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Exactly one year ago today I stepped out of the revolving doors of J.P. Morgan for the last time. As with most life changing decisions, I worried that I had made the wrong one and would regret ending my career in finance. But, I have never been happier.

Not a day has passed that I haven’t looked at my life and known that I made the right decision. Since day one of my yearlong journey, I have been wholeheartedly convinced that I am on the right path.

Today, I find myself sitting in a thatched roof hut in the wild rainforest of Costa Rica. My happiness with life has only grown with each passing day. I have found that without the stress and rush of life in the United States, I find life more beautiful. It is only possible to notice beauty when you take the time to witness and appreciate it’s existence. My current, simple life provides ample time to do just that – appreciate the beauty within every moment of my day.

I awake each morning when the sun begins to warm my cabina and stretch until I feel ready to meet the bright sunlight that is streaming through my roofless abode. My stomach is usually telling me to eat breakfast the moment I wake up, since I have been sleeping for a solid nine or ten hours, so I saunter out to my jungle kitchen and begin to make breakfast. I make a little hot tea and squeeze a freshly picked lemon into the steaming hot cup. I pick a fresh banana from the tree, add a little farm fresh milk, cinnamon and vanilla to my oatmeal and I have a gourmet breakfast waiting for me to devour.  Yet, there is no need to devour the food in front of me. I am in no rush. I sit and savor every bite. The birds are singing in the trees around me, the pesky chicken keeps trying to get scraps of my food and the neighbor’s goat is singing beside the river behind me.

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Eating meals here is joyful bliss. It is fun to create new meals from the beans and vegetables in the fridge. I’m not sure if it’s because the only food I eat is the food I make with my own two hands, but for some reason my meals taste like heaven. The flavors always seem to work perfectly together, everything seems to fall into place with barely any effort. Living in a 400-person village in the mountains of Costa Rica is the best medicine for appreciating the beauty in life. My days here feel long. At times I have the feeling that time might not be moving at all, and if it is, no one here seems to be tracking it as closely as back home. The beauty is infinite.

We live simply and we feel happy. Our town is small, which means everyone knows who we are and always stops to talk to us as we walk. Community members are frequently inviting us over to try freshly prepared Costa Rican specialties. Last week, Abiana invited us over to try patacones – fried, green plantains that are smashed into patties and served with refried beans. We happily sat in her sunny kitchen and gorged on the first fried food we had eaten in two months. Now, whenever we see her at church or passing in the street, we get hugs and kisses.

It’s so easy to become part of the Fila Tigre family.Most days of the week, Alexa and I have afternoon meetings to prepare for, so after breakfast we begin brainstorming new ways to teach nutrition and english classes or better ways of organizing our bio-digester building project. On the days when we don’t have meetings, we spend our mornings reading, planning our next adventure, coming up with business ideas or hiking in the mountains. Not a day passes that we do not make our bodies drip with sweat. Working out is no longer an activity that I have to squeeze into my day, it is something I work my day around. If we don’t start hiking before the sun gets too hot, we usually do blogilates or yoga in our cabina. I can feel my body, mind and health getting stronger with each day that passes.

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When my days come to an end, there is one particular time each evening, just before the sun sets, when the daylight fades and the color of the sky shines a soft, hazy light onto the earth. No matter where I am or what I am doing, I always stop to enjoy the tranquil feeling of this time of the day. By the time we have finished cooking our dinner, the sun has usually set and we walk from the kitchen back to our cabina under a blanket of stars. Every night I get to stare at the stars above me, without concern for how long I am standing in one place.

The simple life agrees with me. I have time to breath. I have time to ponder the next step in my life.  Although such simplicity may be fleeting, I intend to hold onto this peaceful feeling for eternity. The past year has taught me to slow down, appreciate the beauty in the world and search for happiness within.

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