Tag Archives: Inspiration

Could You Lend A Hand?

16 Oct

I think we are not good at asking for help. Is it women? Men? US’ers or everyone? It is certainly not just me. In a recent conversation with my daughter, she mentioned an App for organizing meals for anyone who needs help. Her aunt and uncle were recently in a car accident, and a friend stepped up to organize meal delivery. MEAL TRAIN is quite popular, especially for moms with new babies. What a fabulous idea!

What struck me right between the eyes is that it never occurred to me to ask for help. My partner is scheduled for major surgery in less than two weeks and I am the chief cook and bottle washer. While I would love someone to step in and organize the whole thing for me, it hadn’t occurred to me until this minute that I could even ask someone to do that!

This week the sunrises were amazing in Bacalar.

I remember when my now 38 year old son was born. Two friends brought food for which I was supremely grateful. We visited for awhile as I sat on the couch nursing my newborn. After some time they made moves to leave, putting on their coats and standing at the front door. Before exiting one woman casually said, “is there anything else you need?” The dishes piled in the sink flashed before my eyes and I took a deep breath. “Could you do the dishes?” They looked at each other, took off their coats and a few minutes later, the kitchen was spotless. It was a tiny kitchen and they had four hands. It meant so much to me, and all I had to do was ask.

Perfect swimming days.

It has been eight years since we left Austin to retire to Mexico, yet I had no trouble listing twenty people who would probably be quite willing to lend a hand. I need to look into the whole thing and see how it works. One thing for certain is that I can use the help and if I don’t ask, I certainly won’t get it.

DOS TORTAS

My Life Goes Better With Yoga

2 Oct

I was first introduced to yoga about 1972. I was studying at The University of The America’s in Cholula, Mexico where there was a young teacher who did asanas (yoga postures) out on the commons. He piqued my curiosity and I joined his weekly class.

1973 That’s me on the right celebrating my 21st birthday in Mexico.

Over the years, yoga has come in and out of my life. Before we left Austin for the wilds of Southern Mexico, I paid $99 a month and walked daily to the Yoga Yoga Studio for unlimited classes.

Downward Facing Dog variation with bone. Stela supervises.

Having scoliosis, the bones in my spine have realigned themselves and moved internal organs to places they wouldn’t ordinarily be. I am blessed to have been able to carry and birth three babies and live most of my life pain free. I believe that yoga has helped.

Stela waits for class to start.

I have lately returned to morning yoga practice. My body feels better for it. I’ve long given up having to prove anything. While structured class with a teacher would challenge and improve my flexibility, the times we live in don’t lend themselves to group practice. Online classes require watching a small screen and interferes with my peace. Since I am not a newbie I have a routine that works for me.

Stela masters child’s pose.

Yoga keeps my body flexible, relaxed and focused. It is something that makes a difference in my day to day life. I can see and feel the benefits which is motivation enough.

OMmmmmm. *dog yoga pictures taken by our lovely house sitter Lei Chen

Yoga is not for everyone but if you are so inclined I recommend it as a gift to your body and soul that will last a lifetime.

DOS TORTAS

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

26 Sep

This week we are settled back in Texas waiting for a medical appointment. While sitting out on our friends’ deck this morning with a cup of coffee in hand, I was enjoying the coolness before the Texas heat kicked in later in the day. A hummingbird flew across my line of sight and popped me out of an early morning haze. Staying in the present moment is sometimes illusive, at least it was this particular day. Until the hummingbird that is. Who doesn’t love those tiny blurrs of beauty.

My lovely wife hands me a cup of coffee every morning.

I began to observe and appreciate the sky, trees and general beauty of the Texas hills. I have so much gratitude for our friends who opened their lovely home to us.

Other things that contribute to my joy began to flow through my foggy brain.

Water in all its forms, rain, swimming, showers, and the ocean. Dogs, squirrel antics, birds, and roses with beguiling fragrance. The sky in Bacalar and Texas, sunrises, and sunsets. Then there are vistas, mountaintop, ocean, and even lovely backyards.

Looking for the sunny side of life.
Laguna Bacalar, Mexico

Some days are harder than others but I am always reminded by the evening news, it could be so much worse. I hope you enjoy your day and count your blessings along the way. I try to choose peace. We are still optimistic of seeing the surgeon before leaving Thursday for Mexico. My fingers are crossed so much I think they’re stuck.

DOS TORTAS

Doing The Covid Two-Step

19 Sep

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the two-step is a dance frequently performed at a country western bar in boots and cowboy hat. Back in the day, it’s where I met my Sweetie, twenty-seven years ago this week. No one would have put money on us, yet here we are.

Gay bars in the 90s.

These days, the only dance we’re doing is to avoid Covid infection while traveling in the U.S. One, two cha cha cha.

Pharmacy shelves are empty.

Rapid home tests are as elusive as the proverbial needle in a haystack. I believe folks have boxes at home next to stockpiled toilet paper. My daughter orders rapid tests online at 4am when supplies come in and sell out quickly.

