Meet Fricky our cottage friend. We have him trained to hop right into our hands for some peanut treats. He is busy as ever coming back and forth from his hole under the deck to our outstretched hands. He is so cute and not shy!
This is page 14 of the TIME magazine's special edition on the The Science of Happiness. It was written in 2017 and I am loving the nuggets of information and inspiration towards living a happy life. One message that is hitting home with me is that time away from our screens and a more engaged approach to life increases our sense of joy and happiness. I know this intuitively, but I have to be honest that in this last year my family has gotten swept away by our screens. It seems like over time we have found ourselves more and more bedevilled by the pinging, ringing, and apps on our phones. I have found myself feeling anger while watching my teens looking at their screens, their faces lit up by texting, snap chat or games. When I talk to them, I have to ask them to look up at me. Well I am done. I am making some changes. Netflix is now for special family movie watching time. No more watching Netflix after school. They can now read, draw, or hang out with friends instead. On weekends we are going to have a technology fast where we put all our devices aside (parents included) and do something with the family without distractions. This is a perfect time of year to do this as it's spring and soon the snow will be melted and the sun will be out and we will have a plethora of things to do.
Here is one of the walking bridges at Monte Verde National Park in Northern Costa Rica. It's a cloud forrest, which means that it is a wet and tropical that lives at an elevation of the clouds. Never have I experienced walking through a cloud and feeling it's moist mist on my skin, hair and being. It was magical like being in the land or fairies, gnomes and trolls.
One rule of hiking is do not deviate from the trail, if you do, you touch what has been untouched. Leave the forrest do what the forrest does. The cloud forrest is of every shade of green possible. Moss grows on everything and the forrest engulfs you in it's enormity and beauty. As we walked something shifted inside of me. I felt joy in this misty forrest. It spoke to me: "Take care of the Earth's trees and biodiversity." Among the trees, the mist, the moss and the glow of green, I felt the presence of mother nature. I love this experience of being connected to something bigger than myself.
Our drive to Monte Verde Cloud Forrests brought through crazy winding, dirt roads, and an amazing view of the sunset on a beautiful cloud.
One thing about being on vacation is putting my phone aside and immersing myself in the reality of life. On my return this year, I have decided to prolong my "screen vacation", by deleting all games, and social media from my phone. This means my phone is good for music, texting, and phone calls. This has been liberating beyond belief. It's made me realize how often I would randomly pick up my phone to check what's going on in the cyber world. How distracting it's been to my presence in my life with my children and my inner self. It's hard to describe how more centred I feel and more motivated to be in the kitchen, to read books, to do yoga and do creative projects. It's like the screen's pull for my attention, had slowly taken away my motivation to do things that brought me joy. Just like the dementor's in Harry Potter; joy suckers. I still check social media on my computer and use them as a business tool. Like the saying goes; "a secret to a happy life is to find balance in all things."
As seen in the video below and explained by Tristan Harris a former google employee these apps are designed to suck us in. I hope that this video inspires you to spend less time on social media and more time in the real world. As we sit on our phones life is passing us by. Let's be engaged with each other in real time. Let's look up and see the world around us. It's a beautiful world we live in, with beautiful people that surround us. Our children need us and society needs us to be present, engaged and motivated.
I am solar powered and every winter, I take a trip to a warm country. While on these adventures my partner Jay and I enjoy helping someone along the way. This year we helped a family in Costa Rica build a Chicken coop to help start a small business of selling eggs. This could not have been possible without the help of Nomad America and donations from family and friends. On March 19th we headed to their small village near Puerto Jiminez in southern Costa Rica to see the progress of the project. It was a rewarding experience and a highlight of our trip.
The chicken Coop
The coop was well built, with a concrete foundation, a tin roof and fenced in to keep the predators away. They also received 30 good chickens that were already providing eggs.
Here is a photo of Mr. Silian bringing the chickens into their new home. He was so happy and treated the chickens like his own children. We slept on their land and in the morning as we lay in our tent, we could here Mr. Silian talking to the chickens. "hola" he said and other fatherly words. Later for breakfast we had some freshly hatched eggs cooked in coconut oil. Even though there was a language gap we found a way to communicate. Through body language and other means we seemed to get our points across. They were able to translate their gratitude for our friends and family in Canada and their donations in fulfilling their dream of building a family business that they will be able to work on and grow.
Here is Jay shaking hands with Madam Lucy. Her energy was one of gentle sweetness. She is a pastor of her community and on their land among banana, papaya and yucca trees there is an open air chapel with benches and an altar. On Sunday's she greets her community under the shade of the chapel's tin roof to praise God in his glory. She is a mother who cares for her family and loves her community.
