The Costa Rica Years

And just like that, the time for closing this chapter of our lives has arrived. When I step back and think about it, these past two years feel like a blur. That’s always the way, isn’t it?

When we made the decision to take the job in Costa Rica, I was nervous about leaving behind our friends, family, and everything we knew for two years. What events would we miss out on? Would we regret it? Now that we’re at the end of it, I have realized that you can do anything for two years. As I get older, chunks of time mean less and less – meaning that 2 years really isn’t much anymore (only 6.25% of my lifetime). So by that logic, in 2061 when I’m 75 years old, our time in Costa Rica is how fast 4.7 years will feel, right? So it’s all relative? I digress…

I also want to recognize that the fact I am leaving with that perspective – that you can do anything for two years –  is a reflection of how wonderful this experience has been. I’m sure others have found themselves in situations that made it seem like they might not make it two years. So this perspective makes me forever grateful for this time in our lives.

So as we do the final preparations for Friday’s 7 am, one-way (!!!!!) flight to Boston (with 2 dogs in tow – wish us luck), I figured I would throw out a few reflections on these last two years living in Costa Rica.

1.) Distance isn’t as scary as it seems

One of my biggest hesitations I had about our move was being away from friends and family. I was afraid our relationships would stop or that we would lose touch. This experience has proven to me (even though I knew it rationally) that it takes more than distance to get in the way of the meaningful relationships in our life. For example, many of our friends and family made the trek to visit us over the last few years. Sharing this place with them was not only fun but deepened our ties and added to our list of experiences together. And while many people wanted to visit and weren’t able, we connected while we were home or via Skype. So, even though it’s scary, distance isn’t the end all be all. This doesn’t mean I want to live away from friends and family forever, but that if an opportunity takes you away for a few years, jump on it, make the most of it, and invite as many people as possible to come visit :-). Here is a little collage of the visitors we have had over the last few years (and it doesn’t include the people who were able to stop in for a meal before/after the airport!):

 

 

This is also a good reminder that by leaving Costa Rica we are creating new distance between the people that have become our family these last two years. I am so grateful that we all decided to be in CR at the same time and to share all these adventures together (and there are many others not pictured). Thanks for helping us make these two years so memorable.

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This year’s end of the year BBQ

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Last year’s end of the year murder mystery party

2.) Keep Exploring

The number of times we have hopped in the car and driven over 5 hours for a weekend adventure here in Costa Rica is massive (I can’t count them on 2 hands at least). We had the mindset of, “When will we be here again? Maybe never. Let’s do it.” In retrospect, I can count the number of times we did that in 5 years in Boston on one hand. So what’s the difference? From the start, we knew Costa Rica wasn’t forever. Maybe it would be 2 years, maybe 5, but we knew we had a finite amount of time to explore the beauty of this place. This made it hard to make excuses or to put things off. This approach to weekends (and life) is one that I hope we keep with us as we enter this next chapter. Stop making excuses. Go on adventures. While it’s easy to stay close to home for a weekend, why not go and find the small towns, the beautiful hikes, the state parks, the little cafes. That is one of our goals – don’t stay stagnant. Don’t stay grounded to Southeastern CT. So please – hold us to it. And join us for some adventures.

3.) Get Outside

I have been blown away by the impact sun has had on my health and happiness the last two years. Before our move to CR, I had lived in New England my whole life and therefore was in snow from November-April (más o menos) for 29 years. I didn’t mind. It was just what happened. Until I moved to Costa Rica. And we had sun every.single.day without fail. I was happier. I felt better because I didn’t look sickly white for half the year. I wore shorts every day. I played tennis outside all year round. I walked the dog(s) WAY more than I did at home. Every single morning as I walked I would look up and feel the sun on my skin and realize that most people in my life were freezing and that I was extremely lucky (and made a good decision).

And while I can’t change the climate in New England, the reminder here is that there is sun in the winter in New England, too. It’s not warm and I can’t go swimming – but there’s sun. And being outside is really what we love. So while during the winter in New England it’s easier to stay inside, curl up under a blanket, and watch Netflix – I want to keep getting out. Learn to love the snow and not just deal with it. I want to cross-country ski and run with the dogs on the beach in December. So again – help me out with that one, ok?

4.) Keep Stretching

On one of the first trips we took when we got to Costa Rica (Cahuita on the Caribbean side), we came upon a stretch moment. We were hiking and the trail took a muddy and overgrown turn into the jungle and all our wildest fears (read – snakes) came to life. We walked a bit but turned around. We weren’t quite ready to go there. Since then, we have hiked that trail fully. We keep referring to these as stretch moments. Moments where the right move is to take the risk. But to take the risk when you feel ready to own it. That first time we weren’t ready. It was too much of a stretch – we probably would have pulled something. But the second time it wasn’t. And we did it. And it rocked. So I want to keep stretching. Not rupturing a muscle but stretching. Going outside our comfort level (within reason and because it’s healthy) because 99% of the time it’s worth it. On that note, I also really need to actually stretch because I can barely touch my shins. But that’s a totally different issue.

That’s a Wrap!

So we land in Boston on Friday and on Saturday will head to Wolfeboro to spend another summer at Wolfeboro: The Summer Boarding School. I’m looking forward to leading Girls’ Campus again and helping our students grow and thrive and to working with young educators as they develop their empathy and ability to connect with young people. We have quite the crew and it’s going to be an unreal summer. Here are a few pictures (from last summer) of the fun I am about to jump back into. These are what’s helping me get through my fear of flying. I just keep telling myself – you will be in NH in 4 days, you will be in NH in 4 days. And if that is true, that means I survived the plane ride. That’s some sort of algenbraic property I’m sure. Yes – fears are super rational.

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Our cabin – Can’t wait to jump off that dock every single morning.

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Lake crew. We will have an additional baby Cooper with us now, too!

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Family time – there will be SO many Nicholsons and Van de Krols in NH this summer I can’t even control my excitement.

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The GC crew from 2016. 5 of these fantastic women will be with us again for the 2017 session.

In late August, after Wolfeboro, we will move to Connecticut (Fairfield Country area) where Emily will continue working for Global Online Academy and I am will join the Greens Farms Academy (GFA) faculty as the 8th-grade science teacher and 8th-grade dean. I’m looking forward to learning a TON from working in the middle school, too. Side note: If you know of any cool apartments in the area that want to rent to us for ~6 months, please let us know :-).

We have (half-jokingly here) disappointed so many people with our next move. When they say, “What’s next?” and we respond, “Connecticut!” we have mostly just gotten blank stares and an, “Oh.” Ya I know – seems like it’s a bit of a downgrade. But we are so excited for all this next chapter has in store for us. And if we keep these lessons in mind we can make Connecticut just as exciting as Costa Rica (or at least close). So here’s to reconnecting, to exploring, to going on adventures, and to stretching.

Thank you, Costa Rica, and bring it on, Connecticut!

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