Previously I never put much thought into Costa Rica as a vacation destination, let alone a place to live. I had never been anywhere tropical or anywhere further south than Florida for that matter.  I knew I much preferred warm weather over colder weather, so I said, “Why not?”

Born in Russia, living in Harrisburg, Virginia, and working as a social worker, I had my apartment, car, salaried income, and was almost on my way to starting that 401K—sorry Dad. I even had a week of paid vacation with extra time that would accumulate the longer I stayed employed! I was living the “American Dream.” Society told me that I couldn’t have it all. That life would be full of sacrifices, and as long as I did my duty as a good citizen and stayed within the lines, I would later be rewarded. In January of 2015, I decided that I would move to another place in twelve to eighteen months. I made it six months before buying a one-way plane ticket for Costa Rica with the intent to stay.

  1. Liberation from Judgment

When I decided to move to Costa Rica, those who knew me were not completely shocked. I had often gone on passionate tangents about how there’s more to life to be discovered, and how I desperately wanted to experience new things. Some thought that my “head was in the clouds,” and others thought it was a bold idea. Nevertheless, I put the idea into reality, and within three short months, I was on the plane headed over to San Jose!

The decision to make this move, the move itself, and living here has been a constant liberation of myself from other’s judgments and the judgments I hold against myself.  It’s absolutely impossible to make everyone around you happy. You are the only one who gets to be you every day. I’m awestruck when I look back and think of how many things I did or did not do simply based on my fear of the repercussions of other’s judgments and expectations of me. It seems we get so busy telling each other how to run our lives, that we are not even running our own anymore. I cannot go around waving a finger at those who judge since I would need to turn that finger around and wave it at myself as well. What I’ve learned is that it is just as much our duty to release others from our judgments as it is our duty to release ourselves from the judgments of others.

I have been blessed in Costa Rica to be surrounded by wonderful individuals who are also leaving judgments behind and making monumental steps towards personal growth. Remarkable people who are transforming and opening their hearts to all of the endlessly wonderful experiences that this beautiful country has to offer.

  1. The Flow Never Fails

“The Flow” happens when you are loving yourself, being true to yourself, following your passions, and your conscious actions come from a place of love. Costa Rica has been a blank canvas to paint my hopes, dreams, accomplishments, failures, and every other beautifully messy part of life onto. It’s been a turning point to extract meaning from the past, enjoy the present, and create a future. Moving to a new country, without a source of income, and not knowing the language was one of the scariest things I have ever done in my life.

When speaking with other expats, it seems that moving to Costa Rica has been a true leap of faith for many. This experience has delivered the hardest life lessons, and the universe did not spare much time in presenting them. This leap of faith brought me into my “Flow.” Out of the tornado came a new understanding of life. Out of the darkness came never-ending love and light. When we direct our energy towards our passions and what’s good for us, we can have authentic happiness in life without making the sacrifices that we are told we must make.  Costa Rica, its people, nature, and all of the things that make up this beautiful country continue to show me the many shades of life. Many expats, visitors, and locals of Costa Rica can testify that this country has truly special qualities that prove to be transformative to their human experience.

  1. People are Actually Awesome

Despite what we are bombarded with in the news every day, many people are actually awesome. As each day goes by, we become increasingly fearful of the world and people around us. It’s incredible how consciously giving respect to others, and receiving it on a daily basis makes an impact on the overall quality and low-stress level of life.   Some of us tend to typically fixate on negatives rather than positives. Whether it’s a negative comment that someone made or a situation that sparked uneasy feelings. Living in a place where it’s quite out of the ordinary to encounter those instances on a regular basis is very enjoyable, and allows a person a lot of time and energy to focus on the positives.

The population as a whole that I have interacted with here have been lovely people who are warm, open, helpful, and know how to enjoy the simple things in life. Costa Rica is a place where I have found true friendships in abundance, and an endless number of people who I would be glad to interact with and have meaningful conversations with.  Being in Costa Rica redefined the meaning of friendship for me, and pushed me to move far beyond a superficial level of connection with others. I was shown the magic that can happen when we let our guard down, and let go of our fears that we have of others. This is one lesson that I will carry with me throughout my life and will practice everywhere I go.

The culture here helps facilitate a social environment where we can begin to break through our fear of connection with others and tear down our walls. Moving to a new place became much less scary when I was welcomed with love, support, and irreplaceable soul connections. Before I left, I was aware of how much I would miss those I was leaving behind.  But I also had a growing excitement for those I would meet. I have not been disappointed!

  1. Sustainable Practices are Easy!

I have to mention sustainability here because it is apparent that Costa Rica is on an upward path towards increasing their sustainability as a country. Water usage, recycling, composting, alternative energy sources, and many other practices have taken effect here in Costa Rica. “I can recycle this? And this too?”  Get your green on with Simple DIY Tips that Benefit the Earth and Your Wallet.

Shortly after arriving here I realized how incredibly unsustainable my behavior was, and how it can constantly be improved upon. I thought I was doing pretty well with putting my recycling bin out on Thursdays with my cereal boxes, milk cartons, and tin cans. No, Costa Rica has shown me that my efforts were nowhere near good enough. Costa Rica has made me feel awkward when using a plastic straw even (thanks to the internet and a friend, I will have metal reusable ones soon!). Being more sustainable and eco-friendly just requires us to not be so lazy and tap into our creativity.

  1. Nature is the Ultimate Healer

Nature has been scientifically proven to be a powerful healer. It’s pretty difficult to find yourself removed from nature in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is abundant in beauty in all shapes and forms. The sunsets produce a wide range of epic colors that may even be new to the human eye. Waterfalls that will leave you feeling cleansed and refreshed. Rivers that provide peace and tranquility to those who seek it. Seemingly never ending types of birds and other curious creatures for the wildlife enthusiast. As well as many types of plants and fruits that will have you saying, “What on earth is that?”

Costa Rica has taught me to fully let go, and allow nature to swallow me up in all of her glory. The nature here provides a loving space to dive deep and explore. Each day my curiosity is sparked by a new finding in the jungle or along the beach. The ocean waves and river rapids will quickly humble you. The large amount of fruit growing wild will surely nourish you. Unexpected animals will surprise you. Reaching the top of a hill for a spectacular view will certainly challenge and reward you. Nature is there to share the best and the worst times with us. The ocean has collected my salty tears, and the flowers have felt the vibration of my laughter. The moon has been there to light up the dark pathway home, and the sun rises each and every morning to provide balance, growth, and harmony.

Nature has been one of the most tremendous teachers here. As my connection deepens with Her, she has lead me to become more confident and comfortable in myself. I continue to be awe-struck by the combination of colors, textures, smells, and genuine feeling of home that Costa Rica provides.

Live a life that you love and do what makes your heart sing! Life is honestly too short, “Por que no?”

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