Posted by: marisundays | December 10, 2017

The power of first impressions

Dear Friends,

At this moment, I am aware of the effect cold front is already having in
our area. During the night there was an increase in the windy pattern which
was evident from all the debris that accumulated on our front porch. Since I
am going out early this morning, I have already taken a quick walk, feeling
the wind in my face and the sun on my skin. I stretched and soaked in
Nature’s goodness. I encourage you do the same before it gets too windy.

I went to the Atenas Farmers Market very early on Friday. Well, I thought it
was very early but many people had made an even earlier start! My shopping
list was modest and my intention was to dash in and get back home quickly to
tackle the other items on my agenda for the day. I first visited our regular
produce vendor whose welcoming smile immediately put one on my face. I
realized then that dashing in and out is more of a challenge to me once I am
actually in an environment that is vibrant and conducive to conversation!

As I made my way back to my car, a vendor I had never noticed before invited
me to sample a product he was introducing. By that point, I was in a hurry and
politely declined. He graciously replied, “Another time then, Marietta” which
had the effect of stopping me in my tracks because I did not recognize him as
anyone I knew. Naturally my inquiring mind had to know where he knew me
from, so I stopped to chat and sample his tasty chimichurri-like sauce.

He recounted an informal meeting we had years ago when he had recently
retired from his company and was looking to develop a project in Atenas. As
he was talking, I was able to recall all the details, including my enthusiastic
response to his idea which actually did become a reality. I never saw him again
until Friday when he was happily introducing his new venture.

As a business-oriented person, I am happy to see that as his other enterprise
goes into decline, he has initiated a new one with equal enthusiasm. As a self-
appointed community builder, I am extremely gratified that he remembered me
in a positive light. It reminded me about the power of first impressions. I left
the farmers market feeling very content, even though it was much later than I
had planned!

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | December 3, 2017

With A View Towards 2018

Dear Friends,

A beautiful, sunny and breezy morning woke me up today. It came with
the sounds of the different bird species that season after season make
ornithology so interesting to me. I suggest all of us get out early today
to enjoy rest and relaxation before the frenetic pace of the holidays takes
over our days and makes us forget what the real spirit of the season is.

It has been an uplifting and exciting week in our household – quite a bit
different from the same time last year when we experienced so many
losses in a short time. We went to pick up our daughter at the airport on
Tuesday and it became very evident that high tourist season has arrived.
Her flight was delayed, affording me some retro and forward-thinking
time. I was also able to indulge my enthusiasm for people watching.

The outside arrivals area at the airport is always chaotic but especially
so when flights have been delayed and it is high season. There are dozens
of people holding signs or just loudly anticipating the emergence of their
relatives or friends. This is one of my favorite parts of waiting, actually.
I enjoy (discreetly) watching people’s first reactions when they spot loved
ones. I remember the excitement that waiting for their Dad to exit sparked
in our children as they proudly held up a sign with his name on it!

The year is almost over. As it concludes, I have begun to make a short list
of realistic personal goals for 2018. You’re all aware that I feel we should
enjoy every day and every stage of our lives. My daughter’s company in the
last few days has made me even more aware of the importance of simply
living and enjoying the present moment without focusing on mistakes of
the past or anxieties about the future. The present moment is all we have.

My best wishes for a terrific day and week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | November 26, 2017

Becoming a better person!

Dear Friends,

I am welcoming a quiet, beautiful Sunday morning in my home. My second
cup of Atenas coffee accompanies me to the terrace where my ears catch
the distant call of a single bird. I am writing a little bit earlier than usual
and the silence makes it easier for me to breathe in and appreciate the air
that surrounds me. Get out early today and make it a point to notice all the
beauty in the natural world and in your own life. Make a decision to live
a good day.

In the last few days, I have noticed there’s a breeze in the air; colorful lights
adorn storefronts and homes. Many of our neighbors have already decorated
their Christmas trees. Since I celebrate Thanksgiving in a big way, I have not
begun any Christmas preparations but I do know that we are just 35 days away
from welcoming 2018! It startled me a little this morning when I counted the
days on the calendar. How can the year be ending when it just began? I am
certain many of you feel the same way.

