The occasional voice of thunder was deep and faint. The scent of rain was on the breeze as it gently accelerated and alternately slowed. The gray clouds tumbled into a roll and marched closer to the yoga deck from which I observed.
Because of the vastness of the ocean and sky, storms could be seen for miles and often did not actually arrive at Anamaya.
They emptied themselves of energy over the ocean and had nothing left for the shore or the jungle leaving only the hot humid breath when the sun peeked out and the skies turned to blue.
This storm was different as it continued to build and move closer. The thunder’s voice was louder and accompanied by occasional flashes in the clouds.
The scent of rain grew more intense delivered with cooling air as the storm marched forward. The skies overhead darkened and the wind swirled, stealing leaves and colorful blooms from the plants. Thunder crashed and lightning flashed and workers scurried to close all the open windows and doors. The storm raged for a while and then continued on its path with less fury for its next victim leaving only the rhythm of the rain which moved to a more gentle pace and finally a mist.
The clouds opened to allow a sunbeam to escape and rest on the mist in all its glorious color.
The rainbow greeted our evening yoga practice bring a sense of wonder and joy. We inhaled the fresh air left by the storm as we stretched and gazed at the rainbow. As the practice continued my eyes closed and the rainbow faded into the darkness without my witness.
When I opened my eyes, it had scattered its light into tiny sparkles across a navy blanket of sky.
It’s so hard to pick a favorite spot in Costa Rica, but the edge of the infinity saltwater pool is definitely a contender.
The edge overlooked a valley full of flowering plants and colorful butterflies that reached out into the distance to the ocean hues of turquoise, azure and blue.
From this vantage point I could observe my two favorite things in the world at the same time. When the butterflies, mostly in shades of yellow or orange hovered and danced higher they appeared brilliantly in contrast with the waving blue.
Fluttering and flying and waving and splashing entertained my eyes, mind and heart as I floated in the saltwater. It was a vision of blue infinity punctuated with orange and yellow delight.
Every yoga practice has been beautiful in its own way. Thursday was about opening the throat chakra.
Breathing in the ocean air and gazing across the turquoise and azure waves is the ultimate blue experience.
Communication originates here, listening and speaking.
The reflective properties of water, particularly when still, mimic listening and water in motion from tiny ripples to crashing waves mimics expression.
The tide is reciprocal flowing in and out, bringing treasures to the beach and taking treasures out to sea.
In the distance, howler monkeys alternately roared using their powerful throats to communicate with each other. There was listening and speaking. Reciprocity. The howls grew louder as the monkeys moved closer to the yoga deck. We began to communicate with the monkeys replicating the tone, cadence and timing as best as we could.
My eyes opened from savasana and gazed across the ocean and then fell into the forest through a diamond-shaped hole in the leaves to observe the monkeys.
From a hammock on the deck at the Casita, I hear the howls of the monkeys and the chirps of the geckos joined by the clank of metal and the clink of glass from the nearby kitchen. As meals are prepared, the scents of spices travel like a ribbon winding through the rain and flower scents of the jungle as a personal invitation to partake in deliciousness with the community.
Every meal is special at Anamaya Resort. The food is prepared intentionally from mostly organic and locally-sourced food.
It is mostly plant-based, but meals do include eggs, chicken or fish.
Breakfast is a buffet; lunch and dinner are plated with ample portions.
Plus, there are two snacks each day.
I have always been a picky eater, but I have committed to myself to try everything. It’s been lovely.
New dragonflies were born this morning, emerging from an unseen water source like a tornado swirling higher and higher, rising away from the rain forest floor reaching above the canopy, dancing in the sky and seeing the ocean that extends forever, unimaginable from the vantage point of their birth, for the first time. Their lives are short, but their experiences are rich. Dragonflies show their true colors as they mature, changing and becoming more vibrant and beautiful.
I arrived at Anamaya Resort yesterday and I have never heard, uttered or thought the word “beautiful” more in my life than in my time here.
While the surroundings are visibly beautiful, so are the people, the experience, the food… basically, everything.
It’s the rainy season here and thunder has rumbled in the distance on and off all day. The early morning was a little cloudy, but the sun won out most of the time and I only saw a rainstorm in the distance over the ocean. Everything is an experience, so I’m going to write in detail in multiple upcoming short posts instead of one long one.
