I’ll Have What She’s Having

meg ryan

Ok!  I have your attention but believe me I will get to talking about orgasms.  But to start off I want to talk about birds.

Ok birds rule in Costa Rica. And they each have their own well-developed voice which is more than I can say on how long it took for me to developed mine. And, so I have coined some terms for each bird that is recognizable through their song, their diatribe, their incessant nagging, unabashed screaming and yes their moaning. Imagine what it is like at that very special time of day, say 5am when they are all warming up together.

There is the tiny bird with a big mouth I call the Nepher-ti-ti bird, the screecher, the howler, the Ca-ca bird. Then you have the parrot families that are just unbelievably dysfunctional screamers, the Poo-poo, Poo-poo bird, and the one I discovered just today. I am affectionately calling it the Orgasm Bird since she, I think, starts out slow and speeds up until she ends in a blood-curdling scream…of sorts. You be the judge since I am also calling this amazing bird that stops every man in his tracks, “Meg” as in, When Harry Met Sally’s famous delicatessen scene.

Ok back to the birds. I count on these birds and am learning to move through my day by who is yelling, singing or just mad as a hatter at some animal that is encroaching on it’s territory. And that is pretty much a late day phenomenon. I wake up to a certain group of birds mostly Parakeets, Conures and big bold Parrots with a shit load of bravado.

Conjur     chuculaca     king parrot

During the heat of the day, which I say tongue in cheek really, since that is all the time, there are the Cha-cha-lacas (oh that is their real name) who are very family oriented and seem to guard our house. They make sure my daily siesta does not go on for too long. Oh say 15 min.

Then it is quiet right about the time I think that a fresh banana or papaya daiquiri would be pretty good by poolside and by night I wouldn’t hear one screecher since the cicadas sound like breaking glass in and out of the inevitable thunder rolling over the Terracotta roof.

So this bird watching report is really to say one important thing. Since I arrived I have developed a kind of reverence and awe at the perfection of nature in the Jungle here in Costa Rica, which if left alone, undeveloped and wild is one of the greatest teachers we have on this planet.

Enough said. Meg is back.

 

Please Come Join Me

blue osa beach        blue osa hammock

The Writer’s Experience in Costa Rica: With Maya Christobel

This immersion workshop is to rejuvenate your writing spirit, your body and your soul. Blue Osa Retreat and Spa Eco-­‐Village is located in Costa Rica in what National Geographic says is the most beautiful rainforest in the world. Come and join us to learn creative writing skills, craft a first project, finish your final draft of a novel or dive into a story you have always known you were born to tell. And in between working in-­‐group, polishing an article, meeting with Maya one on one, have a Thai massage, gather shells on the beach and eat organic vegetarian meals prepared with love. For all the information on this extensive Eco-­‐Village visit: http://www.blueosa.com.

blue osa food       blue osa blue beach

When: Sept. 18-­‐26, 2015
Cost: $1800 (airfare not included)
Early Bird Registration is up to June 30th for a savings. Limited to 10 participants

Includes all of your gratuities at the Eco-­‐Village, four fabulous meals a day, airport shuttle and 7 nights’ accommodations, all with breathtaking beauty and bounty. Cost does not include spa treatments or professional yoga classes.

best Maya Photo for 2015Maya Christobel is a Harvard psychotherapist, professional writer, award-winning screenwriter and teacher working with people for over 30 years She has published books and screenplays, produced  music with AOMusic, and ghostwritten fiction and non-­‐fiction. She is currently coaching clients around the world who are writing novels and memoirs, children’s books and writing for life.Her resume is at http://www.mythotherapy.org and her website is http://www.mayalunachristobel.com

Early Bird Registration is $1600 if deposit is received by June 30th. (see website) Deposit Required to Register is $500, balance due August 15th 2015.
Maya can be reached with any questions at mayachristobel@gmail.com. Extensive FAQs and Information will be available at http://www.mythotherapy.org

Blue osa spa    blue osa yoga

 

Tic-Toc Tico

slow

I have been in Costa Rica for one month and time has evaporated, but my ongoing dewy body has not. When time slips away and you forget what day of the week it is, Costa Ricans call it Tico time, Tico, the name for all the people who are Costa Rican. And I am not Costa Rican, so Tico time is a new concept. I know about Island Time from living in Hawaii; that slow lingering pace that comes from being drunk on the smell of Plumeria. But Tico time is all about “manana, manana and manana”.

