Life Lessons

No More Excuses

7 May , 2015  

With the number of times I’ve been asked “how tan are you?” or “are you at the beach right now?” you’d think I’d struck the lottery, left all my worries behind and now spend all of my days glazed in Coppertone, with a beer in-hand, splitting my time between equal parts meditating to sound of the ocean, surfing and sun bathing.

Contrary to popular belief, I still have to be a productive, functioning member of society; even here in paradise.

While we did make this move because we whole heartedly believed and still do believe (in fact now, we know) it would make our quality of life better and make us happier, healthier people individually and for each other – we still have to work and pay for life, all the while adapting to the different elements that coincide with a move, with the added layer of complication that comes along with the adjustment period happening in another country.

Our one month anniversary in Costa Rica was this past week and I am truly amazed by everything that’s happened in that amount of time. I heard someone say this the other day and it described how I feel exactly: The days seem to go by slower here, but the weeks and months fly by. If that makes any sense at all.

The process has been challenging emotionally, physically, intellectually. Think about everything that your comfort zone is and then imagine it all being stripped away after one short plane ride.

Last week, I had a complete breakdown; screaming at my husband about how I should’ve never agreed to move here without knowing the language first, and what was I thinking giving up a full time job to work as a contractor, and I am completely alone with no friends and no one to talk to, and I can’t even do something simple like go to the grocery store by myself because I cannot decipher what half of the products are, and we’re here and we haven’t traveled the country at all yet which was part of the whole plan, and we’re never going to find a place to rent through the high season……and OH, I went on and on….

I was a volcano of negative energy throwing out every possible reason why this was the worst. situation. ever.

Turns out, this whole moving to another country thing is not easy. Go figure!

We of course, knew that it wouldn’t be. But there’s no amount of “knowing” that can truly prepare you for this type of transition. You’ve just got to live it.

Luckily, I have a very supportive husband, even when I go off on unprovoked and often (at least partially) irrational tangents.

The good thing about having a major freak out, at least for me, and I’d imagine others have experienced the same (otherwise, I’m just crazy) is that sometimes, you just need to let it out; put everything out there on the table, and then somehow things start to look up after that. There have been so many emotions and experiences over the course of the past month, I think I had allowed it all to bottle up inside and frankly, I just needed to yell.

My husband had some thoughts and advice and after our conversation I spent the whole rest of the night in silence and even part of the next day. Just thinking. I can’t even point to where the switch happened, but I realized “Jackie, you’re letting fear hold you back.”

fears block dreams

Getting “settled in” can only be an excuse for not doing other things for so long. Obviously, after a month we’re not 100% rooted in our new community, but we are certainly settled enough to start actually living here.

Junior is really good at doing this. He’s moved around his whole life, including being moved with his family from Brazil to the United States at the tough and awkward age of 16. He is highly adaptable and pretty fearless when it comes to change, and for that I truly admire him; it’s one of my favorite qualities in him. By our first week, he had found a group of guys to play soccer with and by the second week, a group of people to play beach volleyball with.

I hadn’t really put myself out there at all yet. It was starting to hurt me and really affect my attitude. And attitude is something I believe affects all of our lives far more than sometimes we’d like to admit. If you’re full of doubt, and fear and reasons why something is not right or something is not working; it’s going to continue to suck, for lack of a better term.

So I decided to start small. I needed to make a plan for myself; create something that would hold me accountable. Some of the most disciplined and thus productive periods in my life were those when I was training for the two full marathons I’ve run. It’s a rigid schedule, working toward a specific goal and I know from experience that kind of structure works really well for me – if I can point to a calendar and say, THIS is what I must do today, I’m golden.


I’ve had mixed experiences with Yoga, and this is related, I promise. When we lived in Michigan, there was a studio I really liked that got me hooked. Then before our wedding while we were in Chicago, I started doing Bikram Yoga. It worked for the purpose of getting in shape for the wedding. I think I was in one of the best shapes of my life for our big day. But it totally turned me off of Yoga. To each their own, but for me Bikram was a hot box of hell that left me wondering after every class what was wrong with me for putting myself through this type of torture. Ugh.

Physical aspect aside though, one thing I can certainly say for Yoga is that it is truly one of the only settings I’ve personally found to be able to quiet my mind and gain a sense of clarity. Going to a Yoga class for me has always been like pressing a mental restart button.

On Monday, I walked into Ser Om Shanti Yoga Studio here in Tamarindo, signed up for a month of classes, and took my first one that night.

Mariel, the owner of the studio is amazing. She just radiates positive energy and kindness and her restorative Vinyasa class was the BEST Yoga class I’ve ever been to. I walked home that night feeling refreshed, energized and positive. I had walked by the studio almost every day prior to this, thinking about going in, but not doing it because I was allowing my fear to control my actions. What if the teacher only speaks Spanish, what if everyone else is really good, what if the classes are too expensive for my budget, I don’t have a Yoga mat, blah blah blah. All, not REAL obstacles. Just excuses.

When I got home that night, I made this schedule for myself, thinking it would be a good way to start feeling like I’m settling into my new life here. Operation “get myself feeling good, looking good and most importantly – out of the house and doing things.”

As yes, the whole time I was writing out the title, I was humming.


Tonight, I came home from Yoga feeling even better than I did on Monday.

When we are scared or overwhelmed, it’s important to take a step back and realize that you don’t have to fix everything or figure everything out all at once. All you’ve got to do is take one small step, and the other steps will start to fall into place behind it.

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  • Erycca Sarver

    It is hard to start living some place new! When I moved to Ashland, WI I obviously knew the language but that was it. New town, new state, new job, new people…no friends, no significant other, nothing. I would go to work, the grocery store and home. Since I worked at a video store I’d get free movies and sit at home to watch them. No good.

    I finally joined a young professionals group in town and a scrabble club at the library. Best decisions ever. So freaking scary. What if none liked me? What if I’m no good? What if my ears turn purple and fall off? I mean seriously?!?! What are we really so afraid of?!?!

    Life anywhere it’s not worth it if you don’t have people to share it with! I’m glad to hear you took the plunge and joined something. :-)

    Your grocery shopping dilemma sounds fun to me. I would make it a game to just buy the strangest thing I could find each week and then make something with it. It is like your own version of Chopped. What’s the worst that could happen (do a little research on how a food can and can’t be cooked for safety…but beyond that go wild)!

    • jackieminchillo

      It really is crazy the tricks our mind can play on us. LOL I love the game idea. I’m sure that could get reeeallllly interesting!

  • Marília E Gabriel Andreo

    I remember being in that type of situation coming to the US at 12years old, and having to adapt not only to the country, climate, culture, school, language and try to make friends, some days were scarry but you kind of let your fears go and become someone you want to be,don’t worry about being judged by your acent don’t have fear of making friends, some will like you some will not, the pace of adaptation varies by people just take day by day, try to let the anxiety far away from you, and enjoy. Plant your seeds watch them grow and enjoy them!

    • jackieminchillo

      Thanks for the words of encouragement Marilia! Always helpful to hear from someone who has “walked in your shoes.” :)

      • Marília E Gabriel Andreo

        :) anytime

  • Amanda Mason

    I love reading your blog! I am moving back down to Costa Rica (tamarindo actually!) I’d love to connect!

    • jackieminchillo

      Glad to hear it, Amanda! Would love to connect, let me know when you’re coming down! :)