Tag Archives: change

Reflecting on a Year of Change

26 Oct

I’ve found myself in a moment of flying solo and I am at a loss of what to do. Where is Kai? Where is K? Where are Venus, Isis, Zeus, Tico, and Luna? I have an endless list of To Dos for work but I can’t bring myself “to do” them at this precise moment. So here I am FLYING SOLO at an altitude of over 10,000 feet. Its been nearly 8 months since I’ve posted here. I’m not sure which adventure to share with you, since there have been so many. So this may have to be a mash-up.

The past 11 months of our new life have been wonderful in so many ways. We love our little place in paradise. Long walks on dirt roads down to the river gorge below our house. Planting lots of lush ginger, heliconias, fruit trees, herbs, and flowers at our Finca Tolomuca. We’ve been going lots of little adventures whenever we can. Fridays at the Farmers Market. Saturdays at the beach. Sundays in the rainforest. Not exactly like that all the time but you get the gist. Life here is quite simply WHOLE. Its not perfect. Its not a utopia. Because life is just not perfect. We laugh more. We play more. We work hard. And we are genuinely happy.

I truly feel as though we are giving Kai the best childhood a kid could have. He has a community at Arco Iris that just adore him. He talks about his friends all the time. He spends quality time with K and I everyday. He gets to run free outside below the magical higueron trees everyday, feel the sun touch his cheeks. He’s found his love for painting, playing music, signing, and dancing. He discovered a passion for cooking yummy treats like pancakes and muffins. We live life in ways we couldn’t before. This is what childhood is all about.

Home Sweet Home! Atenas

I love where we live and I love the place we now call home. Atenas is genuine. It is simply beautiful and an amazing place to just be.

Tapanti

Imagine yourself completely enrobed in pristine tropical rainforests as far at the eye can see. Land that no man has ever stepped foot on. Water so pure and fresh. A single tree exploding with life on each branch and each life. The earthy aroma of fresh rain. Waterfalls that caress the rocks. Rain drops that cleans you from the inside even in the dry season. Embrace nature, purity, and peace. Embrace Tapanti.

 

Punta Leona

This is our go-to place to escape and decompress, and become one with the ocean. Nothing says meditation in motion better than a long run at sunrise under the rainforest canopy. And then there are the afternoon rains by Playa Mantas, heaven on earth for a toddler! Nothing symbolizes happiness for us then the place we got married. Then you sip a freshly made pina colada and start singing that song, if you like pina coladas getting caught in the rain… Oh yes we do! And that sums up Punta Leona in a nutshell.

Rio Celeste

Misty clouds envelope the lush green mountainscape surrounding the notorious Rio Celeste (or Sky Blue River). You’ve heard the stories about the endangered Tapirs that roam these rain forests, and you think that you just might see one creeping between the palms and clouds in the distance. Ops my imagination has gotten then best of me once again! Then there are the absolutely divine French-Tico fusion cuisine at one of my favorite mountain lodges of all time, Celeste Mountain Lodge, which is by far the BEST food I’ve ever had in Costa Rica. Kai just loved running free through the gardens and playing with the other kids. After that its off to Parque Nacional Vulcan Tenorio to see and experience the splendor of Rio Celeste and the pristine jungle that keeps it pure and beautiful. We hired a guide for our 5 hour jungle hike to learn about nature, and so glad that we did!

Playa Langosta

Want open ocean and white sand beaches on the Pacific that extend as far as the eye can see? Then Playa Langosta is the place for you. Nothing quite compares to rolling around in the waves and sand for a couple of days, playing in a river that flows to the ocean with your toddler, or taking walks along a trail to search out Iguanas. Then there is the all-you-can-eat buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Indulgent best describes a getaway to Playa Langosta!

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Last but certainly not least is the one and only La Paz Waterfall Gardens! Want to trek through untouched cloud forest? Do you yearn to feel the cool mist of pure mountain water cascade down rocks in the rain forest? Then this is the place for you. To top it off you will have the opportunity to play with rescued Toucans and have them rest on your arm. How cool is that? We love this place, especially for kids and whenever we have friends and family visiting. It is a place we can come back to again and again just for a fun day in nature and for a reminder of Costa Rican traditions.

