About Tracy MacDonald

A joyful Mama, Wife, writer, photographer, mixed-media artist, and seeker of beauty on this amazing journey.

Magical Moments Lately

A wall in downtown Tegucigalpa that resembles a patchwork quilt.

In the face of country-wide drought and humanitarian issues in Honduras, I ‘ve begun to collect heart-warming moments and short stories to lift our spirits. I hope you enjoy them, too.

Buenas Dias: It’s early morning, and although I cannot see the street, I know the guard is standing outside. The familiar shape of his thickly-soled shoes obscures the thin space of light beneath the door. He is waiting for coffee. As I click the lock and open the door, his toothy grin beams in response to the mug I hand him. He sees me unvarnished- barefoot, half awake, in pj’s with unbrushed hair. His wide smile is contagious, his gratitude evident, and I am thankful for this happy exchange.


Gossamer Wings: A lovely, grand, and shimmering moth with irridescent purples and rich browns shared her beauty with us for the better part of a day.


A Wishing Tree: Playing outdoors, Ramsay and I noticed something electric blue in our banana tree. Brad climbed a ladder so we could take a closer look. After some research, we discovered this is called a Traveler’s Tree (how appropriate for our lifestyle)!  Its origins are traced to Madagascar, where it is believed this is a wishing tree that can fulfill your wildest dreams and desires!  (We did ask the tree for rain… and it came in sheets later that day after a long, brittle dry spell….perhaps a coincidence, or maybe sheer magic)?


A  Light in the Darkness:  I was truly inspired by “Pixeles De Vida,” an impactful photography exhibit captured by Honduran students ages 15-23 years old. Their pictures showcase hope and good works in Rivera Hernandez; historically, one of the most violent and crime-riddled communities in the country. These particular images and uplifting stories stood out to me:

*Pixeles de Vida is a project funded by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.


Finding a Lost Treasure: While having coffee with friends, I happened upon a misplaced journal. In efforts to find its owner, I flipped through the pages. No contact information was found, but I haven’t given up. For this woman whose nineteen year old dreams in 1999 were to “find beauty in everything” and “become a dancer,” I would love to meet her and remind this (now forty-something) woman of her travels with friends and beautiful personal journey.


A Sea Offering: On a recent jaunt to El Salvador, I walked slowly along a tranquil expanse of fine, dark-brown, volcanic sand that sparkled like gold in the afternoon sun. The ebbing tide left behind intricate snail tracks and a lacey ribbon of foam. Wading in and out of the surf’s edge, I lifted up intermittent pieces of broken shells to study them. Near an outcropping of rocks, I stopped to listen to the water echo in its caverns. Glancing behind me, only my path of meandering footprints marked the surface. Moments later, right at my feet, lay a perfect, beautiful sand dollar, like an offering from the sea.

 

May there be magical moments in your days.

-Tracy

 

 

Showing Up for Yourself

Not unlike many Foreign Service families, we traveled this summer to soak up quality time with loved ones. Wanting to take advantage of being back in the states, we stayed busy. Days were full of celebrating with yummy meals, museum visits, outdoor activities, creative pursuits, exploration, and play dates.

But while giving our active seven year-old the kind of amazing summer I wanted us to have, I frequently made less-than-healthy choices for myself. Mindful eating, writing, and yoga practices became obsolete. I tossed out my personal barriers easily, right along with the ticket stubs and latte receipts.

When I was younger, this didn’t seem to affect me much. But in my forties, perhaps unsurprisingly, I came home after weeks of summering feeling fulfilled, but also frustrated. In some ways, I hadn’t shown up for myself. My body felt wrecked, and I was disappointed that I hadn’t said yes to committing to my personal goals.

The school year resumed, and I took steps toward a healthier, more centered existence, but I wanted something to hold onto in the future that would allow for all the fun and the showing up, especially when far from home. But what was the answer?

Do you ever feel the universe is trying to tell you something? Like a higher power is saying, Hey! Could you pay attention this time, Please?” Three times in one morning, I heard the same, clear message: Show Up.

I made my favorite French tea, pasted a few images into a vision board, and read pages of Rachel Hollis’ book, “Girl, Wash Your Face,“in which she emphasized the importance of showing up  and keeping commitments for ourselves as we do for others. She asked, “would you keep hanging out with a friend always flaking out on you?”  To summarize the response: no, you wouldn’t. Commit to your dreams and goals and treat yourself as well as you do everyone else in your orbit.  Good reminder, I thought.

I had recently signed up for, but not completed, Meghan Genge’s “Magical Morning” E-Course. When I opened her email (nine days after it arrived), her message was clear: “Continue to show up for yourself. Every morning. Because magic will start to happen when you start your day mindfully.”  Hmmm. Twice I’ve heard this today.  I worked out what my morning ritual would be: light a candle, tap a singing bowl, set priorities for the day, write in my journal, and stretch.

