On my path and living through my challenges in Nicaragua

 

 

 

I became a mother in 2006, when my  son was born. We were incredibly happy together; I thought I would find a new way to raise a perfect child.  How hard could that be?

We started with breast feeding, we used cloth diapers, then practiced infant potty training. I took my baby on a walk every day to a park or to yoga baby classes.  During that time, everything was new, fresh and I felt we had an edge on life.

Then, my husband was injured in the fire department.  His work as an LA County firefighter came to a frightening close between fits of vertigo and a constant nagging cough; Jason was forced out of a career he loved due to a serious pulmonary injury.

We held tightly to our dreams of life together: Daddy would have time for his son, he would be there unlike his father was; Mommy would give every bit of her energy to the family, she would nurture them, and know them unlike her mother knew her.  The question was, how?  How under this new set of circumstances?

We reviewed our finances, our old plans, our hearts, and decided to move to Nicaragua and build our dream: a family yoga resort and community, El Camino del Sol.  Originally, we hadn’t intended to build out our property (purchased on our Honeymoon) until Jason retired in his 50’s, however, with this injury and inability to move on from the purgatory of illness, no pay, and no retirement, we thought we would make the best of our situation.  We rented out our home in Ventura, California and with many pleas and a few tears from our family and friends against us leaving, we moved to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua to build our dream.

This is where motherhood became completely alien and then blossomed into the most challenging task I have ever summoned to accomplish.

To begin, we landed in a rental home outside of town which was completely secluded, but nearby a gorgeous beach: Marsella Beach.  I had no washer, no drier, no tv, no computer, no cell phone…indeed, I was alone. Jason worked long hours developing the land that I began to feel was his mistress, and my existence was with my only friend, my son, eight months old.

We had a BOB stroller and would jog every day. Even though there were clothes to wash in a scrubbing sink, and then to dry on a line, we made our days count. We would go to the beach. We would nap together, play with Tad the plush Leapfrog, and sing.

My son Jaden grew, and we outgrew the Marsella Beach house. We moved closer to our Project and within walking range to several Nicaraguan neighbors in El Oro.

I had no experience living in the country until living in El Oro.  There were cows that would stick their heads over barbed wire to reach grass. There were fruit trees I had never seen before. There were people curious about me as I was about them. ‘Campesinos’ are Nicaraguan people who live in the country.

As my son Jaden began to walk at (17months!) we began venturing down the long driveway to our local Nicaraguan neighbor’s houses.  Those Nica women brought me back into a reality of community that I had missed.

There is something about connecting with other moms, that no matter how little spoken language of theirs you understand, your heart hears. We would sit on plastic chairs under the mango trees taking turns swinging the kids in hammocks, sharing a laugh, and observing our little ones play creatively and grow. My son picked every flower he could find for me, he also chased every chicken, over loved every kitten, and teased the pig “chancho” with the others.  Our friendship with the “Ninos” grew weekly and helped me find a better sense of security and comfort in the strange land.

In December of 2007 I gave birth to my first daughter.  She was born “San Juanena” and holds two passports. She was loved by the Nicas unlike my son ever was in his infancy – even men would ask to hold her. Nicaraguans just love babies; the fact that mine was blue eyed, and living amongst them was really just icing on the cake. We joked that Deila’s feet would not touch the ground until she reached one year old.

Once Deila came into my life the entire dynamic of our little family changed.  We finally moved into El Camino del Sol and every day was more complicated.  There was my son Jaden to think of, and then there was this tiny baby. There was my husband who had finally finished all the hard development work on the land, and our relationship which had grown thin, there were clients to design homes for as we strove to sell lots, there were vaccinations which caused horribly unpleasant weeks, and there was so much housework!

Having a second child is an amazing challenge.  Losing sleep is something you aspire to regain when you have only one. With two babies, sleep is gone for good.  Two children as opposed to one eliminated the fly by the seat of my pants kind of activities that I used to indulge. It forced me, a disorganized person, to become organized.

However, the hard of the new baby situation was only for that first year of her life; we managed to get over the hump.  Only 22 months apart is guaranteed to leave you winded first year of your second born.

So, I hired help.  Nicaragua is great for domestic help! I don’t know why I didn’t have a maid sooner.  The cost was 50 cents an hour, but we paid more.  I really think that when you find great help, that person earns a halo just for doing her job with a smile.

In 2008 the economy slowed down. My mother in law fought breast cancer and won. With sales slowing we decided to rent out our Nica house and buy a 5th wheel to tour the US and spend more time with family.

The tour lasted less than three months, but it was a great time. Our tenants moved out of our California home and so we moved in.  I had discovered in my Jaden a problem with speech, and wondered about his rough and tumble behavior.  His playdates in the US didn’t turn out like his time with the Ninos had.  Jaden was too rough, he would bite, he would refuse to wear shoes, he would grab toys, and not share. I thought for sure we could find help for him.  Moving back into the Ventura home would allow us the opportunity to seek help for behavioral issues, as well as for some developmental and speech issues that were becoming more worrisome for our foursome.

Jaden’s issues were a puzzle. Fortunately we received some great help with speech and sensory integration specialists, as well as a psychologist and some parenting experts. What we pieced together with the specialists was that Jaden has a lack of sensitivity all over his body, as well as some core weakness, which transferred to his mouth and a lateral lisp. This also explained the rough and tumble behavior which was so troublesome to our family and friends.  We found he needs more input to feel the same as other children his age.

We also suffered through some behavioral issues resulting from us, the imperfect parents, not agreeing on and being consistent with consequences and rewards.

We were quite happy to draw these conclusions. We were able to receive help for every area of difficulty over the course of a year. I devoted much of my time taking Jaden to different places and appointments trying to figure it all out.  We also tried three different preschools; we just had to get him the right start with him loving school.

