Category Archives: Uncategorized

Give a little, get a lot

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It´s quiet here right now and most of the computers are free. After a long day of clowning and classes, I should go shower and get to bed, but I feel the need to share a couple of stories, and I´ll try to do so quickly.

After three days of clowning in places most people will never get to see, I have come to really realize the importance of love, laughter and compassion, and the healing power these qualities possess. Once you see this as I have, you realize how lacking these qualities really are in our society. This week, I´ve seen smiles appear on faces once blanketed in sadness, sickness and despair like a bright sun rising after years of darkness. It´s amazing and magical.

Unfortuntely I don´t have time for details now, but I want to share two wonderful moments that have happened so far this week.

The first was in La Carpio Barrio, the poorest section in Costa Rica. As I mentioned in my previous blog, the Barrio houses 35, 000 people and the residents are considered outcasts. The place is a place no human being should ever have to live in, yet they do….2 generations since the Barrio was developed.

In this Barrio, my first day clowning here, I saw many things that just broke my heart and hurt my soul in knowing that we as a human race let such places exist, but it was also here that I was blessed by the generous act of small child. Maria Carmen, maybe 7 years old at most, living in poverty. After she and her siblings were loved by the craziness of clowns, she went into her “home” and returned with 4 pieces of cardboard. On each cardboard piece there was a drawing. We were told that Maria aspired to be an artist and these were some of her paintings. Maria wanted to give her paintings to the clowns for coming out to see her and her family. Here was this little girl with nothing in her life to show as her own but these cardboard paintings, and she wanted us to have them. I was one of those clowns. I can´t explain the emotion I felt at such a selfless, generous act, but I know I was touched by an angel. Maria´s painting is now one of my cherished possessions.

My second wonderful moment, out of many of course, was today at the mental hospital. I was in the women´s ward and we had all been having a great time, dancing, laughing, singing and just being crazy, no pun intended. There was one particular woman that was just having a blast with us! She was carrying a journal with her and she showed me a couple of poems she had written. They were poems of strength, of hope, and courage to persevere. I was amazed. She then showed me that she had started writing her life story and she hoped that I could read it. Of course, I was unable to at that time, but I told her that she was a wonderful poet and that her poems belonged in a book for everyone to read. I totally meant every word as I was touched by the words of this woman living in a mental hospital. She said she would like that, and I told her that I believed that if she really wanted it, it could happen. Well, the clowning continued and a while later she comes up to me and puts a bookmark in my hand. She tells me it´s a gift. She said that every time I use the bookmark, it would remind me of her, and that someday I can use it when I read her book.

She might never write a book. For all I know, she may never leave that hospital, but for a moment, those few moments together, she became a writer, a poet not a mental patient. And I was blessed to be able to help make that happen with a hug and a smile and a few words of encouragement.

Wow.

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A day beyond words

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Little time and a lack of the right words make it difficult to share in a post what my first full day in this beautiful country was like for me, so a quick recap will have to suffice for now.

I slept well after being moved to a new room with my own bed.  I had been a bit uncomfortable at the thought  of having to sleep with a stranger in the same bed. The hostel is nice as far as hostels go I guess, but it is a hostel.

All the clowns met for breakfast which in itself was quite funny.  I took the liberty to strike up conversation with Patch while we both waited at the counter for our meals.  I´m not sure what I expected as my only real frame of reference was the movie version Patch, but I was amazed nonetheless.  A very tall,  relatively thin man with long blue streaked gray hair pulled into a long tail.  He commands the room by his meer presence and draws in one´s attention.  Our conversation was brief, it started with “hello, where are you from” which led directly into a glimpse of what Patch is all about, his strong activist side.  I was a bit taken aback by his strong opinions of America, which he readily shares, not in a bad way, just as a matter of course.  I guess I was expecting a joke and a laugh, so I was not sure how to respond, but I don´t think a response was needed.  Despite it all, I instantly liked the man.

The rest of the day I will very briefly describe for it would take pages to express otherwise.  We visited La Carpio Barrio.  The poorest community in Costa Rica with over 35, 000 residents mostly refugees from Nicaragua.  Theses refugees came over during seventies and now are into 2nd and 3rd generations.  Let me just say that it was definitely poor as poor as one can imagine.  Conditions that no human being should have to live in.  But, we brought lots of love and laughter.  We got lots of hugs and made lots of people happy!  I never knew how much a smile and a hug, and a silly costume,  could make such a difference in a person´s life if only for a moment.  I can not describe it, and as I sit here writing this, I am crying.  Trying to talk about it now, I feel in my heart so much emotion.  While you are in it, you tend to put aside any deep emotion so you can share the best of yourself and your love, and only now I realize how deeply touched I have been.  Wow. More on this later.

Our journey in the Barriw was led by Beth, a beutiful, most compassionate woman that heads up the Costa Rican Humanitarian Fund.  This agency does so much for the people of the Barrio.  It´s just amazing.

We had lunch at a day care that was set up by Beth´s organization.  The women cooked for us, and later they and some of the children put on a play for us about the exodus from poverty in Nicaragua into Costa Rica, which ironically is still very poor but better than what they had.

Later in the afternoon we had our first workshop, The Red Badge of Courage – The Clown and the Nose.  More on this later for you clowns out there.

We had dinner at a wonderful restaurant near the hostel.  Yummy.  Some of us walked to a small grocery store, and it was relatively early bed for me.

Oh, I need to go.  Time for breakfast.

