Friday, May 29, 2009

MORE is Less or LESS is MORE

everyone always says “less is more”
such a simple phrase that is now a common saying...and yet what is behind those three little words?
when packing less i still wanted one more shirt, one more book...yet i had so much less than when we had our 3 bedroom house full of so much more. how little is less i kept thinking? throw me a bone people i have 3 bags, and i’m still working for less? less has 4 letters and so does more, who made one better than the other? who decides what is less? why is the one thing i still find my self attached to considered “more”. i’m all about this “less thing” yet can i just bring along this one more??

after a week here and settling in it finally clicked.....the over used statement, “less is more”, finally had some real purpose and meaning. although i used it over and over again to encourage myself i never took time to think about it beyond the surface and i lacked the understanding of it’s true significance.......

more can be created and discovered by using and consuming less.

the more you put your mind to having less. the more that comes about.
when more of your surroundings are new and unknown, you have less to want and even need.
more time to think immediately equal less time to move throughout life in a fast unawake motion.
more appreciation and rediscovery of what you have enhances that feeling of wanting less.
more space to breathe and move about freely naturally keeps less coming into the house.
seems like more is conquering less, yet i’ve been pulling for her the whole time!

living in a new environment i am quickly learning how to create more out of less.

let’s use the example of trash.

there is so much MORE to trash. OK --anyone that knows me, knows i’m not afraid of another’s trash becoming another’s treasure- an old chair w/ some love can have a new home and so forth.
But back to the basics-less is more-and here trash is a real issue.
as many have to come to preach and teach you can almost eliminate all trash when you make it LESS.
here there is no garbage pick up, so quickly you think about how to use, recycle or put what you use right back into the earth. without trash pick up, recycling day, and compost bins from lowes.
yet isn’t that how it started? or did i forget to teach my third grade class about when the native americans had trash pick up days?
have we become so spoiled to convenience, that we assume we can do less and have more? why then is it just the “eco friendly” “hippies” “environmentalist” of the world are the ones who have caught on?
i’ll tell you there is no Sierra Club down here, we’re just in it together, because it is the circumstance. so by having less organization more is put on the individual.
yet i look at the states and within society we now have people making millions off the basic concept of being responsible for what you take and consume. people making more off of those not wanting to think about how to dispose less. it’s almost mind blowing.

of course this concept has been explored before leaving the states. i’d like to believe i’m a pretty conscious person. however w/ out someone coming each week to pick up your trash, recycling, just think...what could and would YOU do with the breakdown of your consumption??? i’d like to say i did my best to avoid adding to the landfills at home, but now i can say i’m again working again on ‘less is more’.

so to start the break down of putting less into a trash bag that has no more of a home than an unwanted mosquito.....

plastic is your worst enemy. and i can’t say i have any enemies. unless in a container shape that can be cut and reused as a planter, water pail, soap holder,etc. then the plastic just looms like a creepy guy in a bar you wish would stop staring at you. sure you make the best of it. think oh he’s had a tough life. so use him as a garbage bag, yet then there he is still staring at you. as time passes i don’t feel bad for him but rather think who thought plastic was a good idea? like who thinks it’s a good idea to keep serving a creepy drunk guy at the bar?

vegetables, fruit, organic matter oh...i can’t say enough good things... are your best friends. you wish they would always be around for the good company. You know they continue to enhance the life around you so you savor your time with them. the compost smiles like an old friend at a reunion knowing that every time a new person walks through the door and the party gets bigger...that the energy is only going to create more!

paper is like that solid work partner, it’s always going to be there and as long as you respect it and treat it right there will be a good balance. as time passes you learn so much more about your partner. what once seemed two dimensional and flat, changes as you have less around you more comes out about your partner paper. at times there to help you get things started and at others times simply there to encourage your creative spirit. amazing how much you discover when you don’t just assume it has no purpose or nothing to offer.

aluminum definitely looms and yet blooms. cans and tins have such a hidden beauty when put to a new use. aluminum is your friend from grade school that you see ten years later and looks like for a lack of better words a “knock out”. when covered and kept between the lines, not much is seen. but when revealed and used individually there is so much beauty. lighting up porches, growing gardens, resting paintbrushes, saving change, scooping food, it almost seems after all this time of knowing this person that now they can do just about anything.

