Miguel has been a tennis fan his entire life and reflects on lessons from the game as relatable to his life. This is his story:
Old Drunk Men
As a group coming to the Indian Wells tennis tournament for some time, making the drive from Mexicali, he talked about his group of four as a bunch of “old drunk men.” He says they are set in their ways and relying on their experience from life to give them perspective. He is relaxed, easy going and likes to take things one step at a time. He’s learned much about other cultures and languages from relationships he’s had throughout his life. “The best way to learn a new language and culture is to get a girlfriend who speaks that language or is from that culture.”
His group of four were at the tennis stadium supporting the oldest mens singles player in the tournament, Stan Wawrinka. They were there cheering him on as they related to him as the old man of the tournament. He represented for them the good old days of tennis, where grit and power were valued above finesse and strategy.
Miguel is a man who has learned to let the little things go. Stressing about things you cannot control just simply adds no value to his life. He lives within his means, works hard for his wages and enjoys the simple pleasures in life.
Sincerity and honesty are his two life pillars. He feels that living honestly guide his perspective in life and has led him to good friends, strong family connections and a life well lived.
Pitin has been a street performer in several countries, with talents and hopes to bring a smile to as many faces as possible. This is his story:
Life on the Streets
Pitin grew up in Mexico and has been performing as a street clown for years. He doesn’t make a lot, but he does what he can to survive while still adding joy to the world instead of being a burden. He’s a hard worker, it’s not easy to go out every day in clown makeup with a few balloons and perform with no guarantee that people passing by will appreciate his efforts or contribute to him earning his next meal.
Yet Pitin keeps a positive outlook. He’s found, unlike others who perform in the street, he’s willing to give to those without expecting any monetary reward. His genuine desire is to bring a smile to peoples’ faces as they pass by. He is particularly good at lighting up a child’s face and that typically spreads to the parent and others watching nearby.
Pitin lives a simple life and currently performs on the streets in San Jose, Costa Rica. He always has a smile on his face and tries to make it as contagious as possible. His views toward the world, that can sometimes be cruel, indifferent or overlooking, is that he can either choose to add what he can or become bitter and sour. He chooses joy, and has to choose it every day as he finds little ways to bring joy to those who see him.
When he chooses joy and happiness, he gets more out of his time performing on the streets than he could ever imagine, regardless of the monetary payout, he’s found a way to be happy.
Joseph works in a family run business at a nursery in Alajuela, Costa Rica. He spends his days with the plants, nurturing and helping them grow to their full potential. This is his story:
The family business has been around for a few generation. Joseph works at Vivero Ocampo with his father who is the owner, and a new partner they recently brought on to help with business. Joseph takes pride in his plants and knows the needs for each individual plant to flower or produce delicious fruit.
Plants are his life and he immerses himself in caring for and understanding the best tactics for cultivating the most fruitful plants. He mostly sells his plants and trees for residential and commercial landscaping, but he also has several fruit and herbal plants used for consumption.
Joseph believes that giving and being generous in life is the key to happiness. For those that come to visit his nursery, he welcomes them with open arms, free tours and plenty of fruit samples. He feels connected to people when he can give and seeks no immediate reward in return other than the feeling of doing something good for those who come to his nursery.
His knowledge of plants allows him to offer something unique to his customers and his warm and welcoming personality gives both his visitors and himself a deep sense of genuine connection. His perspective in life is that as you cherish the simple things and give willingly when you can, happiness will always follow.
Moses lives in a small house on the edge of a vast jungle outside of La Fortuna, Costa Rica. His goal is to do as much with his life as possible to pave a better way for his own future as well as his future children. This is his story:
Living behind a commercial area, Moses doesn’t live in a neighborhood. He has his younger sister, 6, and a little brother who is only five months old. Yet his problem in living outside of a neighborhood is there’s no one to play soccer with. He has setup rock goal posts in the muddy area in front of his house to play, but rarely gets a chance to play with other kids beyond his little sister.
He hopes that one day he can move to a place where more children live and where he can spend time his with his peers, improving his soccer skills. Although Moses does spend his weekdays in school, it’s far away and he doesn’t feel he knows the other students well. He studies hard and is trying to make a path to a better life.
As many young boys often do, Moses dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. But he knows his options are limited. With a father working on the Yucca farm miles away, barely able to make ends meet, he doesn’t have the luxury of many options right now. He wants that to change in the future and sees the best way forward as focusing on his studies and doing well in school.
