Category: Belize

Less Stuff = Freedom + Happiness

empty-room-with-bed

Click on photo to go to website

I’m a “happy” person so why did I buy a book called, Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, by  Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D?

Because it explains why I want to go back to Africa, and work with people who have far less than me. Here’s why:

“While levels of material prosperity are on the rise, so are levels of depression. Even though our generation–in most Western countries as well as in an increasing number of places in the East–is wealthier than previous generations, we are not happier for it.” —Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I have become happier with less “stuff,” and why I’m attracted to living a simple life.

I don’t have a home, or furniture, except for two armchairs, a Chinese chest, and a tropical painting that inspires me to stay “gutsy.” Nothing within my control can prevent me from following my passion to ‘be free’ and experience new adventures.

Volunteering in a Mayan Village in Belize in 2009, and seeing these beautiful children, full of smiles, made me realize that happiness does not come from having stuff. Look at the small girl on the left; her parents can’t afford a pair of shoes.

Belize kids

The children I met while volunteering in a Mayan village in Red Bank, Belize, 2009.

Here’s what makes me happy.

Click on Photo- credit from malidoma.com

Click on Photo- credit from malidoma.com

Am I being selfish in wanting to work with children in Africa? Perhaps. I realize that there are going to be many challenges adapting to a new life in Lesotho, in southern Africa, but just to feel the love and enthusiasm of the children, is enough to fuel my own energy.

I became fascinated with photo-journalist Alissa Everett, and what she has done to bring us closer to the positive side of what we don’t see in African countries, such as the DRC-(Democratic Republic of Congo.) She is truly “gutsy” and not only has she served in the Peace Corps, which is what I shall be doing starting in October, 2015, (Read more here) but she shares her stories during my interview with her.

This is her recent wedding photo with a message, I truly love.

Alissa Everett's wedding photo credit

Alissa Everett’s wedding photo credit

I realize we are all different, however, it saddens me to see people who have everything in life to be happy, and yet they’re unhappy.

Please VOTE for me so I can give shoes to kids in need

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Blake Mycoskie founder of TOMS shoes

When I hear that kids cannot attend school because they don’t have shoes, I know something is wrong. In fact, it brings back memories of when I volunteerd at a Mayan village in the heart of Belize.

I heard Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes share a story about his trip to Argentina where a woman ran up to him in tears. At first he thought they were tears of sorrow, and after hearing her story, Blake found out why she was so happy.

This is what she told Blake.

On Monday, my oldest son gets the pair of shoes and can walk to school. On Tuesday, it’s my middle son who gets to wear the shoes and attend school, and on Wednesday it’s my youngest son’s turn. Now thanks to your shoes, my three sons can go to school.

As I mother of three sons, I’m thinking, two kids get to attend school twice a week and the youngest only once a week.

After living in Belize, Central America for one year, I learned that education is something kids in third world countries really want. Unlike many children in the developed world, kids in poor countries are excited about the privilege of going to school. They want an education.

Here is a snippet from Blake Mycoskie’s talk at the 2013 LA Times Travel Show:

Blake has given away 2 million pairs of TOMS shoes in fifty countries.

Now Blake Mycoskie launched his TOMS eyewear. While traveling through Ethiopia, he visited an eye clinic where cataract surgeries were offered to blind kids and adults. For only $15 to $45 per surgery, kids and adults were given their eyesight back. That’s when Blake decided to offer TOMS eyewear and for each pair sold, one person gets their eyesight back. In one year, he has helped 130,000 people get their eyesight back.

Blake Mycoskie says his “one for one” company is “like my soul mate in business.”

Just listening to Blake inspired me to enter his sweepstakes, “TOMS ticket to give.”

Please Vote For Me to Go Help Give Kids TOMS Shoes

I would love it if you could just click on the link and vote for me. I would love to be an ambassador and help give children a pair of shoes through TOMS  giving away program.

Want to enter the contest yourself?

The deadline has been extended until Sunday, March 10th, and you can enter here.

Have you volunteered in a third-world country?

***

February has 4 amazing “My Gutsy Story” submissions.

