Monthly Archives: February 2014

Day 414: P-words

I have now returned from Panama, people, and I am trying to process that — on my last vacation day before returning to work.

One thing I want to do, in this post, is show you photographs I took in Panama with my phone.  Also, because I have so many possible ways to present these pictures I need a perfect-enough structure*, to make this post potentially and primarily passable and understandable* for most people.

Hence …. P-words!!

(Before I begin, I’d like to write one preliminary, introductory paragraph where I am neither (1) trying hard to use words that begin with “P” nor (2) using the punctuation play I’ve already established in this post.  I’d like to announce that I have probably previously written about several of these P-word topics that appear in this post. Perhaps I shall link to previous posts, when applicable;  perhaps not.  I also want to mention that the punctuation play is … kind of a pain, because it’s difficult to pass back and forth between italic, bold, and plain text — the text styles seem to get “stuck”. So, this parenthetical paragraph is a nice little relief, here. Also, I would also like to let go of perfectionism with all things in this post, including punctuation, playful or otherwise.)

Phew! Now that I’ve completed that prologue of a disclaimer, shall we proceed?

(Pssssst, people! That punctuation play?  From now on in this post … I pass.)

P-Words: Phone Photos from Panama

Patient People

I’m really working on patience these days. And patience/impatience came up for me, big time, in Panama.

As is my proclivity, I project impatience onto other people, especially when I am feeling stress* and self-judgment*. And even though a vacation SHOULD be less stressful, the newness of the surroundings can increase that stress.

However, the people I encountered in Panama were, in general, particularly patient and kind.

My personal opinion is that this is the most patient person I had the pleasure to meet, in Panama:


That’s Jason. He was my personal tour guide, on the day I chose the “Hot Springs” activity. When I say “personal” I mean this: nobody else signed up for that tour, that day.

I’m kind of disappointed in myself that I didn’t get a better photo of Jason — that is, one that showed his warm smile.

Here’s another photo I took of Jason, with my iPhone, that day:


Notice all the P-words in the name of that park, people!  That was unplanned, post-wise …. I promise!

That photo, above, shows the entrance to a park that has Pre-Columbian  petroglyphs. Because I had previously heard from one of our prior Panamanian tour guides, Rolando, that the Hot Spring Tour could include a visit to see petroglyphs (and I’ve always been fascinated by ancient cultures), I asked Jason if we could stop there, before the Hot Springs.

Here are some other photos, from that park:


I asked Jason if he would pose in that photo, to get a sense of human scale (from his expression, I don’t know how he was feeling about that, at that point).   That is the short-side of a huge volcanic rock, the aftermath of an explosion of the nearby Volcano Baru, thousands of years ago. The volcanic rocks were everywhere, all around us. On the side of that rock, shown above, you can see petroglyphs mixed in with more modern types of rock-drawings.

Here’s a  photo of a perpendicular side of that same giant volcanic rock:


At this point, Jason and I were postulating about what the people who created these petroglyphs were trying to proclaim.  He told me they were carved when the rock was still soft — in other words, not too long after the eruption of the volcano. (Jason also pointed out that the petroglyphs were recently made more pronounced, for easier perception.) I can’t remember* everything we said about what the ancient Panamanians were trying to communicate, post-volcanic eruption, but I remember some punchlines about what the petroglyphs meant:



And less humorously –and perhaps more accurately pin-pointing possibly poignant, painful, personal, and panicky experiences, in that distant past:

“Why am I still here when so many other people I know died so horribly?”

But those would all be projections on my part, people, as to what I might be feeling, post trauma …. that is, after a major, unexpected devastating event like a volcanic explosion.

Jason then told me that there were more petroglyphs on top of the rock, and that these included … spirals!  And since spirals are an image and metaphor I use, a lot, in my work as a psychotherapist, I asked if I could see those, too:


I knew I was going to show those spirals in this blog, I just wasn’t sure when. There’s no time like the present, people!

Here are more photos of my time with Jason, as my guide:


Note that this terrain* is quite different* from that around Boquete, the prime location for Peggy and Ann’s Panamanian Adventures. That’s because of the lower elevation and, therefore, hotter climate. Also, note those omni-present black volcanic rocks.



I also snapped this photo of these Panamanian Pups ….


…. because I had noticed that the local dogs are unleashed, and pretty much do whatever they please. If any dogs read this blog:  you might want to ponder a move* to Panama.

More phone photos from that day:



I HAVE to comment* on that previous photo.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is Bartolo the Buffalo, preeminent for his many appearances at local festivals. Jason told me that Bartolo was an unusual buffalo, in that he allows people to ride him.

Bartolo sounds patient, to me.

I don’t have any photos to present, for the rest of that afternoon.  Why?  As I wrote about in this post, I was trying, on my vacation, to be more present in the moment, rather than primarily focusing on photography. I acted on that preference, that day, by leaving my camera behind.

There ARE other phone photos, from my afternoon tour of the Hot Springs, which I’m not going to show here. Why? Even though I was prepared to go photo-less, from that point on,   Jason was empathic, kind*, and considerate enough to ask me, several times, if he could take phone photos of me at the Caldera Hot Springs, which included (1) a spring that a local Panamanian person said was “muy caliente” (but which tough* and plucky Ann had NO PROBLEM tolerating) and (2) a hot spring that bubbles into a beautiful* brook!

And, in case you don’t know my photography rules, I don’t show photos of myself in this blog. At least, not yet.

But I do have more phone photos to show you, from Panama, that illustrate more P-words.

Patient people, continued*:

photo 1photo 2

Pssssst!  That’s Peggy!


