Braving the Unknown

Just do your normal daily activities, said the sweet technition, as he stuck connectors with wires all over my chest. I would wear a bulky heart monitor for 24 hours. NOrmal? Mmmm those words would haunt me later that day.

We were on a mini vacation in an area of Costa Rica we had never been. Wes said lets go to Santa Rosa National Park. I agreed with one qualification. I would take it easy, not alot of walking as I wanted my heart test to be positive. No more meds for me.

The park entrance was a four mile beautiful woodland smooth road. I was feeling totally relaxed. We checked in with the rangers for free, as we were residents. a young pleasant guide gave us some Costa Rican history. It seems a number of battles, to ward off invaders, had been fought on this very spot.

A short walk away was well planned and maintained wooded walkway. It seemed perfect. I was quite impressed with how neat and cared for everything was. More on that later. The walk was easy so I kept going. Signs pointed out various kinds of foliage. I was especially intigued by the copperwood trees. Their peeling red skin/bark reminded me of a sunburn.

At the same time, I remained aware of not over doing it, staying hydrated, not over heated to ensure that healthy test result.

With this in mind I said Lets turn around and get some water. Wes wanted to go to the beach. We had been told it was one of the most scenic in Costa Rica. Here was the famous Witches Rock, known to all surfers world wide. We were warned the road to the beach needed a four wheel drive. That was not an issue,  After all Wes loved to drive through rivers, and bumpy dirt roads are part of our normal Costa Rican life style.  So off we went, I was game, remembering how well kept this park was.

We entered a lovely early dry forest road. Everything was lush shades of green towering above us.  It was a lovely hot summer day, insects singing, colorful birds flying past, layers of mountains streatching out on one side. Signs informed us that the beach was about 12 K or 8 miles away. Certainly doable this late morning day.

Crash! We hit the first boulder. Ahead lay a deep hole. The adventure began.  Many rocks had scrape marks from previous brave souls. For the next few hours we drove an average of four miles an hour. It took both of us strategizing how to manage this maze. They had forgotten this road when they made the rest of the park it seemed. On one side were deep ditches, the other side of this so called road, dropped off a cliff to infinity. What do those yellow tapes mean? Oh No! they warn the road there had actually disappeared!

Minutes rolled into hours. There was no place to turn around even if we wanted to. We were traveling into the unknown. Relax into the unknown my Buddhist teachings say.  Can I?  My thoughts started running rampert. What if we had a flat, or got stuck? Never mind went over the edge or ripped open our gas tank. Could Wes fix a flat with his one arm? Coulld I help?  He reassured me by saying he would walk out and get help. And how many hours would I sit alone, running the AC with half a bottle of water

Screams voluntarily erupted from my throat as we hit yet another rock or jerked sideways as the road collapsed.

Later I discovered my FitBit had registered a mile of walking as I sat bouncing along in our car.  Who needs to go to an Amusement Park? My stomach lurched again.

As the mountainous rollar coaster road leveled out we found ourselves in a dry estuary. The ground under the mangroves covered with white snow like salt.

DEad end! There was no way we were driving over that narrow wooden bridge, of heaving loose, broken boards.  Wes agreed but parked in  mud that looked like quick sand as my feet looked for safe ground.

Move car. Walk over bridge holding my breathe.  How I prayed, there must be another way back.  A friendly attendant smilingly greeted us.  NO, there was no other way out he calmly informed me as  the question blurted out of my mouth  My stomach sank, My Buddhist teachings again arose,.  What a great opportunity this was to perfect calming strategies! At least we would be headed in the right direction.

So now lets find that beach! It was all you can imagine a perfect beach to be. White sand, no one around for miles, pure blue sky, steady high waves. Was it worth it? You decide.

The next day as we looked at my heart monitor results, taking into consideration, the abnormal activity  the tech laughed, It all looked perfectly normal. At least something was and I passed the test!!

 

Preparing for another Stateside Summer

As we start planning a little less intense summer this year, I came across this summery of last year. As much as I look forward to all the love, it will include many doctor visits this year. All in the name of that thing called aging!