For me, it seems to be about putting off till tomorrow what you need done today, but it really amounts to a deeply ingrained feeling that nothing at all is urgent; not leaky pipes, broken air conditioners or in my case, having an order in for internet to be installed filed on April 8 and finally being up and running as of just last week. Tico time is when no one gets the job done till they feel like doing it. “We will be out tomorrow, we have the order I promise you and we will be there” was the mantra for over six weeks.

So this is what I have learned from Tico time: Don’t be an ugly American and intimidate anyone or you will get nothing. And, don’t bribe anyone either (which is a customary expectation for some I am finding out) since word will get around that you use money to get what you want. So, why bother worrying since it doesn’t make anything happen any faster? Get used to standing in line or sitting and waiting for your number to be called if you want to pay the electric bill, for lets say maybe four hours. And most of all, simply do not make plans that you are not willing to adjust, more than once. And let’s not even start talking about people getting anywhere on time for just about anything.

So patience, breathing, laughing, waiting and rejoicing when the air conditioner finally works is a daily prayer. Fifty percent of my day is going to be taken up with things I never spent more than a couple of hours on in the States. But with all the aggravation,  I am learning to appreciate everything that comes with Tico time. There is an upside. I walk slower. I don’t hurry or check my watch ever. I cannot afford to get rattled or scowl or complain or get frustrated. So none of that is part of Tico time. As a result of waiting, and trying to be patient, I simply learn to make do, take in what is going on around me, slow down, do with less, be happy with more, and I am more content all the way around. I think the majority of the world who do not live in first world industrialized countries live this way all of the time.

It is a steep un-learning curve here in Costa Rica. For every miracle and flower, rare bird and magnificent thunderous storm there are trade offs. But the trade offs are things I really have come to understand are not really anything essential about life. I can in fact do without an internet signal…the world does not stop revolving and I can simply go down the hill to the Paradiso Café and meet new people, practice my Spanish and use their internet while sipping Costa Rican coffee as the roosters peck around the table. I can do without packaged food, unless I would like to pay $8 for a small container of almond milk. I can do without Pandora and I can do without electricity when there is a storm.   In fact I can do without a whole lot of things that when living in the States I thought were essential.

But what I get to live without is surprisingly liberating:

  • No traffic of any kind and no rush hour. There is nowhere to rush.
  • Movie Theaters. I read old-fashioned books on my Nook.
  • Electro-magnetic bombardment of my body and soul. None here. No wires.
  • Sleepless nights. Without the EM’s, I sleep like a baby.
  • Pollution both chemical and noise. Now that said the cicadas are deafening.
  • Accumulation of things not needed. It is all about simplicity here.
  • Shopping, more shopping and shopping Malls. Need I say more?
  • Road Rage. But let’s talk about the two lane back roads where you pass down the MIDDLE of an unmarked highway.
  • Cops, rarely see them.
  • Speed limits not sure I even know what it is here.
  • Strip Malls thank god.

What I get to live with has become more than wonderful:

  • Unparalleled beauty out my front door
  • Wild and powerful weather every day
  • The sound of the ocean tides coming in and roaring out
  • Kind smiling people most of the time
  • Mother Nature at her finest and in Technicolor
  • Giant papayas for a dollar
  • Coconuts with straws for a buck
  • Fresh everything, and I mean chickens killed at 8am and cooked by 5pm if you eat chicken
  • No clothes, bare feet, living in the water.
  • Fabulous skin from the humidity.
  • Deserted beaches
  • Going to bed at 8:30pm and parrots rousing me at 5am, not so gently
  • Living inside of natures rhythm from sunrise to sunset
  • Being fully present in my body at all times. Having to watch every step I take
  • Learning to live with the Jungle. The Jungle is alive and has rules.
  • Animals, animals and more animals. Have not met a sloth yet but they are everywhere
  • Fruit falling off trees into my lap while I am walking the dog: Starfruit, Mango, Banana and Coconuts
  • Fresh fish, fresh coffee, clean food everywhere.
  • My list here is far longer, but you get the picture.

It has taken me my entire life to allow myself to leap into a new way of living that is not “American” at it’s core ( I will be writing about the extensive ex-pat community later). I have finally given myself the opportunity to learn a new language, to pare down everything I thought I needed in life and make room for what is essential; Sun, surf and the pulsating organism that is a jungle. The jungle is prana, it is the life force of Costa Rica. It is the breath of life and like Eden, it is pure and balanced. I think I didn’t really know that my life in the American fast lane was far too hard for me to achieve balance and equanimity. Peace is much more available here in the rainforest that is Costa Rica.

