My Story in Quotes: The Fork in the Road


“There are ultimately two choices in life: to fight it or to embrace it. If you fight it you will lose – if you embrace it you become one with it and you’ll be lived.”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru

 

“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


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Which Story Do We Tell?


There comes a time in all of our lives, when we are faced with a life altering choice. Which story do we tell? Do we choose to end our stories in acts of quiet desperation? Or, do we choose life to write more chapters?  Either path we choose is fraught with anxiety…for we can expose our vulnerabilities and our fears, use our voices to shout to the world, and possibly be silenced or worse…unheard. Or, we can disguise our fears and worries in a landscape that portrays paradise…until…until…one dark night the pain erupts with such force, that in quiet desperation, all rational thought disappears, and we choose death.

tersoro de PirataSeveral days ago, our expat neighbor committed suicide. He chose to end his story. It reminds me that life is fragile. His tragic death shook me up and made me doubt everything I once believed and question the very foundation of who I am.
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Thoughts of a Nicaraguan Groupie


violence causesI awoke this morning with the intention of writing about meeting places for a blogger’s travel theme. Then, I saw this quote and my thoughts were quickly diverted to group behavior, a sense of belonging, attempting to understand nationalistic pride, and where the seed of violence originates.

I have several issues with the quote by J. Krishnamurti. Mainly, what is wrong with a sense of belonging? People form groups for numerous reasons: companionship, security and survival, affiliation and status, power and control, and achievement. I believe power, control, greed, and intolerance…especially intolerance… are what breed violence.

I listened to John Lennon’s Imagine, while I was writing this post. In a perfect world, a life without violence is ideal. But, we live in an imperfect world, with unique and varied ideas, beliefs, thoughts, and traditions. We are not all the same, nor can we pretend to share the same beliefs. It is unrealistic to think that we can ever hope for sameness. The best that we can do is to hope for tolerance and understanding in our tumultuous world of differences.

Please keep reading. More about being a groupie ahead.

Chasing Butterflies


“You can only chase a butterfly for so long.”
― Jane Yolen, Prince Across the Water

From a very early age, butterflies and moths have been my totems. I have always been enchanted by their graceful movements and their vibrant colors. Although they symbolize different things to different cultures, universally, they represent change and transformation.

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Keep chasing the butterflies.Read on.

What Does Your Looking-Glass Reflect?


“The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice.”
― William Makepeace Thackeray

IMG_0634I have often wondered why mirrors are a prized possession of the poor in Latin America. We all have mirrors, but in Nicaragua mirrors are a luxury. They are very expensive and there are many mirror salesman that travel the dusty, cow manured roads in search of buyers for their precious portals. My neighbor has a large, faux gold framed mirror in her living space. It hangs high on a dilapidated wall, the only shining adornment in her dirt-floored shack… if you don’t count the picture of Jesus beside the TV, which is wobbling against the cement block wall.

In the Mesoamerican culture, mirrors were used as a portal to another realm. I imagine them gazing into this mysterious portal, unable to interact, yet performing time-worn rituals to call forth the gods of love, health, and riches. This venerable tradition evolved from their early beliefs that the smooth surface of water could be used as a potent tool for divination, seeing the unknown, portals to the sacred caves, conduits of the supernatural forces, and as synonyms for the power of the sun. Before mirrors, bowls of water were used to examine the reflections of sick children. If the child’s reflection was dark then his soul, or tonalli in Nahuatl, had escaped from his body. I wonder, were the ancient ones frustrated because they couldn’t enter nirvana…constantly chanting “Beam me up, Scotty?” Or, were they satisfied in the powers of divination only with the ability to see the unknown?

This novelty of reflection continues in my little community. Peering into the mirror, the children let out a burst of giggling glee. They have the same reaction when I show them the digital photos I’ve taken. Then, I begin to realize that for people who have next to nothing, a mirror is an unattainable luxury. I am dumbstruck. It is hard for me to imagine a world where self-reflection is an unattainable luxury.

IMG_0651 But, mirrors, as well as digital photography, can change that. They enable the poor to see the world through different eyes. I experience a moment of pure bliss in watching the children look at their reflections in the mirror and on my camera. They laugh at it and with it, considering it to be a kind of jolly companion. Pity and sympathy for their impoverished lifestyles vanish with the revelation that they are truly happy. This family chose to look at the world with optimism and joy. The world is their looking-glass, and gives back to them the reflections of their triumphant faces. This simple moment changed my perspective of poverty. Their looking-glass reflects hope for this troubled world in which we live. 


