Packing for a double life -taking a health mindset

We are in the process of packing for our winter home.  Weeks before leave, we lay the open suitcases on the bedroom floor.  As we come across things to take we toss them in…gifts, vitamins, gadgets we can only get in the U.S….lots of s-t-u-f-f.  A week out, it’s a jumbled mess; I will organize later.

Packing ‘me’ to leave is just the same.  I am eager for the gift of seeing my winter friends, healthy habits I hope will keep, Mindsets I want will keep, Routines I want will adapt.   A week out, it’s a jumbled mess; I will organize later.

Our fist trip to Costa Rica 2015

I have worked hard to get and stay healthy and big changes put me to the test. So, Just like planning what I will pack in my suitcase, planning for my healthy habits requires thought.  Travel and different schedules do not need to change my healthy habits if I pack my healthy mindset.

I want to pack my running schedule…so, I ask myself, what will be different?  Well, the time of day I run will change.  Mentally, I rework my day and know it will now be early in the morning instead of midday.  My prayer time is in the morning now. Since my running will be in the morning I need to move it to a different time of day…maybe mid-day. I want to pack my healthy eating habits…Walmart grocery does not exist in this little third world country!  The market does not carry frozen fruit for my smoothies!  What will I do?  I will buy fresh fruit (lucky me 😉), chop then freeze.  No problem!  And, so on…

The hardest thing for me to leave is my grown kids and my parents. 

Each of our 5 kids are going through tough times right now.  They are grown.  They are on their own.  Yet, still, I carry their struggles and stresses with me every day.  My parents are strong and healthy…but, I am at the age now where I appreciate them and want to see them as much as possible!  It feels to my family and to me that I am less available when I am in Costa Rica.  You know how dumb that really is?? None of the kids live at home anymore and our family live in 4 different states!!  But, somehow, living in a different country from them makes it feel different.   That is a mindset.

My kids and my parents are the first on my prayer list.  They are ‘favorites’ in my phone.  I am available to them 24/7.  I will pack all that with me, too.  We talk, text, video chat, email any time of day or night.  (For this, I love love! love! technology.)  And, if anyone of them needs me I will be on the next plane to be at their side! 

Keeping healthy habits – Prayer and bible reading, time together, running, clean eating, keeping family close – comes down to keeping healthy thinking.  It takes God, self-discipline, consistency, and surrounding myself with encouraging people to follow through.  Healthy thinking, It’s a mindset.

I will pack this healthy mindset!

Costa Rica 2019

Don’t Worry

Worry and anxiety keep trying to take over this week. Anxiety over someone else’s’ choices. Anxiety over his choices that I cannot control. Why? Because I love this person to my core and he is hurting. He is my son. In his pain he lashes out at everyone trying to help him. My own anxiety builds as he piles his stuff layer upon layer on top of my own worry and self-doubt. This pile of dog do-do does nothing to help either one of us nor does it serve God’s purpose. “Let go, Let God!”, you say? It is that simple and yet not that easy for me. I do let go and give it to God…and then I take it right back again without even realizing it. Think about how helpful it’s been in your past to ease someone else’s worry by simply saying, “Oh honey, don’t worry.” Did it work? Not likely

I need a strategy.

Farrrel, Jones and Dornacher break it down so well in their study Finding Joy in Philippians and bring to real-life Philippians 4:8. The list below is taken from this book page 178.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise dwell on these things. Phil 4:8

What is true? God will work all for my good.

My son’s struggles are his struggles and my feeble efforts to help will somehow be brought around to God’s will for his good and my good.

What is noble? Put other’s needs first.

This is noble. This is tough. He is verbally mean, resists all my efforts to help and redirect him to healthy choices, and sullenly takes, takes and takes. I pray for wisdom to see what his needs are at his core. And not to shut down inside from demands, entitlements and ingratitude he throws at me hourly. (I know some of you are saying…”Where are her boundaries?” keep reading.)

What is right? Trusting God

I trust God with my son. After all, he is His son! He entrusted his birth mother to give him life and me to mother him since the age of 3. I haven’t been perfect. I haven’t always done the right thing. AND, knowing all of this beforehand, God still trusted me to be his mom.