Last week we got news that my former sister-in-law succumbed to conspiracy theories and vaccine avoidance. There are so many sad stories of needless death, it’s difficult to turn on the news. RIP Val.

Fingers crossed that we get to talk to the surgeon this week and schedule Lisa’s spinal fusion. It’s been another one of those dances, slow, slow, quick, quick.

At least I can share photos of our pups who are doing well at home in Bacalar under the care of our house sitters. Enjoy.

Luna enjoying a hot stone bath.
Stela harassing my MILs cat.

DOS TORTAS

Get Vaccinated

The Broken Cookie

12 Sep

When my kids were little, it was not uncommon for them to have a meltdown at the oddest times. After a fun day at the waterpark, some seemingly inconsequential thing would trigger a full blown scream-fest on the way home in the car. We called it the broken cookie syndrome.

One of my favorite pictures of our kids.

It makes no sense to try and talk a child out of a tantrum. A broken cookie tastes the same as a whole one. But after a day of trying to hold it all together, the slightest infraction ie the broken cookie and the wheels fall off.

That’s what happened to me today. We have been four days of caring for our three year old twin granddaughters. We sang songs, read stories, did yoga, drew pictures, and walked to the park, all the things you do with young ones to pass the day. Let’s not forget naps, baths, and bandaids on skinned knees.

Our bundles of fun.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a volunteer gig to help out their parents. Except, the girls were supposed to be in school all day and our job was to transport to and from, feed them dinner and put them to bed. Easy peasy right? Runny noses from allergies made it impossible to go to school in the time of Covid. We thought they would get better as the week progressed but they never did.

Wonderful artwork by the girls in my journal.

Today I had my own broken cookie. I made a broccoli slaw which was a first for me. Raw broccoli, carrots and a peanut sauce. The slaw was my own version of a Pinterest recipe, substituting what I had on hand. Yummy. It was a bit of work and I was excited for dinner.

Lisa came to ask what she could do support dinner prep and I suggested she slice up some tomatoes and cucumbers for the burgers. She misunderstood and added them to my slaw.

I have NO idea why it upset me so badly. I wasn’t mad at her. But I found myself sitting in the bedroom senselessly boohooing. Dear God what is wrong with me? I blame it all on a broken cookie . The straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak. BTW the slaw was still delish.

DOS TORTAS

Broccoli Salad (This recipe lends itself to many options, adding pineapple or apple is nice too)

4 well packed cups small broccoli pieces, stems removed (~2 small-medium heads of broccoli) you can grate the inner stems too.

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 cup shredded carrot

½ cup dried cranberries

DRESSING:

½ cup plain nondairy yogurt

¼ cup vegan mayo

3 tbsp tahini (or peanut butter)

1 ½ tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp white miso (optional)

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

¾ tsp fine grain kosher salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

Cheesy Roasted Sunflower Seeds

½ cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds (or peanuts)

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

¼ tsp salt

I Want To See You Be Brave

12 Jun

As we plan our upcoming July trip to the US to attend to some long overdue medical issues, I find myself awash in fear and sadness. The reports of surging Covid leave me wanting to chuck it all and pull the covers over my head.

I found this timely reminder on Facebook this morning…

In times of trouble, carry on small steps.
Do what you have to do, but a little at a time.
Don’t think about the future, not even about what could happen tomorrow. Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make some soup.
Do you see that?
You are moving forward step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Get some rest.
Compliment yourself.
Take another step.
Then another one.
You won’t notice, but your steps will get bigger and bigger.
Time will come when you can think about the future without crying. ❤️

(Elena Mikhalkova, ′′ The Room of Ancient Keys ′′)

We have arranged house sitters and bought airplane tickets. I am working on transportation and housing. One step, one day, one action at a time.

We learned this week of another dear friend whom we saw and hung out with in Austin pre-Covid, is in hospice. She has a neurological illness that the doctors can’t figure out. She was next on my list of friends to ask for space in her spare bedroom. Some days there just are no words.

On Wednesdays I make myself go to my drawing group. It is a brief foray out of the house, that provides social interaction and a break from the sadness. Plus I get to draw naked people! I can see the improvement in my drawing. It’s the little things, the small steps.

Lisa got her second shot. We are now both fully vaccinated. Another step.

Brave by Sara Bareilles is my new theme song. Today’s blog is me being brave, refusing to push down my tears and sadness. One thing Covid has done is bring to light people’s mental health struggles. How could we NOT be sad. I would love to hear from you. We will sit and hold hands together. Small steps.

