Saturday, March 30, 2013

CROCUS POCUS – A Magical Message of Spring


In the fall of my sophomore year in college, my roommate and fraternity brother, Kim, planted crocuses around the big elm in the Chi Psi lodge's front yard. I was either too self-involved or too impatient to fully grasp the significance of that act…until spring, that is.

After that long, gray New England winter and two trimesters with my spirit confined within classrooms, books and my own head, those brave little purple, white and yellow flowers did more than brighten my spirits; they taught me something I'd always remember about my sense of wonder.

That was all about being in the here & now. What 
I had yet to learn was about the there & then.

Those crocuses were far from my only connection with Nature; I'd grown up, like most kids those days, with the great blessing of having nowhere to go but outdoors, little to do but play. Once I was in school, I was as likely to be listening to a bird, an insect, or the wind just outside the classroom window as I was the teacher.

But that was all about being in the here and now. What I had yet to learn was about the there and then, about the small investments wonder so often requires of us.

Nature would take each of those tiny 
bulbs and turn it into a miracle.

In Kim's case it was, most obviously, his investment of intention—I want to start something, grow something—followed, certainly, by patience. But it was also a venture of hope and faith. He knew—he believed—that, from that humble gesture of kneeling, digging and setting in those tiny bulbs, Nature would take each of them and turn it into a miracle.

I'll always be grateful to Kim for planting those bulbs…and for planting in me those seeds of understanding that wonder is not always impetuous. For that is the soul of spring: faith, rewarded; beauty, bestowed; life, proclaimed.

HAPPY EASTER, HAPPY SPRING TO ALL!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

RECLAIM WONDER – Take the Pledge

YEARNING FOR SUBSTANCE
In this increasingly sped-up, dumbed-down, 140-character world, are you starting to hear, as I am, that little voice of unease from somewhere deep in your soul?

Doesn't some part of you just want to say no to all that virtual "reality," all the quick, shallow relationships this digitized culture expects us to buy into, and get back in touch with more real-life, first-hand experiences? Don't you yearn to recapture that sense of wonder we all felt so naturally when we were kids?

Use the ideas as goals, resolutions, or just occasional affirmations of your intention to live      a more attentive, curious and grateful life.

That's what my Reclaiming Wonder Movement is all about. It's recognizing that yearning, and beginning to make our own choices as to the kind of depth and substance we want in our relationships with ourselves, each other and Nature.

THE RECLAIMING WONDER PLEDGE
The movement can start philosophically and leads, most likely, to lifestyle changes, but it's inevitably a spiritual journey. Lots of people want to take part in this journey, but don't quite know where to start. That's why I've crafted the Reclaiming Wonder Pledge.

Think of it as a list of first steps and/or mileposts to guide you on your quest for more mindfulness. You can use the ideas as goals, resolutions, or just occasional affirmations of your intention to live a more attentive, curious and grateful life.  
You • can • do • this!!

Framing example only; frame not included in offer.
 
ORDER YOUR FREE, FRAMABLE, FULL-COLOR 
PLEDGE DOCUMENT WITH A SIMPLE EMAIL.
(Before ordering, you can review content in a non-framable form - CLICK HERE)

To receive your framable, print-quality digital file just send me an email - jeff@willius.com - with the words "Reclaiming Wonder" as the subject line of
your email.

Print it out, frame it, or make it the background of your computer desktop. Feel free to share it; why not give a framed copy to someone you know who's also yearning to reclaim wonder in his/her life?

Thanks for taking the Reclaiming Wonder Pledge! Have a wonder-full day!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

TEQUILA SHOTS -- A Parting Few

The Semana Santa crowd of Mexican vacationers is pouring into Zihuatanejo by the busload, just as the U.S. and Canadian contingents are thinning out. Now different stretches of Playa La Ropa are busy, teeming with happy families here to enjoy the sun and surf. (Most Mexicans seem to really know how to have fun.)

Sally and I are in our "scrap of bread" mode: determined to soak up the very last of the savory salsa of these flavors, smells, colors and sounds before dipping back into the bland, colorless porridge of this especially long Minnesota winter.

For, as much as we like to think we'll remember, the memories, the souvenir music and fine tequila, our attempts to stay close via email and Zihua Rob's Message Board—even the photos—are never enough to conjure up the way we feel when we're actually here.

Each year, we try to convince ourselves we're ready to go home once again to our "real" lives, knowing that yet another part of that notion—another small part of our hearts—has been claimed by Zihuatanejo.