Although he has a mother and father in the home, he, as the oldest sibling, often feels like the provider and care giver to his family. He takes on a lot, but hopes one day to give his future family the freedom to not have the burdens of such responsibilities so young in life.
Josefina works in a family owned restaurant outside the city of Jaco selling empanadas from a recipe passed down from generations. This is her story:
The Family Business
Doing what they’ve always known in the family, just in a new place now, Josefina continues the family business of making special Argentine empanadas. She joined her cousins who came years three years earlier to establish the business in Costa Rica.
She has enjoyed the family recipe invented by her grandmother and now passed to a third generation of cooks to provide a delicious source of income. As the economy in Argentina changed, both due to COVID and political changes, they traveled to Costa Rica to setup new roots. Not everyone joined, but they’ve found business to be better in a more tourist focused country.
With a bubbling personality that caters to her customers, Josefina lives her life by ten rules that center on authenticity and taking risks to improve your life. Her business and life is setup on these rules and help her in her journey to a new country and the uncertainties that have followed.
Josefina has a desire for improving life, both for her and those around her. She believes in responsibility, taking ownership, and forgiving those have wronged you. Rule number ten, “for every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness” drives her focus in life. Happiness in business, happiness in family, and happiness with others is her goal.
Josefina has taken many risks in life. It’s difficult to be a business owner and entrepreneur. More so when you are in a foreign country, in an extremely competitive industry like restaurants, and as a woman. She relies on her ten rules for all that she does, both in business and life, and points to these principles as the reason for the success she’s seen so far.
She doesn’t have everything she’s ever wanted, but because of her work ethic, focus and her 10 rules, she’s realizing she has what she needs. She feels anyone can really be successful in life following those same 10 rules.
Alex is tour guide in the estuaries in southern Costa Rica and loves his job with the opportunities it gives him to show off his skills and knowledge of the wildlife in his home country. This is his story:
Alex loves children and has adopted and saved 3 kids from abandonment and drug abusive environments. His most recent adopted child, who is now 16 years old, was left at a park by his mother when he was just 22 days old. Alex helped nurse him back to life and provided a safe haven for him to learn and grow. It has come with challenges and even issues from obvious fetal drug and alcohol syndrome, but Alex enjoys helping life thrive where it sometimes appears hopeless.
He also has two daughters who are 28 and 22, who were adopted and rescued from drug addicted biological families as well. Alex talks about his children being the purpose and center of his life. He does everything he can for them.
Now that his daughters are grown, he has also become a grandfather to two grandsons, ages 3 and 15. Seeing his children make a life of their own and thrive, when their start in this world seemed so bleak, gives Alex the fulfillment and joy many of us seek in this life.
Yet despite his focus on family, Alex also has a particularly exciting day job. With his talent for mimicking over 100 different kinds of animal sounds, Alex has thrived giving tourists boat tours in the mangrove rivers in Quepos, Costa Rica.
At work, he’s known as crazy Alex for both his sound mimicking capabilities and his habit of diving in the river during night tours to pull crocodiles out of the water. His abilities to spot the tiniest animal life, call his white face monkeys to food, and get the basilisks lizards to do their signature move of walking across the water, has led him to a successful career in the tourism industry. He loves his job, but he does it all for his children, so they can grow up and have even more opportunities than he’s had.
Life is about what you make of it and how you can give just a little joy and happiness to others. Alex loves taking risks for the benefit of others. Adopting children is always a difficult decision, but Alex jumps in head first, as if diving in to wrestle a crocodile, so the joy and admiration of those around him. Alex feels life is meant to be lived and to add joy to those around you in the most meaningful ways. His focus on family, even from his origins living in the small and poor islands of Las Damas, has centered his goal on connection to those in need.
With such a focus on joy and risk taking, Alex feels his perspective changes day to day with each exciting new adventure that the new day offers him.
Vanessa is an optimist and a fighter. Her whole life she’s been fighting for more: more time, more joy to spread around and more focus on family. This is her story:
Growing up in a small area of Costa Rica known as Los Chiles, Vanessa was diagnosed with a rare disease, she may be the only person she knows or has heard of with this disease. Her parents were told that she would only live until she was 5 years old. She was 3 at the time. They decided to make the most of the time they had with her and wanted to show her as much of the world as they could. However, Vanessa’s parents worked as car mechanics for most of their lives and didn’t have the money to travel the world. Instead they went to all the beaches in they could in their home country of Costa Rica.
