Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Adventures on my mom's birthday ~ food stop after Coba ruins

Our tour guide, Cesar is an entrepreneur in Tulum, Mexico. An outgoing and charismatic young man, he has many friends and acquaintances whom he feels a responsibility toward. It's his mission to help his community flourish and succeed, and he uses his tour guide business to provide for his locals every chance he gets.

After our time climbing Coba ruins, we loaded in the van and drove a short distance to this restaurant, owned and operated by friends of Cesar. In hindsight I wish I'd taken so many more photos! Truth is that I was hot and tired and really hungry, so here's what I have to share today.

We piled out of the van and made our way up the stairs to the second floor of this adorable restaurant. Cesar spoke to the employees in Spanish, ordering tapas for our group and sharing animated conversation in the mix.

Don't you love the bright green chairs and those fun tablecloths?

Ooooh these were the best chips and salsa! Everything was homemade and so fresh!

My lovely yoga friends... Cheers!

Fresh coconuts and bottled water. So refreshing!

Oh my goodness, that coconut was the coldest and most refreshing drink I had the entire week of my yoga retreat! They chill the coconuts and chop the top off just before serving. It stayed ice-cold all the way through lunch. At your request, they'll take the coconut back to the kitchen and bust it open for you, serving the opened fruit on a plate with wedges of lime. I didn't do that with mine - I was too full to even think about it by the time our lunch was over.

And there was this guacamole and the best tortilla chips ever...

And quesadillas served on homemade flour tortillas with a creamy cheese (not sure what kind of cheese it was other than yummy) and fresh shrimp. I ate my fill!

Continuing the celebration of my mom's birthday. She loved good Mexican food, and I know she would have loved this place! As I prepared this post I realized that, Hey! Seems like we didn't have that much food here! But we did. Cesar had been ready to order a few meat dishes but we chose the lighter fare. We had several rounds/refills of chips, salsa, and guacamole so we were fairly well stuffed!

In hindsight I realize we were all a bit overheated from climbing the ruins. Oh how we loved our simple and refreshing coconut drinks...

After lunch we loaded back into the van and headed deep into the jungle in search of spider monkeys in their natural habitat. But that's for my next post...

Monday, May 23, 2016

Around here this weekend

Good day, blog friends!
I loved this weekend so much! It was a weekend full of house stuff - repairs and tidying up and a little nesting vibe to go along with it. Come on in...

Things are heating up around here, and it's been fun to watch where the light falls during our first trip around the sun here in our new home. And for me that means learning which angles work best for photographing sunflowers. :o) We're also enjoying the growth of our new Japanese privet trees. They have these beautiful plumes of blossoms on them that smell Heavenly!

I had a hair appointment after work on Friday so that threw off our Friday-night-date-night routine. After my appointment I grabbed some teriyaki take-out and we stayed in for date night. Doug won a few games of pool, although I'm going to document right here that I took some really great shots! It would take a whole lot of time and practice for me to be as skilled as Douglas, but I'm working on it.

Super exciting news for the weekend is that we had another row of block added to our backyard fence, a short wall for the turtle pen, and columns on the side of the house for a gate for Doug's work trailer. Progress!

That turtle statue was a gift from my dear mother-in-law. His name is Chip.

The photo above is the before shot of the far corner in our backyard. The original fences in this neighborhood were short, and a previous owner of our home added one row of blocks to the back wall, leaving the gap you see on the left and not matching the original block. Sigh. Why?

The fence guys arrived at our house at 5:45 on Saturday morning! {So sorry, dear neighbors!} Tradesmen here in Arizona start really early this time of year in order to beat the heat. It was really fun to watch these guys work. Not only were they skilled in their trade, but they were having a fun time working together. For the 5-6 hours they were here there was laughter and jovial voices in our backyard. I loved that!

I asked, "Is it ok to take a picture?" and one responded, "You gonna' put us on YouTube?" and they all laughed.

Here's a photo of the "after" work...

The left wall (that we share with neighbors) got the tan block, and we had them add the gray block along the back (there's an alley behind it). Doug is going to paint the walls so it will all eventually blend in. That added row of block made such a difference in defining our backyard space. We love it!

