Day 7…Writing 101

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Day Seven: Give and Take

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

compare and contrast….

Dreaming of doing something totally unexpected and freeing or continuing on down the same path your on. Getting up everyday and doing the same thing for years on end. Coming up with an idea, a crazy, wild idea and working towards making that idea a reality. This is a comparison I’ve made in my head many times. I often wonder if, had I not come up with my crazy idea to expatriate and begin an adventure in a different country, would my routine have become so unbearable to me? Or would I have eventually come to feel exactly as I was feeling about the sameness of my days by the time I was prepared to leave? Did the dream of doing something different slowly make my current existence feel unsatisfying? Up until I began dreaming of living in another country and changing my life completely, I was perfectly satisfied with my life and the routine I had created for myself. I often wonder if I would have eventually begun to slowly sink into that feeling of monotony.

So, you begin to dream about a change in your life. Then slowly, as time goes on you begin to research little things about that dream. Reading online, googling different things that relate to the dream. Then you slowly begin to talk to people about what’s been on your mind. You share with trusted friends and people in your life who you know wont gasp with horror at your new idea. People you can chat with about it who agree that , yes, that is an interesting idea. Soon it’s on your mind all the time and you even wake up in the morning having had an actual dream about it while you slept. Then you begin to daydream about it as you drive and walk around. This dream is becoming an obsession. Then somehow without your noticing it, your getting really bored with what your currently doing day in and day out. Your fresh new idea has begun to take on an appeal and your beginning to really crave the reality of what could be.

At some point in your daydreaming you realize your new idea for a new way of living your life could actually really become your reality. You can make it happen if you choose. It will be hard, you don’t totally hate what your doing in you life currently. Your not especially unhappy or even unsatisfied at all by what your life has evolved into. Your actually quite happy with your home, your career, your friends, nothing about your life is so bad that you feel the need to escape. But still, its just all so predictable and ordinary. Your craving change, not just a new hairstyle or a new outfit, something much bigger, all consuming even. The thought of such a huge life change both terrifies and thrills you. Your stomach has butterflies just thinking about what it would be like to do it. To actually dive in head first into a massive life renovation. Can you do it? Can you really do it? Can you make such an immense life change? Will you be happy? Will you regret it? You’ll be giving up so much. You’ll never be able to look back or go back to the way it was. Is that what you really want?

So many questions that have no definite answers. There’s no way to look into a crystal ball and know for sure that all will be well, that giving up what you have will be the ‘right’ thing to do. But, will staying in the same ol’ same ol’ be right? Will you feel happy to ‘not’ do it? What will it feel like to never realize the dream that has you awake all night dreaming? Will the dream just eventually go away if you don’t do it, if you push it aside and try to forget about it? Will you regret not doing it? Will you always wonder what it would have been like to dive in? Will the life that you currently love become a life that you resent? Will you come to feel as though the path you’ve stayed on, the path that’s predictable and known, has become a prison of sorts? Who knew that a dream had the potential to ruin what was, before the dream, a good life, and turn that perfectly fine life into something regrettable? hah! Is that what dreams are for? Are they meant to propel you forward towards change? Change that can become transformational?

In order to grow and to really experience life to its fullest I think one must be open to change. To force yourself to continue down the path that is known and predictable is to reject change. To reject change is to stay the same and never grow. As you know I dove in! Head first! I walked away from everything that was familiar and known. I knew I’d never be able to turn back, to return to what I knew I loved. I took a chance on adventure. And I embraced change. Total and complete , all consuming change.

In many ways I had to spend a lot of time comparing what I knew I loved to what I knew nothing about. I didn’t know for sure what my life would be like living in this little town in the mountains of Panama. But I knew exactly what my life would be like if I stayed in Los Altos. I knew I’d continue to walk to work everyday through my beautiful neighborhood. I knew the grocery store I would continue to shop at day after day I knew the view I would see when I looked out my bedroom window. I knew it well. I didn’t know who my friends would be. I knew who all my friends were in my former life…and I loved, respected, admired and cherished them to the moon! I didn’t know for sure what my living situation would be if I moved to a different country. In my old life I knew that I loved where I lived I loved my house that Scott and I so lovingly built ourselves. I didn’t know if we would for certain have another house that we felt so proud of and that we felt so at home in. One big thing I knew for certain was that no matter where I went in the U.S. I could communicate with everyone I came into contact with…not so in the new place I was moving to. I had no idea what it would be like to struggle to communicate everyday. I had no idea what it meant to dedicate myself to learning a language. I never learned any other language and wow, I had no idea what a difficult yet totally rewarding aspect of this new life this one thing would be for me.