When I opened a recommended video called “Yoga with Adrienne,” sure enough, in the introduction she said, “Show up, even if you’re tired. Commit to dedicating to your yoga practice for yourself.” Ok, universe, now you have my attention.

Once I returned to a daily ritual and carved out time for exercise and reflection, that was it! The answer was clear: a morning routine that took all of 30 minutes and made all of the difference. I still straightened the house, typed out my carefully-calculated word count, ran errands, made appointments, and planned and prepped dinner. Some days, I was even busier than while on our jam-packed summer break, but the key was that I also factored in mindfulness. I showed up for myself and the universe came knocking with its gentle reminders.

Do you have a morning routine or a way of showing up for yourself? What tools do you use to commit to your personal goals and make your way back to center?

So much abundance to you,

Tracy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beautiful Broken

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I am a silver-lining seeker. I embrace the positives and look for enchantment, of which Honduras has plenty. The first few months in a new country are like dating, figuring out the cultural nuances, the moods, likes and dislikes. Overall, we enjoy it here. The people are kind. You can’t beat this consistently pleasant climate. Villages  are charming and the coastal regions are stunningly beautiful.

This morning is gorgeous. A cool breeze flows in through the open windows. Our garden is a little sanctuary of birds and flowers. An unexpected sunflower has grown from scattered birdseed and the cactus is blooming.

Yet, I feel a little panic rising. Although there is no imminent threat, there have been bouts of political upheaval these last couple of months, stemming from the controversial Presidential election in December of 2017. Recently, teachers and doctors have had their tenures revoked and were fired. This comes on the heels of the President’s brother being indicted for drug and fraud charges, spurring objection to the current administration. Although most incidents are peaceful here, I think about Easter week, where the mayor’s residence was burned down, looting shattered store fronts, and a vigilante-style shooting occurred. It was an anomaly. But it happened. (BBC Article).

Although our residence is like a fortress, I admit to being a little anxiety-riddled after the bombings during our time in Egypt. Rarely is any of the violence against Westerners. It’s just the potential that we could be caught up in the collateral damage that scares me. It’s the not-knowing and apprehension of what could happen if protests turn into no-kidding uprising. My heart beats faster, my breathing feels more shallow in response to hearing sirens, persistent honking, and the thud of tear gas being deployed in the distance. Helicopters are circling, perhaps the news or the police. Citizens passionately chant “Fuera JOH! (President Juan Orlando Hernandez).

Emails and texts are pinging my phone: “Planned manifestations could shut the city down and cause road closures and blockades. Try not to use your vehicle. Businesses may close.” A little fearmongering starts to spread on social media within the well-intentioned local community, spinning me up even more. Photos are shared of buses blocking highways, smoke rising from burning tires, hordes of people marching in the streets, held at bay by police in raid gear. I concentrate with laser-focus on the echoes of loud pops and cracking sounds outside. Logically, I know its just fireworks used by protesters to annoy police, but my body reacts as if they are gun shots and goes into fight or flight syndrome.

My mind starts emergency planning. Should I rush to fill my car with petrol so we can evacuate if necessary? Can I get to my child at school through the protests? (My thoughts recall my husband’s gentle voice during the incidents in Cairo- “I know this goes against your instincts, but please don’t try to be a hero and try to get to him. He’s safer at school.”) But I want to go get him. Right now! And cuddle him in and protect him.

Do I have enough water and food in our safe haven? Should I run to the store to load up on groceries in case it’s impossible to get there tomorrow? Most of this is unlikely, but after 3 posts in developing countries, we’ve experienced situations that arise and escalate quickly. Living overseas has its ups and downs.

April was hard with Brad out of town for work. Protests started along with the rainy season, which brought water leaks. School was cancelled and Ramsay and I had cabin fever. During Easter, I was homesick, not sleeping well, and missing family and close friends. I went into my shell, miserable and scared and wanting not this. And to be not here. There were moments of wanting to cut bait and choose safety. Brad, always supportive, kindly said, “Go. Take Ramsay and go to the States for a while.” I was tempted, but I felt like leaving would be giving up on our family somehow, and not giving our new country a chance. Maybe I was just over-reacting, I told myself. We’re still adjusting to living here, I deliberated. But in the end, I couldn’t justify taking Rams out of school long-term.

A peaceful week passed, and life was back to normal. A friend and I ventured out to view museums and churches. I love the historic center downtown, especially the old post office. On the day we visited, there was a strong police presence, and a lot of political graffiti, but it was quiet and I felt safe. The pretty architecture and care put into these exhibits gave me hope for Honduras.

Last weekend, our family traveled to Lago de Yajoa, where it is tranquil. On a birding tour, I was elated to be immersed in nature and see its picturesque creatures, landscapes, and fields of lilies.  I remind myself to keep looking for the magical moments like these that wait around the next corner.

This is life in a beautiful, but broken country.  Honduras and I will continue this journey together, one day at a time, alternating from heads to tails on this two-sided coin of yin and yang.

Peace and Light, 

Tracy