So that all happened in our backyard on Saturday, and this happened in the front yesterday...

We have two trees in our front yard -  palo verde tree and a mesquite. They tend to get very bushy - with lots of growth on the lower part of the trees and that blocks the view of our house front. While Doug worked yesterday (yep, Sunday painting at a medical building) I got the clippers and went to work on the trees out front. I did take a photo of the great big pile of branches but it's not blog worthy.

That was a lot of clipping and I'm feeling it this morning. I have a few sore muscles and some scratches from the wicked thorns the palo verde sports. Desert plants are no joke. I need to call the city today to schedule a pick-up for the pile of thorny branches on our front curb.

And this happened this weekend:

We had the fence guys construct a wall around our turtle pen. Now we need to have a wrought iron fence with a gate added to the top so Lucky can't jump in there. It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

I don't usually cut my sunflowers to bring inside, but yesterday it seemed like a good idea.

I think I'll take these to work with me this morning and enjoy them there for the next few days.

Ahhh... a whole new week ahead of us... It's going to be a busy one for me, with family coming in to town for the weekend, plus next Monday off for Memorial Day. Yay!

I plan to bust out the rest of my posts featuring my yoga retreat in Mexico over the next few days, so there will be a bit more activity here on PaperTurtle this week. I'm feeling a push to get them out there so I can move on from blogging about a vacation that happened four weeks ago.

Wishing you peace, love and sunshine this week and always.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Adventures on my mom's birthday ~ Coba Ruins, Mexico

My mom's birthday fell at the end of the week during my yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico. As I thought about how I would spend that day, I considered spending the day alone, in solitude and silence, honoring her with loving thoughts and maybe drawing mandalas all day.

Well, anyone who knew my mom would know that a "day of solitude and silence" would never have worked for her. Ha! And no way would she expect me to take a vow of silence - even for an hour, much less an entire day. In hindsight I realize that my idea of solitude and silence was brewing in my mind as a way to prepare myself for the possibility of being friend-less on this trip to Mexico. And we all know how that played out! ;o)

As it turned out, my group of yoga friends had an opportunity to take a really awesome tour on my mom's birthday. We got to climb Mayan ruins, hike through the jungle to see spider monkeys in their natural habitat, receive a blessing from a Mayan shaman, zip-line across a lagoon and into the jungle, and we even swam in an underground cave/cenote. And, we got to have a really great meal at an authentic Mexican restaurant that my mom would have loved! I couldn't have planned a better way to honor my mom on her birthday if I had tried!

There were so many activities on this day, so I've decided to break them up into a few different blog posts. Today is part one...
We left our resort around 9:00 that morning and were taken to Coba ruins. There were several structures in this area, including the one shown above that we were able to climb to the top. It's estimated that these structures were constructed between 50 BC and 100AD.

There was this really cool tunnel that was designed for air flow and mosquito control. And by "cool" I mean that standing in this little breezeway was a great way to cool down because the temperature was at least 10° less than outside of the tunnel. As we learned about the design of these structures, I was blown away at the ingenuity of the architecture. How did they know how to do that?

The Mayans were short people, yet their stairs were so tall. Man, even with my long legs it was a lot of work walking up these structures.

And there was this really cool tree...

I noticed this at the end of the day when I was flipping through my photos. Can you see a really large tree angel here? Her tall body, with arms stretched out to the Heavens, and there's even a little "face" carved in if you squint your eyes. I love her.

One of the super cool perks of this day was that our tour guide had arranged for us to be bike-taxied in to the Coba structure. It was hot that day, and the walk through the jungle would have taken up a lot of our valuable time. The photo above is of Kat and me, with our bike taxi driver. We loved him.

Here's a shot of the roadway, with another bike taxi in front of us:

Gosh, the Mayan culture was brutal. This was a really interesting and also creepy-to-me thing to learn. See this slanted structure with that little ring at the top?

The structure was the playing field for the "game of the ball" and that rectangular shape and grid in the center was their record of scores. There was an identical structure just opposite of this one too - a side for each team. Players would work to get a ball (about the size and weight of a bowling ball) into that ring at the top - without using their hands! And! Guess what the winning team got as a prize? Their captain had the honor of being beheaded and sacrificed. Eeeeow.

