Aug 10, 2022
Cultivating an Impactful Belief System
welcome to the 6th and final episode of the Season 1 Recap of the
Sharing Insights Podcast! I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a
value-rich experiment for me. All the same, I hope you, my friends,
have gotten some value out of it as well.
As it is, this is also going to be the final episode of the Sharing Insights Podcast.
Yes, this is the grand finale of the podcast as we’ve known it. Since I began producing this podcast and learned more about the power of the mic and what we can do with it, I decided to open the conversation up to other regenerative-focused programs that aren’t exclusively land-based. From here on, the podcast will be known as ‘Regeneration Nation Costa Rica’.
The urgency for humanity to get behind regenerative practices in any and all aspects of its existence has begun to grow on me. While I’ll continue to provide content directed at helping land-based projects gain exposure and learn from each other’s insights, we’ll hear more about who’s doing what to help Costa Rica reach carbon neutrality and social equity.
I believe that to help this movement of regenerative-focused landowners further discover their potential, make the impact they intended, and thrive, it’ll do us well to see what other players are doing in the regenerative field. There are a multitude of empowering projects all around Costa Rica, offering products, services, education, and community-building opportunities that our current audience can benefit from hearing about, and I want to get them on the mic!
The time to make the efforts needed to hand our grandchildren a world worth having children in, is NOW. The maverick landowners who’ve been the focus of the podcast so far will continue to be an important focus for upcoming content. I already have several interviews with land stewards recorded and ready to go.
At the end of this episode, I’ll share more of what I’ve been getting into these past months and what you can expect from the podcast in the months to come.
Let’s get into this theme of cultivating an impactful belief system and some of the insights that our guests have shared with us so far.
None of this show’s guests could be where they are, doing what they do, if they didn’t embody an impactful belief system. It’s been a great pleasure to get to know these leaders better and witness their brilliance.
So, what is an impactful belief
The world is full of people trying to make ends meet. The struggle keeps most folks hyper-focused on the details of what many call the “hamster wheel” or “the rat race” of life. From this place, it’s difficult to see what one can do to create a positive impact in the world around them beyond being a “responsible consumer.”
There are others, however, who find the grace to break free from reactionary living long enough to discover what their passions are and how they can apply them to serve the needs of others in a regenerative way. In a world with headlines as disconcerting as the ones we find today, it takes courage to forge ahead with one’s dreams and be the change one wants to see.
Recognizing that a new way exists; believing that you can find your way there, and holding faith that “if it can be done, you can do it”, are some of the first steps in initiating and developing an impactful belief system. Transformation awaits those who take these steps.
What do our guests have to say from their side of the looking glass?
Just for fun, let's go in reverse order of our episodes, bringing the brilliance of our friend Lynx Guimond to the spotlight first. In Lynx’s interview, he leaves us with the commonly shared, but too commonly forsaken advice to make the effort required to live your dreams. He reminds us that happy people choose to do what they want to do. Likewise, happy people find ways to want to do what they’re doing. This is sage advice that does us service each time we remember it. Creating a healthy and holistic lifestyle and environment makes doing what we love and loving what we do easier. It can drive us forward on our path of living our dreams.
Lynx, and all his crew at SailCargo Inc, also ask us to commit to buying local and do whatever else we can do to reduce the carbon footprint of the shipping industry. Purchasing used products is another method that Lynx, and many other conscientious consumers, recommend for reducing this planet-altering source of pollution.
It’s become imperative that we start spending more time researching how to effectively direct our buying power to support places that are doing what we want to see done in the world, and form commitments to follow through whenever possible. Of course, it’s equally imperative that we forgive ourselves for where we are while we get certain about where we’re going.
Another one of our guests who’s kept his focus on sourcing his needs, and those of his guests, as locally and mindfully as possible, is Nico Botefur.