Pssssst!  That’s Rolando!

photo (82)

Psssst! That’s Jyoti and Sanjay  (I’m pretty positive I’ve got their names right), who were also staying at Los Establos. I thought I had a photo of all four patient people in their group (including Anju and Alok who were present above but unaccounted for in that photo) … but I can’t find it right now.  In the foreground of the above photo? That’s the first* cup of coffee I’ve had for … forty years. How was it?  Primo!**

And the last, but not least, patient person appearing in a phone photo:


That’s, Irina, the patient, pleasant and phenomenal owner of Los Establos.  We ran into her at the Panama City airport yesterday, which I found quite propitious, since I hadn’t photographed her previously.

And, before I end* this post, some more phone photos, representing other P-words.



Planes and passengers:

photo 1 (1)

photo 2 (1)

photo 3

photo 4

Psssst!  That’s Connie Zielinski, who moved from the USA to Boquete, Panama, several years ago.  She gave us a preview of  coming attractions — the  upcoming February 13th parade — moments after I took that previous photo:

photo 5

And, Presto!  Here’s Connie, two days later, in that parade:


Geesh!  I really should finish this post. Is it procrastinating, that I want to post more photos of Panama?

Just one more “Plane” photo:


Pssst!  That’s snow, on the ground, right before we landed in Boston, last night. I don’t want to end this post there, people.  A few more photos from the past, using P-words, okay?




photo 1 (2)

photo 2 (2)

photo 3 (1)

photo 4 (1)

photo 5 (1)

And just one more P-word (with no photo, phone or otherwise).


Thanks to that beautiful country; to Los Establos; and to Jason, Peggy, Rolando, Irina, Connie, and every other patient person, parrot, or puppy appearing in — or reading! — this post.

* There’s no perfect-enough synonym starting with “P”  for this particular word.  Believe me, I checked (on

** That would be the Italian meaning of “primo,” not the Spanish (which primarily, according to my perception, means “cousin”).

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Day 413: Zipping along

Today, I am flying back home, to a climate that will be more inherently painful to me than the weather in my current location. That is a given.

But, maybe, just maybe, I will experience that pain differently than I expect.

Yesterday, during my last full day in Boquete, Panama, I went zip-lining for the first time. Expectations were present; the reality was different.

Like THAT never happens.

Zip-lining, from the beginning, seemed like a risk, fraught with possibilities for joy AND pain.

Like THAT never happens, either.

The Joy/Pain possibility is a tough one to predict, but it can seem really critical to figure that out, before making a move.  And for days, during my time in Boquete, I did extensive research, and kept coming up with different answers to the question:

To zip or not to zip?

On the Pro/Potential Joy side were these factors:

  1. The potential of flying like a bird, something that sounds darned appealing to me.
  2. More views of the spectacular local scenery.
  3. Bragging rights.

On the Con/Potential Pain side were these factors:

  1. I am afraid of heights.
  2. I have never done a pull-up in my life, although there was controversy about whether this would be a critical factor.
  3. My capacity for physical endurance has lessened recently (and has rarely been “normal”, since childhood).
  4. “Shaming rights” — that is, feeling weird, different, or otherwise “less than.”

One person who was very pro me zip-lining was Ingra, who manages the daily operations of Los Establos, where we have been staying in Boquete.

Here’s Ingra, pre-zip yesterday, as she was giving me advice about how to let go of anxiety and just enjoy zipping along.



Her advice included “breathe, a LOT” and “know that you can always back out.”  I thought these suggestions were wise, especially since I spout them myself, both in the blog-o-sphere and my work-o-sphere, too.

What is extraordinary, for me, about this portion of the story, is that Ingra and I got off on the wrong foot when I first arrived at the hotel.  She and I have very different communication styles, I think. I also projected a lot of judgment onto her. And yet, she developed into somebody I truly like, who seemed to genuinely care that I have a good experience.

Right before I left for the zip-lining adventure, she gave me a hug.

How did zip-lining go, for me?

Well, there are lots of ways to tell that story.  I could say zip-lining, for me, was a personal triumph and/or a personal nightmare. I could say I took a risk, and it was worth it. I could say that I showed bravery. I could say I was different from the others. I could say  I almost quit when I saw the realities of the physical exertion involved, but staff and I decided I should go for it.  I could say I had the thought, “This will be too much for me,” before I even started. I could say I had the thought, “I can do this,” immediately after that. I could say that I did more physical work than any other participant, because — twice! — I needed to make it to a platform by pulling myself hand-over-hand while suspended, alone, over the cloud forest. I could say the zip-line staff went above and beyond in helping me complete the task, once I became physically depleted. I could say that staff and other participants accepted my limits and applauded my efforts.

I could also say that zip-lining and Ann were NOT a match made in heaven (though the location seemed close to it).  Nevertheless, we both survived the experience.

As usual, the worst part of the experience for me was …

…. my old friend, Shame.

Shame told me, once the adventure was over, that  I had NOT REALLY gone zip-lining, because I had needed assistance for the end of the journey.  And I projected those messages of shame, at some points, on all other human beings within zipping distance. And those Shame Thoughts and Projections drowned out what other people were actually saying to me, plus several high-fives mixed in there, too.

My Shame was not impressed, when staff gave me one of these, just as they did to everybody else:


The first thing Shame said was this: that’s not really your certificate, because your name is misspelled.

Like THAT never happens.

And, Shame said, there are other reasons why that certificate of completion does not apply to YOU.

Soon after that, the staff  announced they were going to show us the video they had made of our shared adventure. Shame said to me, “You’re not going to buy that.” Shame also said,  “Maybe you should turn away and hide your face, when everybody else is watching.”