Please vote for your favorite story. You have until March 13th to vote, and the winner will be announced on March 14th.  Good luck to all your great stories.

SCROLL DOWN ON SIDEBAR (right underneath the Anthology Book Cover) TO VOTE. Only ONE vote each.

 MyGutsyStory

Do you have a “My Gutsy Story®” you’d like to share?

NOW is the time to submit your “My Gutsy Story®.” Please submit to sonia@soniamarsh.com.

You can find all the information, and our sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story®” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here

I Can’t Believe I Have John McAfee As a Facebook Friend

John McAfee

Yes, you heard me right. John McAfee, the anti-virus pioneer who is being sought  for questioning about a murder case, lives on the island of Ambergris Caye, where my family lived for one year.

Thanks to a mutual contact on the island, I became “friends” with him on Facebook.

It’s not like I ever wrote to him on FB, however, today with US News covering the scandal with John McAfee, it no longer  surprises me to read about crime, gossip, guns, drugs and dog killings on the island where we lived. Even the Telegraph has an appropriate title: John McAfee: sex, drugs and anti-virus software.

John McAfee moved to Ambergris Caye, a popular island in Belize, after we left in 2005. We did not know him personally, however we did know the murder victim, Gregory Faull. He lived a few houses north of ours on Ambergris Caye. Greg was a contractor from Florida who was building his retirement home on the island. We invited him for a beer in our house, and nick-named Greg the “lobster guy.” I shall never forget when he told us he caught thirty lobster in about an hour or so, while my son Steve and his dad caught only one puny little lobster in two hours. We were all so envious of his lobster-catching skills.

Greg was a fun guy who spent half his time building houses in Florida, and then the rest building his own home on Ambergris Caye. He invited us inside his house to show off  the huge rooms he built. (Read page 193 of Freeways to Flip-Flops, and you’ll find him. I changed his name to Mitch.)

 

 

Greg Faull

Life on the island of Ambergris Caye was both scary and exciting. For such a small island, there was always something going on, and for those of you who have read my memoir: Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island,  you might recall certain chapters where I expressed fear once in a while about living on Ambergris Caye.

Here is one excerpt about a drug boat from Columbia:

I strolled along the beach to get away from the bustle of golf carts, taxis and bikes on Front Street. The next Island Ferry was scheduled for 11 a.m., so I collapsed on the wooden step in the shade, thinking about how much our lives had changed in just two months. Curiosity led me to the end of the boat dock, where some locals had gathered. They were pointing at something in the distance, and when I saw what they were looking at, my heart skipped a beat. A boat had capsized and six men holding long poles were attempting to flip it over. “Oh, my God, Duke must have lost control of the Island Rider,” I thought, straining my eyes to see if a Cubs baseball cap was floating in the water.

“Mario, what happened to the boat?” I asked. Mario was one of the Island Ferry’s boat captains.

“It’s a drug boat from Columbia,” he said.

“Does this happen often?” I asked.

“Yes, lots of drug smuggling from Colombia to Mexico.” After years of living in my safe Orange County neighborhood, I suddenly felt vulnerable. When I reached home, I hurried upstairs to tell Duke about the capsized boat.

Another excerpt about my fear of being alone with my two younger sons on Ambergris Caye when Duke left for California.

My ears were on high alert for any unusual sounds, so we watched a comedy I knew would make Josh laugh and me forget my fear for a while. “Can I sleep in Steve’s bed?” Josh asked, snuggling closer to me than usual on the couch.

“Of course,” I replied. At least that way, I wouldn’t be all alone downstairs. Alec would sleep upstairs with Cookie.

I hid a solid mahogany rolling pin underneath Duke’s pillow and tucked a machete behind some books on the shelf next to my bed. I regretted not following Lucy’s advice – she was a 70-year-old woman from Michigan who lived alone in town – “Keep a bullhorn next to your bed. It’ll scare the heck out of any thief or rapist.”

So this time Belize is making national news due to a scandal involving a famous American businessman: John McAfee.

What a small world.

 

Are French Parents More Gutsy?

After reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about “Why French Parents are Superior”  by Pamela Druckerman, it finally hit me that some of my child-rearing methods are actually more French than I care to admit. I’m not French, but I spent a good chunk of my youth growing up in the suburbs of Paris.

My three sons are adults now, and grew up in the U.S., however, Druckerman brought up one main difference between French parenting and American parenting that struck a chord.  She said, “Who’s the boss?” She then gave the French answer:

French parents say, “It’s me who decides.”

  • Who’s the boss, you or your kids?

Right after my husband, Duke and I, made the decision to uproot our family from Orange County, California, to Belize, Central America, I remember being asked the following question, almost daily: “So what do your kids think about your decision to move to Belize?”

At the time, I thought this was a stupid question. Now I realize why.

Belize, Ambergris Caye, near our house.

Below is an excerpt from a chapter in my book: Freeways to Flip-Flops: Our Year of Living Like the Swiss family Robinson.

I’d become obsessed with Belize.

I’d tell anyone who cared to listen–including complete strangers in supermarket lines or at the gym—about how we were uprooting our family to live in Belize. Sometimes I imagined a glimpse of envy on a stranger’s face. That’s when I shifted into salesperson mode, trying to push them into doing the same.  Duke warned me, “Don’t tell everyone about Belize; we don’t want people flocking there.”

Some people thought we were crazy. Others were skeptical.  “Yeah, sure,” they said. “Let’s see if you really go ahead with it.” The second group always asked, “So what do your kids think?” to which I snapped back, “Who makes the decisions in your family, you or your kids?” Many looked shocked, but my European accent helped. It allowed people to classify me as an alien, despite my U.S. citizenship.

There are many times in life when you are faced with tough choices, and you need to make a  decision. As parents, we cannot always cave in to what are kids want; we have to decide what’s best for the entire family. We need to guide and lead, and my experience with French parents, is that they are more strict, and perhaps more “old-fashioned” when it comes to child-rearing.

I could go on about so many aspects that Druckerman covers in her article: “Why French Parents Are Superior.” For example: teaching your kids polite manners, family eating habits, and disciplining your children, because I’ve seen it done the French way and the American way.

Since I’ve lived in both France and the U.S., as well as the U.K., Denmark and Belize, I can pick and choose what’s right for my family. That’s what I love about travel, and the expat life, you get exposed to different ways of looking at the decisions you make in your life.

What about you? Who’s the boss, you or your kids?

***

Do you have a “My Gutsy Story”?

To submit your own, “My Gutsy Story” you can find all the information, and our sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here.

 

Gutsy cave-tubing in Belize

After our morning of zip-lining and repelling, we welcomed a quick Belizean lunch consisting of chicken, rice and beans, with fresh, juicy pineapple for dessert.

Now it was time for the six young women and I, to try cave-tubing in the underground caves of the meandering Caves Branch River.  In a weird way, I looked forward to overcoming my fear of claustrophobia, and what better place than in the underground caves where the Mayans had once lived and worshipped. Considering this happened to be one of the most popular tours in Belize, I refused to back out.

Jungle walk & cave tubing - Belize

Photo credit kthypryn

The young women and I changed into our bikinis, and carried our inner-tubes through the jungle.  “How many of you thought you’d be hiking in the jungle in a bikini, with an inner tube and flip flops? I asked. “What a fashion statement,” one of the girls said. A section had been landscaped for the tourists, with paths and labeled trees, such as the poisonwood tree. “You better stay away from that one,” I told the girls, remembering how my son, Austin, had suffered for five weeks after touching a poisonwood tree when we first moved to our hut in Belize. We reached a small area of rocks perched above the Caves Branch River. “For those of you who don’t want to wait, you can jump off this rock,” Sylvan, our guide said. “Others can take the path to the right and wait in line.”

“Are you sure it’s deep enough?” I asked Sylvan

“Yes.” So I jumped in.

The water was refreshingly cold by Belizean standards, around 70 F. I settled my butt inside the tube and waited for the other six women to join me. They all took the speedy route, jumping in one after the other.

“Who wants rum punch?” Sylvan asked. I vigorously flapped my arms backwards to reach him. I figured better to numb my claustrophobic fear with a cocktail than be overly anxious for the next hour and a half.