Suffice it to say, if you ever get a chance to come to Anamaya, you should.
So, after yoga the other day I decided to get a smoothie and go hang out on Goose Island to enjoy it. I wandered around and took some photos of butterflies and ducks and all the usual suspects. I happened to notice some flat rocks that would be good for stacking, so I decided to collect a few to stack and photograph.
I wondered who would notice it and what conversations would it spark. I wondered if people would question how it got there or wonder about the builder. Who did that? Why? I wondered if it would make people smile or bring joy to them. I wondered if someone would see it and decide to build a stack of his/her own.
I wondered how many people would pass by the stack and never even notice it. It was visible from the sidewalk as a tiny part of a much larger landscape.
I wondered how long the stack of rocks would last and what would cause it’s demise. Would it be an unintentional wave or a person who would decide to tip it?
We pour effort into many things in life for an effect that we never see. But, everything we do has an effect on someone or something. I have no idea if that rock stack mattered to anyone, but I want to believe it did.
When you mess with birds, well, you get into a mess.
I’ll start this story at the beginning. I decided to go on a run today. It’s been a couple of weeks. I haven’t been motivated to do so for a variety of reasons, but the weather forecast for later today and the foreseeable future is inferno-like, so I figured I should head out this morning and beat the heat. And… I had a new hat. #motivation
So the reasons to run won out over the reasons not to and I took in the fog and the lake with its feathered friends as I ran alongside.
It was a pleasant run. While I didn’t set any land speed records, I smiled and waved at other runners and walkers. I leaked awesome and it kept me cool. My new hat provided shade. I took my “runfie” for social media and captioned it, “Christening my new hat,” as I poured water on my head. Then I drank the rest of my water and stretched in the shade.
Stretching can include some of my yoga poses, pigeon in particular. It opens the hips and stretches the hip flexor and psoas muscle. It uses the core to keep the hips straight and is a calming pose.
Then I thought it would be funny to do a pigeon pose with the plentiful pigeons along the lake.
I carefully scoured the ground with my eyes, looking for a relatively clean spot in the grass for my pose. As you know, pigeons are not the only feathered friends along the lake; there are hundreds of geese. As much as I love the geese, it is with the understanding that to be with geese, I have to accept their crap. I don’t have to get in it, but it’s there and I have to deal with it. There are lots of ways to deal with crap and in this case, I choose to avoid it.
It occurs to me that my relationship with the geese is no different than my relationship with anyone or anything else. You take the good; you take the bad. Rewards and sacrifices. For better or for worse. Advantages and disadvantages. Every relationship has an opportunity cost. What are you choosing to give up to be in the relationship? The harder you love and the more you invest, the more intense is the pain when the relationship ends, for whatever reason.
So, I found my relatively clean spot in the vicinity of the iridescent pigeons, set up the camera and struck a pose.
Victory! A pigeon decided to walk right into the shot, and while perspective makes him look like some sort of Godzilla bird, it is pretty funny.
I finished stretching and headed back to the car, taking a glimpse in the rear view mirror when I noticed my new hat had been christened in a new way! Quickly I wiped off the bird crap and then the irony of the story unfolded in my head. (I should have taken the photo first).
Good and bad. Rewards and sacrifices. For better, for worse. Advantages and disadvantages. Opportunity cost.
This sweet little cove was the perfect place for rest and reflection after a short paddle upstream.
If it was only so simple. Balance isn’t always even or symmetrical. Balance has to be responsive.
It can depend on the current. If it pushes left, it takes more power on the right to stay on course.
Life can be that way too. At different times, different areas of life require more attention than others. Balance isn’t all areas being equal. It’s about meeting the needs of each area and achieving balance over time.
The low tumbling clouds over the lake left me with a shadowy view of the rows of geese and triangular families of ducks with whom I shared the lake.
At times, until items were quite nearby, it was as if they didn’t exist. Acutely aware of the hazards posed by this situation, I kept my stand-up paddling nearer to the shore and kept an eye out for hazards such as taller rocks or logs previously carried in by flooding waters, but since settling on the bottom, with wooden arms reaching for the surface. I propelled my board, slicing through the lake while my face and body divided the droplets that comprised the fog, each one forced to choose a side or hop on for a ride.