Had I made a different choice about following this dream of totally changing my life, what would that have felt like? How would my life look today? Would I even be blogging now? Would I have embraced this surprising and new passion of writing? I suspect I’d still be doing all the same things I was doing before I decided to uproot myself and embrace change. I would have rejected my need, my deep craving for change. It would have been pushed down, repressed and never realized. I would not know so many new people. I would never have known how to speak Spanish! Scott and I would never have had this incredible adventure of building a home in a different country. It makes my soul hurt just thinking about the people I would have missed out on meeting. The experiences that Scott and I have had together as a couple, experiences that have changed us in so many ways….how sad to have missed out on so many opportunities to grow and evolve.

To have decided to ignore that dream of altering my reality I would have truly missed out on a life filled with a multitude of blessings. Yes, I would have remained living a life that I was happy in, but Im so pleased to now be experiencing a new life that is proving to be another path to look back on with pleasure. How wonderful to be able to compare and contrast two totally different lives and to know that both very different paths have been rewarding and wonderful in so many ways. Yes, I made the right decision for me. This type of experience isn’t for everyone. We all have our own very personal dreams that are right for us. But I think the most important thing about a dream is to find your bliss in whatever unique path that makes your heart soar. It may not be a ‘dream’ at all for you, it may simply be your current ‘reality’ where you embrace your bliss! And I say, Good for you! Adventures are all a matter of perspective and one cant compare your own with that of another’s. I wish for you an Adventure today that makes you feel as though you’ve embraced a change that creates growth in your heart in some magical way. Life is good! And I just love an Adventure!

Day 6..Writing 101…

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Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us).

Today, write a post focusing on one — or more — of the people that have recently entered your life, and tell us how your narratives intersected. It can be your new partner, your newborn child, or the friendly barista whose real story you’d love to learn (or imagine), or any other person you’ve met for the first time in the past year.

In this last year I’ve been deeply touched by so many of my new neighbors here in this small town in Panama. You see even though I’ve been living in Bouqete for nearly two years, I’m still a newcomer. So many things about living in a different country have required a bit of adjustment. For me, being amongst so many warm, welcoming people has made my ability to adjust just a little bit easier.

This past year I’ve really gotten to know our eight Panamanian employees who are working on building our house with my husband. Six days a week I drive down into town to pick them up in the morning and then at the end of the day I drive them back down again. I must say the one thing that stands out for me during that 10 minute ride in my car twice a day, is the incredible sense of humor they all have. The camaraderie between them is a hoot to witness. They laugh and make jokes and call each other “crazy women” (Loca) and poke fun at one another all the time. All in good fun, of course. It seems as if they switch around to a different guy each day as they gang up on someone new. No one seems to escape the harassment that they dish out to one another. As we’re driving in my car, whenever one guy makes some remark that’s funny or snarky they all, in unison do this kinda singsong… “Ayyyyyyye” …its hard to describe in the written word, but hilarious in the car. Or Javier says, “Totalamente!” With a grin as they all nod their heads in agreement to whatever was said.

When I have those 6 guys in the car with me and Javier (he seems to be the ringleader!) says something, obviously meant to be a joke , and all six men in unison say…”Ayyyyyyyyyye”… the laughter breaks out all around and I smile. I just love the feeling of pleasure it seems these guys get everyday harassing each other on their way to work. They seem to smile a lot and always find something to say to make each other laugh. I’ve tried to join in the fun by calling the last guy to arrive in the morning, “Princesa” because we’ve had to wait for whoever’s late…that gets a big laugh! And recently, when they were all coming down with a cold, one by one… I told them they needed to stop kissing each other so much! “Tu necesitas no mas Besitos!” Boy did that get a big “Ayyyyyyyye”! And laughs, and coughs and a few sniff sniffs! hah!

Before we moved into our casita I hardly ever got to really interact with our crew, but now I’m around everyday and have even been honored with a title…”La Jefa”! Yep! I’m the Boss! hah! You know I love that! Right??? I love the way they sort of look out for me whenever they’re around. If they see me trying to carry something heavy to the car they drop what they’re doing and run to help me. If I come home with bags of groceries and they’re nearby, it never fails, I’ll turn around and see that I have a helper! I just love being so pampered and respected. I understand this is just a sample of one aspect of Latin Culture, respect for women, well especially ‘older’ women…which, ahem..I guess I am! Humph! Well, I love the pampering! And…I’ll take it with pleasure!

I don’t really know for sure but I like to think that Scott and I are providing these eight men with a good job. A job where they feel respected and appreciated. I feel like we’ve had such a wonderful experience gathering a group of men that seem like they actually enjoy working together and get along so well. I also feel like there’s a mutual respect that goes between Scott and the entire crew of men. I have no idea what types of jobs they’ve had in the past but I really hope that as employers we’ve treated them well and that they’ll look back years from now and remember us and our job fondly. If its possible to think of employers in such a way…hah!