“That’s one strong punch,” I told Sylvan.

“I made it myself. It makes the ride more fun,” he said. It certainly helped for the moment, however I couldn’t figure out how to hold my drink, flap my arms and move forwards into the dark caves, since the river current didn’t seem to be cooperating. “Bingo! Just in the nick of time surprise number two. Marco, another young Belizean guy, showed up. “Why don’t you put your feet under Tracy’s tube and we’ll form a chain,” he said. “I can pull both of you along.” Now I’d been upgraded to first class, rum punch in one hand, gliding effortlessly inside dark caves with a miner’s lamp attached to my forehead.

Some beautiful photos of cave-tubing from the Caves Branch website.

We weren’t alone in these sixty- foot wide caves. Several cruise ship passengers were ahead of us. The inside of these vast caves was illuminated by flickering miners’ lamps. Poor Marco did all the work while Tracy and I looked around the caves’ ceilings looking for bats. Marco pointed out some beautiful stalactite crystal formations with an extra strong flashlight.

“Butts up,” Marco shouted, breaking my relaxed trance.

“We’re reaching a very shallow spot only four inches of water, and your rear end gets a rocky ride if you don’t lift it as high as you can.”

We slid along to the impossible spot forcing us to get out of the tube and walk over some painful rocks. Fortunately, Sylvan showed up for a rum punch re-fill, just in time.

I preferred zip-lining to cave-tubing. I had hoped to see some Mayan artifacts and with chilled bones inside dark caverns, I couldn’t wait to get out and warm up. Walking on slippery wet rocks was no easy task, but this was our only option to get out of the river and change into our dry clothes.

The old, yellow school bus, our transportation back to the boat, waited for us with reggae music blaring; just what I needed for the ride home. Rum punch and beers flowed, and everyone seemed content and exhausted. Sylvan stopped at a local store to get some ice for our drinks, and then we headed back to the boat.

“It’s going to be a long boat ride home, especially as the winds are picking up, and rain clouds are forming,” Sylvan said. I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten my jacket. Now I only had my wet beach towel for protection. Belizean rainstorms were aggressive, especially when sitting in a moving boat. They attacked you with piercing pellets resembling mini ice picks injuring your skin. I had two choices, either to laugh or to cry. I decided to laugh; it helped ease the pain.

Above photo credit Satanoid.

*****

Do you have a “My Gutsy Story”?

To submit your own, “My Gutsy Story” you can find all the information, and our sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here.

*****

Please share the “My Gutsy Story” series with others on Twitter using the #MyGutsyStory. Thank you.
Category: Belize, People, Travel & Adventure  |  Tags: ,

One Gutsy thing I did in Belize

Only seven women signed up for the zip-lining and cave-tubing tour in Belize, and they were half my age. With a life-long fear of heights, I forced myself to be Gutsy, and play Tarzan for a day.

Our adventure started the minute we boarded a retired American school bus and bounced all the way to Jaguar Paw Jungle Reserve, a tribal style resort located on 215 acres of jungle reserve in the heart of Belize. The Caves Branch River meandered through the jungle with several miles of underground caves where the Mayans once lived and worshiped.

Two young Belizean men led us on a steep path to our starting point in the heart of the jungle’s lush, tropical canopy. After a brief lecture on the equipment we’d be using, I told Louis I was scared of heights. “You’ll be safe,” he said. “We have two steel cables on each of the eight rides so you’re doubly protected.” We each wore a metal helmet which I assumed was to protect our head in case we crashed into a tree trunk.

Oscar, Sonia and Louis at Jaguar Paw, Belize

I started working out when these young girls were still in diapers, and my years of weight training finally paid off. My arms lifted me with ease, and Louis snapped my belt to the cable. We each stepped into a harness which Louis tightened firmly against our waist and hips. He then fastened the harness clasps to the steel cables and a safety leash secured us to a massive tree trunk at each of the eight landing stations. We looked like seven monkeys tied to a tree trunk, forty feet up in the jungle canopy.

