Single Mom Traveling: Central Valley, Costa Rica

The phrase ‘single mom traveling’ does have a lovely ring to it, but upon my daughter’s birth, I was utterly devastated by the thought that it would be impossible to continue my traveling ways with my child. But like the seasons- thoughts, possibilities and people change. After a year and a half of settling into motherhood, I discovered that traveling as a single mom with my nineteen month old by my side, was not impossible after all. Our very first trip was to Costa Rica for 35 days. We visited five different locations starting with the Central Valley, then on to the Caribbean Coast, the Northern Central Valley and finally to the Pacific Coast. We encountered many hours of travel, new places to adapt to and unforgettable memories.

I think that traveling remains in a child’s psyche and shapes their character in a conscientious and positive way. I saw it first-hand how truly positive the experience was for my daughter Natalia and I plan to continue traveling as much as we can. Natalia was ecstatic when we would finally arrive to our new destination after hours of travel. She would check out our new home and say “Natalia’s house” and we would both gracefully ease into every new destination and travel situation that we encountered.

The Central Valley was the first place we settled for seven days. I wanted to see where in Costa Rica we would possibly like to settle down for a year or two in the future. I would be teaching and dabbling in real estate and Natalia would be getting a bilingual education and basking in the sun. I was pining for the beach, but I did not want to limit my options to just the beach. Most of the jobs in Costa Rica are in the Central Valley and I wanted to get to know the Central Valley first hand so that I could compare my experiences once I ventured out to the coasts. I also wanted to see what would be more enjoyable as well as practical for the both of us, with a good job market, good schools and a kid-friendly atmosphere. I would then decide on the best option for my toddler daughter- discovering life and growing, and for me- a teacher, world traveler and fun-loving single mother.

The Central Valley is a massive area with many cities including San Jose, Heredia and Alajuela. When I was researching these cities, I was getting advice from people and from the internet to avoid them. I have never been to Central or South America. I did not want to overwhelm myself with a big Central American city, while I would already be overwhelmed with my small travel companion. If I were traveling single or with friends, I would gladly check out the big sprawling cities, but with a child, I felt that I should be more low-key. I wanted a homey small town feel with a two bedroom place and a kitchen so that Natalia and I would get acclimated to living daily life in the Central Valley like the locals.

We chose a small village in the country hills called Pan de Azucar which means ‘sugar bread’ in Spanish. Pan de Azucar is in the outskirts of a cozy little town called Atenas. Atenas has a central park in the center and is surrounded by quaint family run businesses and restaurants called Sodas. Atenas has a simple cathedral, Tico-style residential homes and rolling mountain ranges in the background. It is a mellow town, with kid-friendly shops, including a candy shop, toy shop and a delicious bakery right across from the park. It had treats that Natalia loved to eat, like the carrot bread. Atenas also boasts that it has “the best climate in the world”, which was the deal breaker for me. There is something very wholesome and exclusive about the “best climate in the world” and I wanted me and my baby girl to experience it.

After many dedicated nights of research, I found a cozy two-bedroom house on-line through a comprehensive website that rents vacation homes by owner. In my opinion, when staying for longer periods of time and traveling with children, a home type of environment is the best option. The property where we rented our house is Japanese owned and is called ‘Casa de Megumi’. In Spanish and Japanese, it means ‘House of Blessing’. ‘Casa’ means house in Spanish and ‘megumi’ means blessing in Japanese. Finding a Japanese run vacation rental in Costa Rica was a great coincidence for me because of my recent Japanese-oriented past. I lived in Japan for a year and a half, was pregnant in Japan for five months, and it was the last place I traveled to before going to Costa Rica. Since I have a profound fascination with all things Japanese, Casa de Megumi was automatically kindred to me. Moreover, once I got to know the earnestly helpful owner of the property, Hisano Bell, a Japanese woman from Yokohama, I knew in my gut that Casa de Megumi was the right place for us to start our Costa Rica adventure.