Yet she beat the odds and as she continued to fight for survival and thrive, they realized that their doctor had been wrong, about her passing away, and about the medicine he was prescribing her. He diagnosed her with epilepsy and gave her medicine that eventually confined her to a wheelchair for life.
The family moved away after a flood destroyed their home, which allowed them a chance to be closer to a hospital and receive a new physician who was better able to help Vanessa with her illness. At 14 she took a chance with an injection that could only be found outside of the country. The doctor said it would either cure her or kill her, and she, along with her parents decided to take that chance. The injection did not work and she did nearly die from the experience. She had to be revived from the painful experience, but she fought on.
Vanessa is now 23 and living in La Fortuna with her two younger sisters and parents. She works in a local market selling books and connecting with all those she meets. She is still confined to her wheelchair, yet never lets that stop her in any endeavor. She loves to tell jokes and listen as well as talk to all those who come to the market. Family is what’s most important to her and both her and her younger sister work in any capacity to make ends meet. Her younger sister drives tractors and workers for different farmers in the area. They all contribute to the needs of their entire family, working with whatever skills they’ve gained.
When asked what she thinks about her future, Vanessa said, “I don’t think about it. I always live in the present because my sickness doesn’t allow to think too far ahead. Sometimes thinking too far ahead brings fear, fear of the unknown and fear of change.” Vanessa’s focus on the now helps her maintain positivity and do what she can now to seize the day! Although dreams may be a luxury her situation doesn’t afford, she does think of traveling one day, if she didn’t need constant medicine and care. One day though she hopes to be free enough, financially, physically and medically, to see more of the world.
Vanessa’s illness has given her a great appreciation for life. She has now lived 19 years longer than her first doctor believed she would. She is vibrant, positive and kind. Her attitude helps combat the negativity that could engulf her, but her mindset is focused on now and what is going right for her today.
Her desire to connect with people, together with her outgoing nature, makes her someone that all in the market know and admire. She loves names and remembering people’s unique names, although she does admit that unique names are hard to find in Costa Rica, with everyone named Maria or Jose! Her view on life has given her time and just maybe she’ll have enough time and freedom one day to travel to see and feel snow for the first time in her life.
Brandon is a the son of a rental car business in Costa Rica. He spends his days at the airport in San Jose trying to get a slice of the business the big car rental companies have a strong hold on. This is his story:
Brandon has grown up and lived his entire life in San Jose. His father started the car rental business several years ago. He runs a small operation, with one location and only space for about 5 vehicles he can rent at a time.
Being in a country dominated by tourism, Brandon and his father have tried to make a living on providing a service to those in need. He loves meeting people from all over the world and hearing their stories and getting to help them just a little. Brandon is kind and a good listener, he likes to give quality service to his customers and his business relies on that. He doesn’t always have the best vehicles, but he does the best he can with the means he has.
He is young and enthusiastic about the future. Brandon saw some setbacks during the COVID pandemic, but he also saw opportunity. When other big name brands weren’t renting cars, he was able to provide service to the fewer visitors coming to his country.
He loves the idea of learning new cultures and new languages and feels that only speaking Spanish and a little English right now, limits him in what he can do and communicate to his customers. He hopes to learn more and grow his father’s business to give himself more opportunities and potentially to have the chance to rent a car in a foreign country for himself.
Brandon is focused on customer service and connecting with people. He has no real advertising options other than him and a few employees waiting outside the airport, hoping to convince a tourist to book his car. Yet with issues with Herts, Enterprise and other major competitors running out of cars or not holding reservations, Brandon has been able to help with others cannot.
He feels optimistic and happy about the future. He makes enough for his needs and works with family, which he feels is a good setup. Brandon doesn’t plan to make millions or travel the world, but he has what he needs and enjoys the simple pleasures of life in working with those he’s closest to and in meeting and connecting with new people.
Dave has spent his life defined by his religion and faith in Jesus Christ. He has lived a somewhat quiet and simple life, but places all his success in family, career, financial, and service in his community to his religious beliefs as a foundation for who he is. This is his story:
Dave has lived most of his life in California, with family roots and ties and time in Utah as well. He felt that growing up most of society had similar values to him in regarding kindness, family, drug use, and values. He felt that most families valued marriage, had goals to raise children as good people, hard working and contributing citizens to society. He felt that both the United States as a whole and the different communities he lived in, both in Utah and California, had a sense of valuing the community and the group as a whole rather than put individual rights above that of the community.
