1. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
– An Incomplete Manifesto, Bruce Mau
Phew. We are home and I am bursting at the seams with stories. We have been home for a week and the edges of our trip are blurring, the chronology of events melding into one continuous moment, and the vibrant colours of the jungle fading fast into the recesses of my imagination.
I keep asking myself: Was that real? Did we really spend a month there?
(Did my fraidy-cat behind actually get on a surf board in open water??)
That first moment, when we walked into our house after a month away, was very strange. It was like walking into another life, a familiar but distant memory of a family that I once knew. Over the past week, we have seen friends and family, cooked our first meals together at home, and enjoyed that quiet gratification of falling asleep in your own bed after being away.
Sinking back into our life here was as easy as putting on those favourite one-size-too-big jeans that you just can’t bear to throw away. You might not have worn them in awhile but once you put them on, it’s like you’ve never taken them off, a second skin that feels like it was meant for you. This has been our home for the last eight years. But something has shifted like we can feel that those pair of jeans are a little too big or a little too snug now.
We are still slowly easing our way back into our rhythm at home. There has been no rush to unpack or return to a structured day of homeschooling. We are acclimatizing to this 50 degree shift in temperature and what it means to be home.
I am still surprised at how the events of a singular month can affect an individual, a family, a friendship. I am surprised at how little I prepared for the emotional big-ness of a month away with my family and what we learned about ourselves and each other.
I was so preoccupied with being prepared in terms of packing and homeschooling before we left on our journey. But for the most part, I had no idea what to expect.
Allow events to change you. I took a leap of faith and opened my heart to this experience and to connecting with the land and the people we encountered. I did not expect this from the trip – that I would give myself permission to let this month change me.
I can pinpoint the exact moment when I gave myself permission. On our first morning there, we stopped at a bakery for breakfast. After we ate, we crossed the street to look at a street vendor’s wares. Enter Jesica. I went out on a limb and asked her if we could meet up to practice Spanish/English. We set up a time on the beach later that afternoon and the rest is history. We three mamas – Jesica, my friend Falon who was traveling with us, and myself – connected instantly. I knew we were kindred spirits when she walked up with three mojitos in a can for us to enjoy together.
I didn’t expect a lot of things on this trip.
I didn’t expect to make new friends and strengthen my current relationships at the same time.
I didn’t expect to be struck with such gratitude day in and day out for just being there with my family and my friends.
I didn’t expect the overwhelming acts of kindness and generosity from all those we met.
I didn’t expect connecting so deeply with so many new people…a personal first.
I didn’t expect to be ok going slow AND going with the flow.
I didn’t expect that I would be bold enough to practice Spanish daily.
I didn’t expect my children to fall in love with the place and with surfing.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with my family.
I didn’t expect that a steady diet of chorizo, chicken, egg, rice, beans, corn tortillas, plantain, avocado, mangoes, bananas, and all things coconut (with occasional coconut cookie and corn chip snacks) would make me feel so good and actually make me lose weight. (We did go out for pasta and pizza many times towards the end of the trip…we couldn’t resist the authentic Italian food!)
This was our favourite fruit vendor at the farmer’s market…I’m not sure if we kept going back to her because she resembled my maternal grandmother or because she gave us such a great deal on mangoes…
I didn’t expect to get sick of pizza. (See above.)
I didn’t expect to meet so many people who wanted to hear our story.
I didn’t expect for the water at our beach to change day in and day out – the height of the waves, the colour of the ocean, and the movements throughout the day – like a fickle teenager that can’t decide what to wear.
I didn’t expect to learn important life lessons from our groundskeeper/caretaker.
I didn’t expect to lose track of time and days…another first!
I didn’t expect for a shift in perspective.
I didn’t expect to see beauty everywhere I looked every single day.
I didn’t expect to want to do the same thing every day: drink my Costa Rican coffee, head to the beach, teach the kids, read, write, and eat REAL chocolate.
I didn’t expect any of what transpired in my wildest dreams: the off-the-beaten path gymnastic classes, the guitar-playing caretaker who can be best described as a Costa Rican Mr. Rogers, the candid conversation with an artist, the yoga class with Fabrice, the Italian bakery that made us plan our day around when they were opened, the sloth sightings, the perfect beach, the pizza man who let the kids make their own pizza so we parents could watch the Superbowl, the friendship with an Argentinian artisan, and all the European and Canadian ex-pats who shared their stories of life in that small town.
I didn’t expect to feel so much.
I didn’t expect this to be more than just a break from the cold Canadian winter.
I didn’t expect to live with another family for a month and for the relationship to be stronger after the fact.
I didn’t expect to be a dog lover.
I didn’t expect to miss the rooster and the monkeys and the birds as alarm clocks.
I didn’t expect to be able to sit and stare at the ocean for hours.
I didn’t expect to be comfortable enough to ask directions from locals when we got lost in the mountains.
I didn’t expect for my breath to be taken away over and over again.
I didn’t expect to turn every corner only to be hit with absolute wonder and awe.
I didn’t expect to feel so at home in the sun and how much I would miss it.
I didn’t expect to feel so full and not have the faintest idea on how to describe it.
Because I just don’t know where to begin, I will be using some of my photos from our trip as prompts for stories, reflections, and observations on how the events that unfolded over a month made some change in my life.
I am aiming for 2-3 stories a week…maybe even daily if I really want to challenge myself.
Who knows? You’ll just have to go with the flow…
“To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.”
– Pablo Neruda
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