Hisano became like a travel guardian-angel for us in the Central Valley. Even before we arrived to Costa Rica, Hisano and I were in constant contact. She had all sorts of provisions made for us, like getting our groceries before we landed. When I sent Hisano my gorcery list, I forgot to put coffee on the list but Hisano provides local Costa Rican coffee for her guests; I did not even have to worry about that. On the evening we arrived, we enjoyed a traditional Tico meal that Hisano arranged for us with the cook at Casa de Megumi. Hisano’s thoughtfulness was endless. She would even drive us into town occasionally and offer knowledgeable travel tips, like where to exchange money for the best rate. That is what I call Japanese service and hospitality. The Japanese people pride themselves on how well they serve others. When I was living in Japan, I learned a lot about providing sincere quality services to my clients, students and anyone I chose to help, paid or not. These same qualities of good service that I observed in Japan were the same qualities that Hisano shared with us. The coincidence of Casa de Megumi was a true blessing.

Come to think of it, more coincidences followed at our stay at Casa de Megumi. I view these coincidences as omens or as indications that even though I was traveling to an unknown land with a child all alone, these omens were like familiarities along our journey, to make us feel secure and like we were on the right path. I am a huge fan of Paolo Coehlo’s philosophies and I am spiritual, so for me the pleasant coincidences at Casa de Megumi were magical and welcomed at every step.

On the Casa de Megumi property we stayed at Casa Verde, a pristinely clean and newly remodeled two bedroom house with all the amenities, access to fertile gardens with avocado trees, magnificent central valley views and a sparkling pool. Hisano lives in Casa Grande, the other house on the property with her family. I was totally enamored by Hisano’s mother. She is an elderly woman with graceful mannerisms and always dressed in traditional Japanese regalia. Natalia and Hisano’s dog, Jon-Jon were pretty much inseparable during our entire stay at Casa de Megumi. It felt like we had an automatic pet upon arrival and it was heartwarming to see my daughter creating a bond and caring for an animal. She had many more opportunities to be in contact and care for animals throughout our trip in Costa Rica. Animals and pets are part of an integrated and populated mix in Costa Rica. Kids love animals and that is one major reason that makes Costa Rica so kid-appropriate and fun.

One of the perks of staying at Casa de Megumi was getting to know Hisano’s family and having the traditional Japanese dinner at Hisano’s house. Hisano prepared an array of tempura, miso soup and mochi for dessert. Hisano offers this unique hospitality to guests who stay at Casa de Megumi for three nights or longer. It was a an exquisite treat to be in Costa Rica in the tropical mountains, having a traditional Japanese meal with a Japanese family, overlooking the vistas of the lush central valley- an experience of a life time really.

Another striking coincidence at Casa de Megumi was when I was looking for a trustworthy and good- hearted babysitter to care for Natalia, while I would be out interviewing or working at home. Hisano introduced me to Stella. As soon as she said the name ‘Stella’, again it brought up Japan in my mind. My delightfully dynamic Australian roommate in Japan was named Stella. Stella took great care of me when I was pregnant for the first five months. She went with me to every doctor’s appointment and to emergency rooms in the middle of the night if I thought there was something wrong. She was always watching out for me, buying delicious food and always being there for me and my little bump during our fun and crazy times in Tokyo. It was a striking coincidence to hear that Natalia’s potential babysitter in the Central Valley would be named Stella.

The Costa Rican Stella was not only Natalia’s babysitter but also the cook at Casa de Megumi. Stella makes traditional Tico meals with rice, beans, salad and a protein and an incredible vegetable soup. When guests at Casa de Megumi don’t feel like cooking, they can order a casado from Stella. Her food was fresh, authentic and made with love. After eating Stella’s homemade food, meeting her and spending some time with her, I knew she would be great with Natalia. She conveniently lived across the street and she would come over with her grand-daughters and care for Natalia while I was out interviewing or busy working at home. When Stella was unavailable, her daughter who was also coincidentally named Natalia and who was also a single mom, came to help out. Having Stella and her family over and getting to know them, instantly made me feel part of the community in Pan de Azucar. We were getting to know the locals and it made the adapting process familiar and easy.

