Living in Central America for 8 Weeks: Routines and Other Self-Imposed Creations (Part II)

When I’m at home, I have a routine. I do some type of workout four times a week. Afterwards, I write in my gratitude journal, I light incense and meditate, and every so often, I do a tarot card spread. Then, I start my regular workday.

While I was in Central America, I rarely did an organized workout. In Costa Rica, it took two weeks for me to roll my yoga mat out on the upstairs patio and practice some poses. In terms of moving my body, Dwight and did several walking tours and hikes, lasting at least three hours. In Panamá, we took one to three-mile walks around the neighborhood during the week. And I thought to myself: isn’t this exercise? Not to mention, my diet significantly decreased in calories in Costa Rica. This was mainly because we didn’t have immediate access to a grocery store and sometimes underestimated the amount of food we would need for the week.

Instead of writing down five things I was grateful for each day, I started being grateful in the moment. For example, while I was doing yoga, the mountains surrounded me. That was dope, and I was grateful, right then. Oftentimes, I’d stand in the shower and think about how fortunate I was to be able to travel to another country, while maintaining material things back home (e.g., house, cars, etc.).

I didn’t bring any incense because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to light it, and it took me three weeks to pull a tarot card because I didn’t feel the need. Whatever I wanted to know, I intuited it.

Living this way reinforced something a medium told me last year. According to her, my spirit guides said I’m too regimented. They said I don’t need to sit down and meditate and do everything in such an orderly way. This message wasn’t just for me; she said no person needs to schedule time like this. It’s unnecessary. And now, I see what she meant.

This message was affirmed as I listened to a podcaster. She said, “If I don’t meditate in the morning, my day doesn’t go right.” I wondered if this was true. Does her entire twenty-four hours hinge on meditating for fifteen minutes? That’s a lot of pressure.

No doubt, there are times we need to center ourselves and become clear about our intentions in this world or get in touch with whatever deity we praise. But we’ve also created a system that we rely on a bit too much to live life. Consequently, this can cause us to forget to…live life.

While I was away, this idea was further affirmed through a conversation with my sister, who is Muslim. She decided not to celebrate Ramadan this year. She realized she was only doing it because she was Muslim. I saw our conversation as a clear message. Whether you believe in organized religion or not, you can make anything religious and then lean on that thing, the same way you would the teachings of Jesus or Allah.

Should I move my body every day? Of course. Do I have to spend exactly X number of minutes four times a week ensuring I do? I’m not sure. I’m starting to see this as a Western ideal we’ve created because many of us sit around too much. I’m now leaning more toward the idea of moving in ways I enjoy to remain active and mobile. I like riding my bike. I like practicing yoga. Sometimes I should pick up the pace a bit to work up a sweat. But I shouldn’t get myself into a frenzy if I don’t. It’ll be okay.


64 thoughts on “Living in Central America for 8 Weeks: Routines and Other Self-Imposed Creations (Part II)

  1. I love your perspective! The part about being thrown off by not meditating in the morning really stood out – how did we end up putting that kind of pressure on ourselves? Don’t we have the power to change our perspective and have a good day if we choose it? Or take 5 minutes to meditate mid day if we feel off?
    Thank you for your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you get this Sarah! I legit believe it’s all in our brains. For example, if I made up a rule that I’m going to have a bad day, unless I stand on my head for 30 seconds, then I’m pretty sure I’ll have a bad day…I mean, I’ve already said it’ll happen, so it will lol

      Thank you for reading and commenting here 😉

      Like

  2. This is so fascinating for me to read because while I do practice an organized religion, I am not at all a creature of routine. I do think you’re right though that the ways that we define ourselves, whether it’s a daily routine or a religious identity, sometimes need to be re-examined every so often to make sure they are really working. These are, as you said, self-imposed creations

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Because you practice a religion, I’m glad you’ve chimed in and have let me know what you think. I remember reading something on your blog about a specific practice you were going to try, but you didn’t get into the routine of it (I hope I’m remembering correctly).

      With that said, I agree with what you’ve written here. I think we should all stop for a second and analyze why we’re doing what we’re doing. I mean if it’s just because your uncle said so, like thirty years ago, well…I’m not so sure that’s a great reason.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! I feel like the stereotype is that people who practice organized religion are good at routines. There’s some truth to it, but it definitely isn’t a universal!

