Finding a New Life in Costa Rica
Welcome to Healing From Within with your host Sheryl Glick Reiki Master Teacher and author of the newest book in a trilogy A New Life Awaits Spirit Guided Insights to Support Global Awakening which shares stories and messages from Spirit that show us our challenges are not economic political or societal just a spiritual disconnect from our true being or soul wisdom. Sheryl is delighted to welcome Sandra Shaw author of Evelio’s Garden a self described naturalist who has spent the last twenty nine years in Costa Rica sharing a remembrance that captures one woman’s connection to nature and becoming aware of how important it is to take care of your own dreams and needs as well as our environment.
As listeners of “Healing From Within” are well aware, my guests and I share intimate stories and insights helping us to awaken more fully to the true nature of our duality and begin to explore energy and our soul essence so we may live more fully in the physical world of nature man and Spirit.
In today’s episode of Healing From With author Sandra Shaw will share her friendship with Evelio in Costa Rica who helped her create an organic garden. In the difficult year battling unpredictable weather, wild animals and toxic chemicals their friendship grew and Evelio taught Sandra about the sustainability of rural Costa Rica in decades past. Their relationship and many other relationships led Sandra to open up to her difficult past and combine hers with Evelio’s stories creating profound personal change for both of them.
When Sandra is asked to think back to her childhood and remember a person place or event that might have signaled to her or to others around her what interests lifestyle or work she would pursue as an adult for often the story of one’s life is seen early on Sandra writes, “I remember the sound and smell of a northern October a sneaky gust of air bearing the chill scent of winter to-come, skittering dry leaves across the road, swirling around my legs and rattling my paper bag, as I plodded along on Halloween nights to the clutch of houses a mile down the road. I had an inkling of that same wind last night. Was my little sister Alison in tow on those Halloween nights? Surely, although I wouldn’t have taken her hand. It says a lot about the time and place – 1958, rural Pennsylvania – that our parents allowed two little girls to walk a mile and back on a dark, deserted country road for Halloween treats. We had no fear. But our parents weren’t paying much attention to us anyway, because they were in a crisis – the biggest one yet – which was to bring major changes for all of us for decades to come.
Meals were taken in heavy quiet at the kitchen table, the family silenced by our father’s tight-lipped rage. Being the elder sister, I assumed that he was angry at me. It didn’t help that in the late afternoons I would find Mom leaning against the back of the sofa, reading, feet propped on the coffee table, with a beer-mug full of gin and tonic at her side. We didn’t learn until we were in our twenties what the nature of that distant marital crisis was – our mother’s infidelity unmasked – although throughout our teens, my sister and I each harbored our unspoken suspicions. It is a judgmental age; so easy to blame, so difficult to see into the hurting heart of another, especially a parent. Alison and I carried this sense of betrayal – and in my case, the fear that I was doomed to be like our mother – into later life, when, in our separate ways, we could finally see that her love for us was greater than our grief.
Alcoholics are emotional abusers – they can’t help it, it’s all they know. They pull you into their vortex and make you feel responsible for everything that’s wrong, especially their illness. So you try rescue after rescue, which inevitably fail, and the failures mount up so high that it’s impossible to feel good about yourself, about anything. To rescue my own sinking soul, I had to break away. Writing was my way out. Entering another world is easy for me: I let myself go and open my eyes and heart and fall into it. And since I know I’m probably going to write about it later, I pay attention to the details. Perhaps writers suck up life from the things around them. Is this a form of theft? Do we plagiarize the living in order to feel alive ourselves?
Sheryl says it sounds like you enter into meditation and connect to Higher Self or the Afterlife as I do as a medium and suck up life as an empath?
