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Hermosa (beautiful) Costa Rica

31 Aug

 

Costa Rica is so beautiful! I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit, to sight see, and to learn about the culture.  Here are six things I didn’t know about Costa Rica last week – that I know now!

1) Costa Rica is 8-11 degrees north of the equator.  (I keep telling my mom this fact and she keeps rolling her eyes. We are on a girls trip. Traveling together.) Being this close to the equator means it is hot….like H.O.double TT. …and we are here during what is considered the winter months! Being a southern girl I’m used to the warmth but this is WAY warm…INTENSE, some would say.

My mom is a minalmilist (although she didn’t know this about herself until she read my Facebook post earlier in the week.) …..News flash: Anyone who sells all of their possessions and travels around the United States in an airstream camper for 18 months has to be a minalmilist!…Yes, she really did that! My mom is an awesome adventurist!

Anywhoo, I mention this as my mimimalist my mother suggested that we travel for 7 days with just a carry on.  I’m down for the challenge so I accept.  The problem is, I can’t fit all of my hygiene and beauty’s products into a quart sized bag for air travel.

I tell her, I’ll buy sunscreen there…She says it’s expensive…I say  how expensive can it be?  $45…that’s how expensive it is! A $8 bottle of sunscreen at home suddenly more than triples in value near the equator.  So here is a piece of advice…ditch the shampoo and pack the sunscreen.

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2) Lemons and Limes are the same thing in Costa Rica.

I kept ordering vodka soda with lemon and kept receiving vodka soda with lime. No biggie…it was a vodka soda by the pool, for pete’s sake! I’m not complaining! (First world problems, Ugggh!)

It wasn’t until the entertainment crew came by asking to play a game of “hit the lemon” that I realized the two were interchangeable.  REALLY! The lady next to me said “lemon? That’s a lime!”  To which the crew said, “Oh in Costa Rica they are the same thing!”  Go figure!

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It kind of looks like both a lemon and a lime!

3) I saw more naked butts than I thought I would.

Thongs, g strings and cheeky bathing suits (that show more cheek than a regular bathing suit).  Some of this is cultural….some is sexual, let’s be honest…  Size, shape, nor level of fitness was relevant to this equation.  Less is literally more! Listen, if you want to bare your butt, go for it. It’s yours.  I on the other hand can’t figure out why swim suit companies can seem to find enough material to cover mine.  I want the WHOLE thing covered….like granny panties – but cuter.  The search continues…..

4) My broken span-glish (Spanish / English) can pass for actually knowing the language – at least for the first two sentences.

“Hola, commo estas?” (Hi how are you)  “Muy bien, gracias”.  (Very good thank you)

Then they continue the conversation like normal people do and I said “No hablo espanol”….Receiving perplexed looks and sometimes blank stares,  I say  “un poquito” (a little).    Sometimes we chuckle…

Thankfully they speak better English than I do Spanish.  They were so kind and taught me many new words.  Pura Vida!

5)Pura vida??

Pura Vida in Costa Rica means all good things….It can mean hello, good bye, it’s good, all is well, life is good…..and more! It’s used constantly and interchangably.  Culturally, they’ve summed up all the good in the world into one phrase – Pura Vida! How fantastic is that?

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Bar Pura Vida (The Good Bar or the Good Life Bar)

6) Pack Dramamine.

We are staying in Guanacaste, which our tour guide describes as the “wild, wild, west”….before I get concerned, he says that it is because this is the countryside where  80% of the beef is raised for the entire country (his words not mine…don’t google check me!) We decided to take a day trip to Arenol to see a volcano. The trip is 3 hours long and consist of very, very, very (did I say VERY) winding roads. Cars are constantly negotiating for space on the road as they are just not wide enough especially when a giant tour bus comes through.  That said, I was car sick within the first 15 minutes, and naively thought it would get better.

When we stopped to change busses I asked the guy working the mini concession stand if they sold anything for motion sickness….they didn’t.  They literally could have had ALL OF MY MONEY  at that point for a single pill….I would have paid anything! Thankfully, this gracious young man dug in the bottle of a box for two pills, which he told me was for nausea.  He advised that I should take one now, and one on the way back from the tour as we headed home.  Nodding,  I looked at the back of the packaging, having no idea what it said, and took the pill immediately.  In hindsight it wasn’t such a great idea.  “Don’t take pills from people you don’t know” I can hear my father saying…but I’m traveling with my mother, sooooo….

Before I can pocket the second, a young lady walks up asking for the same thing. She is nearly green and I know EXACTLY what she is going through.  I decide to share, and pray that I make it through the trip without regretting the decision to take a unknown pill…or the decision to give the second unknown pill away.