Restless at 3 Years

19 Jul

I have come to find a pattern in myself, and also in that of a few of my colleagues.  I develop a deep seated sense of restlessness when I near the 3 year marker in any professional trajectory.  There is just something inside me that tells me it is time to move on and find my next endeavor, the next challenge, the next place to make my mark and leave a legacy.  I am there now.  I feel it in my heart, in my veins.  At the same time, I feel as though there are so many loose ends that I need to tidy up, put the final touches on some projects.  There is always more work to be done, more ways something (no, everything!) can be made better, more effective, more accurate.  But my 3 years in this endeavor are coming to a close.

I am ready, unlike ever before.  It’s not that I am unhappy.  Rather I truly enjoy the everyday challenge of my work.  I believe in the mission and find it completely satisfying.  But this transition is different than all prior, I have been cognizant that this time is coming and instead of resisting it, I have chosen to embrace it.  I have been planning for it like I never have before, maybe thats what happens when you become experienced in managing transitions?

I have found camaraderie among several colleagues in our shared sense of restlessness when he hit the 3 year threshold of a given job.  We share this inherent sense that its time to move on, to invest our time and energy in some other endeavor.  We spend the first 6 months focused on learning, absorbing the new endeavor and all its nuances, then we chart out our roadmap for how we are going to leave it better than it was when came.

This time around, the restlessness is different than it was before.  While I am excited about what lies ahead professionally, I have also made very deliberative decisions that are unlike those in the past.  I have put health and family first.  My number one priority is a better quality of life for my family and I.  That means so many things… working less; loving more; laughing more; smiling more; cooking more; painting more; making music more; running more; meditating more; and so many other things that are not traditional working.  Am I going to continue to work?  Absolutely yes!  All of the “work” I do are intellectual and creative outlets for my restless soul.  While I have achieved a much better work life balance, I have not yet gotten into the right balance.

A few guiding zen words as I move on in this transition of sorts…

  1. Do one thing at a time
  2. Do it slowly and deliberately
  3. Do it completely
  4. Do less
  5. Put space between things
  6. Develop rituals
  7. Designate time for certain things
  8. Devote time to sitting
  9. Smile and serve others
  10. Make cleaning and cooking become meditation
  11. Think about what is necessary
  12. Live simply

Color photo of Peruvian child with llama

Lens of a Riverstone

13 Sep

Past and present are one again

Soul now smooth like a stone that has been tumbling in the sea

Fresh eyes and a crisp mind taken back in time

Its the lens of a new age

Listening to stories of an ancient humanity’s stones

Captivated by the elegance of a new mother

Struck by the natural sophistication of a spider

Engulfed by the power of migration – changing seasons and times

Strengthened by the rapture of a vine

Morning mind is placid with fallen flowers

Heart now convival like a riverstone flows to the sea

New Life Bounds the Old

Perspective unrestrained

Beauty in all

I am in awe

– Reflections from Guatemala (circa 2003)

Tikal in Grandour

Stature of a New Mother

Complex Weavings of a Golden Orb Spider

Migrating Birds over Lake Tikal

New Life Bounds Old

Fallen Flowers in Streets of Antigua

Vocanic Perspective

Finding New Strength

10 Jan

Color painting of mother and child with gunBeing a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know exist.
– Linda Wooten

It’s 2013, a new year.  A time to start off fresh.  Far too much time has lapsed since I’ve last written.  I once again find myself inspired to write, in fact I’ve been missing writing.  It’s a kind of creative sounding board for me personally, and I really enjoy reading the feedback I receive from my friends and readers.

The past seven months have been quite a whirlwind.  So much evolution and change in such a short time.  And the most significant of those changes has yet to be revealed.  I could rehash all that has come about in my life, and the world, in the past year but it wouldn’t accomplish much.  At this moment, my mind is occupied with all the change that is about to unfold in my life and how I will manage to “fit” it all in to the measly 24 hours we get in a day.  And then I start to think about how all the women that came before me did it.  *Sigh*

It brings me back to one of the many grounding experiences of my life – Esteli, Nicaraguaga.  It is the third largest city in all of Nicaragua.  It’s an eclectic place that really doesn’t see many foreigners or tourists, or at least that was Esteli 10 years ago when I was there.  The town’s motto pretty much sums it up – “Lover of the present. Builder of the future.”  But what really brings me back to Esteli is how it’s history has redefined life, and despite the bloodshed has brought forth a new found strength and resilience in the people.  Esteli was the scene of perilous fighting during the Somoza regime and again during the U.S.-backed Contra War.  The lands outside of the city boundary are still riddled with land mines and the ghosts of wars past regrettably live on.

