Unexpected Day Off

Last night I was sitting here watching some Netflix when my phone rings… It’s work…No work tomorrow…. Whaaaat?!?!  Totally unexpected.  Yea it had snowed a little bit, but did not seem like enough to call a snow day.  Also, it was not a normal teaching day, it was in-service, which if you don’t know is pretty much like teacher hell.  All day training, where you sit there and get talked at.  So now double whammy, no work and no in-service !!!

I immediately go into my happy dance.  The happy dance is pretty spontaneous and it’s when the joy of my spirit overrides my body. Last night it looked like I was running in place really fast with high knees and my hands waving in the air like I just don’t care.  

This morning I got up and had to race to move the car before DC gave me another ticket only to find pretty much the most most (2x) gross day in the world.  Cold rain + melting snow + gray skies= disgusting!!

I am all about following the signs and going with the flow of the universe, and the universe was clearly telling me to get under the covers and not come out until the sun comes back out. So that is exactly what we did.  Max agreed this would be a good time to veg out… See picture below for evidence.   

 At around 2 pm the sun came roaring out, the clouds cleared, and it was blue skies.  We got the French press going with some yummy Costa Rican coffee and pealed ourselves off the coach to begin a productive afternoon.  In all honesty Max decided it was time to get up… See picture below for evidence. 

After some tug of war we:

  1. Booked our spring break vacation to Fort Lauderale spending zero $$ thanks my to citi AAadavatage credit card points!! Score 
  2. Picked up the apt ( boring but necessary )
  3. Did some hardcore yoga with method yoga on YouTube   This dude kicks my but every time.  Warning not for beginners.
  4. Cooked a fun chicken and rice dish for my lunches for the week    

So all in all a pretty awesome day.  I can’t always take the morning off just cause the weather is gross out, but when I can I am going to do it.  

umm + Pura Vida = one with the universe

What is TICOS PACE ?

Be Courageous to have an Awesome day 

We had some expected snow last night, and DC is not so fabulous at cleaning up the mess.  I got a 5:30 AM call that school would be delayed 2 hours.  I am not a fan of those late starts cause it throws off my entire day.  Yet, I did enjoy the extra sleep.  On my way to work, I am stopped at a stop sign and boom car slides down on the ice and hits the back of my car. 

So that was the start of my day, before my morning workout and morning coffee. Thankfully no damage done to any person  and minor vehicle damage to Thumper (my car, yes I name my cars).  

Besides that inconenvience, my day was awesome.  I managed to get a workout in, work was smooth and fun.  The day was just getting better and better.  I got some much needed grocery shopping done and bought some much needed boots(see Instagram for photo of said boots) A blizzard is coming and I had no boots so was pretty pumped about that.  Then to make things better…a phone call… NO SCHOOL TOMORROW, SNOW DAY!! I love snow days.  For me it’s like God saying… You need a day to take it easy, I am going to send some snow your way.  I never got snow days in Costa Rica, but I don’t think God thinks we really need to take a day off there.  Working too hard in Costa Rica is sedomly an issue. Pura Vida!!

I actually don’t know if courage has anything to do with having a minor car accident and still having an awesome day.   Probably lucky.  That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

 “The harder you work, the luckier you get”

Since we are on the topic of courage, here is a Steve Jobs quote on courage and it’s awesome:


How do you show your courage? 


The Power of Meditation

How many times have you heard a coach say to their players “you are not focused” or “concentrate!” or see the star of your soccer team miss an important penalty shot they never miss in practice (that was me and Roberto Baggio in the 94 World Cup).  Well how can you tell your athlete to focus without teaching them how.  Eliminating distractions of the mind is a skill that requires practice and training just like anything else.

Meditation can be seen as practicing to focus or concentrate, just like you would practice penalty shots in soccer or free throws in basketball.  Usually meditation begins with bringing awareness to our breadth.  Breathing is something we constantly do, so targeting our minds to the inhale and exhale is great practice for enhancing our levels of focus.  When I introduce this concept to high schoolers I keep it very brief with some short non threatening exercises to get the ball rolling.  I believe in living what I teach so at home I had been playing around with meditation which is what got me started.  Now I try to carve 10-30 minutes each day for this awesome practice.  If I knew then what I know now…I may not have missed that penalty shot hahaha.

Meditation for me is a rather new endeavor I have recently been implementing into my life more and more.  I always thought of meditation as some sort of weird cult thing, a foreign  practice like playing the bag pipes, or something else far from my reality.  When I was in high school meditation was something I thought only monks did.  However, the more I teach health and physical education, the more I study it, and the more I apply it into my own life.  Now I only wish I had learned about it sooner.