Our first platform was knee-shaking high. “So who’s ready to go first?” Louis asked.

A short skinny girl raised her hand. “I will.”

Louis gave a brief lecture, then instructed the girl to put on her heavy-duty industrial type gloves.

“Put your left hand around all the ropes. Your right hand slides behind you on the bottom cable. The right glove is reinforced with a thick leather pad, so you don’t rub a hole through it and end up with a bloody hand. Use your right hand for braking. If you need to break, you’ll pull down on the cable with that hand.”

“How do we know if we need to break?” I asked.

“We’ll make this type of motion,” he said, waving his hand up and down.

I hoped we were done with all the instructions as I started getting confused.

“Are you ready? Let’s get started,” Louis said.

Oscar, the other guide, demonstrated our first ride to the second platform, about ninety feet away. He made it look fun and easy.

Our first volunteer started her Tarzanna trip, screaming, as she zipped along, though not as smoothly as Oscar had demonstrated.

I decided to be fourth in line—my favorite number for good luck. I concentrated so hard on technique, that before I knew it, I’d reached the other side. What happened? This was really no big deal. My fear of heights didn’t even enter into the equation as I focused so hard on the task. Thankfully, I’d forgotten to look down. Everyone except poor Tracy, became experts at inter-tree air-borne travel.

Sonia flying through the trees like Tarzan

The grand finale was getting down from the last platform. No we didn’t have the luxury of a staircase or a ladder, we had to repel. We were instructed to squat, grab the rope on the edge of the platform, hang over and control our descent with a hand lever. A slight pull could send you flying, so the exact contraction on the rope was critical.

All of us struggled with the repelling, but I reminded myself not to look down and that helped. Once again poor Tracy was last. It took Oscar a good ten minutes to prep her. She accidentally released the lever too quickly, which sent her flying at top speed. Her terror stricken shriek ended when Oscar controlled the security lever from above and succeeded in aborting her free fall a third of the way down.

“I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this,” I said to Louis, all proud of my accomplishment. One by one we waited for our security gear to be taken off and headed to the Jaguar Paw Lodge, where we met the less brave who spent the day at the zoo.

After a typical Belizean lunch of chicken, rice and beans, our group of seven women hiked towards the underground river and caves, each one carrying an inner-tube into the jungle. Now we were ready to see some Mayan artifacts.

 What one Gutsy thing have you done that you remember?

*****

 Remember to come back and vote on January 1st-11th for your favorite December “My Gutsy Story” 

 

REMEMBER TO VOTE on January 1-11 for your favorite December "My Gutsy Story."

How can I change? Call the expert on 9/22/11.

  • Are you sabotaging your own dreams?
  • Do you try a diet and exercise program and then give up?
  • Do you compare yourself to others and then give up?
  • Do you blame external events on why you’re not getting results?

On Thursday September 22nd, at 4 pm PST, you get the chance to call expert Robert Macphee.  He shall answer your questions related to, “How to get out of your comfort zone and get the change you want.”

Please call in with your questions:

When: Thursday September 22nd, 4 pm PST.

Dial In number:  (712) 432-0404
Participant Code  702847#

Robert MacPhee is the author of the great little book:  Manifesting for Non-Gurus: How to Quickly & Easily Attract Lasting Results.

Who is Robert MacPhee?

  • Robert MacPhee is the Former Director of Training (4+ years) for Jack Canfield (Jack is the Co-Creator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series and the author of the bestselling book “The Success Principles”…)
  • Founder and President of Heart Set, Inc.  A company dedicated to increasing awareness and helping people understand change, get out of their own way, and get more of the lasting results they really want.
  • You can read more about Robert MacPhee on this post: Do you need help? Ask expert Robert MacPhee

 Downtown San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. We uprooted our family in 2004-2005 and moved to Belize.

Just like my husband and I longed for adventure and change, so did Tina and her husband John. They wanted something new and exciting in their life, so they sold their home in Arizona, and rented a house in Panama. After a short while, John found work as a contractor, and was soon able to open his own business.

  • What gave Tina and John the courage to uproot and pursue their dream?

