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Why Write?

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I have been describing myself as a writer for at least three decades.
I cannot say that I enjoy writing, it is more like a calling, an impetus
buried not too deep that makes me set down on paper many of the
varied thoughts that take a hold of my brain. I want to write a novel,
a story that follows closely the reality of my small town but one that
I could tailor so that no character would recognize him/herself in. I
am not sure that is at all possible.

My friends in the small writing circle I belong to are not all in the same
writing place. A couple of us (not including me) are quite far in the
quest to write the book, others of us are tampering with sentences and
one of us in essentially very new and shy about the process of writing
and actually sharing. I am not sure how our small group even got
started but here we are enjoying almost a second year of being together.

I don’t know how many of us “social media” followers are feeling as non-
excited as I am. Every day I open my emails on yahoo, aol and gmail and
I am disgusted by the many emails that begin with doom and gloom subject
lines. By this I mean, their titles are “Last chance” “Deadline approaching”
“Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity”…to spend, spend, spend.
I realize that it is a marketer’s function to make sure even spirituality sites
find their “followers” at the shopping cart but I am frankly so turned off
by it that I have unsubscribed to many of the sites that I used to enjoy.

And don’t get me started with Pinterest! So I clicked on one sunset picture,
and you know how Pinterest makes you sign up after a click or two? Well,
I did and now it seems every single day, I receive a come on from Pinterest
telling me that they have found another 18 sunset pictures I can see. Does
anyone really know how to work an algorithm to improve these pitches?

Or how about Amazon sending me pictures of the same items I just bought
last week and asking me to buy them again? And on Facebook, let’s pick on
Facebook for a minute. The other day I uploaded for my “fans” a “Happy
4th of July picture and good wishes”. I posted it. It got a lot of “likes” but
FB now wants me to “promote” the post…see what I mean about the algo-
rithm…doesn’t the robot know that it is now the 6th of July and no amount
of boosting is going to get me more clicks for this once-a-year event? I try
to stay away from FB and that is probably going to be my decision for 2019.
2018 I made a promise to my followers that I would post a recipe and a flower
every day. Because I am the kind of person who says what they mean and
means what they say, I can’t see myself NOT doing it until December 31, but
after that unless something really radical changes at FB, I think I will be out.

A lot of people say these things and say “no more political stuff” and then you
see them being bad mouthed, or in a bad mood or poo-pooing just about
everything in life. What’s the point? Be a mood lifter, there are plenty of jerks
out there who can only see the black dot on the white sheet of paper. Who
needs more of those?

Thanks for reading this far! Have a great evening.

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July is here already!

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It’s the Fourth of July! Celebrations are going on in the U.S. but
where I live (in a tropical paradise), nothing seems to be going
on in quite the same scale as the celebrations of years past.

I feel a bit odd that one entire month (June) went by and I didn’t
post a single entry. It is not that I don’t write every single day,
because I do, it just hasn’t been the kind of writing that I feel
comfortable sharing. Not sure what that’s about.

My husband was away for almost the entire month of June. He
returned quite exhausted and seems to have caught a bug, maybe
on the airplane? I feel bad for him but in a way, perhaps it is best
to let him rest while I catch up on some of the writing that I have
put on the side so I could devote myself to doing the chores that
keep our household running and that he is usually responsible for.
A few more days won’t make any difference, the poor guy has a lot
of things on his mind.

So July! I have continued to have slow progress with my Weight
Watchers plan and I am confident that by the end of this year, I
will have lost most of the weight I have set myself a goal for. It
would be wonderful to begin 2019 (which feels like it is just around
the corner!) in some new clothes…

I have done some serious decluttering in June. I actually got rid of
a good amount of clothing and knickknacks that were not bringing
me any joy. It is amazing how light one feels after disposing of items
that no longer fit one’s life. I finally accepted that I was keeping things
for the wrong reasons. For example, a friend of mine gave my daughter
and me earrings that were crafted by her then-boyfriend, a man I know
and whose behavior has impressed me, but not in a good way. I never
wore the earrings because they were too long for my short neck and my
daughter never wore hers because they were not in a style she liked. But
I felt I needed to keep them because my friend might be hurt if I found
another home for them.