The benefits of meditation are well documented which you can find on many other reputable sights.  I think meditation starts out as a practice of patience and concentration but then can evolve to as much or a little as you want it to.  It is a practice I am having fun applying to my life.  Give it a shot.

Spring Is On The Way!

This morning I took Max for his morning walk and encountered the smell of spring faintly in the air.  I took a deep breath and let that familiar scent enter my lungs and process in my brain.  I smiled and exhaled with a sigh of relief…spring is on the way! The actual first day of spring is Friday March 20, however in my past experience with mother nature, she does not give a shit about our calendar. She will do what she wants when she wants.  If she decides she is going to bring down one more snow fall in March, she will do it.  Worry NOT, for it does no good…enjoy the transition period and before you know it, spring will be here exactly when it is supposed to be here.

According to the 5 Element Theory the period during the TRANSITION of the  seasons is marked by the element of EARTH.  Earth is the grounding or centering element.   The climate is damp (which would make sense around these parts with all the snow melting).  The organs are the spleen (yin) and the stomach (yang)  The color is yellow, the taste is sweet, and the feeling is thought.

I was introduced to this concept when I attended a presentation titled “Eating for Longevity-A Seasonal Approach” given by Teri Mosey.  The entire talk was fascinating and in stride with TICOS PACE.  We already kind of naturally do this right?…when it’s cold outside most of us crave a hearty soup.  Fruits that are not in season and are flown in, just don’t taste the same (they are also more expensive).  The problem is we get in our own way.  Distractions, media, ego and hectic lifestyles impede us from making decisions that our body actually wants and is good for us.  If we can quiet all the noise and listen to what our soul really needs for nourishment,  we can create harmony with our internal nature and the external world.

Recently, I have been giving a lot more thought to food and playing with ingredients I have never

Playing butternut squash

Playing butternut squash

cooked with before.  Some crazy stuff is happening with butternut squash right now! I am not sure if it will make me one with the universe, but it certainly can’t hurt.  If you are into this you can check out Teri Mosey’s website where she has posted different recipes that go with the seasons and other holistic nutrition services.  You can also check out Rhonda Parkinson’s write-up on The Five Elements Theory of Chinese Cooking.

So embrace this transition period, be thoughtful, and listen to your body…it knows best.  Spring will be here soon!

Sometimes You Just Have to Show:Up

At times, being social for me can feel like a chore.  By nature, I am much more of an introvert, maybe even a little shy at times.  I suppose I would consider myself a learned extrovert, but it certainly does not come natural to me.  My closest friends tend to be much more extroverted, loud, charismatic, and the life of the part.  Each place I have lived I have found these best friends (Jess H. Christian P, Renee K, etc.)..and through osmosis I become social, perhaps even charming on a great night.  So when I moved to DC at the age of 28…I did not do my very best of getting out and being social.  Once the weather got cold I would commence my Costarican hibernation, an unhealthy isolation.  Not to say that isolation is always bad, and the winter is a great time to look inward.  However a little too much of it can lead to loneliness, depression etc….it’s all about that balance.  However, since the new year, things have changed…I began acting on things I have been wanting to do, getting out in the world and allowing my presence to be known.  Now, I Show:up.

Last week my friend Damani sent me this link: www.bestdinnerpartyever.com/.  When I checked out the link I really didn’t get it.  The website was a little vague (perhaps intentionally) and it cost $65 which included dinner, drinks and a show.  Perhaps it was not vague, just the concept seemed foreign.  Dinner, drinks, and a show seemed simple enough, but it also said to bring an open mind, and that you were part of the show…what kind of show was this exactly?  Part of the show??  I could already feel my social anxiety begin to kick in, my amygdala was like…umm no way Jose.   However, Damani has not led me astray before, so I decided to go for it.

IMG_0593The location of the show was not disclosed until the day of the show…I don’t know, maybe just to freak me out.  On the night of the show, of course there was a snow storm here in DC, which before would have deterred my attendance.  Not this time, I laced up my boots and out I went.  I meet my friends at a local bar one block from the location of the show.  There was four of us , each just as confused as the next…we each had questions, but no one had any answers.  We were all comforted by the fact that their would be food and drink, so how bad could it be.  So after drinking our glass of courage, we walked one block down a snowy street in Petworth to a little unassuming apartment building.  I would not call the building ghetto, but it was in no way fancy either.  It was here that we were greeted by a man with a waiver for us to sign.  A few other people stood in this tiny lobby who had the same look of…”what the hell is going on” pasted across their face.  We were informed that the waiver was simply so they could use the pictures for publicity purposes for their show.  Despite my flat hat hair going on, I signed and proceeded to the apartment.