Things were very different on the island where they lived; getting supplies shipped in, learning how to work with locals, trusting people, and so many other issues that go with island-style life in Central America.

  • How did they overcome their fears of making a living in a foreign country?

After a few years, John got cancer. He was treated locally, however, it was terminal cancer and after he passed, Tina had to figure out what to do?

  • How did Tina handle her husband’s cancer treatment in Central America?

After a year, Tina decided to return to live with her father in Colorado. She was not making enough money to support herself in Panama, and needed help.

It’s been three years now and Tina is lost. Her 85-year-old father wants her to move out and find a job. Tina called me in tears. She’s scared and has no idea where she wants to live, what kind of job she can do, and all she wants is a person to take care of her.

  • How can Tina get the courage to change her life and get out of her “comfort zone” in the safety of her dad’s house?

What makes a person do something bold? Is there a secret to getting “unstuck”?

Get all your questions answered by author Robert MacPhee, an expert on how to quickly and easily attract lasting results.

When: Thursday September 22nd, 4 pm PST.

Dial In number:  (712) 432-0404
Participant Code  702847#

If you cannot call in, please contact me on the contact form on my website to ask your question, or leave a comment with your specific question and I’ll ask Robert to answer it for you.

Any questions?

 

 

The Satisfaction of Enough

[Photo credits: guitars: fotobicchio and shoes: Orin Zebest]

“That’s so cool. That’s awesome!” an irritating squeaky voice kept repeating. She looked no more than six, her cell phone glued to her ear.

I stood behind her, waiting my turn in the “15 items or less” check-out line, still on a high from all the choices of breads, cereals and vegetables at my local grocery store. My family and I had just returned from our year on Ambergris Caye, an island with only 11,000 people in the Caribbean. We were lucky when Superbuy carried fresh milk, and in heaven when we found ice cream. Our choice of bread was white, or white with brown food coloring. Writing a shopping list became pointless. In Belize, the store ruled, and the customer learned to appreciate what they offered.

Back in California, I felt like a kid in a candy store. So many choices, too many in fact that my head was spinning. I’d smile at people and they’d quickly turn their head sideways to avoid eye contact. Many treated me as some kind of weirdo, because I did things differently. I would take my time and get out of their way when they pushed their shopping carts like NASCAR drivers. I would let them get in front of me in line. Men, women, even children looked tired and stressed out. No one seemed to understand how lucky they were to live in a country with everything you could possibly want and need.

“No hay!” the Spanish phrase for “there is no” became a daily phrase which my kids and I learned to accept without getting flustered. If they don’t have beef, we’ll eat chicken. If they don’t have lettuce, we’ll go without. Imagine the outrage of people in a U.S. supermarket if they were told, “No fresh milk today. Maybe next week. No hay!”

“That’s awesome! The blond, skinny, six-year-old repeated for the twentieth time on her cell phone. With small feet inside a pair of glittery high-heeled sandals, a baby-size Luis Vuitton purse, and her cell phone still glued to her ear, she reminded me of a mini Paris Hilton. Her mother glowed in admiration of her daughter’s pretentious mannerisms. She would glance around to see if others paid attention to her “cute” daughter.

I wrote this in my journal in 2006, and now realize I’ve changed. It’s easy to start taking things for granted when you live in a society of abundance. Now I allow myself to buy a pair of earrings or a top, more out of a want than a need, however, the guilt stays with me.

So when I shop, I make sure to ask myself, “Is this a want or a need?” And we all know the answer to that.

I made a list of how Belize has influenced my daily life:

  • I turn off the faucet in between brushing my teeth and rinsing.
  • I use paper towels sparingly; never to dry my hands at home though.
  • I only use paper plates when we have more guests than I have plates.
  • I use Ziplocs over and over.
  • I turn off the lights whenever I leave a room.
  • I always close the fridge door as soon as possible.
  • I never turn on the air-conditioning until it becomes unbearable.
  • I always bring my own bags to the grocery store, even Costco.

The satisfaction of enough, is something that I think about whenever I’m tempted to buy a want rather than a need. What about you?