We closed out the year expecting another baby.  By then we had long learned that there is no way for us to raise a perfect child, but there would have to be a way to survive, and to reach for a future where we would thrive.  We knew what to expect, we knew we had bided our time, and since our Ventura house would not sell in the slow economy, we knew I had to begin looking for work.

Four months after the birth of my beautiful second daughter, Dallas, I was hired by a friend’s father’s company.  My job was interesting, but I had difficulty with the transition from being home full time with my children and husband (working at home on El Camino del Sol), to being gone 10 hours a day with a few unpleasant co-workers.  I hired two nannies on rotating schedules, both who were great with the kids and keeping the place neat.  Yet Jason had to step in every hour to help manage my son’s needs – schlepping to preschool and home, dealing with arguments between Deila and him, etc. It was a rough six months at work.

I learned from my time at work that it’s very nice and convenient to have an adult place to go and work and earn.  However, it doesn’t take much to make work a misery when you have children missing you at home.  I missed Nicaragua more and more, and the freedom to be with the kids that I had there, as well as developing our business Nica Yoga, alongside the development El Camino del Sol.

One of the most exciting times for me was resigning from my work at the medical instrument company to begin packing.  Although we had to rent our house out instead of selling it, our family rejoiced at rounding out every room and planning our escape from the American Dream.

We were returning to a life of cows mooing, roosters ca-ca-doodleing, and lots of sunshine and bugs. What better way to raise children, we thought, than to expose them to the world back in time, like in the USA’s 1970’s, where kids could play all afternoon outside without parents hovering, climb trees, and make friends with the neighbors; we were excited to live in a place once again where Jason and I could still take time to mold our children’s young minds.

Once back in Nicaragua everything clicked for us. It took about two months, but then we got on track.  Jaden and Deila entered preschool in Spanish, $15 a month for both in private school.  We are currently battling impetigo…but it’s worth the kids being immersed in the Nicaraguan culture.  Nica Yoga, the soul of our community is growing; we have guests weekly that come for a vacation with yoga, meditation and massage.  Retreats for 2012 are forming, as well as yoga teacher trainings.

We swim every day in either the pool or ocean with our kids. We make food from scratch. We welcome guests, and visit neighbors.  We see the ninos and plan parties together, always involving piñatas. We put together community service projects, and sell lots and homes in our development. We drink the best coffee every morning, and really cannot complain.

Although the turn in the economy and my husband’s injury made us re-evaluate our path and brought tremendous stress to our lives, we were forced to make changes based on survival and the greater picture. The life we live in Nicaragua is so much richer than the life we would be living hand to mouth in the US.  I have learned to be in the moment and make the best of it.

 

If you ask me now, what makes me feel hip?  It’s not walking every day to the park with a cute baby and big sunglasses; it’s not going to mommy and me yoga classes.  It’s not even the fact that I am fortunate enough to love where I live with my kids and a wonderful husband.  It’s certainly not because I am raising perfect kids – I know enough now to know that’s impossible!

I feel hip because I am living through my challenges on my path, however divergent and misunderstood by family or friends in the US.  It took some time to embrace, but I have finally found myself.  I am living as I am meant to, I am committed, and I know we will thrive in Nicaragua.

 

 

Nica Yoga is Nicaragua’s 1st Yoga Retreat Operator located in the only yoga community, El Camino del Sol located in hills outside of San Juan del Sur. A unique and affordable retreat that welcomes families with young children who can safely explore, play and swim while parents enjoy daily yoga, massage and relaxation.

www.nicayoga.com

 

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Donna Buettner said...

    What an awesome article! As a mom and wife myself I can appreciate all that you are enduring ! Bless you and your wonderful family!!

    Aug 04, 2011 at 1:13 pm
  2. Jessica Winkler said...

    That was a wonderful article! I love reading stories like this :)

    Aug 04, 2011 at 3:28 pm
  3. Parisa said...

    This was absolutely amazing. I completely felt your pain, joy and dilemmas all at the same time. I knew you and your beautiful family were special gifts to society when I met you guys that day in Malibu. God Bless you and your family:)

    Aug 04, 2011 at 8:00 pm
  4. Laura Streicher said...

    Great article, Dana! So happy to hear you guys have adjusted and are doing so well. One day soon we will make it there to visit!

    Aug 07, 2011 at 11:45 pm
  5. AnneMarie Evans said...

    You touched and inspired us during our time at Nica Yoga. What a brilliant lesson in taking adversity and turning it into a life even more beautiful then the one you had – it is clearly the life you were intended to live (and it makes me just a tad envious)! Can’t wait to visit again…

    Aug 08, 2011 at 1:48 pm
  6. Tammy Highfill said...

    Dana, you and Jason both have an undeniable warmth and positive energy which made hanging out so much fun. Thanks for a great time at Nica Yoga. Your article–what a beautiful story of passion and following the “good vibration”. Clearly, this is the real dream that you’ve been called to follow and I love how you and Jason, as a team, have made it happen. You and your children will have such rich memories from the experiences and environment there. So glad to know you and look forward to being in touch! Un abrazo fuerte.

    Aug 08, 2011 at 4:24 pm
  7. Michelle DeCola said...

    Wow. Just Wow.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m passing this along to the women in my life that have had some similar challenges.

    Your story is truly inspiring to me.

    I hope to visit your resort one day.

    Wishing you love and laughter- Michelle

    Sep 14, 2011 at 10:07 am
  8. Kelly Rodgers said...

    Awesome article, Dana. I loved hearing of your lives prior to our meeting. Thanks for sharing as I can relate (here with you) :-) God bless.

    Sep 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm

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