So, I am ready to tell some tales that will make you laugh and hopefully encourage you to take off your shoes and step out of your life for a while. There is a new you outside your box just waiting for a chance to explore our beautiful world which will simply …rewire you and help you to remember who you are.

sloth

 

 

Another Country, Another Me

costa rica

Well the Gypsy in me is on the road again. After a few months of snowy wonderful Colorado and working on a project while having the luxury of being around the corner from my oldest daughter, I was about to put a few roots down and after nearly five years rent an apartment. Then the phone rang.

As I have learned in this delicate art of navigating signs and serendipity I have finally, after all these years, become in tune with when I am moving in the wrong direction, when to stand still and when to simply say yes to the unexpected. This was one of those phone calls.

I am writing full time now and coaching people around the world who are bringing life to stories they were born to tell. One of those people lives in Panama and she and I were discussing her up and coming novel when she simply said:

“Maya you need to come live with me for three months in Costa Rica.”

Yep, that matter-of-factly. It was not really a question it was a done deed in her mind.   In my mind I thought, heat, humidity, I don’t know Spanish, what about gluten free food, does Costa Rica take Blue Cross Blue shield and are there mosquitos? This unfortunate diatribe from an all too familiar nay-sayer in me lasted a whole 15 minutes and then the voice I have come to depend on stepped to the front of the line. She said:

“ What about beauty, adventure, healthy eating, learning Spanish, finishing your novel, getting a tan and slowing down, slowing way down Maya?”. I called Julianne and said yes. Then it all fell right into place as it always does, with the help of my LA daughter being willing to take my car and my beloved cat Hazel.

I arrived here in Ojochal (pronounced OhoCHal) on the pacific side of Costa Rica four days ago. That is a story I will tell next blog post. I am here now, living in such Eden like beauty, surrounded by the rainforest with the ocean visible from my room, eating coconuts and papayas 24/7 and realizing that American life is frenetic and hazardous to my health more than I thought.

So now after only four days, I will be sharing my adventures, my Aha’s, my challenges and my travels with you.   I will post each week and share some stories, some insights, some recipes, photos and tips about being an Ex-Pat here in Costa Rica.

I wake to Parrots in large flocks soaring overhead and louder than any LA traffic but music to my ears. Parakeets are in all the trees that surround our home here, but what is most astonishing is that the minute I stepped off the little six seat plane in Quepos, felt the 100% humidity, the perspiration running down my back, all I could do was smile.

The regular afternoon thunderstorm is now revving up so I will unplug my computer and go and watch the show.

Sigue a tu corazón, Maya

The Gypsy off Road

gypsy wagon home

 

My Gypsy Blog was started nearly four years ago when I took a leap out of my life as a therapist (and a closet writer), and decided to discover the story of my life…on the road.

 

But one thing I was not prepared for was that if you pack up your life in one tiny car, put your cat on the front seat and open your map and go east, there is no guarantee of getting there. Not when you are open to what happens when you are on the road. There is no promise that you will end up where you think you are going. That seems to be not only true about life in about every way, but true about writing a story. You may decide to go in one direction and end up with a totally different story…writing your life.

 

I have been in almost every state in the U.S. and have wandered my way back to one of my favorite places of all: Colorado. I was on my way north one time and ended up in Oklahoma, I was on my way to NYC and stayed in Asheville NC for a year, I went to visit someone up on the border of Canada and didn’t leave for a year. I decided to settle in Seattle and promptly was called to leave and go back east. I flew to Africa swearing I would never ever leave and landed back in Oklahoma a far cry from Africa. I have set out on so many journeys that my mind had constructed, but in the end, my heart took me places that were unexpected, serendipitous and magical.

 

And then there are the times that are not so magical. Or at least in that sparkly happy-to-be-there kind of way. Travel strips you. It makes it near impossible to be your limited self, to be afraid or get lost. But, in the end, you still get do get afraid and lost and more often than you would like. You run out of money and have to take a job you don’t love. You meet people who are not kind or generous, you make decisions that turn out to be bogus or you stand still at a hundred different crossroads and don’t have one clue which way to go.

That is the story for a writer as well.