Nico started with an inherited piece of property and a modest budget and has developed it into a regenerative farm-to-table hotel and restaurant, providing entrepreneurial opportunities for many of his neighbors who choose to offer tours, therapy sessions, and other culturally-focused classes and services. The biggest takeaway here is that he first invested into his education. Upon deciding to undertake the stewardship of the property and start the business, he took a permaculture course and attended a variety of workshops and retreats to better understand how to work with the land, natural building materials, and his own inner nature.
The entirety of my
interview with Nico Botefur, the way he goes about the
orchestration of Essence
Arenal, and the way his
staff welcomes their guests, demonstrates his belief that “passion
is the key to success.”
Another pair of impactful believers is Meghan Casey and her husband Davis Azofeifa. They’re the sweet couple whose family founded and runs the Chilimate Rainforest Eco Retreat. First, let’s look at their commitment to join forces with the Rainforest Alliance. The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organization working at the intersection of business, agriculture, and forests to make responsible business the new norm. They help farmers, forest communities, companies, and consumers champion ecologically and socially regenerative practices.
As a reward, businesses that complete the application and mentoring process are validated to use Rainforest Alliance’s well-recognized frog certification seal on their website and marketing, along with other benefits. Meghan tells us, in her interview, how they had many of the social and environmental bits down, but Rainforest Alliance helped them with administrative skills and infrastructure.
She’s also been a leader in her community, assisting her neighbors with entrepreneurial guidance and training, helping them to tap into the ecotourism market in a way that fosters cultural bridging. Meghan and Davis have empowered their community to collectively foster an ecologically, economically, and culturally prosperous environment for many families in their pueblo. From language & art classes, to homestays, to farm tours, horseback riding, and more, they’ve turned it into a destination location that’s impacted the lives of countless eco-centric people passing through the region.
When I first arrived in Costa Rica a dozen years ago in my veggie oil school bus, one of the first culturally progressive Ticos that I met was a young man named Esteban Acosta. He was fresh out of Earth University, working as a biodynamics manager at an organic farm, close to where I live now, and this kid was just bubbling with fun. The kind of fun that exudes from those who absolutely love practicing their garden alchemy.
Esteban had built a well-functioning biodigester for the owner’s goat farm, which Esteban also managed, using biodynamic principles for yard care, food supply, and more.
Twelve years later, Esteban is now the owner of Viogaz, a premier provider of biodigester systems for not only agricultural use, but home-scale installations as well. He also travels the world teaching at biodynamic conferences and helping commercial-scale farms transition to profit-producing organic and biodynamic practices.
This inspired student has embraced the power of enterprise to maximize his potential to serve the earth.
Esteban encourages us to keep our “Why” in mind. This has been a crucial lesson that comes up again and again for me in strategy sessions. Going several layers deep into your “Why” can reveal ways of getting your needs met in creative and oftentimes under-realized ways. Ask yourself, sometimes, why you’re aiming to do what you’re setting out to do. But don’t stop there. Ask yourself why that reason’s important to you. From there, ask why THAT reason’s important to you, and go as many as 7 layers deep. This is a valuable exercise we can do when evaluating any of our endeavors.
Esteban also reminds us that experimentation is an excellent teacher, but the key is to balance that with the wisdom of a mentor. With the guidance of someone who’s already further along the path of exploration, those periods of experimentation can be used to save time, taking them further along their chosen way at a more efficient rate.
Our visit with Esteban was actually an unexpected surprise along our trip. As we were traveling on our interview tour, I contacted him to refer him to another guest of mine that we’d just visited. Once on our phone call, I found out that he was in La Fortuna, taking care of a family estate. That just happened to be the same town we were heading to next!
In the mountains of La Fortuna, tucked far away from the hustle of the hot springs resorts, is a community called Brave Earth / Tierra Valiente. I was hosted there by two brothers, Aly Kahn & Alnoor Ladha. Our interview was filled with a stream of sage advice — several of those gems you can find as episode highlights on our YouTube channel.