Good news, the pill worked like magic! Both the young lady and I have a magnificent day touring Aernol.  On the way back though, the young lady doesn’t fare as well. Nor did at least two others.  She spent the majority of the next three hours well….you get the drift.  Sitting near the front, I was okay as long as I looked out of the windshield. … Long story to say – pack Dramamine! You could likely pay for your trip by selling them off!

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Costa Rica is beautiful and magical. The people are lovely and kind.  If you ever get the opportunity, jump at the chance.  You won’t regret it…just pack the sunscreen and the Dramamine!

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Sunset in Guanacaste – No filter needed

 

 

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I like long walks on the beach….

28 Aug

My mom and I arrived in Costa Rica a few days ago. We’ve been bonding over food and vodka sodas while soaking in the beauty around us…drinking in the heat of the sun and learning Spanish from the locals. This morning I woke up early (6am) and decided to go for a walk on the beach. The ocean was calling my name and my spirit needed the detox of the salty air.

The day before, My mom found a rock, with a full white circle imprinted on the gray stone, while walking in the surf. I thought it was so unique and I admired her find. So cool! I thought, I hope I find one too! She said there were lots to be found!

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As I walked, I kept  my head down towards the volcanic sand for the first half mile, I looking for anything similar. Lots of rocks were scattered before me.  I could spend all day looking for this rock, I thought!

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On an evening stroll a day prior, my mom and I had seen two mana rays in the water, shin deep, swimming along. The edges of their fins reaching out of the water as they propelled forward. I could hardly get the words out…”LOOK! LOOK!” I said, as I quickly tapped my mother’s shoulder  before the mana rays could disappear. It was such a site! As long as I’ve lived near a beach, (nearly 43 years) That was a first!

With this thought reappearing I heard my spirit say, “Pick up your eyes. You may miss what is happening in the sea!”

There was so much to see. So much to experience. I want to see it ALL, I whispered. I meant (and mean) that to the bottom of my toes! My bucket list consists of anything I haven’t done yet.

As I continued my walk, now conscious that I needed to keep my eyes wide, some large hermit crabs danced along the sand. Cleaning their houses by emptying sand balls onto the beach. It almost looked like an arts and crafts project to me and I chuckled. So frantic they were. Never leaving to much distance between their home (hole) and the beach. I thought, I know people like that. To scared to venture out.  I said “Lord, thank you for my passion to explore. Help me to not be fearful.” Sometimes I say quick prayers for no real reason…this was one of those times.

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Further down I saw what I think was a some sort of Costa Rican shrimp. He was barely alive and I bent down to put him back in the water. Tossing him in the shallow end to make sure he could swim, I watched his tongue stick out to taste the sea and salt, no doubt parched from the sun that had nearly killed him. I thought, people can be like that too. They’ve drifted, and need a little help getting home. “Lord, help me to not venture to far from you.”

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A bird, similar to a herring, moved near the rocks that rose into a mountain. He scared me because 1) I’m afraid of birds…but 2)  he blended in so well that I never would have seen him had he not moved! I thought, we can be like that too… To afraid to show who we really are. “Lord, help me to see clearly.  Give me discernment. Help me to be transparent.”

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As I started to head back towards the resort, a rock caught my eye. While it wasn’t a full circle like my moms, it spoke to me. Curled on the ends, almost in the shape of a heart, maybe even a silly smile… This design seem to represent me…. I knew it was mine to keep, and to ponder. “Thank you” I said out loud.

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There are moments when God just shows up out of the blue.  As I was walking back towards the resort, rock clenched in my left hand, I felt his presence arrive on my right. It was like he took a break from swimming, and ran to catch up with me. His voice almost breathless but not quite. Speaking to my heart he said,  “Do you trust me enough to show you what you need to see?”

Hmmm. I think I do. Actually, I thought I already did! But as God often does, he showed me through this walk that I hadn’t come as far as I originally thought….

Yes, I nod in a silent childlike response. “Yes I do trust you. Look at all of these things you brought to me today. I would have missed them if I had stayed focused on trying to find the circle rock …trying to find what someone else has…….my voice trails off at the new realization…..”

He means more than just today as he nudges the depth of my spirit.  Will I trust him? Will I relinquish control ?

I realize I have more growing to do…..As he repeats his mantra… “trust me…”  “I will not let you miss what you need to see. Trust….me.”

I nod. My soul recognizes the voice of truth.

I grab his imaginary hand on my right. Intertwined, I thank him for the walk, for the small blessings of the day. I know I am his…and he is mine. There is no greater peace than this.