glass here is like a sweet gem, a fragile god daughter, a sweet pea. though when in your possession you feel special, you know as you pass it on good things happen. most glass i should say is this special. you have a nice cold coca cola, enjoy every sip and then the pretty glass bottle goes right into a crate to protect her as she travels back to be filled up and bring about another smile to the next person that shares time with her. other glass i like to take just as much pride in by creating a candle holder, mosaic tiles, corking olive oil. there are however those unwanted bottles by the masses that get left out like stray dogs in the alley. those i’m working on, just as i wanted to bring home every stray or lonely pet, i’ve started a collection of the “random” glass that doesn’t have a special comfy spot in a crate. for those i aim to give attention and beauty.

less places to put things, less consumption, less trash =
more thought. more concern for mater. more creative recycling. more uses. more growth. more reusing. more organization. more self reliance. more collective understanding. more back to the basics. more appreciation. more awareness.

that’s that.
score card is for more!!! more is less. less is more.
not sure i’m choosing sides, but me and more are getting along just as well if not better than we were before i left.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

our surroundings

our pad

photos of the new spot

flip flop

Flip Flop

flip flop. change. cambiar. trade. switch. turn. . . . . or a pair of sandal like shoes you wear to the beach.

this day brought new meaning to the word, and a lesson learned.

the howler monkeys were howling and the array of birds singing- pretty much the best alarm clock that shoots you right out of bed hoping you don’t miss anything. as the water boils for the french press it seems each morning the coffee tastes better. michael and i grabbed our cups, slipped on our flip flops and headed through the rainforest path for our first morning walk on our new home beach.

nothing like a cup of coffee on a morning walk. don’t get me wrong-i love that here and many places abroad the idea of “to go” is not an option. most places only carry solid glassware and it is just known that you are to sit and enjoy your coffee. almost anywhere you go coffee is offered as a pass time, to sit, sip, talk and enjoy. unfortunately the starbucks of the world have fed into my culture and with a hot cup of joe in hand it feels like it’s time to roll. with each sip of coffee and each new turn of an undiscovered corner I feel like a jack in the box just waiting to pop up through the top.

as we pass through the forest cove and hit the beach we both throw our flip flops off, more than ready to feel the sand under our tired feet. in much need of a natural pedicure i can feel my feet, body and mind are craving the rocks, salt water and shells underneath each toe. the flops can’t be flipped off soon enough. without thinking michael covers both with sand and studies the overgrown tree to mark our spot. i think nothing of it and just know from the beginning of this journey he has done nothing but take care of us.

the stroll is beyond my vocabulary and a picture will never do this place justice. costa rica has a more than less protected coast line and no house can be built directly on the beach. therefore after being use to studying the different porches and roof top decks that people build on their million dollar homes, here you jump to the sounds of coconuts dropping and huge branches taking their final plunge.

the air feels so fresh and the breeze invites you to just walk and walk. of course michael and i continue to be overwhelmed with the fact that we are really here. that we made it. that we worked through the last weeks ups and downs. that we are married. that we can just be together. that life needs more time to just take deep breaths.

heading back to our cove we approach the overgrown tree, dig our feet through the sand and no flip flops. really? so we of course dig deeper. than look at the other trees. the one we left the flops by is more than distinct and so we dig again. at this point i’m waiting for someone to swing from the trees like robin hood and tell me how they steal from the rich and give to the poor. i want to meet them so i can say we too are just getting by and in my bags to pack i only allowed myself one pair of flip flops. even more i want them to know i just broke them in after a week of blisters, since these flops were a wedding gift. then without words michael and i look at eachother and almost in synch say “guess they needed them more than we do?”

of course we had to reexamine the tree. maybe just to give a laugh to the person that had been or was still watching us. that’s when michael pointed out another pair of flip flops. black. nice. size 6. my size. no my thought was not “great a replacement” but rather ok- “let’s see how long these last” “wish we could tell the flop’s owner to at least cover them up?” and yet the voices in your head silence and again you realize- “someone must need them more than us.”

the walk back over a rocky road was not the most comfortable but as michael said we needed to start training our feet to endure a bit more. think about the caveman, the indians. now this is an inspiration for a challenge. of course the realization also set in... that we were not just all alone on our own private, desolate beach embarking as the first ones to hit the sand early in the morning was a wake up call.
once at our casita we didn’t let it change our plans. michael grabbed his board and myself just a towel. we headed back to the beach barefoot and just as excited.