One topic that came up as essential for me in cultivating an impactful belief system is healing our senses of victimhood and entitlement. Alnoor quoted a powerful Sufi proverb, reminding us that “You are entrusted with everything, but entitled to nothing.” The more we clear ourselves of these egoic burdens, the more we make room to humble down and witness the ways that life greets us with support and generosity.
Another quote that stood out for me was the suggestion to “Make art at every opportunity.” Justin Dolan shared similar advice, suggesting that “If you have communal spaces that are beautiful, people will want to protect them and contribute.” Our video tour of Brave Earth shows that they are definitely walking the talk. Everything they do there is imbued with intention and an attention to form & beauty that makes being there feel uplifting.
At St Michael’s Permaculture Country Club, Justin also practices what he preaches. Every time he finds a new plant, he embraces the urge to get some of its seed to propagate. The community’s become a living seed bank matched by few others I’ve seen. Getting in the habit of sharing seeds is a great way to create regional, as well as personal resilience. What if more people did this?
Another way that Justin exercises his impactful belief system is through experimentation. His place is a playground of innovative permaculture designs that he shares prolifically, via social media and through farm tours.
Justin brought up a lesser discussed value of living a life of impact, and that’s the imprint that it leaves on your children. His children are immersed in a world of creativity, nature, exploration, interaction with people from around the world, with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and ages, and they’re invited to be involved with life in the community. Having met many people, along my journeys, who’ve been raised in such a way, it may be safe to say that his passions and efforts stand a good chance of rippling out through generations to come.
He reminds us that, in most cases, an organic substitute exists for any conventional practice. We must stop giving conventional farm owners our money! Please!!! Whenever possible, consider investing the cost difference required to support farmers who are doing what you want to see done on our planet.
Ask yourself whose pockets you’re choosing to put your money into.
Who’s investing in the kind of future you want to provide for your children’s children?
Those are the people, businesses, and practices that we need to be supporting.
Peter’s partner, Ancel, is
another living exemplification of putting one’s lifestyle choices
toward the betterment of the planet, living beings, and future
generations. Ancel is an avid student of ancestral wisdom.
Talamanca Chocolate is a regenerative-focused cottage industry
where she stewards and harvests from generations-old cacao trees,
with the guidance of her indigenous neighbors. She passes her craft
down to future generations through her internship program. She
believes that one of the best ways to learn something is to become
an apprentice of the trade. Teachers like Ancel are making a
special kind of impact in the way they operate their
Ancel takes her commitment to practice permaculture to such an extent that she has many of her neighbors delivering their kitchen scraps to her, which she composts for her cacao trees.
You first have to believe that you can live an impactful life, even with small gestures like this, if you want your life to show you the way toward greater influence.
Ancel also explains that to understand the essence of what we eat, we have to experience it - not just in eating it, but by getting involved with the steps of bringing the product to life through its alchemical processes.
For example, in her own particular alchemical method, she chooses to ferment and not roast the cacao, explaining that the wellness-inducing benefits diminish in the roasting. The fermentation process requires attention, watching nature practice its brilliance. In understanding the stages of fermentation, and the temperatures required to preserve quality, one grows a more fulfilling relationship with what they’re feeding their cells and why.
While many of our guests have been directing their lives’ focus toward regenerative ends for many years and are grounded in the practice, it’s never too late to pivot what you’re doing and begin to invent the next chapter of your life.
Another resident of the Puerto Viejo region is Terry Lillian Newton, founder of Kindred Spirits. Terry’s story tells how she found herself at the helm of a successful hotel enterprise and realized that working for the tourism industry wasn’t enriching for her. She began to change how she marketed what she had to offer to bring more people in, who wanted the kinds of experiences that she wanted to offer, centered in connection with each other and the living world around them.
She found that magic moment when she chose to pursue her dream and combine her love and respect for horses with her passion for teaching yoga and mindfulness, sold her hotel, and bought Kindred Spirits where it is now. She finds that both therapies synergistically foster calmness, balance, and self-awareness, and have been impacting the way her students experience the world ever since.