Natalia and I would go out for long walks along the country road and we would meet the local farmers and spend time with them while they grazed their cows. At first we would get timid waves but eventually the locals got used to us taking walks, snapping pictures at every turn and going to the few markets in the village. We also took the 80 cent local bus on occasion down to the town of Atenas. After a while the faces on the bus became more familiar and friendly, and easy to converse with. Everyone was extremely helpful on the bus. If I had too many bags, Natalia and the stroller, people would carry my stroller in for me so that I could settle us in quickly and be on our way. On the whole, people in the Central Valley love children and are extremely respectful, helpful and tolerant of mothers and their children. I would have to say, the majority of venues in Central Valley that we visited were child-friendly. In my experience and from what I have read, mothers traveling with children are a priority in Costa Rica. Natalia and I felt very welcomed and cherished in all the parts of Costa Rica and particularly the Central Valley.

I had one great concern before going to the Central Valley with Natalia and that was, should I rent a car? I did a lot of research that said a car is not necessary. This may be true if you want to stay in one location, like the beach town Samara, where everything is accessible by foot or by a bike ride, but in Atenas, a car was definitely necessary. I was a little weary of this because of the serpentine roads that are at times unpaved or inches from cascading cliffs. For a single mom with a 19 month old in the back, it did leave a little lump in my throat. After all my research, I decided to ask Hisano about whether I should rent a car. Renting a car in Costa Rica can be quite expensive because of the insurance, which is usually as much as the car rental itself. Hisano said that maybe the better and more economical option would be to just hire a driver; and she recommended her driver Carlos. Carlos was extremely reliable and a total blast to chat and tour with. It was actually more economical to hire Carlos and his car than to rent a car and it was an ideally comfortable situation for us. Carlos took us everywhere our hearts desired, equipped with a safe car seat for Natalia. I spoke both Spanish and English with Carlos because he is bilingual. He is a local and has immense knowledge of the area. He gave us impromptu tours and treated us to some very good ginger candy.

The places that Natalia and I both enjoyed in the Central Valley were the Doka Estate Coffee Plantation and Butterfly Garden, and the renowned Zoo Ave. At the coffee plantation we took a tour, learned about coffee production, ate a delicious traditional Tico lunch and after lunch we visited the butterfly garden, all for under thirty dollars. Natalia loved the Butterfly Garden and she was very well-behaved and attentive when mommy was indulging in all the coffee knowledge and in all the coffee. Carlos even gave Natalia chocolate covered coffee beans. I know this is not as tolerable in the US, but in Costa Rica I have spoken to people who mix a small amount of coffee with milk and give it to their toddlers on occasion. I thought ‘when in Rome…’ and allowed Natalia to enjoy some coffee treats. I associate it with allowing Natalia to drink chocolate milk once in a while. She experienced no adverse reactions just a purely good time.

Zoo Ave is another place that fascinated us both. It is not a traditional zoo but a very large refuge for local rescued animals. Zoo Ave is high in the mountains with exotic animals like pumas, monkeys and sloths and thousands of exotic plants. Natalia took a long nap after discovering all the animals while I sat and took in the sights and jungle sounds. Across the street from Zoo Ave is a well-renowned resort called Resort Martino. I researched and visited the resort and it seemed pristine. Resort Martino is kid friendly, fifteen minutes away from the airport and another great option to consider when staying in the Central Valley with kids.

The Central Valley of Costa Rica was truly a picture-perfect first destination to settle in before hitting the beaches. The Central Valley had many fun activities that kept us busy discovering, but in a relaxed atmosphere at Casa de Megumi, which was safe and perfect for my daughter. In the afternoon, I would go on a few interviews in Heredia and Alajuela or we would take an excursion with Carlos or we would play at the pool. In the evenings, we would have our neighbors over or settle in for the night having dinner, skyping with our loved ones, bath time, story time and bed time; just like at home. We would wake up in the early morning and go straight to the hammock to take our time waking up and to take in the sounds of exotic birds and roosters, to be enveloped in pure nature and to enjoy the best climate in the world. Pura vida.

Our next stop was Manzanillo de Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast. This was the second part of our Costa Rica journey. A kindred spirit of mine came to join us on that leg of the trip and I will get more into that in the upcoming third part of this article series called Single Mom Traveling: Manzanillo de Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.

Emotional Disorders and Fictional Stories – Four Viewpoints Travelled

External fictional stories mimic how your internal emotional system works. When your mind travels through a fictional story, in a book or at the movies, it shifts you through four viewpoints without your being consciously aware of it.