As we made our way through the city’s gritty streets and alley ways, we gleaned nuggets of hope and strength.  We played soccer with a group of kids playing on a field of dirt with a ball that was made of plastic bags tightly packed together & wrapped with string and tape.  We found beauty in the paintings and graffiti that adorned cement walls throughout the city, the very cement walls that served as a fortress for people’s homes during the recent wars.  And then one day we wound-up at a local women’s organization where we were given a “tour” of the center and learned through the testimony of one woman – how women survived and  even thrived in the war.  In Esteli, unlike in many parts of Latin America and the world, women are seen a bit differently.  They are respected for their strength and perseverance at a kind of unspoken kind of higher level.  Why?  What makes Esteli’s perspective of women different?  The difference lies in the impact that its history has had on shaping daily life.  During both recent wars in Esteli, most often the men went off to war in the rural areas and the women remained at home with the children to defend their homes & children while the war raged on right in the city boundaries.  Women, mothers, were armed with AK-47s – just as the men were.  There was very little that differentiated the roles of men and women during a decade and a half of bloodshed.   Women grew stronger than ever before – not just in fighting – but in standing-up for their rights.  In owning their individual personal power.

Days like today when I feel overwhelmed and wonder how on earth am I going to “do it all” in just a couple of months.  I stop and think about the women of Esteli.  They have endured far more than I will likely ever have to – or maybe its similar but just in a different time, place and form.  I think of these women, mothers, that came before me.  Many that had to face the blood of their children, husbands, and family members right before their eyes.  Many that endured the other ugly parts of war like rape, lost limbs, and hunger.  While I may not be from Nicaragua, I am forever grateful to these women.  The examples they have set for me, and all of us, are invaluable – especially now as I take this next giant leap in my life.  Their strength and resilience is simply inspiring.

Below is a visual “tour” through some of the streets of Esteli and the wall artwork that gives the city a most unique identity and essence.  Start with the painting at the top of the blog and slowly work your eyes through the images.  Enjoy!

Wall painting on finghting for freedom

Corner in bloom with graffiti

Wall painting of children building a new future

 

wall art of children coming together

Wall painting in color on human rights

Wall painting of women's strength rising

Seasons of Change & Liberation

2 Oct

The past week has been a whirlwind. The seasons collide and Fall is upon us. At this very moment the stars align and bring forward an opportunity for change in my own life. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what the catalyst is, perhaps its all of the energies coming into one at a particular moment and it ignites a signal that now is the time for change. Change is an opportunity. But its also incredibly frightening. You can feel like your whole life has been turned upside down. Or better yet, that you just made a decision that brought forward a change and deliberately turned your own life upside down. In a nut shell that was what this week was for me.

The change occurring in my life is on the professional side of life, which for me is wrapped-up in my personal emotions and purpose in life. My “career” is one that I’ve created… its synonymous with my last blog post. In building my career and business, I’ve built my own life in the process. It is all so deeply intertwined. I’ve spent the last 7 years of my life building and nurturing a business and a couple of organizations. I’ve poured my sweat, love, and tears into building these institutions. It has been incredibly challenging, exhilarating, gratifying, and disheartening all at the same time. There have been many moments along the road where I’ve stopped and looked within and found that my own personal well was empty. That I’d given so much in the process that there was nothing left to me. I’ve lost balance many times along the way, and forced myself to take the time to replenish my well, regain strength, and carry on. Each of these organizations, with all their beauties & flaws, are a reflection of many things I am passionate about in life. They are in and of themselves catalysts of social change in varying forms.

There have been so many “signs” that this has been coming, but I really had no idea when I would get up the courage to make it happen. In December of last year, I travelled home to Costa Rica for a weekend. It was the Reunion for my graduate school, the United Nations-mandated University for Peace. Despite being incredibly busy with work, I knew I needed to make the trip. Here I met a lovely colleague, we connected and talked for quite a while. She shared with me that I am in the midst of my “Saturn Return” and that it was a time of major change in my life and that it was going to be difficult but that it would work out for the better. Facinating… First of all, I really had no idea what “Saturn Return” even meant until I got back home and researched it on the web. I had put this moment out of sight out of mind until last week, when it came charging into my life. I just knew, my gut instinct, that this is the moment to make the change.