Growing up in faith based community, Dave had a focus on a traditional family with parents raising children to value education, hard work and faith in God. He followed examples of parents and others in his community and got married young, focused on family and found his greatest joys in life in his wife and children and his belief in and following Christ and Heavenly Father.
His perspective of life all centers on this upbringing and the views and values taught and learned at a young age. He believes in peace, in kindness, in service, in sacrifice, in working for the good of his family and his community. Yet he has seen a slow, but consistent distancing of his belief on the good of the whole, with a focus on the good of the individual
Dave has seen a rapid change in recent years where, “in an effort to protect every right, belief and idea of the individual, we have accepted everything as right and given up a focus on what is good for the sustainability of our society.” He points to issues of undervaluing parents raising children, sexual promiscuity, unlimited use of drugs and alcohol and a desire to act in any way and remove any consequences. His beliefs have become much more politicized and polarizing in his area as well as the country as a whole.
“It seems that we are heading down a path where instant gratification for the individual is the highest priority, instead of the long term, sustainable lifestyle that promotes healthy, cooperative and growing communities. Instead we profess a need to be accepted without any willingness to both accept others or put in effort to contribute and work towards acceptance. We are going down a path where if everything is right and nothing is wrong will lead soon to every individual for themselves.”
Dave is not fully hopeless about the future of his community and country. He believes there is a silent majority or at least a silent large portion, who also still values family, faith, hard work and selfless sacrifice for a greater good. He is an advocate for such people and works to lobby and campaign for family values and against several political issues he worries will tear down laws that help maintain a moral society.
“It used to be that being a Christian was a great advantage in this country. People would see you as kind, honest and trustworthy. It is slowly becoming something people either judge against you as being naive, bigoted or backwards. Yet many of us still believe in being honest and true and faithful, even if not everyone believes as we do.”
Dave acknowledges that the world has change significantly, even if it was gradually, since his days of growing up in tight knit, family centered communities. Not all changes have been bad, and in fact he even would go as far as to say most changes have been good. But we have a tendency to focus on what concerns us and his Christian perspective sees a moving trend that puts individual beliefs above societal morality. His belief system compels him to find active ways to “turn the other cheek” while fighting for a society that continues to value morality.
Job has lived most of his life as an immigrant. He grew up in the Philippines, but has lived the last 42 years in the United States. This is his story:
Job has lived his life with the same mentality as his namesake from the Bible, with a consistent positivity regardless of challenges he came across. He started from humble beginnings in a small village in the island country of the Philippines. Early on he seized the opportunity to improve his life and take his skills to give his posterity a better life. His father was in the military and after World War II and because of the United States’ close relationship with the Pilipino military, his father was given the opportunity to migrate to America.
In his teens he traveled with his father to California and quickly established long term roots. He took up employment at one of San Diego’s most iconic resorts, the San Diego Zoo. Through his work, he learned to love the park, the animals and the people. His experience as a maintenance technician gave him hands on exposure with the hundreds of animals and millions of tourists each year. From animal escapes, destroyed enclosures and talking to visitors from nearly every country has allowed Job to combined his skills with his passions – working with his hands and talking with and helping others.
His work helped him see the cycle of life, both in the animal world, the construction and maintenance world, and the people who visit the zoo. “It’s been a great career. I’ve never needed a gym membership, because my work was has provided the physical exercise I need,” Job recalls. His positive attitude to see the brighter side of life in any situation. He never shied away from manual labor and finds a way to make a difference in everything he is asked to do.
Family means everything to Job. His two children live in the United States as well, but have since moved to other parts of the country. He first grandchild is on the way and he is looking forward to seeing his posterity grow and grow comfortably because of his sacrifices. People is where Job finds joy, and his family is the center of people for him.
Job is now retired and spends plenty of time at his old work, the San Diego Zoo. With his lifetime membership, he likes to spend time touring the park and engaging with the visitors. He loves connecting with people and helping explain some of the wonders of the park.
His life is focused on positivity and focusing on the glass half full, instead of focusing on failures or missed opportunities. He never recalled a negative memory, he finds the positive regardless of what is happening around him. Some may find his experiences as tragic, but he saw them all as ways to get him where he is today.
Job maintains his positivity in his every situation and remembers back on his life as a life well lived, with adventure, connection, family and love. Positive outlook makes something out of anything and Job had a knack for seeing the benefit. His perspective shows how seeing pleasure from pain, growth and opportunity from difficulty, leads to a life well lived.