When I arrived at the bridge, I sat and relaxed, observing the fog as it interacted with the lake.
Close to the lake it was white and seemed impermeable, hiding even mountains behind its fuzzy blanket. I couldn’t even see Goose Island, but could hear the occasional honking of its inhabitants. On top, it was mobile, rolling and twisting like the curly hair of a freckle-faced child sans the intense ginger color.
From under the fog, seemingly out of nowhere for no reason, emerged a large wake. The water swelled and rolled with intensity, a parade of waves marching towards the shore. As the parade passed by the nearby geese and ducks, they rode the waves seemingly undisturbed with their calm exteriors rising to the occasion. Up shore the left edge of the waves crashed into the rocks while the rest of the wave traveled at an angle towards me. There is no stopping a wave, only responding to it by riding it out with a flexible, calm exterior. I paddled into it gently to avoid the inevitable crash of the water into the rocks. Eventually the waves in the parade shrunk and then disappeared and I was looking at the fog once more. Several thoughts occurred to me:
Things do not happen for no reason. Even if you don’t know or understand the reason, there is one. While I could not see the source of the wake, that didn’t mean it wasn’t there.
Some things are inevitable once the event is happening. There is nothing that can be done to stop or change the situation, the only available choice is in the response.
Sometimes the best response is to go towards the situation head on, responding sooner and minimizing the effect. Sometimes it is better to observe and know that “this, too, shall pass.”
Prior experiences are the teachers for the future. The day I made peace with the wake was preparing for today.
I’m familiar with the saying, “rainbows and unicorns,” but this morning it was rainbows and swans. As I followed the black asphalt road to my yoga class, I was chasing rainbows. Presently it began to sprinkle gently and the windshield of my convertible misted up as it protected its contents from the moisture. Although I was running late, I couldn’t resist the urge to pull over and snap a photo of the rainbow.
As I gazed across the sky and focused on the opposite side, I found the swan, calmly navigating the sky, sailing through the clouds.
Swans represent beauty, grace, love and elegance. It is a reminder of inner grace and beauty, light that must shine in order that others see it.
They can represent divinity and balance. A black swan is mysterious. It can signal intuition and the ability to “know” what’s ahead and trust hunches.
“You are reminded that there is beauty in all things. Take the time to look and really see what is before you.” – Swan
The other day I saw a post on Facebook saying that if you set out a half-lime with whole cloves poked in it, it would keep away flies. So a fly was interrupting my deck-sitting-with-coffee-time this morning with his annoying presence, so I decided to try it. While I know just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true, my version of the idea seems to be working. I only cut a small part of the end of a lime and sprinkled it with ground cloves (because it’s what I had) and the fly has not returned. It’s kind of like the starfish story, only the “star” is not as endearing and I’m not by the ocean “mattering to that one.” But, the fly is not the splattered victim of my flyswatter and I am calmly enjoying my favorite elixir this morning.#coexisit
Would it be weird to smell like cloves at a 4th of July picnic? (asking for a friend)
PS: Never put lime juice on your skin. It can react with the sun and you can end up with a nasty rash.
Today when I arrived at the lake, I spied a mama duck and her ducklings. After the initial silent “oh, they’re so cute” adrenaline rush, of course I took some photos. Then, I observed them and noticed each one’s tiny wake, extending from their tail feathers in a triangular pattern with each ripple reaching out and changing the movement of the much larger lake around them. Not as much as the wake of the goose I could feel through my paddle board yesterday. And, certainly not as much as the foamy rolling wake from a speedboat with waves that crash onto Goose Island startling the inhabitants and chanting the landscape through erosion. It reminded me that every action, no matter how small, changes something. It makes a difference. How will your “duckling wake” matter in the much larger world today?
When I drove across the Taneycomo Bridge yesterday, I noticed that Goose Island was visible and inhabited with about 100 geese and a few ducks. Before anyone points it out, I know that Goose Island really isn’t an island, but a peninsula or probably even more accurately, a sandbar. Goose Island just has a better ring to it. I had missed “the island” where I would often sit or recline and stretch after a run on a large piece of driftwood poking out of lake. Sometimes I would do balancing yoga poses on the log, which may not have been that smart, but nothing bad ever came of it.
