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Saved by Grace

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

In late January Steve and I looked at each other and had to do a big check in. What are we doing? On our 15th rental, having spent our projected 6 month budget in only 3. Feeling so intensely unsettled. January was a bleak month where I felt like I tumbled down a well of despair and just couldn’t climb back out. The collective energy we experienced was like that all around, so I had to sift between what was mine and what wasn’t. Did you feel that too? [It was so much darkness I missed putting out my February energy forecast, something I so love doing. I hated that I felt I couldn’t muster the clarity to deliver something good!] My experience was a reflection of what I believed to be true, I accepted the invitation to check into that and pull it all apart. Confused; surrounded by beauty, nature blaring in the background, wasn’t this what we came for? And then our friends; immediate connections, friends for us all, shared values, sharing our days, wasn’t this what we came for? The freedom; unburdened to go as we please and do as we want, never thinking twice if we’re “allowed”, wasn’t that what we came for?

Yes. So many expectations have been met or surpassed, so why are we still feeling this way? This intense feeling of not belonging, of being incongruent, not being aligned or on the path. Like a gear in the mechanism just moving out of sync. A heart out of beat. I wonder how we know if what we think we want is truly what we want. Where does that ‘want’ come from? Is it stationed in our hearts, or programmed into our minds? Is it ever-changing or something we’re meant to cling to as ‘the way forward’ and march on with it? Would it be ok to know that what we want now may not be what we want later and we wouldn’t have to validate any of it?

When we try to examine what makes a life a life, what makes us feel like we’re living, it’s layered in many things. We knew in coming here we would be somewhat suspended in the day to day goings on of life as we found a town and a community and a house and got a new rhythm established. We just did not know it would take so long. And we did not factor in that it had already felt like we were missing it for years. Every person I’ve met here, upon hearing how much we’ve moved around, says “well what was your plan?” I’m so much of a ‘just go for it’ person, but I think we really did bite off more than we could chew this time. Even admitting to that is hard for me. Because I also know it’s unfolded perfectly in its way, allowing us to explore so much of this country, have the opportunity to see what we liked and don’t like. Our ‘plan’ was so loosely formed though, I just never knew it could take this much effort to match up all we were seeking. Balance seems to be out of order and perhaps that elusive state is where we feel like life is best lived from.

In the month of preparation to move to Costa Rica I had visions of leaping and being caught in the most extraordinary way. That we would be enveloped by community that adores us, that we would just step into a routine that made us feel like we were thriving. We would be provided for all of the things we so easily gave up — we gave it all up, we gave everything away — I imagined it like a flood of good things washing over us and replacing all that was let go of. Sometimes lately I fantasize about returning to Canada and how Steve could just start working on a project right away and then I think shit. He gave all of his tools away. We quite actually have nothing left, we are starting from scratch no matter where we are. I believe in universal laws, I believe when something empties something else fills it. Is it all a matter of timing?

Last week we drove from the south to the north. I watched over our six hour drive as the landscape changed. The lush green soaring mountains gave way to brown dusty hills. I watched as the temperature gauge on the dashboard climbed from 30 to 31, to 32 and upwards to 36. The jungle feels less wild, less alive. Somehow even though the climate is so much hotter, the ocean is cold. More people, more cars. I took all of it inside of myself and felt parched like the grass.

A structured life was one of our core desires in coming here to Costa Rica. To engage in community and school again like we once had. This is what we ventured back to the hot and dry north for. The original school of more than fifteen that I contacted or interviewed since we got here, when we circled back to it, seemed like a great fit and they had space for both Lily and Gracie. We made the decision super quickly, as we do, and after hard goodbyes with newfound friends who felt like we had known for ages, we were back on the path. But the path still proved to be fraught with challenge. How could that be, weren’t we on track now? I guess I believed that in making the decision to come back up north to Tamarindo everything would start flowing easily and I would feel clicked into place. But I didn’t, I felt still bewildered, uncomfortable, like I had made a mistake in coming. We still were transient, we still didn’t know where anything was, we still had no sense of ‘home’.