One other thing that I’ve enjoyed is having a mix of both Panamanians and Indigenous men working side by side. I’ve gotten to see how they interact with one another and to learn from my observations that at least our crew seem to offer one another equal amounts of respect. The three indigenous guys have learned a lot from Scott. Before working with Scott Federico had only ever been a machete guy. He had zero construction experience and we’ve watched him really pay attention and learn so much. Even just using a measure tape is a new skill that he never had before. Scott is a very patient teacher and mentor and has such a gentle, calm spirit I think they all look up to him and respect him greatly. At least from my observation of him when I see them all working together they seem to really want to please him and work hard.

I’ve learned so much from them and I don’t have enough clarity in my level of communication yet to be able to express to them how much I’ve enjoyed having them around everyday. They know I’m trying hard to learn Spanish and they often ask me if I understand something they’ve said, if I say no, then all of them try to help me. I have so many teachers! It’s just great! I think of what it will be like when we finally finish this project. I’ll miss them so much. Ricardo, Javier, Daniel, Richard, Carlos, Federico, Arquiles, and Martin , each of them. We’ll most certainly treat them to a big fiesta when all this hard work is finally completed. And I know from now on, when we see any of them around town it will be with a warm heart and a big smile that I will greet them. But for now I look forward to seeing them everyday and to hearing their laughter. There’s nothing more endearing to me these days then the smiling faces I see when I look in my rear view mirror at all those happy Panamanian men in the car with me. I’m a lucky girl indeed!

A dog banned, A first bribe, and other happenings…

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Poor little Chumbo, the neighborhood doggy who wanders up to our house for love…and food. (I suspect mostly food, but oh well) Yesterday we had to hang chicken wire all around our terrace to keep Chumbo off the terrace. Aww, Poor guy. That may sound mean to you but it had to be done. Unfortunately I couldn’t stop him from peeing on everything! Ugh! I know! Gross! He peed on the BBQ, on the chairs, on my plants in the pots on the terrace and on the pillars too…He really wanted to be sure any other dogs in the neighborhood were well aware of who’s territory our terrace is. And well, he was not aware that it’s not actually his territory at all….it’s Scott’s! Yep…Scott couldn’t enjoy his hammock time with the fumes of Chumbos markings all around him. Now Chumbo has been banned from visiting our porch. He’s more than welcome to visit our yard, I moved his food and water bowl out to the front of the house, so no need to worry about him getting nourishment! I really love dogs and I’ve been looking forward to the day that we can get our own, so I thought I would love having Chumbo up here , and I do, but I must agree dog pee isn’t a pleasant fragrance. He’s such a sweet dog and If he were mine I’d train him not to do such an uncivilized thing, but he’s not mine so I’ll just have to live with the ban on his terrace time visits. Darn it. Read the rest of this entry

Day 5…Writing 101

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Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible….yeah, right…eye roll! hah!

What’s that? It looks like a white envelope. Right over there, under that tree where the Resplendent Quetzal is peeking out of it’s nest. My what bright, beautiful colors that Quetzal has…strange, it seems to be looking right at me…

See it? Can you see the envelope? Oh come on…you can’t miss that bright white paper that stands out so vividly amongst all the brown of the leaves and the lush green ferns. It clearly doesn’t belong there. Here, use my binoculars. Now can you see it? I don’t know how you can possibly miss something so clearly out of place here in the lush, green vegetation of the jungle.

What? Oh, Yes, I see that Blue Morpho Butterfly fluttering by… Yes, Its an incredible butterfly, I know! But do you see that envelope way over there? What? Oh, lets see….where did you see the monkey? Gasp! Ohhhh He grabbed the envelope! Hah!

Yes! He really did! Wait! The envelope…I think… it has …my name on it! Holy shit! It does! It has my name on it…how weird! This can’t be happening… Okay, here look again through my binoculars…he’s jumped over there, see him? In that big Cecropia tree, no, not that one….the one near the river.

What’s he doing now? I can barely see him, he’s climbed so hight up in the tree. Is there another monkey up there? No? Well, what is it? Huh? ……A Sloth??? Let’s get closer….. Give me the binoculars. Look out for that big creamy colored mushroom, don’t step on it! Isn’t it amazing! Gasp! Look at that iguana! I think its looking right at me….and doesn’t seem scared at all. Kinda creepy…

Oh, my…Doesn’t is seem like as we get nearer to the Cecropia tree there’s more and more of those Blue Morpho Butterflies fluttering all around? Huh…I’ve never seen so many in one place before. Don’t loose the monkey. Do you still see him? Where’d he go?……Oh! There he is….wait….what? Does the Sloth have the envelope now? I can clearly see Holly Carter written on the envelope….hah!

