A Different Way

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” -Pema Chodron I haven’t worn makeup in eight days. The pre-vacation manicure I squeezed in before flying off to Costa Rica is long gone. Scrubbed clean away by the sand and salt. The flat iron I shoved into my suitcase during those last moments of vanity before closing up the bag, is still zipped inside –along with about 50% of the clothes I thought I needed to bring. What made me think I would need things from “that life” in this one? This is my second time in Costa Rica and what I love most is how easy it is to just be. Pura Vida, the pure life — it is everywhere, and if you spend any time here, it feels like the most natural way to live. And there are a ton of people doing it. On the first day here at the beach, we met Captain Jack and his wife over beer and Pina Coladas as we watched the sun make its sleepy descent into the ocean. They were on the tail end of their three month stay in Costa Rica. When I asked them what they had been doing with their days since leaving New Brunswick’s cold winter, they were quick to share that they had been doing an awful lot. Taking the bus and exploring the beaches that lined the coast. Trips to the fruit stand or the Super Wendy for breakfast or dinner fixings. Mrs. Captain Jack told me that the thing they noticed most was that they ate so differently... read more
Jungle Love – A Costa Rica Wake Up Call

Jungle Love – A Costa Rica Wake Up Call

On our last visit to Costa Rica, we spent our time in the province of Guanacaste. At the beach. We rented a house at the top of a very big hill in Potrero that offered us spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Here, we spent lazy days by the pool, sipped bottles of Costa Rican beer at beachside eateries, and did our best to explore as many of beaches we could in just six days. We fell in love with Costa Rica. We fell in love with the climate. Hot, yes, but not that sticky-sweaty kind of heat that takes you down for the count by 11 am. Oh, and if you’re looking for that body-draining, dripping climate, just book yourself a visit to Atlanta in August. You’ll be all set. We fell in love with the people and their easy way of living. The laid back just-set-up-some-lawn-chairs-and-a-beach-canopy-and-you-have-yourself-a-bar-on-the-beach was just what we were looking for. Pura vida all the way. We knew–even before we packed our bags to head back to the promise of a hot and humid Atlanta summer — that it was not the last time our passports would be stamped by Costa Rican customs agents. On this trip to Costa Rica, we decided to spend the first few days where everything was said to be greener – in the rainforest. We booked ourselves a cabana at the Chachagua Rainforest Hotel and Haciendo, an eco-conscious lodge located deep in the middle of the rainforest. And with that, the promise of a rainforest experience — aka, living in the jungle — was delivered. We were welcomed to our new home by a chorus of cicadas that were so loud, they sounded electric.... read more
Costa Rica – It’s simply amazing

Costa Rica – It’s simply amazing

Want to be happier? Pack your bags and head to Costa Rica. Consistently ranking high on the “happiness” scale, Costa Ricans know how to live. Not only do they report the highest life satisfaction in the world, they have the second-highest life expectancy … second only to Canada (insert big “hell ya!” shout out to my fellow Canucks, here.) I’m fairly certain that his longevity is due, in part, to Costa Rica’s philosophy:”Pura Vida” — the pure life. This “law of the land” encourages the appreciation of life’s simple things. It’s about slowing down. Enjoying life. It’s about being grateful for your good fortune. For the people in your life. For your health. This laid back lifestyle– along with the abundance of fresh air, the beautiful beaches, and the warmth of the gentle people who call Costa Rica home–are just a few of the things drawing me back to this tropical paradise. In just three days, we will arrive in Costa Rica, for the second time in 13 months. My suitcase will be light — just swimsuits and sunscreen, bug spray and hiking pants, and a Kindle packed full of must-reads — and so will I. I’m looking forward to shedding my expectations of everything. Much of the stress that follows us around is of our own making. We expect so much from people. From our jobs. From ourselves. We set the bar so damn high that the only thing that is guaranteed is disappointment. When I visit Costa Rica, all of those expectations slip away. The clock ticks slower. The sky appears bluer. The food tastes better (and fresher!)... read more
Through the trees

Through the trees

I am not an outdoorsy person. Though I really do want to be. I admire my adventurous friends who are snowshoeing in Whistler and climbing steep mountain trails to admire a waterfall sparkling in the winter sun. When the idea to “go for a hike” comes up in our house, my typical response is usually one, or more of these: “I don’t have hiking boots.” “Can’t today. Need new sunglasses.” (Re: the glare that could accompany aforementioned waterfall trek) “I would if only I had the right pants to wear. Can’t wear these!” “Busting out of my sports bra so it’s a no for me.” “If I had the right outfit, I’d be right there with you.” I’ve recognized a pattern in my responses, of course. If only I had the right  THIS or THAT, I could be like the other kids. If only. But.. I have the wrong shoes. The wrong clothes. The wrong hat. The wrong… um.. attitude. So, this past weekend when the Atlanta weather took a turn and presented us with winter weekend temps that approached the 70s (that’s 21-ish for my Canadian pals), I put on my all-wrong shoes and my too tight-wish-they-were-spandex khakis and headed to Panola Mountain State Park. An easy 20 to 25 minute ride from my Atlanta home, Panola Mountain State Park is a 100-acre granite monadnock (which is a pretty rare, isolated rock hill rising abruptly from the plain .. FYI), similar to, yet not as commercialized as Georgia’s own ever-popular Stone Mountain. This 1600-acre park, with its rare ecosystem and visible stone,  was the perfect scenario for my attempt to become one with nature. After a quick... read more
Mindful