2017 has been a good year for me. I have been privileged to enjoy celebrations
that I had long anticipated and which I can relive through pictures and videos
that today’s technology makes available. This year will be memorable because
I have taken time to assess my life up to this point and really let it sink in that
time goes quickly. I have done my utmost to make necessary mental adjust-
ments so that I can endure and stay positive in situations that I can’t control.
My level of confidence and happiness as we head to 2018 is high.

We all want to flow with life and enjoy it to the fullest. There will always be
difficult times and events that will test us. Nature has been quite active in 2017
with devastating results for many worldwide. These are opportunities that show
our personal capacity to bounce back and transcend the challenges. Last year
I mentioned being hopeful that the surprise result of presidential elections in the
U.S. would lead to critical thinking and open dialogue resulting in real change.
I think it is important for all of us to serenely and honestly make an assessment.

My mom used to say that if everyone took responsibility for just the things they
signed up for, the world would be a much better place. I think of that statement
often and try to implement it on a daily basis. We can’t control everything out
there but we have the power to shape our own destiny. I strive to turn myself
into a better person by surrounding myself with uplifting people who have the
compassionate attitude that allows them to focus on solutions rather than blame.
My internal world has become a better place which I hope presents externally.

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | November 19, 2017

Gratitude in Large Quantities

Dear Friends,

A gorgeous morning greets me! This Sunday’s air is cool, refreshing, and
invigorating. As the seasons change, excitement builds for me whether I am
in sunny Costa Rica anticipating “summer” or experiencing the magnificent
fall foliage that my friends and family share through their pictures on social
media. Get out early today, stretching and appreciating the body that supports
you in all your activities.

Several years ago, right around this time, I was visiting my friends in the San
Isidro de Atenas area who specialize in cultivating orchids (AMASIA). I came
home with a little planting of an orchid that promptly died because I was not
attentive to the instructions given to me for giving it a good chance to thrive.
A few weeks later, despite my strong objections, a friend gave me an orchid
that she could not take with her when she moved overseas.

The orchid was in bloom when I received it. I tied it to a tree that is an ideal
distance from our home and I occasionally visit to make sure it is still living!
I was thrilled this morning to see that it is healthy and that its roots have clung
deeply to the tree. I am certain it will bloom again shortly. My AMASIA
friends lost most of their nursery during hurricane Nate but they are working
hard to rebuild. I admire their resilience and know they will succeed.

I will celebrate Thanksgiving Day on Thursday. It continues to be my most
favorite day of the year. I love the idea of one whole day focusing on being
grateful. I will be accompanied by family and friends in at atmosphere that
will highlight Nature’s bounty and fill the house with the aromas that evoke
memories of my childhood. My parents were doing all the cooking then and
without knowing it, they were bequeathing me the most important ingredient
in the recipe of my life: gratitude in large amounts for everything I have.

May you have a wonderful day and an excellent week, Marietta

images my own

Posted by: marisundays | November 12, 2017

Better days await us!

Dear Friends,

It’s a beautiful morning. I can feel the warm sun on my shoulders. Its cheerful
summons reminds me to bask in another day of life and possibilities. I stretch
and feel my mood elevate as the my circulation activates and mental stress rolls
away. Get out early today and enjoy all that life has to offer wherever you are.

November has long been the month of reflection and gratitude for me. I become
nostalgic for the fall colors of my childhood in New York, even though living in
a tropical climate is imperative for my well-being and overall satisfaction with
life. I am delighted to witness that my community is planning activities for the
upcoming holiday season and I daydream about seasonal meals and presents!

Despite all the trials and tribulations our world has been through this year, we
enthusiastically expect better days ahead. This is a testament to human nature’s
capacity to wait with optimism for good things to come out of even the most
negative of situations. I am now in the time of my life where I am aware that
my glass is emptier and that the energy to get up and refill it is less than it once
was. It has become more important to associate with cheerful people.

I was in our local supermarket yesterday afternoon. It is often very crowded
on Saturdays because of the discounts and food brands that offer tastings. To
my surprise, it was uncrowded and I was able to chat with the cashier who I’ve
known for more than 10 years! Our conversation’s focus was on the stages of
life and on how satisfying it is to enjoy each stage as it is happening. I left the
store feeling exhilarated after talking with such a positive, energetic person
and I hope the same was true for her.