The four viewpoints you travel through when going through an external story or an internal emotional journey are:

  • the Objective viewpoint
  • the Subjective viewpoint
  • the Acceptable viewpoint arguing for the ‘acceptable’ solution (which you believe will lead to mental and emotional Congruence)
  • the Unacceptable viewpoint arguing for the ‘unacceptable’ solution (which you currently believe is the cause of your mental and emotional Ambivalence).

If you are consciously aware of the journey through these viewpoints when observing an external story you are probably either a student of fictional story structure, a critic, or feel the writer of the fictional story is not very good at their job. To get full enjoyment from a fictional story you need to be carried along and willing to ‘suspend your disbelief’ long enough to travel the story journey as if it were real.

If you are struggling with an emotional disorder, however, the reverse is the case. You need to be consciously fully aware of these four viewpoints in order to stop the negatively charged internal stories currently running you. They may have the power of conveying a sense of reality but the truth is they are nothing more than emotionally charged internal stories. You need to become writer of your own internal experience to heal from them.

A person with a phobia or obsession is being dominated by an incomplete story running through their body. The only thing you need do in order to complete such an internal story is travel through the four viewpoints enough times in order to fully discharge the emotional energy attached to it. Unfortunately this is not a simple mental exercise – it is a very difficult physical experience.

The most effective way to travel through these viewpoints is to begin discharging the energy (not by trying to think your way out of it). Shifts in viewpoint are created this way – through ‘feeling’. In order to do this you take your conscious point of focus into the centre of your feelings much like you would first have to go to a cinema if you intended to watch a movie.

Just a caveat here – make sure you have a professional support network in place (eg doctor; counsellor) before you decide you are going to start going towards your inner internal negatively charged stories. When working on internal stories not only do you watch your own ‘movie’ you also play all the characters involved at the emotional level.

We enjoy fictional stories, and other similar external journeys, because they mimic the full experiential path we follow when we produce and release an emotional response in relation to a real or imagined triggering event. External fictional stories allow us to do this while staying in control of how emotionally involved we become with their theme.

Think of a fictional story you really enjoyed. You enjoyed it more than others due to the degree of emotional satisfaction you gained. The story built your emotional responses up (with your co-operation) and then provided the means for emotional release by story end.

We deliberately avoid external fictional stories where we judge they will either produce no emotional content for us whatsoever or they will produce emotions so intense we will not be able to release our response by story end.

Unfortunately when dealing with a trapped and incomplete internal stories they are usually the kinds of story we would not wish to observe in the outside world.

Let us take a closer look at the four viewpoints now, but as we do I would like you to keep in mind – I just realised this while writing and it may do your head in a bit – we will travel through the four viewpoints while looking at the four viewpoints. It is holographic in nature, this viewpointy thingy.

The Objective Viewpoint

The Objective Viewpoint is the most peaceful viewpoint of the four – you feel emotionally neutral here – when you do not feel peaceful here it is because you have tipped over into the Subjective Viewpoint.

The Objective Viewpoint actually appears twice in the viewpoint cycle – at the beginning and after the cycle is completed – so we could say there are actually five viewpoints with the first viewpoint being the pre-story Objective Viewpoint and the fifth viewpoint being the post-story Objective Viewpoint.

In the post-story Objective Viewpoint you have completed the external or internal story journey and the overall Objective Viewpoint has been changed.

The Objective Viewpoint has you sitting on a hill looking down on the story battle ground like a proud military general. As you watch the different characters below struggling to fight it out you have a current opinion of who should win and who should lose based on moral arguments – in fictional stories main characters act as representatives of arguments in a theme (in internal emotional turmoil you are struggling with these arguments in the state known as ambivalence).

You are distanced from events. As the story unfolds you develop a logically stepped understanding of the whole picture and are able to work with expectancy in regard to what should happen next to the characters and arguments involved..

You may understand the motivations of each side of the argument but you know one of the arguments has to surrender its hold and the other must win. If this is not achieved in an external fictional story you expect to see a sequel ensuring it is later – or you class the story as a bad story.

If this story completion does not happen in regard to an internal emotional story you remain stuck in crippling tension until it does. You are emotionally blocked.

