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Category Archives: Reflection

10 Tips For Relocating to a New Country

Playa Grande in Punta Uva, a seaside village in the Límon province of Costa Rica.

With a growing number of countries offering Digital Nomad Visas and as a recent podcast guest on this topic*, it occurs to me that I have a unique perspective that may be helpful. Whether you are looking to work remotely or to change your lifestyle, here are a few tips if you’re considering relocating to another country (or if you’re asking for a friend…wink, wink).

1. Make a list: No, not a to-do list, but a passions list! What are your interests? What brings you joy? What are the things that you’re passionate about but have never found the time to pursue? Use this list to guide your ultimate destination.

2. Do your research: Create a list of must-haves and build your destination list around it. BTW – your passions list should be part of your must-haves. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive, but you want to make sure that you find a good fit for your life or how you want to live.

3. Take a trip: Break out that passport and travel! It’s a big world, go explore it. You can’t get the feel of a place without getting the feel of a place. When you visit, you can do a few tourist activities, but make sure you get some local flavor. Talk to the hotel concierge or your Air BnB/VRBO manager or host for some local experiences and/or local people that can serve as a guide. Also, talk to the indigenous people about their country.

4. Be flexible: If you’re moving to a new country, don’t expect the nuances and rituals of your previous home. Learn something new, have patience and if there is a new language, learn it (people will appreciate your effort and respond to you differently).

5. Make connections: Social media can provide you with a window into different countries. There are groups for just about everything. Join a few that match your needs (I joined a Black Expats in Costa Rica Facebook Group about three years prior to moving.)

6. Create a plan: No, everything doesn’t need to be etched in stone, but at least plan your logistics: moving, selling or storing belongings, finding a renter or buyer for your residence, etc. This should include a timeline.

7. Credentials please: Particularly if you’re moving with a family, have your vital records and paperwork stored in a manner that it is easy to access. I mean passports (obviously), health records, birth certificates, ID cards and other country-specific administrative records.

8. Make a budget: You are no longer a tourist. Make sure you account for the essentials (rent, utilities, healthcare, food, transportation) as well as some splurges along the way.

9. Follow your heart: This is your journey. What is right for you may not be right for someone else and that’s okay. Don’t be deterred if everyone is not onboard with your move (this excludes your family unit – you need some consensus). Do it anyway!

10. Enjoy the ride: Even if this isn’t your final destination, lean into it! Slow down. Take in the scenery and culture. Find your tribe. Have some great experiences!

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2022 in Career, Family, Health, Reflection, women, worklife balance

 

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Podcasts: love ’em or hate ’em?

Everyone has a podcast these days. You can find them on just about every topic: some have a very niche target say, Stephen King book fans or Queen Sugar enthusiasts, and others have a broader audience of self help or a celebrity’s musings.

Yours truly in Delaware last fall for my girlfriend’s podcast Grown Women Shit.

I remember prior to the pandemic, I had never listened to any! Can you believe it? I can think of at least two people in my circle being horrified and wanted desperately to help me find my show(s).

Now, I’m about to dip my toe in… My significant other and I have been saying for at least the last year, when we moved to Costa Rica we would launch it. Well… we’re here! We’ve known each for 31 years (whew, that doesn’t sound right!) and we’ve had some great conversations. Some have been filled with laughter, others not so much. So we’ve decided to take our show on the road!

Talk to me! Tell me if you do podcasts or not. Let me know some interesting topics that you haven’t heard discussed and would like to. Please be respectful. 😉

 

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Writing Is Therapy

I hadn’t written a short story since high school. Literally. In high school, I chose writing over my love of numbers; that’s when I became a writer. It was quite accidental.

Two things happened: I took a creative writing course during my junior year and reality became too real. That year, I lost a few friends, 16 year-olds, to gun violence. Needless to say, I was having a hard time. Writing helped.

About a year later, I transitioned to poetry and as they say, “the rest is history.” That is, until now.

I have written hundreds of poems. That’s what I’d been inspired to write… Enter Costa Rica and my Black Writer’s Group. These writers are working on novels; a few of them are working on several, some have self-published. There is only one other sometime poet in the bunch.

A BWG meeting, less a few members.

I was content with being a poet. Not performing, only written word. Then, I read a short story by our writer of the week. It was wonderful.

And as I walked to that week’s meeting, I began to think: maybe I’ll write a short story! I haven’t written one in over 30 years, but why not?

I listened to the waves crash and lap the shore as I walked. Yes, I’m going to write a short story!

At the close of our weekly meeting, we share goals for the coming weeks and I shared my intention. I was excited. Now I just needed a topic…

That next week was an anniversary that I’d like to forget. It was the day that my cousin and an uncle died unexpectedly, seven hours apart. It was a Monday morning and the weight of the loss began to press down on me.

I fetched my laptop, sat staring out of the glass, sliding doors at the pool and began typing. The words poured from my fingertips. I wrote for hours. I shared it with the BWG and they loved it.