After arriving back in Tamarindo I didn’t talk to most anyone all week long; I focused on work, the little logistical things that needed to be checked off each day and trying to acclimate being north again. I helped get the girls feeling solid about school, and I would hear them time to time talking to each other quietly “what house do you think mom is finding for us? I’ll bet it’s going to be really big. Yah”. Sinking heart hearing this. On one hand, this is all just a massive adventure for them and they are brilliant at taking it all in stride and keeping joyful about the small wonders each day. On the other hand they are as tired as any of us are and dearly want to just feel settled. It chips away at Steve and I hearing their little voices full of hope and anticipation when we don’t know how or when we’ll deliver.

In practical terms what is happening is that the housing market in Tamarindo is equally as depressing as all other parts of Costa Rica, in my personal experience. We stayed in an okay condo for 5 days in which time we looked at longer term rentals. The market here is still in this hyper inflated boom creating a sense of value that is based on nothing measurable and is not realistic in nearly anyone’s terms. There isn’t a shortage of accommodation per se but all geared towards short stays. I actually feel certain there are heaps of long term rentals available but I don’t know who to know yet! So I’m at the whims of the holiday booking market. And I just couldn’t stomach moving temporarily again. I am beyond proficient at packing now, I don’t think I need to keep practicing it. The girls, bless them, fully unpack each and every time. I love it for them as I want them to feel ‘at home’ in whatever small ways they can. But I’m at the point I’m just cracking my suitcase and rummaging through it as needed, which one of my four things should I wear today! I had felt so confident when we booked five days at this mediocre condo that we would find our longterm option, but somehow the days went by in a blink and all our leads were dead ends.

There’s a foreboding sense of wrongness that has followed me this entire time. I don’t doubt that I was meant to come here to Costa Rica right now, to take huge scary jumps and explore new worlds of possibility. I’m experiencing more day to day comfort and ease than I would be at home, in the practical sense of going where I please anyway. There is no constant angst here, there are differing opinions for certain and yet an overarching sense of agreement for choice and for peace. I know that certainly is not all for naught. I have come face to face with lifelong patterns and maybe have gotten to know more of what I truly think life is about. But I’ve had this sense of urgency that I can’t shake. Like an animal preparing for the coming season. Am I bracing myself for something? Or even here, in paradise, have I not found my alignment?

The villa feels nearly homey. It’s not as roomy as we hoped which complicates some things scheduled for March, but it’s completely fine too. The kitchen is basic but I can make it work well enough. It is not the exact vision I had in my mind (my idealism is off the charts you guys), but it does tick all the boxes I finally dwindled down to in my desperate prayers. It is safe, it is clean, it is spacious – enough. It has a private pool and its own green space. There are two fruitful banana trees. The garden is maintained and well kept and a cleaner comes weekly. In 5 minutes, down a quiet dirt road and through a beautiful windy path, we can be down to a wild patch of the Pacific Ocean. It’s not a swimmable area but it has great tide pools and super fun low hanging trees the girls can climb and play in. It’s the perfect sunset location away from the noise and busyness of Tamarindo Beach.

I feel this odd pulling within me. I had gone beyond whatever my last straw would be, I had made fervent prayers and sought guidance just needing a nudge to know that being here wasn’t a mistake altogether. I had chosen against myself by deciding to return north when we felt comfy in the south. And I had almost gotten to the place where I threw in the towel and said I quit. I went to the grocery store alone on Sunday night. Needing to get a few sneaky treats for the family for Valentines’ Day, I chose bedtime. This meant driving through town in the dark and manoeuvring our friends’ large SUV that we’re renting into small parking spots. As I drove home from the Automercado, traffic was light but the town was alive. People out celebrating the Super Bowl, lights strung gaily over the streets, restaurants upon restaurants, shops and boutiques and cafes in this perfectly walkable town. No street lights, a mix of cars, motorcycles, a horse. And our place, a short drive away from the town activity, a quiet area where I can hear the waves crashing at night. The girls school a 15 minute drive away. Every amenity I could need within a few minutes. Could I have inadvertently found the best of all worlds?