Not going to lie, it was really awkward at first, yet at the same time comfortable.  We were greeted like old friends, into this tiny, yet nicely decorated apartment.  On the wall was a framed picture of me and my best friend Jess from last year…so now I am a little freaked

Picture of me and Jess framed at this random apartment

Picture of me and Jess framed at this random apartment

.  There was a make shift stage, a plate of nachos and some people busy in the kitchen.  Another glass of courage was due. We were served a fun orange drink of some tequila concoction.  It was at this time I could not tell what was part of the “show” and what was real…were my friends in on all of this?  As I begin to settle in with my drink and plate of nachos…a tall, beautiful black woman comes bouncing out to the living room and greets us by our names as if we have been friends for years.  Then, she proceeds to sing…it is at this time I have no idea if I should laugh or if this woman is crazy, and pulled this all together to debut her voice.  Was this some sort of farce? Was the orange drink spiked with something?  ‘Oh well too late now, just go with it’ I told myself.

At one point in the night I was LAUGHING so hard I peeled over to one side and had to hold my stomach to keep my abs from falling on the couch.  It was one of the most fun and entertaining shows, unlike any others I have even been too.  The food was amazing and kept pouring out of the kitchen.  The drink was delicious and had just the right amount of kick.  The show was hilarious, dramatic, and even had a little twist!  The entire production was laid back, yet professional.   There was this surreal feeling like I had known all of these people for ages.  At the end, we got a chance to meet the cast who were all so nice and fun!  The entire evening was a success, totally worth the $65, and the trek through the SNOW.

I want to say that this is not the type of evening for everyone…but it should be.  The show travels to various cities, so if they show up in your town, you should consider grabbing a few friends and having an awesome night out.  Get out of your comfort zone, let go, and have some fun.  Introspection is awesome and very healthy, but everything in moderation (even moderation).  Don’t let fear or social anxiety hold you back.  That fearl is a normal feeling, but feelings do not control actions.  Get out there and Show:up.IMG_0598

5 Life Lessons From My Dog Max

Lesson 1: Live selflessly.

Max teaches selflessness but being the most selfish creature I know.  His needs ALWAYS go before my own.   He requires to be fed once in the morning and once at night.  He will only eat his breakfast after his morning fetch game (because just a walk is not going to cut it) and he doesn’t care how cold it is either. Max gives absolutely two shits if I went out last night and got home late, he gets up at 6 AM and so will I.  Even as I try to type this post he is demanding attention (I distracted him with some peanut butter, so we are good). Putting the needs of others before your own is part of growing up and maturing.  Max consistently teaches this valuable lesson, and it inevitably creeps into the rest of my life.  By practicing selflessness with Max it becomes a habit of going though the world, where joy comes through helping others and it feels good.

Lesson 2: Early riser gets the squirrel.

Max is an avid (thankfully unsuccessful) squirrel hunter, runner and retriever.  These activities must begin promptly at 6AM, 6:30AM at the latest and occasionally 7AM.  During the week he will wait for the alarm to go off on my phone, then jump on the bed.  If I do not rise with the initial jolt of his 70 pound body, then it is a swift bop to the head with a heavy paw.  Then, as I roll to my stomach and begin to push my body up, he will nudge his snout under my chest and lift up… just in case I thought of collapsing back on the bed.  If all else fails, he will bark the highest pitch squeal that will send me leaping out of bed (it usually don’t come to this, but in extreme conditions it’s very effective).  On the weekend he does not require the alarm, he instinctively knows exactly when it is 6 AM and proceeds accordingly.  I used to resist these early mornings, specially on the weekends.  I would yell at him and tell him to go back to bed, he would begrudgingly listen (when the Spanish comes out, he knows I’m serious).  However, now I go with it, I get up, we do our morning routine and I start my day.  Since going with the flow of getting up early with Max, I have drastically increased my productivity level.  I am able to get so much more done and feel great about taking advantage of the entire day.

How can I help you?

How can I help you?

Lesson 3: Daily fresh air and exercise is a must.

On occasion I have days were I really just want to Netflix binge and hide from the world.  Well, that’s not going to fly in Max’s world.  At a minimum, he needs to go out to do his business,  but he also needs to check his “p-mail”, and get a good amount of exercise in.  So, whether I like it or not, cold, rain, or snow, I will be outside with him.  Sometimes, when I am in my ‘hide from the world’ phase, it is really annoying.   However, once I am out there it feels so good to be outside breathing some fresh air and walking around.  Now, sometimes when I need to take him out and haven’t worked out yet, I will kill two birds with one stone (Max loves that analogy) and we will go for a run.