Sandra came to Costa Rica with her husband in 1990, in the hope of finding a kinder lifestyle, warmer climate, and the opportunity to do those things they really enjoyed. He wanted to garden and fish and be outdoors; I wanted to start seriously writing for myself, instead of for others. Some people adapt easily to other cultures. Sandra’s mother imbued in her a love of travel and the sense that learning another language opened a door to a whole new, exciting, and possibly beautiful world. Although it took a while for Sandra to learn how to create my days outside the confines of a full-time job, she found everything around me so interesting – the people, the daily life in the little village where we lived, the challenges of farm life and cooking what grew all around us, and, of course, the language – that Sandra soon felt her new life had launched and her horizons were expanding.
Her husband, on the other hand, terribly missed the stature he had enjoyed in his profession in Philadelphia, and he began to feel somehow lessened by this move we had made. Always a heavy drinker, within a year he had fallen into a bottle of vodka, and he never came up for air. I can’t apologize to myself any more for my failures in that marriage – I’m sure I handled a lot of it badly. But, finally, I knew I couldn’t try anymore, and I had to release myself from his life and start again to create my own. Six years after we arrived in Costa Rica, I left him.
Sheryl says how interesting it is to note that our patterns formed in childhood often lead us to similar relationships in adulthood. They say you marry a person that closely resembles the parent you felt a strong connection to. Sandra had an alcoholic needy mother and married a man with similar issues.
Sandra describes the place she lived in and writes, “We live on a stretch of country road between two quebradas, among dozens of gullies and gorges carrying water from springs rising in the hills down to the basin of the lake. These remain as small patches of jungle threading through open fields and pasture. One of these quebradas runs alongside the original house on the property, deeply green and jungly, and filled in their seasons with toucans, oropéndolas, bejeweled hummingbirds, chattering parrots. Howler monkeys roam up and down the quebrada in search of tender new leaves, roaring everybody awake Evelio’s garden 8 within miles precisely at dawn. There are other creatures not so visible, nor so welcome. Opossums, coatis, kinkajous, skunks, tayras, weasels, squirrels, and porcupines – some of these have squeezed into the bodega at night to steal the bananas ripening there. There were iguanas on the roof, scorpions in the closet. Once, two baby armadillos scooted out of the woods to frolic on the grass near Roger, who was working on his car, brushing right past his legs. We built the new house high on a promontory overlooking the lake and volcanoes Arenal, Tenorio and Miravalles in the north central highlands. We had lived in the little house on the property for six years, dreaming of this home and talking it over in endless detail, before an inheritance finally allowed us to build it. It’s a traditional tropical house with a twist – two stories high – with deep overhanging roofs, a wraparound verandah, high ceilings, and beautiful teak woodwork (Roger’s specialty).
Sheryl says, “Yours was a journey of the soul to break free of a restrictive childhood and be part of the eternal beauty and graciousness of living a bold and open hearted way to connect to all of life the energy of Costa and the people land and freedom of living a simpler more involved life with the people you interacted with and this freedom was translated into the writing you did and the personal growth you had.
Sandra found that her life was different from life in the United States. She fell into the world Evelio grew up in when her Spanish teacher, Rosa Emilia, invited her on an excursion. She provided no details except that her uncle Francisco was leading. It was a typical family outing – complete with coolers, kids, and camp chairs – up into the dusty hills north of Cañas, to a remote farm with an unpainted wooden house shaded by an enormous guanacaste tree. There were no vehicles, no electric wires, no telephone poles. The family, a mother and three grown sons, greeted each of us with the traditional kiss on the cheek. The sons wore no socks in their misshapen leather shoes. The mother’s hair, in the style of country women of a certain generation, was wound elaborately around her head with a pompadour perched on top. They were delighted to see us, even with no advance notice of our coming. Rosa Emilia whispered that Francisco had met the family when he taught school in the district many years before. A short hike beyond the river was a lichened wall of petroglyphs: six yards high and 15 long, covered with pre-Columbian carvings of monkeys, fish, iguanas, humans, suns, moons, snakes, unfathomable geometric shapes – a fantasy in stone. There are ancient places – I have only encountered a few of these in my life – that give one an extraordinary sense of suddenly being stretched back in time. At these moments, I feel the innocent heart of some much earlier person peeking through my eyes at the marvel in front of me.
