When you’re writing, sometimes surprising things spill out. This little prose poem was completely spontaneous; it didn’t follow any plot line nor was it the product of any forethought. It came from a moment of pure presence with what I was doing. I looked at it on the screen, slightly amazed, and decided to leave it in.
Sandra Shaw Homer has lived in Costa Rica for almost 30 years, where she has taught languages and worked as a translator and environmental activist. For several years she wrote a regular column, “Local Color,” for the English-language weekly, The Tico Times.
Her creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry have appeared in a number of print and online travel and literary journals, as well as on own blog, WritingFromTheHeart.net.
Her travel memoir, Letters from the Pacific, received excellent Kirkus and Publishers Weekly reviews; a brief inspirational memoir, The Magnificent Dr. Wao, is available as a Kindle Book; and a second travel memoir, Journey to the Joie de Vivre, details two Atlantic crossings on cargo ships as well as a swing through Europe.
I’m so excited for you to connect with Sandra, check out her writing and her books, and follow along as she continues to remind us of our connection to nature, and its power to transform our experiences.
I’d love it if you’d introduce yourself, what you do, and what you’re working on.
Having lived in Costa Rica for almost 30 years has given me an opportunity to discover what I value most. At one point I helped found and worked with three environmental non-profit organizations and headed the county environmental commission. This was long before the climate crisis was on anybody’s radar, and our efforts were directed at saving the Lake Arenal watershed from illegal development. We had some important successes, and I realize now that what we were doing did have implications for our climate future.
How did you get started?
But I’m really a writer! And that’s one of the reasons I moved to Costa Rica – to find a quiet place where I could start looking within to my creative self and do what I had always wanted. I’ve always been a writer – for other people, clients, environmental causes. But I knew that somewhere my own story was percolating inside, and I wanted to get at it.
What inspired the work that you’re doing?
Interestingly, the environmental work I did inspired my writing, so that my book, Evelio’s Garden, is a lyrical exploration of the environment as well as a memoir, my personal story.
What is your biggest passion? Do you feel like you’re living your passion and purpose?
My biggest passion now is to help others connect to the natural world in ways that will move them to work to save it. And, yes, after a lifetime of work and discovery, I feel as if I’m living my dream.
What is your joy blueprint? What lights you up, brings you joy, and makes you feel the most alive?
A good first sentence. Whatever you’re writing has to start with a good first sentence. For me, they usually come out of the ether – I may not even be thinking of a particular poem or writing project. But once that first sentence lights up, the joy of it carries me forward. There are lots of things that bring me joy: water, mountains, clouds, trees. But that first sentence taps into an inner creative self that just wants to sing.
How do you live intentionally? Are there tools/resources/practices that you rely on to help you stay mindful and grounded?
Weather permitting, I always sit outside at the end of day to watch the sunlight climb up the eastern trees, the vultures swooping as high as the clouds, the wind singing, my cat trying to squeeze into my car through the partially open window. These are precious moments in which I am conscious of how grateful I am.
What would your younger self think about what you’re doing now?
She’d probably understand, since those sunset moments were special to her too. But she was too angry to feel grateful.
Do you have a go-to mantra or affirmation?
A simple “thank you,” directed to the universe for whatever moves me. I read once that the only proper prayer is one of gratitude, and I’ve taken that to heart.
What is your biggest dream?
I hardly dare to think of finishing the novel I started so many years ago. I’m old now. I want to continue to live in peace in this beautiful rural setting in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I want to feel that I’ve led a useful life and be grateful for all the many gifts I experience every day. A Laughing Falcon calling in the wee hours just before dawn. The monkeys howling in the sunset. The stray cat that’s showing up every day for dinner. My loving friends. My sister and her family. Too many gifts to count. My dreams are simple now, things to be grateful for, that’s enough.
Joy Corner is an interview-style blog series brought to you by Seek The Joy Podcast. Our mission continues to be a desire to share your stories, truths, joys and inspiration in your words. We invite you to join our corner, and share your joys, passions, and moments of inspiration as we continue to seek the joy, together. Join this series here