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

Posted by: marisundays | October 1, 2017

Senior Citizen Month 2017

Dear Friends,

Last night’s rain lulled me to an excellent sleep. Protected indoors, everything
felt peaceful and comforting. I woke up joyfully to the familiar sounds of nature
and the gorgeous, lush landscape that embraces my home. I am aware that we
are in times of upheaval worldwide and as I breathe and stretch in gratitude, I
consider the ways in which I might contribute to reduce someone’s burden.
Take a few minutes today to get out and appreciate all the goodness in your life.

Today marks the beginning of Senior Citizens month. Our local government
and many of our organized groups are planning activities all month long to
honor and entertain our residents so that they know their importance in our
community. The United Nations has proposed the theme for this year as
“Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participa-
tion of Older Persons in Society.”

The UN is focusing on ways to support the older persons’ basic rights, needs
and preferences in an effort to achieve the implementation of the 2030
Agenda and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing which is
being reviewed and appraised. I am now a “senior citizen” and my curiosity
about ageing is as all-absorbing as it was for childhood when my children
were small! As I often say, every age has its charms, benefits and challenges.

Living with a sense of shared community has always been a huge contributor
to my well-being, physically and psychologically. Being socially committed
and spending my time productively are vital components in my daily agenda.
I remain optimistic about living independently for a long time to come. I do
take steps to stay connected to family, friends and my local community. These
days, though, I guard my time more jealously because I have reached the age
when I can make that choice with complete freedom. It’s a great feeling!

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

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

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