Monthly Archives: March 2015

My Blog is Moving!

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Peace out WordPress link, I’ve got a new website to post to! 

I would like to start by thanking everyone of you who has taken the time to join me on my adventure through my blog.  I am so blessed and grateful to have you by my side.  Thanks to you, I have been overwhelmed with feeling the love, support and encouragement I need to keep the fires burning!

My new website launches this week, and with it is an automatic feed of my blog. I hope that you will to continue on with me in my quest to live the life I’ve always dreamed of.  Each day it feels like I am already there, but it keeps getting better!

To thank you for taking the time to register, I’d like to share with you a FREE MP3 download of a guided meditation I wrote and recorded for stress and pain relief.   When you register your email address, you will be sent the link for the download, and will also receive updates from me on future recordings, workshops, speaking engagements, Reiki appointments, and my other work, including a book announcement!

LIVE! with love and gratitude,
Lisa

Be Present, What’s Next?! BE PRESENT!

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Since my last post, there’s been quite a big shift in how I feel in regard to living here, in Coco and Ocotal, Costa Rica. I feel like I’m getting more comfortable with a dash of anxiety. Stay with me…

Sometimes you just have to jump in and get started. As obvious as that sounds, it’s not that easy when you’re the new “sheltered” Midwestern girl in a small Central American town, but I knew I’d never get anywhere if I kept doing things alone; besides, I love people, and although I enjoy my alone time greatly, when on my own for too long, I wilt like organic lettuce in the golfcart. So…

At the advice of a friend, I signed myself up to volunteer at http://themonkeyfarm.org/ twice a week, made it a plan to go into town one or two nights a week, become a regular at the yoga studio and coffee shops, and accepted generous invitations to go to new places with new people. Every invite is an opportunity to make more friends, hear interesting tales, and see more beauty in Costa Rica. As a result, I’m sure, I don’t feel so much like an outsider as I did a month ago, not even as much as I did a week ago.

Having a bit of a schedule has helped too. Mondays and Wednesdays I volunteer at the farm and teach yoga at The Club at Coco Bay. Tuesdays and Thursdays I wake up early to get my butt kicked in the gym at 6:30 in exchange for private yoga. Fridays I teach morning yoga at The Club.

My housemate says that Saturday “doesn’t matter day” and Sundays are “fun days” around here… I’m still trying to work on that whole “Pura Vida, let’s plan last minute” thing. Scheduling in advance is a hard habit to break, but as a firm believer in, “if it’s meant to be it will be”, I’m not stressing about it.

I’ve dreamt about a schedule like this for years! Even the early morning wake up time isn’t that bad. It’s hot here. HOT. Hotter than hot, actually. I’ve never experienced heat like this for so many days in a row. So waking up early gives us the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen, cool pleasant air of somewhere around 75-80 degrees, and quiet. It’s so nice, actually, that I really do want to wake up at 5:30 to enjoy it more, but my body says, “Hellll no!”. Maybe soon, when I adjust more, or not!

So where’s the anxiety coming from in regards to settling in? When I really think about it, it seems to be around what to do next, which leads me right back to the reminder that I need to stay present. Ah, is this the lesson I am learning right now? Did I just realize this as I typed it? Is it really that simple? If my struggle is staying present, then I guess that that’s the “what’s next” for me.

I don’t think there is much more to say here. I just got my lesson handed to me so I am going to sit for a few minutes, and be present. I’ll let you know how this goes next week. There I go again.

30 days, 10 of My Favorites, and 1 Big Lesson

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Week four in Costa Rica has been my favorite week here.
When I first arrived I wasn’t sure where to go, what to do, how to be, and I spent more time observing and asking questions, than I did “doing”. Every day I try something new, go somewhere I haven’t gone yet, and attempt to learn words or phrases I didn’t know the day before, from a local. I’m meeting people, teaching yoga, and picking up more Spanish, though not nearly enough.  I’ll be registering for language classes soon. I am now a volunteer 10 hours a week at The Monkey Farm, (www.themonkeyfarm.org/farm), which fills my need to give back and serve.  Barters have been set to teach yoga in exchange for personal training and a golf cart to get around in. I’ve become a regular at Shantishala Yoga Studio, and my two favorite coffee shops that I spend hours writing in.  Thanks to their a/c and Chai tea, my first book has been started and my website is almost ready to launch!

