Posted by: marisundays | September 24, 2017

Working towards a common goal

Dear Friends,

The day I greet is warm and the sun is not as bright as other days have been.
In the distance I can hear the usual sounds of a Sunday morning: various birds
singing, a neighbor’s dog barking and the choir intoning its Sunday hymns. I
observe the tall bamboo and teak trees swaying in the breeze. As I breathe in
deep gratitude, I am inspired by their flexibility, encouraged to stretch and move
my body. Get out early today, if it is safe, to partake of Nature’s goodness.

On Friday morning, I was alarmed when I saw three aerial wasp nests firmly
attached to eaves in a heavily-transited (by me!) area of our home. Two of the
nests were of recent construction but the third one was quite large and its hori-
zontal orientation was so unique, it took me a while to realize that it was not
part of the structure it was attached to. Although I usually ignore these nests
when they are on trees far from the house, these three were too close for comfort.

I enlisted the help of our intrepid gardener; relieved that he was able to knock
them down without the use of fire or chemicals. I was also grateful that he
received no stings for his efforts. Once the nests were safely removed, I
returned to my office,walking an alternate path to avoid any synoeca
septentrionalis (warrior/paper wasps) that might be loitering nearby. A few
hours later, I was surprised to find a dozen or so of them rebuilding in the
same location; it must be providing shelter and food.

Researching these insects has been a fascinating endeavor. While I am
pondering ways to eliminate their nests and discourage future rebuilding, I
am also engrossed in watching their teams working together to attain their
common goal. Current world realities (earthquakes, devastating hurricanes,
fires, and politicians) are challenging the optimism in us. This is an opportunity,
though, to tackle problems with renewed energy; in teams, perhaps adjusting to
a new reality for a while, but never, ever giving up.

Have a safe day and a wonderful week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | September 17, 2017

Maintaining Mental Agility



Dear Friends,

As I step out on the terrace, I can feel the sun’s heat on my shoulders. I hear
the song of a bird I can’t quite identify but the bouncy joy is contagious and
beguiles me to join in the celebration of being alive another day. Get out as
soon as you can today and lose yourself in the balm that is Nature right now.
The green landscape will be ours in Atenas for a few more weeks and I am
grateful and happy to live here.

The week that just ended offered many opportunities for celebration in Costa
Rica. It was wonderful to see the yearly display of patriotism engaging young
and old alike as we continue to honor the traditions that make our tiny country
a source of admiration. Most schools and communities held their yearly parades.
It has been rewarding to witness the participation from the foreign residents who
have chosen to live in this small town and who are embraced by the locals who
reciprocate the generosity and warmth received in whatever way they can.

The last six months have kept me busy with important milestones that included
travel and celebrations. I have relished being with family and friends. I am now
equally content to spend the rest of this year at home, taking care of the many
large and small details that have been neglected for a while and which bring me
much fulfillment. I look forward to catching up with local news and to taking
walks in the neighborhood to see what’s new in town.

As I get older, I try to make it my goal to make the most of each day in the trip
that is life. I strive to learn something new every day (we all should), whether it
be creative, practical or intellectual so that I can retain as much of my mental
agility as I can to allow me to navigate aging with ease and independence. I
have curtailed my participation in some community activities, but I have not
retired to the rocking chair permanently and have no plans to do so quite yet!

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | September 10, 2017

Irma’s Trajectory

Dear Friends,

As Irma bears down on Florida, I am more conscious than ever of the blessing
it is to live in Costa Rica, a tiny paradise about 10 degrees north of the equator,
below the path of most hurricanes. I am grateful and at the same time, very
concerned for my friends and family who live in areas that are affected. If you
live in a place where it is safe to do so, I invite you to go out in loving gratitude
and movement and enjoy the day before it gets away from you.

I returned home on Thursday. It was a long day filled with the travel-related
incidents that have become “normal” in recent times. Since I never know what
challenge will confront me when I travel these days, I try to maintain a sense of
humor and composure so that I can respond in a positive manner. Our aircraft
was full of passengers and Irma’s trajectory at that point had already caused
delays that forced us to wait for an hour before we were able to take off. Our
pilot was communicative and experienced; even so the spontaneous clapping
from all of us on landing confirmed the presence of our collective anxiety.

Spending the last few weeks in the company of diverse groups and contrasting
cultures has been eye-opening to me. I have learned a lot about myself. My
expectations of what constitutes acceptable behavior in some situations were
tested often during the cruise. I watched truly inattentive parents allow their
little ones to hog the hot tub, run up and down the halls, make noise everywhere
while depending on the crew to babysit as they had fun. I try not to be too harsh,
remembering that I was a perfect mother until I had my own kids!