Lesson 4: Be social, but unwanted humping is not cool.

On one of those days that I really didn’t feel like going outside, Max insisted that he wanted to go to the dog park.  So it’s Max’s world and I just live in it, we went.  That was the day I meet my friend Robby and his two dogs Maxie and Bones.   Robby is still one of my good friends I hang out with here in DC.  Hi Robby.  When we go to the dog park, Max’s main priority is to play fetch, he cares very little for the dogs around him.  He will politely sniff and say hello, but then return to the game of fetch.  He is friendly, just don’t get in the way of his game, and don’t hump him.  Those are two quick ways to piss him off.  He has a few dogs which he loves, and plays so awesome with.  One of those select pals is my friend’s border collie Seamus.  Those two are great together!  Max will play fetch and Seamus will try to herd him.  It’s a win win.  The lesson I think Max is trying to get across here is, it’s important to be social and friendly, but what really matters is to have a few truly awesome friends that inspire you and keep you in check.  Keep those people close because they will only make you better.

Lesson 5: Love unconditionally.

Max loves me unconditionally and I him.  He never holds a grudge and I can never stay mad at him for too long no matter what trouble he gets into.  No matter how many long hours I work, or cut his workout routine short, he will show me that he is annoyed, but still loves me.  When I am sad, he cheers me up just by being there and being cute.  He keeps me warm when I am cold, and gives me company when I am lonely.  I can be a complete fool around him and he doesn’t care, still loves me the same.  In doing so, he teaches me how to love, and those habits of unconditional love seep into all my other relationships.  Loving another person unconditionally is scary and risky, but the greater the risk, the greater the reward.  And here is the thing, when you love unconditionally, more people will unconditionally love you!

To think I almost never got Max and there was some point when it was all too much work and stress and thought about giving him way.  Mom knows best.  She told me there never really is an ideal time to have a dog, or kids, etc.  If you want it and ready to make the commitment, you just do it, and  the rest will sort itself out.  As far as giving him away, that was not even a conversation.  She never used these words, but I think if I gave away my dog, she would disown me.  I think it was a lesson on commitment.  You can’t bail when things get tough.

If you have a dog, you know exactly what I am talking about.  If you don’t have one, consider getting one.  Be sure you THINK you are ready to make the commitment, because you never are truly ready for dog ownership.  Pay careful attention to the type of dog you get and one that matches your energy level.  Max is a black lab, so he is very ambitious, high energy, and head strong.  If I was not as active as I am, Max and I wouldn’t have been a good fit.  All dogs are awesome, and all have different lessons to teach, depending on what you need to learn.  In the end, they are a reflection of you.

Share some of the lessons you have learned from your dog.  If you have any questions or comments on picking a dog or dog ownership please let me know.  It takes a village to raise them right.   If you enjoyed, please like and follow for more posts on the lifestyle of TICOS PACE.IMG_0531

Ticos in the kitchen-Bolognese sauce

It’s Sunday, so that means it’s time to cook my meal for the week.  This week something new!  I was inspired from my visit last weekend to my sister from another mother Renee.  This is her sister’s recipe and she killed it, so good that I had to make it myself.

Renee making her sister's recipe last weekened

Renee making her sister’s recipe last weekend

WARNING, this is not one of those 15 minute meals, this takes some time, but the flavors are amazing…as I always say “anything worth having takes some time”.  If you are trying to impress a lucky someone, this should be a go-to recipe in your aresnal.  Sandra’s insturctions are on the money, and will leave people highly impressed with your culinary skills. Sandra is Renee’s sister and is soon expecting (congratulations Sandra!!) and her recipe was super easy to follow.  Typically, I am not a recipe follower…I usually rely more on my nose, taste, and latino intuition.  This time I pretty much followed the recipe, but did add a little crushed red peppers to give it a little kick.  I like my coffee strong and my food with a little kick.

Sandra’s Bolognese Sauce

1 yellow onion
2 slim or 1 thick carrot
Olive oil
2 pounds ground beef (80/20 or close to that)
2 small cans tomato paste
Red wine
Bay leaves, Fresh thyme

1. Chop:
-2 of the celery ribs
-3 cloves of garlic
really really fine. If you have a food processor, just chop into chunks and throw em in and pulse until finely chopped. Otherwise chop really really small pieces.

2. Heat a large sauce pot over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. At least 3 tablespoons, but you can eyeball it.

3. Add your chopped veggies and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes until evenly brown, stirring frequently so they don’t burn. Dark brown is good, black is bad 🙂 Don’t worry if some pieces stick to the bottom it’ll all work out.