we walk and find a spot to soak up the surroundings. the days pass quicker than you want or imagine. as the sun is going down we head back to the cove to call it a day.
pass by the overgrown sign of our flops but sure enough the black pair still there. now we are thinking is this good karma? michael had brought a new pair of flops for when his old gave out so he didn’t need a pair. so why is that here sits a pair of flops my size right next to where ours were taken. again we walk past the flops and hope the owner is reunited with them.

two days pass and each time we pass the lonely black flops we just smile at each other.
a lesson learned. once again less is more, and if you don’t have more than others they won’t want what you have. keep it simple.
on the third day of walking through the cove, the flops were still in the same spot. michael made the decision that my flops were flipped. he showed up to the house with a smile on his face. “they were still there and not going anywhere-someone should put them to use”

i slide them on, overcome with joy to have shoes or shall i say flops again. and of course what do you know i might as well have been cinderella for the slipper just slid right on and fit like a glove. i have to say the other running shoes and crocs aren’t quite the same for a stroll to the beach, so having some flops felt good; again my culture has spoiled me and i can’t complain for each shoe serves a different purpose and tends to make the journey better.

so who ever named the flip flop? are they meant to be shared and rotated as needed? like bicycles should just be left on each corner so people have transportation as needed? if we all just shared there would be a lot less “stuff” and less concern about “mine”. just the other day we saw a guy living amongst the trees and he flip flopped by having two flops, same size, different designs-there’s a way to flip flop. or is it that they flop and flip when you walk? they float and flop on the water. not quite sure but everyone loves a pair of flip flops. i’m not concerned with the flop in flips just hope they are all being put to good use.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

mountain people are wise-BEACH people are happy

Sunday Funday

i’ve always had the mentality “sunday funday”. a day to just let the day be, no work, no checklists just a day to either hit the beach or the garden and to enjoy the day as it unfolds.
our first sunday in costa rica was more than a funday and some may have considered it work. after a week in the hills of montezuma michael and i were determined to get to mal pais and santa teresa about a 30minute drive from our house. we woke early with full intentions of catching the first 6am bus and making a day of it on the beach. as we sipped our second cup of coffee staring at the dirt road above our house with only signs of monkeys and birds we quickly realized others believe in my sunday funday theory and therefore buses were not running.
when life throws you lemons though you make lemonade....the backpack was ready and on my back, michael grabbed his surfboard and we were off...on foot.
we knew the hike to cobano was 7km and when your not use to seeing km you just tend to round down. we both looked at is as a good early hike before enjoying gallo pinto a tipical amazing breakfast here. each turn brought a new conversation and a good amount of laughter as we also realized no cars were passing us on a sunday so our outlook for a ride was looking slim. after studying about 5km an older tico man in a truck was approaching from behind us, michael quickly decided it was better for me to flag down the ride, and he was right. i jumped in the front and michael in the back of the pickup w/ his board. a quick conversation and ride and we were dropped off in cobano at the best local Soda (locally owned little restaurant).

once our bellies were full and another cup of coffee was running through our bodies the hike ahead 12km down the mountain to Mal Pais didn’t seem so bad. off again on foot using our own shock factor of what we were trying to accomplish as our inspiration. as the sun rose more cars hit the street, however cars do 2 people and one 6foot board no good. our hope was a truck or rental car suv. this part of the walk led to thinking of just how silly we were and even crazier that we were enjoying every part of it. wondering where we were on a GPS? who if they were here would be doing this w/ us and feeling the same? have we used up our hitching ride karma? michael realized when we had a rental car for the day we picked up 3 people, and between us we had already received 3 rides. as we kept our spirits up each car that passed the thumb went up and the hopes higher. finally as my dress was drenched and michael’s shirt appeared a different color a tica our age in an older toyota suv stopped. i quickly jumped in the back of the two door car and helped michael wedge his board in between the front two seats and through the back. it was not the quickest of moves and yet our driver just sat content w/ a smile on her face “tranquila”, which means “chill”

trying not to sit back and add my sweat to any part of her car and hold our 6 foot friend in place, i made sure to tell her how grateful we were. she confirmed that sunday is a day of rest and most people stay in the house w/ family, she also confirmed it was a bit crazy to think we could make the hike to mal pais but none the less we were making it!