Introducing Marco a family friend of Mr. Silian and Madame Lucy and an integral pillar of the project. He volunteered his time to purchase and deliver the supplies and build the coop. He did this out of the goodness of his own heart. As a thank you for his time and efforts we offered him some money and he folded over in tears and said: "Jesus Christ". As tears ran down his face he explained that his family was having trouble having enough to eat. He repeatedly thanked us and gave us blessings.
Meet Luis and Fabio two fabulous guys who run Nomad America. Without them we could not have pulled this fundraiser off. They are the ones who found our fundraiser family, who put up money to start the project and donated some funds to the cause. Not only were they a great help, but they are great guys. We loved meeting them and feel like we have new friends.
Before leaving the coop we stood by the chickens in their new home, and Mr. Sillian, Madame Lucy, Silian, Aron, Jay and I stood in circle holding hands. Madame Lucy said a prayer in Spanish. I cannot translate exactly what was said but there were blessings from God and for our safety. Canada was mentioned with other words of blessings. Her words although not completely understood intellectually were felt spiritually. She meant what she said and we would like to say the same to you. From the bottom of our hearts thank you for donating and providing this family with the opportunity to create a business, that will support the family and provide their community with fresh eggs.
Blessings to you and your family!
Costa Rica was my 23rd country travelled and it’s in my top three of favourite places to be. We Wild Camped along the Western coast and was mesmerized by our surroundings. Costa Rica has everything; mountains, ocean, waterfalls, lakes, rainforests, cloud forrests and an abundance of wildlife. The biodiversity alone puts one in awe.
We rented a 4 x 4 from Nomad America, a company run out of San Josee by two young guys called Fabio and Luis. From the moment we inquired about a vehicle they were there, every step of the way to help us plan our trip and make the best choices for our travelling needs. The vehicle itself was the best travelling decision and enhanced our trip by ten fold. We rented a Toyota Prado which brought us down the western coast with a few stops along the way. Our final destination being Matapalo on the edge of Corcovado National Park.
Wild camping in a 4 x 4 is more of an expedition, than a vacation of relaxing in the sun. It takes some grit to spend days outside in the heat. One has to be comfortable with digging a hole to relieve oneself of bodily functions and be comfortable going without a shower. To me this is heaven. Yes, there were moments when the heat got to me and I wished for a hot shower, and a porcelain bowl to defecate in. In my world that is all part of the experience that allows me to step down from my western throne where everything is at my disposal. This gives me an appreciation for the simple things in life. Nature has a way of healing and no better way to reap her benefits by being right there with her amongst the trees and ocean.
We followed the western coast down to Puerto Jimenez and then Matapalo. On the way we stopped at Bowie's Point where the restaurant owner let us camp on his property in exchange for us eating in his restaurant. We also had access to the bathrooms and an outdoor hose as a shower. Dominical was our second stop and we stayed two nights on a quiet part of the beach and payed a hostel that was 800 metres away, 500 colones ($1.00 U.S.) to use their bathroom and shower. Our next stop was Matapalo. This was by far our favourite spot, we camped on the beach with the ocean waves, howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, and whales. Other than about 5 people on the beach at any given time, we were alone in the beauty of it all. To get there we road through a rugged road, full of big pot holes, huge rocks and appreciated the high clearance that our trusty Prado gave us. The road bumped and jostled us around, our camping gear jingled in the back and our laughter echoed in excitement.
Matapalo was wild camping at it's best with no bathroom or shower. In order to cool off we took a five minute hike to King Louis waterfall where we bathed in it's cool water pools (yes, we used biodegradable soap). Often the sound of howler monkeys bounced off the trees, lizards skipped along rocks and butterflies flitted about. Yes it was romantic, challenging, fun and I would do it all over again.
If you know me, you know that I love books. They are a big part of my life and when packing for a trip it's books that take up all the room!!! The question isn't which outfit am I going to bring, but which books. To help decide which books to bring to Costa Rica, I put out a Facebook post asking my peeps for book recommendations and got loads of them. These are the winners.
I never read Miraim Toews, but trust my friend Meg's taste in books. I know that I will love this.
Historical fiction is awesome. You learn about history while being entertained. I don't know why we never learned in school in this way. This was a recommendation by Louise Cameron and I am sure that it will not disappoint.
I have always known that I should read this book. Its come up a few times, but the time was never right, until now!!! This was not a recommendation but I saw it in Chapters and knew I had to buy it and trek it to Central America.
I can see myself now, swinging in my hammock lulled by the sound ocean waves and my book companions. Happiness right there. Here are some of the books that were recommended...
1. When Breathe Becomes Air
2. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
3. The Onion girl
4. The Goldfinch
5. All the Light we Cannot See
6. A Discovery of Witches
7. The Glass Castle
8. The Hate you Give
9. Life After Life
Let me know of any others you can recommend!
Tristan welcome to this spinning planet!!! I loved taking photos of you and your family. Your family is so happy to have you in their fold. Everyday you will get bigger and learn about this crazy place called Earth. May you always see the magic that surrounds you.