7 things I didn’t think I could do – thank you Eleanor Roosevelt.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

I saw this quote the other day, and it really got to me the more I thought about it.  Turns out, I’ve already been doing a lot of the “things I thought I could not do” – just this year.

1.  I never thought I could retire in my early-40’s.

But yet – here I am.

2.  I never thought I could make my own pesto sauce. 

This may sound odd to you, because I now know that making pesto from scratch is quite easy. While living in Dallas, I had looked up recipes for pesto several time, but I think the food processor business just scared me.  Whenever we dined at Italian restaurants, I’d ALWAYS order a dish with pesto sauce.  And now, I make my own – and it tastes so gourmet to me, it’s crazy.   BTW – swirled with tomato sauce on my homemade pizza?  – THE BEST!


3.  I never thought I could move to and live in a foreign country.

Fact.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could do this, or even consider such a thing.  But yet – here I am…  in a country where I don’t know the language and also in a place that has over 300,000 species of bugs!

4.  I never thought I could make my own tomato sauce. 

Blanch tomatoes?  Peel the skin off?  Chop and de-seed?  That’s way too much work for this girl!  Well, I found an awesome easy crock pot recipe – where I don’t have to blanch or peel or de-seed.   I just chop the tomatoes up – throw ‘em in the pot, add a bunch of herbs and seasoning, simmer for a while – and presto!  This sauce is amazing – and you can keep it chunky when you’re done, or blend it for a smoother sauce.  I love it!

5.  I never thought I could make my own bread…  Or pizza dough…  Or pie crust…  Or anything with a rolling pin.

Before, whenever I saw the words “knead” or “roll out” in a recipe – I stopped reading, there was no way I was doing it.  I must give credit here to my friend Emily, for when she told me she made her own bread and a whole array of other things from scratch and I starred at her in amazement, she was like “what?  You can do it too!”  She encouraged me to try…  And once I did, I was hooked (she was right!  I could do it!).  There’s some wonderful pleasure to be had – in cooking with whole ingredients and making your own items from scratch.  And really – after I took my first stab at things (including kneading and using a rolling pin, thank you very much), it wasn’t so bad.  I really could do these things…  look:


6.  I never thought I could write a book.

I’ve read almost my whole life, since the time I could read, really.  But every time I actually thought of writing a book, I was like – no way.  How would I start?  How could I write to draw people in, or make it interesting?  What – I have to have an outline first?  UGH.  Yep – I am now writing a book (it gives me a thrill just to say those words).  And although it would be nice if people like it, I really don’t care – because I am doing one of the “things I thought I could never do”, and I think it’s pretty darn cool, regardless if my book is liked or not (remind me not to care later, when it’s published).


7.  I never thought I would zip-line.

And I was right – I never will!  The difference on this one is – I COULD do this thing, if I really wanted to, but I have absolutely no desire to, this would not “better” my life in any way.  In fact,  I’d probably have a heart attack – definitely not good for me.  So, no, you will not find me zip-lining (ever).    And if I did zip-line (which I won’t) – do you really think I would look like this:


So – what is a thing YOU could not do, and have NOW done?  Or are trying to do, in the near future?  Because trust me…  you can’t say that you “can’t” do it, until you first try.  Please comment me – I’d love to hear your “thing” or “things”!!

Ciao! — Jen


I quit my job in my early 40’s, sold everything and retired early to live a simple life in Costa Rica!

Check out my book: "Costa Rica Chica" - the book.

Check out my Arm Candy: Costa Rica Chica Arm Candy.

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14 Responses to 7 things I didn’t think I could do – thank you Eleanor Roosevelt.

  1. You are accepting challenges and are a challenger!! I always say “I’m not a cook”…yet I fed my family as they grew up and still make meals…but not made from scratch as you are doing! You’ve given me a challenge…to think about!!

    • See – of course you are cook Connie, like you said – you fed your family (a large family) for years, and continue to make meals – good for you! But I love that I’ve given you a challenge to think about. 🙂

  2. Ah,about those 300,000 bugs…how often do you have to face any one of those and E. Roosevelt yourself? Would love to be an ex-pat in CR, but how to overcome the critter and humidity factors? Love your blog and relish hearing how you’re doing! Keep it up!

    • Karen, as for the humidity – that’s not a factor here in El Cajon de Grecia – we are at 4700 feet and it never feels humid to me here (very different from the west coast beach side). As for the bugs… well, that’s been a big challenge for me and I’ve had my moments for sure – we had one scorpion so far (wasn’t that bad, they are smaller here and not poisonous). Now – I truly have a phobia problem with tarantulas, and friends in Grecia have said they’ve found some in their houses lately… so I will keep you posted – but we have NOT seen one in our house yet! Thanks for reading my blog!

