DIY with Pallets and Driftwood

Happy Monday!

Spent the weekend working mostly: Editing images most of the day Saturday and moving furniture bought at a steal of a deal all day Sunday. My current lease is almost up and the owner of my apartment wants to sell, so time to move!

Ramses has a small apartment he just bought so we are moving there for at least a few months to finish setting it up (furnishings and decor wise). It will be a challenge for me as the location is quite a bit farther from the center of Playa and the beach than I prefer. But, a few months to a) help out Ram get the apt set up to rent properly and b) save cash for a nice little summer getaway can be tolerated. In fact, the little project is inspiring me for a lot of fun DIY project ideas. Admittedly excited about the prospect of creating to decorate!

I recently picked up a Coca-cola pallet and currently use it as a nifty little shoe rack. Perhaps we’ll slap some wheels on it and turn it into a coffee table soon… I’m also using Y-shaped driftwood as a purse and hat rack. We’ve also transformed another bit of driftwood we found into a beautiful little outdoor planter.

DIY pallet shoe rack and bag rack

DIY driftwood planter

DIY driftwood planter

So yes! Looking forward to delving into more such projects! The bedrooms were designed without closets (I don’t understand that but it’s quite common here). However, I have an idea to use up-cycled ladders along with a long, slender driftwood or a bamboo shaft hung by rope to create a lovely rustic closet set up. Perhaps hang some lovely cloth as a partition… y violá!

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We’re nearing the date for the big crossing from Xcaret to Cozumel by canoe as part of the 9th annual Travesia Maya. The big day is May 23, 2015. Tonight we have a purification ceremony… so that will be a nice experience. 🙂

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Okie dokie, back to photo editing and other admin tasks…

Gotta Get It Together

I’m anxious. I’m happy, but I’m anxious.

Happy? Well I do have very much to be happy and grateful about…

I have achieved much and am rather well-traveled. I currently live in tropical location of my own choosing. I am the boss of my own time, as I am running my own boutique photography business that, at the very least, keeps my life in paradise afloat. I go to the beach or cenote often – both in my down time and as a part of my self-appointed career. I have much contact with the natural surroundings found in this little corner of the world in which I’m living. I have an adorable young pup who I wasn’t planning on adopting but who has been one of the biggest blessings in my life to date. Ayyyyy La Fiera… her name is Ahalya. But, she is a little ornery devil sometimes hahaha. Also, as of quite recently, I have a man in my life of whom I can sincerely say I admire. A young man. A “younger-than-me” man. It’s very rare that I date a man who is not around 10 years older than myself, let alone a younger man. He is a dreamer… living so fully from the heart… like me. Honestly, I think he is the first truly open-hearted dreamer I have allowed myself to really fall for. In the past, I always fell for those whom made me feel as if “I was opening the world to them.” You get the idea…

And now, I, a young dreamer, have a slightly younger dreamer by my side. His energy matches mine. His dreams reach as far as mine. The way he treats me, sees me makes me feel yet more beautiful, more alive and more hopeful… yet more of a dreamer. We haven’t separated since the first day he came to visit me. In just a few days, on May 6th, we will have spent two months straight together. Of course, he goes to work. But after work, he comes back to me… and life is lived together. Oh and I have yet to mention his name… Ramses. I love his name. Strong. Regal. And my Ramses re-writes the character behind the name. 😉 (I’ll elaborate more on Ramses later.)

So, yes, on many levels I’m very happy. 🙂

But, yes, on other levels… anxious.

Anxious because I know that as I near 30 years of age, a business that keeps life “afloat” just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Anxious that the “investing in myself and my own business” debt I’ve racked up… has not deflated but slightly incrementally increased. Anxious about the fact that if I want to start embracing some new objectives in life I need to “get it together” quite a bit more than what I’ve “already got together.” Anxious as I feel that after having seemed to steam ahead in so much so quickly, that I have slowed to a more relaxed pace for a little too long. Anxious because at nearly 30 years of age, I can’t stop thinking I need to be comparing myself to the achievements of those of 40+ years of age? Why, because I’ve always been ahead. And suddenly, I’m starting to feel, not so ahead anymore. And perhaps, in some areas, even a bit behind. And I don’t like it.

