Posted by: marisundays | April 16, 2017

Ancient but working!

Dear Friends,

Greetings on Easter Sunday and on the sixth day of Passover (Pesach).
Today is a day of renewal, a day for celebrating with family by cooking
and sharing food that is not traditionally eaten often during the year. I
have just finished a delicious breakfast thanks to my husband’s brilliance
in the kitchen and his utmost indulgence of me on Sundays. Get out
early today, making a special effort to be good to the body that is home
to you and that you might be taking for granted!

As I write you this morning I can hear a plane flying overhead, almost
drowning out the song of the plain wren warblers (Cantorchilus modestus)
outside my office. These little birds have no striking plumage but their
whistled song always makes my ears perk up and my eyes seek them in
the shrubs as they wing their way through. I think they are calling for
the rains to start, eager as I am to see the lush, green paradise that is our
“winter”. I am (again!) planning a modest garden, a little goes a long
way and is that much easier to control and enjoy. I will keep you posted
on this project.

This past week was a quiet one in Costa Rica due to the serious Holy
Week events that take place. Government offices closed all week, public
transportation schedules were revised and a throng of beach lovers sat
for hours in traffic while headed to the coasts. Here at home, I discovered
on Thursday that my office phone and internet services were down. I
made the report without any real expectation of having them repaired
until next week so I was very surprised to receive a phone call less than
half an hour later from a technician (Gabriel) who was on his way!

Gabriel arrived in record time (no traffic!). His expert (young) eyes took
a look at the utility pole that housed the ancient wiring now dried out and
crumbling under the hot Atenas sun. He got to work and said that the
wiring had outlived its service life and should be replaced as soon as
possible. He managed to extend its life for now by gently coaxing the
wires out a little bit at a time. His innocent words made me think about
the labor pool and how often people are forced to retire even when they
want to prolong their employment.

Back in my office, Gabriel tested the phone and noticed that my modem
was also “ancient”. I said I had no urgency to replace it as it would
require setting up an appointment. Yes, it was slow but still working!
He smiled, went back to his car and returned with a new modem to
replace the old one. As he was filling out the necessary forms for the
exchange, I thought of this young man’s initiative versus other repair
technicians who might have gone this one extra step but never did. I
admire people like Gabriel and I am glad I called on a “slow” day!

Have a terrific day of rebirth and a wonderful week, Marietta

Picture of Queens Wreath my own

Posted by: marisundays | April 9, 2017

Minimizing the trace

Dear Friends,

I am greeted by a lovely day. After a very busy Saturday that held
lots of activity for me, I feel refreshed from a good night’s rest and I
am ready to spend the day in loving, focused gratitude for the many
blessings in my life, including all of you. Get out early today and
engage in movement and appreciation. Don’t let the day get away.

It often happens to the many of us who spend a lot of time writing
that it feels that our muse is taking a break and that every sentence
is trite and uninspiring and has been written before. Nevertheless, I
know you are all counting on me to write you on Sundays and I am
not going to start today to let you down!

As a general rule I resist other people’s pessimism when focused on
life’s daily obstacles. I know that it is my choice of attitude that will
often determine my mood. When I am tempted to forget to look for
the good in a momentary (potentially) negative circumstance, I take
a deep breath and count to ten. This trick works so marvelously that
I encourage us all to employ as it often as necessary, especially when
we are stuck in traffic or on a long line at the bank or post office.

Last night was the nighttime horse parade in Atenas after an absence
of three or four years. Most of us long-time residents can remember the
sea of debris, trash and remnant aromas filling the air that were left by
attendees the last time, prompting outrage. It was an event we believed
would never be allowed again in our small town. I bravely ventured out
early this morning to assess the condition of the event area. Although
the organizers cannot claim the event “left no trace”, I can say that the
clean-up was acceptable and parishioners have no reason to complain
this Palm Sunday. Part of the funds raised will benefit the Cruz Roja.

Have a great day and a wonderful week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | April 2, 2017

An investment in time brings dividends

Dear Friends,

This morning I rejoice in the richness of my life with deep gratitude
for waking up to another (mildly hazy) layered landscape. I delight in
seeing the same yet different view as I look out my windows each day.
At this moment, there is just a small breeze and I can glimpse the soft
swaying of leaves in the canopy of a tree in the near distance. I enjoy
sipping my second cup of coffee (from Atenas, of course!) while I
mentally prepare for the long day ahead. Get out early today, stretch
and make time to reflect on all the goodness in your life.