If you’re not getting what you want could something better be on its way? I think about how devastated I was that the condos we looked at either weren’t available or just didn’t feel quite right, and yet now I can see how all we were meant to do was wait a tiny bit longer. It felt like I was being denied at the time and yet I was being offered the opportunity to wait and get something better. I mean I know that god is good and that the entire universe conspires in our favour, but maybe I don’t know what my own ‘favour’ really is yet. So in all of these trials of the last few months (but it’s really been years) is it possible I’m being invited to further know my own desires, to really access a deeper well of strength within myself and to wholeheartedly trust that everything is coming in right timing — that all of this suspension is needed because I’m in the waiting room of life, not in the delivery room? It’s possible that I’m being offered further insight into being more honest about what I want most, above all else, and aligning myself mind | body | soul to that frequency.

It truly is the work I love doing, it’s what I love coaching women about. How we can unlearn what we once thought was true and choose again, according to our own unique value system and what we truly desire out of life. I guess I am grateful (blink blink) that I just get a further opportunity to experience my own work. Just think how great my coaching sessions will be now! (Wink wink)

All totally normal daily activities. I notice as I sit here at the quiet dining room table, watching the palms whip out back in the gusty wind, that I feel settled right now. Home-esque. The evolution of just three days has been fascinating to witness as I felt my nervous system actually lay dormant for a minute. No need to constantly seek other shelter, no need to drive long distances to find what we’re looking for. And so curious to see how multiple days in a row without my two big girls will go — will I finally get super productive? Will I quickly learn where to source all the things I want here in this new town? Will I dive wholly back into work feeling energized and independent after two long years? Will I just melt into one of the lounges by the pool and not move for hours?

Someone recently asked me if the world was settled in peace, where would I live now. I can’t feel certain. If the world was as I hoped it to be, I would be able to easily choose both. I would be just looking at the last few weeks of a winter holiday in the tropics perhaps, enjoying each day knowing that I would soon be leaving it. I’d be watching for news about an early spring at home in Canada, asking my mom to tell me when she saw the first robin or green buds on a tree. I’d be thinking about planning out my summer veggie garden and cleaning up the yard when I arrived home while basking in the tropical sunshine and sipping another fresh cold coconut water, right out of the coconut. Do we truly ever have that level of certainty or insight? Because apparently we needed 2020 as the catalyst to even really try living this dream out. What good is it to wonder about life in those terms when this is all there is.

I want to believe that I’m at the pinnacle of the mountain I’ve been climbing. Within the last week we have secured a car rental that’s more manageable, a house we can afford and school for the girls. From here, do I have an easy and enjoyable road down, the anguish behind me? Or is this just a rest stop where I catch my breath, take in the scenery and choose where to ascend to next. Already my brain wants me to consider what’s next while my body deeply wants me to rest and just be here for a bit. While I can. I will have to be forward thinking, god willing I can do this! Sophie’s house isn’t a long term option and I can’t say that being here in Costa Rica is my perfect choice. But perhaps I’ve always kidded myself to believe I could find that. There’s a tug in my heart that longs for familiarity but I wonder if I can put comparison aside for now and just embrace where I am without expectation.

It feels far too soon to say what I can imagine happening here but as I write a message comes in from sweet Sophie. Wondering if we maybe would want to extend another month, through April. Normally a big ticket month with the two week Semana Santa (Easter) holidays, Sophie says she’d rather keep us on then deal with it. When I ask about price, “oh maybe just a bit more than what we already agreed on”. I think I can’t quite understand what a gift that is yet. I receive, almost simultaneously to that gracious offer, a message from a friend about the further deterioration of politics in Canada and feel nearly startled at the contrast. My 40th birthday is in April and my mind can’t comprehend spending it here, where I know no one and feel so out of place (I always thought I’d charter a yacht in the Mediterranean, ha!). And then imagine if I was at home in Canada and wouldn’t even go to a restaurant for a special birthday supper. But it is over two months away, so much could change by then. We could be settled. Or we could be in a different country. The world could feel entirely different as a whole. So many possibilities exist! My mind still on the constant prowl to figure this out. Everything just has this temporary kind of feeling to it. I don’t feel anxious at the thought for the moment though. I feel peaceful and relaxed and held. I feel grateful for the level of comfort I’m feeling. I feel hopeful that I am finally able to better choose the lens I want to perceive this experience through, that I can set aside the worry and confusion and just revel in being here in the warmth and the wind and the unknown.

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