                                     What does your looking-glass reflect?
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Broaden Your Horizons


“Why does every road eventually narrow into a point at the horizon? Because that’s where the point lies.”
― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

IMG_1731“Hope is the moonlight filtering through the trees,
Hope is the silent prayer that we make in distress,
Hope is the promise that we make to ourselves,
Hope is the happiness that we visualize,
Hope is the horizon that we reach, if we try!”
― Balroop Singh

IMG_2488“…my heart rides the wind and my thoughts sail away – to a land below the horizon where I know you hide from me…”
― John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

IMG_1650_1“Broaden your horizons. They’re the only ones you’ll ever have, so make the suckers as wide as possible.” ― Jennifer Crusie, Anyone But You

IMG_1606“If we know exactly where we’re going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we’ll see along the way, we won’t learn anything. ”
― M. Scott Peck

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I Wish For to Have Happy


Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions. ~ Dalai Lama

IMG_3441Francisco’s 85-year-old grandfather, Don Cabo, is one of the happiest people I know. When Francisco visited us last week he said, “Oh, I have many problems. I wish for to have happy like my grandfather, Don Cabo.” Then he told the following story about his grandfather’s ancient bull horn.  (Told in Francisco’s words to me.)

The Bull Horn

DSCN0694My grandfather is the happiest person I know. He never get angry like my grandmother. In December, Mayans come to visit us. They stay in our houses. My grandfather was very happy to share his life with them. He played his old bull horn for the Mayan people. He like to share his customs with the Mayans. The Mayan people enjoy my grandfather. After the Mayan people go back to their country, my grandmother look for the bull horn and discover that it was lost. She tell my grandfather and they look in all the places for the old bull horn. My grandmother discover that the Mayan people take the bull horn and she become very angry. But, my grandfather, the happiest person that I know say, “I am so proud.” “Why are you so proud for the Mayan people take your old bull horn?” my grandmother shout in very angry voice. My grandfather say, “I am so proud that the Mayan people put value on my old bull horn to steal. There are many things they could have took, but they choose my old bull horn, which is of great value to me. For this, I am so proud.”

I wish for to have happy like my abuelo,” said Francisco.

“Me, too, Francisco,” I responded. I was touched by his story. There was a lesson to learn here. For happiness does not just appear. Instead, it springs from our actions and our attitudes about life. Don Cabo understands happiness. He understands compassion, lives a positive and giving life, and enjoys every minute of every day. I hope the Mayans are happy with his ancient bull horn. ( I printed this photo for Don Cabo. I took it in 2004 when we attended his granddaughter’s birthday party.)

Be Happy Today! :-)

The Happiest ( and Saddest) Countries in the World

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unleashing the Carefree Child


A carefree child loves with reckless abandon, trusts completely, and is free from anxiety or responsibility. A carefree child is freedom from the ties that bind us to reality.
IMG_0476A carefree child runs, splashes, giggles, skips, builds forts, and finds delight in every moment of life.

A carefree child loves dressing up….

and getting down and dirty!

I used to be a carefree child once…easy going…happy-go-lucky…laid back…and radiantly free. What if I unleashed the carefree child within me…let her run free, love with reckless abandon, and throw caution to the wind? I’m going to ponder that for a while. What if?

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Timeout for Art: Teachers


“Because teachers, no matter how kind, no matter how friendly, are sadistic and evil to the core.”
― Heather Brewer, Eighth Grade Bites

Normally, I wouldn’t post a sarcastic quote about teachers, but this is different. Walter White was a milquetoast chemistry teacher who broke bad when he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He turned to crime by producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student in order to leave his family financially secure when he died.

Breaking Bad is a popular television drama series, and I am addicted to this show. Walter is: a protagonist turned antagonist, a nerdy middle-aged high school Chemistry teacher turned murderous drug lord, a villain seeking redemption by ignoring his past sins, and a monster because he has rationalized it all.

Shrouded in his crystal meth, Walter represents our dark sides. I often ask myself, “What would it take to break bad?” A terminal illness? A diseased brain? A fight with a family member? Do we all have the potential to break bad? How would I respond if I was diagnosed with a terminal illness?

IMG_3388 2 Breaking Bad brings out the best and the worst in me. The best, in that I can ponder the philosophical questions about life….the really important questions like; Are we human only because of chemical equations in our brains? When is it justified to kill another human being? What baggage do we carry on the road to redemption? What governs my life choices? Is it emotions, personal motives, or consequences of my actions? Without memories are we still human?

On the other hand, Breaking Bad can bring out the worst in me. I can rationalize poor decisions, react impulsively out of revenge, justify my wicked thoughts by blaming others, and cuss like a hurracca when my feathers are ruffled.

Simply put, I’m human. My dark side stays safely tucked away most of the time. Unlike Walter White, I don’t expect to break bad anytime soon. But, the potential is there. When Hank (Walter’s brother-in-law) confronted Walter and said, “I don’t know who you are anymore.” Walter responded, “If you don’t know who I am, then maybe the best course would be to tread lightly.”

Here’s to treading lightly, enjoying each day as it comes, living fully and compassionately, and keeping that dark side safely tucked away!