This past week, a woman I’ll call “My Fairy Godmother who swears a lot”, spent the last week in the condo next to mine. She was a Godsend, and someone I will call a friend for a very, very long time. I admire her for the kind of person she is and all the good that she’s done in this world to help children and victims of abuse, among many other acts of service, and I thank God she showed up when she did. My FGM helped me find the local yoga studio, make new friends in the area, and had some of the best advice, always given with a mouthful of swear words. She was hilarious too, and my spirits were quickly lifted because she moved in. Today she went home, but I will forever be grateful to her for her role in my journey. I could have easily ignored her, walked by without saying a word, but if we hadn’t met, last week would’ve been very different. (there’s a lesson in that!)

I’d like to believe that it doesn’t matter whether you move to another country or another state, things will be different. There will be a period of time dedicated to adjusting, finding your people, and settling in. Every day since I arrived, I have noticed what’s different; different than Cleveland, different than home, and different than I’ve ever experienced. Different isn’t always good or bad, but it can be uncomfortable and new.

I thought that this “one month” milestone would be a great time to list what is different about living here, and what I love about my experience in Costa Rica thus far.  Also, when times get “uncomfortable”, I just remember these things, and they ground me once more.  In no particular order:

1. The weather, obviously, is beautifully HOT all the time. The sun is always out, and I can get a tan just walking to the store. The sun makes me smile just by rising and staying warm.
2. Flip flops. All the time. Shorts, skirts, sundresses, tank tops, bathing suits. Repeat. Why do I have so many clothes and shoes in in Cleveland?
3. TRAVELERS.  Oh my gosh, people are AmAzInG!  I absolutely LOVE meeting and talking to people.  If we all just shut off the TV and spoke to strangers, we’d hear more interesting, and exciting things than we could ever see on a television, and it would be so much better because the stories we’d hear would be true!  I’ve heard this several times since I arrived, “There’s a difference between a traveler and a tourist.”. It’s so true.   I’ve met the most interesting people, and don’t worry, I’m recording those stories too for a future date!
4.  FOOD! The foooooooooooooooood!  Ok, it’s expensive to live here if you like to eat like I do, but lucky for me I don’t care.  Plantains, pineapple, rice and beans (gallo pinto), the fish, it’s fresh, so fresh! I love guacamole, ceviche, pico de gallo, and there are smoothies and fresh juice everywhere.  Yes you can get those anywhere, but not like this.  GMO free, hormone free, real food.  It’s heaven. Food heaven.  I might have to start up a collection so I can keep eating and then pay for more personal training. I’ll keep you posted.
5.  I love having a pool more than I ever thought I would. After my morning run, at 2pm when it’s 96 degrees, after my evening run, anytime I’m hot, tired, awake, bored, happy, sad, whatever… just jump in the pool and it all goes away.
6.  The locals.  Gosh they are so patient with my American ways… my attempted yet half assed Spanish, my driving, my questions, and my excitement and giddiness over what they probably think are the lamest things ever. 99% of the locals I’ve met have been helpful, kind, smiling, and beautiful people. I appreciate so much about their way of life, the little bit I know anyway. They could all be laughing at me and I don’t even know it.   I’m looking forward to learning more.
7.  Pure Vida, or poooooda Vida as I’ve been instructed to say… I’m working on it.  Pura Vida literally translates to “pure life”, and is said with the intention of “this is life!” or “this is living!”,  and it can be used as a greeting, a farewell, or an answer expressing that things are going great. Costa Ricans adopted the phrase from Mexico and in the 1990’s it was added to their dictionary.  How cool is it that so many people walk around with such enthusiasm as to say, “Pura Vida!” that it gets added to the dictionary?
8.  Transportation.  I really enjoy seeing couples romantically riding a bike with the girl on the handlebars facing her man.  I think it’s adorable every time I see a mom with her baby in a basket or in her arms even, on her bicycle.  Oftentimes I’ll see a mom with two children, or an entire family on one bike.  People have scooters, golf carts, four wheelers and the usual public bus system.  It seems that cars and trucks are not for everyone, and there are always people walking and hitch hiking.  It must enhance the sense of community when you’re walking by the same people everyday, saying hello or pura vida!
9.  The beach.  There are two beaches about 10 minutes from my condo.  I love them both for different reasons.  One has black sand, the other has lots of pretty shells and snails.  They both have fabulous restaurants, rocks to climb, birds to watch, and boats to lust after.  The water is clear, and the sunsets are magnificent.  Plus, the saltwater air nourishes the thyroid and creates sexy curls in my hair.
10.  The time I have now to dedicate to myself and my wants and needs, my goals, my books, my health and my spirit.  I’ve dreamt of this my entire life… maybe that’s the secret? We all know it is.

