Thursday, December 3, 2009

so, maybe i'm a little behind?

oops...a little glimpse into how well i keep some of my short term goals (you can ask me about not eating sweets and working out every day as well;-)

i really am working on a lovely christmas post, with old school pictures of me included, but it's not quite ready yet.

but i do have some thoughts today.

1-grateful for numerous aspects of my life during this thanksgiving season. many reminders of how i have truly been given much.

2-walking in downtown palo alto with a friend tonight, i learned a valuable lesson. as we passed a homeless woman (holding her sign as to why she needed money), said friend stops to chat with her. not only chat, but she knows the woman. she knows her story of why she is on the street, asks her about how her father is doing, where she will be sleeping that night, etc...

i stood there in awe. and ashamed. why was i astonished? and more importantly, why am i normally so indifferent to those who suffer? where has my heart gone? why do i casually walk by, giving money when i have it, but not pausing to talk, to interact, to relate to another human being? another child of god. it was humbling. we all chatted for a bit and then my friend asked if we could bring her some dinner. we did. it may be the best thing i have done with my money or my time in many many months, possible even years.

i am in no way patting myself on the back or congratulating myself for a deed well done. it may appear so as i write for "all to see" but the true intent is to chastise myself for my poor job at being in the service of my fellow men. for my apathy in keeping my baptismal covenants. for not doing what christ has asked of me. of all of us. for not doing what i should when i have been living in grand abundance.

an honest and sharp reminder. i have been taught a lesson, now it is time to act.

in this season when i am grateful for so much, for all the things we normally list, today i am most grateful for those good people who make a difference, in large and small ways. i pray we can all do a little more. be a little more. become givers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


the main reason i started this blog was really just for me. to practice my writing, because deep in my heart, i believe i am a writer. to release the thoughts that float around my brain. sometimes they are lovely, light and full of joy. other times they are heavy and burdensome. writing has always felt a bit like therapy. healing. cleansing.

however, what occurred is that i don't write as much as i should. i don't edit. i don't take the time to be more precise (all which were elements of my original writing goal). and i have come to an awareness that i put it off. i feel like i must have something grand and life changing to write about or it will not be worthwhile. all that ends up happening is that i have no writings at all. my pages are empty. my goal faded.

those were my thoughts yesterday. and today too, i guess...

i'm tired of putting things off. i want to take the gift of awareness and harness it. instead of saying, "oh, that's just the way i am...” i can change it. it starts today, with this post.

new goal: to post something, anything, everyday until the end of 2009.

42 days left and counting...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

oh the wisdom of friends...

i'm sitting at my desk in my cute little spanish classroom. i should be working (it's one of my few preps and i have grades to input, but i decided they could wait).

i've been thinking about fear. of things i am afraid of. of how it can hinder my life. and thinking about trust.

i conquered much by jumping out of a plane. fear of falling. fear of dying. fear of heights. i trusted the plane. i trusted raff. i trusted the parachutes. i trusted the people who told me it was going to be ok. i trusted myself. i trusted.

i realized it has taken me a long time to implement that trust into the areas that are "scary" for me. but once i did, they seemed a lot less frightening and i feel more in control. empowered.

yet i forget to implement that same trust into other areas of life. hmmm...why?

i'm not sure i have the answer. yesterday, in conversation with a dear friend, i was reminded that the same method of understanding and trust used when i was "living dangerously" in my jump, could be used to "live dangerously" in other aspects of life. very wise and sound advice from a wise and sound friend.

so my point is, don't just "live dangerously" in physical adventures. spread that way of living into everything. i think in the end we will realize that it made all the difference. that we lived. that we conquered. that we didn't have regrets.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

my year of living dangerously....

... or you could just say adventurously. or you could say that the old, more-than-a-bit-wussy marisa is out and the new, hard-core marisa is in!

granted, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but there is much truth (at least for me) in that statement.

in 2009 i have attempted snowboarding (see previous post), road biking (didn't write a post on that, but totally should), and last but not least, skydiving. yes, you read that correctly. skydiving.

now, before delving into the latest adventure, i must preface all of this by saying i did not go quietly. i am about as scared as you can get in all these arenas and it was only thanks to the patience of someone who encouraged me, that i was able to face and conquer (at least in my way of conquering) many of my deep-seated fears.

very grudgingly, i decided to join a group of friends for a skydiving adventure as part of some birthday celebrations. the day was halloween 2009. after about a week of calling skydive monterey and knowing all the staff by name (i may or may not have called them 3 or 4 times to help quell my fright) and also of course, reading everything i could about how to tandem skydive for the first time... i was ready?