A few months after the earrings were given to us, my friend’s relationship
ended. The artist boyfriend began a new relationship and a year later, that
one also ended. Every morning, I saw the earrings. I moved them from one
side of the dresser to another.  I began to question why I still had them.
One serendipitous night as I was watching Youtube, I ended up catching a
video on Marie Kondo, the decluttering consultant…she has a very unique
way of approaching decluttering. You have to gather all the items you own
wherever you are working. You hold each item in your hand until they either
spark “joy” or not. If they still give you joy, that is your permission to keep
them; otherwise, it is best to find a new home for them.

I held each pair in my hands. Waited for the “joy” that never came. I made
two beautiful packages for these lovely items and then placed them with
other “treasures” I was giving away to the local Animal Shelter for their
fundraising campaign. It felt so good to send the earrings to a place that
I know will find someone they can bring joy to.

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A slow journey, the weight loss route!

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April has indeed been a very busy month for me. When I began my weight loss
journey in December it was motivated by my disbelief at how much weight I had
gained in the last few years. All my “reasons” for the weight gain were understood
by me, both emotionally and intellectually. When I saw a picture of myself (that I
immediately deleted), I was spurred into action mode.

It is now almost 5 months later. I have managed to lose almost 19 lbs. and wish
it was so much more but I am feeling much better these days that the speed at
which I am losing (slowly) will allow me to “fit” into the idea that going quickly
is not in my reality or future. I cannot say that I have not been hungry on this
program (Weight Watchers) but I also cannot say that I have deprived myself
of healthy or tasty food in the last few months.

I track my food for accountability (personal since I am strictly on the program
“on line”), weigh myself every day (it works for me) and have good support from
those around me. I use the tools available to me, especially the ones that allow
me to see other people’s progress and read their comments.

A new weight watchers enrollee asked others to share their motivations and the
ways in which they get or stay inspired. I began to think about that; I usually
don’t give it much thought, I just do what I do because I know it will get results.
But when I looked deep into my soul, I realized that I am motivated by the most
superficial of reasons: I don’t like what I see when I see myself in pictures!

It’s that simple and that superficial and for now, it is the best incentive I have. I
realized last week that the almost 19 lb. loss has allowed me to consider trying on
clothing that had been relegated to the back of my closet. I am a clotheshorse and
although I have gotten rid of impossible-to-get-back-into-sizes, I have kept those
that are reasonably within my reach. Much to my great surprise and joy, I was able
to fit into a lovely blouse and slacks (size 14…) that I wore to an event last week. My
friend and I took a picture and I did not balk when I saw it; I am beginning to see
the self I recall…it is also worth mentioning that even though I usually drive every-
where I was forced to take a bus last week and I fit into the seat without any discomfort.
All of these non-scale victories are doing wonders for motivation and my self-esteem.

I am eager to continue my slow and steady progress. Just like the turtle, I too will
get to the finish line!

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A fuzzy brain

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A few years ago, suffering from constant clutter, I came across
the Fly Lady, the woman who would change my life from CHAOS
to serene! Well, it was good while it lasted until I started to receive
so many emails per day from her that I had to release her. Email
clutter is just as bad as physical clutter. I found eventually that I
had subscribed to a lot of sites just because I didn’t want to have
nothing to read on a daily basis. Then I figured out that the
amount of time I was wasting on the computer was taking its toll
on my home and family (even though they didn’t realize it).

I can say that I made very good use of lots of the Fly Lady’s advice
and to this day (although it was a habit of mine already), my kitchen
sink (where it all begins) is shining (well, as much as possible since
the material it’s made from doesn’t really shine, but you get the point).

These days, I feel like I am having a constant battle with brain fog. You
know, you start doing an activity, or looking something up, or gathering
materials for a project and suddenly, you freeze because you can’t recall
exactly what you were going to do. I feel that maybe it is because I have
way too many things on my mind…not able to prioritize so that at the
end of each day I feel like I got nothing done.

Take today for an example: my cleaning lady is here. I find that her (very
much needed) presence is an intrusion. I love the fact that the house is
dusted and the floors are mopped and things look lovely but I dislike the
fact that I have to prepare for her arrival which cuts into the time that I
would ordinarily use to draft an essay or at least devote some time to it.
In the end, though, I know that it is really just an excuse, that in fact, I have
nothing thought out or outlined and perhaps for the very first time in my
life, I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants. I have never been this way
but then again, I have never had the life I have today.