 

Here I am in Costa Rica!

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Hey all,

This is coming to you from San Jose, Costa Rica!  I´m using the computers at the hostel we´re staying in and it´s pretty funky so excuse any typos that might occur.   The flight was good, amazing flying in to this country with all the amazing mountains.  I met up with more clowns at the airport and we all got picked up together and shuttled over.  The hostel is, well, a hostel, though the building across from the main one where my room is is much nicer.  If you´ve ever stayed at a hostel, you probably can guess what it´s like.

My room is okay.  Small, but adequate.   I am trying to switch though because right now it´s one queen size bed for 2 people.  Not real comfortable with that. I´m sure it won´t be for the other person assigned there either.  Not to complain, I can deal with everything else but same bed is a little too much for me.  So, I´ll see what comes of it.

No trip organizers are here yet so those of us here are just hanging out.  It´s been raining on and off since we landed so going somewhere doesn´t sound too pleasing. But the temperature is awesome.  Not too hot or cold!

Some of us went and got dinner at the hostel restaurant. Not too bad.  It cost me 2, 700 colons (local currency) or roughly about $5.35.  I had a good sized homemade burrito and a bottle of water.

Tomorrow we start right out with clowning in the morning in the morning and we have our first workshop in the afternoon.  Everyone is looking forward to meeting Patch.  Actually, this is not the first of these adventures for several of the folks here.  Some have gone on other trips including the Russia, Mexico and Ecuador trips.  Some of the folks have been to the workshops at the Gesundheit Institute as well.  A the few folks I´ve met, many have traveled a lot and still travel a lot.  Must be nice!

Well, gonna stop for now. Gotta get my bearings.  I´m really feeling like a fish out of water for several reasons, but I´m sure I´ll be better by tomorrow when things get spelled out more for us and hopefully I don´t have to share a bed.

Thank you again to all of you that helped make this happen!  It´s going to be great and overall it already is!

 

 

It’s time to go!!!

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So the waiting is finally over!  Tomorrow morning I’ll be on my way to Costa Rica! I still can’t believe it’s true.  I want to say THANK YOU to everyone that has been so supportive! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, and thank you to everyone that helped me out in my fund-raising efforts!  You are all wonderful!  This trip is for you and you are all with me in spirit.  You will be in my heart with every hug I give throughout this trip!  I mean that!

Ron was so kind as to set up a WordPress blog that will automatically update onto my website, http://www.shimmytheclown.com.  How cool is that?!  Now I’ll be able to post blogs about my adventures and maybe even a pic or two!  As long as I can find free wi-fi and internet access, and we have the free time to do so, I’ll do my best to share!

Your support is still appreciated.  Please continue to send positive thoughts and blessings my way for a safe and successful journey!

Off to bed…tomorrow will be an early and exciting day!

Wind-Up Toy

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Only 9 days till travel time and I feel like a wind-up toy gone out of control!   My monkey mind is wound up and going non-stop…way more than usual!  Time keeps flying by and I feel so unprepared for this trip.

There’s still lots to do!  I have lots of little necessities to purchase, trying to make sure I have all the important stuff for a trip to another country as well as all the more important things like a money belt, calling card, extra glasses, and other similar such stuff.

I’m still putting together a few goofy clown outfits to take along since full clown garb and makeup are not appropriate for the kind of up-close and personal clowning we’ll be doing.

And I still have several tasks to complete like getting a haircut, hitting the thrift stores, the bank for a bit of appropriate currency, and as much as I hate to go there…Walmart which right now has the prices I can most likely afford!

Oh, and then there’s packing….oh gosh that’s usually a big production when I go on a weekend stint.  Imagine how it will be for a week in Costa Rica!  I cheddar to think about it!

And of course, this is all to be fit in somewhere in between working, pet sitting, helping with henna gigs, taking care of my ailing mom & making sure she’s set for a week without me, dance rehearsal in Sarasota, and of course, just taking care of house and home and my own critters before I go!

Did I mention I only have 9 days to go?!

Sheesh! Tired and wired! Ain’t no winding down for this toy!

My How Time Flies!

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As of today, it’s exactly two weeks before Costa Rica.  It’s just around the corner, and I still sounds too good to be true when I say it.

I’m still not completely ready for this, still have vaccines to get, necessary things to buy and the balance due to pay.  And of course, making sure all is caught up here at home including making sure my mom has all she’ll need while I’m gone.  She’s not been very healthy the past few months and I’ve pretty much have moved into the caretaker role with her.

So, I’m still a bit frazzled as the clock ticks away and I still have so much to do!  I’m sure the organizer is already tired of hearing from me as I’m continually asking questions.  It’s the anal side of me trying to make sure I know everything in advance so I can be prepared for everything. Crazy I know, but it’s me.

On the other hand, I’ve already “met” some of the other individuals going on the trip.  And, like me, everyone is anxious and excited!  It seems like quite the varied group so far.  I’m guessing many are younger than me, many much more traveled.  Many have not clowned before, most are first timers to a Patch Adams trip like me, for a couple others this is the second Patch trip this year! Several are coming from other countries like Australia, Sweden and Switzerland, and many are extending their trips either in Costa Rica or elsewhere.  But, the cool thing is that we all have the same goal…humanitarian work with the fun of clowning!

Despite the stress now as I continue to fundraise and get ready, I know it will pay off in the end.  It will.  Thank you again to everyone that has so generously helped me get this far.  Please continue share my journey with others.  It is appreciated.