bleary-eyed i arose early saturday morning, bundled up and headed to meet our crew. the drive to monterey went quickly and it was looking like we would possibly have to wait out the fog, but luckily (though let's be honest, at the moment i did not consider it luck!) by the time we arrived at the "drop-zone" it was a typical northern california blue sky.

we crowded into the small office to get our 10-page release forms - which stated about 20 times that "parachuting activities" are "inherently dangerous and may result in injury or death" - and filled them out as quickly as possible as we joked and laughed about the wording (e.g., there may be some "inappropriate touching" as you get strapped to your instructor). This is where I have to mention that my paper had a heart with the letters “e.c.” and two names listed. (“e.c.”=extra care. they were ready for me.)

after a few hours of jokes, many more questions by yours truly and laughter, we were suited up, the plane was ready and group 1 (my group!) boarded - yikes!

raff, my tandem jumpmaster, with over 12,000 jumps under his belt, was kind and gentle. you could see his passion for skydiving in his brown, grandpa-like eyes and he made me feel like all would be well.

we filed onto the aircraft and as soon as i sat down on the bench realized i would be first. i took many deep breaths as we zoomed off into the air, higher and higher. raff talked me through what we would be doing and then, before i knew it i heard a voice from the front boom, “open door!” and that is exactly what the cameraman did.

“ok, let’s go,” said raff calmly. i followed the instructions he gave and thought, “oh my gosh, i’m going to jump out of this plane!” raff crossed my arms in front of me, tilted my head to left and the next second i was flying through the air. i honestly can’t explain the feeling i had. surreal may be the correct word. alongside exhilarating and awesome, in the true sense of the word.

i was flying. i could see the world below. mountains. sky. ocean. checkerboard patterns of the fields below. the wind whipped around me at 120 mph, but i was floating. it was amazing. i did as raff had recommended before we took off: i looked around and enjoyed the moment i was living. barring a few seconds here or there where i couldn't catch a breath, it was worth every penny. before i knew it the parachute was deployed; my adrenaline was pumping. the earth moved closer and closer and i landed on the field, safely, with all my friends greeting and cheering. i was smiling ear to ear. i couldn't stop. i didn’t stop for a long time.

i came. I saw. i worried. i jumped. i flew. i enjoyed. i conquered.

my year of living dangerously has been a rousing success. can’t wait for the next adventure…

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"snowboarding is an activity that is very popular with people who do not feel that regular skiing is lethal enough. "--dave barry

a teacher. a soccer fan. a lover of art and all things beautiful. a snowboarder? no, not really. lets be perfectly honest, i had never even been on a snow-covered mountain, or had not until i took the big leap. marisa, the floridian, the complainer every time a place is colder than 69 degrees, the lover of warmth and sunlight, was hitting the slopes.

in my mind's eye, i envisioned myself being terribly brave, (since not only am i a cold weather hater, but also not so much a lover of heights) donning cute snowboarding clothes while easily gliding down the hills.

now, being a realist and knowing my mind's eye had fooled me many a time before, i decided to prepare for this brave new adventure. i did the only things i knew how to do: read and visualize. i read up on how to learn snowboarding, why it's better than skiing, and the nightly ritual of envisioning the mountain (or hill rather) and me on the board, standing, not lying flat on my face. i figured, if you build it (or in my case imagined it) it will come, right?

as an added precaution, i signed up for the "burton snow board academy” where the reassuring "testimonials" could convince any reader (and myself) that they would be in for the “time of their life" and all fears would diminish.

i was ready.

with waterproof, winter weather clothes in tow, i headed with friends to lake tahoe. finding myself up early that saturday morning i was a bit like a kid on her first day of school, excited but also terribly nervous. was i really doing this? there was no turning back now, the credit card was charged and i was on my way.

before i continue let me tell you a little bit about my "look" for the day. seeing as how this sport runs a little on the expensive side, i wasn't ready to commit so i was left with borrowing clothing from my dear sister who was kind enough to share. unfortunately, when she said, "they are a little big” she meant XXL (on a 5 foot tall frame it should paint a nice mental picture).

unlike my "snowboarding visions” here i was, in large black and a big poofy borrowed black ski coat. However, my token snowboarder chick beanie and glasses saved me from total fashion disgrace.

with pass in hand, i was off. swish swish swish went the pants as i wandered alone through the ski village. Onto the gondola to "mid mountain" and although mid-mountain sounded a little ominous, i was grateful to be stopping there and not continuing to the peak.