Have a great day with lovely people and a terrific week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | November 5, 2017

Dusting off our moral fiber

Dear Friends,

I woke up refreshed this morning and delighted to see the flowers of the
sugar cane in the fields across from us. It rained late last night after a few
days of no rain. The transition to the dry season has begun with the winds
blowing and the ground becoming a rug with a thick layer of leaves that
our gardener rakes constantly. I breathe in gratitude for all that I see before
me. Get out early today to enjoy a relaxing Sunday.

Last week I mentioned that I was newly engaged in reading headlines. This
is prompted in part by the fact that we are heading towards elections in Costa
Rica in February 2018. The current political undercurrent worldwide is of
much concern to me. I urge people to vote so I feel it is my duty to educate
myself by critically assessing the policies and track records of those who
want to run our country; no easy task with over 10 candidates!

I have opted out of many newsletters that crowded my in-box and devoted too
much space to marketing. As a consequence, the emails I do receive are few
and focus on the areas I am interested in. There is one in particular that makes
me feel like the journalist who writes it can read my mind! I am in awe of his
uncluttered style and I appreciate the fact that he sends it early in the morning
so I can get on with my day and cogitate on the current important issues.

Friday morning I learned from him that our OIJ had a busy dawn in Atenas
(and in San José) which ended with the arrest of prominent figures connected
to the “cement scandal”. I recognized the streets of Atenas and felt like the
wind had been knocked out of me. I was disoriented for much of the morning.
As I was driving home from San José where I had spent a few nights, I felt an
odd mixture of relief and sadness as I passed the very streets that had been
part of police activity earlier.

As I write this morning, I feel optimistic because there are officers in our country
who are brave and honest. We might actually cut through the web of lies and
corruption that is strangling us and this will allow us to address some of the
issues that have been ignored for too long. I believe we can all collaborate to
bring to the table the moral fiber that we need and have forgotten exists in most
of us.

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | October 29, 2017

Ethics and Values

Dear Friends,

We are at the end of what has been a rainier-than-typical October. The grass
on our property felt like a sponge as I walked it last night on the final round
with our dog before bedtime. I feel blessed this morning as I listen to the
sounds of a regular Sunday morning. I breathe in the fresh air and slowly
stretch in gratitude for all that surrounds me. Get out early today to enjoy a
nice walk around your neighborhood.

I’ve been making a concerted effort to pay more attention to events that
are going on around me. For a long time, I was practicing detachment with
the intent of only concentrating on the areas in which I actually have some
“control”. Lately I have reminded myself that I have the power to choose
my reactions to events unfolding and that it is actually a rewarding exercise
to become more aware but also more responsible about my reactions.

The last few weeks have been full of political intrigue in Costa Rica as a
result of hearings involving many prominent figures and their participation
in the latest corruption scandal which has been named “The Cementazo”.
An anonymous letter sent to the OIJ (our FBI) is credited for uncovering
the dishonesty taking place in all branches of our government and right
before our very eyes.

The hearings have gripped me. I listen and watch members of all political
parties answer (or not!) the questions asked of them by a committee of
members of congress, some who have been involved in their own scandals
in the past. I am astonished by the expertise with which some of the players
distort reality in an effort to distract us. I understand why citizens throw in
the towel and refuse to participate in the electoral process, that is exactly the
reaction hoped for.

Yesterday a local writer (who works in the Justice Department) shared that an
essay he wrote about valor was included in a recently-published book on
Ethics and Values. He referred to the unethical behaviors on display right now
but assures us that for every one of those, there are ten ethical behaviors that
go unrecognized. I choose to believe him and will continue to be proactive in
focusing my time and energy on the areas in which I can make a difference.

Have a terrific day and a wonderful week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | October 22, 2017

Silence, massage, music and health!

Dear Friends,

My day began very early with our dog’s cool, wet nose nuzzling my elbow.
I was still half asleep and jerked away but she insisted with determination
until I responded by getting up. I was instantly grateful, the yellow sun was
just making an appearance and the happy purring of a lone toucan could be
heard in the distance. I am usually not awake this early but I welcomed a
chance to greet another delightful morning in Paradise. Get out early today
to enjoy Nature’s bounty.

Every other Saturday, I have the immense privilege to enjoy a wonderful
massage prior to my guitar lesson. Since my weeks are usually busy, and
sometimes a little complicated, I look forward to surrendering to the magic
and relaxation that my skilled masseuse is committed to delivering. Because
I am aware that this work is very physically demanding for her, I value the
benefit provided as an important and regular part of my basic health plan.