Because that’s what Shame ALWAYS says.

However, I did watch the video. And for most of my appearances, I looked just like everybody else, although maybe a little more … blank.  Maybe a little less happy.

But  I believe that most observers would not have noted the details, which were — at times — so excruciatingly obvious to me.

Like THAT never happens.

It’s true that some of my video appearances were unique. Nobody else appeared tethered to a smiling staff member. And nobody else was shown walking, on a side path with another smiling staff member (who said some very encouraging and cool things to me on our  very short walk1 down to join the others).

Hmmmm. As I’m re-reading what I’ve written so far, and seen how many lines of dialog Shame has in this story, I’m reminded of a photo I took my very first day, in Boquete.  Hold on. I want to find it, to answer back to Shame, right now:


Yay!  I love the chance to use a photo I haven’t shown you before.

Anyway, so back to yesterday .

I DID buy the video of the zip-lining adventure, and here’s proof:


Here’s a better shot of two smiling members of the Tree Trek Staff, on the bus ride back yesterday, after the adventure:


Thanks, guys!  I’m glad I made it.

Now we’ll see if I can make it back in Boston.

Oh, just one more thing. When I woke up this morning, I thought, “Gee, I wonder how small the plane is going to be today, on the way from Boquete to Panama City?”  And my next thought was, “I hope it’s a really small one!”

So maybe I  DID complete something, yesterday.

Thanks to Ingra, Tree Trek Adventures, all the inhabitants of Beautiful Boquete, people who keep up as best they can, those who have all sorts of reactions to zip-lines (and other modes of amusement and transportation), and to you — of course! — for zipping by here today.

1 A short walk, by the way, where we saw another quetzal.  I’m just saying.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 412: Venturing

Another good morning, to my readers, from Boquete,1 Panama!Image


I’m not positive that both of those photos are new, but I’m venturing to post them today, anyway.

So, yes, today’s topic is “Venturing.”

Yesterday, I ventured, in many ways.

I ventured into a cage, with the three, long-time resident, (allegedly) happy parrots, here at Los Establos Hotel:


Wow!  Somebody thinks2  she (or he) is all High and Mighty! I use the word “somebody” because … I don’t know the name of that parrot.

When I first ventured into Parrot Territory,  I asked Sergio, who helped me inside, that particular parrot’s name.


If any of the three parrots DO have names, Sergio did not venture to guess. By the way, the whole time I was in the cage with the parrots, the door was wide open, with Sergio standing respectfully nearby.

I took one more photo of the extrovert of the three-parrot group, when I noticed somebody I knew, in the background…


Can you see her, in the distance, outside the cage?  That’s Yolanda, another guest at the hotel, to whom both Peggy and I felt connected, very quickly.  I had spoken to Yolanda about the parrots (including my intention to visit them yesterday morning) so when I saw her,  I called out to her. Yolanda immediately stated her intention to join me. In the meantime, I took a few more shots, venturing to get all the parrots (although one of them was EXTREMELY shy):


Actually, all three parrots are in that photo, above.  Can you spot them all?

More photos of the more extroverted members of the group, before Yolanda joined us:

IMG_0398 IMG_0399



I had already started calling that one “The Poser.”   I venture to say that you can see why, especially as Yolanda joined the group:


I ventured to get a good shot of the whole group (including all humans and parrots) ….

IMG_0405 IMG_0407

… but this proved impossible, because of (1) the shyness of some participants, (2) the skill of the photographer, and (3) this writer’s preference for candid over posed shots.

Anyway, here are some more photos from Ann (and Yolanda)’s Venture Into The Parrots’ Territory.  As I told Yolanda, the parrots seemed more comfortable2 after her arrival on the scene:

IMG_0409 IMG_0410 IMG_0415 IMG_0417

Around this point, Yolanda had to leave. She showed me some photos she captured of these parrots, and they were quite stunning. Before we take our leave of Yolanda, I wanted to tell you some more things about her. Here she is with her boyfriend (Yolanda’s word, according to my friend, Peggy), Ken:


Ken and Yolanda knew each other in high school, were connected with other people for many years, and then met up again a few years ago.  They now live in Bocas, Panama, an island for which Yolanda is a kind of one-woman-chamber-of-commerce. She insisted that Peggy and I both visit Bocas, ASAP, and I’m thinking I probably WILL venture there, eventually. Yolanda is very convincing and a beautiful, vital, brave, and almost irresistible force of nature. Ken is a jazz musician — an electric bass player — by avocation, and was in Boquete for the Jazz and Blues Festival.

For now, let’s say “adieu” to Yolanda and Ken, as we venture back into Parrot Territory, for a few more shots, as I try to get all three parrots in one photo:



Well, fellow venturers, the above is the last photo I took with my camera, yesterday.  For the rest of the day, I spent some time with a wonderful guide named Jason, who showed me some local hot springs (as well as some kindness and wisdom).  Since my photos of those venturings are on my iPhone, you’ll have to wait a few days to meet Jason.

In the meantime, here’s the headline news, for today.  This afternoon, I am venturing to do the one thing that evokes my highest interest/fear, here in Boquete:


I found that image here.

I must confess: In googling images for “Boquete Zip Line,” I saw some photos that sky-rocketed my anxiety, momentarily. But, with some help, I’m letting go of future-oriented anxiety, right now.  I trust that I have all I need, to have a full last day, in beautiful Boquete.1

Would you venture to agree?

Thanks to Sergio, the parrots, the other denizens of Los Establos Hotel, Yolanda, Ken, Peggy, Jason, and all other creatures who are helping me let go of anxiety and venture as high as I can go. And thanks to you — of course! — for reading today.

