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Catching Zs

What’s better than a massage? A good night of sleep! This month’s article is dedicated to my wife and to those out there that suffer from insomnia or simply turning off those monkey minds…

Solid sleep habits, especially when accomplished night after night, is truly an essential elixir to a better life. Cognitive abilities, physical output, handling stress, enhanced internal biological functions can literally be streamlined on a daily basis to ease the tension of living with proper sleep. Science has come to the rescue once again to advance our wellbeing. Sometimes we forget that we are animals, we work on much of the same principles as our furry friends do. The sun and the moon have cycles as do our internal body rhythms. They are not meant to be played with and the ability to re-set can often be accomplished with just a little effort. My suggestion is to transform your habits for a week and you be the judge. Simple discipline and a desire to change is all that is needed.


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Family Matters

I moved to Costa Rica the day after my nephew turned one year old in May of 2000. It seems as though some time has passed. He just came down for a three-week visit, is now a graduate of Florida State University, and will be twenty-three in May. I could not help to compare today’s current state of affairs with what was going on just two decades ago. The obvious and most considerable difference is internet and cell phones—the biggest game changer of my lifetime and maybe of modern humanity. Electricity, airplanes, cars, petroleum, the list goes on, however I do not think anything controls the next generations more than their cell phones. To be born with one almost in your hand is a permanent transformation. The simple life of a surfer even changed the day that one was able to know when the next “swell” or push of the ocean would occur. Before internet we would have to go down to the beach and check for ourselves—it was like a perfect Christmas morning sometimes when the Gods gifted us beautiful flawless waves. Now a days a two-week window can be analyzed, plane tickets bought, and a virtual guarantee of weather and surf reports being spot on. The youth of today certainly know everything—as did I as a twenty-something however the amount of vast information that they can research with the touch of a finger is mind boggling. Seemingly everything the younger generations do should be easier, however I noticed some chinks in his armor. The inability to cut an onion being one of his many home economic skills that were lacking. The ability to hang wet clothing on our clothesline (no dryer for 21 years!) but the lack of patience to use clothes pins and to spread out the clothing to dry more efficiently was curious to me. Lastly, the desire to go walk the streets, meet people, the curiosity over life and travel and excitement for each and every day seemed to be lacking after our surfing was over—perhaps that phone can do those things and I am missing something?


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Crazy From the Heat

I have been writing since I can remember. I was first published in second grade for a poem I wrote about a cat named Scat, that I didn’t even own nor did it exist. My Buffalo, N.Y. family never had pets, nor am I big fan of them today as I like to travel regularly and to be free of responsibilities. Truth be told I have owned an outdoor cat since I moved here in 2000. The original one died and then one short term renter of my house took the liberty of adopting a kitten which she left behind. So be it. Like animals, writers seem to come and go. I admire a man by the name of Matt Cassidy who used to write an article titled Crazy From The Heat for this very periodical. He used to bake the finest of cookies and bread in a time not so long ago when we did not have proper grocery stores here in MA. In 2022 his article would get censored, it used to go “too far”, and was wonderfully cringe worthy and dynamic, like the author himself. Cancel culture was still in the womb being cultivated. He can still be found in the marina at 2Costa Rica Real Estate if anyone is looking. His article would pick out classic tourist behavior and in my mind define sociology at its finest. A mentor to me. I believe it is still ok to say anything you want and I promise to not be offended. Then you must listen to my opinion and not be offended. Fair enough, yes? Stop reading now, you have been warned.

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The Past Is Present

It is August of 2000 and after traveling up and down the coasts of Costa Rica for two months my destiny brought me to Quepos. I had been in Jaco and paid a taxi driver/friend $20 to drop me off on the beach here in Manuel Antonio. I remember giving someone $5 for an obscure location to set my tent up and had usage of a revolting shower and a toilet. I didn’t care. I was 28 and had been on the road for over 2 months and somehow, I had arranged a “job interview” with the owner of Hotel California, Robbie Felix (who still lives here today). My funds were dwindling as I started my journey with $3,000 and I had no ticket home. My mindset had always been to go big, to absorb the stress and pressures and only to succeed. Having lived in South Korea as well as Japan for a year each, and months of vacation travels in Africa and Bali, I was street smart and an experienced back packer. My main focus was to become a surfer, I had never focused on saving money in my life other than for travel, isn’t it how it should be in your 20s? Interesting now that I have much more security, I can see how making the most out of each and every day was all I had…and all I needed. It fueled my passion for who I wanted to become. I needed to figure out a way to earn money, unravel my dream, and to prove to the community that I was here to stay. Carpe Diem goes a long way when one is young…. however, food, rent, and how to live the permanent vacation that I had envisioned was a long, long way from attainment.