The community of cruisers!

One incident that stands out, however, was one morning when a small family
was having breakfast at a nearby table. The young daughter, about 12, loudly
complained to her parents that the buffet table was out of the only yogurt she
liked. Her dad calmly suggested she walk around to other buffet tables to see
if she had better luck. She scorned the idea as improbable but did follow his
advice and was successful and elated when she returned. A less mature father
might have gloated over his triumph, instead he just smiled and continued to eat.

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | September 3, 2017

A Cruise Vacation

Dear Friends,

The morning is wet and cloudy here in New York where the Labor Day weekend
is in full swing. I can’t see any or hear any of the small birds outside; they are no
doubt taking shelter from the rain under the leaves of some tree. I won’t let the
rain deter me though and will step outdoors later in joyful gratitude that I have so
much to be thankful for. I invite you all to do likewise before the day gets away.

It is just after 6 a.m. and I am writing my Sunday chronicle while listening to
soft acoustic gems on Spotify. My daughter and I returned from our marvelous
cruise on Thursday and we are both striving to get over the jet lag and resume
our normal routine. I was able to celebrate Labor Day with all of my children
yesterday. It was a wonderful, laughter-filled experience that reminded me of
how blessed we are to still have these opportunities to connect.

I have many impressions to share of our cruise adventure that began and ended
in Barcelona. Our time went quickly and was exhausting because we partook
of many sightseeing tours and almost everything that the cruise ship offered
to the passengers. Our cabin had an ocean view and I confess that after many
hours at sea, it was always delightful to see the Mediterranean buildings
stuccoed in the summer colors of melon pinks, yellows and pale greens awaiting
to be explored.

One day, we spent a morning walking the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets
of Nice. Later, we rested at a comfortable bench under the shade of large palm
trees at the beautiful park called Square Verdun just off Boulevard de la
Croisette. The park was full of colorful flowers and rosebushes and had a unique
sprinkler that sprayed a fine, cool refreshing mist. We enjoyed relaxing for a few
minutes away from the crowds as we waited for our bus to take us back to the

For an avid people watcher and extrovert (like me), taking this cruise offered a
chance to visit different ports and be exposed to many cultures in one trip. While
I did very little writing on the cruise, I took lots of notes on both the amusing
and the disturbing behaviors I observed in myself and fellow passengers during
the week. I am grateful that I have somewhat successfully developed the habits
of patience and tolerance and that they mostly came along on the ship with me!

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

Picture of Verdun Park my own

Posted by: marisundays | August 20, 2017

An opportunity for personal growth!

Dear Friends,

I am comforted by my daily rituals: eating my morning fruit, appreciating
the sun shining through the window, listening to the song of birds filling
the air and saying a verse of gratitude as I begin my day. This week has
been a little different since part of it has found me in New York where
the ambience is somewhat somber and colored by this week’s world
events. My Sunday ritual, though, calls for us to motivate and go out
and I encourage you to do so wherever the day finds you, as I will.

My flight on Wednesday was very delayed. A change in wind direction
just as the pilot was about to begin takeoff made it necessary to change
the flight pattern for which the airplane was carrying too much weight.
Initially, the pilot asked for “volunteers”, then offered $500 for a few
others to exit the plane and finally had standby passengers politely
escorted off. 75 pieces of luggage were then removed from the plane
before the pilot was satisfied that the new weight was within legal limits
for flight.

Thankfully I arrived safely, but my suitcase was one of the 75 removed!
I had to wait another day for it to make its way to me. Everything
worked out eventually. Nothing was missing from my suitcase although
it was evident that airport officials did look through it. Years of travel
have taught me not to pack banned items and I was delighted to find
my coffee (from Atenas, of course!) undisturbed.

The long delay on the airplane gave me an opportunity to observe fellow
passengers and the airline crew as well as monitor my own reactions as
the length of our delay increased to more than 3 hours. I am not a nervous
flyer and had no connecting flights to be anxious about missing. It was
easier for me than for other passengers to sit calmly and accept that get-
ting upset over a situation truly beyond anyone’s control was futile. The
pilot, crew and passengers were mostly gracious despite the tribulation.

This evening my daughter and I will fly to Barcelona where we will spend
a couple of nights before we board a ship for a long-awaited cruise. I am
certain we will be safe but since I am not sure how much internet I will
have on the ship, I may not be able to write you again next Sunday. Let’s
try to live each minute with gratitude, to see challenges as opportunities
for personal growth and to let our loved ones know what they mean to us.