The moral of the story is that if you aren’t in love with what you’re doing, consider completely remodeling the business plan to connect with your passion. I’ve had to do that with my own life, including the direction of this podcast. When it feels like life is calling you to a more aligned purpose, it may be a good time to get curious and explore the call.
In doing that, she reminds us to try and let go of our attachment to the specifics of how that passion gets to express itself, and learn to appreciate the innate essence of what, where, and who we’re working with.
Ed Bernhardt is another guest and friend who lives a life guided by an impactful belief system. I met Ed when I first arrived in the country. I soon learned and benefited from the generosity of his farm’s living seed bank. Taking the time to visit him for this interview, however, gave me a deeper look into a man who’s made this world a better place.
Ed’s passions for teaching gardening, agroforestry, and natural building have changed the world around him. This soft-spoken revolutionary has taught organic gardening to children, mothers, agricultural institutions, and universities throughout the country while hosting hundreds of students at Finca Alba Nueva over the decades. As a prolific author, he’s inspired and instructed countless readers, rippling his influence out in ways that he’ll never be able to know.
Ed teaches that Ecological Health Gardens lead to health, happiness, and longevity. Once you start eating a big salad every day, change happens. You begin building new cells with proper building blocks, and wellness gets a lot easier and makes more sense.
Ed recognizes that it’s easy to get depressed and feel like there’s little that we can do to help the world, but any achievements that we can make with our personal growth or health stand a statistically-high chance of leading one toward happiness. It’s pretty straightforward, even if the results may vary. Eat a strictly whole-food diet for a few months, evaluate how you feel, and get excited about the feedback. This pattern has a way of encouraging continued growth.
Start small and build from there. Don’t overstretch yourself. Work on what is sustainable for you now, and you’ll increase the chances that you’ll persevere. It can be challenging to make significant life changes, but not impossible. Especially considering the abundance of resources and the myriad of options we find ourselves surrounded by these days - more than what most people generally like to admit to themselves, anyway.
Likewise, the health of our ecology is influenced by the quality of its building blocks. Our ability to thrive on this planet relies, for one, on us putting more plants in the ground. Luckily, the interaction with one’s environment and the soil itself happens to be therapeutic. All the more reason to get our hands and attention to the earth, plant more trees, and be ancestors worth giving thanks to.
In our conversation, Ed describes how Applied Human Ecology is a practice of not just thinking about our ecology but navigating life as an extension of it. How do we get started? Get dirty!
When times get hard, people go back to growing their food. Incidentally, it also provides a growing number of entrepreneurs with lifestyle-supporting opportunities.
One rebel who figured that out, a good long while ago, is Suzanna Leff. She’s been making an impact with her humble piece of riverside paradise for a few decades now. There, she teaches apprentices how to plant and harvest food, as well as how to prepare the few choice value-added products that she sells at the market.
Her belief that she can live the life she wants to live and have people come to her and learn what she has to offer, has afforded her a comfortable place on the edge between minimalism and enterprise.
Above all, Suzanna honors the value and importance of finding our passions. She reminds us to observe, reflect, and surrender to what the world brings to us and learn how to be in service to that.
When I asked her, at the end of our interview, what she thinks that anyone could do, no matter where they live or what resources they have, to make a difference in the world, she answered that growing food is one of the most important things that we can learn to do, right now.
As a land steward at Finca Amrta, Suzanna feels that the ability to provide this kind of lifestyle to guests is one of the most empowering gifts we can give someone. Living an impactful life means something different to everyone. The most potent moment is when we find what that is for each of us and aim to redirect our lives to align with it.
Welcoming someone from a city upbringing and offering them the opportunity to gain perspective on how true that can be, annually redirects the course of countless people’s lives, through projects like those that I’ve been interviewing for this show.