Blogs I follow that help me re-focus on a simple life:

Leo Babauta from Zen Habits, has many ideas on living a more frugal lifestyle.
Lori from Groovygreenliving, offers tips to simplify life, and not waste.

Is blogging messing with your mind?

For once, I’m determined to get my posts ready for the week. It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve been glued to my office chair, staring at my computer for several hours. What the hell am I doing? the sun is shining and I’m inside my kitchen writing. (No need to tell me I’m crazy, I already realize that thank you.)

Fortunately, I find a blog post that resonates with what I’m thinking today and it’s called: “5 ways fear can mess up your blog,” by Tess Marshall from The Bold Life.

Tess points out “5 ways fear steals your joy and what action you can take in order to enjoy life and the blogging process.” Please hop over to read her great advice.

1. You obsess about the competition.
2. Your content Lacks pizzazz.
3. You Doubt Yourself.
4. You’re unmotivated and stuck.
5. You want to give up and quit.  
  
“Become aware of how many times in one day you wish for a better and bigger blog and all that goes with it?

Now estimate how many times a day you say to yourself,’My life is great just the way it is today!'”

Of course Tess is right, but once you get bitten by the blogger bug, it’s very difficult to erase it from your mind; especially when you’ve been asked to join a panel and speak about “Beyond Blogging” at the Orange County Branch of the California Writers Club.

A romantic dinner at home.

Last night I set a romantic table next to our fireplace. I had candles, roses in a vase, and champagne flutes ready for our dinner. With the kids gone, my husband and I can finally have romantic dinners at home. As we sip our champagne with some smoked salmon appetizers, I ask him, “Do you think I’d spend as many hours in front of my computer if we moved back to Ambergris Caye? (Photo at the top is from Ambergris Caye where we lived from 2004-2005. This is Victoria House, a beautiful resort on the island.) Before he has time to answer, I say, “I’m sure I’d blog and spend hours on my laptop.” In a way I’m scared Gutsy enough to admit that blogging and writing is my obsession, but since statistics show that women outnumber men in the social media world, perhaps society has created a new female disease that requires a new form of treatment.

So my question to you is: “Is blogging messing with your mind?” If so, in what way? 
This question is for men too. Please ask your friends and share.

Making Love in Paradise

 HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY TO ALL
Laguna Beach, CA February 13, 2011

When my husband and I moved to Belize, I knew we’d found the perfect place for romance. The two of us would embrace on the powdery sand with the sun’s warmth caressing our bodies. After a couple of exotic coconut rum punches, passion would take over, right?

Wrong! A primitive hut on stilts is not the place for a fulfilling love life. There’s a limit to how many coconut rum punches you can knock back while ignoring scorpions, large spiders, sweaty odors and sand flies sharing your bed. Having a mosquito net made no difference; the critters appeared on-time, and uninvited.

We moved from a luxury California king-size mattress to a knobby double mattress in Belize. Duke’s feet stuck out a foot or so, but at least the mattress offered a separation between us and the floor’s ecosystem.

The ceiling fauna was exactly the same, but gravity caused numerous landings of critters and their poop, onto our protective mosquito net. I just prayed that a giant iguana or rat wouldn’t fall out of the palm-fronded, vaulted ceiling and cause the net to collapse over our faces.

Body odor was another distraction during romance. The humidity and lack of air-conditioning caused us to sweat like baboons. I tried everything to get our sheets to smell fresh, but our stinky well water didn’t help matters. I boiled pot after pot of water mixed with bleach on my kitchen stove, and sprinted outside to fill our washing machine located underneath our hut. A colony of dock flies resided next to the washing machine and pounced on my legs, like hungry carnivores. Within an hour, I’d have large welts. I finally gave up and sprayed my precious Chanel perfume onto our sheets, but this was only a three-second fix. Desperate, I sprayed some inside my nostrils, and screamed in pain.

On this special Valentine’s Day, please remember how lucky you are to have a comfortable bed with clean sheets. If you want some tropical romance, check yourself into a nice hotel with air-conditioning.


What about you? Any romantic or fun stories to share?

Category: Belize  |  Tags: , , ,