Interestingly, it is also a place where my special Pipevine Swallowtail comes to visit, straight from the heavens. Today was no exception.
But, my thoughts turned to paddle boarding and I realized I could easily launch into the lake from the island. The mornings are often beautifully foggy, so I wanted that to be part of the fun. It is often foggy here in the morning especially by the lakes. As a kid in Joplin, fog that came all the way to the ground didn’t seem to happen very often and when it did, it seemed magical to be inside a cloud. I consider the fog one of the beautiful things here in Branson. I also thought morning would be best to avoid the pesky pop-up storms that often plague summer afternoons.
I had never paddled on this part of Taneycomo favoring the calm waters at Empire Park mostly away from boats zipping by and invading my space with their rocking wake, that admittedly makes me a little nervous (okay, a lot nervous). And the water here is 45-50*, so falling off the board, even with my life jacket, has an additional challenge.
As I was unloading my gear in the parking lot and inflating my board, a security guard I know stopped to chat. “You’re going to take that (gesturing to my board) on that lake?” “Yep!” I responded. “You know that water is always about 50*?” he asked. “Yep. And that is why I plan to stay on my board.” He laughed and said, “Good luck!”
I finished getting everything ready and took a few photos before I really got serious. I looked at the bridge in the distance and set my goal to stand-up paddle all the way there and back. I actually did it a couple of times and then spent the rest of the time relaxing on the board in various positions observing the lake world.
After I got on the lake, but before I stood up, I realized I was going to have to pay attention to the occasional boats headed by, especially the speed boats. They were a little ways away outside of the no-wake area, but that didn’t stop the wake they created from traveling all the way to shore. I decided another goal for today was to be at peace with the wake. I know what to do. Lower my center of gravity and turn the nose towards the wake. Face the fear head on. Or, if I don’t turn the board and it rocks from side-to-side, be flexible and go with it.
Finally there were no moving boats nearby, so I stood up and paddled towards the bridge. There was a large contingent of geese about halfway there, but I figured they wouldn’t pay much attention to me like when they are all over the sidewalk and I go running through them. They’re pretty tame. A few of the geese began to swim towards the bridge and I found myself following in their wake. I found this entertaining for some reason that I could actually feel their wake through my board.
Presently I noticed that the local news was doing a story related to emergency services with two emergency vehicles staged and the lake in the background. I paddled across where this was taking place, so if you watch KY3 tonight you might see me in the background.
Watching the geese, observing the thunderheads bubbling up in the far distance to the south, listening to my tunes and making peace with the wake was the rest of the time, until I thought I heard a rumble of thunder in the distance. I wasn’t sure, but I’d been here about an hour and a half, so it was time for a break anyway. I checked the weather and storms were headed our way in the next hour or two.
I decided to take a few more photos and engage in a little goose yoga before packing up for the day. I resisted the urge to hit Taco Tuesday at the nearest restaurant and headed home to a delicious kale salad with quinoa and chickpeas. The sky has grayed and the lightened up several times, but hasn’t cut loose. Yet.
“Hey look Ma, I made it!” The first run of my “new life” was hot and hilly. It was the kind of run where patches of shade served as motivation to keep moving #OnTheRoadAgain
I hadn’t run for a couple of weeks. Life was in the way. But this run felt good. Today I was leaking awesome. Especially when I found the sprinklers!
I was in my hometown, Joplin, Mo. Its a small town, but I know you’ve heard of it. May 22, 2011 put it on the world map. EF5 tornado. I kind of think of JoMo as a place where there’s not much to do. But, even here, beauty abounds. It’s in the eye of the beholder. What you seek, you find.
I went to a small educational farm in Rogersville, Mo. that holds fun animal interactions including goat yoga and bunny meditation.
Their tag line is accurate: where joy and zen meet. Goats and Yogais a wonderful experience with simple yoga poses and goats frolicking about. They naturally want to jump on flat surfaces, so poses like tabletop and downward dog are perfect for interacting.
They’re Nigerian Dwarf goats, but some can weigh 30-35 pounds, so are they heavy? They can be. Does it hurt when they jump on your back?