For over a year, I’ve been feeling a lack of professional growth. Sure, I continue to learn new things everyday. I talk to our management team about it and we tried to make changes & concessions several times over. But I’ve continued to feel incredibly stuck in a position that forces me to fill roles and responsibilities that don’t draw on my strengths. Yes, I CAN do all these things, I’ve learned to do them out of necessity. I’ve tried (for years) to grow to like to do these things, but I’ve also grown into my own potential and with each passing day finding myself less and less happy in these roles.. I just don’t have time to fill these unsatisfying roles and also capitalize on my strengths by doing the things that derive my energy & passion. I’m constantly battling against time. Do I take 10 hours to work on legal filings? Or, Do I spend those 10 hours charting a vision & implementation strategy for a new program? Both are equally important at all levels. But only one of those things draws on my strengths. Unfortunately, there is only time for one or the other… and well I am never going to get those 10 hours back. This is the same time conundrum I wrote about a couple of months ago. It had turned into an intractable conflict in my life. Yes, there are good days. And I have learned more in the past 7 years than I would have ever learned in a “standard job” over 20 years. I am grateful for all I have learned in the process. But the bottom line is that it had become toxic to me and the only way to make it healthy was to make a change. It was the moment I realized that this is just not working for me. So the decision was mine and I made it.

I made the decision to exit. And I had no idea what it meant for me. Its not like I had my dream job waiting for me when I made the decision. I hadn’t even thought about looking for jobs, I haven’t even updated my resume in over 7 years! The stars aligned and BAM I made a pretty big decision. I found myself empty again, but in a different way (you know as they say in Asia, “same same but different”). Empty as in Taoist empty. Sure I felt scared and vulnerable. I felt incredibly fearful and anxious at first. But the emptiness that came with the decision to make this change has become very liberating. I felt empty – open to all the new possibilities the world has to offer. Free – from the burden of the daunting challenges I faced every day.

Then a good friend who lives all the way in Singapore sent an email that she herself had received from a professional mentor… it was like a 2 page interactive manifesto on the ‘Journey to Self’… it was called “Stop the World I Want to Get Off”. Ah timing can be incredible! If telepathy exists, I swear that it was happening at this very moment. This short manifesto on life reflected the essence of the challenges I need to face & deal with at this very moment in my life. This change in my professional life is reflective of the first step I need to take in overcoming these obstacles to living the real life that is meant for me. That is me… I am the person staring back from the words encapsulated on these 2 pages. I am not ready to go into all of the things that this manifesto on self is about or how it reflects me and how I got to where I am… I’ll save that for a blog post 20 years from now. Bottom line, I am an “over-functioner” to the point that it can become self-destructive. What I know now is that this change I’ve brought about in my life is an opportunity to grow and improve my own life. To take one step forward in becoming less of an “over-functioner” for others and become more of a functioner for myself – to live the balanced & positive life I deserve to live. For me, being “selfish” and making decision based on what is best for me is counter to my nature. My instinct is to make decisions based on what is best for everyone else. So simply making the decision that I did was the first step forward. I don’t think my selfless nature will go away, only now it will be balanced with factoring in my own needs.

So there you have it. Four days ago I made a big decision and I had no idea what it really “meant”. And well, day 4 of its aftermath has brought me to some important self realizations that I otherwise would not have been able to put into perspective and begin growing from. I still don’t know what the future has in store for me. Or where I will be 4 months from now. But I am okay with that for now. I want this transition to go smoothly – and for once in my life – gracefully. I don’t fully know what this change and transition will be, but I know it is the RIGHT thing for me. With that, I conclude this day by making a few promises.