To Sandra, the life on that farm was familiar only from movies, but to Evelio, who grew up that way, it is as familiar as the face of his grandfather. Sandra needed to remember this before making any assumptions about a shared culture. It’s not only language that separates Evelio and me, but time.
Sheryl feels like Sandra was discovering her soul of many lifetimes and places and seeking to merge present day life with the love of past places and people. In Sheryl’s book A New Life Awaits Spirit Guided Insights to Support Global Awakening Sheryl shares that wisdom of knowing who we are as spiritual beings having a physical life bridging past present and future in the oneness of eternal life and Sheryl writes, “The Universe, it appears, is asking us to pay attention, wake up, and go beyond all differences and limited thinking to observe, make corrections, and reevaluate priorities and values. Let’s help the coming generations to have multiple and plentiful opportunities to live and discover the beauty and awe-inspiring hopes of past ancestors who were able to forgo uncontrolled impulses for material gains alone, finding genuine or authentic human qualities. I grew up in a time when there were peace movements along with world concerns for idealistic approaches to living well and where personal fulfillment was a valued commodity. But always, we brought the precious values of our ancestors in spirit with us, which positively affected our decision-making process and added to our spiritual awakening. Now, we must continue to work with all aspects of our physical and spiritual lives, to heal and create a world that offers hope in the face of personal or collective hardships, that may make us forget our divinity and ability to live with dignity.”
Sandra scribes her ex-husband’s gruesome suicide and their divorce. During that long and ugly divorce, both my ex-husband and my father had behaved so badly that I stopped speaking to my father for a year. He had sided with my ex, refused to help me financially and told me to go back to the States and get a job. Sandra was almost fifty, and was forced to ask herself why she had remained in a marriage with such an abuser for so many years. The revelation: I had been trained for it. That’s when murder entered my heart – and I saw the moment as a spiritual crisis. I sought help.
A year after the divorce was final, it took as much emotional exhaustion as courage finally to tell Dad why she had been so angry. But even though she didn’t fully understand how she had felt abused, he apologized, and we both tried harder after that, although the tension was ever palpable. One of the ways he made me feel bad when I was growing up was by calling me irresponsible. Hence, turning over his bonsai to me was a statement that – at least for the moment – I was trustworthy. Of course, I jumped at it
In that last year we were together, Sandra’s husband brought Roger home for dinner. He did this occasionally, inviting total strangers home, almost always unattached gringos who hung out at Mary’s Bar and Hotel in the mornings for coffee or a stiff pick-me-up. Sandra didn’t warm to Roger particularly. Frankly, she was inclined to be a little suspicious of people her husband liked. But we had a pleasant enough evening. Months later, riding my mare up past the all-night gas station, she rounded a curve and saw a small house in a messy state of renovation. Something compelled me to pull into the gate and dismount. Inside, Roger was working up a sweat with a handsaw over lengths of tongue-and-groove cedro for the facing of a breakfast bar.
I asked if I could look around, and as I explored the small rooms with their oversized windows and stepped back out onto the front porch, a giddy joy filled me up. The view over the Guanacaste Plain was long. I could live here, I thought … and a plan for leaving my marriage came into focus. I moved in when the house was still unfinished, and Roger showed up once in a while to smooth out the details. Although we chatted amicably enough, I kept to myself.
Sandra tells the story of her husband’s suicide and writes, “Sadly, I am always reminded of that June night years ago when a friend called me – I don’t remember now who – to tell me about my ex-husband’s suicide, but I have to say I wasn’t surprised, just horrified at the manner of it. There were witnesses from the shore: he had driven his small fishing boat out into the middle of the lake, tied the car battery that he used to power the electric motor around his neck and jumped overboard. According to those who saw him just before he took off from the ramp on the north shore, he was smashed. The news was all over the lake within minutes. The Red Cross immediately began a search along the banks, while those with boats waited until daylight and then began to comb the small coves and river mouths in search of some sign. The boat was quickly found, but the body – headless – showed up in the reeds along the south shore days later.
