It's been a few months since I've posted anything. After getting messages asking if I was in a Costa Rican jail or even if I was still alive, I realized that I really needed to get this post out. I've been writing and rewriting it for months, but the timing didn't seem right. It's true, I've been avoiding you! Keep reading to find out why.
As you may recall, last fall I sold my house, quit my job, ditched my belongings, even going so far as to sell my clothes. I left my cozy home in Canada to find a life for myself in Central America. Something was pulling me to that part of the world. There is a quote by Rumi that reads "let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray". In my case, I'd made a list of what those things were and I put together a plan to get there. I wasn't totally sure on the detail of where, but figuring that out was all part of the journey. Long and short - there was something, besides sunshine, that was calling me to that part of the world. But the promise of warm weather, very little clothing, and a simpler life played a big part.
Here was the plan:
- Quit job
- Sell house
- Buy plane ticket
- Get a Tan
- Learn Spanish
- Start a business
- Fall in love
- Never return (except for epic snowfall, weddings and babies)
Items 1-4 were fairly straight forward, happened very methodically and flowed quite easily. It appeared the Universe was truly on my side.
Number 5, "Learn Spanish", now that's where the plan started to get sticky, but I expected that. I knew that it was only through practice and pushing through the discomfort that I would learn. My Spanish was sloooooooowly coming along. I was practicing when I could, but also found that most people preferred speaking back in English. It wasn't until I starting managing the Eco-lodge that the language barrier proved to be an actual barrier. My reliance on Google translate as a communication tool didn't pan out when combined with the remoteness of Matapalo and the spotty, if anything, wifi. Managing a staff of Spanish-speaking Costa Ricans proved frustrating - my broken Spanish and hand signals didn't really cut it.
For the most part I was able to stay pretty focused on Number 6, "Start a business". Along the way, everything I experienced, everyone I talked to, it all contributed to research. I took the job working at Encanta so that I could get more experience in tourism and hospitality and learn what it is like to run a surf/yoga lodge. I got to see what worked and what didn't - always noting how I would do things differently or what pieces/practices I would borrow as inspiration. It reinforced the fact that I was on the right track. From a business perspective, my only discouragement was watching the value of the Canadian dollar plummet against the widely Costa Rican-used USD, but it was enough to make me question if my timing was right.
Note that I had listed Number 7 "Fall in love" AFTER number 6, "Start a business". This was mostly because I didn't want to be sidetracked by love. I know myself - it's happened before. Falling in love with the idea of love versus the actual person. In reality, I may not have fallen in love, but I definitely let the lure of a handsome surfer distract me. More on that later...
The disclaimer on Number 8 "Never return (*except for epic snowfall, weddings and babies)" meant more in the end, than I thought it would. Looking at my timeline, I left in November, but planned to come back to Canada in May to attend a friends wedding. Snowfall was epic from December on. While it gave me FOMO, it wasn't enough to bring me home. I watched endless Instagram feeds spew images of deep, white, glorious powder. When I referred to the last part of Number 8 "Never return (*except for babies)", I was speaking to friend's babies, not my own. Turns out my disclaimer needed to be a bit more specific.
And so, in a twist of fate and a deviation from the original plan, I sit writing this blog post from a sunny cafe in Squamish as I'm back in Canada for the foreseeable future. You read that right. Yes, I'm back in Canada, back in Squamish. And as it turns out, I'm not alone...
I've taken on a stowaway. My salty little babe is to make his/her grand entrance this September.
I have always loved kids. I've gone back and forth about wanting to have my own. I attribute to fear and self-doubt, mostly. When I was younger, I never envisioned myself living past forty and thus never having a family. I think it was because I struggled with depression. In the past I questioned my ability to take care of a child, in some years even struggling to take care of myself. I worried about being responsible for another being. The last 8 years I was on-again-off-again with someone that already had kids, so had convinced myself that I didn't want them. But really, children make my heart sing. I love their little personalities. I love the joy they bring. I love their honesty. I love their pureness of heart. I see my friends and family around me raising these beautiful little beings. Maybe part of me leaving there was because it was a bit hard for me to watch, because deep down it was something I wanted and it was something I didn't have, or see happening in the near future in Squamish. I would go to sleep in my quiet lonely house and wake up in the same silence. In the past year I've weighed my love of midday naps and the ability to pack my bags and go, against sleepless nights and never ever being able to go to the bathroom by myself again.
