Pura Vida, Y’all

Because my best friend is an epic vacation planner, my family & I spent Spring Break in Costa Rica this year with 20 of our closest friends. Literally.

Playa Langosta, Tamarindo, Costa Rica


I could go on and on about this vacation. But that’s kind of reminiscent of the 1970s slide shows that over-enthusiastic travelers would share with their bored to tears friends.

Not cool, man. Not cool.

But I will share what’s been playing over and over in my mind. It’s something our tour guide/transport driver extraordinaire said about the Costa Rican people: They work enough to earn a living. And that’s it. No need to accumulate things. Or buy a bigger house. Or work overtime to climb the corporate ladder. Enough is actually the goal. Not more.

Nature cruise on the Palo Verde River

I guess I feel convicted by that, because it won’t get out of my head. I’ll let you in on a little secret: 7 times out of 10, I’m in a complete tailspin about money. I never, ever feel like we have enough. That scarcity mode of thinking is so toxic. But it’s hard to shake. I grew up in it. And, although we have always gotten by, Simon & I have experienced some pretty lean times.

But we’ve always had enough.

Now, back in the States, I’m considering my own consumerism. What do I have that’s extra? What does having enough mean to me? Have I ever really NOT had enough? Where does my privilege come play with my perceptions?

Recognizing enough, being grateful for enough, not striving for extra, sharing what I have… I am 100% convinced that this is the key to happiness.

This is what it looks like when you know you have enough. It’s bliss.

I know these things, and still… I forget them all the time. So, I’m soul-searching for the stuff that really matters to me. The stuff that is enough. The stuff that is joy and goodness and contentment.

Pura vida.

Vacationing in The Land of the Mouse

Life lessons abound… even in the the most magical place on Earth.

I’ve got a confession: sometimes vacation, as welcome & lovely as it is, throws me off a bit. I am a creature of habit, for sure. So vacation adventures can chip away at my emotional reserves a smidge. Especially when the vacation involves 3 days at Disney World. That’s a lot of hustle & bustle & MAGIC packed into 3 days. And the walking… GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY. We walked 10 miles each day. TEN. MILES.

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We’re lucky because we’ve Disneyed a lot. We lived in Florida for a long time (where they offer some pretty great discounts to visit The Mouse). The Magic Kingdom is one of the most familiar places in the world to me. No, I’m not kidding. And, yes, it’s still magical. There’s something very special about being with Simon and Jane at the Magic Kingdom that I can’t quite quantify. I guess it feels like, for that moment, everything is right and perfect in the world. It’s an escape. And, for us, it really is The Happiest Place on Earth.

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This year, in addition to the Magic Kingdom, we did the 3 other parks, too: EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. And it was at those parks that I learned the most about being human… for better or worse.

I’ve written before about how expectations (especially at Disney) are the death of joy. I still stand by that little nugget of wisdom. But I also discovered a new truth on this trip: passive aggressiveness is the fastest route to NOWHERE. Look, I’ll go ahead and own up to the fact that I spent the first 40+ years of my life being passive aggressive AF. But kind of had to reassess that strategy when my passive aggressive response to some very real pain almost imploded my marriage. So, you know, I’m trying different life strategies now. Like being straightforward. Speaking my truth. And SAYING what it is I want.

What does any of that have to do with Disney? Just be patient. I’m drawing things together here. In the meantime, here’s a cute pic to tide you over:

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Okay, so where was I? Oh, yes…

SOARIN’. I was in line for SOARIN’ at EPCOT. Here’s the deal, in case you don’t know: EPCOT is a nerd’s paradise.

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“An amusement park for nerds,” Jane calls it. Which I think is pretty accurate. And SOARIN’ is the very best part of this nerd delight. It’s like hang-gliding over the WORLD. It’s a popular ride, and you kind of get herded into the cue for it like cattle. Mooooo.

While we were being herded, I guess my family inadvertently passed another family in line. Truly, I was paying no attention to who was in front of or behind me. Because it’s a huge ride that loads dozens at a time. So, it doesn’t really matter. I did notice a young woman edging up on me to try to pass me. But I just found that hella annoying. I couldn’t figure out why she was lurking like that. And why she didn’t just say “excuse me.” I’d have been happy to let her pass, but not if she was going to invade my personal space. (I am way protective of my personal space, which often works against me in an amusement park setting. I try to let it roll off my back like a duck. Quack.)

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It wasn’t until we all paused at the entrance to the loading zone that I understood what had happened. And even then, I only understood because I “overheard” a conversation I was clearly meant to hear. Apparently, the girl edging up on me was part of the family who had been in front of us. I discovered this because I heard the girl ask why “those people” had gotten in front of them. Huh. I didn’t respond–which I realize may have been petty. But no one was talking to me. So I just stood there. Then the mother went on to make some WILD assumptions about what kind of people we are and how we move thorough the world. Well, now I was just PISSED. Which was so dumb. Because if she’d just said. “Hey, we were in front,” I certainly would have let her pass. But her passive aggressiveness made me want to dig my heels in. So I did.