What is pure? Avoid selfishness and conceit

Again, this one is tough. When he is mean I want to curl up and protect myself. I want to shut down. While it is right to set boundaries it’s hard to walk that fine line of healthy boundaries while not shutting down. He doesn’t respect the boundaries that I set and I’m not yet willing to kick him out. So, I need to guard myself from becoming hard. I need to stay open to my son. God heals my wounds and protects my heart faithfully.

What is lovely? Our eternal dwelling place that’s free from anxiety

I love this one. His choices and his behavior are illogical. He makes choices that hurt himself and take him further from where he says he wants to be. Focusing on my eternal home where everything will make sense and there is no worry or anxiety gives me peace. I have a picture in my minds eye right now and it makes me smile.

What is admirable? Standing strong

I do this. I stand strong in my fierce love for him. I stand strong to fight for him. I stand strong in Jesus who is the healer for us all.

What is excellent? The character of God is working in me

This IS excellent. I know, confidently, that all that we are going through is used by God to work for good in me. I look to Christ for answers and He is faithful to grow me to be more like Him each day.

What is praiseworthy? God’s loving care

I praise God for his loving care of me and of my son. I have seen God’s loving care work miracles in my life and in my family many times. He is holding me and my son, right now, in His loving care. Every minute. He is faithful

Dwell on these things. That is my strategy.

Costa Rica -Monte Verde Moon Run 1/2 marathon

🏃‍♀️❤️ Costa Rica
When I signed up for this 1/2 marathon I wasn’t running many miles. I’m 55 and I have done an occasional 5K and one 10k in the past 3 years. At the time, signing up for those 5K/10K’s were lofty goals. I finished near the back of the pack each time. And, I am good with that! I feel so accomplished and energized crossing that finish line.

5K in Costa Rica mountains

I also love to do things that are new and different. So, I signed up for this jungle trail 1/2 in March. I have had major setbacks to my training including a serious illness that landed me in the ICU in July. That illness put me off training for 6 weeks.

In spite if that, I never took my eye off of this goal. Now, it’s almost here. I will certainly finish in the back of the pack. But, I will finish! Don’t be afraid of setting lofty goals. You will feel amazing once you achieve them.

Zip lining in Monte Verde, Costa Rica

Mom’s don’t leave

She walked directly toward me in the oddly crowded IHOP at nearly midnight. She was a thin, tiny woman with short blonde spiky hair and tattoo sleeves on both arms. She stood over me and nearly yelled, “Mom’s Don’t Leave. Mom’s…Don’t…Leave”

I was alone at my table waiting to pay the check. Our son had just stormed off. I wasn’t sure if he would be waiting for me or disappear again for weeks. I was in a dilemma about what to do. He can’t live with us, we had decided, because of his uncontrolled anger, violent outbursts, destruction, drug use and thievery. His unbridled rage scares me. On this night, my husband out of town, I just didn’t know what to do. My baby boy-man was asking to come home. What do I do? How do I walk the line between loving my desperate, hurting son to enabling his drug use and bad choices. I wanted to hug him tightly and ease his pain. When he was small, that worked. But, mommy hugs no longer are all that’s needed to make him feel better.

Two hours previously I had once again picked up our son from jail. I was already asleep when he called. When someone calls from jail you get a robotic message that says, “You are receiving a call from an inmate at the criminal justice department. Will you accept the charges” You then need to call a different number, add money to the inmate account to pay for the call and then the inmate can call again and you can accept the charges. Finally on the phone with him, our son said, “Mom, they let me out can you come get me? I want to come home. I’m ready to do better.” He has said this before.

MOMS DON’T LEAVE

We are weary, lost and out of ideas of how to help our youngest. At 18 he left home with just a backpack, no high school degree, no job and no plans. He couch surfed for about 3 months until he finally chose the streets. He has been living on the streets for 2 years. Yes, he bounced around the shelters for a while, but then, after a short while, refused even to stay in shelters. He sleeps under bridges and eats out of dumpsters. He has said, many times, “I live ‘free’, Mom!”

That night, at IHOP, our conversation was a repeat of many we had had before.

Me… asking how we can help, what we need to do to support him. I asked if he was ready for rehab. I asked if he wanted help to get a job. I try hard to stick to boundaries we set to keep ourselves safe and not “enable him” (as all the books say)…walk the line between ensuring he knows we love him; we want the best for him; we want to support him and want him to succeed…We want him to be safe and happy.

