's this day who bought herself a new package and included in her check a VERY large tip. Having seen me for over 100 sessions, she has given me a gift like this once before and both times my jaw dropped. In the note on the check she wrote, "Happy Thanksgiving!" Happy Thanksgiving indeed. Let's just say that it would pay for several doggie dental bills, but it will probably just pay off my credit card debt, which is such a blessing. My day ended with an amazing open mic night at Cafe Hey where I felt honored, cherished, and loved. I left early because I was exhausted and had several long days ahead of me.

I was thankful

to have someone else who can run the show and give me time to go home and relax, since that time has been few and far between lately.


: I started my day at Gaither High School, my second school this year in the Arts Council's Poetry Jam program that I get to do every year. I am one of the Arts Council's poets that visits schools around the county and share a love of writing and the power of poetry and the spoken word. AND I GET PAID FOR THIS.

I am eternally grateful


Gianna Russo

, my poetry teacher, who suggested my name to the Arts Council when they were looking for poets.  These often involve me being at high schools before 8am, but I don't care. This is one of the best jobs I could ask for; the only part I would change is to be able to do this all year long. I was at Gaither until 2pm, then had a little time off before an evening client. It gave me time to go to the bank, stop by Kaleisia for some tea and a snack and take a little time to review the final proof of my chapbook that will be debuted this week. What an amazing Friday...

Saturday and Sunday

: I spent all weekend in the first workshop in the CranioSomatics training program. Back in 2006 I started studying Structural Energetic Therapy, developed by my teacher Don McCann, who combines cranial releases with deep tissue bodywork.  Don learned the cranial work from Dallas Hancock, the creator of CranioSomatic therapy. Now I am learning the cranial work for my teacher's teacher, and it is blowing my mind! I am only at the beginning of the training but will say that touching the cranium will never be the same again. I spent two days filling my head with all this new awareness of the cranium, and it is a good thing we did some releases on each other because frankly, I need a little more room in there to fit all this information! It was great to reconnect with some of my previous class mates and fellow therapists and I am SO excited to integrate this work into my practice. Six months ago I decided that this would be the next step for my practice.

I am thankful

that it is finally coming to fruition (and I should also mention, that my mom helped me pay for the class!).


: Here we are at Monday. I am writing this is the morning but know that the day will bring me more to be grateful for. I know this because I welcome it. If there is anything I've learned from this continuous gratitude practice is that when you are open to the world, it opens for you. I have had so many opportunities emerge in the past few months that I can't do anything but be thankful. Something that takes almost no time at all, makes the biggest difference. So

I am thankful

for today and the time I had to write this post.


Now it is Wednesday and I haven't even posted all this yet! Let's recap and get back on track.


(revisited): Monday turned into a great day! I saw three clients and got to try out some of my new techniques, with great success.  My day ended with seeing a bunch of my family at Skipper's for a big fundraiser concert. Though I am sure the musicians that night were super talented and deserved respect, I was really only there to hang with my family.  And I was glad they were there because I made a bad choice for my parking spot and got my car stuck in a bunch of sand. My male cousins knew exactly what to do and got me out of the hole, which involved rolling back up over a steep step, scraping the bottom of my car and popping off the corner of the front bumper. But here is where gratitude comes in:

I was super thankful

that it wasn't any worse (like leak-inducing or something) and that I already had plans to take my car in the shop the next day for routine maintenance. All in all, it turned out okay.


: I woke up not feeling too well and wondering if I needed to cancel my work. I went to work anyways and was relieved to find out my first client wasn't feeling well either. I moved my second client (who was coming in for a double session) to another day and had the whole afternoon to catch up with things. It was just what I needed. Though

I am grateful

to be so busy with work I am also grateful for understanding clients. I felt good by the afternoon and stayed to see my last client for the day. It was the second time I had seen her and the session was incredibly powerful.

I am thankful

to be increasingly working with clients on all levels, mind, body, and spirit.  This is truly what I am here to do.


: Now, here we are. Today I am thankful for some time to just be. My days have gotten really full, as the rest of this post explains, but I am learning more and more the lesson of finding that quiet time within. I was able to take some time this afternoon to just enjoy and breathe, which was a great way to get ready for another Tea + Meditation at Kaleisia this evening.


Yay! I am glad to be back on the wagon. Only a few more days to go before the end of this project. I suspect, though, gratitude will continue to be a driving force of positivity in my life. After these past few months, it seems like I can only see it as essential.

Day 75: A Beautiful Day

It has been pretty dreary the past few days that I am ecstatic to see blue skies again. There is nothing I love more than green trees with the bright blue sky behind it. Below is the view from my room at the office that I am getting to enjoy while doing computer work.

In fact, I love sites like this so much, I even wrote a poem about it years ago. It will be appearing in my upcoming chapbook,

As Light Ascends

, from

Beauty is Beauty Press

. Here's a preview:

Messages from the Sky

There is something to say

The view from my office window today

...makes work seem less like work somehow

about the contrast of colors

that occurs with sky and trees–

how that buoyant blue

is somehow made brighter

behind branches bursting

with green so graciously. 