I’m not saying I was in the right. In fact, it doesn’t interest me in the least who was right & who was wrong. Jane and I raced in and out of a crowd at Hollywood studios trying to get to the Slinky Dog Dash (we didn’t get to ride. The wait was 2 hours right after the park opened) and really burned some folks up. We weren’t technically wrong, with our zigging and zagging. But we made people’s day less magical by annoying them, and I felt bad about it later.

And that’s the crux of the thing for me: how do I feel?

Passive aggressiveness makes me feel both angry and impotent. Because there’s nothing to directly respond to. I don’t want the onus of having to parse out someone else’s feelings. I have a tough enough time parsing out my own damn feelings. But the whole experience was a good lesson in speaking my mind and addressing issues head on. And also on not doing things that are unkind or thoughtless, just because they aren’t technically wrong.

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I mean, Donald isn’t WRONG for not wearing pants. He is a duck, after all. But boy was he embarrassed when we pointed it out. Then we all got a good laugh out of it.

Draw whatever metaphor you will from that one.

 

 

Chattanooga is Lovely in the Summertime

What is the most logical thing to do in the midst of trying to sell your house? Get the hell out of town, of course! Why, hello Chattanooga!

Lately, it’s been all “clean, clean, clean” and “showing, showing, showing” over here. Which leaves little time for the actual living of life. So, this weekend, we beat the system by, well, just leaving town. It seemed best. So we climbed in the car & headed to Chattanooga.

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Jane got a little excited about a weekend getaway. So she climbed on a brick choo-choo & made this face. That’s normal, right?

Later, in the Arts District, a statue and I bonded by making faces. Jane had some faces of her own. Mostly bershon faces. But, ultimately, this view won her over:

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I may have also bribed her to pull her shit together with a chocolate chip cookie the size of her head. Whatever.

I got up on Sunday morning and went for a run (as I do). I’ve never seen more beauty on a run. Seriously. So grateful to have drug myself out of bed to explore the city on foot. I ran across three bridges that morning. THREE! And each of them was breath-taking in its own right:

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Lately, I’ve found myself focused on finding peace of God (or the Universe… whatever) wherever I am. There’s a lot changing in my world, which can make me kind of antsy and spinny. But, it turns out that God is pretty much everywhere in the early morning in Tennessee–you know, in case you ever misplace Her or anything.

Jane, Simon, and I wandered around downtown Chattanooga together (after I’d showered. Because I love them like that). We found the train depot:

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And an amazing downtown park (adjacent to the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge) that had chalk graffiti and a splash park:

To round out our time in Chattanooga, we figured we needed something extra touristy. We debated between the Incline Railroad (no air conditioning!), Ruby Falls (a 26 story ride down in an elevator. Hells no!), and Rock City. All those Rock City birdhouses are mighty persuasive, so we headed up Lookout Mountain to have a little look-see for ourselves. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. But I definitely did NOT expect this:

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Thanks for the memories Chattanooga! (And thanks for offering the only mountain roads that ever, in my whole life, haven’t made me upchuck. You rock!)

Lessons from the Lake

I lived in Florida my whole life (until 2 years ago), and I swear I never experienced Florida the way my kid does. She loves boats, tubing, kayaking. She really embraces lake life, mosquitos and all.

Yesterday, my kid took me tubing for the first time. Which is really just skimming and bouncing on the top of the lake at very high speeds. She’d done it a dozen or so times before. Me… not so much. Okay, okay. Not at all. Not ever.

I lived in Florida my whole life (until 2 years ago), and I swear I never experienced Florida the way my kid does. She loves boats, tubing, kayaking. She really embraces lake life, mosquitos and all. Before I met Simon’s family, I could count on one hand the times I’d been on a boat. Jane’s been on the boat more times that that in the month of June alone. So, yeah… Florida’s real, real different for her than it was for me.

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Back to the tube…

We’re sitting in this contraption that is more cushy lounge chair than tube. Simon assures me that Jane and I are NOT going to fall out. But we take off and suddenly it feels like we are flying across the water. I’m giggling maniacally and at the same time muttering “Shit. Shit. Shit.” under my breath. Jane looks… I don’t know… amused? Terrified? I can’t tell.

She leans closer to me and says, “It’s a little scary sometimes.”

Now I’m all Mama Bear. “Are you scared?” I ask, fully intending to make them slow this shit down so the baby isn’t scared.

“Mommy,” she says sternly. “I’ll worry about me. YOU worry about yourself.”

Well, there’s a life lesson if I ever heard one.

My water-buddha-guru kid eyes me, sizes me up, and says: “Mommy. If you start to fall off, just let go. It’s so much better that way.”

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When did this kid get so wise? And so grown. She can really handle herself around the boat (and the archery set, for that matter) in a way that impresses the hell out of me. I admire her confidence and her independence.

Later on, Jane told Simon that she doesn’t want to tube with me any more. BUMMER. Bu, apparently, I bring her down with all my worrying. Touché, small person. Touché.

I’m going to work on letting go. It’s so much better that way.