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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
Even if the grass is greener

Even if the grass is greener

On my recent trip to the province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, I was surprised by the abundance of brown. Dusty brown roads. Barren snuff-colored trees lined the miles of brown and brittle grasses. I’m not sure why I was so surprised. We were visiting the arid plains of Guanacaste during the DRY season. Dry in that there is no rain. No rain meaning no water. No water meaning … ummm.. everything is thirsty. And brown. We booked our trip to Costa Rica without doing a whole lot of research. Armed with a strong desire to escape the lingering chilly days in Atlanta,  I hit the “book now” button on the rental home in Playa Potrero with ease. Visions of lush green mountainsides and fields of brightly colored flowers filled my thoughts in the days that led up to our journey. And then we arrived in Liberia. And there was dust. And dirt. And … well… brown. Don’t get me wrong, Costa Rica, even during the dry season, is spectacular. There are beautiful beaches, towering mountain ranges and breathtaking sunsets. Surfers flock to the region and the pace is just what the doctor ordered.  Pura Vida (the law of the land in Costa Rica) is a synonym of “hakuna matata” – Life is wonderful; enjoy it. But I was not expecting the dry season to be so … well… dry. We spent the first part of the week exploring the pristine shorelines, drinking local beer at makeshift bars set up on the beach, and immersing ourselves into the local culture. By day three, we were head-over-heels in love with Costa Rica–already talking about how to make... read more
I Am In Love

I Am In Love

I’m in love. It’s that sweet kind of love that makes your heart swell. The kind you want to share with the world. The kind of love that makes break into a stupid grin at the most random moments –as though you are keeping the most delicious secret. I was quite unprepared for the immediate wave of emotion that washed over me the first time saw her. And every day since she entered my life. The last time I felt this kind of immediate, intense love was more than 18 years ago. It was late in the night when he came into my life. Sweet and warm.  The moment I saw his face, the world simply fell away. Pressing him close to me,  I knew that he had my heart forever. Just as the three who came before him did. Being a mother has always been my most treasured role in life. I was 19 years old the first time I felt all those wonderful warm emotions that come with motherhood. I remember looking into the eyes of my first child and thinking “You are gorgeous! Are you really mine?” Eleven days ago, I was swept back in time. With the arrival of our first grandchild, I was reminded at how deeply you can love a new person. This brand new being has already reeled me in. With her baby soft hair and sweet breath, I’m captivated by her. During the months that we awaited the arrival of our granddaughter, friends who are already in “the club,” have shared the many perks of this new role. The typical “You can spoil... read more