Why is this happening? I don’t get it. How on earth could a random white envelope with my name on it end up in the middle of the jungle in the hands of a howler monkey who has clearly handed it off to a sloth sitting in a huge Cecropia tree? And what’s in that envelope? And, why are these butterflies swarming us? Sheesh!

Did you see it too? You did, right? You saw my name on that envelope, right? I’m not crazy, am I? Haha! Well…now that we’ve gotten closer I can clearly see it, and the sloth seems to be intently looking at the monkey, almost as if to say,”Whats this?”. Since when did Howler monkeys and Sloths socialize this way? I don’t think they normally behave this way…ugh! I mean I’m not a pro on monkey and sloth behavior, but do you think this is ‘normal’?

These Blue Morpho’s are kinda annoying…flying all around us like this…shoo! Get outa here butterflies! ugh! Pfffffft! I feel like they’re kinda attacking us…The attack of the killer Blue Morpho’s! hah! Let’s just move over there…wait? Oh my gosh! That iguana is behind us, is he following us? Naw…can’t be. Creepy!

Um, I’m gonna stand on the big log over there…Okay, let me see those binoculars, what’s the sloth gonna do with that envelope?…….huh? What? No Way! The sloth is gonna open it…she’s trying to open the envelope that has my name on it! A sloth cant possibly even know to ‘open’ an envelope…can it? Well, this sloth seems to know that there’s something inside, and she clearly wants to see what it is….

She did it…she actually opened the envelope…and…no..
way….is she?…gulp…Look! Look! Are you seeing this?? Gasp! Shit! I can’t believe this! Oh my God! The sloth looks like she’s reading the letter inside the envelope…this is just unbelievable!

She’s smiling…..and….now she’s looking at me with a huge crazy grin on her little sloth face…

Writing 101 Day 4….

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Writing 101, Day 4…

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Traffic, working 12 hour days, PG &E, AT&T, Los Altos Garbage co, State Farm, Blue Cross, A Huge Mortgage, Property Taxes, State Taxes, These are just a few things that used to be in my life but aren’t in my life anymore. This small list just off the top of my head are just a few of the things that made my life stressful, and for the majority of my days , not fun , and I’ve said, “Audios” to them forever. Oh what a glorious day it was when I had the pleasure of spending an entire afternoon with all my bills in front of me calling each one to request that they cancel my account.

Let me tell ya, it was indeed wonderful to say to PG&E, “I’d like you to cancel my account Please” “No, no new address”! Health insurance….Oh hell Yeah! “Hello, Blue Cross, I’d like you to cancel my account please”….State Farm “Hello, please discontinue my policy”. I used to hate all the mail that came to my house every single day. So many envelopes and junk that I never wanted. Thats another thing , come to think of it, another thing that I don’t have in my life anymore…A Mailbox! Hah! No, I have no mailbox living here in Panama! Cuz’ guess what…they have no mail delivery service! Can you believe that! So I never have to face that pile of junk and waste of paper! I may be wearing out my exclamation point here as I write about this! But, what a wonderful freedom it is to shed all that crap that I was required to have in order to live the life I had. And not to have to sit down every few weeks and write out checks or pay online for what felt like endless things in order to be a responsible citizen of the rat race.

Don’t get me wrong, the race had it’s moments of glory. I have zero regrets about the life I lived in the States. I loved having all the wonderful luxuries that came with living in the United States. I enjoyed having electricity…which, Ahem, I kinda sorta have now. But in my life before, I had only to write that check each month to good Ol’ PG&E and miraculously I had lights in my house! Who ever thought about where the electricity came from? Not me, I simply flipped that little light switch on and went on my merry way. Now that I’ve said ‘goodbye’ to PG&E I have to make sure I have enough gas to keep my generator going so that I’ll have electricity in my house. Well, one day, in the not to far future we’ll have electricity connected to our house, but at the moment its the good ol’ generator, and I’m grateful for it! In my life before I never felt as grateful as I do now for the modern conveniences like electricity that magically appeared in my house in Los Altos. Well, and I should also say I’m grateful for Mr. Generator! Never had any need for that in my house in Los Altos, thats for sure!