We're grateful to all the people—Zihuatanejenses, expats and fellow visitors—who've helped make us feel at home here. You've been kind, generous and fun
to a fault.

And, though we realize we can never be real Mexicans, we take some comfort
in knowing we can keep trying…and that at least a few of you will enjoy seeing
us do so.

I leave you with the last of my Tequila Shots, my modest, once-a-day efforts to capture some of the joy and wonder I find in this lovely place.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

MORE TEQUILA SHOTS – Zihuatanejo

Sticking with the theme of my first post last week, I'm challenging myself to get just one good image a day while here in wonderful Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico.

I keep wondering if, before long, I won't have taken all the interesting shots and will be left with nothing to take but those slightly off-kilter, Corona-in-the-foreground, murmering-surf-in-the-background shots that suggest that we're here and having a great time, but don't say much about where and what that "here" actually is.

But I guess that's why we keep coming back to Zihuatanejo. You don't really have to look that far or that hard to find the soul of this place: the nearly universal good nature and kindness of the people; the amazing shapes and patterns that Nature and people create when trying to co-exist in paradise; the way things move, the rhythms...and, oh, the colors!

So, anyway, here are a few more such small wonders that have caught my wandering eye this week.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

CONSUMING INTEREST – Life & Death On Our Ceiling

Life and death play out on the gold adobe walls and white ceiling of our little villa tonight. A black and russet butterfly flutters into our open living room, alights and brings together its wings, as if closing the book on its tenuous day.

Does it seem safe in here? Refuge, perhaps, from winged hunters armed with echolocation? Could that be why it doesn't simply fly away as gecko creeps closer and closer, face to face? Do those outsized eyes mesmerize?

When butterfly moves, just slightly, it triggers a spring in gecko's legs, and in a split second it's done...but for the brief struggle...but for the arduous swallowing.

       

Sunday, March 10, 2013

TEQUILA SHOTS – Intoxicated by Zihuatanejo

Tomorrow will mark the end of our first week here in beautiful, charming Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico.

I'd intended posting something every day or two, but I'm afraid those best of intentions have gone the way of the rest of our accustomed schedules and ambitions back home.

At first, even picture taking—something that usually energizes me—seemed like too much work, too much pressure, so I've tried to take just one good shot a day, with no particular theme other than that each of them is just another tiny glimpse
of what we find so captivating about Zihuatanejo.


 




Saturday, March 2, 2013

OFF TO MEXICO – Yum-m-m!

I'm like a hungry man about to sit down to a hearty four-course meal. That's how I'm feeling on the eve of my 20th trip to Mexico.

As beautiful as Minnesota winters can be, they starve us of sensation. Against this backdrop of bland whites and grays and taupes, we're challenged to find the sustenance of color in detail and nuance—like a rosy cheek or a tenacious crabapple. Smells are served unseasoned, frozen in midair. Sound, too, seems squeezed out of its luscious fullness like dried fruit. Even touch is blunted by layers of nylon, feathers and fleece.

A Minnesotan would be dragged before the neighborhood association for painting his house these vivid shades of pink, blue or gold.

In most of Mexico, including Zihuatanejo, Guerrero where I'm headed, climate and culture collaborate to nourish one with colors, sounds, smells and flavors.



The colors: a Minnesotan would be dragged before the neighborhood association for painting his house these vivid shades of pink, blue or gold. The smells: so often they reveal, where sights may not, the real life that's going on beyond the sphere of one's sanitized tourist experience. The tastes: there's nothing dried or preserved about them; they're fresh and true and sometimes surprising. And the touch, oh, the caress of that soft, warm, delicious air pouring in off the Pacific!



Maybe that's it; maybe it's the warmth that unlocks both stimuli and senses. Belying the laid back, unhurried lifestyle, the sensations of Mexico stir in me a subtle sense of urgency. A mango, for example, just picked from the tree outside our villa door, is such a beautiful form just to look at. But no sooner than it begins to blush with full color you have to eat it or it loses its tang and turns to mush. So many beautiful things are transcient.

And Zihuatanejo's a place of seamless flow between indoor and outdoor life. With little notion of that confinement we Minnesotans suffer during winter, you sense everything going on —in El Centro, down at Playa La Ropa out on Zihuatanejo Bay—and want to be a part of it all. But it's okay; anything you do—even nothing at all—feels completely satisfying, completely nourishing of body and spirit.