        In any case though, I agree with your conclusion even though I’m coming from a different perspective. I have adjusted my own observances and practices when I found they weren’t working for me any more. There comes a point when *because this is what [XYZ religion] says* is not sufficiently compelling on its own.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “It’ll be okay.” Words to live by!

    I’ve found that certain places force us to slow down. I like that.
    I also don’t know why I’m not subscribed to you on ig?! That’s about to change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always okay…even if you think it’s not 😉

      I don’t know why either, but now that you are, I can maintain some contact a little more easily! Although, you missed a lot of the good photos 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s amazing how quickly our schedules can become rigid, and our habits can become “must-dos!” I’m glad your trip gave the the chance to see that you can mix it up a bit and still be just fine. I have to remind myself about that many times, and it usually happens the way yours did: when external forces make keeping to my normal schedule impossible!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So true Ann. We do this to ourselves, and then complain about the lack of time to do fill-in-the-blank thing, or blame not doing our routine for an awful day, when really, I’m starting to believe, really it’s whatever we make up in our mind from the beginning.

      (Of course, take out extreme cases, like no exercise can lead to some health ailment), but I think you get what I’m saying.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Well I do find that my day goes better if I have spent 30 minutes in prayer first thing in the morning. It puts my mind in a better place, more at peace, more grateful, more forgiving. I also do a breathing exercise that helps keep my blood pressure down, and calms my mind and body. It’s not about God needing me to pray. It’s about me needing the connection to God. As for exercise, when I had a scheduled time to go to the gym, I exercised regularly. When the gyms closed, my exercise level dropped to almost nothing. I can’t seem to set aside time for it at home, so exercise seems to work better for me when scheduled too. I think some people are more free spirits, and some people need the routine. I like routine for the necessary stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Janet! I actually agree with you. I think some of us do better with routines and schedules.

      I guess what I’m thinking is if you get tied to it, then is it really useful? For example, what will happen if you miss a 30-minute day of prayer?

      …or with exercising, if I don’t exercise regularly, then my body tells me in different way, this isn’t the right action; however, I’ve learned it’s okay to miss one or two workouts.

      But of course, we all have to do what’s best for us overall 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are some things I pay a price if I skip it. There are other things that aren’t so necessary. If I miss the morning prayer time, I regret it! My day is a mess. Sometimes, I have to shorten it, like when I’m on vacation, but skipping it is not an option. It’s not about guilt. It’s the outcome. I wish I was still going to the gym regularly, because I am losing muscle strength and stamina. For me, the schedule every week works best. It’s the same with taking vitamins. If I don’t take them daily, I have less energy. So I just do it. I think maybe it’s not the schedule that’s the problem, but if there is guilt when it doesn’t get done, then that’s the problem. Guilt doesn’t help. Instead, we need to give ourselves grace. It’s ok if we miss it once or twice. We can forgive ourselves and go on from there. And yes, we find what works for us and don’t have to explain to anyone else. Just do what works for you. Yep. Agreed.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! Sometimes, you have to get out of a box of restrictions and see what’s on the other side. You may not need to leave the country to do it, but you probably gotta leave something lol

      Liked by 2 people

    1. This is a good analogy. For those of us who learned to slow down during the pandemic, I do hope we remember to maintain a different pace post-pan. It’s necessary for so many reasons ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I beat myself up for a longest time for my inability to create or keep schedule. Some discipline is necessary I tried to tell myself but it never worked. There are non-negotiables during the day that I don’t compromise on and overall I seem to do better with being responsive to flow and intuition. Only lately I have begun to appreciate it as my strength and then keeping a check on myself regarding if my non-negotiables are in the direction of my well being or from a pattern of people pleasing. I am putting effort to shift in the direction of my well being, yet regimentation doesn’t work as well as simply allowing with intention. I love and appreciate you mentioning organized religion with regards to this. It is so important to feel in alignment with our choices otherwise they just take up space and energy in our life without cultivating anything within. I thoroughly enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Pragalbha! “Allowing with intention” is the way to go for me as well. It’s not always the easiest way to go, but it definitely feels better in the moment, and it usually yields positive results 😉

      For some reason, I felt compelled to mention the religion piece. It seems the most regimented aspect of life we’ve all fallen into at one time or another.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I feel so good to know of having company in this. I had felt alone and in need of validation until I just accepted that this is how I am. It does yield positive results, the trick is to not get caught up in self doubt.