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Memoirs of a Masseur – December 2021

I tell my nieces and nephews to not be part of the herd. I suggest that they live their lives in a conscious manner recognizing what their peers are doing then choosing to do the opposite. I believe that creating an exceptional and rewarding life often means finding unique ways to navigate time and decisions to obtain one’s dream. I find it curious that parents commonly slip from telling their kids to live their dreams yet when they become young adults the advice is to seek a practical way of living. Get a job, pay the bills, buy a house, get married and have kids, we have all heard it before…it’s an expired way of thinking. I recently read a Gallup report showing that 70% of Americans polled either hate their job or are “disengaged” from their work, and even perks don’t work if they’re unhappy with management. To wake up unmotivated is a clear sign that something is missing. If my college-aged nieces and nephews do what everyone around them do they most likely will not become exceptional. Included in this is their physical, mental, spiritual, and financial levels of happiness. It will undoubtedly be much easier to not take chances and to quell big dreams with rationality and practicality. I think a line from one of my favorite artists Bob Marley says it perfectly. “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery—none but ourselves can free our minds.”


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Quite the Contrary

I expand my possibilities by cultivating the opposite in myself. When I was young, I did not have much choice. As an adult I do, so I use my free will to be the antagonist from within. I understand that no matter how correct I think my decisions are, or how black and white a situation seems, there are always shades of grey or layers of circumstance that I may be unaware of. This requires humility beyond the four decades of lessons I have learned. A set frame of mind can be my own worst enemy. Cultivating the opposite moves my life towards the pursuit of liberation. Freedom from all lesser pursuits (that often revolve around money, food, sex, and power) can be greatly empowering. The value of seeking change and enlightenment enriches my days beyond what I have previously dreamed.


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An Ember for Tomorrow

Has anyone recently reminded you that life is supposed to be lived passionately and led by the heart? Too much practical thinking and uninspired months then years will make even the best of us sink into the depths of depression, thoughtless routine, and boredom. I was reminded of this by the entire world’s new friend Mr. Covid. No need to rehash what happened in 2020 but that year has come and gone and now it is time to change, to become excited again. Finances is not what I am talking about this month, obviously some of us will continue to live a bit more frugally during these changing realities. With more time on our hands, we must invest in ourselves and walk our own mind through the maze of our past. Fear, resentment, and anger are all emotions that will age us and tear us up internally on more than just a mental level. What in your past keeps you from your future? Is there anything you can start doing today that will lead to more happiness tomorrow? Life needs a purpose and today’s can be as simple as reaffirming old beliefs, picking up a new book, or forcing oneself to do twenty minutes of yoga, four sets of pushups, or anything new. No need to change the world, just ourselves. Lord knows the questions we ask ourselves today are the ones which will become our foundation tomorrow.


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Planting Yourself

I spend a lot of time outside. Particularly in my garden around plants and trees. Although I have no formal training I had landscaping jobs as a teen and into my twenties; in college my work study job was in the university greenhouse, growing plants for science experiments and observations. I’ve always enjoyed herbs and find the cycle of life very rewarding…even the year when I lost 4 mature coconut trees to a nasty beetle. I was emotional about that for months. Toucans and parrots of all sorts frequent the tallest of trees on my property and wake me most mornings. Once my land was a barren dirt hill that used to be cow pasture, now I am surrounded by five fruit trees, lip stick palms, and plants and flowers of all kinds. Wildlife spotting’s occur almost daily and I never knew I would become a bird watcher, professional sunrise/sunset observer, and can identify our slight change of seasons with the best of them.


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GERMINATE

Welcome back to the Quepolandia. What a breath of fresh air! In 20 years of writing for this publication I have never been edited or advised on a topic. My writing meanderings have been, some would say, all over the road. My original Health is Wealth column, followed by the current Memoirs scribbles in which you are reading now, have always been opinions, observations, and desires for our awesome jungle living, beach going, sunset watching community. However we now live in a peculiar new world that has taken everyone by surprise and YES, we have finally reached 2021. My editor and chief Mr. Dave Bolger finally interjected in my writing process and had one simple direction for me to run with this month. “Please make it positive,” was all he said. In mid-March our community, and a large part of the world, was wrung up with a collective noose which continues to cinch our realities today. It is time to reignite the best part of being human which is simply living in the gift of life which is today.


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Memoirs of a Masseur – March 2020

Alone is the place to be. Almost an extinct location now it juxtaposes the benefits and value of being present versus real time knowledge. Once, not so long ago, alone was much easier to come by. Simply by leaving our home, taking a drive, or turning off our computers we were free to have the sanctity and knowledge that being alone provides. Tech and social media has bullied “alone” away by bringing the ease of the web, and literally all forms of communication, to the palm of our hand with just a few clicks or swipes. It has infiltrated social abilities, head space, and our very humanity twisting human kind into zombie-like imprisoned souls. Take a good look around the next time you are in public domain and take notice of who is and who isn’t in the precious present. Simply finding an hour or two of freedom in each twenty-four hour day is an almost impossible task for most. When an individual habitually begins and ends their days with a device it is an addiction. The illusion and “fix” being that it is literally necessary to attempt to know what the world is doing or saying. This self-enslavement is insurmountable for the weak minded of this world. The dismal fact is that cell phones are the master and the wisdom of alone time is being drowned out of existence.