Being able to travel and find my way into so many unique projects as a young man changed my life forever after. The belief system that I developed along the way has impacted the belief system of countless others. That’s how it works. We’re all a small part of this morphogenic organism called humanity, and we all have our place in influencing the whole.
Through these experiences, I’ve learned how inherently healing it can be to physically connect with the elements of nature. Putting our hands in the dirt, taking time to feel the breath enter our lungs and the breeze caress the hairs on our skin, submerging ourselves in the oceans, rivers, and lakes of this world, attending a sweat lodge or other fire ceremony, and praying in whatever ways connect us to the ethers are all ways that we can replenish our lifeforce and assist ourselves in bringing our bodies, minds, and emotions back to balance.
It’s hard to live a life of wellness and contemplative impact without taking the time and making the effort to connect with life outside of the house. There’s a value in releasing the grip that we so often drive our errand-driven lives with, that’s difficult to perceive from that place of grasping. I’ve learned to remind myself that I can’t afford NOT to take a break from the doing and be. For that matter, it’s also worth mentioning the value that taking a break from food and doing an annual nutritional cleanse can provide for the body. It's just another step all of us would do well to take along the path toward developing the discipline and clarity of mind that empower our efforts toward developing an impactful belief system.
Ahhh, well, there it is. I did it. I finally made it through this recap series. I don’t think I’ll likely do a recap like this again, in the same way. At least not in an audio format. All the same, going back through all these recordings for this recap series has brought my attention to many things that I’d missed before.
I hope you’ve also picked something up in these reviews that you previously missed. If not, perhaps you’ve received a reminder for some things that you forgot to take note of when you listened to the interview the first time around. Perhaps you’re listening to this as your first episode because someone shared it with you, and you’re excited to listen to an interview or two.
Either way, it’s not just what we learn and believe that make the impact we’re dreaming of. What we put into practice is the activating element that brings our beliefs to life.
I mentioned at the beginning of this episode that I’ve changed the name of the podcast to Regeneration Nation Costa Rica. With that, I’m opening up the conversation to explore regenerative projects in Costa Rica on the levels of Agricultural, Business, Community, and even Government-level initiatives that I think we’ll all do well to learn more about and consider taking advantage of and supporting.
One of the reasons that the podcast took such a long break is that I’ve gotten pretty deeply involved with a grassroots regional sociocratic organization, here in Costa Rica. I’m pretty excited about the prospects of what we’re building. The Diamante Bridge Collective is comprised of seasoned landowners, community builders, local and digital economy enthusiasts, and a variety of other skilled and passionate people who’ve chosen to combine their impactful belief systems to create something bigger than themselves.
One of the collective’s focuses has been turning properties over to trust and establishing protocols for dedicated individuals to apply for land stewardship rights, allowing them to build a home, grow food, and raise a family. They also get to live amongst other like-minded change-makers, shifting the paradigm that only those with money can live in a rural community, grow food, and build a home that no landowner has the right over.
Another is a wellness circle designed to better understand the needs of the region’s residents and find ways to meet them collectively.
Regenerative enterprises are another key focus, where we’ve been fundraising to kick start mobile bamboo curing stations, greywater system installations, and a recycling station designed to reuse local waste as building materials for nearby projects.
I’ll be sharing more about all of this in future episodes. For now, I’m just happy to report that I’m alive, thriving, and well. The pause from the podcast and exit from my previous land project has afforded me room to step back and re-evaluate how I can best serve the world around me
To be clear, if you've subscribed to the podcast, you don’t need to do anything to continue receiving future episodes. The old URLs will redirect you to the new website name. You can now find the show at https://regenerationnationcr.com.
In the next episode, I’ll describe, in more detail, what’s been going on in the life of Jason Thomas and what you can expect from Regeneration Nation Costa Rica.
Remember to support projects whose impact you believe in by subscribing, rating, and reviewing them in notable places. For that matter, don’t be shy about sharing quality content with your friends.
At all costs, whatever you do, use it as an excuse to shine!