With fictional stories you sit in judgement at the end as to whether or not the outcome was appropriate given the different paths of cause and affect. If you find the story outcome does not match your current moral framework you change your framework or again judge the story a bad story.

When you have an internal, unresolved emotional issue you believe just will not complete, as your current Objective Viewpoint wants it to, you may do likewise and also declare it ‘bad’. My experience of being someone who once suffered with obsessions and phobias, and of working with others who have had similarly intense emotional problems, is not only do we declare the individual internal story bad – we believe our entire emotional system is bad. We go to war on ourselves over it without realising that in the majority of our experiences our emotional system is working just fine.

Your Objective Viewpoint of a thing, of anything, is fed both by your left logical neo-cortex and also your pattern making right neo-cortex.

Time-Out for Emotional Disorder Sufferers: The Data Stripping Process

If you suffer with an emotional problem, or are trying to help someone who is, the following six short paragraphs may be some of the most important paragraphs you ever read:

The job of your left logical neo-cortex is to organise unemotional information in chronological order and link it up to other unemotionally charged informational structures in your brain. To make sense and meaning of it, and then to let it go and stop paying attention to it.

Your brain must make sure this process is completed in order to let go of an emotional experience. This information is then stored in your unemotional memories for reference purposes later. To help this process your left neo-cortex is able to ‘name’ the data and record the data chronologically.

‘Naming’ the data means your logical brain is able to put a fence round it. It is the difference between looking at a glass of water you believe you control and looking at a choking fog you believe controls you. We call it ‘fog’ and we instantly feel differently about it. Does this make sense?

If you cannot name a thing your logical brain will repeatedly ask the rest of your brain to look at it because until you are able to fence it in like this your logical brain cannot deal with it and you will not be able to let go of the experience – you will keep experiencing it until you can fence it in in this way.

The job of your right patterning neo-cortex is to strip emotional energy from your emotionally charged experiential scenes and then transfer emotionless data over to your logical neo-cortex so it can organise it logically.

By moving your Conscious Point of Focus either towards a pattern (image) held in your right neo-cortex, or towards a trapped emotional response held in your body (towards intense feeling) you immediately start triggering this emotional stripping and data transfer process. Once the emotional stripping; data transfer; naming and storing process is complete an emotional disorder is removed because the different parts of your brain will stop paying attention to it.

OK – back to the Objective Viewpoint:

At the point the full model of a story has been built in your logical mind, and experienced by your pattern creating emotional mind to the point it no longer finds experiential enjoyment in the story, you have completed the journey and achieved a different Objective Viewpoint which becomes set. You now ‘let go’ of the story.

I was a teenager when the movie Star Wars first came out. I saw it at the cinemas six times in as many weeks – first as an individual and then because all my friends were going to see it. After the sixth time I no longer wished to see it. Emotionally it was ‘bone dry’ for me by then. I saw a re-run a couple of months ago and all I could think was how the flashing lights on the walls of the Millennium Falcon spaceship looked like pointless flashing plastic lights. And I realised that was what they were. A very different experience from when I went to see the movie those six times!

This process exactly matches the process you go through when working to remove obsessions and phobias through exposure therapy.

You do not consciously control this process – it occurs as a side-effect of the way in which our attention system works. In order to complete the process you just ‘go to the movies’ – especially those now showing in your nearest emotional world.

Regardless of how intense or problematic your own internal emotional issues may be they operate in this way. You will see this in others when they have a fixed opinion changed by external forces and then resettle into a new opinion (by the way, if we were to say they should think more flexibly before they changed that would be our own Objective Viewpoint talking!).

The Objective viewpoint exists as the norm until something happens to pressure it into changing. So let us have something happen to you. Let us have your partner, the one you have been married to for ten years without any sign of trouble, ask for a divorce.

The Subjective Viewpoint

In a fictional story it does not make much difference to you that various characters have different Objective Viewpoints – that is what drives the tension in a story. But when the Objective viewpoints held by others drive them to radically affect your future you will generally react with your Subjective viewpoint.

