Lost mojo and all, there is always the Good, especially in the small gifts and moments. I admit, it has been my lifetime challenge to learn, accept and appreciate the mundane and beautiful. And I’m trying to love routine, believe me.
There is always the Good, and I’m grateful for it. Here is the short list:
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: My Family is Awesome
The best family in the world, my husband, son and daughter are thriving here. The impact this change has had on my loved ones won’t ever be regretted.
My husband is taking a much needed break from the chaos of the corporate technology world. He has unwound, regrouped, rethought his priorities and ever the hard worker, revamping and improving his skillset. We alternately work on our relationship (read: fight and make love) and plan our lives together. He has found new passions in surfing (really not a surprise) and teaching hardware/software maker class to the kids at La Paz.
Though the teachers at La Paz Community School cannot help my dyslexic son learn to read, they have a much less rigorous academic measures and more loving approach in first grade than in Seattle. Their focus on project-based and community-centered learning has given my son an environment where he can feel successful and appreciated. Right now, as we work on building his skillset, he is nurtured in the classroom and his Spanish is improving with leaps and bounds. Perfect. I spend 4 days a week an hour a day tutoring him. He works hard and his progress is astounding; his reading level has progressed at grade level and more importantly, he has healthy and hearty confidence and self-esteem.
My daughter is having the experience we expected. She made a positive first impression both academically and with her fluent Spanish. The social capital she accumulated bolsters her self-esteem and she is well regarded at school. She has made a group of active and adventurous friends but also misses her tight group of friends from home. She is exploring new activities like archery and lifeguard preparation and has just started horseback riding. She loves nature and animals and is forever interested in the jungles and beaches we explore.
We intentionally build family time together here. The afternoons playing and walking on the beach, the boogie boarding, pool time playing tag, watching the kids develop awesome swimming skills, wave jumping and surfing, sailing, kayaking, game nights, exploring the area and our little mini-vacations. These will be the best memories of our time here.
Who would have thought you’d find a theater production in the middle of rural Costa Rica? We did, with an amazing director and inclusive philosophy. After watching the completely entertaining Fall production of Jack and Beanstalk, both wanted to be in the Spring production of Annie. The rigorous time commitment aside, my son is thriving in the role of Sandy and my daughter is loving the community and friendship she is finding with other orphans. I’m loving watching both of them push their comfort zone in this production.
Fall 2015, I met a 5th grade Costa Rican girl who had fallen far behind in school. She broke down in tears after reading to me during my volunteer hours. Her broken self-esteem and confidence were like facing my worse fear for my son and I knew I had to do something to help. We meet four days a week and the improvements she has made are astounding. I have adopted her, explained the gifts and challenges of dyslexia as well as the knowledge that through hard work she can learn and that she learns just fine her own way. She has moved from being sullen, quiet and insecure, to the happy, healthy and smiling girls she should be. The time is a gift to both of us.
Of course we have new friends and the more that I get to know them, the more I love and appreciate their free and loving spirits, our time together and shared memories. The social scene here can be downright overwhelming, exhausting and completely fulfilling. I’m grateful for the community of people here who have welcomed us to Guanacaste. There is no community of gringos like it anywhere, I’m sure of it.
Acrylics and Watercolors
There is always painting. Watercolors are hard to find and frame in rural Costa Rica, so I’m exploring and focusing on small watercolor pendants and large scale acrylics. The result is a good challenge, pushing my skills and making me a better artist.
We live a block from the beach
Seriously, why am I complaining? The water is warm, the beaches are some of the most beautiful in Costa Rica.
The Jungle Gym
Survival of my mental and physical health in any day-to-day routine, no matter the location, includes an early trip to the gym. Here, I’m lucky the Jungle Gym is located on my son’s first grade campus.
There are a dozen of regulars at the gym from all over; Costa Rica, Argentina, Italy, Germany, Memphis, Oregon, New York, Boston, France and Canada. They are parents of kids at La Paz and CRIA. They are Ticos trying to build muscles and get slender along side ex-pats and retirees with similar goals. We are regularly greeted by baby chicks and the occasional stray dog.
The best thing about the gym, aside from my workout, is the growing community and support. I greet and am greeted by everyone. We know each other and support each other in our goals and advise each other in our fitness. We are all so different, in politics and worldview, and yet we laugh and connect over this shared experience.
After wrecking my back a year and a half ago, I’m getting back into awesome shape. Muscles hear me roar!
Nothing stays the same forever and as much as I push for change, balance is rewarded by investing the time in memories while we are here.
These memories are the best of good, they are the Good.