And so it starts with memories:

Each year we pull ourselves back to the states to visit family and friends. The anticipation and warm connections out weigh our sadness at leaving our adopted land of Costa Rica. Here are some thoughts of our summer starting off in California

I sit  recuperating from the worst cold in history,  at least my history. I try to gather strength as I absent -mindedly watch the fog drift over the river. It tends to soften my edges as it floats softly up the soft green hills.  As I become more conscious of the daily changing weather patterns here at the head of the Russian River, reflections linger. Yesterday the water was bright blue.  Today it is grayish blue, sometimes  silvery white under the billowing white clouds. The lush green hills, in their various shades of green,  stand stately watching over the rippling water, in trusting silence. They know it will change again soon.

I begin to wonder, how is it so much easier to sit with this changing scene than it is to sit with my changing emotions, or when the uncomfortable ones sweep by in tornado fashion.

Three Months Later:

A tornado of activity swept me off to parts unknown for these last few months. I packed up the pain from a traumatic fall with all it’s lessons squashed inside.  As I traveled around Massachusetts, Virginia and Pennsylvania, they were a constant reminder. Take care of yourself, don’t overdo, accept wes’ help, accept the limitations of aging,( great grandparenting helps), and stay connected to Pura Vida. The more I acknowledged their various colors and sizes, the more joy shone forth as life flowed.

We have spent a glorious summer, freezing in the rain at times, walking in the sunlight with family and friends.  I went on one of the best retreats ever while Wes bicycled across Iowa.  The storms stayed outside, beating on the roof of our camper. Sunshine remained inside the camper, inside my heart. Patience prevailed as I waited in line with hundreds at social security office. The rain, the frustrations are all part of nature, part of life, and acceptance of the now, supports us.

Organizing folks across the nation was worth the choreograph we experienced. Learning clog dancing, getting my nails done with daughter in law and also one of the greats, ice cream treats, fabulous dinners cooked by friends, museums, deep conversations (although I had to keep saying let’s get off politics!) Attending a Memorial Service after the tragedy in Charlottesville, Sharing, sharing sharing life! A Glass Castle was the movie of choice with a special grandson. I am a multi millionaire of experiences.

As we drove back to our camper we reveled in the smoothness of the journey. Life can really flow! We laughed at Crooked St in Plainview Ct, or Old Forty Foot Rd and Cowpath Rd. It had all worked!

We had the best Asian food ever spontaneously. My bladder said stop again and we were able to welcome a sweet Turkish woman to our country. As we left this diner , a jolly New Yorker  teased, ” is there any food left after you two ate?”

Pura Vida has been embodied and gratitude abounds.

 

 

Hummingbird message

While eating during silent retreat, I became aware of one particular hummingbird. As our energies merged this poem came to me.

 

Breakfast

Merge with infinite energy

Sitting still on tiny branch

Trusting

Trusting a vast surrounding jungle.

 

Lunch

There you sit, same spot

Still, still sentry

What does your gaze say?

Lunch finished, away you fly.

What tiny being is your message?

 

Dinner

Your branch is empty

Emptiness, without, within

No expectations, no I, No Past , No future

Pure Emptiness    Your message.

Facing the Unknown

 

We built our home in Costa Rica about 10 years ago. I never thought I would live in such a perfect spot. Once when my son was 10 I told him I would love a yellow house on the beach. Well it is yellow and a short walk to the beach. I’d forgotten Id told him until recently. I named the house Casa Amigos as I want to share this dream with all my friends. It took a kind of crazy courage to leave all that was familiar to live in another country. Each time we visited it seemed it wasnt long enough. Id take a bit of peace back only to be pulled to return. Once we decided we would live here more full time there was little fear of the unknown. We felt at home.