        So true what you say of religion. I could never fit in my religious family and I think I faked my way through until I got out of that too 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s so interesting about the timing of your post and a “challenge” I received from my meditation site, Insight Timer this morning. The challenge was related to neuroplasticity and I was encouraged to do an inventory of all the things I do repetitively every day. And then, my challenge was to change it up! It seems that being on autopilot isn’t that great for us.
    So I think your post is a perfect example of this, Katherin. I can only imagine how stimulating those walks must have been. Fantastic that you had this experience!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love synchronicities like this! It’s gotta be a message, right?

      Judy, you’re right about the walks…I can’t even quite put the feeling into words, if you can believe that.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “being grateful in the moment” I like this a lot and happy you had this wonderful experience. I used to keep a gratitude journal not anymore as it felt like I was postponing gratefulness, until I can write it down. Taking time off from routine and travel does help put things into perspective.

    I hope there’s another post coming, because I’d love to hear if you still consider moving countries, more especially with the flexibility afforded by remote or hybrid way of working or what you wouldn’t give up to live in another country. Pure curiosity… 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hmmm I hadn’t thought about blogging about the actual experience, so I’ll answer you here:

      YES! We plan to do this again next year. Dwight actually wants to live like this (as in don’t own a house and don’t come home…ever). I’ve agreed to two months out of the year.

      I’ll probably email you the year we plan to travel to Africa, because it seems those countries should be more like 2-week stays.

      It’s hard to say what I wouldn’t give up, because with some amenities, you really don’t know you need them until you get to the place and realize it’s not common. All we really seemed to need is reliable internet, some type of sustenance, and some form of transportation.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you, I appreciate you sharing and answering here. Your plan to do this again next year sounds exciting.

        Your husband’s idea of not owning a house and coming home…ever, sounds adventurous but an enriching experience. More like my husband’s, who constantly wants to move around the world and live in different places. Another move is on the horizon…

        But I look forward to your email, when you plan to travel to Africa, and South Africa to be exact. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I totally agree with the comments on religion above. I think that institutionalized religion is a product of power and money. I can’t for a moment believe that whatever God you praise/worship, that he/she is so small that they wouldn’t listen to you unless it came following an endless series of kneeling, standing, and sitting. I connect best on my own, in a place of quiet solitude.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally agree with these sentiments Rob. It seems a bit human-being like to think a God needs so much praise and worship, and in a specific order…or else :-/

      Like

  10. We are on a similar page again, dear Katherin. I was thinking yesterday, when I carry watering cans of 10 liters around our courtyard (which are about 60 to 70 steps one way) it is comparable to a workout. Or carry our 7 kilo heavy small dog upstairs, twice a day… So, I decided to stop frenzy about missing a planned workout.
    And what a fabulous trip and work-cation you had! The one we do not name, is the reason my husband declined a job offer in the US. Not that Europe is that tolerant, but it feels slightly better.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. ❤ we're always on the same frequency ❤ What you've described sounds a lot like exercise to me 😉

      I like the term work-cation! We couldn't quite figure out what to call it. A lot of people thought we were on vacation, but really we were working all through the week, just like at home.

      The reason why you and your husband didn't move here is terrible, and I don't think a lot of people realize just how much damage was done due to his presidency.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Of course it wasn’t the only reason, but it was for sure a big part of it. Everything happens for a reason and in hindsight, it was for us the best decision 😉 However, yes indeed, it should not have to be part of the decision to move (or even travel) tp a country. I must admit, there are still countries, today, I would not go to because of the political climate.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I get it. I asked my husband why Jews don’t wear rice during Passover, as it does rise, and it’s not leaven or unleavened. He couldn’t answer. So now he doesn’t shy away from any product because while he understands the story, it doesn’t work for him in practice

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