Thus, lots of self-analyzation, Ted Talks and, once again, writing about my own life… are just some of the tactics I’m attempting to use to find my way back to “feeling ahead” or at least “feeling most content with where I’m at.” I REALLY became quite used to feeling ahead though hahaha.

Now, back to editing photos…

Finding Time to Write… Again.

Wow. The last post on this blog was published four years ago. Four years… so cliché, but WHERE does the time go?? So much has happened and so much has gone unchronicled in those four years. We’ll see how much comes up as I again take to the electronic keypad…

Time and again I would admit out loud how much I missed writing… writing for myself. At certain moments, I would realize just how much writing and thus, reflecting, about my own life would serve me as a therapeutic tool. I have already correlated that my inner state of contentment about my own success seemed higher when I took the time to write versus when I did not. Yet, so much time in front of the computer editing images, building and updating my company’s website, emails, etc… left me very reluctant to dedicate yet more time in front of the computer to write.

But today, a TED Talk has convinced me of something I already knew: it’s worth it. I’ve started watching Ted Talks while I’ve had to tackle long hours of tediously editing the photographs I capture. It was a smart move. My over-active brain gets to soak up 20 to 25 minute nuggets of invaluable information so many of the world’s greatest minds have to share, while I slave away editing the images. Yes… slave. I LOVE capturing images. I am so burnt out on editing them.

Biggest priority to date: Earn enough income to delegate key tasks that are a part of the operations of my business… with post-production image editing among the first tasks to delegate.

Anyway, today I listened to Conor Neill re-iterate the fact that “writing down your life” is a prime tool to one of three major keys to being successful – said key being: Adaptive Intelligence.

Interested? Listen to his presentation here:

And I hence, I have decided that it is imperative to my own success to again find the time to write.

So after what has really been a 5+ year hiatus… the silly thoughts, opinions, stories, interests and perspectives of Laura “Rico” McNamara once again go digital.

Corn Kernal Treasure for the Chorti

I just received this update from a couple who dedicate a large part of their lives to helping feed the famished Chortí Maya. I thought it was touching and wanted to share…

Buenas Noches from Honduras

Since my last update, we’ve been a little busy. I’ll go ahead and give you the numbers of corn and beans we have distributed over the past 3 weeks. We have delivered corn and beans to:

  • 34 villages
  • 1, 202 families
  • 132,020 pounds of corn or 66 tons
  • 26,120 pounds of beans or 13.1 tons

We can’t say thank you enough for those of you that have contributed so we could purchase food for the Chorti. Without your help there are over 1,000 families that would have nothing or very little to eat.

We had 3 folks from Seminole come and join Farrell and John the last week they were here as well as Kyle McNamara and Nick Majors from Parkwood. After the first day, you’d have thought they had known each other for a good while. They really served as a team. One of the villages we delivered food to was El Chilar. While one group was
registering the adults so they could receive food, another group was in the school sharing Bible stories with the children. The teacher told us that the children all morning had been so excited and all they talked about until we arrived was that they would have food to eat in their homes that night. The only meal they had been eating was the beans and rice that was served at the school at about 9:30 each day. They are in one of the government
feeding programs that sometimes work and other times it does not. Thank you for caring.

At another village where we delivered food, I was very humbled as I watched and elderly man pack his supply of corn and beans so he could carry them home. Each person was asked to bring 2 bags to exchange for the bags they would pick up their food in. Each person brought a bag but they would always empty their corn and beans into their bag. They always wanted their bag to take back home. As this gentleman emptied his corn into his bag about a cup or two spilled on the ground. He stooped down and gently picked up each kernel of corn as if it was a treasure and how precious each kernel was to him as he put it in his bag. My thought was how precious each one of the Chorti is to our heavenly Father and how much He wants them to come to know Him. Pray for us as we try to share God’s love through the food distribution process.