And him…crying, confused and unable to say what he needs. He says he wants to get a job and wants to get off the streets. The conversation goes in circles. He says nothing. Curses at me. Threatens. And, then he walks away. Nothing is resolved.

MOM’S DON’T LEAVE

That IHOP night, this little woman sat down in my booth stared me in the eyes and just said “I can see you are tired. Your face says you’ve nearly given up. Don’t give up on him. Mom’s..Don’t…Leave.” Her small fists beat on the table as she emphasized each word. “You need to always be there for him. Be there when he is at his bottom. Be there when he is doing well. Be there when things are crumbling. Mom’s…Don’t…Leave,” she repeated. “He needs to know that you are always going to be there.” She said, “Believe me, I was there, he will thank you for it later. Mom’s…Don’t…Leave.” Then she got up and left.

That was in August. We picked him up from jail again at 2am yesterday morning. This time seems different. (I have said that before) He is still here. And, we are here for him.

MOM’S DON’T LEAVE

Rural living in Costa Rica

The children walk this path to the main road to catch the bus to school. It must take them at least 30 minutes in the hot afternoon sun to get home.

A Caballero and his Ox and cart on a ranch outside of our town.

Rural Ticos live a family centered life in very close knit communities.   Each evening the community center has a party with music and laughter we can hear from our balcony.

Just a few hundred meters off the main road and it looks like it must have 100 years ago.  Clap-board and corrugated metal homes and many generations live on the same driveway.  Their yards are kept with pride…pretty flowering hedges outline their property…free running chickens…turkeys…pigs in a pen…and fruit trees.  Lots of fruit trees!  🙂  Beauty and bounty grow easily in the climate with a little TLC.

Very few people own cars in rural Costa Rica.  Ticos walk everywhere…to the bus stop, work or church.   

Daily we see people who walk 7 kilometers to the bus and back along our road.  Lots of people use a bicycle to get around.  We often see Dads or Mom’s with a kid dressed in their school uniforms riding the handle bars on their way to school in the mornings.  Some families have a motorcycle and balance everyone on including the dog to go to town (no joke!).  It’s another post altogether to talk about the crazy things we have seen loaded on motorcycles..ladders, pulling wheelbarrows like trailers, even a toilet once!)

Grapefruit is not popular here. The fruit his family doesn’t eat usually rots on the ground. He didn’t want to charge us at all for this amazing fruit! He finally settled on 100 colones which is about .20 US. per grapefruit.

Our next door neighbors seem to have this life.  Federico’s multi-generational family live together on about a half acre.    In the evening I always hear laughter of the young cousins horsing around.  In the mornings I hear their chickens scratching in the lot below.  As I walk by their gate I get a smile and a friendly “hola” and maybe even a short conversation. 

living fences line the property borders Everything is open.

A few weeks ago we were invited to get some grapefruit from a friend’s neighbor.  You can’t find grapefruit in the stores here and I love love love grapefruit.  Well, I was like a kid on a field trip, picking up this grapefruit.  We parked at a gate which was on a very steep dirt road and no houses were in sight.  We passed through the gate and walked half a mile and finally to a walking path that led to their home.

Can you see Jorge high up in that tree?…DH shading his eyes to watch

He climbed these 40′ trees with a home made ladder in his bare feet to pick the grapefruit! He filled a giant feed bag with grapefruit 4 times.  Amazing!

the sweetest grapefruit I have ever tasted. What a treat!

The walk to grapefruit


Make room in the garden

I started reading my Bible every morning somewhere in July. Yes, I’ve been a Christian for 25 years…and have ‘found’ time for study in the past…even consistent study for a few weeks. Always, after a short time something felt more pressing and my study time fell away. Like seeds rooted in rocky soil the habit had nothing to hold it to it’s place in my day.

I love this old worn out chair!

In order to create room for anything new, something old needs to be removed. We always fill all the space we have with things…the time we have with ‘to-do’s… I think about when I rearrange furniture. Something has always got to go to make room for the new. It is common sense, yes, but it’s not easy. What needs to go isn’t always something useless, bad or unhealthy. It’s hard to get rid of what is comfortable and familiar to make room for something that is better or healthier…It’s hard to get rid of our old worn out chair that is comfortable and full of memories…the one I read to my kids in…the one in all the Christmas pictures for the past 25 years… The new chair will be just as comfortable, no holes in the upholstery and look fantastic! I’m even excited about the new chair. But still, the familiar and comfortable has to go. I need to make room for the new and better.