Now my heart sings along with the birds, it beats with the pounding of the waves. Each window I rest my eyes towards rewards me with various shades of green, multiple textured leaves, patterns of the plants dance before my eyes. Laughter is good for the soul it is said. Monkey antics are always good for laughter as they swing through the branches.Most of the time my body thrives in the beautiful warm sunny days. After all there is also yoga, swimming, zumba in the water, horseback riding and wallaking in the woods around our home. Dont forget spiritual outlets like labyrinth walking or chakra cleansing. There is just no end of healthy, fun things to do.

So what makes so many of our guests get so anxious? Granted it is out of their comfort zone, the unknown. Then again, perhaps I can understand a bit after the last few weeks.

I thought I was fully adjusted to life in the jungle by the ocean. that is until these last few weeks when we have had many visitors. Visitors that wait to greet us by our front door or maybe in our toilet!

Ugly slimy brown frogs like to come from the sewage system to say hello out of the toilet or maybe the shower.So check what’s happening inside before you sit. Each morning we need to clean up the gecko poop “you recognize it by a little white spot at the end.” Or huge spiders, sometimes almost as large as your palm scurry across our landing when they see the light. Are the snakes we see on the landing or in the yard poisoness? I dont stay long enough to know.  I take a visitor to watch those funny monkeys. However, they decide they do not want us in their private territory and start dropping poop balls out of the trees. We clear out as we have been warned that they will progress to throwing it at us if we dont leave fast enough.

So could all of this make you anxious? Or do i settle in and enjoy the culture, the rest of the environment? Once someone asked if I could guarantee there would be no iquanas or geckos.  Their honesty made me advise them not to come. We see them daily. Some have pet iquanas.  They look like prehistoric dinosaurs to me!

So equanimity flies out the window with the birds and I shriek along with the parrots, only in english, “Wes, there is a frog in the shower” Wes becomes the savior in this land of paradise.

 

 

 

Hugs Over Time

My four year old body snuggled in close, wrapped tightly by her ever present apron. My senses took in the smells of unfamiliar Hungarian spices simmering behind us, my taste buds alive with anticipation.

During my childhood I was rarely hugged. Every cell vibrated in this luxury.

My eyes closed, embodying loving sensations as her work worn hands wrapped around me. She spoke no English but love does not need words.

My parents divorced.

I never saw her, my fathers mother, again. The loss floated around me in filmy foggy visions.

Years past until one day words threatened to penetrate the haze, “your grandmother died.” Who was that? No answers forthcoming. the words sunk into my unconscious. There were other more present, pressing life issues.

Seventy years later, after a five week tour of Europe, the end of our journey is approaching. We would fly back from  Budapest Hungary.

Because the records were mixed, plus we were time limited, my husband wanted to go to my great grandfathers village. My heart jumped as my body trembled. “No we must go to my grandmothers village.” Off we drove, from Budapest into lush peaceful countryside.

As we drove down the colorful tree lined roads, through one tiny village after another, I relaxed into  coming home energy, the beginning of an emotional, heart expanding day. We were carried off in a cocoon of caring, a mystery evolving.

As we ate a delicious lunch at a former Communist commune, an attractive young woman, long black hair a halo for shining eyes, approached our table. “Ive noticed you speak English. I have learned it and would be happy to help if I can.”  We hired her on the spot and soon the ancestor adventure was underway.

My grandmothers village was a few miles away but alas, the records keeper was on vacation. That did not stop our new friend Nicky. She immediately found the kind town manager, told him our mission, put my email address in his hand, as he promised to look into records and get back to me. Nicky promised the same as we parted with warm hugs.

Wes is now into full ancestry detective work. Without question our adventure continued with a two hour drive through rolling country hills, to my great grandfathers village.

Upon arrival, we had the shop keeper, of the only shop in town, shyly speaking into our translator phone. With sweet smiles she directed us to the records office. Did the sign really say it had closed for the day five minutes earlier?