the sand never felt so good underneath my bare blistered feet. the shade of the palm trees created a great home for the day as we put up our hammock and breathed a sigh of relief that our early morning vision was now a reality.
watching michael paddle out i assume was similar to watching your child when he takes off on a bicycle without training wheels. i’m not sure who enjoys it more but it felt so good. i tried my best to read and relax yet my senses were overwhelmed with new sights, sounds and a thousand thoughts. i knew that montezuma was where we started but that this is where we needed to be. the mountains have a wonderful serene feel and yet the beach brings the powerful more invigorating feel for us.

once read a bumper sticker that has stuck w/ me for years-----

so well put, and a compliment either way. i figure wisdom will come w/ time, for now i’m into being happy.

as our bellies began to tell us what time it was, we packed up our little spot and hit the dirt roads for some comida. went to our buddies spot for a GOOD meal and realized quickly that w/out words we knew this would be our new home.

asking around and thinking of the spots we had seen se aquila for rent we thought it best to regroup w/ a beach breeze. conversation led to a walk and the next thing you know we were knocking on the neighbors door of a house that we already knew was our home.

david an older man from isreal answered the door. i began to speak in spanish just as i do in english -fast and w/ excitement. “English is better for me” he quickly interrupted. once he saw the passion in our eyes and amazingly enough was impressed w/ my spanish he handed me the phone calling the local guy Don Dago whom owned the house.

a hour after meeting Don Dago and his family, negotiating the lease in spanish and making sure michael was on the same page in english, we had ourselves a new home!
to seal the deal David our neighbor owns the best sushi restaurant in town and offered me work to make the move seem less stressful. had it not been for our two dogs back in montezuma i think we’d have never left the house.

went into the restaurant, met the crew, and was put on the schedule. realizing all buses that might have run have now passed we once again began the hike back home. overwhelmed w. excitement i felt we had just drank 3 double shot expressos...halfway up our third hill michael quickly grounded me. the sun would be down in less than 20 minutes and we were looking at a good 3 hour hike home. regroup. we headed back down to mal pais and knew that a good day should end w/ a solid ride home. standing there at the base of the mountain still having our hopes up for a free ride- we realized all that we accomplished in one day. no money could pay for that so we didn’t need to overanalyze what a taxi would cost to get home. on the ride back a surf board between us and the night sky i just wanted to stick my head out the window like a happy dog heading the beach and howl!!!!!!!!!!! tomorrow we’d be happy beach people!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

the first week...

day one- hit up the airport early to realize the dogs had to be in another place to ship out. after dog crates falling off carts and yelps from the cages i thought michael was going to break down. fortunately we just had to keep going and once the dogs were settled we were both able to take a deep breath. raced around checking in our own luggage, returned the rental car...meanwhile trying to keep our nerves settled. checked the 3 large heavy black bags and surf board (couldn’t believe we didn’t have to pay more!). tried to carry on the last small one and then realized liquids could not pass a hurry had to pay $100 for the extra bag. had i listened to michael and brought less clothes i could have avoided this :0. however the table cloth, candles, and kitchen stuff have made the house a it was worth it!

arrived in san jose at 9pm. both dogs were there just waiting for us--brady sleeping (imagine that!) coleman watching everyone and everything. an older costa rican man loaded our luggage onto the cart and walked us past a large line and through the checkpoint as if we were brad and angelina! with that michael and i had a plan. he ran to get the rental car 5 mins away and i went out w. the dog crates and luggage to wait. the older man (can’t remember his name-working on that!) stayed with me for a bit which i enjoyed the conversation. i was able to break down the dog crates, stack up the luggage, let brady do his thing and we were ready when michael pulled up. everything loaded just fine into the toyota rave, nice rental car and we were off.

had a tico trying to get us to stay at a hotel, but the vibe didn’t feel right and michael followed his instincts to do our own thing. amazing how much he remembered from one trip here, he was able to get us all around as we went looking for a dog friendly hotel...not easy! finally found an open spot where the dogs could be outside and the breakfast was ready for us in the morning.