This story I read this morning says it well from Discovering Joy in Philippians by Pam Farrel, Jean E. Jones and Karla Dornacher. It’s a garden analogy which is always easy for me to understand. 🙂

“One spring I decided to grow lettuce. I bought a pony pack each of romaine and red leaf lettuce. I nestle some among just-sprouting amaryllises and planted the rest in the empty pots. I figured when the amaryllises finished blooming, the growing lettuce leaves would hide their fading leaves and within weeks take their place entirely.

All went well…for a while.

But by mid spring, the lettuce tucked among the amaryllises was stunted and tough, while the other plants were round and tender.

I don’t have amaryllis in my garden but I do have beautiful Iris

That’s when it hit me. Amaryllises aren’t annuals-plants that completely die back after blooming. They’re bulbs, so even though what’s on the surface dies back, what’s under the soil multiplies. The lettuce roots had no room to grow and couldn’t produce healthy leaves.

Amused at my cluelessness, I thought, Isn’t this like what happens when we try to add a new spiritual habit without making space for it? After all, adding a spiritual habit doesn’t happen magically. We usually need to eliminate something to make room.

Nestling lettuce among amaryllis bulbs doesn’t work, so if you feel God tugging you to take on a spiritual habit of eternal value, creatively make space for it.”

It’s true for any healthy new habit. We need to remove something in our day for the new habit to have room to sink deep roots.

Colorado September 2019

Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:3-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There will be bugs

Costa Rica has 1,251 species of butterflies

I am a shrieker when it comes to bugs.  If a crawly, leggy insect surprises me I shriek…loudly!  My feet do the tap-tap ‘girl’ dance.  I stand on something high.  Sheesh!   Drives my DH nuts.  This happens a lot here in Costa Rica.  Because, in the jungle there are a lot of bugs!

Year round, no matter how clean I think I keep my kitchen I get these super tiny ants.   They tell all their ant friends from miles around about the one drop of watermelon juice that I missed on the counter.  And, in they march.  In the dry season, for the most part, it is just the ants.

This year, the rainy season started in April instead of May.  So I have enjoyed the greening of the jungle, gorgeous flowers and the sound of the rain on the roof.  It is beautiful.  We have sunny mornings and then the afternoon rains cool down the day.  We have rainbows.  We have amazing lightning shows over the Pacific in the towering thunder clouds.  It’s really cool!

Grasshoppers hatching. This whole nest is less than an inch long

Millenium Falcón – flat as a piece of paper

When the rain arrived, so did the bugs.  There are lots of beetles, moths, spiders and lots and lots of different little tiny bugs that fly to the lights.    The first couple weeks it was like the bug-door openned and they all came in at once!   Thankfully,  shortly after the rain and the bugs showed up we started to witness things come back into balance.  The frogs and toads showed up.  Where have they been for 6 months?  And, (yippee!) the birds have returned, too!  We didn’t have birds for several months around the house.    And, guess what birds and frogs eat?  Yes!  bugs.  🙂

Long story made short, I am trying to get used to them.  People lived in the tropics with bugs long before I arrived, right?.   I am trying to not be such a weenie.  After all, God created them too.  And I’m sure he has a purpose for them.  Some of them are very pretty.  And, some look like prehistoric monsters. (tap-tap-dance)

cocoon only 1/4″ long. I think it is some kind of bagworm. Please let me know if you know what this is.

While I still shriek if they surprise me, they don’t send me running…most of the time.   Our DS#2 took some of these amazing pictures   I appreciate bugs more when I can look at them in a picture.  😉

The pace

Macaw feathers

I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Phil 3:13,14

It’s April already.  Next month is May and our return to the US.  Our return to ‘normal life’.  Our days seem louder and busier when we are in the states.  I prefer the relaxed days I have here. Sunrise in my rocker…Parrots and Howlers as my alarm clock..The deep greens of the jungle canopy as it contrasts with the bright colors of birds and flowers….the heat of the day…the breeze on my face…my view of the Pacific…my small town.