Same with the shadowed

egg-shell shade of clouds

that slides with ease of water,

and the airplane in the distance,

disguised as a diamond

perched among peach petals

gently cascading on some

celestial scenery.

Above these sky-scenes

Heaven is sure to prove its transparency;

but from this terrestrial position

the impression is a perpetual fluctuation

between Eden and perfection.

Day 72: Not So Serious Accidents

A few weeks ago, on the night before my birthday, I wrote my good friend, Joe, an email.  I've known Joe since 3rd grade, longer than I've known almost all of my friends.  Joe and I were really close in high school and the first few years of college, but then he moved to Gainesville to be a serious scientist. Between school, work, and distance, we don't get to see each other as often as we did years ago.  Still, when we do it's like no time has passed.

I wrote Joe this email the night before my birthday because I realized that I had not done what I had promised myself I would do: call him on his birthday. Joe's birthday is exactly a week before mine and even with our busy schedules and intermittent visits, Joe


calls to wish me a happy birthday. You know how often I've had the forethought to call him on his birthday? It's probably less than half the fingers on one hand. Sad.

So the last time I saw Joe I said, "I am calling you on your birthday this year." I made this big deal about it, even when he tells me, "Nyssa, it's no big deal." It was to me, I thought.

Fast forward a few months and I found myself the night before my birthday realizing that no phone call from me to Joe occurred within the week prior.  Though I didn't keep my word I figured I'd do the next best thing and write him an email sharing how much our friendship means to me.  I may not be able to remember to call at the right time, but I can express how I feel, and I thought that Joe would appreciate that more than a birthday wish.

And he did.

So today I found out from another really good friend of mine, who's also Joe's long-term girlfriend, that Joe was in a biking accident recently. Her email said that it wasn't too serious but that he did have to get surgery and metal plates in his face. Though I was shocked by this news, I was calmed by the word that it wasn't too serious.

I couldn't help but think of that email I sent him a few weeks ago and how I was so glad that I wrote it when I did. It was my reminder that things can get real serious, real fast, and birthdays or not, I better tell my friends I love them and that I'm glad they are still here.

Life may not give me any guarantees but that doesn't mean that I can't give it gratitude. I am thankful to be here at all. And I am thankful Joe is still here too.

Day 63: Roommates who Garden

When I came home from work yesterday, this is what I saw out my bedroom window.

My roommates spent all day filling this new garden with new soil. They had put the border together a week or two ago, and have been growing some seeds in trays for a few weeks now. Almost before I knew it, things are ready to be put in the ground and now, look! There's some beautiful soil for them to go in. They inspire me to be less talk and anticipation, and more action and revelry.

I think a lot about growing stuff, but rarely actually make it out with shovel and seeds in hand ready to get dirty. There always seems to be plenty of stuff for me to do inside and then the sun goes down and its time for dinner and bed and maybe I will get to it tomorrow.  There is something to be said about doing now for what will fruit later. It takes a certain level of just enjoying the doing part.

So I am trying to do more for the sake of just doing, and not doing purely out of expectation of the fruits of the doing. I'm working on putting that home-grown salad that I may or may not be eating in a few months out of mind and just start enjoying digging in the sun.

Day 61: Gianna Russo

One day while I was working at Sam Ash, many years ago, a guy came in to buy some things and we got to talking. He told me about this open mic near USF at what used to be Holiday Cafe. That guy probably has no idea that tip changed my life forever.

I started attending this regular Sunday night open mic and met my first poetry mentor, Charles Kory. Charles was in his first few years at USF and had graduated from the creative writing program at Blake High School.  Having listened to my poems for a few weeks, he said to me, "You know, you should go to Blake." I was already in my sophomore year at my neighborhood high school, but he told me that I can still get in my remaining years. So I took his advise and applied, a few months later I got accepted. 

My last two years of high school, I studied poetry with the teacher there, Gianna Russo. Gianna has been a staple of the poetry scene in Tampa for probably longer than I have been alive.  She helped me to write more, to write better, to help others become better writers through workshops. She took us to the Writer's Conference and guided us in the creation of chapbooks (small collections of poetry) our senior year.  My life was ever changed by those two years with her. I understood how the application of techniques to my self-expression created well-crafted poems, which often contained more truth than I was even aware of. It was through this process of creation that I felt a connection to something deeper. I would say in a small way, I felt like a mystic. Gianna was my experienced guide through these inner realms; she gave me the map to the intersection of my individual and the collective unconscious. She may not see herself this way, but for me, she was a shaman. 

Lucky for me, our relationship continued after high school. Almost 10 years later, I am a longstanding board member in her non-profit

YellowJacket Press

.  YJP publishes new chapbooks by Florida poets every year through two annual contests as well as hosts some of the best poetry events in Tampa. 

Though Gianna admirably hands credit over to her poets and students for their part in their creative work, but I will state right here that our love for our craft is no doubt infused with her belief in us. Though Gianna is not officially in the role of teacher for me, she still teaches me about community, dedication, and love of the arts. It is because of her the I KNOW that poetry can make the world a better place because I experience it.  She is just following her heart, but look at what beauty emerges from that. It's something that we all can learn from.