Saturday, October 27, 2007

Spanish Lessons

I didn’t start studying Spanish until I was in my 40’s. It took me that long to realize that the rest of the world speaks several languages, while we Americans are struggling with one.

I had to go to a third world country to find that out. As I sat by the pool in my lounge chair I watched a little 4 year old boy from Venezuela talk to his mother in Spanish, turn around and talk to me in English and talk to someone else in Papamiento (the language of Aruba). That same evening I met an Aruban teacher who told me that they start to teach their children foreign languages in the home long before they go to school. And then in school, as a natural part of the curriculum, some classes are taught in English, Dutch, Spanish, French or Papamiento.

I thought ..”What’s wrong with this picture????” Are we living in the dark ages in the states???? Not only do we struggle with one language, we arrogantly expect the rest of the world to speak English for our convenience, even when we are in their country.

I took a Conversational Spanish class at a local community college with my husband and daughter. They dropped out after the first semester and I was on my own. I kept going back to classes off and on for a few years.
Then I joined a conversation group for a while and went on to private lessons.
So started my love affair with the Spanish language and all things Spanish and Latin American.

Learning a language can be fun and interesting. And studies show that because we create new brain cells and a new area in our brains to store our new language that it is a good way to keep ourselves mentally sharp and young. Woohoo!!!…nice added bonus.

After years of studying, I am now just about fluent in Spanish. I no longer take classes, but I keep the language alive by reading daily in Spanish and emailing my penpals from all over the Spanish speaking world. Anyone learning Spanish can try Lingolex. It is a English/Spanish language exchange. You can find penpals that are learning English and email each other correcting each others mistakes. It is wonderful to have friends all over the world and I have personally met 7 of my penpals from Spain, Argentina, Chile. I still keep in touch with most of them.
And of course, my favorite way to keep the language alive is traveling through Spanish speaking countries.

Hasta Luego
Gypsy Girl

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Peace, Tranquility and Nature

We have just returned from a great vacation on the Sea of Cortez. No TV, no phones, no internet…just peace, tranquility and nature!!

The house we rented was right on the Sea of Cortez, just steps from the water. It is not the tourist season yet in that area, so we enjoyed having the beach pretty much to ourselves. My sister and I walked for miles each morning collecting sea shells and enjoying the deserted beach.

In the evenings we were gifted with beautiful sunsets.
We made some Mexicans happy. Knowing that we would be staying next to some of the poorest barrios (neighborhoods) in the area, we bought toys to hand out to the children. And we collected children’s clothing from family and friends to give to the Mexican families in the area. Pictured are just a few new friends from the barrio.

I made one special friend who has stolen my heart. He is holding a special teddy bear that was sent to him from my little friend Cam, a second grader from New Hampshire. I had picked up some children’s clothing from his mother and at the last minute when I was about to drive out, Cam donated one of his favorite toys. Thank you Cam!! Your teddy has a new home and you have a friend for life in Mexico.

Mexico is always one of my favorite destinations. I love the Mexican people. They are so loving and friendly.

Hasta Luego
Gypsy Girl

Friday, October 12, 2007

On The Road Again

Well it's that time again. Time to get out the old traveling shoes.

This time we are off to the Sea of Cortez. That wonderful fishing mecca between Baja California and the west coast of Mexico. I personally won't do any fishing, but I am sure the "boys" will enjoy it.

I think I'll just soak up the sun, try a little yoga on the beach, watch some magnificent sunsets and practice some Spanish.

This will be a very special vacation, as we are traveling with my sister and her husband and my nephew(my brother's son). I haven't traveled with my sister for quite some time and this is the first time with my nephew.

So today is packing day and we are off to a real early start tomorrow at 3:45AM... YIKES!!!


Gypsy Girl

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Practicing Contentment

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey." Fitzhugh Mullan

"As a result of contentment, one gains supreme happiness" Yoga Sutra

Due to several small injuries in various places on this aging body, I have not been able to enjoy my daily yoga practice. It is has become one of the joys to go off into my own little yoga sanctuary each morning for a full power vinyasa practice then sit and meditate.

Then wham not one, not two, but three injuries in less than a few weeks and no yoga. I have to say it set me back for a bit.

But it has given me the opportunity to reflect on all the ways I have incorporated yoga into my daily routine.