The Parkwood youth team arrived on the 22nd—all 14 of them plus 5 others that came to work with the food distribution. We went to the Baptist Church (that is the name they have given it) in Ottuta. They have asked for over a year for a portable sound system to be used in their church. They had collected a little over $300.00. Thanks to a friend, we were able to deliver to them a sound system on Sunday morning. They were speechless—which for Pastor Elias is most unusual. We had to put it together, take it apart, put it together again—just to make sure they could do it themselves. I’m sure at the Sunday night service everyone anywhere around heard the singing and preaching of God’s word. A couple weeks prior to this they had a revival from Friday to Sunday. Elias said it would have been so much better if they had had a sound system so everyone could have heard the messages. They are planning another one. This small church has started 3 different Bible studies and they are planning to start another one. They requested that we come and prayer walk the village before they start the Bible study. I assured Elias we would be glad to do that.

Figuring out transportation and delivery was quite a task for the number of folks we had working this week. Thanks to Jose for allowing us to use one of his vehicles, we were able to get food delivered and everyone out to the villages. The youth from Parkwood were wonderful. Parkwood you should be proud of the kids that came. Each morning as we shared devotions, I was amazed at how grounded this group of kids are in the scriptures. As I listened to them as they shared Bible stories with the children their love for Christ showed on their faces. At San Rafael, we had to wait until classes were over before we could share with the high school students. They patiently waited and were not going to leave until they had the opportunity to share the scriptures with the students. They played ball, jumped rope, and laughed and loved the children in each village we served. They realized that the Chorti are also made in the image of our Father and they wanted the opportunity share the love of Christ with them whether it was through a story, a hug, or a smile. All too soon it was time for them to leave.

On Friday morning after we got the youth team off to the airport, we loaded up more corn and beans and made the 1 ½ hour trip to Porvenir 1 and 2. Along the way, God’s handiwork was so visible in the lush mountains. They looked like patch work quilts— a beautiful sight—sorry the group had to miss it. After we had completed the delivery process, the leader of Porvenir 2 talked with us. He stated they want to start a Bible study and they were ready to start it now. When could we return?

I have been so amazed at the number of villages that through the food distribution have requested that we return—some just to visit, but the majority asking about having a Bible study started in their village. Please pray for guidance as we work to decide where, how and when this can be accomplished.

We look forward to having the second Parkwood youth group arrive on Monday. Continue to pray for us as we deliver food to the remainder of the villages we have received request from. Pray for this next group of young people that God will give them the attitude they need to serve Him and to share His love to the Chorti. Pray that we will have all the plans completed to deliver food and share stories from the Bible with those folks that we serve. Continue to pray for us that we will have wisdom and organization skills to complete the process of delivering and serving among the Chorti.

Steve & Audrey

Charmed in Playa del Carmen

When I arrived in Playa del Carmen, America and Pauloko greeted me at the local bus station right on 5th avenue. We swung by America’s apartment to drop off my things before heading toward a hostel to help prep for the birthday celebration of one of America’s friends. So much familiarity, yet so much change. Playa del Carmen is currently ranked as THE fastest growing city in the world…

Fortunately, the coastal charm of a smaller seaside village continues to thrive in Playa. The highway that runs along the coast of the Riviera Maya slices through Playa nearer to the shore. Most of the city’s growth extends out from the other side of the highway… away from the sea. Thus, the highway helps preserve the more intimate nucleus of the city. Walk just about a dozen blocks from sea and you’ve already reached the highway.

The infamous 5th avenue, which marks the second block from the coast, is lined with cafes, gelaterias, boutiques, art galleries and quaint hotels. I popped out of the hostel just one block up from 5th avenue to indulge in one of my favorite treats – a fresh fruit and veggie smoothie!

Soon the techno house music led us on highs and lows that reflected the rhythm of the waves at sea. Party-goers began to arrive and drink chelas (beer) at the rooftop bar and dip into the rooftop pool. I began to slip back into a familiar bliss. I socialized with friends, but so easily I would lose myself in the music, my heart and soul turned toward the sea, completely mesmerized by her opal, turquoise, azure and sapphire hues. And my precious moon began to emerge, shining bright and bold… as dusk turned to darkness. When night fell I escaped, padding my way down the cobbled road toward the water’s edge. Stepping out of my clothes I slipped right into the cool, dark waters. Home.