There are rumors that this structure will be closed and that tourists will no longer be allowed to climb up the face of it within the next year or so. Here I am, taking a break (heat and really tall steps...), almost at the top of Coba.

Coming down was a little easier - we sat on our bottoms and came down that way, one tall step at a time.

I had a few loved ones comment, as I posted photos of myself during this week, that I looked so happy. Ah! I was so very happy. I was having the time of my life with sweet new friends, amazing adventures, and being far away from the typical responsibilities of my [all-in-all amazing] life.

This day, my mom's birthday, was packed with adventures and activities. I know she was smiling down on me all day long!

I'll share about more of my adventures from this day in my next post.
Thanks for tagging along with me!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mandalas in the sand

One morning as I strolled along the beach during my yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico, I picked up a little stick and started drawing mandalas in the sand.

Most of them were swiftly washed away, and I suppose that's the whole point. Tibetan monks spend hours creating beautiful mandalas with colored sand, only to sweep them up when they are complete, symbolizing the impermanence of everything in this world.

I didn't mind one bit. I'd use my beach stick to draw a mandala, then I'd walk a little further and draw another.

And there was another kind of sand mandala on my yoga retreat that took me completely by surprise and thrilled me to no end! They were designs drawn in the sand by the landscaper at the resort where we stayed. Can you even imagine my face when I walked out of my cabana on my first morning there and saw this on the ground?

Haha. It tickles me all over again because I literally gasped with glee then first time I saw them. Every morning brought a fresh start - a whole new set of mandalas raked into the sand. I carefully avoided walking across them, taking great care to watch my step and taking my time as I passed each one to appreciate its simple beauty.

Apparently, other resort guests weren't all that careful because it didn't take long for them to morph right back into regular beach sand with footprints. By noon each day the designs were no more.

I loved heading out for my morning coffee stroll and appreciating the new designs for that day. Such a sweet and simple practice for the resort to maintain, and the absolute perfect touch for this guest!

One of the ladies in my group had an opportunity to meet the landscape artist who draws these designs. He's a small man of Mayan descent, and the grounds people affectionately call him Uncle Rick. This morning practice is his daily meditation and part of who he is. What a beautiful gift to share - it really called to my Taurus/Earth soul!

Oops with the finger in the shot above. :o)

As I create these blog posts and share my photos and stories about my time on this yoga retreat, I'm reminded of how absolutely perfect this trip was for me. So many sweet things that called to my soul, so many things for me to love and appreciate. It's like that week was designed just for me! 

What an amazing and beautiful gift this trip was!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Around here this weekend

Greetings, blog friends!
I'm so grateful for fun and busy weekends, and I'm digging deep this morning to feel gratitude for Monday mornings...

My current sunflower crop is approaching its grand finale. There are a few more buds left to bloom and then it will be time to clear out the stalks and make room for an attempt at a summer crop. There's a little learning curve with the new backyard - figuring out where the light will fall. Plus, I haven't been entirely satisfied with the photograph-ability of the sunflowers in that location.

Look closely, and you can see my sunflowers in that far back corner in the photo above, way over yonder beyond Doug's pretty green lawn.

And our baby lemons are growing like weeds...

Both turtles seem healthy and happy. I can't even tell you how much Doug and I fuss and worry over them. Then we'll see them out and about and wonder why we fretted! We still have some work to do in their habitat, but for right now Casper is perfectly happy soaking in a pie dish.

Super happy news is that Doug painted the outside of our house! Yay! It had been an ugly shade of brown - a real eyesore for the neighborhood. We think it went from being the worse looking house on the block to - dare we say? - the prettiest.

Ok, so that's news from around the house. Here's what we did away from home this weekend.

I had my monthly yoga teacher training workshop on Saturday, then came home for a quick change of clothes before heading downtown for a baseball game. Carrie had won four tickets and a parking pass, plus the opportunity to participate in a contest at the top of the second inning. She played a match game and her sweet face was up on the big screen. The distance made it almost impossible for me to get a good photo, but it was fun and she matched all the pieces and won an autographed baseball signed by... um... some baseball guy.

After the game selfie...grainy but super happy...