It wouldn’t be fair to paint him as some kind of villain. Before the booze started to destroy him, he was a bright, creative, witty, charming man. I was captivated almost from the moment he hired me (ignoring Rule Number 362: “Never marry your boss”). And we had moments of love, of connection with my family I might not otherwise have had, of adventure and travel. We shared music, books, and exciting work. But he always wanted to be center stage – he desperately needed that attention – and he was manipulative, jealous, controlling, vindictive, blaming. My big mistake was falling into the Responsibility Trap – I thought love was a feeling of responsibility for the other; I didn’t know enough then to realize that this is just the flipside of the alcoholic coin. It takes a long time to write a fair obituary of a marriage. My last word on that one has to be, “No regrets.”
Sheryl says it sounds like a description of Narcissistic Personality Disorder which seems to be a growing problem these days and those people cannot be helped or changed and often harm the others around them before they harm themselves. They live in a world of drama, chaos and unhappiness and cause much damage to others.
Sandra tells us about the environmental work she has been involved in while in Costa Rica. Understanding the uniqueness of the climate and environment is pertinent to the work she does in Costa Rica. It is interesting to me that not a single Costa Rican I know has any doubts about global warming, while there are still so many in the North who deny it altogether. It must be that living close to the land predisposes one to the idea that human beings are an integral part of the ecosystem and that we can, in fact do, damage it in countless ways.
There aren’t a lot of clues as to what season we’re in here in Costa Rica. We joke when we say there are only two seasons, rainy and windy, but in fact our neighbors refer to a sunny day as “summer” and a rainy day as “winter” even if these days are contiguous . One year, we had three days of average 70 mile-per-hour winds – with gusts over 100 – and one of the old erector-set wind towers just crumpled up and twisted down onto its side. There were so many trees and power lines down that week that we were without electricity for three days. Is our weather getting more severe? Year-to-year it’s hard to tell, without my having kept any records. But anyone over 50 in Tilarán will tell you that it has, that the local climate has, in fact, changed. “It didn’t use to be as dry or as windy,” the older locals say. Why? “There were a lot more trees.”
Sandra learned a great truth about the soul and the continuity of life by taking care of the failing bonsai trees her father gave her and wrote, “Taking care of my father’s bonsai has deepened my understanding of another living thing. To say that it is a miracle – this life form with its green fuse and white blood, its unfurling leaves, its innate thrusting out from the center – has been said before. But the bigger miracle here is me: the observer, the tender, the servant of these trees, the new lover of growing things, the one who is also growing. My parents are both gone now. But my father’s three ficus benjamina have survived many years of my intermittent care.
People ask me if it was tough to get Costa Rican citizenship. I don’t remember any particular difficulty with the paperwork – trámites – all ably managed by the lawyer who had handled my residency renewals. But I do remember – vividly! – the exams, one in Spanish and the other in history/civics/geography – for both of which I studied intensely for six weeks with the help of a couple of local high school teachers, and both of which were damned difficult. A happy byproduct of all that studying, however, was my discovery that I could actually learn to read in Spanish simply by doing it. I had been lazy about reading up to that point, but if I was going to meet the exam deadline there was no time to go to the dictionary every time I encountered a word I didn’t know. When my lawyer asked me if I intended to renounce my U.S. citizenship, I barely hesitated before saying yes. It just seemed to make every bit of sense to me at the time. My values had changed; my perspective on the U.S. had changed; the totality of my life – my heart – was here. So, I simply chose not to pursue dual citizenship and swore an act of renunciation in a tiny, bare interrogation room – yes, really – in the U.S. Embassy.