Something else I had in my life before that I don’t have now is endless conveniences. It would seem that nowadays if something happens with little to no hassle I’m ecstatic! In my life before I could get things done that I needed to get done, without ever even batting an eye. If I had a list of errands to do I never thought for a minute that I may only be able to accomplish one or two of them, I knew without doubt that when I got home later in the day, everything on my list of to-do’s would be done. Nope, things just don’t happen like that here. One must begin a day of errands with the clear and simple knowledge that getting at least one thing done will be okay. And I’ve become accustomed to relaxing much more about what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. Which leads me to the part of this lifestyle change that makes this little inefficiency not a big deal….its this little thing called “Tranquilo”…I never had that before. If my list of things that needed to get done did not get done, my day was ruined! I got home feeling frustrated and often angry. This internal need to be ultra productive at all cost is one other thing I no longer have in my life. Its slowly slipped away with the tons of junk mail! hah!

One other little thing that I no longer have in my life is the knowledge that I would never ever have a scorpion in my house! ugh! Who ever thought of watching where you walk at night when you get up to pee! Or shaking out your shoes each time you go to put them on? Not ME! Scorpions are new to me and I gotta be honest…no amount of Tranquilo is gonna make that any better! Of course a bit of poison strategically and regularly sprayed all over , inside and out..yea, that does the trick! Rudolpho promises me that its ‘non toxic’ and I’m buying it! The cat’s still alive and kickin’ and so all is well in my mind. Scott’s skeptical about the “non-toxic’ claim, but not me, I’m just thanking God for Poison!

While we’re on the subject of things I no longer have in my life, I used to have this little thing called Language in common with everyone, everywhere I went. Now, I’m a foreigner and I have to work really really hard to understand what’s being said to me and to make myself understood. But, I never had such a feeling of accomplishment in my life before when the person I was talking to understood me…I just took for granted that the words that came out of my mouth would be heard and understood. Now, when I have a simple interaction with anyone here in my new home in Panama and I’m understood I feel so accomplished! I never felt the glee that I feel now after having had a little chat with a nice old man at the gas station. I mean, shoot I never in my life spent any time at all thinking about how I would feel to be totally without clear, concise communication with the people all around me. Words just naturally came out of my mouth and no question in my mind if I was saying it right or if I sounded like a total dummy. I have a new found appreciation for language and for the dedication it takes to learn one other than the one you’ve spoken all your life. This is something I’m so glad I now have in my life.

This subject of things I no longer have in my life is a subject that I could ramble on and on about. Having set out two years ago on the biggest adventure of my life becoming an expat in Panama, its opened up an endless list of things that are no longer a part of my life. And the list is full of both good and bad things that are both missing from my life as well as things that have been added to my life. It doesn’t matter where you live, if your really honest and you think about it, there’s always plenty that we love about our life and things we wish were different. Because my life here in Panama is so very new I cant help but compare a little bit, how my life was and how it is now. I don’t mean to say that I compare in terms of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ no, I loved so much about my life in California. I still think its one of the most beautiful places in the world to live. And at the same time I’m soaking up my new found love of this place I now call home. I may miss some things about living in the States, like no scorpions (wink, wink) and the ease of much of what is efficient and organized when you live in your country of origin and just know and understand how things are done. My new adventure living in the lush, green, friendly, wild mountains of Boquete, Panama is providing me with an endless list of new and wondrous things and I barely notice the lack of some of the things I no longer have in my life.

Day 3..Writing 101…

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Day Three: Writing 101…

“Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Nailing Brahms’ Hungarian Dance Number 5 on your alto sax. Making perfect pulled pork tacos. Drawing what you see. Or, writing a novel. Each requires that you make practice a habit.

Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.”

Well, this has been a fun exercise! I tried not to censor myself or to think too much and will ya look at what came outta me, Humph! ….I took your advice and tried to just free form it and let my thoughts go without too much worry of spelling, grammar and whatnot…well, I actually came up with plenty of music that sparks memories and thoughts both fond and fun. My daughter would say , “cruel mom”…hah! Well..that was fun, thanks for the prompt WordPress!

Three favorite songs huh? Uh….well…ya see, I like music, I listen to music, but what are three of my favorite songs?? Ugh! Thats a really hard one for me. I’ve never been one to buy much music, as a matter of fact I may be one of the few people that has no music from iTunes at all! Nope, not any! I just don’t care that much. My husband is a music lover and always tries to quiz me when we’re driving and listening to music. A particular song will come on the radio, one he knows its a song I like and he’ll say , “Okay, Who’s this?” ….Blank stare….I have no idea! I just don’t really care that much who it is, all I care about is that I like it! Seriously, I’ve just never been much of a star-struck person.

Celebrities mean almost nothing to me. If I were to be in the same room with a celebrity I very likely would not even notice them. Its not that I don’t admire and appreciate the art that they practice and or perform, its just that ‘Who’ they are does not seem to make much of an impression on me. I do love the Rolling Stones and Oh, Mannnnn what’s his name….ugh….I can never remember names! Oh…Shit, I had to ask Scott…”Who’s that guy that I like?… you know… the one who sings Brown Eyed Girl?”…VAN MORRISON!! yea! I love him! I also like Santana! Oh, and who doesn’t like the Eagles? Gotta love them, right? The Beatles…When I start to think about what I like the names slowly come to me.

