A Good-Bad Day

The good. Made a sales call today. Competitive opportunity. Had done work for this company 14 years ago. (In another post I will reveal how I can pinpoint the date). Get up early, fly, drive, wait. The meeting.

In the rental car for 6 minutes. Phone rings, unknown number. It is the people I just met with asking how long I need to revise my proposal. I say Friday. They say Thursday morning so it can get approved at a meeting that day. They are anxious to get started. BTW, the proposal has to be revised to include more than I had originally thought. 

6 minutes. Not bad.

The bad. The plane is delayed and I will get home really late.

I will still have a smile on my face.

Green City Slickers Acres

Our first activity on a week long vacation Costa Rica reminded me of both the mid-1960s TV show and the 1991 Billy Crystal movie.

We are at a lovely resort in the cloud forest, the first of three stops. The day before was a typical travel day, long hours on planes and a long drive to the resort. But today the adventure begins. Up for breakfast and then some time before our guided tour through the cloud forest. So what was the morning activity sponsored by the resort? Cow milking lessons!

We watched as they made the cow safe for touristas. They tied her hind legs together and then stuck the tail in as well. The experienced hand demonstrated the technique. As we observed the hand to udder motion we noticed two things. First there was a young calf in the field nearby. The calf reminded me of Norman from City Slickers.

Second we kept hearing what seemed to be an animal sound. As true city slickers we at first thought the sad sounds were from the cow who may not be enjoying the experience. But the cow was too busy constantly eating to be the source. Being a natural detective I carefully walked past the cow. I found 6 hens in a pen eating and clucking away. I am guessing that anyone who had spent more that 24 hours on a farm would have recognized the difference between sound of hens and cows immediately. Hence the Green Acres reference.

To finalize our Green Acres experience, we milked the cow. Not as obvious as it seems. Or maybe it was just us. The topper came as I sat on the stool for a turn. Three good squeezes and I get whapped in the face by a tail that had escaped from its bondage.

I think I will keep my day job.

Hey Hey We’re The Monkeys

We got up close and personal with a bunch (gaggle, barrel?) of monkeys while on a kayak in Costa Rica.

To Do Or Not To Do. Now That Is A Question!

va·ca·tion

pronunciation   vey-key-shuhn

–noun. A period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday

The above taken from dictionary.com

I do not take enough vacation time — at least not enough for me. I work many hours and when not working there are many things to do for family, home, etc.

So when I do take vacation  I am conflicted. At the same time I want to do lots of fun things and do nothing in order to rest and unwind. (I also want to exercise, eat great meals and sleep a lot but lets stick to the two primary categories.)

To do or not to do.

In the workplace, the emphasis is on activity, on doing. The more that gets done (well) the better. There are limited workplace exceptions when contemplation leading to enhanced creativity can be both respected and viewed as necessary. The vast majority of the time we focus on doing.

Since work provides the money that sustains our lifestyle, though not our life, and we spend so much of our time working we tend to carry this propensity for doing into non-work time. Like vacation.

I just came back from eight days in Costa Rica. We knew that it was rainy season but given the complicated calendars of my wife, my son and myself, we had one window to go somewhere and Costa Rica has been on our list for quite a while.

We did do. We hiked in a cloud forest, white water rafted, rappelled down waterfalls, went zip lining above the treetops, kayaked on a river through mangroves, went on a guided tour of a national park and took two other hikes in the forests/jungles of Costa Rica.

And yet…

Only one of our activities was an all day event. Most days we left early in the morning and were done by noon or 1 pm. That potentially left a whole day to do more. And why not? Who knows when we will be back in this beautiful country.

There is an answer to why not. The answer is that both body and mind need some time of not doing to prepare it to do more later and more importantly to be able to fully appreciate the acts of doing.

Being in Costa Rica during rainy season can be a pain. One never knows when it will rain (though generally the mornings were sunny and the afternoons and evenings rainy)  But when in the afternoon? Some days as early as 1 pm and other days not until 4 or 5 pm. Sometimes it would rain intensely for an hour and stop and other times it would rain continuously.There are few indoor activities available since the outdoor ones are so plentiful and spectacular.

Being in Costa Rica during the rainy season can be sweet. Though you can try to fight it the rain provides a convenient excuse just to not do. It relieves some of the guilt of not chasing more activities. One day we hung out at the pool and the hot tub during the rain storm — made even easier by the presence of a pool bar. One can swim or sit in a hot tub during a tropical rain. You can’t get more or less wet.

One of my favorite evenings consisted of the three of us hanging out in the room from mid afternoon on. We alternated reading, napping and eating snacks. Rarely were all three of us doing the same thing at the same time. The room was quiet. We enjoyed just being together. We did not even go to dinner that night. No one was hungry enough and we were sooo comfortable that leaving the room was no option. I loved the rhythm of that night and the do nothingness of it all.

Yes there were a couple of days we searched out extra activities.  Sometimes it was worth it and other times maybe not. These were balanced by the quiet times. That to me is a vacation.

I find that more often in the hectic and sometimes stressful life I lead that not doing has become essential. Yet with an inexhaustible list of things to do, the question “To Do or Not To Do?” is always being asked.

Beating Your Fears Part II, Enough Already

This seems to be the week for testing my  fear of heights. I just got done feeling good about rappelling. Within 24 hours I am walking across  “bridges” that are suspended from cables above (known as hanging bridges). We are at treetop level and these suckers sway. I cross all 6 and even look down on occassion…while clutching the sides of the bridge with all my might. And of course hanging bridges are not enough of a test.

The next morning we travel above the treetops in order to go zip lining. What is a zip line? It is you attached to a harness holding onto a metal device that zips you along a cable from treetop to treetop. In our case this was all done hundreds of feet above the ground. Speeds can get as high as 40 -50 mph. It is you flying through the air being buffeted by the wind moving you side to side. If you were to let go, maybe the harness would stop you from e crashing to the ground and being broken into thousands of pieces or skewered on a branch like a human shish kebab, or not.

I had done this once before several years ago and had no problems. However, the zip lines here were longer and higher. One was a quarter-mile long and one was just short of one half mile. The wind blew and twisted me around as  I careened through the atmosphere trying not to look down. I once again completed the task and even enjoyed about half of the runs.

I am now done. No more heights to conquer. Not this week anyway. I have done enough.