 

If I believe that God will show me what I need to see, when I need to see it – at just the right time, I’m free to just be… To effortlessly enjoy what is in front of me.  I am in awe of his beauty and of his magnificent  artistry….. I relinquish control (again). My job is to breathe….and see…and to be open to possibility.

He will do the rest.

 

Thank God!

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Caution: curves ahead

22 Mar

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This week I watched a recent video of myself that I made with my son.  I was shocked  at the image I saw reflecting back at me. I’ve had a rough couple of years with some things …and apparently, I am an emotional eater….or possibly an emotional drinker… maybe…I’ve found a fondness for red wine and it found a roomy home on my hips.

Over the last few months, I began moving the clothes that no longer fit to the left side of my closet. I’m still flabbergasted  when I’m unable to pull up the pants I’ve worn for the last 10+ years past my thighs….The pile on the left of the closet  is large.

This means I’ve also had to  purchased new pants – begrudgingly. My collection is minimal in comparison. It was either that or go naked… I had no choice in the matter. Yes, leggings work well and are cheap…but they hide the fact that I appear to be growing – out, not up. At this point, my ass could qualify for it’s own zip code…

So, I’m watching this video thinking – How in the world?  Really.  How did I let myself gain 30 pounds? When I look in the mirror I know I’m bigger…but this video.  Lord, please promise me that the camera adds 10 pounds…that I really don’t look that way in REAL life.

But the truth is I’m now heavier than when I delivered both of my children.  I know I’m teetering on the verge of no return….and I don’t know what to do about it.  Don’t get me wrong. I know there are many women larger than myself. This isn’t about them. THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL. This is about me feeling good, or not, in my own five-foot-five-and-half skin.

This is how my day starts:  I try on a new black skirt that arrived yesterday.  To tight.  I contemplated keeping it for “when I lose the weight” but more than slightly depressed at the likely hood of that NOT happening, I tossed the skirt on the bed to return later.

I then selected white slacks that I knew were a size or two larger. They fit, but the view from behind was not so cute….On went the Spanx – boy shorts.  Spanx, the well-known by ladies around the world (but rarely seen by men) undergarments that are made to make me look skinner.  Yet, I some how now feel like a sausage.  A bratwurst to be specific…But damn it to heck, I have to go with this outfit because I’ve already worn the other two pants that fit me this week.  Tomorrow it’s jeans….

I tossed on a cute shirt from a local boutique that I haven’t worn since last summer. It was a little snug across the chest but nothing terrible I thought…However, the more I moved my flat iron across my hair, I realized it was too constricting.  I no longer liked it.  Crossing my arms at my waist to lift the fabric….I find I can’t. I was stuck. I couldn’t get this damn shirt off my body.  I twisted, I tried….I grunted…I thought, “Imma have to cut this bitch off.”…For a second I contemplated running downstairs to wake up one of my children to help me pull this sucker off….I’m not sure I’d live that one down…EVVAHH… Five minutes and a few tears later, I wiggled out of  shirt looking like I’d been on a subway fight. Red in the face, hair a mess…

I promptly moved it to the left side of my closet.  My first thought?

You know you are fat when you get stuck in your freakin’ shirt. What the hell…

On to work. As I’m walking up the sidewalk I say a little prayer.  “Lord, I don’t like this. I don’t like how I feel about me. You love me and have helped me in so many ways.  Help me to lose this weight.”

Fast forward through my day.

I’m in the ladies room where a coworker asks How I’m doing. “busy. good.” I say.    I tell her she looks beautiful today.  She shrugs, not believing my words, her eyes drifting away from me.  Then she says, “You look good too. How did you gain your weight? Eating too much.”

Yessssss. She said those words.

Before you get riled up and ready to kick ass, please hear her story.

She is from South America. She LOVES curves.  Which until her recent weight loss, she had — curves for dayyyys!  She tells me, almost too eagerly, she can’t wait until she can put on some pounds.  She is serious…This I know.

I tell her I’ll shift her some of mine – If only it were that easy!   She then says with a large grin and wiggling eyebrows,  “I bet your husband is happy” as she points to my zip code carrying ass….

She is losing weight not because she wants to friends, but because of the chemo.  You see, she has breast cancer.  She wears a scarf to cover the hair loss which makes her self-conscious.  She has a hard time looking me in the eyes,  really – looking anyone in the eyes, these days.  Yet, I think she looks more beautiful than in any day prior.  Her warrior spirit is shining.  She is fighting and it shows. Without the distraction of her hair, which was indeed gorgeous, her eyes become the focal point, dancing in the light.  She is simply stunning.

