"Rise Up" - Andra Day
"Jesus Coming" - Rhapsody
Well, it wasn’t that wild. But it was definitely not my usual New York jungle.
Okay, so my summer vacation slash adventure dreams manifested and the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica welcomed me with open arms. In my planning, I was a bit worried because the weather apps (multiple) reported rain literally every day. For weeks I would check like show me some sun. Nope. But that’s the wet season for you. In some ways, I looked forward to the rain because I am one of those rainy days are beautiful people. And because the rain felt symbolic to my own refresh. I was absolutely feeling all the feels, as a result of resigning from my job -- both a major declaration of self-care and a scary step on a new path. I knew I would need this trip to sort myself out. Well, begin to sort myself out.
For the vacation portion, I shared five days with friends, celebrating love, and lodging at Umami Hotel, which was a lovely boutique experience. Every night, I enjoyed a king size bed and a beautiful walk-in shower that didn't splash water all over the floor (BIG pet peeve). Don’t mind the grammar but -- We ate good. We drank good. We laughed loud and cried some. Played cards, floated in the pool, laid at the beach, talked about grown folks business. The wedding day was divine and the ceremony was magical. I expanded in my center. Admittedly, I sometimes have warrior ninjas on guard keeping my emotions at bay, but between my own drastic life changes and watching my friends’ love light up a room, I was teary eyed on a number of occasions. This includes the first day I was without the crew and embarking on the next leg of my journey alone. That morning, it rained heavily and I cried a-lotta-bit in both gratitude and uncertainty.
For the adventure, I moved to a chocolate farm that sits just outside of town where I planned to stay for at least four weeks. Months before, I’d been in touch with one of the owners, let’s call her A.M., about joining the farm family as an intern. This is a month (or-so) experience where you live on the farm and support the day-to-day activities and maintenance of farm life. The timing and connection was divine because A.M. was looking for support, and I was looking for a place to play, reset, and learn new things. Honestly, when I read the role description and it mentioned being outside, regularly getting dirty, surrounded by animals -- I felt a rush of excitement that no office based job description had given me in a long time. In one conversation, she mentioned a magical forest that may or may not grant wishes, and yeah, I was sold. (I mean, don’t you believe in magic?)
The taxi dropped me off at the last house on the right before the steep hill. The kitchen is almost hidden in plain sight behind the gate and plush bushes and trees. A.M. met me at the gate with a cute, chunky rottweiler at her heels. His name is Theo. My dad’s name is Theo. It was a nice synchronicity as I physically and mentally entered this new space and life chapter like, “what the heck am I doing?”
I sat at the edge of the kitchen, near the stairs, next to the big open garage door with Theo at my feet, and took in my surroundings. Huge table (love!) topped with tea and fresh produce. Long counters and chocolate machines. Compost bucket. Low hanging blue-grey clouds and patches of luscious trees and plants. Ducks quacking about. Crowing roosters and clucking hens. A.M. and I had coffee and I shared the short version of my “how I found myself in Costa Rica on her farm” story.
The Recap: Values shift. Job quit. What’s next? Ah, shit. Let’s pause. Chocolate farm. Connect to roots. Plot the future. Jungle adventure.
Naturally, there was a mini rant about racism, harmful American norms, billionaires, unnecessary suffering, and Brooklyn woven into my tale as reasons for both the lifestyle shift and the unique change of scenery. And so, there I sat.
“Well this place will definitely have an effect on you.” she told me. “And be careful what you ask for, especially in the birdhouse where you’ll be staying.” I was warned and also excited because what a time to talk to God and draw up intentional plans with the universe. The evening continued and I was oriented into the space with heads up about critters, notes about neighbors, a run down of the general daily schedule and a tour. We went past the compost heap, chicken coop, quailery, my hut called the Birdhouse, the house, the washing machine up the hill and the clothes lines for drying, the outdoor compost toilet (for #2), and the outdoor shower. The hut was a simple dwelling. It had mosquito nets for walls on most sides. Inside was a bed with a mosquito net, bedside table, chair, hammock, and rubbermaid bin for keeping essentials dry in the extreme humidity. The farm is a homestead and aims to produce no waste. The living was going to be simpler and rugged and I was going to learn plenty. By existing on the farm, I could practice living in better alignment with nature and hopefully hear more of my own thoughts. Also, what better place to water dreams of my own homestead. Potential snakes aside, I knew very quickly I was in the right place at the right time.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m not freaking out a little on some days, but mostly I am reflecting on how I got here and where I will go next. Of course many people have left jobs to follow their dreams or become entrepreneurs to better control their lives or even to completely escape this society we’ve built. Stacks of books and blogs exist about how to cope, what to think, who to call, and more. It’s all helpful information and still -- going into the “wild” is a uniquely personal journey that won’t always have pre-written answers. What got me here though was the feeling of waking up already dissatisfied before 9:00am. So I started asking myself the same questions* over and over. And when I got answers that felt right, I had to decide what I was going to do about it. So before the resignation, or last day of work, or actual trip to the jungle -- that’s where my journey into the wild began.
*Those questions, if you’re interested:
How do I feel when I wake up in the morning?
How do I want to feel when I wake up in the morning?
How do I feel when I go to bed at night?
How do I want to feel when I go to bed at night?
What kind of life do I want?