1 Pronounced “Bo-kett-eh”, in case you venture to speak that aloud (and wish to impress, pronunciation-wise).

2 If you don’t recognize yet another example of my doing the cognitive distortion of mind-reading, please venture into my other blog, to check out this list.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 411: Captured

Reasons for the title of the post?  At least two, to begin with:

  1. While in Boquete, Panama, I’ve been trying to maintain a balance between (a) just being in the moment  and (b) capturing my experience on camera.
  2. My first day here at our hotel in Boquete, Los Establos, I encountered three parrots on the grounds, and my fear was that they had been captured in the wild, and were being kept prisoner. The second day, I got up the courage to ask about the parrots, and found that the story was just what I would have hoped for,  including the rescue of three baby parrots, still together, who can fly free, and who choose to return to their home.

I can hear those parrots right now, as I’m typing these words. Here are some of my earlier attempts to capture them:




I’ve already asked the owner of Los Establos, Irina, if I can get a closer look at the parrots, later today, so I’m assuming the parrots will show up in tomorrow’s blog post, too … but who knows?

The rest of today’s post will include images (and thoughts) that have captured me very recently (for the most part, yesterday).

Yesterday morning, Rolando Cossu, a tour guide for Beyond Adventure Tours1, took four of us — Peggy, me, and a couple from Texas also staying at Los Establos — on a “Panoramic Tour.”  We were happy when Rolando deviated from the usual four-hour car tour and took us on a trail into the rain forest/cloud forest/jungle/national park/whatever-the-hell-the-right-name is for where he took us.

But why focus on the correct name of where Rolando took us on an adventure?  I don’t want to be captured by Pesky Perfectionism. I want to show you what Rolando showed us ….


I took that photo, above, on a brief stop, as Rolando was driving us around the vicinity of Boquete, up further into the mountains.


This shot is taken from the car. Rolando showed us that castle, which some British guy in the 1960’s began building  and never finished (if my memory serves me correctly). Rolando said the property has been left abandoned since then, because people think it’s haunted. We found out something about Rolando’s bravery, at that point, because he said, “I’ve been there. I don’t think it’s haunted.”  Here’s another view of the castle:


More beauty, from the car:


Then, Rolando brought us to a hiking trail, and we spent a lot of time, walking, listening, and watching for what was all around is.  This was one of the first things I noticed, by the side of the trail:


Actually, right before I noticed that, I had seen somebody standing, on one of the rocks, in the middle of the brook to the left. I don’t have a shot of that, but just imagine my previous photo, with a slight figure standing, unmoving, on one of the rocks.  I was forming some sort of speculation as to what he was doing there, which was then replaced by attempts to make meaning of the hanging bottles. Rolando explained that these bottles were a new, on-going creation of the figure we had just seen. He said, “He is embarrassed. That’s why he is standing there.”  I immediately projected my own experience as a creator of pieces seen by the public, thinking: “He’s an artist. He’s not sure what people will think. He’s modest. He’s shy. ”

But letting go of THAT line of mind-reading, I moved towards the much-more-interesting possibility of meeting the artist. I walked down to the edge of the brook, and somehow communicated to him that I wanted to know more about his creation. He left the rock, came up to join us, and stood by his work:



He was okay with my taking those photos. As Rolando translated,  I found out his name — Eliaser — and told him I thought his work was beautiful. I didn’t ask him about his intention or vision (I think I tend not to go there, with artists), but I am grateful he joined us for this part of our adventure.

Onward and upward!

Rolando had this magical book, that showed and described all the creatures we might see, on our walk:


A lot of visitors to this area are birdwatchers, and the local Holy Grail — the bird of all birds is … the Quetzal!


I did NOT take that photo, people. It’s from the Wikipedia page I found when I searched for “quetzal bird Panama.” I assume that’s the bird we were looking for yesterday, although I’m not sure.  We looked for the Quetzal (among other things), with Rolando’s able and unhurried assistance.


And Rolando found a Quetzal for us!  We spent some unhurried time watching it, with binoculars that he provided.  I believe this is where we found it, although I’m honestly not sure (since I was captured by focusing on the beautiful Quetzal).


I am often captured by my assumptions about my own limitations, and I see myself as “not good” at birdwatching, using binoculars, following directions, and seeing what somebody else wants me to see.  For most of the time that the others seemed to be “getting it,” I felt like an outsider, as I had trouble capturing the Quetzal within my view. Mostly, I saw this:


… despairing of seeing more, despite the nearness of the Bird of Birds, which the others all saw, with excitement.  However, I took a breath, lost my investment in the outcome, had faith in myself and my instructor, and …

… I captured the Quetzal in  Rolando’s binoculars, right as it took wing and flew away!   That was beyond an adventure, for sure.

Here’s more of what we saw, as we ascended further and higher along the trail.



I noticed Rolando stopping and inspecting this flower:


When I asked him about it, he said, “I’ve never seen this flower before.”  I appreciated that he let me know that, and I took a close-up of it:


We walked for quite a while, always uphill. And I became captured by old memories, from having lived all my life with an unusual heart, of not being able to keep up with people, especially on inclines.  And I was captured by negative associations with this, including assumptions that the other people accompanying me, that day, were impatient and waiting for me to catch up.  And I was disappointed with how out of breath I felt, yesterday. So I stopped, paused, took a breath, recognized how my present was affected by my past, and tried to be in the moment, letting go of assumptions.

However, when I started moving again, and I found Peggy and Rolando, further up the trail, the old assumptions came rushing back, as strong as the brook by our trail. Those assumptions were:

  • Roland and Peggy had been waiting for me.
  • They had some impatience about that.
  • My pace and other behaviors were somehow weird and unacceptable, because they were different from what “normal” people do.