day 2- loaded up in the car, the fearsome foursome in costa rica. got a bit turned around, yet once again michael pulled through and got us to the ferry. quite hot waiting, however luckily we learned of a ferry heading to a different spot but left right away. we jumped on it to avoid the heavy breathing of brady and the excitement of coleman. ended up being able to be by the car w/ the dogs, a nice breeze the whole way and other owners w/ dogs no problems. in fact coleman had more of an issue as brady just slept to the sound of the big motor. drove right off the ferry to dirt roads through the rainforest. michael looked like a kid on a big wheel for the first time...loving it! passed through random small towns, making observations and letting reality slowly sink in. montezuma got closer and closer, the next thing i knew we were pulling into donatella’s house and having coffee w/ her and her mother. such nice ladies, they made us feel right at home. headed down to our house about 2K away. donatella got us situated and then left. all of the sudden we were here. i had no idea as to really where i was and just looked at michael “what are we doing?” concern was his first reaction, and then he realized i just needed to understand my surroundings and really where we were. unpacked a few bags, moved somethings around, and then went exploring in the rental. hit up the grocery- Mega Super- got our first round of groceries. spent about 15 minutes trying to find salt then realized it comes in a bag in chunks!? then took the bumpy hilly ride to Mal Pais/Santa Teresa (main surf spot) and had dinner at our friend Kevin’s bar which came as a complete surprise to him. he said “you guys are crazy!” “but that’s what it takes to live here” Retrieved the first big black bag i sent down w/ michael before (another large and heavy one) and headed home. on the drive we went from being excited about our isolated little spot to wondering if we’d rather be around more gringos (americans). taking in so much in one day we were filled w/ thoughts, concerns, worries, and excitements.

day three- woke early to birds and monkeys...around 6am. cooked up some eggs, toast and coffee and began to prepare for the first day of school. michael dropped me off at school and went for his first surf session on his new board-amazing! i met all the children and parents as well as Valentina (form italy) and Angie (from Columbia) whom work w/ me. Hence I’m the only one who speaks English. the day went well. the kids opened up to me and the gals i work w/ are nice. Michael picked me up from school at 12:30, had a cold beer and a fish taco waiting for me after my first day. i did feel overwhelmed. the girls are 19 and 20, but i felt 12 not being able to communicate completely. again the mind games started “can i do this?” we then ran into town and exchanged the fan we had bought yesterday ($45!!! probably should have brought the $15 one from walmart!? oh well) found where to get propane, looked for a mirror (not one in the house), and headed off for a drive since we had to return the rental car at 5pm.

once we realized 5pm was approaching we started to get nervous. what can we do w/ out a car? michael wanted to rent it for another day, however then we realized we have to let go sometime, and we’d rather rent when we had a full day to explore. headed up the hill for gas-the station was out. had to go to the next town, then decided to return the car the other closest village. settled up and hit the street to catch the bus back home.

once aboard the bus we road in silence yet feeling closer than ever. the bus dropped us off right in front of our house, and our nerves were eased quickly. began to cook dinner, lit the candles, opened up a bottle of vino, and realized just how lucky we are!!

day 4- woke again to the natural alarm, drank some coffee and left the house around 8am to begin the hike to Mundolindo. came to realize it was not a bad walk and really enjoy it as a part of the morning routine. not having the car was actually making everything seem more real and not so difficult. letting go of what you know is hard, but then feels so rewarding. day went well, meeting more parents and learning from their experiences. got a ride home from our “neighbor” and michael was there w/ all the windows open and reggae playing. made some yummy tuna salad wraps and began the hike down to montezuma and the beach (just 10min walk to town). hiked to cobuyo to the tidal pools and found a beautiful spot to just relax. sitting there w/ the most beautiful coast line, my husband, and no where to be....i’d say it felt like a honeymoon beyond my dreams. explored a bit more of the dirt road to cobuyo, then decided to head home and enjoy michael’s veggie soup for dinner. our little porch is so inviting and is right off the kitchen, so cooking and relaxing come easily. still figuring out the bug thing...wish i would have packed all the OFF sprays, and the extra citronella candles from the weddding but oh well.

day 5- friday at school! kids were crazy just like i remember...crying,hitting, and just ready for a break from each other. not a lot of structure in the school and wondering when i can grab the wheel or shall i just watch and learn. quite interesting, but also realize what a great business this could be.