 

A good story has all those elements in it: You get lost in the weeds of your own story, you stare at the blank page and have no clue which way to go, you run out of money to pay the electric bill since you never leave your computer long enough to know what time of the month it is, you let someone read your writing and they trash it and you give up at least once a week and you then read the chapter you just wrote and are bored to tears. These are NOT the magical moments for a writer.

 

And I decided to take a new road in my life where that is all I am now doing…I write. I have one magical, fluid, simple ten page day. Then I reread what I wrote and cringe. Rewrite it and smile. I set out to finish some research on a project and it leads me down a new path of thinking. I read a bestseller at noon for a break and realize I am not as good as the author. Then I stumble upon a poem just itching to get out onto the paper and I am hooked on it, I swallow it whole and by 2am I have the making of a great screenplay. This is a writer’s life.

You put all these inevitable experiences for a writer together like a well woven tapestry and you have the landscape that a writer lives in day in and day out. It is just as exciting as going off-road in a four-wheel and getting high into the back-country.

 

I have a new map. It is not the well-worn Road Atlas I have come to depend on when I am on some one lane road in a January snowstorm in North Dakota while I look for Devil’s Tower, it is a map that is born in my heart. I love storytelling and have so many to tell. I love to help others write the story that has been simmering in their psyche for a long time. Writing is just as spectacular an adventure as travel.

 

So I am currently off-road. For the time being the gypsy in me is hunkered down in the snowy mountains of Colorado and I am navigating a new territory. I am mapping my own life in words….I am excited to see where this new road will lead.  Please check often since I will post stories, and gypsy adventures. And hear more about my writing adventures at www.mythotherapy.org.

 

A Modern Day Parable

parable

parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters.

parable is a type of analogy.

A Modern Day Parable

By Maya Christobel

I was at the usual bus stop staring at my watch and impatient to get to work. “Crap, I won’t have time to get a coffee”, I thought. Then she caught my attention. Her unruly and disheveled hair flew behind her in the wind as she bolted past me. Her green eyes were wild with expectation and her gate was long and certain. She was on a mission. She pulled me out of my worry and I set my briefcase on the bench. I could not help but follow her as she weaved in and out of unfamiliar streets as her long sky blue robe swayed behind her, threatening to get snagged on a lamp-post or caught in a passing bicycle spoke. Her arms pumped fiercely as if she were in a race.

 

When she passed a dog tied tightly to a bicycle rack on the corner of Park Street she stopped momentarily and slipped off the chain collar, then scooped up the brown-eyed beagle into her arms and continuing on as if she had expected him. I could not keep up with her and began to fall behind as she continued to rush somewhere I imagined to be very important.

Suddenly, a boy with his skateboard and then a large blackbird and some strange old man sitting near the park joined her and now there were many people following her. She turned down an alley where a homeless man living in a cardboard box watched her come near. She stopped, her face a breath from his startled eyes as she smiled a smile that nearly knocked him to his feet. Then she took his hand and pulled him up and without a word he joined the growing crowd of children and old people and animals that become a wave of energy pulsing through the streets. The growing mob of unlikely people started climbing up to the top of the small clearing overlooking the city.

By the time I could catch up I was breathless. There she was perched out on an outcropping of cinder blocks that rimmed a small off-road parking area, the city carpet below her. She was deathly still, standing quietly overlooking the smog and hazy hidden buildings below. Everyone became quiet, waiting for her to speak, to say something important, to tell them what to do, to levitate, to combust, to break down weeping. Suddenly she turned as if surprised by the throng and with a deep and haunting laugh said,

‘What fun life is. Thank you for joining me”.

 

A short story can pack a punch. There is not need for long chapters, details or perfect prose. A parable is rich with imagery, with feeling and with a great outcome: It leaves us pondering life. This is what a good story should do if it doesn’t make us weep or laugh or want to punch the door out first.

Jesus was said to be one of the best storytellers around and through his parables, whether you are Christian or not, lessons on living have seeped into the culture of everyone’s life in one-way or another. He told parables which always had an “Aha” to be learned. He told parables about the ten virgins, the Good Samaritan, the lost sheep and the Prodigal Son. We’ve all heard about the mustard seed and a grain of sand or hiding your light under a bushel. In the end these short, visual, descriptive lessons on life can be a great way to start writing your story.