Have a great day and a wonderful week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | August 13, 2017

Compassion and Respect

Dear Friends,

A somber morning greeted me. I stood on my terrace and let the cool
morning air gently bring me to full wakefulness. The serenity of the
almost invisible green rolling hills grounded me. I could feel my heart
fill with gratitude to be alive, even during this time of uncertainty in
our world. At least in that moment, everything in my world is good.
Go out early today and breathe in Nature’s wonderful gifts.

I had a busy week which ended as quickly as it began. The days seem
shorter so I try to get as much out of them as I can. The problem with
that system is that I often forget to take in the beauty of a new blossom
or the joy of sitting long enough to appreciate the colors of the sunset.
My “to do” list gets longer but I try not to focus on trying to do every
item, especially menial chores that can wait another day (or week!).

Last week I visited the main branch of the INS (National Insurance
Institute) in Barrio Aranjuez in San José. Although my errand was not
exciting, I really enjoyed being in the neighborhood because it gave
me an opportunity to revisit the colonial architecture of charming,
restored small hotels as I made my way from the parking lot to the
offices. I observed tourists with their guide books and wished I had
time to stop and ask their impressions of our “cosmopolitan” city.

When I was in the INS office, I was impressed by the efficiency of the
personnel. I was also witness to the patience and compassion shown by
a son towards his frail and elderly mother who was probably not more
than 15 years his senior. They were walking slowly ahead of me in the
building and he kindly escorted her out of the way so I could reach the
stairs as they took small steps towards the ramp.

I was so moved by this act that when I reached my destination, I turned
so I could see their progress. They had not gotten very far but the son
was still holding his mom’s hand and talking to her softly. I could see
her nodding and smiling, and I got the sense that mutual respect was
part of their bond. Two complete strangers made my day!

Have a wonderful day celebrating life and a great week, Marietta

Picture my own

Posted by: marisundays | August 6, 2017

Ciudad Colon’s Organic Farmers Market

Dear Friends,

The songs of the birds and the refreshing, pure cool air greets me on this
gorgeous Sunday. It’s as if I had placed an order for a perfect day to spend
outdoors, breathing deeply and moving my body in gratitude. I encourage
you to do the same. Let nothing disturb you as you concentrate on soaking
up the sounds and sights of Nature around you, even for just a few minutes.

As I write this message, I am listening to Andres Segovia’s compilation of
J.S. Bach Recordings. The magic of the internet makes these gems available
for our listening pleasure. I can’t remember the sequence of ‘searches’ that
led me to these recordings; I was not as sure as I am other Sundays what
kind of music I wanted today. I now feel energized and motivated by his
interpretation of the difficult pieces that he began to play a hundred years

I have been sharing parts of my life with you all for many years. Knowing
that I will be recounting some aspect of my daily existence urges me to
pay attention to events as they unfold before me. When I focus on people
doing good deeds, I become aware of how many of them lead by example;
quietly devoting time to essential, mundane tasks every single day, with-
out pay or recognition. Today is a good day to recognize these people, I
am sure that like me, you all know someone who qualifies.

Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit the Feria Verde (an organic
Farmers Market) in Ciudad Colón. I was eager to see this market since
I have heard a lot about it in recent years. I was not disappointed. It was
a magical, festive experience that allowed me to meet and ask questions
of the people who grow or make the products they sell. I could see that
the challenges of entrepreneurship are welcomed by these vendors who
see them as part of the path they have chosen. I returned home with new
appreciation for people who view hard work as a gift worth embracing.

Have a wonderful Sunday and a terrific week, Marietta

Picture of Feria Verde from their FB page

Posted by: marisundays | July 30, 2017

Double Rainbow!

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you from the comfort of my living room while gazing at
the lovely green horizon that is visible through the screened door after
two ailing trees have been removed from our property. I feel happy to
wake up to another day. I encourage us all to get out early to enjoy some
movement and relaxation. It is a great time to celebrate life!

I love trees. I have many memories of living in Brooklyn and visiting
Prospect Park during my childhood. I felt comfort in the living pastoral
landscape, the subject of the paintings and literature that I enjoyed most.
Removing those two diseased trees from our property was not an easy
decision. We tried pruning them over the years but the lack of trained,
professional arborists who could honestly evaluate their ailment and
help us cure them made my daily walks on the property disheartening.

