Monday, April 26, 2010

A Fabulous Costa Rican Getaway

On Saturday, April 24, 2010, I had a delightful mini-adventure in Costa Rica. It started with a leisurely stroll to the weekly farmer's market with my friends Mike and Maribel. We picked up their neighbor and friend Joe, a native New Yorker, on the way. This was as much of a social event dedicated to mingling with friends and neighbors, as an opportunity to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. An hour after returning to Mike and Maribel's house, we headed out for a short road trip. Joe prides himself on being a champion tour guide … and when a man from the U.S. is able to show a Costa Rican a few beautiful destinations for the first time in her life … he has the goods.

About 15 minutes after piling into Joe's SUV, we drove through nearby Cartago, which is the first capital of Costa Rica. We then headed to the charming little town of Paraiso and stopped at the ICT Park, where we took in a beautiful panoramic view of the Orosi Valley. Next, was a drive into the Orosi Valley through picturesque coffee plantations. We stopped at the oldest church in the country, where community residents were dressing Jesus and preparing for a small festival. A few minutes after climbing back into the car, we were observing people walking across the nearby hanging hammock pedestrian bridge situated over the Orosi river, before heading to another coffee plantation. We then cruised down a lovely road before reaching La Casona del Cafeta for a cup of Costa Rican coffee and decadent fruit crepes. Next on our agenda was the rustic cabin where a man named Miguel works. Since coffee plants are replaced every few years, Miguel discovered an artistic way to recycle them. He carves a myriad of faces and statues out of the roots and sells them to intrigued tourists.

Once we were close to the intimate Tres Rios community where my tour guides reside, we stopped at one of the most glorious churches I've seen! We then had a lovely meal before ending the evening with an American television program. Ah … such is life in a third-world country. I will be meeting new business associates this week and am anticipating a glorious visit to Mike and Maribel's Finca (land) in Golfito next weekend.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let's Make Austin a NO KILL City and Stop the Madness

We have an incredible opportunity to stop the killing cycle at Town Lake Animal Shelter, and make Austin’s shelter safe for lost and homeless animals. Thousands of sweet-natured, loving dogs and cats are killed every year, and it is unnecessary. Please support the No Kill plan by writing letters to the City Council and letting them know that the lives of Austin's homeless pets are worth saving! Austin Pets Alive! (APA) is an incredible organization that has developed a plan that will help. APA is an action-oriented rescue organization with many devoted volunteers, fosters, adopters, and donors. The people making this organization a success saved the lives of 3,500 companion animals in 18 months.

On Thursday, March 11th, at 10am at City Hall, City Council will vote on the Implementation Plan to increase live animal outcomes at Town Lake Animal Center. APA developed a plan proposing that the organization operate a Comprehensive Adoption Program at Town Lake Animal Center, which will result in saving 3,750 lives. That number is currently dying at TLAC on a yearly basis. Please support these changes for our community's homeless pets. I hope to see some of you at the meeting!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Austin's Got Comedic Talent

Need some stage performance and sketch writing techniques to develop your FronteraFest masterpiece? Then gear up for a fun-filled improvisational theater workshop. Austin has experienced an explosion of edgy, avant garde theater on the east side over the past decade. A mix of gentrification and brave artistic directors began transforming “up-and-coming” areas into creative outlets. The Salvage Vanguard Theater at 2803 Manor Road, embraces “high-quality artistic experiences that foster experimentation and conversation”. It also offers improv classes. A few blocks away, ColdTowne Theater, 4803-B Airport Blvd., prides itself on its “live improv, sketch, and stand-up comedy”. Downtown locations also expand ideas. Check out The Institution Theater, which is affiliated with Esther's Follies and taught by a 20-year veteran improviser and former Second City instructor. Don't miss the weekly jam at the Hideout Theater, 617 Congress Avenue. Every Tuesday, from 7-10 pm, local players gather there. You will be encouraged to jump on stage and develop your improvisational prowess with improv games. The secret is out. This town is not just about the music anymore! Oh, and don't forget to take your curtain call.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Interested in One of Austin's Best Kept Secrets?

Break a Leg for this One

Okay. So, it's dark. You slowly creep through the black space, hoping not to bump into anything. As soon as you reach the designated spot, bright lights shine on your face. It's time to deliver your first line. You feel nervous, yet exhilarated. This is your first Hyde Park Theatre FronteraFest performance at 511 W. 43rd Street. Although it is entering its 17th season, many long-time Austin residents are unaware of this collaborative project between this intimate little theater and Austin Script Works. The five-week-long competition was originally launched to discover new works from local playwrights. Seasoned and brand-spanking-new artists are encouraged to develop off-beat, alternative work under 25 minutes for the “Short Fringe” and no longer than 90 minutes for “Long Fringe” acts. It's a unique opportunity for theatrical thrill seekers. Wanna explore your inner-actor? Visit for information on how to apply and perform in the upcoming season. You can also review a video recap of previous award winners.

It's going on now ... so get your tickets!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Calling all Animal Lovers

I am excited to be launching a new blog with my three-legged rescue dog in an effort to get information out about the incredible nonprofit rescue organizations in Austin and other areas of the country. If you'd like to meet my little guy, check out Blogging with Buddy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Is Creativity work?

My Tripod Productions business partner, Steve, is a creative light switch. He is able to turn it on when taking daily walks near Zilker Park and Auditorium Shores. That's where the idea for developing the audio program of his published book, A Movie A Day, was ignited. He is often inspired at the oddest moments. That is an admirable ability, in my opinion-- especially since I have been taking my own little creative journey with The Artist's Way, developed by Julia Cameron. I am working through Chapter 8 now … and enjoy the reawakening of my own creative spirit. Has anyone out there had unique moments with their creative side? Where does creativity come from? What inspires you?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Surviving the Hot Yoga Challenge

It was the summer of 2003, when my very fit new neighbor encouraged me to join her at your favorite hot spot. We drove to Anderson and Shoal Creek, threw towels on our yoga mats and launched into my first Bikram yoga session. Theresa, our instructor, was the owner and director of Yogagroove at the time. I held on pretty well until we reached the 72nd minute in this 90-minute practice. Something within my psyche caused my body to start crawling toward the washroom door, which was five feet away from my mat. I had to hold myself back from shoving my nose under it, to suck in the tiny air-conditioned breeze on the other side of the door. I amazed myself when I returned for another few days, forcing my body to move through the practice. I then visited a studio closer to my home. Bodhi Yoga, on San Gabriel, had a great, laid back vibe and a very hot room. To push myself, I decided to take the 60-day challenge. What is the 60-day challenge? Well, at that time, it was a major commitment to take a hot, 90-minute yoga class at the studio for 60 consecutive days. It was exhilarating on one day and exhausting the next. I alternated between being energized at times and a couch potato at others. However, as I progressed, I noticed a variety of changes in my body. Postures that had seemed impossible to sustain for more than 20 seconds, became effortless to hold for 60 seconds. My flexibility increased as my muscles miraculously held my leg in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time. It was wonderful. Then, on the last day of my 60-day challenge, I heard a strange click emanate from inside my right knee during the toe stand asana (posture). That's the type of thing that happens in my world. I injured my knee and had to take two months off! I still enjoy the benefits of Bikram yoga, and have been practicing at the new Bikram Yoga Downtown studio, on Pressler, since it's grand opening last summer. If you are interested in learning about the studio owner, Mardy Chen (photographed above), check out the austinwoman article I wrote about her at: Consider visiting one of the Bikram yoga studios in town to improve your health, strength, and flexibility. I know many of you have some resolutions looking you in the eye ...