I do enjoy putting music on while I clean the house or help cook. Scott is the man in charge here at our house when it comes to all things cooking related. Cooking has just never been my forte. I love to help and I’m a mean soo-chef but I have zero desire to be in charge of the cooking! Some of our favorite times together is when we’re knee deep in ingredients and dishes as the music is playing and I switch between chopping, and cleaning and a little dancing and singing….and then more cleaning cuz’ I gotta tell ya, that guy is MESSY! Sheesh! Does he really need to use every single pot, pan and gadget in the kitchen??? Yes, I do believe he does! hah!

Well, Lucky for me Scott is very sweet about not making me listen to his favorite music, cuz’ ahem, that guy is a rocker at heart! Yep…if you knew my sweet man… this just may seem a little out of character for him. Being the quiet gentle man that he is, you would peg him more of a blues guy (which he also likes) or soft jazz…nope, its hard core, screaming rock and roll for him YUCK! I shouldnt sound so mean, he actually has a wide range of music that he enjoys, the heavy metal genre is just one that I cant take.

I may not be able to point to one specific genre or artist that I’d call my favorite but I sure can be specific about what I dislike and its heavy metal rock and roll! I am sorry to those of you who rock with my hubby, I mean no offense…but sheesh, lets turn on Van Morrison, and just bop around the kitchen to Brown eyed girl, k? hah! That kind of music makes me so happy, and honestly there is so much in this world that makes me sad that when I listen to music or watch a movie I just wanna escape all that and be light hearted and free.

Of course I bet those who enjoy the hard rock music may find that type of music to be relaxing or joyous? Well, more power to ya…Rock On! hah! But, if ya don’t mind, for me, I’m gonna get down in my kitchen with a bit of the Stones or How bout some Eagles! yessssss…..Welcome to the Hotel California…..Badadadaa….Lalalalalala…

Living in Panama, did I mention we live in the mountains of Western Panama? Well, we hear a lot of music living here! Especially during the months of November and December….Our property sits high above the town of Boquete and let me tell you, sound travels! It truly travels like I never really anticipated when we bought our land. But, before I go on let me just say that It may be loud but I love it! I may not love it if it were right next door, but hearing the loud ‘Boom Boom Boom’ of the music from up here I just smile. To me that loud music means that they’re having fun. The music to me is the sound of celebrating and in the Latin Culture they will find any ol’ excuse to celebrate!

A celebration just would not be complete without lots of loud music! It seems here in Panama they are particularly fond of drums! Yep, drums. And parades with endless drummers is a specialty around here. Every kid in this area must play the drums! And my non-musical ear may be mistaken, but It sounds awfully like the exact same drum beat over and over and over repeatedly with no variation at all. Ahem…,but I could just be tone deaf? who knows? But , again, they do the drumming with such glee and march in the parades playing those darn drums with the biggest happiest smiles on their faces….you gotta love it! And I must mention the very impressive twirling of the drumsticks that goes along with the drumming and marching! We’re talkin’ advanced twirling! Those kids really must practice that twirl all year long!

Since living here I must say, we’ve been surrounded by so much wonderful music, and celebrating with fire works and no end to parties and holidays. It makes me just as happy to hear that drumming as it does when I hear Van Morrison play… Brown Eyed Girl! Oh…and Bob Marley! I love him too…We’re Jammin’…lalalalal Jammin’ You know that one, right? Who doesnt smile when they hear Bob Marley? That song brings to mind my very first visit to Costa Rica with a good friend. It was , oh my gosh, how many years ago? Um, maybe about 18 years ago now? Yes, It was way before Costa Rica became so touristy. And it was the trip when I first discovered how much I loved being out in nature and camping and all that great ‘outdoorsy’ stuff.

One instance on that trip that stands out…well, several instances stand out but the one that relates to Bob Marley is when we were traveling around and stopped at a ocean side bar/restaurant place, it was in a very remote place, it had a thatched roof, wooden deck, very rustic. I was once again blown away by how rustic yet spectacularly beautiful this place was. We ordered food and drinks, we were with a group of really fun people. Music was playing…one gal who was in our group was from Germany, Andrea, she was really great, we had become fast friends…and I’ll never forget when suddenly Bob Marley started playing and she began to sing and dance…she new all the words and her face was so blissful…for some reason I always think of Andrea dancing and singing when I hear Bob Marley. Andrea, and that place on the ocean with the thatched roof and my newfound love of nature and travel.

