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

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.

The Power of Yoga

One of the best things I’ve done for myself here in LA is delve into my yoga practice.

My experience with yoga, until now, has been quite sporadic. As I traveled and moved from place to place, occasionally I would pick up a few classes here and there when I could: Barcelona, La Antigua, Chihuahua, Playa del Carmen.

Now, I go to YogaWorks – a chain here in LA – at least five times a week. In just one month, I’ve gone from having to warm up just to touch my toes to being able to bend in half, wrapping my fingers around my heels and pulling my nose close to my knees. And much more…

My anxiety about LA has calmed since I began yoga. Through the yoga practice I’ve been learning to better manage my emotions and observe them; choosing how to react to them instead of just blindly acting out from them. The benefits of yoga run deep on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.

Just how far can the benefits go? This last week, I learned that one of my yoga instructors is living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I had no idea. What a powerful example he is for all of us! Here’s a short video about Garth McLean‘s personal story:

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Midnight Muse

A late night visit turned into an impromptu photo shoot. My new business partner captured these images using a single Chinese ball lantern from Ikea:

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The Breath of a Hummingbird

Sauntering down the walk of fame
weaving through the tourist’s game
I reminisce about a lovers’ frolic
relived amidst last night’s twilight revelry

the whisper of the hummingbird’s wings
pulsating at 90 beats per second
remind me of a magical encounter
that until now I have left forgotten

The day before Valentine’s day I took my bike out for a Sunday jaunt from Westwood to Santa Monica. My plan was to go explore YogaWorks, a yoga studio from which I had recently purchased a Groupon deal. After touring the yoga haven, I lingered… asking the attendant questions; enjoying a relaxing Sunday.

Tap tap tap…

The light beat came from the adjacent sun room. We peeked inside to discover a humming bird confused by the glass, frantically charging the clear panes in its desperate attempt to escape. “Oh no!” I lamented. “The poor thing looks like it’s going to have a heart attack. We have to help it escape!” Eying it’s sharp beak charging the window, I grabbed a soft pillow for protection and gently attempted to coax the little fluster of a hummingbird toward he open doorway in the opposite corner. Little by little I inched the little bird closer, but with each second he flew more frantically than the last, charging the panes with growing furor. Fearful he would die of fright, I dropped the pillow and, for the first time in this life, I witnessed a hummingbird stop. He landed on the sill and rested.

“Have you ever seen a hummingbird not flying?” I marveled in surprise.

Tap tap tap…

In the blink of an eye, the hummingbird was back to its frantic charge. Poised to lose ground we had already accomplished, I jumped up again with the pillow to keep coaxing the little guy toward his escape. Throughout the ordeal, he rested three more times before we could finally reveal to him his way out. The last time, he was so exhausted that his little head rested, tilted upon the glass; a tiny fog rising from it’s beak, clouding the window pane. A foggy cloud of hummingbird’s breath on the window pane. Alarmed… but enchanted! I had witnessed the breath of a tiny little hummingbird! To our delight, he escaped shortly thereafter. We watched him streak across the street and land in a tree… free at last.

Longing for Me

my spirit suffers
in this slum of smoke and mirrors
longing for symphony at sea
lagoons of crystal harmony
once, the distant crack of the volcano
now, an inner quake overwhelming me: go!

Love Letter From La Bruja

La Bruja sent me this late last month. But, I didn’t have the chance to really read it until now. When she sent me this, Ryan and I were just beginning to go through our break up and my grandfather had just passed away.

Here is my English translation (below you’ll find the original in Spanish):

This night she was particularly sensitive. Her grandfather had passed to form a part of the stars of the firmament and, furthermore, she had to transform the love meant for her lover, into a love meant for the world. God wanted to console her heart, giving her a gift… He guided her flight to the foot of a mountain where there was a peaceful river fed by a waterfall. There, spread a light, golden frost that illuminated this beautiful place. Little by little, it revealed a field covered with the most beautiful flowers; the ground was a kaleidoscope of figures and colors and in the air flew hummingbirds, butterflies and little turtledoves that were manifested to form a part of this act of love.

She decided to climb to the height of the mountain to see the spectacular sight from a better perspective. Surprisingly, her senses were sharpened… the colors, the smells and the sounds reached the highest vibration (reminds me of my experience in Playa del Carmen). Laura could understand the songs of the birds… she could see everything around her as twinkling lights of energy that flickered in perfect synchronization and all of her surroundings had a smell sweetened from the nectar of the flowers and trees, which were planted marks, offering the protection of the wise sages and strong ancient.

Little by little her entire being heard, first as a whisper and after as a beautiful melody, the message that God was sending to her through those creatures of the forest: “Dear Laura, I love you. Thank you for being a part of me and for being a part of the miracle of life.”

Laura swelled with love! Her being was a fast-flowing mix of all those creatures together: the trees, flowers, river, sky and all the rest running through her veins giving her the best of themselves. She did her part, giving her soul to the entire universe. She decided to give herself to the flow of the river, the smell of the flower, the gleam of the stars. All of her being danced in unison with the creatures!!!!

And every day, and every night, Laura punctually arrived to replenish herself with love, to transmit love and to make the love that moves the world. Continue reading “Love Letter From La Bruja”