In this debut memoir, a 45-year-old businesswoman leaves her job to find peace in Costa Rica.
At first glance, Henson seemed to have it all—a high-paying position in IT management, a beautiful San Diego, California, home, and a loving life partner named Dana. Thanks to her well-funded 401(k), she was even planning on retiring at 55. But beneath the surface, troubles were brewing, and one day at work, she fainted. Physically and mentally exhausted, Henson searched for a cure for her fainting but was unsatisfied with traditional Western doctors—one diagnosed her with depression and prescribed Paxil. She finally found help for her mind/body/spirit, relying on an intuitive healer, Chinese herbs and minerals, meditation, and an integrative medical doctor. After much soul searching, she also decided to pursue a master’s degree in international peace and conflict studies from the University for Peace in Costa Rica. Henson’s story explores familiar themes (think Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love) in her search for inner peace in an exotic locale. But she was not divorced, and Dana patiently waited for her to return home in a year. This is not the chronicle of a rugged jungle adventure—Henson’s rented casita on the edge of the rainforest came with a housekeeper—and there is much talk of college classes and new friends. Adding a self-help feel to the memoir, chapters conclude with author reflections and useful questions to ponder, such as “What do you fear others might discover about you?” Though Henson’s voice is warm and her prose is smooth, there are some rambling passages. For example, in one scene, she ruminates about the pros and cons of tithing. The next scene describes a cut-and-paste “vision board” made as a class project with her church. Nevertheless, the author’s flashbacks are poignant as she describes horrible physical and mental abuse from her father. The strength of her story lies in her ability to understand and forgive him—and forge ahead with her life.
This moving account of a cathartic journey may tempt readers to engage in some tropical soul searching of their own.