4. Add your ground beef and season again with salt and pepper. Brown the beef really well, breaking it up into bits as it cooks. This will take about 10 minutes.

5. Add two small cans of tomato paste and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Add 2 cups of red wine and deglaze the pan (scrape up the brown bits stuck to the bottom). Let the wine reduce (evaporate) by about half.

7. Add enough water to cover the whole deal by about an inch. Toss in 2 bay leaves and a couple sprigs of fresh thyme. Stir it all up good. Reduce your heat to medium and bring it to a very low simmer. Leave uncovered!

8. For the next 3-4 hours…..
From time to time (check it like every 45 mins or so) add about a cup of water to the sauce and stir it up. The flavor will develop from very wine-y to really robust tomato sauce over a few hours. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you like.

*After the 3 hour mark it starts to taste super awesome! So give it at least 3 to 3.5 hours.

**If adding mushrooms, sauté them separately in olive oil until cooked and add them after step number 7.

This was fun to make and will make your place smell amazing.  Also it involves wine, which means for me I am going to have a few glasses while I cook.  I acutally had to buy another bottle of red for it this morning cause I accidently drank too much of it last night (oops).   While I was making this meal, I was face timing with my mom in Costa Rica…and to my surprise she was cooking “Canalones”.  Maybe I’ll make those week.

Hope you enjoyed,

Much love

Alcides “Tico” Cummins

** I paired this sauce with some whole wheat  Fusilli Pasta (to keep it somewhat healthy) and Shaved Grana Padano Parmesan.  Thank you Trader Joe’s for the ingredients.  The sauce came out amazing, the flavor was so rich, however I will admit, I think Renee made it better.  Something about the consistency of hers was superior to mine.  Maybe it was the the type of wine I used, but I think she just has the touch when it comes to this dish.

Where all the magic happens

Where all the magic happens

What is TICOS PACE??

Playa Mujeres, Christmas vacation

Playa Mujeres, Christmas vacation

TICOS PACE is a lifestyle…A knockout combo of “pura vida” and let’s get stuff done!  And to help me explain…a little story I call…

Stop Working Like a ‘Gringo’

It was the summer before his junior year of high school and the summer before his first job.  Alcides (Owl-See-This) attended a small private american school in Tres Rios, Costa Rica known as Marian Baker School or MBS for short.   That upcoming  school year the school would participate in two Central American Sport tournaments.  Since Alcides’s only reason for attending school in his mind was to play sports, there was no way he was going to miss the chance to participate.  However, since his mom could not even afford to pay the tuition, paying for two tournaments was out of the question.  So, that summer Alcides would work the grounds of his school inexchange for payment to his beloved AASCA tournaments.  After completing day 1 of work …he quit.  Or at least that’s what he told his mother.  The manual labor was some sort of cuel torture and physically could not be sustained the entire summer -I was such weak sauce haha-  Spend 6 hours pulling the mower up and down those hills, then when you finish, sand some chairs, then sand some rusty chain link fence (cause you going to paint it later), then when you are done, keep going.  Then, won’t you know it, the grass would grow back and the whole process would repeat itself.  No way…this was not possible, not for Alcides.  Good thing Alcides has a wise mother…wise enough to keep him in that school even though it was well beyond her means.  She looked at him, smiled and calmly stated, “Stop working like a gringo.”  Her advice was to slow down the pace and enjoy the process.  When you finish one task, take a breathe, be proud, take a walk, and then when you feel ready return back to the next task.  Alcides returned the next day and applied the “TICOS PACE.”  He survived the summer and made it to his beloved tournaments a little stronger and a bit wiser.

Mom encouraged me to enjoy the process and work at a pace that was sustainable…a pace that would allow me to complete my task with more focus and enjoyment along the way.  In her view “gringos” or people from the states have an excellent work ethic, but almost to the extreme, so much that many forget to enjoy the process and lose sight of what really is important in this life.

TICOS PACE is a lifestyle of dedication, focus and balance.  Follow me as I do my best to apply this easy going and focused perspective.  I feel very proud of everything I have accomplished thus far, knocking out each goal I have set for myself.  Now after some TOE (Time on Earth) -30 years-I have some stories to share, opinions to make, and guidance to provide.

This is a lifestyle blog…on teaching, coaching, sports, travel, dog ownership, movement, fitness, food and so much more.  It’s my art of happiness and crushing your goals while laughing and having a blast along the way…oh and you look and feel good too.  Let’s do this!


TICOS PACE is a series of sprints. In Between the sprints you rest @secretsresort, #Mexico # Christmansvacation #playamujeres