But I am old and wise enough to check out these assumptions, as soon as I can, these days. So when I joined up with Peggy, I told her I was feeling out of breath, disappointed with my endurance, and told her about my old memories of lagging behind “more normal” people, regarding physical exertion. And I knew I could trust Peggy, because we’ve known each other for about 35 years.  And as I knew, Peggy was accepting, kind, and logical, and helped me “reality test.” That is, she told me something I already knew: this was a leisurely hike with a guide who adjusted easily to the needs and wants of those in his care.

So I cried a little, with Peggy, and was no longer captured by those old memories, assumptions, and feelings of being “different” and “not as good.”

Onward and upward!

Rolando pointed out many interesting facts about about the beautiful surroundings on the way. He also allowed space for us to wander, at will, by ourselves.  I kept my own pace, and felt out of breath, for sure, but no longer captured by the doubts and self-judgment from before.  After a lot of time meandering among the beauty all around us, I came around a corner and saw Rolando and the others looking up, into the trees. Another Quetzal? I wondered.  Then Rolando said something that like “Ocelot” to me and I got REALLY excited. To see a big cat , un-captured, in the wild would be BEYOND adventure, to me.

However, I was incorrect. There are Jaguars in Panama and those were the creatures I was most longing to see. Hence my mental leap, to “Ocelot” when given half a chance. However, what Rolando really was saying was …..

… Sloth.  There was a sloth, hanging free, in the trees. With my lack of practice, I, again, was slower than the others in spotting it. But I did.  And Rolando kindly took my camera, and captured it for me:



Thanks, Rolando, for your photographic skill. And thanks to the sloth, for showing me that slowness is also beautiful.

Rolando showed us many other interesting and beautiful things, in the four hours we spent with him, including these sights …

IMG_0318 IMG_0319

… as well as a delicious fresh strawberry slushie-type thing, which I was too captured by, to stop, for even a moment, to capture on camera.

After Rolando returned us to the hotel, I spent the afternoon wandering the grounds, taking photos. You have already seen, above, the pictures I took of the three parrots. Here are some more photos from yesterday afternoon:


IMG_0326IMG_0332IMG_0344IMG_0352 IMG_0356 IMG_0362 IMG_0363 IMG_0364 IMG_0367 IMG_0382 IMG_0387

So what feels left unfinished before I publish this post?

  1. To make sure there aren’t any gross errors in this post, like including the same exact image twice.  Check!
  2. To tell you one more thing, about Rolando and the local fauna.

As I may have alluded to in my blog posts, one of my favorite animals is the Capybara. If you look at this previous post,  “Day 276: Radical Acceptance,”  you’ll see some evidence of that, people. (The capybara is the creature that — to me, has always looked exactly like a giant guinea pig, sharing the sofa with a regular guinea pig.) 2

Anyway, at one point when Rolando was consulting his magic book of local creatures, I spotted the capybara. I said, “ARE THERE CAPYBARAS AROUND HERE?”  I don’t think I actually yelled, but I was beyond excited. I asked if I could see one, and Rolando said, “Yes … in a zoo?” which I thought was funny, since that’s exactly where I’ve seen them, so far in my life. He did tell me more about the Capybaras, how they were shy and only came out at night (although Rolando has seen Un-captured Capybaras at times, living in the same local environment).

So even though it’s very unlikely that I will see an un-captured Capybara before I return home, in two days, it helps to know they’re out there, very close to me, right now.


My heartfelt thanks to Peggy,  Rolando, Eliaser, Irina,  artists everywhere, all creatures captured AND un-captured, and to you — of course! — for reading today.

1 I really like that title, “Beyond Adventure Tours.”  It reminds me of “To infinity …. and beyond!” from Toy Story. Whatever “beyond adventure” IS … it has to be pretty darn exciting.

2 If that description didn’t make you check out a link to a previous post, I give up.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Day 410: Lost and Found

Note:  This Valentine’s Day post is dedicated to my boyfriend/inamorato/whatever, Michael.

Another good morning to my readers, from Boquete, Panama.

Today’s topic — hovering above us (not unlike the moon I just saw in the Panama sky) —  is “Lost and Found.”

When I am in unfamiliar surroundings (or familiar surroundings, too, if the truth be told), I spend too much time worrying about losing things.  This topic has appeared in this blog before. Indeed, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve written about this and linked to previous posts.

I’m aware of this issue, right now, because I’ve recently lost track of these three things:

  • The room key.
  • My camera.
  • My jacket.

Now, losing track of something is not the same as losing something. While losing is permanent, losing track is temporary.

The three items, above, all had a different arc of return:

  • My room key was something I especially did not want to lose, so I spent time convinced I had, when it was always in my possession.
  • My camera was something I left behind at Blogging Central (Boquete) 1 after completing yesterday’s post, and it was returned to me within minutes.
  • My jacket was something that I left behind in a cab and it was returned to me before I was aware of its loss, by a driver I had judged inaccurately.

In each case, I felt relief, gratitude, and familiar surprise about:

  1. My capacity for distraction, and
  2. The inaccurate judgments I form, every day.

Okay! So much for the “Lost” part of today’s topic.  Let’s look at some images I found yesterday, shall we?

From the Coffee Plantation Tour:



IMG_0183 \IMG_0186


Something else I easily lose track of?  Details, especially regarding topics that don’t relate to ME. And I don’t drink coffee. However, lots of people I know love coffee,  so that makes coffee more interesting to me.