I get back to my desk and think, “You know your fat when…”

Then I stop.  I close my eyes….I sense God’s hand…and I pray.

I thank God that I’m healthy.  Specifically, I thank him for my cancer free body.  With embarrassment, I apologize for believing anything different. A few extra pounds is nothing in comparison. I thank him for this lesson, for humbling my spirit.  I know I have some work to do…and I will.

Ladies, would you please join me in shifting our focus away from who we want to be and allow ourselves permission to be who we are?  Let’s not put our self-worth in our hair, our bodies, our curves – or lack of…

PS – If no one told you today, let me have the honor of doing so.  I love you. You are beautiful.

Put that on repeat.

Perspective.

Brain Mush

27 Feb

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Brain.MUSH….

As a recovering perfectionist, I hate when I can’t seem to form coherent sentences…or when the words that are on the tip of my tongue don’t form into the vocabulary I’m accustomed to. I struggle for syllables, tripping on consonants…misplacing vowels. Apologizing for my brain mush seems silly…but I do it anyway….

I’m not one to set resolutions at the new year. I do however, set goals for fitness, finance and personal growth. Over the last few years, this odd thing started to happen…Something on the spiritual level started to tug…snag on my day until I acknowledged it’s presence.

It crops up on its own..taking shape before my eyes… and I know…I know it is my job for the next twelve months to work on the assignment at hand.Like the dutiful student that I am, I dive in…Hoping to gain wisdom and find peace on the journey.

The first time this happened, it was the year of practicing patience… THAT was a freakin’ hard year…I had LOTS of homework and on the job training. I still wouldn’t define myself as a patient person…In fact, I don’t do anything slow…but I’ve come a long, long way. I can wait in line now without turning into a two year old with behavioral problems stomping my feet and rolling my eyes.

Last year I worked on loving people for who they are…where they are. Also…NOT AN EASY TASK, folks. Some people are NOT that loveable…Just saying… But what I gained out of that experience far out weighs the pain….

I even became friends with some folks that only move in first gear….as their fastest speed…Trust me when I tell you this used to drive me C.R.A.Z.Y….

Seriously….BAT SHIT CRAZY…who knew they could be so loveable?

So this year, I was a little shocked when the knocking at the door wore a lighter coat….a trench, let’s say. Putting his arm around my shoulders he said, “Let’s work on being in the moment”….

Hmmm….Don’t I already do that?

“Not very well” he replied….

So here I am…Drinking a glass of red wine, sitting on my back porch listening to the birds chirp. I had a very successful work week, watching an event that took months to plan, come together.

I’m exhausted…and will allow my body to rest without pushing for more.

My brain is mush…and no apologies are needed.

Visualizing a job well done…and basking in it’s light.

I’m in the moment…and it feels pretty damn good right about now….

I’m a work in progress…but I’m in it…to WIN it…

PS – during the writing of this blog…I posted to soon by mistake (^ see comment about brain mush)…AND, I lost half the post having to retype it…only for my computer to do a random shutdown and software update….

Guess I could still use some work on patience…because I nearly quit…and a few cuss words may have escaped into the atmosphere…

Rearview

1 Jan

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Looking back is nearly as important as looking ahead.  Acknowledging growth, the need and ability, makes it that much easier the next time around…and trust me, it always circles back around.

We are not meant to be stagnant.  If we are not growing, we are dying.

Here is the short list (there are tons more) of lessons learned in 2014 from a recovering perfectionist…(me)

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1) I’m only responsible for me.  My actions, my words, my thoughts…fully and completely.  This sounds like such an easy concept, right? Should be!  As a self labeled, hyper-responsible being, it’s been tremendously hard…

knock-your-head-against-the-wall… H.A.R.D.

But ohhhh the freedom when I aced this test!  I couldn’t have soared higher if I had wings!

Some could say it is an issue rooted in control…maybe so.  I know my intentions were not in that vein… but to make peace…in all situations, even when they weren’t mine to resolve.

….It’s possible  The need to please was rising to the top there too.

Anywhooo…I love that I’m free of those chains.  It isn’t to say that I don’t slip the cuffs on from time to time….but I recognize it sooner…and I know where I hide the key.

2) Let go of expectations.  Letting go of how you think someone should behave opens the space to give freely.  Why? Because you are not evaluating your giving based on their response.   Conflict swells when expectations are not clearly spoken, understood and agreed to.

If you are doing anything with the expectation (goal) of getting someone to respond in a particular way, take a moment to consider why you desire that response… to feel loved, happy or just to feel good about yourself?