In a fictional story you see the main character tootling along in normal happy- life mode until their lives are severely disrupted by some incident. As a result they become emotionally responsive and have to deal with one crisis after another until achieving the final solution and return to their own, less emotional, Objective-viewpoint-lives. As observer of this you empathise but are not subjected to it. You get the luxury of sitting in judgement on character reactions through the entire story.

When it happens In real life you are the Subjective Character. You sense others are sitting in judgement on you. When the partner you have been with ten years tells you they want a divorce your reaction is from the Subjective Viewpoint. You are being rejected by their Objective Viewpoint.

Next they tell you they have been having an affair for those ten years and since your name is not on the property paperwork you lose your home. By the way, their lover is turning up in two hours to move in. Their lover arrives and it is your best friend. You only have one best friend.

You think about everything you have invested in these relationships and everything you stand to lose and the various ways in which you have been betrayed.

You open up to and acknowledge all the little undermining behaviours your partner engaged in but which you ignored or forgave because you loved them. All the signals about the affair were there but you ignored them. You declare yourself an idiot. You cannot believe how the two of them have fooled you like this! You want to wreck the house, you feel so angry.

Now your soon-to-be-ex partner tells you they never loved you because underneath your pleasant facade you were this unreasonable angry monster. This tunes straight into your self-critical unconscious beliefs. Was I an angry monster all the time? Am I responsible for the end of my relationship?

You find yourself torn between two Objective Viewpoints. Could you have been a better person or is your partner solely responsible for what is happening here? Should you accept your rage or should you feel guilty instead? You become ambivalent.

If you have an obsession or a phobia the ambivalence is created by the question of whether or not you should keep trying to move away from the trigger causing the condition or if you should move towards it and defeat it. Can you defeat it? The argument of moving away seems to be the natural decision – but you keep wondering if you could get rid of this problem by going in the opposite direction.

And all the time you are adding self-critical judgements to the mix declaring your internal story bad when in reality it is just a story not yet completed..

Welcome to the battle between the Acceptable Objective viewpoint and the Unacceptable Objective viewpoint

In fictional stories, from the Objective Viewpoint, you get to oversee two journeys travelled by two opposing arguments represented by characters who are both subjectively and therefore emotionally attached to the outcomes of the story.

You will tend to automatically adopt the Subjective Viewpoint of the character you identify with most. Most of us identify with the ‘goodie’ because it is more comfortable to do so as it fits within our socially programmed moral framework.

The question that first comes up for you when you enter the world of story is ‘who is the goodie and who is the baddie?’ because you want to identify with the goodies. You feel good when you identify with goodies because they are more like normal people whereas baddies are concerned with making things much worse and do not seem the least bit family orientated.

If the ‘baddie’ is a fully rounded character, however, you can find yourself understanding and quite liking the ‘baddie’ as well. In Batman movies you may find yourself liking ‘The Joker’. Everyone likes a sense of humour, right? What if, half way through the movie, you discover the goodie character murdered their grandmother for an inheritance? I recently watched a movie with a flashback scene in which an alleged hero shot a pregnant woman because she irritated him – I hated him for the rest of the movie and was pleased he got what was coming to him (but I also wondered where the hero in the story had got to).

What you experience, in a relatively painless way in stories, but very painfully in your own emotional world, is ambivalence and your craving for an eventual state of Congruency.


Ambivalence occurs when you believe two opposing arguments at the same time and are equally emotionally charged and attached to both. In a story it is regarded as a necessity of the plot, but when we hold these arguments internally it can be agony. In the scenario of being dumped by your partner you are torn between

  • holding yourself responsible for the failure of your marriage and feeling sorry for the experience your partner, who you still love despite their deceitful behaviour, has allegedly had to go through as a result of living with not-good-enough you (poor them) while at the same time you feel
  • enraged at how these two important individuals, partner and best friend, have conspired for years to destroy your hoped for future and everything you invested. They have ruined your life.

You see yourself wanting to kill them but also think yourself responsible for their behaviour. Feeling both enraged and guilty you do not know how to deal with this ambivalence.

Are they the good guys or are you the good guy? Which is which?

Here you are struggling to get back to the Objective Viewpoint – the viewpoint that knows what is really going on and which, if you could just sit there right now, would really show you what you should do next for the best. This is why counsellors (relationship counsellors in this case) are worth their salt – they are instant, trustworthy and experienced Objective Viewpoints for hire. Love these folks.