got another ride home and surprised to see michael --he had hiked and hitched hiked to mal pais. after a 7 mile adventure of walking, surfing and finding rides w/ a board he was sun burnt and yet smiling! we refueled and took coleman down to the beach for a swim. the dog is as happy as a pig in mud. laid on the beach for a bit, hit up a cafe to use the internet however after paying $4 for lemonade and $2 for coffee w/ no refill we got ran off. quickly realized internet may be the thing we miss most!!

grabbed a bottle of red wine for our nightly routine and headed home.. we are realizing this may not be nightly since the cheapest bottle is $7...and it’s not a big one :)

cooked up another amazing meal and found ourselves asleep by 8:30pm. about 2 hours later we awoke to the biggest/loudest rain storm i have ever been through!! lightening, thunder and POURING down rain. after about an hour i realized our newly planted seeds were outside trying to make it through. michael to the rescue he ran and grabbed what was left of our small pots and soil to try and save our sprouting garden.

day 6- woke at 5:30am, excited to have the day off school. still drizzling so thought i’d write a weeks journal to share w/ everyone. it has been a whirl wind. like our ceremony- it takes a storm for the rainbow to appear. we had some unsettled feeling the first two days, but each moment we feel more alive and more inspired.

the bug bites are itching like crazy, and i think we’d make our million if we started a screen business down here!!!!!

the natural surroundings, clear air, dirt roads, and early mornings make everything alive. each morning brings about more unknown and more to learn. michael has gotten passed “being embarrassed” since he has no choice but to smile and try to understand or be understood.

both reading inspirational books and enjoying spending such close time together.

heading out to the saturday organic market shortly.

** notes to self****

*mountain bike would be amazing here- and perfect transportation. they are so expensive here and not worth a $!? tell friends to keep an eye out for one.

*another fan when we return-or a stock pile to sell or give away since they are triple the price here.

*more candles!!!!!!! bug spray?! thea’s idea of cortizon in bug spray- another million $ idea!! and i need it now!?

*recipes on making bread and more things from scratch

*don’t let anyone tell you what your 16 old dog can and can’t do....his spirit is too strong!

un adventuro en aprendiendo (not sure this is how you say it....still working on the spanish thing!?)

the planning, packing, dreaming, and traveling can never measure up to the minute of solitude and contentment that you finally reach. after many deep breaths and a thousand mind games which consume you for days you come to realize the simple pleasure of “being”. the pleasure becomes such a strong reality that you begin to wonder--- have i ever really felt this alive...this awake?

amazing that things and conveniences can make you feel so isolated when surrounded by an abundant amount of pure naturaleza. first your mind asks- where am i? how do i get? what is there to think? do? understand? what about?

as the bags are unpacked, the rental car is returned, the airline tickets are recycled, the passport is stored away, and the dogs are calm------ home is home.

the walk to school awakens a new spirit of breath. time to just walk and be, yet anxiety scared the mind just yesterday. the battle of what is known versus what is new each day have been stronger than anything.

as the children arrive i realize how a smile is truly the one language. the trust that is formed in merely a day shows that each of us have the ability to feel another human being, whether talking or not. quite a shame that as the years pass we cannot acknowledge that an ora is stronger than we may know.

yet that is the true beauty...a child can easily show you just how much you don’t know. so i learn as much as i teach. beyond language the personalities and inner spirits are so strong in each child. with so little going on around me i’m able to look deeper into the potential for each child and gain something personally from it.

afternoon comes just when “as a child” i’m ready for the next thing.

a bite to eat, then a hike down a hill and once again nothing that is known is going to happen. each corner excites a new idea. another turn then shows how so many live off nothing yet the land. i find it hard not to stare, feel concern, then envy, then i contemplate on how it is possible to set yourself in a new dimension.

sun retires early and enhances an evening with long preparations to a fine meal by candlelight. vino tinto is like a great yoga class, as the night turns into pure relaxation. the checklists are gone and the creative spirit is souring. the natural surroundings inspire you to see new visions of projects and potential.

and as beautiful a night, your culture still hits you as bugs swarm, rain holds out, and dirt surrounds you, and there is nothing you can do....

a lesson or a learned culture? vamos a ver....