DOS TORTAS

Death Knocks

30 May

It was a sucker punch to the stomach this week, when I received the news on Facebook that a dear friend has cancer. And not just cancer but stage four, liver, lung and bone cancer. Suze and I have been friends for almost thirty years. We met on a shuttle from the Michigan Women’s Music Festival in the 90’s. My life has been so much richer knowing this crazy woman who makes me laugh. We’ve been to each other’s weddings, and a boatload of parties. We’ve had sleep-overs for New Year’s Eve and watched the Texas low-budget, cult classic Sordid Lives in our pajamas. When she retired from social work, this dynamo took up real estate and sold our home in 2013 so Lisa and I could scurry off to be Dos Tortas in southern Mexico.

In 1999 Lisa and I had a commitment ceremony before marriage was legal. Suze was there.

There was a year of tests that came back negative until they didn’t. No treatment, 3-6 months, get your affairs in order, say your goodbyes.

Suze is the queen of having your affairs in order. In her long career as a social worker, she was the head of Texas Partner for End Of Life Care (TxPEC) which helped develop directives for physicians and clergy to better assistant the dying. It’s because of her fearless advocacy that many have had the hard conversations and their wills are in order.

I am glad that Lisa and I will be back in Texas this summer. We will sit together, hold hands and create final memories. I love you Suze and you will always be in my heart and at least you’ll never have to go on another diet!

DOS TORTAS

Life is A Blooming Delight

23 May

We had a bit of long overdue rain last night. There are many flowers blooming, but I thought you might enjoy seeing the orchids popping up here and there. I once tried to raise an orchid in Austin, Texas. Epic fail. It can be done, just not by me.

This little orchid is currently blooming by our dock. It is very fragrant,
Aren’t they gorgeous?

There are more than 25,000 species of orchids worldwide. In the Mexican tropics, where we live, orchids pretty much raise themselves. They thrive in the humidity and shade, clinging to a tree trunk. They are epiphytes, non-parasites, living on another plant, wild and free. They’re a delightful surprise to find while walking around the property, a pop of color and in some cases a whiff of sublime fragrance.

So delicate.
This beauty ( Phaelaenopsis or moth orchid) bloomed for three months in the earlier part of this year.

So kick back. Enjoy whatever is blooming in your life, yard or neighborhood. Life is good and I’m grateful.

DOS TORTAS

Finding My Way

25 Apr

Swimming has now become a daily routine. I no longer have to brace myself for the plunge into chilly water, as days are creeping into the 90s (32c) on Laguna Bacalar in southern Mexico. The water is getting noticeably warmer and in a month or so, it will feel like stepping into a bath.

I have been working on my swimming stroke for years studying and practicing Total Immersion Swimming. I point my nose toward the bottom, keeping my neck and spine aligned. Catch and pull toward my thigh while cork screwing my body through the water. Pull, rotate, pull rotate, 1, 2, 3. Kicking is not the frantic churning of feet in an effort to propel oneself through the water. Stroke, kick, stroke, kick. It’s a beautiful dance gliding with the grace of a porpoise (at least I try) rather than laying flat like a squat tugboat. 163, 164, 165.

Sometimes I count, sometimes I sing, “Imagine all the people, living life in peace, you ooo may say I’m a dreamer….” I also like to float on my back watching the clouds and the birds. An occasional kayaker passes but for the most part the lake is all mine.

There is one thing, with all this pulling, and singing and counting, I am swimming all over the place. There are no lane lines as in a public pool and I’m not sure if it’s the currents, the wind or my uneven pull, but one minute I’m paralleling the coast and the next I’m heading for open water. I zig and zag and without repeatedly lifting my head, I never know where the heck I am.

My goal is to reach that point off in the distance.

I suppose it’s all a metaphor for life. Some days I certainly am going around in circles. Regardless, when I climb the ladder out of the water, I am flush with gratitude, a feeling of supreme accomplishment and a laugh at not knowing where I am or where I’m going, but so happy to be alive.

DOS TORTAS

Creating Our Own Happiness

15 Nov

When the high point of my day was reporting both dogs’ bowel movements after our morning walk, I knew it was time to take action. The daily routine of COVID isolation was getting to me. When an invitation showed in my inbox for a Zoom “Painting Circle” with my friend and teacher, Connie Solera, I didn’t hesitate to sign up.

Gazing at the far horizon.
Night time musings.
Not Knowing.

I have also subscribed to Audible, audiobooks. Laying in the hammock to read, makes me feel lazy and puts me to sleep. Listening to The Secret Room by Corrie Tenboom or some equally interesting book, both inspires and motivates. I can prep dinner, clean out the refrigerator or give the dog a bath, all things I tend to put off, while feeling accomplished and lifting my spirits.

I have also picked up my crochet hook and am working on a colorful afghan during the evening TV time. I have told my mother-in-law Alice that the blanket is a gift for a friend who is expecting a baby. That way she can ooo and aaah without knowing it is a gift for her.

As Covid quarantine stretches on for months and perhaps years, reading about what the Jews who hid out during WWII experienced keeps me humble. I suppose reading The Diary of a Young Girl could also be added to the audio list. Keep occupied, look out for your neighbors and please, wear a mask.

DOS TORTAS

Emilie Vardaman

travel and random thoughts

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