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Perhaps,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “What great luck!” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Perhaps,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Perhaps,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Perhaps,” said the farmer…

From a Zen Koan

Most writers are crippled and start sweating at the white, empty page staring back at them like a challenge. Most of the time there is a book to be written, all 300 uncertain pages. When a book is looking over your shoulder it is typical to simply say…”oh I will write ten pages today” and then start sweating all over again. Oh the pressure we put ourselves under.

I have been writing what I call “morning pages” for ten or more years. Just a free-flowing stream of consciousness that starts without any intention and always ends up somewhere I never intended to go: A poem, a confession, a rant. Lots of times I rant. But, more often than not, it is a story in the making. A little seed of an idea that I can come back to. It is in this uncharted territory of unexpected words where a story is born.

When I was living up in Crested Butte, Colorado in my “let’s open an art gallery and sell contemporary art to people who want cowboys and buffalos”, I was watching the news about a couple stranded in a snowstorm and living in their car for several days. I was seized by the need to make that into a great movie. I researched the couple, outlined the story idea, and then sat down to start writing a heartwarming screenplay about love, loss and redemption (since that’s what all movies are about in the end). By page 12 the story demanded to go in another direction and no matter how hard I tried to pull the story back into formation it wandered outside the lines of my own psyche and turned itself into a 120 page paranormal thriller with Jeremy Irons and Jodi Foster. I was captive to the story…it would not let me go and in the end the screenplay won several screenwriting awards. But it was not even close to what I had set out to write.

What did I do wrong? What did I do right? How did my idea morph into something so totally a product of my relentless imagination? Or was it that the story itself is energy that exists outside of my idea of time and space and was just waiting to be born?  I have learned that this is truer than you might think.

The story was able to take me somewhere unexpected simply because I was not attached to the outcome and I just showed up each day, punched on the computer, got my cup of tea, put on my headphones to listen to movie soundtracks while I wrote and in the end allowed the muse to take the characters where they needed to go.

Working this way is exciting and is a bit like tracking an animal in the woods. Most of the time you think you are following a deer and in the end you find out that it is Bigfoot.

So start with a seed. With a sentence from how you feel about a photo, use a line of a poem and take off…see where it leads you. You just might have a whole lot of fun!

 

leap and don't look down

 

The Story of My Life

cat and frog

 

This was a frequent phrase around my home growing up. “Holy Moly, story of my life”. If I got a collections letter in the mail, or I hear that a great guy has a secret wife, that my brand new shiny car needs a transmission or that in fact I really didn’t win the lottery…” story of my life”.   A handy phrase. But what’s in a phrase?

We each have one story that repeats itself over and over again throughout our lifetime. I promise you, one central ever present and every changing “story of our lives”. The casts of characters change but they fundamentally play the same roll in our lives year after year. Every new love, new boss or new dog is just like a mother, brother, father, betrayer, helper, teacher and the best of ourselves the worst of ourselves. The place, the reasons, the motives, the fears, and the outcomes seem to remain similar as well.

So, if you were to just pluck out of the sky a scenario that you recognize as so familiar that it is a “repeat story” in your life, what would it be? Would the themes be endless hope, deep despair, betrayal, running away, lost love and fighting for what is right, or would it be, men leave, women love you but die, or would it be, am I good enough, can I prove myself, or that there is never enough money or time or money or love or money or food, nourishment or support. Could you be in Groundhog Day like Bill Murray where over or over again you love the wrong person, you loose everything you have and need to start again, you never feel smart enough or have enough of, or ultimately are loved enough. Does the white knight turn into the villain or are you the one who rescues and heals the world? We all have one story.

If we take the time to identify this story, which repeats itself over and over again for our learning and growth, then we have abundant power to change the story, but not before we look it square in the eye and say “Yes” this is MY story. For most authors who are seized with a story line and write until the days are a blur and who forget to eat or take a shower, most likely the book or story being written is a mirror of the writer’s psyche.

Most writers have to cop to the fact that writing is therapy. Writing is sanity. Expiation. Transformation and atonement. Most writers on a good and honest day will say that the story they think is pure fantasy is really from their own life, own fear, own desire to be a hero or heroine and to rewrite what went so wrong, so long ago. It is a powerful moment when you can write a fictitious character that is not you in reality so that they can do all the things that you only wish to have done or said or experienced in your life. Why else do we write?

And when we can fess up that our own story is driving the bus, we can not only heal our lives but we can write a story that touches the collective nerve. That is what makes a bestseller. In the end….the story will write you.

write image