Nevertheless, details escape me. Here are some details that stuck with me, from yesterday’s tour:

  • The coffee fruit, or berry (seen in the last photo) is sweet.
  • Most coffee berries have two beans, which have the shape we’re used to seeing.
  • Some berries have one bean and — even more rarely — three beans. Those Anomaly Beans have different shapes.

Our wonderful guide, Raúl Velázquez, showed us examples of the three different types of beans.

Somehow, I lost track of that Multiple Bean Photo Opportunity, so I can’t show you the different shapes now. I can tell you that I found the unusual shapes — the anomalies — particularly beautiful.

I have many more photos of the coffee tour, including these …








…. but because I am more interested in people than processes, I wanted to make sure I introduced you to David, a young man from Germany, who was on the tour, with two friends from school.


I asked David if I could take his picture because I found him helpful and kind, yesterday.  David first spoke to me when I was hesitating whether to be the first to climb the ladder up into the coffee-sorting machinery. He said, “Are you going to be the brave one?” And I replied, “Yes, although I don’t know why.”  Then, when I was up on the top, he offered to take a photo of me with my camera. So I asked him if I could put him in my blog.  And there he is.  Thanks, David!

Okay!  Well, I had more to show you from yesterday, including the “Mardi Gras Parade,” but I’ve lost track of time.  Peggy and I are going, together, on a “Panoramic Tour” of the area, very soon, and I’ve got to get some breakfast first.  I think I can find time for ONE image from the parade, though ….


You just never know what you’re going to find, at any particular moment.

Thanks to Raúl and David; to coffee beans, people, and hearts of all shapes and sizes;  and to you, of course, for reading today.

1 Blogging Central (Boquete) = A common-area hallway (due to Wi Fi challenges)

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 409: Panama City and Boquete/Usual and Unusual

We are in Boquete, Panama!

And I have photos!  WordPress, the internet, the Powers that Be are all aligned, so I can bring them to you, without fuss or muss.

Why waste time?  Here are some photos I took yesterday, as I strolled around my environs:

Boquete, Panama

A Photo Essay (minus the essay)

Wait!  I now realize that I have other photos of My Winter Vacation to Panama to show you, also.  Let’s rewrite that title:

Panama City AND Boquete, Panama

A Photo Essay (minus the essay)

Part I: PANAMA CITY (and little bit before)




IMG_0109 IMG_0110 IMG_0111 IMG_0112 IMG_0113

IMG_0114 IMG_0115 IMG_0120

Wait!  I have to say something about THAT photo.  That’s Richard, who drove us to the airport, to catch the plane to Boquete. The tilt of the photo reflects hurry and … amazement, because check out the license plate, people.  Richard’s hero is David Ortiz. Words exchanged during the trip to the airport included “Big Papi” and “Yay!”


Okay. Now I’m in a chatty mood.  The above photo shows the size of the plane I thought we were taking to Boquete. There were many reasons for that assumption, including prior information and the evidence of my eyes.


This is the actual plane in our immediate future. I was informed as such by a woman named Connie, who was quite hilarious (and who will appear in a blog post after I get home and can access the photos on my iPhone without risking thousands of dollars in roaming charges) (it could happen, people!)

Part II: Boquete





IMG_0140 IMG_0150

IMG_0153 IMG_0158

IMG_0168 IMG_0169 IMG_0170 IMG_0171

Now that I’ve shown you some images, I think it’s about time that I explained the title. During my trip to Panama,  I have encountered the usual and unusual, including:

  • taking two POUS  (Planes of Usual Size)1 and getting to each destination, in one piece.
  • letting go of expectations (a usual thing for me to work on, every day).
  • unexpected obstacles (usual, when I travel outside my comfort zone).
  • encountering people who were unexpectedly impatient as well as those who were unexpectedly kind. (Also not unusual.)

So for me, dear readers, my time in Panama, already, has been both usual and unusual.

Okay!  What do I need to do, before I end this post? Not unusually for me, I have yet to mention one of my main inspirations for today’s post.

So, before I go to breakfast and the adventures ahead of me today (including a tour of a coffee plantation and a “Mardi Gras Like Parade” through the center of Boquete!), I want to tell you this:

When I woke up this morning, around 5:30, here were my thoughts:

  • It’s time to start writing, and
  • OMG!  I bet there are lots of stars outside!!!

You see, I have a long-time longing and wish to see a star-filled sky.  This morning, I got my wish, so beautifully, that I was moved to tears.

That experience is also not unusual for me, these days.

Okay!  Time for breakfast.

Thanks to the people of Panama, to ROUS2 everywhere and to you — of course!

1 This is a reference to one of my favorite movies, “The Princess Bride” and the ROUS — Rodents of Unusual Size.

2 Readers of Unusual Size AND Readers of Usual Size.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Day 408: Relief

I’m in Panama City!

I wanted to show you an image of Panama City  —  a huge, gleaming, bustling, vibrant, fabulous and dazzling urban landscape —  but WordPress (or SOMETHING) is preventing this1 from happening this morning.

It’s not MY fault, is what I’m trying to say.  So that’s a relief.

Panama City is white and shining, with surprising accents of colored illuminations.  That also describes a place of snow and ice, punctuated by lingering Christmas lights. But it’s not.  So that’s a relief.

From the comments I got on yesterday’s post, I know (1) there’s no pressure to post on my vacation and (2) people are happy to receive what I can give.  So that’s a relief.

My traveling companion, Peggy, tells me that the plane we’re taking today to Boquete may be a more familiar size than I expected.

I bet you thought I was going to write “So that’s a relief.”

Me, too.

However, I realize this: I am ready for anything, with no investment in the outcome, thanks to a lot of people.

That, to me, is the very definition of “relief.”

