Tag Archives: challenges

Heaven, Hell or Purgatory

Posted by Cassie

C B Sage
I didn’t realize when this photo was taken it would be one of the last ones with our friend Sage

Sometimes I think when people watch our lives from afar they think we live in paradise, a heaven on Earth. And sometimes I truly believe it too. I have seen and experienced some of the most fantastically beautiful things in my life. I am truly grateful for the ability to sleep in as late as I want, spend time with my love, explore new places, meet and get to know interesting people, have new cultural experiences, eat fresh juicy fruit from our own trees, swim in luscious warm crystalline waters, swing from the trees, breathe a sigh of contentment as we watch the sun dip into the sea, hear the birds chirping in the morning and our cat snuggle up to us in bed and so much more. It is truly an isle of enchantment.

Cassie flowers for Sage
Gathering flowers from our farm in honor of our friend

But life is life no matter where you live. It can get messy, it can get hard, it can be frustrating. You get thrown curveballs. Things that seem stable can suddenly crumble under your feet. And in those moments, it can seem like a living hell. And for people like us who have transplanted from another place thousands of miles away you may feel lonely, isolated and not accepted. There can sometimes be felt an undercurrent of prejudice or racism. It’s hard to make a living here. And whatever demons were underneath and hidden by a sense of comfort in your homeland eventually seem to rear their heads and become more pronounced under constant stress. We have known more people die, become addicts, break up or otherwise have a major life upset here (and then usually move away) than I have ever seen back in Colorado. It is just a whole lot harder to hold everything together. There is a reason this place is called Derelict Junction and the 413 is known as the Road to Happiness…or the Road to Rehab.

And for many, it’s a sort of purgatory. It is a waiting out, a finding out, a crossroads. Which way will my life go from here? Let’s go have some fun while we can, they may think. Let’s throw caution to the wind. And while they are here they live in this in-between, the waiting room between heaven and hell.

Sage memorial
Beach memorial for Sage (photo credit Kari DiPalma)

The death of our friend Sage really affected me. I think I always saw Naomi and Sage as kindred spirits. Adventurous souls with a dream. They were some of the first people we ever met when we moved to Puerto Rico. They welcomed us and encouraged us in our pursuits and we were so excited for them, especially the start of Rincon Beer Company. To see their relationship collapse and the end of their era together come so tragically shook me to the core. We are all so very fragile even when we appear so strong. We try to put on a show that nothing can shake us, that we are “better than,” that we are infallible, that nothing can ever break us. But it’s not usually one thing, it’s the accumulation of a lifetime of weight and burdens that eventually become too hard to carry. We need to remember that we are all carrying something and sometimes we need people to help us and we need to help people take a load off.

Sage Flowers

Beach gathering Sage pie
Rincón style beach potluck memorial

Life seems to be a series of moments that shift between heaven, hell and purgatory. We are always up on the high moments, the moments in heaven. We want more. We want more pleasure, more good times, more angelic periods to celebrate and brag about on Instagram and Facebook. But underneath the surface and often tied to these highs there are the lows. There is often heartache, sadness, anger and other lows that we hide away in the shadows and don’t talk openly about. And interwoven between them are all the other neutral moments of chores and waiting, passing time. The purgatory between them that keeps the highs and lows a little calmer. It is like the weather floating between perfectly sunny skies and hurricanes that we live most of our lives, if we can make it.

It saddens me deeply that we couldn’t reach Sage from his depths that we couldn’t even see hidden under his happy smile. And I still just shake my head in disbelief and in shock that he is gone. I feel so much for Naomi and what she is going through. It just hits too close to home.

Paddle out

The final chapter for Sage was a wonderful Rincón-style community event for this unforgettable pillar of our town. It was a beautiful paddleout ceremony, the first I had ever participated in. People told stories and anecdotes of Sage as the sun gently set and flowers swirled all around in the circle of many of his loved ones. We splashed water as a sort of “cheers to Sage!” And depending on your perspective it was a bittersweet moment, heaven in hell or hell in heaven.


What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (10)
  • Awesome (4)
  • Interesting (2)
  • Useful (0)
  • Bummer (8)
  • Yikes (2)

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Bienvenido 2017

Posted by Cassie

Here we are, another year gone by. Each year that passes we have an opportunity to reflect on the one before and plan for what’s to come. For us, this has been a year of many beautiful moments and also many challenges and hard work. We are hopeful for what the new year brings. As we finish up the cabin and get the cabana ready for visitors, we move to another level in our property and goals here. We are also evolving in our relationships: in the band, in our friendships and family and in our marriage. We hope that your 2016 was a good one and that 2017 brings you joy and all the lessons you need to fulfill you on your journey!

