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

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.


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.


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.