I find myself a little lost. Every day since my mother’s passing on January 1st
has reminded me of the temporary nature of things. Granted my mother lived
almost 89 years, an almost permanent presence in my life but I wonder now if
my brain fog is my way of grieving. Since I was expecting my mother to die, I
didn’t get hysterical in the moment. So many things needed to be done. I had
joined Weight Watchers just a month before and I was so determined to lose
the weight this time, that except for one night where I had an excessive
amount of Johnny Walker Black label Whiskey (and no hangover!), I did not
grieve by eating myself through it. I know she would be proud of me for not
overeating.

I think of my mother every single day,  I guess I always did; she was an6
incredibly strong influence in my life; of both what to do and what NOT
to do when faced with life’s adversities. I was always very proud of her
and I hope she knew it because I don’t remember every saying it to her in
quite that way.

So Weight Watchers has been pretty good to me. I find that I can “connect”
with others who, like me, struggle to get back to a good weight and know
that it will be a lifetime commitment. My husband and I celebrated our
anniversary yesterday. Our daughter posted a picture of us taken one year
ago, and although we both look very happy, it is obvious we are both in the
category of “American overweight couples”! It isn’t funny and while I have
lost about 20 lbs. since the picture was taken, I feel a bit embarrassed that I
allowed the weight to creep up like that. But onward…getting menus for the
week done is a good way to clear up some of that brain fog today. I think I
will get to it.

 

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A visit to the Senior Center

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Today is a grand day. It is a Wednesday and although I usually go into town to visit
my Dad, I did so yesterday and today I have a bit more free time. So what do I do with
this bit of free time? Why, commit to accompanying a group of 20 expats in my town
with their pets on their outing to visit the local Nursing Home. How do these things
happen to me? I am not an appointed representative, a paid employee or an elected
official anywhere but no matter where I have lived in my lifetime, people have always
found me approachable and ask me to do things. I am not a joiner but I do admit that
it is difficult for me to turn down direct requests for my help, especially if it is about a
cause I believe in. And I do believe that pets and Senior Citizens both benefit from the
contact.

So off I go to visit with animals and the elderly!

 

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Unabashed places of gossip…

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I went to the hairdresser yesterday. My visits there are every 6 weeks to get rid of the gray
and sometimes also include a minuscule trim on my very thick and curly hair. The salon
is modest in size and decoration and not located on any trendy street in our small town.
It is wildly popular nonetheless. My time there is heightened by the socializing that is not
restricted to topics like the weather and activities in town.  The owner/hairdresser gets to
glean gossip from her many clients but to her credit, vicious character assassination is not
one of her objectives and the conversation is always pleasant.

Yesterday the talk turned to politics since we are heading to a second round of voting due
to the fact that neither of our presidential candidates received the required 40% that would
have made him our leader for the next four years. There are so many people undecided and
admittedly neither candidate has won over the entire population but if we are to continue to
enjoy our reputation as a democratic (3rd world) nation, it is imperative we turn out in high
numbers and make the best decision possible for our country.

I made my decision months ago. It wasn’t easy because my original choice was involved in a
scandal, my second choice did not impress me when the debates began, and my third choice
(and current choice) did not win. Matters were not helped by the fact that we had 13 (yes, 13!)
aspiring candidates. Just too many. Our systems needs to be revamped but that is not likely
to happen any time soon.

It has been interesting to read comments on FB from people (relatives and friends) who I
respect, admire and love. I say interesting although I might actually mean “shocking”…some
of the comments have brought to light how people really think despite what their words or
education or traditions have been. To say I am disappointed is to touch on things just lightly.
I have been mortified by the extent to which stupidity runs in my own family. I suppose it
happens to everyone: someone you used to admire says or does something so unwarranted
as to lose your respect going forward. It has happened to me many times over the years and
yet I continue to be so naive. At my age, it is no longer excusable.

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The occasional straphanger…

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My dad had an operation a couple of weeks ago and today was the day we needed to go
to have his stitches removed. He is in great condition and fortunately it didn’t take long for
the nurse on duty to take care of him. I watched with some apprehension, relieved that even
at his advanced age of 89, he is healing quickly and without complications.