Not really. It kind of feels like a massage. Do they try to eat your clothes and hair? Yes, but you just stop them.
Do they pee and poop? They can! They’re animals!
There were new babies this time! They were so cute and fun!
The baby bunny was the sweetest thing…so soft with its little silky ears laying flat, it’s little nose twitching, it’s round belly rising and falling with its breath. and it’s “big” back foot curled to its side.
Definitely a place of joy and zen! If you’re in the area, I recommend it! They do require reservations!
Lying in the giant shadows of the much smaller butterflies, breathing the fragrance of the fuchsia fans waving from among the fronds of the mimosa. The sun sparkles through when the breeze makes room.
This is my favorite tree. I had one in my yard growing up. It was “home base” for wiffleball and we used to “cook” with the leaves, seed pods and mud. And it just smells so good.
Yesterday I was on my deck watching the butterflies from there and the thought crossed my mind that I wished I was lying under that tree. So I did. The tree was comforting, protecting me from the heat of the sun and the butterfly shadows soothed my soul and understoodhowI felt in that moment.
Are you wondering why I decided to call myself “retired girl?” I mentioned in my first post that the word “retired” seemed like it referred to someone old and I don’t consider myself old. That’s why I added “girl” to bring in the idea of youth and fun. I guess I am a “young soul.” I like to have fun. If I’m out for a run and I see a sprinkler. I gotta go through it!
It’s a beautiful world and we’re going to have fun exploring it!
Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?These are the questions that any writer must answer. These are the answers that the readers seek. So, for my first blog post, I’ll try.
Last week if you asked me who I was, within seconds I would have told you that I was principal of a nationally recognized elementary school and proceeded to tell you why it was so great. As they say, it’s not bragging if it’s true. I loved my school: my kids, my teachers, my staff, my admin team, my community. So. Many. Great. Times.
This week. It’s no longer true. After 30 years in education, I retired. Sigh. There were thousands of reasons to make the decision to leave and only two reasons to stay. Two powerful reasons: my kids and my people. But, the conclusion at which I arrived was that the two reasons to stay would always be present and if I went by them, I would never leave. There would always be kids and a school family to love. Leaving was going to hurt no matter what.
Bittersweet. I’ve come to dislike this word very much. It’s been used many times by others to describe how I feel. Because I didn’t have a better word and I didn’t want to burst into a fountain of tears multiple times in a day trying to figure it out, I would politely agree, but it’s not the right word. I think the right word might depend on the day, but today it is heartbroken. It just hurts to leave all I’ve known and loved even for a future that seems bright and exciting. But, I’m doing it. If anything, knowing the end was near gave me the awareness and the choice to focus on the present, enjoying each moment of the second semester instead of wasting them worrying about how sad I would be in the end or how hard particular future days might be. So, if today I’m feeling heartbroken. I can feel that way. I don’t have to worry that I might feel this way forever. I only need to experience today.
I know heartbroken. Another answer to the question of “who” is that I am a widow. I am going on two years of this status. Widow is another word I dislike. I think of a person forever dressed in black, shrouded in gray clouds of sadness and grief living in the past. A widow is old. I am none of these things, yet I am a widow.
Grief is like the ocean. Immediately following the event, the waves are angry and violent fighting to drown me in the dark shadowy figures and swirling silt. If I fought against them, it was futile, exhausting me and my strength. Or I could go with the waves. Riding each one with its feelings. At first they are constantly fast and furious, but with time they become calmer and more gentle, never completely ceasing. Just like the ocean, conditions change and affect the surf: the moon, the seasons, the weather. The grief never really goes away, life simply grows around the heart. The hurt is there, but it’s insulated.
I’m a runner. I’ve been running for about 6 years. One day I was taking a walk and in a Forrest Gumpish moment I thought, “I wonder how far I can run?” So I did. It wasn’t far. Maybe it was a quarter of a mile. It was slow. And I thought I would die. But, little by little I developed endurance and strength and I ran my first 5K with two goals: don’t die and don’t be last. I made it and have run countless races since. My race, my pace. Keeping it fun.
I’m loyal. I’ve had the same bestie since high school. We’ve shared the best of times and the worst of times. We’ve laughed, cried, shopped, swam, danced, talked and texted. We share a lifetime of memories. Now we’re sharing retirement.