Acknowledge what you need, why it’s needed, and if you can fill that void  with or without  the desired response from another…self-awareness unlocks the door to deep satisfaction.

3) There are lots of terrible things in the world. Having someone new to love is not one of them.  We welcomed baby girl into our lives almost six months ago. Their story isn’t picture perfect, but it works. My heart calls her name when we are apart. In her presence, my world stands still.  I’m a young grandma, AND I LOVE IT….every second, every minute.

4)  In the end,  ‘IT’ always works out…Worrying simply won’t change the outcome.  In fact, nine out of ten times, the thoughts rattling around between your ears is worse than the actual problem.

Pray. Do your best. Know when to walk away and when to stand your ground. Communicate.   Your track record for getting through tough times, as of today, is 100%.  I’d say that is pretty damn good…and a pretty good indicator of your future results.

In the mist of trying times, I’ve learned to ask myself, “What is the worst that can happen?”  I walk through the scenario until the answer is “life will go on” and i know it does….Always.

As I say farewell to 2014, I look forward to 2015 with excitement and eager anticipation.  Knowing it too, carries a suitcase of lessons yet to be unfolded. Lessons that will reshape, whittle away, and further define who I was created to be.

I can think of nothing better.

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Quest without a map

14 Dec

I’ve felt the urge to write for a couple of weeks now…

An itch that can’t be reached.

Middle of my back and my arms are not… quite…long enough….

Insatiable

Life is nondescript for now….

not terribly hard…nor terribly easy…

A loss for words…yet the longing to purge….

A quest without a map.

Thanksgiving

26 Nov

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of my mantra…

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Living a purposeful life.

Thankful for blessings and thankful to be a blessing.  For we are not meant to only receive…or only to give… but to find balance between the two.

My twelve year old asked that I write about our experience today…and at first I was hesitant. Weighing heavy…I’m not sure that it is the right thing to do.  It’s not normally something I share…In fact, it makes  me quite uncomfortable to do so.

However, lots of topics on this blog make me uneasy…vulnerable, even….

-slips on the blind fold….I feel my feet bouncing on the board beneath me… I’m diving in…-

Admittedly, my life has been a bit disorganized and chaotic over the last few weeks. The lack of energy causing me to wait until the last minute to do our holiday food shopping.  By the time we crossed the threshold today, the store was packed and the aisles a bit bare. Sighing as we joined the crowd, our nerves take on the energy of those around us…It is maddening….

Our cart now full, I recant from memory the ingredients of the dishes I plan to cook tomorrow, ticking each one off as I scan my cart for accuracy…check..check…good…  Our cart picking up speed as we head to the register as if in a race.

Finding the shortest line, which on any other day would not be described as such, we wait…shifting my weight every three seconds…my hands on my hips…I’m a  bit impatient wondering why this conveyer belt is not moving and why the cashier appears to not be working.

I’m tired from a day of errands, from playing the referee  between two bickering ADHD-ers…one fully grown…to whom I happen to be married…and the other, well, twelve…

Moms around the world nod with understanding and sympathy…

At this point I just want my sweat pants and a hot cup of coffee.

TAKE.ME.HOME

Loading my groceries on the belt, I vaguely hear the lady in front of me.  She is having trouble with her new debit card. It worked at the gas station she says…she tries it again…and again. Maybe four times.  A mix of stress and embarrassment flush over her. She doesn’t have another form of payment. The line continuing to form behind her.

And I know

…I make a face in response. Twisted lips because I see the outcome before I’m ready to make the decision.

(Honest confession) I’m Torn…I’m not sure if I want to ….but I know I’m supposed to…..

I’m supposed to because I come from the belief that there are no REAL accidents, just missed opportunities.

So I slide my card to the cashier.

Done.

I didn’t have all the right words…didn’t do all the right things…It was a bit awkward for all…it wasn’t a planned moment.

Why? Because we are all in it together.  Because I know the panic that washes over you when you don’t have the money to pay… because blessings are meant to flow to you and through you….and I am blessed.

Shocked she wasn’t sure how to respond…She leaned in to hug me..clasping her hands to her face, then chest…..I mumbled quietly out the side of my mouth, “happy thanksgiving…and merry Christmas”….still not having a handle on  the events  transpiring before me.

I asked T, “Why would I…should I… tell this story?”

Proud to be a part of the day, he said,

“It was literally the meaning of thanksgiving.  You gave and she said thanks.  It was so awesome.”

From the eyes of a child it is just that simple.

A story to be told.

Take Chances. Give everything…. And have no regrets.

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