Today is day 3 of the 4-day fundraising event at the Hogar de Ancianos
here in Atenas. When I accepted the position of treasurer of this noble
institution in January 2015, I knew it was a serious undertaking which
would modify the way I would be spending at least a couple of after-
noons per month for committee meetings and event planning. I hoped
it would be a worthwhile investment of my time because as I get older,
I have less of it to spend unwisely.

This is my third time participating in the annual fundraiser from the
inside. The first year, I was completely overwhelmed by the logistics
and the amount of volunteers it took to successfully carry out the vision.
My previous pro-bono work in the county was very beneficial because
I had already gotten to know many of the people who answer the call to
serve with their hearts and who do so with integrity. It was wonderful
to be part of the team.

The last 26 months have allowed me to build some very authentic bonds
with paid staff and volunteers who are devoted to making a difference.
I admire people who go out of their way to respond to the yearly call to
help us. They are motivated by something other than money and they
lead by example. I have learned a lot from them and have been able to
enjoy even the mundane task of peeling thousands of potatoes because
we are all in it together. From my perspective, the investment of my
time has brought me multiple dividends.

Have a wonderful Sunday and a terrific week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | March 26, 2017

The entertaining auctioneer!

Dear Friends,

The sun’s rays filtering through the blinds woke me up this morning. I
remembered instantly that I must start my day quickly because the annual
livestock auction at the Senior Citizens Residence (Hogar de Ancianos) in
Atenas is today. I stretched and breathed and relaxed my mind so that I
could plan how I will manage the day. Get out early today to enjoy all of
Nature’s blessing wherever you wake up.

My job today is to take pictures of the event so that we can include them
in a video or album to present during our semi-annual report to members
of the Hogar association later this year. I admit that although I have
attended many of the auctions, I’ve never done so in such an official
capacity. I am a little nervous but mostly excited because I will have an
excuse to arrive early and “visually” inspect the livestock and pay atten-
tion to all the little details I have missed in the past.

One of the most fascinating people in the world to me is the auctioneer.
This man is so good at his profession, we recruit him a year in advance
just to make sure he is available for us. His auction chant is fast, funny
and totally understandable (if you speak Spanish) and even though his
filler words seem slurred they are actually smooth and rhythmic when
you get used to them. These auctions are attended by serious, seasoned
bidders (farmers) who know what they’ve come for and who love to
outbid each other and raise large amounts of money for the Hogar.

The livestock auction is prepared many months in advance. It is fun,
exhausting, complicated and exciting. Invitations are sent out, donations
of livestock are requested and challenges appear when we least expect
them. In recent years, this auction is the sole event held on the Sunday
before the annual 4-day fundraiser that follows next weekend. It has
become a tradition and social event that brings together families,
friends, staff and the community. Its growing popularity allows the
Hogar to raise part of the operating budget needed to serve the needs
of our residents. I find it very rewarding personally to be on the team.

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | March 19, 2017

The calling to give back to the community

Dear friends,

It is a beautiful day to welcome by meditating, relaxing and moving
our body gently and in gratitude that we are able to do so. The strong
winds still with us make it a bit more difficult to keep our counters
and surfaces free of dust but they serve to encourage me to store my
important papers and delicate mementos faster than I might otherwise!
Get out and enjoy the day. For those living in Atenas, there are activities
in the park and surrounding areas beginning at 10 a.m. this morning.

Each morning, I take a few minutes to think about the activities I have
scheduled for the day. In the last several years, I have made it a point to
not schedule anything two days per week so I can have flexible hours to
spend on leisure activities like reading or meeting a friend for lunch or
afternoon coffee. We each begin with 86400 seconds per day and I have
become more discerning of how I want to spend my daily budget. I find
I am less inclined to rehash negative thoughts that no longer serve me.

About three years ago, I was made aware of Good Deeds Day, an annual
(now international) tradition that began in 2007 in Israel and calls for
putting into practice the idea that every one of us can do something large
or small to improve the lives of others and positively change the world.
It is has grown in number of participants from 7000 in the first year to
over 1.5 million people last year. I am proud that Costa Rica is one of
of the countries that participates. This year, the day falls on April 2nd.

