A Conversation with the Costa Rica Chica
In June 2013, in her early 40s, Jen Beck Seymour broke free of the rat race of North America where bigger was better, and moved from Dallas, Texas to Costa Rica with her husband. She quit her artificially lit cubicle job, sold nearly everything, and left all sense of stable income behind. Jen has written a few extraordinary articles about living in Costa Rica on Pink Pangea, and when we found out she published a book about her experiences — we jumped on the chance to interview her.
A Conversation with the Costa Rica Chica
Jaclyn Mishal: We were inspired when we came across your travel blog earlier this year, and now you’ve written a book! What inspired you to write the book?
Jen Beck Seymour: It always makes me warm and fuzzy to hear that I have inspired anyone, so thank you. The book… really happened pretty easily for me. When we moved here to Costa Rica (June 2013), I knew our life was going to be completely different. I knew I would have time – for the first time in my life! – to write.
As soon as we hit the ground, I started my blog, and I started my book at the same time. I knew my book would have to start with us being in Dallas and how overwhelmed my husband was with his job and how crazy our life was. So I just started writing…
Jaclyn: Would you share a bit about your story for Pink Pangea readers who have not yet read you book?
Jen: My book is about my life in Dallas, TX and how me and my hubby decided to quit our jobs, sell almost everything, retire early, simplify our lives and move with just 9 suitcases to Costa Rica. The book details why we thought of a foreign country in the first place, and how we made the move. It’s been a crazy, brave, and wonderful adventure so far!
Jaclyn: Did you come across any challenges while writing the book? If so, what were they and how did you work through them?
Jen: Yes, definitely. Some chapters just didn’t seem to flow right, and sometimes the transitions were hard (I wanted transitions between the chapters that weren’t “blatant” or in your face). My husband helped tremendously. And then my editor helped. And then a friend stepped in at the end (a previous English professor) and helped tremendously with flow, punctuation, comments, and grammar.
And when she told me something she thought wouldn’t work, she told me why so I understood and it made sense to me, and I could change it accordingly. She also gave me positive feedback where I wrote really well, or if she thought something was funny. The editing process was the hardest part of writing the book for sure, but it’s worth getting through it, because in the end – I definitely have a much better book than I started out with.
Jaclyn: We know that writing a book isn’t easy for most people–especially not in under a year! What are some of your tips for getting in the writing mood and staying focused?
Jen: My best tip is to go to your “special place.” For me what works best is having complete silence (or light piano music in the back ground), and being in a place separate from anyone else, so there’s no distractions. Turn off phones or anything that “beeps” when you get a message or an email. Like right now for instance, it’s early in the morning and I’m sitting outside on my patio while sipping coffee. The only sounds I hear are birds chirping.
Jaclyn: Have you received any feedback about the book yet? How are people reacting?
Jen: Yes, and I’m completely floored that the response so far has been highly positive. People have been buying my book, and better yet – LIKING IT! I am really humbled by everyone’s response.
Jaclyn: What has been the most rewarding part of having Costa Rica Chica published so far? What has been most surprising?
Jen: When I was able to pull it up in Amazon.com for the first time – I can’t explain what a wonderful, overwhelming, and emotionally positive feeling that is! There are so many people who always talk about writing a book, but never do it. I DID IT (and anyone else can do it too, trust me!). It’s such a powerful feeling.
The most surprising thing for me has been the positive responses from people about my book.
Jaclyn: Would you share with us one or two experiences in Costa Rica that have most impacted you?
Jen: The Costa Rican people are so kind. I haven’t been to a lot of other foreign countries (except France), but it just seems like the people here are rarities. They literally want to help you – even when you can’t speak their language very well (like me). They really make it so easy to live here.
Other than the people; the views, the wildlife, the sunsets, the coffee, and the abundance of fruits and vegetables… all of these things make it the perfect place for me to live. Every morning I get up and look out over the central valley and it just takes my breath away.
Jaclyn: Many women in the community have an itch to move abroad. Do you have any advice for readers who are thinking about it, but haven’t had the courage to do so yet?
Jen: If you are thinking about it, what’s stopping you? Even if you do it for a short amount of time – think about what a great experience that would be! Even if you are scared to do it – you will feel so brave and confident after having done it! The one thing that really helped push me into going for it, was that I knew I could always move back if I needed to. We only get this one life… why not do something amazing with it?
Jaclyn: What’s next for you?
Jen: I am currently working on a paperback version of my book! E-books are great, but there have been a lot of requests for an actual paper book. Two of my friends here in Costa Rica are already talking about hosting a book signing party for me (how cool is that?)!
Then, I will start working on the Costa Rica Chica Cookbook – I love cooking and baking, and this will include my North American recipes, but with Central American ingredients. Stay tuned!
Further Reading about Costa Rica
Have you traveled to Costa Rica? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experience with the Pink Pangea community! We can’t wait to hear from you.