Feliz Año Nuevo from Cassie and Britton!

This New Year’s Eve we ran some errands and then jammed with the band. Later that evening we went out to La Copa Llena for the countdown and party. It’s a beautiful place near the Marina where the ocean laps peacefully at the soft sand beach. Here are some photos of the day and evening.

Turning a corner in The Corner (Rincón)

Jamming with our new member, Tod

Britton stepping out of a 1940′s Jazz Bar

Poniendome elegante. Dressing up for the countdown!

britton-grapes grapes-countdown
12 grapes for the 12 months of the year

Fun with friends

colin-and-cassie colincassiewill
Even some of the cast of Saturday Night Live would rather be in Rincón than New York City over New Year’s! (With Colin Jost and Will Forte)

What opportunities are knocking this year?

La despedida del año

Wishing you love, health and prosperity for 2017!

What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (3)
  • Awesome (11)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Bummer (0)
  • Yikes (1)

Lessons After a Year of “Living the Dream”

Posted by Cassie

It’s hard to believe but in just 10 days we will have lived straight through a whole year in Puerto Rico. We haven’t left the island at all (besides going to Desecheo Island which is part of Puerto Rico). We wanted to spend a whole year here in order to really know what it feels like to live through all the holidays, seasons and flows of people. I am very glad we did this as we have definitely learned a lot of lessons throughout this year. Here are a few highlights of the lessons we’ve learned on our first year of living out our dream life in Puerto Rico.

Cassie Britton BQN beach

1) Balance is a constant balancing act. Some days you will feel more motivated than other days. Sometimes what you thought was too much will be too little and vice versa. Re-centering is an important part of life and of knowing when you’ve gone too far or not far enough. Sometimes if we’ve spent too many days working/playing out in the yard we like to go out and socialize or go to the beach. Sometimes we may feel burned out on a project and that means we should do something else for a while. We have to be much more in tune with our bodies, and each other, in this way as well.

2) What works for one person, doesn’t always work for others. Many people ask for our advice on various topics, but what we have learned is that we can only give our opinions based on our experiences. Everyone will do it a little differently. And this works the other way around as well; we try to learn from the advice people give us while understanding the worldview or frame from which the advice is coming.

3) People may come and go, but it is still important to make those connections. Unlike in our life in Colorado, it seems many people don’t settle down and stick around for long here. It makes it a little more difficult to build long-term relationships, but it has still been worth it to meet so many interesting and incredible people. Even if we never see them again. I suppose that is the truth of life itself. None of us will stick around forever, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love those who come into our lives. Nothing lasts forever and you never really know how long we get with anyone, or anything, anyway.

Trampa beach rocks

4) There will always be seasons. Just because the weather is always beautiful and a similar temperature in the tropics, doesn’t mean that there are not seasons. There are seasons of fruit (mangos, avocados, starfruit, passionfruit). There are seasons of rain and less rain (and hurricanes). There are seasons of holidays and elections. There are seasons of waves. There are seasons of people. There are seasons in our lives. All of these different seasons bring rewards and challenges.

5) Busy is relative. For us, we’ve learned that if we can accomplish one major goal per day (and that may just mean going to a government office for instance), we feel like we’ve achieved something. We try not to make life any harder than we truly want it to be (a little challenge can be good). But we have shed the cult of busy with which most modern Americans have been indoctrinated. Life has become much more laid back even if we still feel that some days are a little full.

6) We must be careful of expectations. In a new environment, lifestyle, and culture where everything is different, expectations can cause you to feel disappointment if they are not met. If on the other hand you leave expectations at the door, then it will feel more like an adventure. And we’ve had lots of adventures.

Car hanging on a wire
A part of a car got caught in an electric line!

7) You can adapt to almost anything, but there will always be something surprising. When we first arrived, everything was so crazy and wild and different. But now, we are becoming pretty used to most things. Though, we are still surprised every now and then and we try to remember that so we can see things through newcomers’ eyes. Trying new things and pushing our comfort levels keep things fresh as well. And through series of strange twists and turns life can bring us the most unexpected and awesome circumstances (like our best friends moving here from Colorado!). Somehow our brains can manage to make nearly anything seem normal, and so we try not forget how magical it truly is to be alive.