My exploration of self in the last two years saw me finally dealing with the shit that has bogged me down and that process brought me to the decision that, yes, I did want to share my life with a child. I turned 40 last August. It opened my eyes. I was running out of time if I wanted to both find love, nurture a relationship and then have a child. In that order. I had dreams of settling in Central America, starting a business and then opening myself up to love. I had grand visions of finding the love of my life and living out our future together as a happy little family in the sunshine.
I'm not a person that believes in "God" and I'm hell bent against organized religion, but I do believe there is something out there guiding us. On advice of a psychic I had seen a few weeks before I left, I'd written out my vision, my wishes, slept with it under my pillow, waiting for the day I could ceremoniously put it to rest. At my Bon Voyage party down by the river in Squamish, I asked my spiritual-guru-mystic-mama friend, Kristin Campbell, to lead my little ceremony. On that chilly November day, on the banks of the Squamish river, I burned that piece of paper and (with it my dreams), giving thanks to the Universe for the gifts I had received (as if I had already received them). I buried the ashes in the sand, along with my offering of gifts to the Universe. It was official, my wishes were out there in the Universe, taken by the wind of the mountain air and in to every living thing around me, breathing life into my private thoughts. It was just a question of time before I would receive them. And in my head there was a receiving order.
You may remember that I talked about meeting the Shaman while on Megan's Chasing Waterfalls retreat in the mountains. We each had an individual blessing with him. And with him, as with Kristin, I kept my wishes consistent. I talked openly about manifesting my best life, true love and child a into my life. Maybe I wasn't specific enough. Maybe it meant falling in love with myself so that all my ducks fell into place. Or just maybe, I manifested true love in the form of a child. And so comes a love that will change my life forever - the maternal bond, the love of a mother and child.
In the last few months I'd branded myself as this free living adventurer on a journey to build my life. I had (and still have) big plans for myself. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to find a place to settle, start a business, find love and THEN have a child. First I wanted a means to support myself. I wanted to be so busy living my life that I attracted that love I wanted. I didn't want finding love to be the focus of my time in Central America. The word failure pops up in my head and I do my best to swat it away. I have to remember that it was me who said I had to be okay with whatever outcome this journey took me on. I have to trust that the Universe has put me on the right path.
I've never ever wanted to be a solo parent and it looks like I will be. My sister is mom to a vibrant 3 year old, but she and his dad split up last year.. She wasn't a single mom when she started out. When I told her I was pregnant, I didn't get the response I was hoping for. I got a warning. I got a dose of reality that said that going at parenthood alone is hard. Really hard. It's lonely. It's trying. It's tiring. It made me question the reasons why I really wanted this. But life isn't a cake walk either and as Hillary told me, "we don't do things in life because they're easy".
Even before I told people that I was pregnant, I was getting messages from concerned friends and family contacting me to tell me about the Zika virus. Once I told them I was pregnant, they told me to "get my ass home...now". Even though Costa Rica wasn't one of the seriously affected countries, there was still a threat of Zika virus to the health of my unborn child. It is all over every social media and news network in the world. The world Health organization (WHO) issued a warning against travel to any of the Zika-affected countries because the viral disease is quickly hitting endemic numbers. Mosquito borne, it has been linked to an increase in babies born with microcephaly, fetal malformations and neurological disorders. There still isn't enough information on it, but it was enough to know that being pregnant, it wasn't a chance I wanted to take. My Spanish is not where it needs to be for me to properly communicate with doctors and understand that I was getting the best medical care possible, even with the great health care that Costa Rica is known for. Plus, I was living in a remote corner of Costa Rica, an hour from any town. And the way I was feeling (hot, sick, tired, uncomfortable), I couldn't see myself dragging a backpack around again trying to find a place to settle.
Being pregnant, it is amazing how quickly my body started to change and how that also affected my choice to come back to Canada. I found myself having a total physical and mental aversion to the sun and to the life I had so desperately wanted a short time before. Hormones are crazy like that.
And I can't write this post without mentioning maternity leave benefits. Sorry Americans you probably shudder to hear this! A huge perk to being a mother (or even father) in Canada is 50 weeks of paid maternity leave. Of course, you need to work the hours to pay into it and it's not a huge amount of money, but it is something and it helps. The biggest benefit being that you have a stress-free year to enjoy your new sweet little gift. The timing of my return to Canada also coincided with a return to work, so I could enjoy this benefit.
But mostly being back in Canada means having my people around me. As independent as I am, I really need my support circle right now, especially since I'm going at this alone. I am grateful for the love and support I've received.
So here I am. Once the babe is born, I'll reassess. My dream to "live the salty life" isn't dead, it has just rounded a corner. I can't help but think that this is the journey that the Universe had in store for me all along.
Life. Whoa. Sometimes it throws you curve balls.