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SHARING THE LIGHT

I have a particular habit. When I decide to do anything, I tend to do it as hard as I can. There is no time for messing around for me. No doubts. I may ponder a decision for days or even weeks, but once I decide there is no going back. My attitude is, and always has been to not take a nibble, take a big bite. Looking back at some decisions I have made in the past, they seem very irrational today. At the time I believed so adamantly that I simply had no choice. I moved here to Costa Rica twenty years ago with the intention of staying, however I had never been here before. The first time I trained for a marathon I went out and jogged fifteen miles, previously my longest run was six miles. I realize that this type of behavior can have serious consequences, yet surprisingly it has worked out for me.


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Sadness, Love, Openness


I woke up and cried this morning. It really wasn’t more than my eyes watering, perhaps a tear or two escaped. When I wake I often take ten minutes to set my intentions for the day, to reflect, to simply enjoy sunrise (my favorite time of day). I open the glass slider door onto my porch, I am fortunate to live among nature, and stretch out while slowly waking to a new day. I sometimes water the garden, sometimes not; I try to let the day unravel itself, for some will be more challenging than others. Then I, like most people, turn my attention to the computer. On this particular day I went straight for YouTube and typed in “motivational speeches.” I sat down on an outdoor rocking chair and listened. That’s when my eyes teared up. The man speaking to me through the computer lectured on the power of dreaming big, of bounty in the universe, and of the power of passion. He told a tale about life and it being, in its truest sense, feeling like a dream when everything is aligned. That is what made me cry. The feeling of gratitude as strong as the sun’s rays soon to come. My witty wife walked by me thirty seconds later with a “no shit Sherlock,” referring to the last statement the voice lectured on. “If you wake up angry you affect the people around you.” I turned to her and explained that I was just crying from the happiness I have for this moment, for today, for the love in our lives. We had a big laugh and an awesome hug and I put the coffee on. I was prepping for a 5 hour massage day and had to get ready to go and spread some more love. It was great and positive morning.


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Memoirs of a Masseur – December 2019


Every day I ask people when they received their last massage. For me, it is a prerequisite question before I begin my work. I listen attentively and have come to the conclusion that very few people give back to themselves enough. For some reason guilt exists about maintaining our own bodies. There is no need to wait. No need to have a back out of whack, a tight neck, a migraine, today is the day to loosen up and get yourself a massage. Let experienced hands put you into a trance where the mind and body can heal, can change, can grow. Massage is no longer a relaxing luxury. Therapeutic massage is an effective healthcare approach—a combination of art and science that true professionals in the field have spent years combining technical and academic information along with developing subtleties of palpation and technique. My twenty years of massaging defines my life more so than just my job. Working in my chosen field you could say, has massaged me into a man that goes through life caring about the mental, physical, and spiritual direction of other humans.


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Memoirs of a Masseur – November 2019

Alone is the place to be. Almost an extinct location now it juxtaposes the benefits and value of being present versus real time knowledge. Once, not so long ago, alone was much easier to come by. Simply by leaving our home, taking a drive, or turning off our computers we were free to have the sanctity and knowledge that being alone provides. Tech and social media has bullied “alone” away by bringing the ease of the web, and literally all forms of communication, to the palm of our hand with just a few clicks or swipes. It has infiltrated social abilities, head space, and our very humanity twisting human kind into zombie-like imprisoned souls. Take a good look around the next time you are in public domain and take notice of who is and who isn’t in the precious present. Simply finding an hour or two of freedom in each twenty-four hour day is an almost impossible task for most. When an individual habitually begins and ends their days with a device it is an addiction. The illusion and “fix” being that it is literally necessary to attempt to know what the world is doing or saying. This self-enslavement is insurmountable for the weak minded of this world. The dismal fact is that cell phones are the master and the wisdom of alone time is being drowned out of existence.


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Memoirs of a Masseur – September/October 2019

The best is yet to come” is something I remind myself of every day. Our life stories never stop happening. Sometimes our actions may seem repetitive or boring yet our lives are in constant change, evolving us into who we are becoming next. Like day to night, like seasons or swell in the ocean, like our very cells time marches on and we are helpless against it. Optimism is in fact something we can adopt into our nature. A few amigos of mine who have had much misfortune and pain are some of the most pleasurable to be around, they take and hug the passing of the hours like it is a friend, not a foe. I seek out good company because somehow something transfers from them to me. The exact same feeling I project when I massage clients. Smiles are infectious, happiness can be addicting, and it is my job as a body worker to not bring my problems to the massage table (literally). That is why optimism is my middle name.


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