  • I promise that I will take my own needs into consideration in making decisions that commit me to something
  • I promise that I will be more “mentally present” when I am with my husband and family
  • I promise that I will make more time to enjoy life, enjoy the people I love & savor the moments

Growth, Growing, and Community

10 Sep

Color photo of horizon landscape after the rain

 

Today was one of those days that inspired me to “travel back in time”.  Not literally of course, but mentally.  I had a chance to catch-up with a close friend that I don’t get the opportunity to spend much time with anymore since we live almost 1,000 miles away.   There is something very special about friends who knew you “back then”, who know about the skeletons in your closet, who love you unconditionally, and when you talk its like hardly any time has passed – even if its been a few years or more.  That was today.  And while the conversation and news we shared was not all roses, it reminded me of how grateful I am to have such amazing friends.  We grow apart to grow together in some mysterious way.

It also made me slip back in time and think about the challenges I have faced in my life’s “chapters” thus far – and what growing means to me.   The life I live today is one that I am responsible for, it is the product of my own decision making (good & bad), relentless determination, and hard work.  And I can tell you that I am truly happy with where my life has taken me… though the road has not easy in the least.  I think back to the “chapter of life” called high school and I can’t even begin to express how I never want to go back to those days at any level.  Many people yearn to “go back to the good ol days of high school when they had no worries” – that is not me! For me high school was largely characterized by family conflicts, chronic health issues, and major  financial insecurity.  I recall very clearly just how painful growing was during that time.  The challenges seemed impossible to overcome, and at the time they were.   Those issues aside, you can always find kindred spirits anywhere in the world, and those years also brought some incredible lifelong friendships that I’ll cherish forever.

College on the other hand was a wonderful chapter in my book of life.  I continued to deal with all of the same issues as I had in high school, though they were less pervasive since I was a “few states away” from some of them.  And with each passing year of College I became a little bit more in control of my destiny.  It was empowering.  And in the process I uncovered many of my passions in life.  It wasn’t the physical place of going to college – it was the people, community, and learning (and growing) environment that was such a positive experience for me.  It was exactly what my soul needed to get beyond the dark years of my childhood and learn to follow my heart.  I can’t say enough good things about my experience at Colby-Sawyer College.  It was really the beginning of my life.  The day I graduated, I knew at that moment that I now own this life – and it was up to me what I made of it.  I now had the power to experience both personal failures and successes. It wasn’t that I had “grown-up” – I don’t believe we ever “grow-up” because we should never stop growing.

Then there were all the years, places, communities, and friends in between those great College days and the current chapter in my life.  They too were wonderful, not without their challenges of course.  I spent several years living and working in Costa Rica.  What an incredible experience.  The community I was a part of was so inspiring at many levels.  I also met the wonderful person who is my forever partner in this life.  Then there was grad school at UPEACE – another amazing part of my life.  And another community I am forever grateful for. I have to add here, the “Costa Rica” chapter in my book of life is not finished yet, I’m convinced that we’ll move back there someday in the foreseeable future.

After a few years of living in the land of pura vida, I felt ready & charged to take on the world’s biggest problems – pervasive poverty, injustice, deadly conflicts, environmental degradation, oppressive regimes, domestic apathy & greed.  My mind was spinning and I was determined to solve all of the issues plaguing the world.  Lets stop here for a moment… how the hell did I go from battling a chronic disease in high school to attempt to take on the world?  It’s all a part of the journey through life I suppose.  Then I made the move to Washington DC, and it was a reality check of sorts – I was suddenly a tiny fish in a very big pond.  I had to create a community where there was none.  And I had to find a place to harness my passions, put them to use, and make a living in the process.  All this in a city where success is predicated on “family” connections, which I didn’t have any of.  Now this is when I learned that changing the world begins with bite sized pieces.  I resisted these facts of life.  I was frustrated by how difficult it was to “make change” vis-a-vis public policy.  I came to Washington DC – with utopian ideals for how democracy works.  Oh I had so much to learn yet…

What is the point of this glazed-over monologue of a few years of my life?  There are a bazillion incredible little stories in there that really reveal the essence of life.  This “big picture” gives a reminder of just how valuable growth is.  It may mean something slightly different to each of us and that is a-okay… that is a goal of this blog “vive y deja vivir“.  Life – and growth – is both happy go-lucky and painfully challenging at the same time.  We are constantly growing and changing and should continue to do so as long as we still wake up each day.  I don’t know what life has in store for me, but I do have some good ideas of what I’d like to make of what I see coming along in the journey.  For now I’ll continue to productively harness my passions towards changemaking and allow the universe to work its magic.

There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.  – Ronald Reagan

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