Mindful

Every day I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light. It was what I was born for – to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over in joy, and acclamation. Nor am I talking about the exceptional, the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant – but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab, the daily presentations. Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these – the untrimmable light of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass? by Mary Oliver    ... read more
Act As If

Act As If

My friend Lisa is a metal artist. She creates art out of sheets of metal — and functional art at that. Her metal fire pits are not only beautiful lit or unlit, they are unique — some of them custom cut to suit the customer. When I saw some of the incredible designs she was creating, I was floored. While I knew she had creative flair — the girl can take a pile of acorns and a string of busted Christmas lights and create a whimsical table setting — I had no idea she was so damn skilled with power tools! My friend is an artist. She’s not a crafter. She’s not dabbling in metal. She’s not spending hours in her garage studio, riveting or melting or whatever it is she does to create these stunning designs out of flat sheets of metal, because she’s trying to fill time. My friend is an artist. In the very early days of her business, she would call herself a crafter. And I fought her on this. Not out of any disrespect for those of us who spend time doing crafty things– I’m one of them! — but because I felt like she wasn’t owning her talent. She was, subconsciously minimizing her skills, as though I could simply go into her garage, throw on an apron and some safety glasses and scorch the metal into the beautiful designs she now sells across the country. Thankfully, this categorization was short-lived and she started seeing herself as the artist she was. If you ask her today, she’ll tell you she’s an “accidental artist,” which I think is a... read more
When in Milan — Eating and Drinking with Friends

When in Milan — Eating and Drinking with Friends

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” – James Michener The thing I love most about traveling is that it allows me to take a step away from all that is familiar. New places. New people. New climates, food, and customs. Why would you ever leave home if you were afraid to embrace the unknown? When, on our recent trip to Italy, the pilot makes an announcement that the crew should “prepare for initial decent,” my stomach did a flip. Ten whole days of discovery ahead of us–I was stoked. When we arrived at our Milan apartment–red-eyed and running on adrenaline–we were welcomed by owner Hermann, his wife and two little girls. Feeling SO out of our element in a country we had only dreamed we would visit one day, we were immediately embraced (literally) by this tiny family and led into their modern Milano abode. It was more than we could have imagined. As Hermann guided us through the tiny loft apartment, pointing out the espresso machine and giving us tips on how to get around in the area, I suddenly felt so worldly– so welcome. We spent the day exploring the area — filling our baskets with bottles of red wine from the market, eating pizza at an outside cafe, watching a rousing game of bocce ball at the park. I was quite content to sit on the park bench and watch people. In the evening, trying hard to stay awake so we could get on Italian time, we were drawn into a local restaurant by the sound... read more
Let the Spirit Lead You

Let the Spirit Lead You

I never really fancied myself a brown liquor fan — that is, until we were introduced to Whiskey Wednesdays. Top-shelf whiskey cocktails for the price of a Starbuck’s coffee concoction provides us all the reason we need to belly up to the neighborhood bar mid-week. And, in turn, has converted me to a whiskey drinker. Of sorts. As an amateur whiskey drinker, I’ve pretty much stuck to the mildest of cocktails on the tiered libations menu. I couldn’t tell you the exact ingredients of the delicious drink that’s put in front of me by our favorite bartender, Jordan, but I do know it has some kind of whiskey and persimmon. A delightful combo that’s not only yummy, but when served up in a classic champagne glass, makes for a pretty Happy Hump Day. Dave, a more experienced and learned whiskey drinker, ops for the Quadropehnia on most visits. A mix of barrel-aged wild turkey, rye, vermouth, the drink is rimmed with a flamed orange. Think liquid fire. Yummy, yes. But definitely not intended for amateurs like me. In the past year, Dave has become not only a more seasoned whiskey drinker, but he’s become quite the learned whiskey / bourbon student. Apparently, for example, all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. To be a bourbon, it must contain 51% corn, be bottled at no less than 80 proof and must not contain any added flavoring or coloring. These facts (and more) we learned on a recent visit to the Woodford Reserve in Kentucky. On our drive home from a road trip to Canada a few weeks back, we exited I75 for a... read more