Yesterday found me back on my yoga mat, learning more about how to teach yoga to others. ♥ This month's studies were on yoga nidra - a method for helping students completely relax and heal. I'm so excited to incorporate nidra into my teaching practice.

And you know what's really cool? I am nearing the end of this two-year, 300-hour yoga teacher program! :o)!!! I only have four weekends of training left, and then I'll have all the paperwork and projects to do in order to complete the program. I have loved it, and I'm ready to be done so I can move on to the next thing - whatever that might be!

Time to switch gears and put on my corporate employee hat. I love that all of this is temporary and that my sights are set on a more fulfilling career. In the meantime, I'll just keep on keeping on.

I have a few more posts on my yoga retreat to Mexico that I'll share later this week. I have loved reliving that adventure by sharing it here on my blog.

Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

On Being Divinely Guided and Protected

We lingered at the table as our lunch dishes were cleared, getting to know each other and sharing a bit about what had prompted us to embark upon an exotic trip to Mexico for a yoga retreat. Each of us carried a story – a little burden that we hoped to release, even if only for the duration of our week-long retreat.
One friend shared that her husband is battling Alzheimer’s. The lengths she had to go through to arrange care for him during her absence had fallen into place, and this week would be a way for her to refresh her spirit and renew her strength for their continued journey.
My mom’s birthday fell at the end of that week, so I shared that she was on my mind and in my heart. I expressed my desire to heal from the guilt I carry where she’s concerned, and I vowed to be more conscious and loving when I speak of my history with her.
And there was another friend. She looked me directly in the eye and said, “You know what I did, right?” She asked with such conviction, as if to set the stage for her condemnation before I even knew her story. And no, I did not know. So she told us.
She’s a busy young mother with four children, juggling all the activities and responsibilities that come with that. A couple of years ago, after a hectic morning, she stopped at the grocery store for a major shopping trip, preparing for a large dinner party she and her husband would be hosting that evening. About 45 minutes later, she was approached by a police officer inside the store and he asked if she drove a certain type of vehicle, with a toddler in the car.
Her entire universe came crumbling down. She had forgotten that she had her baby with her, and had left him in the car.
Fortunately for this young mom, her oversight happened in agreeable weather and her baby was ok. Had this happened in the heat of summer, the outcome would have been even more devastating.
Now, living in Arizona this sort of thing happens from time to time, and I’ll admit right here that I have never understood how. My judgments and superior attitude toward this type of thing have kept me from ever feeling much compassion for a mother who would make a mistake like that.
But here was my new friend – my yoga friend – exposing her broken heart to us at the beginning of our retreat. The shame and guilt and horror of what she had done seemed embedded into her entire being. She spoke in self-loathing phrases, without one trace of compassion or forgiveness for her mistake. Clearly, the mistake of her lifetime.
Alone in my room later that night, I recalled a time when I had arrived at my local grocery store. As I parked my car I noticed a fire truck and paramedics gathered around a vehicle. They were pulling a crying toddler out of the car.
As I walked toward the store entrance, a frantic young mother came rushing out with a police officer by her side. For whatever reason, I grabbed her and gave her a tight hug. I told her, “Your baby is ok. Everything is going to be ok.” She clung to me briefly, and then pushed me away to be with her child.
Over the past couple of years I’ve thought about that young mom, and have even slightly ridiculed myself for stopping her in her tracks, almost forcing her to receive a hug from a complete stranger and delaying her reunion with her distressed child. What on earth possessed me to do that?
And then I wondered. Could that frightened young mother have been my new yoga friend? What were the odds that in this big city we live in…? Could that have been her that I hugged?
The following day we toured Mayan ruins, had a picnic lunch in the jungle, floated down a lazy river, and enjoyed wine and cheese together with our group. The question burned inside of me and I hated to bring it up again, but I finally mustered the courage to ask, “What store were you at when you forgot your baby in the car?”
Her answer confirmed what I already knew in my heart. It was the same store I’d been at, and the same timeframe. I asked if she remembered being hugged by a stranger when she came out of the store with the police officer. Her eyes widened with curiosity. How could I know that? She did remember. That stranger was me!
This time our hug lasted longer. This time there was love, compassion and understanding between us. We had shared a moment in time that had been so raw and personal – a moment in time before we ever knew we’d eventually call ourselves friends.
What an amazing reminder that something greater than all of us provides for us in our darkest times. I believe that we are always divinely guided and protected, and occasionally we are called upon to guide and protect.