  3. I love reading your posts! So inspiring, funny and easy to read – I will definitely buy your book! And I am so excited that you are able to accomplish new things and challenge yourself. Life is a journey. I think when complacency sets in and we stop growing, is when we become most miserable. We have so much to learn, even in our failures. God is teaching me that all things work for good – in His time, not mine:) I do think, with your advanced yoga training, you could get in that pose on the zip line if you change your mind and give it a shot! ha. As for me…I never thought I could “get ripped” – body builder style. I did a 12 week program 4 years ago and got in amazing shape. Unfortunately, great food and adult beverages took priority lately, and I will have to re-do that program! I never thought I could sell the jewelry that I love to make for myself – so that is super cool. Now – I am just waiting for the rest of the story – where I “move to Mexico and make jewelry on the beach”!! That, or become a resort critic and travel the world… I’m not picky 🙂

    • Ariella – 1st of, thank you for your super kind comments about my blog – you are very cool, and you warmed my heart.

      2nd of all – VERY cool on the ripped body shape! To me, you still seem like your ripped. I would love to do this at some point too… but alas, with all my baking and bread making and wine drinking… not sure when this will be a #1 priority.

      3rd of all – your jewelry making is very cool, and the fact that you are getting to SELL it now, is awesome! I dig the “move to Mexico and make jewelry on the beach” thing – you could do this!

  4. Hi Jen,
    Another great post! I can totally relate to your new accomplishments in the culinary department. Until I was retired from work two years ago, I never cooked. Now I enjoy making meals and learning new recipes. It is such a good feeling to make something that warms the heart of those around us. I look forward to the day when I can buy fresh vegetables from the feria all year and that’s really cooking good food!! It is exciting to hear about your new challenge of writing a book; the magic of Costa Rica’s Pura Vida is definitely your muse. By the way, consider another book sold, I look forward to reading it!

    • Thank you Annie, I love hearing from you!! That’s great you started cooking more after you retired, it’s amazing what we have time for once we don’t have 40+ hours to work during the week anymore. And muchas gracias on the vote of confidence on the book!!

    • Angie – here you go:

      Tomato Sauce – homemade in crockpot

      8 cups chopped tomatoes*

      2 Tbsp. olive oil

      4 cloves garlic, minced

      1 green pepper, chopped

      2-3 Tbsp. sugar

      1/2 tsp. salt

      4-5 grinds fresh pepper

      3 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

      1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped

      3/4 c. fresh basil, chopped

      (Sometimes I add fresh rosemary as well, chopped & diced).
      Small can of tomato paste
      red wine (to taste, I probably use 2 TB)
      dill weed (to taste, maybe 1 tsp)

      * Really – I take the core out, but cut & chop up the rest of the tomato and use the whole thing (no peeling or de-seeding).

      Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of the crockpot. Add the garlic, turn crockpot to high and cook 10-15 minutes until garlic starts to become fragrant.

      Add tomatoes, pepper, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to mix. Cover, turn heat down to low and cook for 4 hours.

      After 4 hours, add the rest of the ingredients (herbs, spices)… and continue cooking for 1 hour.

      If you like a chunky sauce -you’re done! Of you prefer something smoother, you can let it cool, and then run through a blender or food processor.

  5. Things I didn’t know I could do? After 60, I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, trekked to Everest Base Camp, hiked the Tour de Mont Blanc, and most recently, the Annapurna region. I took video production courses and produced/co-produced 3 docs on courageous women who faced adversity (and one gal illustrated her achievement with your Eleanor Roosevelt quote). Here in Costa Rica, I experienced zip lining in Monteverde Cloud Forest. Had to do it…once is enough!

    Jen, I love your insights and hearing about your past and present lifestyles and new adventures. Many thanks to both you and Greg for your inspiration and helpful information!

    • Wow Dena – Look at all you’ve done (after 60)! I had to read your message twice. Very cool on the 3 documentaries! Kudo’s to you. Thanks for reading my blog and commenting. Happy trekking! — Jen

  6. Man we share many things that we thought we could ever do. I am still caught on the book writing thing. Not sure if it is just fear…damn fear! It still very much is one of the things I hope to do one day but I would have no idea where to start! Congrats on your your 7!

    • Thanks Kim! Word of advice… just start typing. You don’t have to start at the beginning, it will come together later. You’ve done so many amazing things already – I admire you!! 🙂

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