My year in Costa Rica is drawing to a close.  I’ve been in this country (with the exception of Christmas in the states) since the beginning of July nearly a year ago.  It has worked its way into my heart and I have found myself very much at home here…but it was always to be a temporary one.

In Puntarenas one can find entire city blocks covered in brilliantly colored murals.

It has been more amazing, more freeing, and more painful than I can possibly begin to explain, and I’m still reeling that it’s almost over.  I sit tonight in a hotel room in San Jose, just a stone’s throw from the airport, ready to fly back to the states tomorrow.  But am I really ready?  Will I be able to take the things I’ve begun to learn back with me and keep them?  Will I still hang onto my voice- the one that says ‘no’ when it doesn’t want to do things and asks ‘help’ when it’s struggling, the one that says ‘this is who I am’ without shame- when I am back in a world where people see me as I was and expect me to be who I’ve always been?  Or will I loose ground?

I was always too compliant with people I admired or from whom I wanted a good opinion.  I let myself get involved in things that were too much for me- for my time, my energy, my health- because I wanted to be important.  And I wasn’t honest about things if I thought those people would judge me.  My need to have value was place far too much in the opinions of others and not in my opinion of me.  I’m not that person anymore.  I don’t let myself feel guilty for saying ‘no’ or refusing to waffle or doing what’s right for me rather than what is good for someone else.  And I won’t spend all my time taking care of other people.  I have a life.  I take care of myself and it’s not my responsibility to take care of the ‘stuff’ of other people all the time.  Not anymore.  But any time you go away, grow, and go back there’s a danger.  Those old routines, habits, and mind-sets are so easy to slip back into.

But I am proud of the ground I’ve gained and I know that what I’ve accomplished is more important that the ease of familiarity and the simplicity of making no waves.  So, here I am, 40 pounds and a hell of a lot of baggage lighter than I was 11 months ago, making the decision to stand strong.  The routines I’ve established for myself this year will change as my schedule alters, but the heart of those routines and habits will remain.  I will be my priority; taking care of myself, doing what’s good and healthy for me, chasing after the desires of my own heart will take precedence.  And I will keep the centered spirit I’ve found.  Even if it takes work.  Even if I have to enlist help sometimes.  Even if it’s scary.

It is more than time for me to go home.  I’m ready.  But I know it won’t be easy.  This next step of my journey will be just as hard as the move to Costa Rica was, but the forward momentum will be more than worth it.  I’m on a path that’s nowhere near over yet, and I am excited to see where it will take me.

Like the figures in these murals, I have found an exhuberance and sense of freedom I didn't feel before.