The physical practice of yoga asana (postures) did not “find” me until long after I had been practicing Dhyana
(meditation) and mindfulness (or present moment awareness).

So after I got over my initial “whoo is me”… feeling sorry for myself, I sat and contemplated.

Svadhyaya (self study) helped me realize that Sauca (health and fitness) have always been part of my daily routine. And that I am a person who can adapt to any situation.

I realized that adapting and changing my form of exercise was in order. My job to find new ways turned out to be looking at old ways (pre-yoga that is). I dug out some of my old workout tapes and since aerobic won't work right now with the injuries I have, I found two great AB workouts…great for strengthening the core. And I can always use a flatter stomach and a stronger core….who among us couldn't.

Another bonus is that we have been experiencing unusually warm and sunny weather for this time of year in New England. So communing with nature was in order. I can’t put my shoes on to do my usual 4 mile walk. But I can walk barefoot, so I was able to go to the beach and walk barefoot in the sand for hours!! How cool is that!!!

So I’m practicing Santosa (contentment) these days and enjoying a little break for my regular routine. Maybe my injuries are just a way of telling me to slow down, smell the roses and be content.

Gypsy Girl

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"The Road to Hell...."

I've had a bad few weeks with injuries that have slowed me down, and just when I was trying to step up my efforts in yoga practice and other healthy habits. First I hurt my back for the first time in my life, so I"ve been nursing that. Then a few days ago during a weight training session and strained my arm from over lifting. As if that wasn't enough, yesterday I stubbed my toe so bad that it split open and today my foot is black and blue and swollen.
All of this caused me some stress and the result was this journal entry that I wrote last night:

I read somewhere once that "The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions" Well, I think it could have some meaning to it. What exactly that meaning is I'm not quite sure.
Maybe it came from some Puritan text that wanted us to know that we'd surely go to hell if we couldn't follow through on the good works and deeds of going about the business of living. Living "upright" that is. Living disciplined, orderly, "just" lives. With all those intentions lined up and fulfilled. Delivered as promised. Without flaws. DO NOT BEND FOLD OR MUTILATE
We'd go to hell and all the evidence would be lying there for everyone to see. A road strewn with pitiful, glaring wrecks. The skeletons of our failed dreams and goals. Our unfinished
intentions a testament to our inability to fulfil our destiny, to claim our prize, to stand tall and say "Here I am"...."Look at me"..."I made it!"
But alas, we couldn't make the grade.

So today, when I had this cute message in an email, it put a smile on my face and made me think of how connected we really are. It came from a dear friend who lives in Florida, whom I hadn't communicated with in a while. She has a sixth sense and has always had an uncanny way of knowing me so well. Here is her message:


What's so poignant about this picture? ?Well, it shows a line of little girls holding hands facing the immensity of ocean waves. Alone they might be washed away, but together they stand strong. Thank you each for holding my hand somewhere along the way when I was facing a wave of my own. I hope you will reach for my hand when your own wave threatens.

All of us girls.. Old and young... Near and far...
Hold special memories of good times we've shared.

We've had our share of hard times when our friends were there to make us feel better.
We've shared... our hearts our time our secrets our fears our hopes and our dreams.
Let us never break the chain of friends!

I am only as strong as the caffeine I drink, the hair spray I use and the girlfriends I have. Here's to you! Why do we only have parties for each other when one of us gets married, pregnant, has a birthday, or retires? What would most of us do without our sisters, confidants, and shopping, lunching and traveling girlfriends? Let's celebrate each other for each other's sake!
Someone will always be prettier.

Someone will always be smarter.

Their house will be bigger.

They will drive a better car.

Their children will do better in school.

And their husband will fix more things around the house.

So let it go,

Be Happy! And love yourself and your circumstances.
Think about it. The prettiest woman in the world can have trouble in her heart. And the most highly favored woman on your job may be unable to have children. And the richest woman you know, she's got the car, the house, the clothes....might be lonely.
And the word says "If I have not Love, I have nothing."
Love who you are.
Look in the mirror in the morning and smile and say "I am too blessed to be stressed!"...I like that!
"Winners make things happen. Losers let things happen"
Be Blessed ladies and pass this on to encourage another woman.
"To the world you might be one person, But to one person you just might be the world".


I am so blessed to have such a beautiful and thoughtful friend. Thank you Cheryl!!
Gypsy Girl