After massage, I drive for about 15 minutes to my guitar lesson. The trip
has me moving along narrow, windy roads with amazing views that make
me feel a deep inner peace. The last few weeks have also made visible the
areas where the unusually heavy September rains struck, a reminder of how
fragile we are against Nature’s fury. We are still in the rainy season despite
recent sunny and dry days.

I usually drive with the radio off so I can hear the sounds around me: kids
playing, grass being mowed, the water flowing under the narrow bridges.
My meditative state is sometimes interrupted by reckless, noisy motorcycles
racing past me, momentarily disrupting my daydream. Usually the scenery
coaxes me back quickly into the flow and I arrive at my lesson ready for a
pleasant hour of the uplifting conversation and music that ends my week.

Have a wonderful day and a terrific, safe week, Marietta

Photo my own

Posted by: marisundays | October 15, 2017

Viva Bingo!

Dear Friends,

The morning sun is a welcome treat on this day in the middle of October.
The rainy season is winding down and I look forward to seeing the sugar
cane flowers in the horizon next month. The gentle breezes have begun to
make some leaves fall on the ground and the scent of seasonal blossoms
fill the air as I stretch my body in gratitude. Don’t forget to get out today
to enjoy the gifts of Nature all around you if you are able to.

The annual fundraising events are going on at the San Rafael parish in the
center of our county. Today’s big event is Bingo beginning at around noon.
I love to play Bingo, I even own a magnetic wand with chips that I bring to
events when I know I will actually stay for the many hours devoted to it. In
recent years, I have had to leave my paraphernalia at home because I have
committed to help with events, making it impossible to manage playing!

In many people’s minds, the stereotypical bingo player is an elderly woman
with nothing “better” to do but gamble away her limited income. Nothing
could be further from the truth, specially in small towns like Atenas that
have as diverse player profiles as there are residents. Whether I’m playing
or helping, it is entertaining to be part of the harmless fun that the informal
(almost carnival-like) atmosphere encourages.

I have seen the young and old, the moms and dads, the shy and outgoing;
even the occasional solo strong (“macho”) male who sits off in a corner
hoping not to be targeted good-naturedly by the goofy and proficient Bingo
caller who might remind him not to take himself so seriously! Bingo to me
is an opportunity to watch people play and reap the healthy benefits that
the social interaction and sense of community brings them time after time.
Viva Bingo and all its participants!

Have an amazing day and a terrific week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | October 8, 2017

Do what you can, when you can.

Dear Friends,

The air is very quiet this morning. I step onto the terrace expecting the usual
scent of fresh rain in the ether, but instead the pungent odor of decaying grass
from too much rain reaches my nostrils. I search for the birds, listen for their
song but they are missing from the scene and a powerful sadness engulfs my
heart as I look at the horizon and know that relief efforts are still in progress
in our town. I breathe in slowly as I contemplate the many options I have to
lessen another person’s burden and I am grateful that I can at least do that.

On October 10, 2007, I found myself riding the bus to Atenas from San José
in the early afternoon. I don’t remember why I was on the bus instead of in
my car listening to the radio that day. The young man sitting next to me was
on the phone telling someone that he was coming to Atenas to help in the
rescue efforts in Bajo Cacao. I was until that moment unaware of the mud-
slide that the relentless October rain had provoked early that morning.

I arrived home to learn that more than 10 people were missing, 7 houses
destroyed, 3 cars buried and hundreds of people involved in rescuing and
setting up shelters and collecting donations. It was a devastating event in
our town but I was able to see for myself concrete evidence of solidarity
in times of crises. We are presently working through a similar event caused
by Tropical Storm Nate. The generous spirit of collaboration is once again
in action in Atenas and elsewhere since Nate did not confine its force to us.

Yesterday Costa Rica qualified for a spot in the 2018 World Cup in the
dramatic final minutes of extra time. Despite the storms we have weathered
recently and the ones that are still to come, we ticos love our fútbol and
celebrating with joy (in my opinion) does not lessen our commitment to be
there for those suffering. It makes it a little easier to bear the burden. We
need to do what we can, when we can, where we can because we don’t know
for how long we can. Give your loved ones an extra hug today.

Have a good day and a productive, peaceful week, Marietta

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