Now I’m working on short story number two. This one is about four times the length of Seven Hours. It is somehow more difficult to write; I don’t know why. But my guess is that I still have some unresolved feelings about the topic.

Years ago, I was found to be a match for a sick patient. I went on to serve as a stem cell donor. After a year of thriving, she took a turn and died. She was 14. That’s all I know. I never really talked about that.

I think writing this story is helping to sort something out for me that I didn’t know was there. We’ll see.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2022 in Poetry, Reflection, violence, women, writing

 

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I’m a Bibliophile

I’m just gonna say it. Ebooks are not the same! Yes, they are convenient and are getting me through right now… english titles are hard to come by here in Cahuita, Costa Rica.

The current book I’m reading and I’m thankful, even though it’s on my screen.

There’s something about turning a physical page, the weight of the book in my hands, pretty bookmarks and the smell of books that I crave…

I think, as people begin to visit, that will be the toll: books!

Do you have a preference? Ebook or physical book and why?

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2022 in Reflection, writing

 

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Who is Tica Ayoka?

No se. I am unsettled… perhaps that is a poor word choice because I feel amazing! I simply don’t know which direction this new me will take.

I seldom know what day it is and those days speed by in technicolor. We continue to homeschool and my son has now started boxing lessons, twice per week. My schedule is dictated by his activities which is not unusual for a Mom. However, this is the time to carve out my place…

My goal is to truly lean into “pura vida” and know that all is well in time.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2022 in Family, Motherhood, Reflection, women

 

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My Son is 14 Today

Today is my son’s 14th birthday. I have mixed feelings… Of course I am joyous that he is celebrating another year of life. I left the states to ensure that. However, he is a teenager and all that comes with it!

He is a young 14 and still finds joy in simple things. Thank you! And the girl obsession hasn’t kicked in yet, another blessing. But I think as a parent, especially Mothers, we get very nostalgic for their younger, adorable years. SIGH…

 
 

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My Grandma Has Alzheimer’s

This year she will be 94 years old. She is in great health, albeit a bit thin. Amy Scroggins is the matriarch of our family. She is the only surviving child of her parent’s 11 children. She raised nine children (seven boys) with my Grandfather in southern Maryland, outliving him and two of their children. She was an avid reader and seamstress and the disciplinarian. She is the great grandmother of 14. And she has Alzheimer’s Disease.

My Grandma and my son last fall.

She was diagnosed in 2020 at the height of the pandemic and shortly after unexpectedly losing a son and granddaughter. There was a rash of erratic behavior then, but then it vanished.

There are moments when her mind slips and she is in another time, detailing the one-room school house that she attended. Or she is telling me that she had a good day except for the spanking that she got… then her mind shifts and she is quiet, trying to reconcile it all.

Grandma and Granddaddy at an event.

My mother and her siblings have a rotating schedule. They stay with her a week at a time so that she can be in her home. It has been rough on them, seeing their mother slip away. Having to help her with the basics as she once did with them. However, she remembers everyone and can walk, talk, eat, breathe and bathe on her own.

There are moments of regression, but they don’t last. Sometimes, she is far away and sad. She knows something is wrong but cannot understand or repair it. She repeats herself frequently in a conversation, but I just listen and agree as if it’s new information.

Grandma at age 20.

I love my Grandma. I am glad she can’t recall some things because she is a strong, proud woman and she would be frustrated and ashamed that she needs this level of assistance, especially from her children.

I know the disease can and will progress. Being so far away from her is my only regret for relocating. But thank goodness for technology.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2022 in Family, Health, Reflection, women

 

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Stranger Fruit

In 2022, our fruit doesn’t hang from Southern trees. It lies rotting in streets, alleys and fields. We seldom know who plucked the precious fruit… or it goes unpunished.

 

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Mist Rising

I was in the sea when I first felt the connection.
The teal water surrounding me…
And everything in its wake.

Mist rises
and disappears into
Palm trees and verdant jungle.
Peals of children’s laughter break through the
Call and response of the waves.

The tide rose
And lapped the shore.
It climbed
Still higher
Threatening our temporary encampment on the sand.

As the clouds descend
A brown man casts his line for the sea’s bounty.
The water is meditative
It matches my breath
Providing calm.

It is home.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2022 in Poetry, Reflection

 

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Be the Match

I found this draft post from 2015.

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About two weeks ago, I received devastating news. It’s taken me this long to process it and finally, share. I learned that my teen-aged stem cell recipient died. She rallied after a year which is an important milestone for transplant recipients. She was even able to return home and resume normal activities, so we were extremely hopeful. About six months later, she was hospitalized with respiratory issues and I stopped receiving updates.

I’ve thought a lot about the upside, the silver lining if there is one to find. Here’s what I have:

  1. Health: Protect it. Be thankful for good health.
  2. Life: LIVE it…seriously.
  3. Children: If you have them, cherish them. To lose one must be unbearable.
  4. Donate: Time, blood, organs, marrow if you are able to do so.
  5. Share: We can not make it alone. If you have something to give someone else, please do it.
 
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Posted by on March 2, 2022 in Health, Reflection

 

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