It seemed as though my eyes had newly opened and I had discovered a love for travel and for new and exciting adventures. I never could have guessed that I would find myself living in Central America all these years later! hah! “Lalalalal I’m just a Buffalo Soldier, In the heart of America…Stolen from Africa…brought to America…” What a memory…and that song brings it to the forefront of my mind every time!

Okay….as I’m writing and thinking about different songs that bring memories to mind…I’m hesitant to admit to this one…its one that makes me laugh when I think of it…its a song that Scott and I like to call Our Daughters Theme song….To her utter dismay and horror we often sang this song to her when she was entering into those dreaded ‘Teen Years”….(cue the scary music….) We would be in the car with a sulking pre-teen sitting in the back seat, angry once again that we were making her do something fun with us and what song would conveniently come on the radio? Yep, The good ol’ Stones….”You Can’t Always Get Whatcha Waaaaaant…But If you try real hard….you just might find….ya get whaaaatcha neeeeeeed!”…Oh yeah! I can hear her right now…”Stop it!” As Scott and I serenaded her with her theme song! To this day, she is nearly 23 years old and she still doesn’t appreciate that particular song…but she does begrudgingly laugh along with us at the memory of those torturous car rides.

Okay….here’s another one! sheesh! How did this happen, I thought I had nothing to write about music, but they just keep coming! This one is from my good ol’ teen years…Johnna, Jackie and Kelly, do you also share this memory of driving in Johnna’s VW Bug with Cindy Lauper blasting!! “Girls just wanna have fun…Ohhhh Girls… they just wanna… they Just wanna… they just wanna ! Girls just wanna have fu-un”? Driving over highway 17, going to the beach…windows rolled down so everyone could hear us all singing along with Cindy! We most certainly had on our different colored fake Varnay sunglasses and our plaid shorts with multi-colored bangle bracelets on and we thought we were so totally happenen’..hah…cuz’ well…we were!

Those were the days…which brings me to the silly song that has invaded my head lately…to my husbands utter dismay and horror (maybe a few friends too!)…I have no idea who sings this song….but, just a sec, let me Google it…Mary Hopkin..Huh? okay…well I have no idea who she is, but this song is stuck in my head….it goes like this..”Those were the days my friends, we thought they’d never end, we’d sing and dance forever and a day…we lived the life we’d choose….we’d fight and never lose….those were the days, oh Yes, those were the days…lalalalalalalalalalalal…” This must have been a song my parents listened to, I have no idea how I know it, but I cant seem to get it outa my head! Well, will ya look at me…my heart kinda dropped when I read this prompt, cuz’ I’m sooooo not a music person…so I thought! I had no idea how much would come to me if I just let myself start typing. I’m very impressed with myself right now and I can hardly wait to go back and edit my random thoughts…(nay, on second thought, I’m just gonna push that publish button and not edit…let’s see how that goes!)

Day 2…Writing 101…

Standard

A Room With A View…
Today’s Prompt: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

If I could zoom through time and space to anyplace at all I would go to the house in Morgan Hill where I grew up. I would be sitting at the top of our staircase with my little sister by my side. It would be the wee hours of the morning, not yet light, but not totally pitch black. It’s Christmas morning and our Father’s favorite time of the year. He’s been preparing for this morning all month long, he loves nothing more than surprises and seeing us all happy. And this is the moment he looks forward to most! It’s also one of the few memories I have of a time when my little sister and I clung together as one in solidarity. Sitting close together, excitedly huddled at the top most step, in the wee early, dark of Christmas morning…

He loves to drag out the anticipation of us two girls, lovingly torturing us with the constant reminders of what wondrous surprises awaits us on Christmas morning . He’s shopped and decorated and teased us with clues as to what Big gift we may or may not find under the tree. As Soon as December 1st comes along we’d already gone to our traditional Christmas tree lot and picked out the perfect tree. Dad loves to have it flocked, its his one bow to a lingering fondness for the snow of his youth growing up in Colorado. The tree is huge and its perfectly shaped, he loves this family outing and his enthusiasm is contagious to all us girls, including mom. He just cant wait to get home and turn on the Christmas music and begin the decorating!

Our Dad’s fondness for the Christmas holiday is one that was unparalleled, I don’t think any of our friends Dad’s ever went all out like our Dad did! And it all culminates to the wee early moments in the morning when my sister and I sit at the top of the stairs together waiting for him to finally give us permission to scurry down and see what was waiting for us under the tree. You see, this was his steadfast rule for Christmas morning, we were not to go downstairs on Christmas morning until he got up, went downstairs, started coffee, turned on the Christmas music started a roaring fire in the fireplace and all the while exclaiming…”Oh My Gosh! You girls had better bring a roll of toilet paper cuz your gonna poop your pants when you see what’s down here!”