The  flowing wave of life took us to a woman sweeping the front of a near by building. A school! She called teachers out to meet us and one spoke a little English. Again, using our translator, we explained our mission. the action started, phones were produced, calls made. Our heads swung around as two cars whizzed into the drive, two men jumped out. One was the mayor of the village of 500. The other teacher Anika’s boyfriend. The mayor, a distant relative, said, “phone kaput” refusing to speak into it. However, he drove off to get a teen age girl who spoke English. Again we were off following his blue dusty car.

We drove past a beautiful park, down a long windy country lane, aligned with welcoming colorful neat houses.  Tree branches bending over the road as if cradling our journey.

The young girl made preliminary introductions.  We smiled at this surprised, rotund woman, hesitantly coming out to greet us. She had been warned ahead that we were on our way, it appeared. Dressed still in her 50’s style cotton house dress and traditional flowered apron, she curiously asked, “where did you get all these names?”  When we answered “on the computer ” she stared in disbelief.

As we conversed back and forth with the help of our young translator, her guardedness fell way to warmth. Her husbands name is the same as my great grandfathers so in addition to the mayor, we are related through marriage! The mayor also promised to get more details and email me. Wonderful email connecting the world like a ball of twine. We are all one.

“Bozin”, my “some type of cousin” by marriage, hugged me, trembling with joy as we left. I felt her work worn hands, as I stood surrounded in an apron, just as so long ago. Life came full circle.

The engaged helpfulness, shared joy, connecting with the past, all brought a deep sense of peace.

I even learned how to correctly pronounce my maiden name! ,

Fog sweeping down the river from the mountains

Each year we pull ourselves back to the states to visit family and friends. The anticipation and warm connections out weigh our sadness at leaving our adopted land of Costa Rica. Here are some thoughts of our summer starting off in California

I sit  recuperating from the worst cold in history,  at least my history. I try to gather strength as I absent -mindedly watch the fog drift over the river. It tends to soften my edges as it floats softly up the soft green hills.  As I become more conscious of the daily changing weather patterns here at the head of the Russian River, reflections linger. Yesterday the water was bright blue.  Today it is grayish blue, sometimes  silvery white under the billowing white clouds. The lush green hills, in their various shades of green,  stand stately watching over the rippling water, in trusting silence. They know it will change again soon.

I begin to wonder, how is it so much easier to sit with this changing scene than it is to sit with my changing emotions, or when the uncomfortable ones sweep by in tornado fashion.

Three Months Later:

A tornado of activity swept me off to parts unknown for these last few months. I packed up the pain from a traumatic fall with all it’s lessons squashed inside.  As I traveled around Massachusetts, Virginia and Pennsylvania, they were a constant reminder. Take care of yourself, don’t overdo, accept wes’ help, accept the limitations of aging,( great grandparenting helps), and stay connected to Pura Vida. The more I acknowledged their various colors and sizes, the more joy shone forth as life flowed.

We have spent a glorious summer, freezing in the rain at times, walking in the sunlight with family and friends.  I went on one of the best retreats ever while Wes bicycled across Iowa.  The storms stayed outside, beating on the roof of our camper. Sunshine remained inside the camper, inside my heart. Patience prevailed as I waited in line with hundreds at social security office. The rain, the frustrations are all part of nature, part of life, and acceptance of the now, supports us.

Organizing folks across the nation was worth the choreograph we experienced. Learning clog dancing, getting my nails done with daughter in law and also one of the greats, ice cream treats, fabulous dinners cooked by friends, museums, deep conversations (although I had to keep saying let’s get off politics!) Attending a Memorial Service after the tragedy in Charlottesville, Sharing, sharing sharing life! A Glass Castle was the movie of choice with a special grandson. I am a multi millionaire of experiences.

As we drove back to our camper we reveled in the smoothness of the journey. Life can really flow! We laughed at Crooked St in Plainview Ct, or Old Forty Foot Rd and Cowpath Rd. It had all worked!

We had the best Asian food ever spontaneously. My bladder said stop again and we were able to welcome a sweet Turkish woman to our country. As we left this diner , a jolly New Yorker  teased, ” is there any food left after you two ate?”

Pura Vida has been embodied and gratitude abounds.

 

Pics