Dawn on Playa Samara

We have found a rhythm here.  We have settled in.   We shop with Ray, our grocer, and his cousin, our butcher.  Occasionally, we suffer the Pali (a 5 aisle grocery owned by Walmart) that brags “Bienvenido a los precios bajó!” on a huge green sign.   DH has made good friends at the small gym, cycles 3 times a week along the beach and jungle roads.  I love my early morning runs on the beach.  I have a few expat friends and as my spanish has improved I have made a couple made a couple Tica friends as well.  It is a very small town and many faces have become familiar.  When Charlie and I walk they smile and say,  “buenas dias!”  or “Pura Vida!”.   We work during the heat of the days.  talk, read, go to the beach.  While we are not cut off from the news blasts of home, we are not bombarded with them either.  It is easier to focus on what’s important.

DS2 being silly with Charlie

This pace gives me time to see and appreciate what’s around me.  I am thankful God infused so much beauty and detail into everything.    I don’t know if the beauty has a purpose beyond my simple delight, but  I am thankful for the amazing color and plumage of the Quetzel… the gorgeous  flowers that bloom on a dormant tree after months with no rain creating a canopy of pink overhead… the macaw feather so full of color in the sunlight…  I want to hold on to my un-distracted sense of God and connection with my family and  nature when I go back.

A canopy of pink blossoms pop out overnight on dormant branches on these 50′ trees in March

I haven’t laid hold of it yet and feel like I only have a glimpse of it.   I pray when I return to the states old patterns won’t return with all their noise, hype and distraction.  Costa Rica, and my small town have opened my eyes to see God’s real desire for us.  His desire for us to worship him with awe and trust him and his design for our lives.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  Romans 1:20

Working in Costa Rica – my third year…

cyber security

As snow birds to a small beach town in Costa Rica from our small mountain town in Colorado I have enjoyed this perk with an internet job.  Each year working online in Costa Rica has gotten easier. Last year the electric company, ICE (pronounced EE-say) installed fiber optic cable with very reliable high speed internet and the electricity flickers off much less frequently. Conveniences like e-sign, video conferencing and online meeting platforms have become universal and easy to use.  From a day to day standpoint my actual work goes as smoothly here as it does in Colorado.

At the same time, however, each year increased layers of security have been implemented to meet the compliance requirements of client information. In February I switched to another employer with an international footprint.  Prior to hire and many times in the few weeks after hire they assured me that I could work from Costa Rica.  Surprise!!  Three weeks after I was hired I received a call and an apology telling me to stop work immediately while in Costa Rica. The CEO and IT decided that effective immediately no employee can  access client information while outside of the US.  Since my whole job involves being completely in client data…I suddenly was faced with a big dilemma.  My boss and HR both told me they would try to find a solution which would allow me to continue to work for them but no one was optimistic.  They gave me a week to fly back to the US to continue my job.

If you are IT savvy you are rolling your eyes, I think.  And, I am no expert.  But, even with VPNs, RDPs, verification keys, passwords, etc., my company did not feel they could verify the security of my internet enough to satisfy their compliance concerns.

Based on the initial understanding with my new employer that I could work from both our homes we began a big expansion of our home here in CR, family planned visits, and we even considered renting out our home in Colorado and living here full time!!! That phone call put a sudden and shocking stop to our comfort and peace of mind and our plans.

After much discussion, prayer and consideration my DH and I decided we would follow our plan to stay in Costa Rica regardless of what my company was able to do.  We felt we had too much invested in CR to change course now.   I told my company that I earnestly hoped a resolution would be found so I could continue to work for them, but that DH and I had decided to continue our plans and remain in Costa Rica.  If I couldn’t work for them, I would take a sabbatical year.  (I’m not gonna lie, that sounded great to me!!)

It took three weeks, but my company came through!  They found a job for me in developing / editing educational materials while I am in Costa Rica.  And, when I am in the states I will do my original job as planned.  I feel pretty lucky to have landed with this company.  Most employers might not go to so much trouble to accommodate my two country lifestyle.

So, back when we were first planning our snowbird life, I naively thought the internet was the internet and with an online job I would be able to work from anywhere in the world.  That is true, but…  If you are planning to work in Costa Rica be upfront with your employer.  Talk with IT (IT will know where you are.  Believe me.  They track IP addresses).  Talk with HR.  This planning and conversation may save you a lot of stress and surprises.  Every department in my company became involved with this issue.  They even wrote their first international IT policy…all my fault.  😉