Well, I usually try to end my posts with some sort of visual punch, but that’s not a possibility today.

I know! I’ll ask for help.

Everybody, reading out there? Please, take a moment, and a breath.

What images come to your mind, in response to the word “relief”?


Feel free to describe and share.

Thanks to everybody who has ever felt any kind of relief of any sort2 and to you — of course! — for reading today.

1 Other things that are slow or not working at all, here in WordPress/Panama City: my usual way of creating a new post, adding links to previous posts, adding tags, and saving post drafts. I will be very surprised if this post publishes this morning. But you know what? That’s okay. (Pssst! It’s another relief!)

2 One of my more blatant attempts to include EVERYBODY in my expressions of gratitude, don’t you think?

Categories: personal growth | 30 Comments

Day 407: Two Images (before I leave for Panama)

The original title for this post was “Random Images Before I Leave For My Trip To Panama With My Friend Peggy, Let Go Of Anxiety and Have Fun … Wheeee!”

But then I realized — not only was that title a tad long —  I had only two images to show you.  That’s because I didn’t have much time, yesterday, to take photos. I expect to  have more time to take photos over the next five or six days (although if I’ve pointed out anything over the previous four-hundred-and-six days, it’s “we don’t know the future”).

I just had an urge to ask the entire blogosphere this question:

If things go wrong and I can’t get photos onto this computer when I’m away and/or I miss a day posting …. will you still love me?

And then I realized that was totally inappropriate, for many reasons.

I also realized that I did not have (or don’t remember having) the urge to ask that question the two times I traveled last year, when I was also blogging every day.  What’s the difference, now?

  1. I have more followers now — which might translate into a stronger feeling of not wanting to disappoint people.
  2. I have a friggin’ cold this time — which might translate into a stronger feeling of vulnerability and wanting to be reassured.
  3. Again, I have a friggin’ cold this time — which might translate into my assuming people might forgive me for showing vulnerability.
  4. Did I mention I have a friggin’ cold?  Because colds make me very spacey.

To get back to the point of this post ….  I want to show you two images I took yesterday.These two photos are related to each other, I’m sure.  At least, I’m sure I can come up with something that links them to each other. Geesh!  I would think that after all these days of blogging here, and of connecting disparate images and thoughts into something that at least SEEMS to have cohesion and sense,  I’ll be able to do the same, this morning, with two images.

Let’s hope so.

Image #1:


This always happens when I pack for a trip. Hi, Oscar!  Bye, Oscar! I’ll see you again, very soon.

Image #2:


One thing I actually got a chance to do yesterday was to go to the post office to pick up a package.  In the package was the chakra bracelet above, which I had ordered from somebody I’ve connected with, here in the blogosphere:  Irene, from irenedesign2011.

I hope it’s okay with Irene that I’m linking to her blog and showing her bracelet, which is going to Panama with me.

Okay!  I don’t have time to figure out a connection between those two photos, other than the fact that I took them both yesterday.

What do YOU think the connection(s) are, dear readers?  I can’t do this alone, you know!

Okay, time to get ready to leave for my trip.

Thanks to everybody reading right now.  See you soon, I hope!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , | 50 Comments

Day 406: Random thoughts about breathing

I seem to be in a constant state of surprise, at this point in my blogging journey, about things I haven’t done so far. For example, I have yet to write a post with the word “Breathing” (or variations thereof, like “breath” or “breathe”) in the title.

Well, let’s fix that, right now, with some righteous randomness!

Warning: this post is likely to be even more random than my usual random writings, since I SHOULD be preparing for my trip to Panama tomorrow. So I’m a little distracted, right now.

But if I let go of the SHOULD in the previous paragraph, I can focus enough on the task at hand, which is:

Random Thoughts About Breathing

When you have a cold (as I  do, right now), breathing is affected.

I just searched on “breathing common cold,” and found this image:


(this image lives here, a site that has some interesting info about colds, which affected my breakfast choices this morning)

…. and this quote, from MedLinePlus (from the U.S. National Library of Medicine1):

Common cold

The common cold usually causes a runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing. You may also have a sore throat, cough, headache, or other symptoms.


It is called the “common cold” for good reason. There are over one billion colds in the United States each year. You and your children will probably have more colds than any other type of illness.

Colds are the most common reason that children miss school and parents miss work. Parents often get colds from their children.

That quote caught my eye because my soon-to-be-16-year-old son had this cold first, and the evidence is that I DID catch my cold from him.

My son missed a day of school, last week, because of this cold.

This morning, as I was thinking about possible post topics for today, my son came into Blogging Central2 to say goodbye, before he left for school. We chatted a little, but mostly we made a variety of noises and expressions, indicating that neither of us was exactly bursting with enthusiasm for the (Mon)day ahead.

I said to him, “Remember to breathe.”  (I said that partly because I was already playing with the idea of this Post Topic Du Jour, in my head.3)

Perhaps because the clock indicated that he had to leave then (or be late for school), my son replied, “I don’t have TIME to breathe.”

I said, “Yes, you do. You can actually breathe on the walk to school, too.”

Which leads me to another random point, about breathing:

Isn’t it weird that we need to remind ourselves — and others — to breathe?  Isn’t that something we were born knowing how to do?

As a therapist, I always feel a little strange reminding somebody to breathe, although I know that’s often helpful. I wouldn’t be surprised, if some day, somebody says to me (with anger, annoyance, feeling misunderstood, or hurt feelings):

I KNOW how to BREATHE, Ann.  I’m not stupid, you know.

That doesn’t stop me from saying “Breathe,” though, just as it didn’t stop me with my son, this morning.  Because I know the reminder can help.

