Three years ago on the beach in Honolulu, my husband and I promised each other that 2015 was our year to change our lives, a year to do something crazy, a year to invite adventure and play out a little dream just to see how it goes. We have been quietly setting up our lives to do it, saving money, making plans, discussing it and coming to an agreement.
It is 2015 and everything is moving in one direction. On August 21st, we are all hopping on a plane and moving to Costa Rica for a year or two or so. Just to see how it goes. Details have been firming up since our recognizance trip this April.
My life right now is balancing the commitments I have left here which include a couple of commissions and stocking inventory for a gift shop consignment deal, cleaning up, packing and purging the house, connecting at least one more time with special friends and neighbors and a lot of daydreaming about what life will be like in less than 6 weeks.
I have been painting but I have not been blogging about it. I'll get better, I promise. I will be painting in Costa Rica, no doubt about it.
You can follow this new adventure more closely at the blog dedicated to it here:
Costa Rica Heat from Marika Reinke Original SOLD Limited Edition Print $45 – takes up to a week to ship. I will order and customize in silver, gold and iridescent paint. Pack of 10 5″ x 7″ Art Cards: $35 – takes up to 2 weeks to order and ship
Tomorrow, the family is heading to Costa Rica for spring break. We expect lots of sun, beach, relaxation, pool time, monkeys, maybe a zip line or horse back ride and definitely a lot of exploring. We are going to Playa Flamingo, Guanacaste. It is hot, it is beachy and the jungle literally spills into the ocean. There is nothing like a change in scenery to shake off the winter grime.
So trapped here, voluntarily and blissfully. What will I take?
I took these to Mexico. The brushes hold water in the stem and I can paint on the plane pretty easily with them. From Seattle, this is going to be around 10 hours of travel time. Though I don’t love them, they are packable.
The pan watercolors are not my favorite. I have a lot more flexibility with tubes. But they are portable. Plus, I have this huge set of new ones, not even opened.
I used up my watercolor paper journal and the art store didn’t have any. So I grabbed some small Arches Watercolor blocks.
This time maybe I’m going to take some high chroma QoR tubes, my silver and gold watercolor, and nicer brushes and one palette so I can do some real painting. My husband is going to think I’m crazy. The last time we were in Costa Rica we were robbed – maybe not. But I can’t bare to part with them!
Oh yeah, and a sketch book and pencils with pencil sharpener.
Healing is its own process, not controlled, but guided -like tending to a garden. Healing needs a lot of good things and not too much of any of it; nutrition, exercise, happiness, water, sleep, good company and relaxation. It is organic, non-linear with great days and not so good days while new limits and abilities are discovered. It isn’t a one-way proposition like building with legos or molding with play dough. It is a partnership and dance with the body even when the body feels like a traitor. But this traitor desperately needs love. It is difficult to love a traitor. Traitors make things personal. Traitors make you want to turn your back too. Traitors can make you feel bitter.
I had high expectations for healing when I left on this vacation. I expected this vacation to force my healing into submission. I expected to return a different person than the one that arrived two weeks earlier.
Fall has been difficult. Recovery from my herniated disc has been good, but slow. And as my leg got stronger, my allergies went out of control. My eczema on my hands and face started to spread. My eye even swelled up and broke out and for weeks it wouldn’t go away. I suspect the combination of the cortisone shot, less exercise, sudden change in weather and stress. I was uncomfortable to sit in any room in the house. My face hurt, my hands hurt, I didn’t like sleeping for fear I’d wake up and my eye would be swollen shut. Creams didn’t work. Drugs didn’t work much. It felt like a downward spiral and I could not bounce back.
I needed sun and fresh air. I needed to get away from dust, pollen, harsh cold air. I needed to rebalance my immune system. I needed a vacation. The vacation would fix everything.
I arrived and the rash on my hands were burning so badly I soaked them with a wash cloth. It hurt to be in the pool and my face stung from the chlorine. My leg went numb as an aftershock to long hours of sitting on an airplane. It seemed it all got worse instead of better.
But then it got even worse. I got sick; a killer sore throat and fatigue. My husband included a fever in his version. Our son a hacking, croaking cough. This was followed by a brief bout with Montezuma’s revenge on day 5. Then some other irritants; ingrown hairs, break outs, cracked lips and chafed, bleeding skin. Coupled with the ever present expectation that this vacation was supposed to be about healing, I felt like I was being torn down completely.
It reminded me of remodeling our house. It always got worse before the project got better. Walls are knocked down, drywall explodes, dust flies, beams are exposed, wires everywhere and the mess spreads from the room to the streets. And then the rebuilding begins, and a turning point as it all comes back together, lighter, composed, beautified and a new home from the old.
And slowly, it did turn. My hands completely healed and the eczema receded. The numbness in my foot disappeared. My first run on the beach felt like heaven. By the end of the second week, I realized that my leg felt strong (not just pain-free) though occasionally numb still. My back felt stable to the point that lifting some light weights, including by kids, didn’t feel risky. My husband and I salsa danced! Progress emerged and it surprised me.
I’m not a perfectly done project. 2 weeks isn’t long enough to heal my back, I’ve got another 6 months to go they tell me. And I’ve got a lingering rash on my eye that is actually getting better at home. My comfort level as I write is so much healthier than when I left.
And here is something new for me; vacations are about healing. I love to travel and have many vacations and adventures under my belt. And upon reflection, there was always an element of healing in each one. I return and I feel stronger.
Which means, away or at home, we are always in some state of healing? I’m thinking a lot about this and how much of my art work reflects on healing, even in the prayers we cast.
An act of gratitude or desire, a prayer is cast. Molded in mauve and tangerine corral awash on the shore. Sprayed on the ocean foam, in puffer-fish and burgundy and cantaloupe crabs. Written in the sighs of sea pebbles collected by children like papayas and pineapples. Alighted across the sunset sky, a tequila dream, a constricted wish misplaced. A heron’s feet ablaze. The pelican’s eyes. The parrots’ squawking wake up call. And a butterfly. These are prayers.