something perhaps a bit more serious.

So for the year we've been down here I have been regularly:
1. walking to and from school every day at a relatively quick pace.
2. going to yoga between 2 and 3 times a week with an occasional 4 thrown in
3. going for a run on the days I don't do yoga and sometimes even when I do
4. playing ultimate infrequently lately, but I did play more earlier in the year
5. walking to and from every friend's house, gathering, party, etc.
6. walking the dog on top of all of that if she didn't go on a run with me

This has understandably had a profound effect on my body. I am the smallest I have been since high school. In the last week or two, no fewer than 4 people have commented about how skinny I've gotten. I have dropped between 30 and 40 pounds. I had it to lose. I was close to 200lbs and had sworn to myself that I wasn't going to let it get to be more than that because this frame is not built to carry quite that much. People telling me they're noticing how much weight I have lost has had a profound effect on my emotions.

I like this body that I have. I like it when it's heavier, I like it when it's lighter. I can do more when it's like this, but I am not incapable when it's heavier. I can ride my bicycle fast, hike long distances, carry heavy things, and build to my heart's content no matter what my body has looked like so far. Now there are a few changes. For the first time in my life I enjoy running. I like the challenge of the hills (same as riding my bike) and trying to slow down my breathing when I'm going as hard as I can. And someone recently said that I'm doing excellent high altitude training for when I want to be a firefighter. Too bad the effects will be long since worn off by the time I'm ready for those tests. Maybe I'll come down for a month before them...

So I'm stuck feeling conflicted. I know that I feel better; my cardio-vascular health is much more awesome than it was; I can twist my body into positions I could only dream about a year ago; the endorphins keep me feeling positive and wonderful even when I'm stressed; I have other options besides riding my bike when I need to get out and let my brain work its way through complicated things... These are all good.

But I have also spent a significant portion of my life working on feeling positive about my body. I do not like the BMI crap or the weight watchers crap or the other dieting crap. I do not like that so much of our culture is built around being as skinny as you can be healthily (I'll assume for the sake of argument that we're not all built like supermodels and that many of us actually do understand that). I have a deep and abiding love for all of my fat friends and the culture that has grown up around being fat and proud. I also have a deep love for food of all kinds and make fine choices about my food, even if sometimes I eat more butter or bread than one of those silly diets would call for.

I have also struggled with people telling me that I needed to lose weight to be healthy, including all of my parents at various times. This is perhaps the hardest piece. I know that they will be "proud" of me for losing weight. I hope that they can realize that I'd much rather them be proud of me for being active, finding things to do that make me happy, and for finding a way to balance all of the parts of my life that are important. In that way, I could care less if I lost weight. I almost wish I hadn't so I could prove that my body was lovely the way that it was (and might be again).

I am worried that when I get back to the states I will not have as easy a time keeping this whole exercise for the fun of it going. I will lose my deep teacher discount at the neighborhood yoga studio. I will be going back during the hottest season and can't stand heat. I'm actually pretty conviced I'll be good through the summer, though, because on August 2nd I'm planning on doing the Greenfield Triathlon with Tamara, my neighbor (and anyone else who wants to play swim/bike/ride). It's a sprint distance tri, so it's a .3 mi swim, 15 mi bike and 3 mile run. jor's going to do our swimming training at the Mill River Pool this summer. We've already been planning everything and I am quite excited. My new running shoes are even already at Emmy's house just waiting for me to get home. It's the winter, though, when it's hard to get on my bike, and I REALLY don't want to go to a gym, that worries me. I like my running on trails in the woods, not even on the roads outside, much less on a treadmill or a fancy machine that'd be nicer on my knees. I don't want to lose all of the progress that I've made this year on my journey towards firefighter status.

I don't really have any good closure to this post. I guess it's clear that I'm feeling conflicted. I just wanted you to understand that, especially if you're one of the people to whom I'm coming home. Instead of telling me how much weight I've lost, feel free to invite me for a run/ride/walk/hike/swim/etc. Thank you.

Anyway, those are the meandering thoughts of a winkler late at night. I've been trying to write this post for a while. It's good to finally get it out.

Beaches and Farms

A lovely time at the beach, Playa Sámara on the Nicoya Peninsula. It was Toast's first time at the ocean and she seemed to tolerate it. It was really hot compared to Monteverde and the water wasn't any cooler than the air for the most part, even in the tiny swimming pool at our hotel. But Tosti Pantalones (her name in Spanish) fetched sticks and balls tossed into the waves and was so cute when she jumped like a dolphin. To the right you can see the stick in the air and Toast going after it. She also served as cultural ambassador once again. There were some nice Tico families at our tiny hotel and the little kids loved Toast. So I taught them how to play with her and they played for hours. Toast was so good and patient and tolerant as long as I was around. Then the family invited us to their campfire on the beach and fed us roasted marshmallows. The next day they gave us their leftover gallo pinto and eggs for breakfast. Mmmm. And we got to eat yummy Mexican food at a restaurant. It was all super relaxing and fun. We traveled with some teachers from the other private school in Monteverde, one of whom went to my high school (weird...there are actually three of us in town currently). And we appreciated that it wasn't sunny because we didn't get sunburned so fast. Annie and I finally got the hang of boogie boarding, which was awesome. The waves were just right. We'd catch a good wave and ride all the way into the shore where Toast would come and meet us. It was nice to get to bring her along, though she may have appreciated staying home.

I wanted to post some photos of the organic farm tour we went on with Rhi while she was here. To the right is the farmer, Hernán Brenes, head of the Brenes clan around here. There are many. He's been here since he was 15 and is now something like 75, still farming. He grows veggies and runs a dairy and has chickens. He's the only organic grower in the area. He showed us how he makes his own pesticide by stewing a combo of 7 local plants. He walked us through his fields, which look pretty similar to a field in western MA, minus the amazing trees around the edges and bushes lining the paths. He gave us all a strawberry (wow...yum) and a carrot pulled right from the ground. Super yummy, a little spicy. I can't wait to dig into my garden even though I won't get to grow everything I like. Starting too late. After the fields, Señor Brenes took us through the woods to his Tarzan swing and we all got to jump. Really fun, though not quite as extreme as the Tarzan swing at the Selvatura canopy park...super fun! Yishai, our personal photographer now that our camera finally died, took some awesome photos of us on the swing. Look how he kept Annie in focus while blurring the trees. Photography is not something I wish I did. Not that interesting to me. But I can appreciate a good photo when I see it. Thanks Yishai. Señor Brenes then took us to a lookout where we could see some volcanos and back toward the town where we live. The geology here is such that there are all these ridges everywhere and you can't really see what's on or in them. But it sure is beautiful. Annie could describe it better, I'm sure. At the end, he recited a poem about the people of Cañitas, where he lives, and how the men are strong and willing and I don't remember what else. Very noble. Costa Rica is an interesting study in literacy because something like 99% of the population is literate, but they don't read. It's still an oral culture. People prefer to learn from people instead of books. I'm sure this poem was passed down to him from another person and he memorized it.

In other news, we found ourselves a new tenant for the rental part of our duplex in Montague. Phew. I anticipated it being very difficult to do from here and perhaps having to pay someone to do it for us. But it worked out beautifully and I think our new neighbors will be a great addition to the neighborhood. Even if one of them is allergic to dogs. Poor Toasty. She will be so confused.

Just so everyone is clear, we fly to Newark, NJ (nonstop flight!) on June 16th and will probably be back in Montague that night. Can't wait to see people!