Prior to this point you saw all divorces as ‘their’ divorces. Other people got divorced and you could see the reasons they got divorced. They are so blind to their faults! Now in the land of Subjective viewpoints it is a different world altogether. Now you find yourself having an extreme emotional response to losing something or someone you personally have a stake in and you wish you did not have to change your Objective Viewpoint in line with what is going on in reality.

But you do – and you find it a real struggle because you are trying to sort out who the goodie is, who the baddie is, and how you can mentally figure the whole story out and then hopefully once you have done all this everyone will come out looking like a good guy.

The Difference and Similarity Between Internal Stories and External Stories (Real-life versus Fictional Life)

When you engage with an external story you engage with a carefully designed construct with a socially acceptable morality message built in. Most stories with socially unacceptable morality messages get censored out. Also, you engage fully with the most moral character – you attach to that argument and stick with it for the whole story. In external stories the baddies get what is coming to them and the goodies get their rewards.

In real life stories though baddies often benefit for long periods of time and good people have bad things happen to them – and then get blamed and punished for it as well! Not only that, whereas in fictional stories the goodie characters may have only just a pinch of self-reproach here and there in real life goodies tend to be full of self-criticism.

So what should we do in order to sort all this out when it comes to working with what we do feel and should feel if we want to complete our own intense internal stories so getting to a new painless Objective Viewpoint as quickly as possible?

Understand that Emotional Responses Have Nothing to Do with Morality – they are Simply Arguments in a Story with Energy Attached

The problem with your internal emotional stories is you contain various Subjective and ambivalent viewpoints at full emotional strength. The argument for taking revenge on your partner and your best friend is as strongly emotionally supported as is the argument against.

The argument for moving towards the imagery and emotional responses driving emotional disorders is as strong as the argument for moving away from them. You contain the full story – warts, flowers and all. You are capable of any of these options. But you are also capable of discharging the story in private, removing it fully and still arriving at a new, emotionally neutral (and happy) Objective Viewpoint.

All you need do is repeatedly visit the story enough times you discharge the emotional energy attached, travel through the four viewpoints and end up letting go of the whole business. You will remember the internal story in terms of logical data, but you will not experience it. I swear those flashing lights in Star Wars are just that.

Regards – Carl

Travel Risk Management and Foreseeable Risk

Introduction: Travel Risk Management and Foreseeable Risk

When it comes to foreseeable risk, foreseeability and travel risk management, this is what every travel, human resources and manager should know. In this article we will cover foreseeable risk, foreseeability, hazard identification and travel risk assessments to mitigate or eliminate the risk of travel and comply with the company’s social objectives and legal obligations. By reading this article you will be able to confirm the true meaning of foreseeable risk as it relates to travel risk management and determine if you and your company truly have a demonstrable travel risk management system that complies with your social and legal duty of care objectives.

The first point is to clarify as the the legal definition of foreseeable risk.

Foreseeable Risk and Foreseeability Defined
Foreseeable risk is defined as a danger, hazard or threat which a reasonable person should anticipate as the result from his/her actions. Foreseeable risk is a common affirmative defense put up as a response by defendants in lawsuits for negligence. A skateboarder hits a bump on a road, falls and breaks his wrist. This is a foreseeable risk of skateboarding. A woman is severely injured while flying on an aircraft when the the aircraft suddenly descends due to turbulence and she hits her head on the over head luggage compartment. While there is potential risk, she had the right to anticipate that the aircraft was properly maintained, the pilot aware of the approaching weather conditions and did not assume the risk that her seatbelt would fail. Signs that warn “use at your own risk” do not bar lawsuits for risks that are not foreseeable.

Foreseeability is the facility to perceive, know in advance, or reasonably anticipate that damage or injury will probably ensue from acts or omissions.

In the law of negligence, the foreseeability aspect of proximate cause-the event which is the primary cause of the injury-is established by proof that the actor, as a person of ordinary intelligence and circumspection, should reasonably have foreseen that his or her negligent act would imperil others, whether by the event that transpired or some similar occurrence, and regardless of what the actor surmised would happen in regard to the actual event or the manner of causation of injuries.