In Costa Rica, we have license plate restrictions which prohibit us from entering the “city”
of San Jose on one weekday determined by the last digit on the license plate. My particular
restriction falls on Monday. It is not my favorite mode of transportation but the bus system in
our country really is quite reliable and covers most areas.  Although it takes longer to complete
errands, it is very nice not to have to worry about getting around town. That said, public
transportation comes with its own set of problems.

Since I am not that savvy about the schedules and routes (and I place blame for that on myself),
I decided that taking the “express” or “local” bus would not make much of a difference. I was
very wrong in my assumption, something that will not happen to me in the future. Naturally, I
took an 8 a.m. bus. If you live and work normal hours in Costa Rica, then obviously you are not
going to be taking an 8 o’clock bus because by that time you should already be working. So I sat
back and relaxed because I knew that I had plenty of time to get to my father’s and then we could
call for a taxi to get us to the doctor. Fate would direct the most polite bus driver to be the driver
of the bus I was on. He let everyone go ahead of him in that horrendous traffic and nothing
seemed to faze him. I looked on admiringly, until I realized what would normally take tops one
hour was almost taking us two hours! I will be checking schedules and routes a little closer.

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A long day

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I am writing tonight just to keep the momentum going for writing in this blog every day.
My day was wonderful, filled with activities but I am now so exhausted that rather than
the glass of wine I was planning to have, I am going to make myself some tea, get ready
for bed and then get into bed and see how long I can read before I fall asleep. Tomorrow
will be a day of leisure mostly as I have nothing planned for the day. Sunday, I get to
attend and work at a fundraiser!

Goodnight!

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Sudden status quo change…

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The sudden rain that fell on our tropical paradise was a huge surprise to us all.
It was also a welcome respite from the heat that had been with us since early this
morning. I sat on my terrace and watched (and felt) the changes in the atmosphere,
concluding with the gathering and dispersing of a rather large flock of small, black
birds. It was fascinating to watch and reminded me that life is made of moments,
moments that can be similar but never identical.

My guitar teacher is in the hospital. The sudden onset of Guillain Barré syndrome has
taken hold of his body and he went from being an active husband, father, teacher to
lying in a bed being taken care of. This mysterious syndrome has changed his life and
the life of his family in a minute…hopefully for a short time perhaps for a long while.
I have great faith in natural healing but from what I have been able to read, treatment
should be swift and involves more than teas and ointments.

These kinds of situations always make me glad that for the most part, I tell people what
I need to tell them when I can. He has been more than a teacher for me, he is my friend,
and I know he feels my support even though I am not nearby.

Do what you can when you can where you can and this way you can sleep a good night.

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A mixed up morning!

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I love discipline. That is one of the reasons that a proper “diet” works for me and
allows me to get creative. Last night, I over-indulged my sweet tooth a tiny bit and
since I did it with a couple of Baileys’s liquor filled chocolates, this morning I woke
up with just the slightest bit of a headache. Of course, it could have been that my
morning became chaotic soon after I woke up which often throws my day into a
disconcerting disarray.

One would think that by the time they got to be my age, little hiccups in plans would
not disturb one; sadly that is not the case. Before I even get out of bed most mornings,
I peruse one or two news outlets to see what has happened of import in the night. I got
lots of “bad” news this morning and I think the tone was set. Then our cleaning lady,
who is not often early, called (late) to tell me that she was having car troubles and would
arrive as soon as possible…she did arrive about 45 minutes later but that meant her whole
schedule was equally messed up and she was unable to wash windows! Yes, some people
still wash windows, thank Heavens!

A friend and her family asked late last night if it would be okay to come visit us today to
spend the day in our tropical paradise and enjoy our pool! On a normal day, I would have
joined them and would have made every effort to be the great hostess, but instead I just
let them come over and enjoy time on their own while I did the many things required of me
on busy days. It was fine and I was proud that I felt no pressure or guilt about being unavailable
for socializing. In fact, I am proud of me for not adding to my already stressed day.

They are gone now, I have finished all my chores and although the windows don’t look as nice
as I’d like them to, I can still see pretty clearly!

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