Last week, where I work, somebody who had done a fine, brief piece of therapy was saying “Goodbye.” This person chose to end therapy by talking about different things she noticed in my office, including a post-it note, very much like this one:


… although the post-it note in my office is (a) not quite as colorful and (b) in a more subtle location.

By the way, that photo, above, first appeared in my Christmas Eve, 2013 post, titled Day 358: Pressure.  Pressure makes it difficult to breathe.

Also, concerns about doing a good-enough post, especially on a day when you SHOULD be preparing for a big trip tomorrow, can affect your breathing, too.

So what’s the best cure for that, right now?

Why, ending this post, letting go of anything that might get in the way of my moving on to next steps.


Thanks to everybody, everywhere, who is able to read and breathe at the same time — including you, of course.

1  Maybe I’ll visit The U.S. National Library of Medicine on a future vacation. Or maybe not.

2 Blogging Central = The Kitchen

3  Among the random thoughts I was having and could have included in this post: (a) how Shortness of Breath, in medical records, is abbreviated to SOB, (b) how anxiety/fear/worry can affect breathing, (c) how I’ve been a little worried about how I’m going to blog and post photos while I’m away in Panama, and (d) there were other thoughts I had, for sure, but I can’t access them right now, and … it’s Post Closing Time!

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

Day 405: Freaking out

That title got your attention, didn’t it? However, I’m not just doing this for attention. I have my reasons to be freaking out today, including:

  1. I am leaving for Panama in two days and — as much as I like to travel — I have automatic fears about (a) flying and (b) new, unfamiliar situations.
  2. Yesterday — my first vacation day — I came down with a cold, viral infectious disease, or whatever else you want to call that ailment we humans keep getting, no matter how much medical science has advanced in other areas, and which often rears its miserable, mucous-y Common-But-Powerful head at the worst possible times.  (I assume that I’m not alone in that experience) (although perhaps your description of your Common Cold experience wouldn’t be quite as wordy or petulant.)
  3. I’m still trying to integrate the latest news I got from my cardiologists last Wednesday about my Very Unusual Heart.

So how can I ease the Freak Out, right now?  Because that would be my wish for this post, dear readers.

I could do the opposite of freaking out, as a way to reverse the trend, I suppose.  But what is the opposite of freaking out?  Freaking in?  My first thought about “Freaking In” is this: that would not be helpful, since it sounds like repressing — and directing inwards — fears, anxieties, and worries. And that’s the last thing I need right now.   I’ve spent way too much time freaking in, especially when I was a kid.

However, while Freaking In is probably not helpful, I’d still like to take a quick visit to Google-Image-Land, at this point in today’s post. Before I do a Google Image Search for “Freak In,” let’s start on familiar territory, by searching for “Freak Out.”

Here’s the first image that comes up:


It’s Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention!  I’m always glad to see those guys,  especially Mr. Zappa, who is no longer with us.

This is reminding me of  my favorite tune from an album I loved from the 70’s:  “King Kong,” where jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty  played Frank Zappa music (with a guest appearance by Zappa himself).  Here it is:

(thanks to takamasa1963 for the YouTube video)

Listening to that, right now, is helping me freak out less, already. I also found this video, of Ponty and George Duke  playing “King Kong” live at Zappanele — which is, apparently, a festival honoring the music of Frank Zappa, held each year in Germany.

(thanks to LudzNL2 for the Youtube Video)

This post is helping me in another way, right now. It’s reminding me that I’m going to be attending a Jazz and Blues Festival next week, during my trip to Panama.  That synchronicity wasn’t an accident;  it was planned.  Therefore, I am now — in my mind — rewriting the famous Panama Palindrome:

A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama

to this, as a cheering reminder to myself, about my upcoming trip:

An Ann, A Plan, Some Jazz, Panama

So while that doesn’t scan as a palindrome, it’s still helping.

This is reminding me of something else I definitely wanted to write about today, believe it or not.  Just the way I re-wrote that palindrome, I find it helpful to “rewrite” old, unhelpful messages, especially those that increase fear and anxiety.

As I may have mentioned here before, images — rather than words — are particularly powerful at evoking old feelings. Therefore, in my work as a therapist,  I sometimes talk to people about changing anxiety-provoking, or even “stuck” images, to something different. For example, in this post, I described changing somebody’s old, unhelpful image of a wall — which was keeping other people at a distance —  to a different kind of wall, that invited growth and healing.

So what are the images that are causing me anxiety, right now?  Because I sure would like to change one.

A powerful and unhelpful image, for me right now,  is that of a small plane crashing. Why? Very soon, I’ll be flying in a small plane, for the first time, in Panama.

So let’s see if we can reduce my anxiety by replacing an unhelpful image with something better. To start, let’s see what Google Images has for “Small Plane Crashing,” right now.

Eeeeek!  While Google Images was stumped by “Freak In,”  it has LOTS of offerings for “Small Plane Crashing.”  And just looking at all those images, right now, is increasing my anxiety.   I also don’t want to upset my readers, so I’ll just show the first image (as is my wont):


I found that image here, and the headline for that link is actually … reassuring. “Two escape serious injury in small plane crash.”

Well, that’s good.

Okay!  Now that we have a (bearable) image for my fear, what I’d like to do now is counter that image with an image for something very different. Let’s try …. “small plane soaring.”  Here we go:


I found that image here, and even though I had my doubts about using this technique for this particular problem …

… that DOES look like fun, doesn’t it?

Okay, it’s time for me to bring this post home.

Thanks to Frank Zappa, Jean-Luc Ponty, George Duke, mothers of invention (of all kinds),  and to you — of course! — for visiting today.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

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