Sandra tells us how she came to know Evelio. Evelio is one of those people who are hard to shake. My second husband, Roger, who has the kindness to adopt the less fortunate, found Evelio working as a night guard at a local windsurf center and decided he could teach Evelio how to finish drywall. He was very busy with construction projects at the time and wanted an assistant. After his own projects were finished, Roger continued to find Evelio work, and in time his construction skills were honed to the point where he turned out to be a valuable member of the crew that built our new house. After that, he just hung around. A house, like a manuscript, is never really finished, and we had moved in long before all the details were done, so Evelio continued to make himself useful to the point where he became part of the furniture – just as Koki, our gardener and general factotum, and Rosa, our part-time house-keeper, have long been part of our daily lives. One day I came home from doing errands in town to receive the news from an excited Evelio that he was going to create an organic garden along the vacant stretch of our property facing the lake.
The garden has been Evelio’s opportunity to return to working the land he loves. fore he started, but the garden has been driven by his fantasies right from the beginning: that he would revolutionize agriculture around the lake; that he would attract the interest and helping hands of others who would want to participate in the project; that he would find a ready market for everything he grew. When reality bites, he slides into a funk and needs a heavy dose of emotional support to keep him going. At the beginning of every encounter with him, I try to remember to take a deep breath. I try to remember to focus on the moment, to listen to what’s really going on inside him. I try to remember that, in giving him my present attention, I am not losing anything, but rather gaining by the exercise of my compassion. These things do not come naturally to me.
We thank Sandra Shaw, author of her newest book Evelio’s Garden, a bold and introspective look at life in a foreign land and an awakening to true healing as a result of changing friendship and an open heart and mind. Learn more about the beauty of life in Costa Rica and a growing awareness of how to help preserve our beautiful world of nature by reading this descriptive book.
In summarizing today’s episode of Healing From Within Sandra Shaw has described in vivid language and stories of her life both in the United States and Costa Rica the urge of the wandering soul to self -fulfill their wildest dreams by moving out of their comfort zone and learning to love life nature and the beauty of all living things on this planet allowing for a growing awareness of our true soul capacity to expand and improve self and the community.
Sandra wrote, We’ve been here long enough to see people come and go. Some can brave the remoteness, the vagaries of the climate and the strangeness of the culture, and some can’t. Sandra Shaw Homer 143 Some people get attached to the land, and some don’t. When I was growing up, my family never lived long enough in one place for me to become bound to the land. We lived in some beautiful and some not-so-beautiful places, both rural and suburban. From my college years until I came to Costa Rica, I moved even more frequently, living exclusively in cities. It was a little shocking to realize, when we started building this house in 2004, that I’ve lived on Lake Arenal, and on this particular plot of ground, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my life. You can’t get attached to the earth in Philadelphia or New York. How many millions of people never do? It’s this attachment that fires my desire to protect it – not just my attachment to this particular plot of ground, but to the whole planet. It’s not such a giant leap of the imagination from the sight of a young growing forest to the image of a tiny blue speck in the vastness of the universe. So, finally, it is the sense of place here that has captured me and pinned me to the planet. It is gratifying to be part of the history of the land, to be growing a farm instead of shrinking it, to be building a forest instead of cutting it down, to be adding something by our tenancy of the Earth.
Sandra and I would hope you can find people and places that pique your excitement in living and lead you to discover how to serve, grow yourself and contribute to the planet in ways that may not have material concerns, just the outpouring of love.
Sheryl Glick host of Healing From Within and author of her newest book in the trilogy A New Life Awaits invites you to visit her website www.sherylglick.com to read about the fantastic journeys of worldwide metaphysicians visionaries scientists spiritualists medical and psychological professionals artists musicians and everyday people seeking awareness and a more loving reality. Show may also be heard on www.webtalkradio.net and www.dreamvsions7radio.com