8) It’s different than the dream. In our dream life everything is perfect. There are no hiccups and the beautiful life is just there waiting for us to frolic in it. When you achieve a dream, like we did moving to Puerto Rico, you find that the dream becomes real. And through all five of our senses, plus our feelings and moods, the dream takes on a much more realistic clarity. In life there will always be challenges that you didn’t expect. When you think about buying a new “dream” car, you don’t fully picture the registration or car payments or the scratch in the paint or even filling up with gas. You imagine driving along on an otherwise carless, beautiful road (or something like that). In the same way, our “dream” life of living in Puerto Rico has its own ups and down. It has both the splendidly beautiful moments and the minor (or major) inconveniences. But that’s what makes it real and not just a fantasy anymore.

iguana turkey time small

9) Some goals are much harder than others to achieve. Especially if you are going against the grain. For instance, self sufficiency and food security. I would love to say that we are able to eat meals from the yard 90% of the time, but that just isn’t happening yet. We have all the eggs we can handle, but we are still struggling on the annual garden side of things. Fruit trees take a long time to fruit, and killing and eating animals that you raised and got to know personally, is much, much harder than we thought it would be.

10) It can be challenging to be the minority. Even though Rincón has its own sort of enclave of “gringos” or people who come from the states, it is not even close to a majority. Living in Puerto Rico has taught us a lot about what it is like to be a minority and the importance of building bridges (language is HUGE) and finding common ground with people. This comes back to adaptation. Rather than assuming the ways we always had done things were “right”, it may mean stepping back and trying to understand something new and initially “strange” or different. Living here full time with the intention of truly staying “for good” I think has helped us to better integrate. It also gives me a renewed sense of empathy for anyone living abroad in a new land.

There are probably many more lessons, but I think these are some major themes. We are proud to have (nearly) made it a whole year in our new life here and are looking forward to all the new adventures that are to come down the road.

What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (1)
  • Awesome (14)
  • Interesting (3)
  • Useful (2)
  • Bummer (0)
  • Yikes (0)

From Busboy to Software Engineer

Posted by Britton

I started out my professional career working at Village Inn when I was 16 years old as a busboy. I learned how to clean the tables pick out which cleaners to use and was responsible and timely with all aspects of the job. It paid off. They moved me up to Dishwasher. Eventually I did so well they moved me up to waiter!

From This (not actually me, Im way hotter)

Its much the same as I did for the company I work at now. Just proving oneself can get you places. I started doing some CD production and distribution and now I am working on software engineering projects for 911 and doing software quality testing with no formal education.

For me its all about setting goals and being persistent. I came here not knowing what the vi editor was in unix. Now I can make advanced shell scripts that run at an enterprise level site (have several hundreds servers and several datacenters). Learning new programming languages, learning about system administration, data cabling, fail over philosophy and many many other attributes of computing that I didn’t even know existed a few years ago.

To This (not actually our data center, our cabling is much cleaner)

When I look at where I started it gives me a good sense of pride to know where I am at now. I don’t exactly know what I will do once I get to PR but if the past is any indication I will do whatever it is I set out to do. I’ve never really failed at anything I’ve tried (rentals, carpentry, flying, computers, sports, jobs, etc)

The saying is true. You can do whatever you put your mind to. The part they don’t tell you is that it takes hard work, perseverance and dedication. Most important of all is that you can’t give up. Ever. The best skill that I’ve gained thru all my hard work is that I will do ‘whatever it takes’ to accomplish something.

I feel the same way about our Puerto Rico goal. I’ll do whatever it takes. Sometimes its discouraging to not have already completed this. Cassie and I were talking about it and as it happens to be; we could complete our goal to move to PR today. We could do this pretty easily.

The issue comes from knowing ourselves fairly well. We have realized that we want a challenge out of this. That is what we do, seek out and accomplish challenging goals. We aren’t ready to retire, we want to get to PR and make a difference or a substanial positive impact and have an adventure.

Who knows. I could start out there doing whatever it takes to get by and end up somewhere I never imagined or thought possible asking myself, “How did I get here?”. I ask myself that pretty much daily already, I don’t expect it to change! lol.

To This?

What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (0)
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Bummer (0)
  • Yikes (0)