I’m a yogi. I just started practicing daily a little more than a year ago. I mostly practice at home in my yoga room or on my deck using videos from: Five Parks Yoga I do go to guided group classes as often as possible. Physically yoga builds strength, flexibility, and balance, but mentally and emotionally it builds presence, perseverance, patience, focus and more. It’s both energizing and relaxing. I never thought I would like yoga or be able to stay focused, but it is a skill that develops like any other. I thought yoga was just for the bendy people who could do the splits and stand on their heads, but it really is for anybody. It’s a practice that moves at my pace.
I am a paddler! Both kayak and stand up paddle board (SUP). The SUP was a real challenge for me to master. I had to do it on my own terms. I’ll share my Facebook story from the day I finally felt “real” as a SUPer.
“So, I did a thing today! I finally have a real stand-up paddle board! It’s still the same inflatable one, but it’s a “real” SUP because I actually STOOD on it and paddled around the lake. I’ve had this toy since last August and actually standing up has been my nemesis. I knew I could physically do it. I have balance. Good grief, I can put on 8 wheels and zoom around a skating rink like it’s nothing, even though I know it’s hard to learn when you haven’t done it yet. Especially if you’re afraid. I’ve taught many kids to skate. I can take a non-skater to skater in about 10-15 minutes, if they’re not afraid of falling and they follow my directions. Admittedly, I probably could have taught someone step-by-step how to stand up on a paddle board (as long as I didn’t have to demonstrate) . I’d studied it. You can learn anything on You Tube. But, the one missing ingredient was “non-fear of falling off the board” and that anxiety would not let my muscles relax enough to stand successfully. It was a perfect morning on the lake with no wind or much current. There were no boats nearby. I put the nose of the board on the mushy shore to give it more stability. I was able to stand on it easily. I moved my feet around to get comfortable with the board rocking a little. Then I pushed off the shore. I stayed near the shore at first but eventually paddled across the lake and back. The breeze kicked up a little, just enough to let the cottonwoods clap with their little green cymbals.A three goose flyover made the victory complete as they honked their approval. Oh, and all of my butterflies were here at one point or another during the morning. There was one dark cloud in my perfect morning. The valve stem on the board was making an audible leaking sound. I tightened things and moved it around, but I couldn’t fix it. Seriously? On the perfect morning that I decided I was going to stand up? Then I realized it wasn’t leaking that fast, so it wasn’t an excuse. I just took it back to the car every so often and topped off the air. Eventually I got the bright idea to time how long it was taking to lose air and figured out it was a rate of about 2 psi per 30 minutes. So, I just set a timer to remind me to get out and top off the air.”
Perspective… sitting on the board and paddling was fun, but before I could stand up, felt not quite “good enough.” Now, sitting, kneeling, standing…its all good!
I’m a writer. I’ve published articles and crafted grants in my professional life, but really that doesn’t make me a writer. I am starting a project as a magazine editor, but that doesn’t make me a writer. I am a writer because I write. I observe life and create word pictures. Lately, I’ve been driven to write about my life experiences and what I observe and learn, many of which have been emotionally difficult as of late. People read it on Facebook. I decided to bring my new life chapter here.
So, I spent a lot of time explaining who I am. What is this blog really about? It’s about my next chapter, my new adventures. I’ll share videos, photos and stories as I take my new found freedom and explore our beautiful world.
Starting now I’ll share my new life with my readers. I’ll write when I have something to say, so I can’t predict how often this will be.
I’m seeking beauty. I have some exciting future travels planned to some beautiful locations, but I am working on living in the present and looking for the beauty in today, so travels may be as near as my own backyard or so far that I need my passport!
Making a difference, touching the future.
This is my six word memoir. My purpose. My reason. My “why”. For my entire life, I have accomplished this through being an educator. Now, my writing can be my vehicle.
Why writing? Because people in my life have encouraged me to write by reading my work, finding value and sharing that with me. I hope what I have to share inspires and encourages you.
The question is never “can I do…?” It’s “HOW can I do …?” That small word changes everything. Whether or not it will happen is not in question. So, my question is not “Can I navigate my new life?” It’s “HOW can I navigate my new life?” So, thanks for coming with me!