making my way through the snowy hill, i finally spotted the white-tented "burton snow board academy." two extraordinarily friendly snowboarders promptly greeted me. katie just smiled, asked if i was “so stoked for this,” reassured me that a great time would be had, and there was nothing to fear. patiently, i awaited my snowboarding fate. no turning back now marisa, you can do this. you are tough. you are totally capable. and you are definitely cute snowboarder chic material.

slowly, but surely hoards of people trickled into the tent. in came parents dropping off teenagers, nervous adults, overly confident men, and my classmates for the day. L came first. she was a 30- something beautiful woman who looked much cuter in her gear, but just as nervous as i did. we smiled. i started chatting right away and she explained how her husband had wanted her to learn so they could go together, yadda yadda yadda. a story i completely understood. then came our younger counterparts. two somewhat awkward 14-year-old girls, one an expert skier with previous snowboard experience and the other a first timer, like the rest of us.

we made some nervous small talk as we anxiously waited for our “coach"-- shep. our man for the day. right away i smiled as he greeted us with enthusiasm, AND a charming british accent. if worse came to worse with this experience, the accent would be with us all day. he walked us through getting our gear and various practice moves we would be putting into use once we headed to the snow.

hey, this was easy. i was feeling good. i was already doing well. piece of cake. oh, wait. that's right. we hadn't headed outside yet. as the "ready to get out there" smoothly slid out of shep's mouth, i took a deep breath, grabbed my board, and we were off: our motley crew of first timers.

thank heavens for the clear blue sky and sunshine, it made the florida girl inside feel a little more at home on the slick snow. first we just practiced moving around with one foot on the board. ahh! did this board have a mind of its own?!? The snow was definitely slicker than it looked. i took a minute to process. apparently, i had imagined snow to be sticky, yet easy to slide on? and yes, i do realize that supposing my board was going to remain steady and firmly planted on the ground was a bit ridiculous.

of course it was going to slide around, which is the whole point of this activity; the adrenaline rush as you carve down the giant slope.
ok. information processed. ready.

we finally were firmly (and i use that term loosely) planted, both feet in, ready to be gently pushed of the smallest half-pipe in the world. shep came with us the first time. and then it was on our own. i did fine, until i apparently thought the best and most helpful thing to do was to wave my arms around in circles, as if trying to bring in a 747. hmm. kept my balance. wounded my pride. all was well, no spills yet.

the day continued and surprisingly enough, even with a few fall, i was having so much fun. though the baby hills still appeared enormous, every time i managed to stay upright and make it down alone, seemed triumphal. plenty of falls came as well, but none as bad as i had envisioned.

after a full and tiring day of this new adventure, i left the ski resort smiling. i had done it. not well, but i had done it.

with chapter one of my snowboarding adventure behind me, i am ready to commence chapter two as soon as the snow begins to fall...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

it seems like my writing hiatus has been noticed by my loyal readers (and by loyal readers i mean reader. my best friend) i figured i could jot down a few of my thoughts today. i feel content. summer makes me happy. simple, yes, but true. liberty comes with july and august and i revel in it. from sleeping in to staying up late just because i can. from picking up new hobbies to reading for hours on end. from midday movies to fun adventures. revelry all around.

today, sitting on the beach, watching the heavily clouded horizon and listening to the lulling, calming sounds of the surf, i breathed deeply. peace. it hasn't been a permanent resident in my soul this summer, but it was here. life isn't perfect, but it is life. i live. i breathe. i experience. i find purpose. i explore. i try. i fail. i fall. i get up. i live. and what a glorious thing it is.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


the faint light trickles in through my dainty, somewhat useless curtains. i live in this beautiful cottage-like home in palo alto, with an enchanting garden reminiscent of something out of anne of green gables. out my window i have a lovely view of large trees and a moss covered garden.

i stir from my (rare) deep sleep and pry open my heavy eyes. 8 am. saturday morning. is that the sun i see? having lived in california now for almost 3 years, i've easily become accustomed to 96% sunshiny days.

however, the past three weeks the sky exploded consistently with showers. i graciously keep my "i really don't care for rain" comments to myself, knowing what desperate need we have for it, but secretly, i dreamed of warmth on my skin and the radiant glow of my friend the sun. and today, he returned. he gently awakened me, "marisa. look. open your eyes. i'm back." what a reunion we had, the sun and i. i turned over in my sheets and smiled. he was back. it seemed in such a short time i had forgotten what he looked like and his effect on everything around me. i leaned over and saw the familiar bright blue hue in the sky and sighed happily. the world was as it should be.

ps-this post was actually written about a month ago when we the rain showers were a plenty!