We are ecstatic and a little annoyed with the drawn out suspense that he insists on plaguing us with. We’ve been awake for hours, who could sleep on a night like this? We began tip-toeing into our parents bedroom in the wee hours of the morning, gently and hesitantly tap, tap, tapping mom on the shoulder, trying gently to awaken her to see if we could get up yet. Only to be told, “One more hour”…more than once!

Back to bed we would march, both feeling frustrated and angry that they could be so cruel. On this one night we slept together in one bed, but only on this night. For some reason Christmas Eve was a special night to both of us and and we had an unspoken understanding between us that we would sleep together on that night only. It was a magical night and a night when we knew we would not be sleeping much. My sister and I rallied together on that night each year. We were both plagued by excitement and found solace in each other’s company as we tried to sleep just a little bit.

I miss that feeling of solidarity I had with my sister while we sat at the top of the stairs with our jammies on, arms wrapped around our knees, feeling every bit the abused kids, being forced to suffer that interminable wait! “How can he do this to us?” we would say….Meanwhile, mom was no help, she would be in her bathroom putting on makeup, fixing her hair and generally taking her time getting ready for Christmas morning. NO, my little sister and I were in this alone! At the top of the stairs anxiously awaiting the announcement that we could come down. None of our friends parents were this cruel, surely we were being abused and mistreated! hah!

Why this moment? Why this place and time? Well, you see I have very few memories of times like this when my little sister and I have been equal in our feelings of togetherness. Until very recently we’ve been estranged and have had little in common to connect us. We grew up, and life got hard. My little sister and I grew apart in such a painful way, but, is there a non-painful way to grow apart? Suddenly it seemed as though we no longer had any opportunities to sit together at the top of a staircase, anxiously waiting together for something exciting to happen. We no longer found solace in each other’s presence like we did on those torturous Christmas mornings sitting at the top of the staircase together.

In the aftershock of a family that shattered into a million little pieces my little sister became a stranger to me and I to her. The memory of sitting together on Christmas morning is a fond, distant memory of a time and a place where the two of us, sisters, were innocent and we didn’t know yet what strangers we would one day become to one another. I’d like to zoom back in time and capture those two little girls and instead of hugging my knees I’d hug her. I’d be a different big sister to my little sister. I’d stand a little closer to her. I’d talk to her more. I’d help her more. I’d know and understand her much much more. I’d be her friend. If we could just sit at the top of those stairs and have the knowledge that it didn’t need only be Christmas morning when we were in this life together. If we only knew how important we should be to each other not only on Christmas morning but in life always.

Yes, I’d zoom back through time and space to Christmas morning, at the top of the staircase. I’d sit with my little sister and together we’d face the anticipation of what was to come. Together we’d rush down the stairs running with all our might, but we’d be holding hands as we entered the living room filled with all that Holiday Joy. And, the togetherness we felt during that time of year would Stick! We wouldn’t just turn our backs on each other and go our separate ways. We’d hold on to the feeling of togetherness and not forget it as we have so sadly done. We’d find every opportunity to sit at the top of that staircase and any other staircases we came across as the years went by . And my little sister and I would just soak up that feeling of being in this life together. It seems like those moments were so fleeting and so very temporary. But, life’s not over yet, and relationships have the ability to heal and even regenerate.

While the ‘zooming back in time’ isn’t a possibility, I believe that those two little girls are not completely gone. Those two sisters are someplace in our hearts and I think there still may be a staircase in our future, figuratively speaking that is. The top of that staircase represents possibilities and possibilities faced together. My little sister and I have very recently discovered that our staircase (symbolically speaking) is no longer in our house in Morgan Hill where we grew up. And Christmas morning is no longer what we’re anticipating together, nervous and ever so excited but a renewed connection as two women who miss having a sister. We aren’t looking forward to presents lovingly bought for us on one special day. And our parents are no longer the ones doling out the anticipation of what is to come. It’s the two of us together once again. As my little sister and I begin to reacquaint ourselves with each other as adults and learn how to have each other in our perspective lives, we’re both in suspense once again… together looking forward to what may come.

What gifts await us? We’ve spent our entire adult lives without each other. We went down separate and very different paths and somehow never knew how to do it together. Now, all these years later, here we sit, together at the top of the staircase once again. The big difference now is that we’re enjoying the suspense and taking our time just knowing that the gifts aren’t going anywhere. We can soak up this time and maybe just realize that the biggest gift of all isn’t downstairs, its not under the tree and its not in another room….its a sister and she’s right here right now. This is a gift worth waiting for and a gift to cherish.