I quickly fell into my old morning routine greeting the day with a morning run along the shore and cooling down with a leisurely swim. I would playfully roll around in the soft waves then drift on my back… utterly content… just me and the sea.

By 8:30 I was sitting upright and erect, ready for an energizing Vinyasa flow yoga class with Ellen at Yoga By the Way

Sunbathing Topless in Cancun…

I grew up in the conservative, land-locked Midwest, so thong bikinis and sunbathing topless are more than risque… for many Midwestern folk these notions are considered vulgar and even sinful or immoral.

But, for the natives of tropical seaside environments where the days are spent in a natural sauna, the locals barely give a second glance to all the uncovered flesh. The whole idea of “less” is not so much about being risque as it’s simply about relief from the steamy heat. More naked skin simply means less sweat-soaked clothes stuck to your body.

Having grown up the Midwest, admittedly, I’ve been more reserved about what I show. This is for both my upbringing and my own insecurities about my body. Yet, as I spend more time in tropical environments I find myself truly appreciating how comfortable the local women seem to feel in their own skin. Their body image seemed quite healthier than mine. As I meditated about my background and the culture I was surrounded with, I began to feel proud of these women. Their desire to sunbathe topless had nothing to do with drawing attention to themselves. It was simply about enjoying a simple pleasure we all should have the right to enjoy… pure, natural sunbathing. So what’s the big fuss, I decided? Time to go topless on a public beach and let my white flesh soak up some healthy vitamins D and K…

I felt so… free. Natural, free… and beautiful. And when the waves lap at your bear skin as you wade into the sea… the water feels as soft as silk… a sweet, tender caress.

My friend Perla and I snapped some photos together and of each other while enjoying our lazy afternoon lounging at the edge of the electric blues of Cancun’s Caribbean Sea. I have decided there is nothing vulgar or obscene about sunbathing topless… though not all of my family and friends agree. That’s okay, they’re welcome to their own opinions. All I ask is that you please respect mine.

Back to Paradise

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05.03.11

At the airport in Cancun, I made friends with a Virgin American crew member and a fellow traveler from Norway… perhaps we’ll be in touch.

I took a shuttle from the airport to the bus station in the center of town. I felt so “at home” again, yet felt my spirit hadn’t quite released LA yet…

Perla came with her boyfriend Mario and picked me up from the station. I shrieked with joy when I saw her…

Benny met us shortly thereafter and we made a beeline for greasy, yummy Mexican food. Guacamole, chorizo tacos, carne asada, frijoles… ala ¡Que Rico!

Benny is beyond words. He’s so pure.

We picked up Benny’s budding flame… Karina. She and I are one in the same… she possesses a true zest for life!

Ruben and Victor meet us for drinks. Back in tropical paradise, sipping a pina coloda with old, cherished friends… ahem ¡QUE RICO!

It all felt surreal… being surrounded by so many people I love again. Each and every one is so dear and special to me.

05.04.11

I slept in… I haven’t done that since I decided to return to Latin America. Still… sleeping in here is waking up early in LA… so maybe I didn’t sleep in after all.

After working and connecting with my client, I leave for the beach. My friends are at work and it’s just me…

I go to Playa Marlin, where I used to live. I lived in an apartment that had a beautiful view of the sea. The very waves that I so clearly remember lulling me to sleep crashed in a soft greeting of “welcome back.” When I bathed in the sea my senses began to reawaken. Little by little, I felt myself reconnecting

I busted out the blender when I got back to my friend’s apartment. Now I can liquefy my own fresh, tropical bliss!

Sushi for dinner… catching up with Perla.

Inspired to shoot a special shot… sipping wine poolside under the cozy night sky my spirit makes the final shift… finally, I am reconnected.