What on earth would have possessed me to hug a distraught young mother I didn’t know?
What, on Earth, indeed.
PS: Please, will you do me a favor? Will you lift a prayer for my friend, surround her in love and compassion, and pray that she will find a way to forgive herself for her mistake. Will you take a moment to acknowledge someone you may have judged in the past for a mistake they've made, and know that they are so much harder on themselves that we can ever be. And if you choose to leave a comment here on my blog, or on Facebook, will you please do so with love and compassion for my friend. I'd be so grateful.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The shopping side of my yoga retreat

Happy Tuesday, blog friends!
I missed my regular weekend recap yesterday, but you sure didn't miss anything from my weekend. I woke up really early Saturday morning with a terrible stomach flu that lasted three full days. I'm still rough around the edges this morning, but feeling so much better! I can tell because I woke up this morning and thought, "Oooh...I should blog my Mexico shopping photos today..." Hooray for a healthy body that rebounds and heals!

During breakfast on day two of our yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico, my new friends from Alaska mentioned that they planned to walk down the road to a small shopping area later that morning and they invited me to come along. I gladly accepted the invite!

These shops were about a 10 minute walk up the road from the resort where we were staying, and oh how I loved all the beautiful vibrant colors! 

I purchased a small metal turtle, and some incense for Carrie that day, but I held off on doing much shopping because it was still so early in the week.

We did find a small grocery/convenience store in the mix and my new friend Kat went in to purchase some wine to keep in her room. Brilliant idea since a whole bottle of wine from the grocery store cost less than a glass of wine from the restaurant at our resort. I'd purchased a glass of wine the past two nights to take back to my room, and had cringed when I signed the ticket to charge it to my final room bill.

I did quick math in my head and counted five more evenings of one glass of wine from the restaurant and it made perfect sense to be like Kat. "But we'll need to buy a corkscrew," I innocently mused. To which Kat replied, "Oh, I travel with a corkscrew, Deb!" Man I love when soul sisters unite. :o)

Looking at these photos reminds me how hot I was that day. The temps were in the mid-80's, and the humidity was the same. I'm used to our desert dry heat, so the humidity got to me a bit. We also bought cold bottled water with our wine bottles. :o)

I found a necklace that I loved and it was pricey. I went back and forth, back and forth, and finally convinced myself to wait. "I'll walk back down here later in the week if I decide to purchase it," I thought.

And I did. On day five a solo walk to the shops sounded good and I really wanted to buy that necklace. The only decision to be made by then was what color I wanted, and I chose the one with turquoise beads because it looked teal and reminded me of my mom. {Not to be a bummer in the middle of this fun shopping post, but I wore my new necklace to work at the beginning of last week and the main charm broke off by mid-day. Sigh.}

I walked along, taking in the scenery, sweating like crazy and finishing up the cold bottled water I'd purchased from the store where we'd found wine a few days before.

And then I saw this place and thought, "Hm..."

An inviting restaurant/bar on the beach...

My Instagram caption was, "Escape from yoga camp..." Oh man, that was a good cold beer on such a hot day, sitting by the ocean wearing my new, unbroken necklace, feeling so happy and grateful for a vacation like this! I missed Doug a whole bunch right here.

I sauntered back to the resort. In fact, that reminds me. One thing I noticed about my week in Mexico was that I would set out to walk somewhere - from my room to the restaurant for morning coffee, or over to the yoga hall, or wherever - and I'd take a few quick strides before intentionally slowing down my pace. I never realized what a quick gait I have, and it was so nice to slow down the pace and really be mindful of my steps. I didn't have to be in a hurry for the entire week. So awesome!

That's one of the things I love about yoga, and it's something I teach in my classes - the novel idea of slowing down. The reminder to be present and to take our time. I brought back so many sweet lessons learned from this week-long yoga retreat.

Slow it down, be spontaneous, take your time, travel with a corkscrew...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...