My husband and I went to the Farmers Market in Atenas on Friday
morning. It was very early but many people were already busy shopping.
We stopped at our regular stands and purchased the fruits and vegetables
to be consumed during the week. We returned home and after putting
away our groceries, I looked out the kitchen window and noticed the
absence of the trees. I felt unburdened in an odd way, a bit guilty too.

Late Friday afternoon, after a short but heavy rain that was followed by
a brilliant sun, we were gifted a double rainbow. I know that scientifi-
cally a rainbow’s essence is just an amalgamation of light; an optical
illusion caused by water droplets when viewed from a certain angle,
impossible to touch. For the sentimentalist in me, however, a rainbow
is a sign of many things, among them hope and promise.

In the particular moment of taking it all in and running for my camera,
it dawned on me that there are other options besides planting more trees
to fill in the gap. Perhaps the area needs to be left alone for a while to
recover and to allow us to intuit what might belong there. No picture
can duplicate Nature’s paintbrush but I did get this lovely partial shot.

Have a wonderful day and a week of possibilities, Marietta

image my own

Posted by: marisundays | July 23, 2017

Life’s Purpose

Dear Friends,

I love waking up in the morning where the sun paints the sky most days.
In the distance I can distinguish the croaking sound of a toucan rising
above the early chatter of the golden bellied flycatchers (Myiodynastes
hemichrysus) . As I stroll onto the terrace, I can feel the warm breeze
on my face and I am grateful to greet another day in good health. Get out
early today and enjoy all the gifts Nature is offering you.

Today is Sunday, the day I use to plan the activities and details of the
coming week. The last few months have gone quickly, as I am sure they
have for all of you. I continue to extricate myself from as many projects
as I can that eat into the time I want to devote to pursuits that are more
closely aligned with my personal goals. Although I do feel a bit uneasy
about not “rescuing” everyone, I find that I am able to recover from the
feeling faster the more I practice!

I devote a small part of each morning to deeply thinking about my vision
and purpose in life. I had a more concrete idea of this when our children
were young because the most important thing to me then was to provide
coherent parenting they could count on. I discovered a mix of approaches
that could be tailored to our particular situation. They are grown up now
and when I revisit my vision and purpose, I sometimes long for the days
when the answers seemed clearer.

My association with the Hogar de Ancianos provides me with frequent
reminders that life ends. There have been weeks when several residents
transition within days of each other, almost as if planned. In those mo-
ments, I know that one unwavering purpose of my life is to be involved
with people who cultivate the kind of environment that gives me strength
to navigate obstacles. This provides me with a deep sense of inner peace,
the key to lifelong contentment.

Have a wonderful day and an outstanding week, Marietta

Image Wikipedia

Posted by: marisundays | July 16, 2017

Atenas, rural and unhurried!

Dear Friends,

As I greet this overcast morning I am filled with joy and gratitude.
Last night’s haunting sky is unforgettable and was beautiful in its own
way, but I appreciate being able to see the lush, green landscape the
rains provide as a feast for my eyes during this season. I encourage us
to get out early today to move in gentle harmony before those rains
interrupt our plans!

At this time last year we were caring for one of our dogs (Canela)
who was hit by a car on our property. I shared that story with you.
I was overwhelmed by the compassion expressed by the many who
wrote me afterwards. Sadly, we did lose Canela at the end of April.
Our household went from four dogs to one in nine months but we are
blessed with memories and (not enough) pictures! Your feedback was
a testament to the bond we have through my weekly reflections and I
look forward to many more years of shared musings.

Living in a small town like Atenas can sometimes be a challenge. This
is especially true when lots of errands need to be done quickly and
people you haven’t seen in a while stop you and want to have a little
chat! Last week was particularly busy for me. I had to visit the bank
and the post office. If you live here, you know that can mean waiting
for a while, even during July school vacation.

I haven’t gone to the bank in person in a long time, so I was surprised
that there was no armed guard outside and that I was able to push open
the door without waiting for him to unlock it. I then remembered that
recent gun legislation prohibits armed guards, etc. This was a welcome
change. My errand was concluded quickly and I crossed the street to
Post Office to check for mail.

The post office was empty so I had a chance to chat with Mario, the
service clerk. After a few minutes, Mario confided that he would be
retiring at the end of the month. The news took me by surprise; I have
become attached to the employees I see regularly at this branch. I am
glad for him though as he will be enjoying his retirement doing some
traveling. It was heartwarming to hear that working in the Atenas Post
Office provided him with the blend of the rural and unhurried lifestyle
I enjoy and am grateful for each day.

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

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