Spending some of my time volunteering on the board of directors of the
Hogar de Ancianos has allowed me to grow in life skills. While reviewing
the correspondence and events of a previous week, I get to experience
what life is like for people with a different perspective than mine, both the
residents and the employees. It has made me value my blessings while
also affording me the chance to give back to my community, something I
have always felt called to do.

Have a wonderful Sunday and a terrific week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | March 12, 2017

Interfaith Cooperation and Respect

Dear Friends,

A lovely Sunday morning greets me today. The leaves on the towering
trees sway gently and seconds later the breeze brushes past my curls.
I feel rested and grateful to welcome another day in this marvelous spot.
Get out early today and enjoy all the gifts of Nature, wherever it finds
you on this day.

Last Monday I spent the day touring San José center with a group of
college students from Tennessee. Our first stop was the Metropolitan
Cathedral of San José, the majestic structure that combines Greek
Orthodox, Neoclassical and Baroque styles with its Doric columns,
impressive stained glass windows and a host of other features that
make it a wonderful place to stop for a while and meditate.

Metropolitan Cathedral San Jose

The students had been instructed briefly about observing certain
guidelines when entering the cathedral but the excitement of being
in a new place took over. Their exuberant chatter prompted one of
their classmates to remind them they were in a “church”. I was so
surprised by the passion with which she delivered her message that I
asked her if she was Catholic. “No actually I’m Jewish”, she replied
and that made both of us chuckle and talk about etiquette when going
into different houses of worship.

My new acquaintance loves to travel and showed me many pictures
she took on a recent trip to Toledo, Spain (the city declared a World
Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986). She was particularly impressed
by the fact that Toledo is historically known for the “successful” co-
existence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures many centuries ago.
I am exceedingly grateful to have been able to spend time talking with
her because she embodies a refreshing and optimistic spirit of interfaith
cooperation and respect.

Santa Maria de la Blanca, Toledo Spain

Have a wonderful Sunday and a terrific week, Marietta

Images from Free to share images

Posted by: marisundays | March 5, 2017

Repurposing an item!

mari-dec-2016Dear Friends,

The warm, gentle breeze is becoming a strong wind but the puffy white
clouds in the bright blue sky bring back the idyllic memories of my
early childhood that always put a smile on my face. Right now is the
perfect moment to stop what you are doing, take a deep breath and be
thankful for the gift of another day of living. Get out early today so you
can take advantage of Nature’s many blessings!

I am finding that my days begin and end very quickly. Another month
has begun and in no time at all, we will be at the end of it. I am glad
that I live in a small community where not that much happens every
minute and I can spend time each day gazing at the horizon while my
mind seeks creative solutions to miscellaneous personal situations or
home maintenance issues that occasionally crop up.

Right now, I am busy with decisions about the sentimental “collections”
of things that are taking up space in our home. My goal is to prioritize,
let go and clean out items that are no longer being used and that might
serve someone else better. Will our children ever miss or even notice
that their pre-school art is gone? How about the many books which they
can actually access on line if they were inclined to re-read them?

Friday morning found me energized and ready to tackle a small section
of my office. I began by wiping all the surfaces that attract dust in this
dry, windy season. Abandoned in a corner of the bookcase, I saw a clay
duck one of our children pinched, coiled, painted and presented to me
as a gift. It once kept paper clips and was displayed proudly. I held it
while deciding its fate. I am unwilling to part with it and found that my
votive candler holder (which I light almost every day) fits perfectly in
the hollow that once held the clips. Repurposing is a blessing too!


Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta
Time for a break.

Posted by: marisundays | February 26, 2017

A superficial matter!

Photo on 7-1-13 at 10.54 AM

Dear Friends,

The morning sky that surrounds me is hazy. In my mind’s eye, though,
the layers of mountains are visible because they are permanently
etched there as a result of seeing them on clear days. The beauty of
Nature, close or distant, makes me catch my breath and I feel peaceful
and calm as I greet the new day. Get out and move your body in joy.
Spend the day gratefully welcoming an opportunity to contribute.

Another month is reaching its end. As my days begin and end, I find
that I am increasingly desirous of spending more time entering into a
state of reflection about the people and situations around me. In this
small town I live in, there are countless opportunities to observe both
positive and negative contributions and the effect they have on the
general population. The latest drama in Atenas is the color chosen
for the park benches; a sky blue that is supposed to represent one
of the colors of the county flag, the other color is white.