At One

aerialplmBy Laura Rico

I am at one with the energy here
my spirit opens
my soul sings
the silent trance calms me…

beneath the quiet
a glorious celestial choir
bursting forth from love…

the wind tickles my skin
the tropical air warm and moist
fluttering fronds of a palm
sweetly caressing my face
shivers of ecstasy course through my being
oh joy!

I am so elated to feel “me” again!

Insatiable Wanderlust

A silly photo Sebastián took of me at Gladstones in LA. I'm ready to sail off and conquer the world!

I laugh at myself. On the move yet again. Back to Mexico and Guatemala. Just about an hour until I take off from LAX…

I could no longer bear how much I missed my friends, so Riveria Maya and La Antigua here I come! I’ll spend about two weeks on the Yucatan Peninsula before I head back to Guatemala. I can’t believe it has been more than a year and half since I last lived in the “land of eternal spring.” Memories from both Mexico and Guatemala have been flooding my consciousness lately. I have begun dreaming in Spanish again. I woke up just the other morning in mid-sentence… speaking Spanish. Again, I laugh. I remember how it took a couple weeks for me to adjust to speaking English again when I arrived in LA. It looks like the transition back to Spanish will go more smoothly. Of course, I’ve been using my Spanish at every possible opportunity…

Ah, such is the life of the restless wanderer – the nomad, the gypsy, the “mystic” as the Italian-American puts it. And I love it. I love living with the fluidity of the wind and the beloved sea…

You can read more about my goals for my trip back to Mexico on my new website fotofatal.com. Please see fotofatál: Mobilized for Mexico. No, I am not replacing this website. Giramonda.com will still represent my personal blog. However, as I have previously alluded, I have been working extremely hard on launching a proper professional website for my photography. The site is now up and I feel quite proud. I will still be uploading many more images to add to my photo galleries, but I already have enough images uploaded to accurately showcase my work. I’ll also be offering the sales of prints and digital downloads through fotofatal.com very soon. I’ve developed the concept to match my lifestyle. I am developing a virtual brand of photography that I can take with me anywhere. I envision fotofatal becoming a centralized source online for commissioning and deploying photographers for projects, events, etc… anywhere around the world:

We envision fotofatál as a worldwide photography force poised to meet any photographic endeavor anywhere around the globe. Wedding or war, family or fashion, community or commercial, humanity or nature – no assignment is too great or too small for fotofatál.

Work with us and become a part of something bigger…

For now, it starts with me. 🙂

I used Moo for my custom business cards. I’m very excited about how they turned out. I’ve been getting great responses. Now, I’m just kicking myself for not printing more. I have a hunch I’ll have to replenish the pack quite soon.

So, just to claim it and own it: World, I am so ready to for my commissioned photography assignments located around the world. Travel, wedding, editorial, commercial, lifestlye… bring it on! It’s time for fotofatál!

I’m also working on revamping this website. Please bear with me as I give giramonda.com a face lift.

Also, I’ll be launching another website very soon. This business concept will be an extension of my photography, but it will also be heavily committed to giving back to charities and aid organizations. I plan to invite other photographers to participate in the project. Stay tuned…

So yes, I’ve been a busy little worker bee. That fact is reflected in my bland writing. My sincerest apologies. As I get all these concepts organized and running I will be committing to writing more regularly again. I sorely miss writing for myself. I loved blogging about my adventures through Europe and SE Asia. My travels through Latin America and LA were chronicled less due to constantly writing for everyone else and, now, all this work in setting up my business concepts. Soon I will be sharing my heart and soul again through both the written word and the lens…

I have already lived an extremely rich and blessed life – a life overstuffed with the experiences of ten lives. And yet, I have an exciting feeling that the best is only just beginning.

I want to give a special thanks to Clara, Gabriel, Dustin, Sebastian, Kristelle, Perla and Jen. Each of these beautiful souls truly enriched my experience in LA and I’m extremely grateful to have their invaluable friendship and support. I love each and every one of you very much.

Time to let life work its wily magic…

Ala ¡¡Que Rico!!