Hazard, Threat and Dangers Identification

Travel Risk Management and Foreseeable Risk

An officer of the company must demonstrate the process and implementation, whereby any person of ordinary intelligence can identify, document and in advance mitigate or eliminate dangers, threats and hazards that would ordinarily imperil a business traveler. Policies and notification that warn business travellers of risk do not bar legal recourse, even if the events were not foreseeable.

Forward planning supported by past incident capture and analysis aid in this process. Generic, global or regional identifications are inadequate with specific locations, actions, competencies and supporting elements required in order to reasonably anticipate in advance any damage or injury that may ensue from acts or omissions. This process should be continuous and timely. Obligations are not limited to what the actor surmised would happen in regard to the actual event or the manner of causation of injuries.

Travel Risk Assessments
The analysis and assessment of business travel related threats must be evidence based and cannot be fully outsourced to providers or third parties as the business comprehension and obligation remains with the person/s within the company charged with the authority and responsibility of duty of care for business travellers.

Collection, processing, analysis and distribution of travel risk management elements such as traveler, location, past event, current circumstances, special events, forecasted changes and business activity must be inclusive of the process.

Consistency and clarity of travel risk assessments are required if the process is to be replicatable, transferable and applicable for any and all business travel.

Travel threats, danger and hazards relative to business travelers must be distinct and focused exclusively on business travellers and the act of business travel and not bundled with broader business risk assessments.

Similar and exact acts related to business travel and travel threats must be evaluated for relevance and impact. Leisure travel threats may need to be considered also if proximate to business travel locations and business travellers. Regardless of what the company officer surmised would happen or the event that transpired, along with similar occurrences, proof of process and outcomes are required.

Conclusion: Travel Risk Management and Foreseeable Risk
Now that you understand the importance of foreseeable risk as defined by legal opinions, you will probably see your approach and effectiveness in a whole new light. Foreseeable risk and foreseeability does apply to business travel risk management and your business travellers. In order to prove or effectively demonstrate travel risk management foreseeable risk actions you need consistent, auditable and effective evidence if you are to mitigate or eliminate the risks associated with business travel, convey confidence to business travellers that you are proactively fulfilling your duty of care and defend or confirm your compliance with the various acts and legislation. Objectively review your current preparedness and processes specific to travel risk management and use this advice to make your comparison and rectify any omissions to your processes immediately.

Women and Travel: Survey Results Reveal Trends and Preferences

Surveys are wonderful things. Just when you think you have a good handle on the who, when, where and why, a survey will generate results that challenge those ideas.

Take for example the recent travel interests survey that Women Traveling Together sent to 7000 women in April 2006. My first surprise was how many responses we got. The experts say you’re doing “good” if you can get a 5% response rate. Well, we did far better than that, coming in at almost 9%, (representing the opinions of over 600 women).

We will, of course, use the survey results to develop our tour schedule but some surprising tid-bits concerning the “who, when, where and why” of women’s travel preferences were also revealed. The survey results showed…

Who Women Travel With…

  • Finding a travel partner is tough. More than 65% of women said that they were having a hard time finding someone to travel with.
  • …But when they do travel, they like to travel with the girls! Most either traveled with a girlfriend or alone, but in either case went with a women’s group.

When Women Travel…

  • Women will travel whatever time of year they can! 45% of the women said anytime is a good time to travel.
  • Women are “travel crazy.” Over 40% of the women surveyed had taken 4 or more trips in the past 18 months.

Where Women Travel…

  • Women like new destinations. 65% of the women responding said they’d rather go to new places, than return to places they’d been.
  • Alaska here we come! Alaska was the top U.S. destination by a landslide.
  • Italy, Italy, and Italy. The overwhelming first choice for Europe was Italy.

Why Women Travel…

  • The beauty of Mother Earth is why women travel. The top reason to take a trip-no matter where the destination was to see the natural beauty the destination has to offer.
  • Cost is secondary. When choosing to travel, women think about where they want to go first, and then think about the money and who they’ll travel with.

How Women Like to Travel…

  • By land if you please. An overwhelming majority preferred a land tour to a cruise.