I am amazed by the energy with which critics have taken to social
media to express their sentiments. The heated debate in favor and
against the color itself has extended to include criticism and personal
attacks on participants. The loudest critics, as is often the case, are
those whose time is too precious to make an actual physical appearance
when forums are open to the public but who can waste many hours on
social media with opinions on inconsequential matters (in my opinion!).

As a lifelong “motivator” who hopes never to lose the ability to remain
optimistic despite many challenges faced daily, it puzzles me to witness
how potentially successful endeavors are not nurtured or honored so that
they can become contributions to our community. Nothing is more
destructive than criticism for its sake. It is sad to see people succumb to
an outlook of fear and hopelessness. Confidence and a positive attitude
will increase the chances of reaching our potential, which is immense.

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

Picture of bench, flag and Municipality from the FB Page of Centro de Estudios
de la Cultura Ateniense.

Posted by: marisundays | February 19, 2017

Interior Garden


Dear Friends,

Greetings on a sunny, cool Atenas Sunday morning. I stepped onto
our terrace this morning and closed my eyes. The sun’s heat touched
my shoulders and before it felt like fire and forced me indoors, I was
able to distinguish five distinct bird songs; the sounds of a neighbor’s
child playing with their small dog; the nearby church choir assembling
for worship and off in the distance, the crow of a rooster awakening the
sluggish. I stretched in deep gratitude and took in the sights before
I sat down to write.

The colors of the dry season (mostly drab olives and khakis) used to make
me focus on all the things I missed about the rainy season. Fortunately
our daughter suggested long ago that I begin to appreciate the singular
beauty of Nature’s colors during this time and really see my surroundings
from a different perspective. Although it has taken a number of years,
(and I still prefer the lushness of the rainy season) I have actually become
more conscious of the flowers that bloom at this time for our enjoyment.

The bursting flame vines provide a vivid contrast to the stark gray fences
they cover and climb. The colorful and robust bougainvilleas that
adorn almost every garden inspire me season after season to look for
new colors and places to plant them, though I will admit their thorns
do intimidate the budding gardener in me! The orchids, the cacti and
the tabebuia (cortez) are taking turns blooming and enhancing the
landscape everywhere we look.

With so much going on in our world and in our lives, it is often hard
to stop our frenzied activities and savor the small moments that add
meaning to our existence. I went to the post office a few days ago and
happened to run into several people I had not seen in a while. Although
we chatted only briefly, I returned home uplifted by the experience of
reconnecting. It was a good reminder that our inner garden needs
regular “watering” just like the outer one in order to enjoy good health.

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

Posted by: marisundays | February 12, 2017

The importance of making a family of community

Scomari HeadShot
Dear Friends,

Greetings on a beautifully invigorating Sunday morning. We have
another opportunity for relaxation and movement. The winds are not
here yet and the songs of the birds all around me make me pause for a
moment to feel grateful for all the goodness in my life. I hope the same
is true for all of you.

As I write I can also hear the singing of the choir in a congregation
just a few meters away. Their warm, optimistic harmony is different
today; the preacher’s arsenal of yelling and shrieking turned down
quite a few notches. Perhaps I find myself in a more receptive mood
in an effort to resist an unconscious tendency to be close-minded at
times. My conscious daily purpose is to contribute and live in a
positive manner, and that is not always easy especially these days.

The last few weeks have been busy. I have been more diligent about
removing the weeds, tending the flowers and watering my small group
of African Violets. I find that devoting a few minutes to them every day
has provided me with a sense of accomplishment that flows into other
areas of my life. I am more aware of my surroundings, spending time
removing some of the junk from the top of my desk and dresser. It is
a really good feeling which I hope will become a permanent habit!

On Friday, Manuel (Manolo) Torrecilla Lopez, the Spanish sculptor
who designed the Oxcart Monument in Atenas died at the age of 62.
Manolo was a long-time resident who has left his mark on Atenas in
the many ways and works he contributed to our town. He once told
me that it was important to him to acknowledge the family one comes
from but that it was just as important to create a family composed of
members of one’s community. I believe he did so successfully and he
will be missed by us all. Rest in peace, Manolo.

Have a terrific day and a wonderful week, Marietta

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