There are many places I could’ve gone to write and rest, explore and meet people, but I truly believe I am where I am supposed to be.  This all happened so quickly, how could I dare to question to laws of the universe? In November, a joke was made and seven days later turned into a decision.  Twelve weeks after that I was on a plane to live in a country I’d never visited before.  One month later my life has changed again, as it will continue to, and as yours will to.  It may be easier to accept the differences and changes while living the way I am, but the lesson is really acceptance of change.  Please notice that I mentioned the 10 differences I love and not the ones I don’t.  Accepting change and appreciating it for the good, letting the rest go, and using each experience for growth, I’m finding, is key to creating happiness wherever you land.  I did not appreciate Cleveland when I was there as much as I do now, but I am filled with more love in my heart and soul than I was before I experienced Costa Rica, so I’d say at 30 days, I am beyond thrilled with my choice to LIVE my life!

 

 

“Storms Make Trees Grow Deeper Roots.” ~Dolly Parton

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This tree is on Ocatal Beach (Play as del Ocatal) in Costa RIca.
It was a reminder to me yesterday that my roots can be in more than one place at one time, and that would be a marvelous strength to have.

 

Week three has proved to be the hardest as of yet. Before I left home I had expected the first two weeks to be magical, vacation-esque, filled with excitement, newness and wonder. I imagined that maybe, if I even got homesick at all, it would be around week three. Right on cue, (or did I manifest it?), things changed. I felt worn out by the heat and not as in love with it as I was a week out of Cleveland’s -24 degrees when I left. I was tired of being dirty, constantly, as opposed to feeling like a kid, full permission to have dirty feet. I had been to town, to the two nearby beaches, to the grocery (daily), and in and out of every souvenir shop on the strip. I started to wonder what the hell I’m going to do for the next “however long I’m here”.
Over the weekend I went to my first party here. I felt like the new girl in school getting invited to her first party, and my thoughts ran wild, “Am I going to connect with anyone there, will they like me, will I like them, I can’t wait to go, I don’t want to go.”
I do love getting to meet new people. I love the stories of where people came from and how they came together. So I knew, no matter what happened, that I would have fun and be ok, and I went.
Let’s be honest, anyone going to a party as the “new girl/guy” is going to have some stress involved.
As I looked around the room and watched people who had been friends for years interact, I missed my people. I missed the comfort of relationships already built. I missed being myself and bouncing energy between me and ones I love and trust with my heart and soul. There’s a delicate balance needed of being completely open, and keeping your energy protected until you know what and who you are being open with.  Feeling that, coupled with some deep conversation and a lot of food left me exhausted and ready to go home to bed, for a long time.

As I drove my borrowed golf cart 18 mph home in the dark, a massive and terrifying Weimaraner came bolting torwards my cart and ran 18 mph next to me showing his teeth and yelling at me for being on his street. I have never been so scared in my life. Ok maybe he wasn’t massive, but he was still terrifying, and oh ya, I was that scared before, about a week ago in Nicaragua when another wild dog came after me, and that time I was walking and it was a little worse… These wild dogs are everywhere, and normally very sweet and well tempered, just hot and hungry and most of them homeless, but I digress.

I started to pray.  I sat up straight in my cart and begged to get home safe.  Then I changed my words to, “I am safe and protected”, and started to let my muscles relax just a little about 2 miles down the road.  Just as I was thanking God I was almost home, another crazy ass dog came out of nowhere. “OH MY GOD I SWEAR TO GOD GET ME THE #&$*! HOME ALREADY! (*$#!”

The next day I stayed in my room.  All day.  I needed to regroup.  I needed to stop sightseeing, exploring, talking, eating, and over stimulating my senses, and just sit.  I needed to meditate, to do yoga, to read, write and be alone.  I played Krishna Das, Snatam Kaur, and other comforting “yoga” songs on repeat all day, each time they played they relaxed me and sent me deeper into my meditation, sleep, or emotional release.   They were songs I’ve played in my classes a hundred times before, but it was like I was just hearing them for the first time on a much deeper level.

During that time I had dreams.  Some while awake, and some during one of my many naps that day.  They were scary, mostly, but telling.  That day of peace and solitude reconnected me with myself and my purpose.  It helped me see that I need to identify what it is I am missing so that I can create those things here, or wherever I land in my life.  I wish more people could understand how sitting with, and examining their feelings could lead them deeper into understanding themselves, and take away society’s, and the ego’s judgments of what they think being alone means.

The other day, when I mentioned my Godchild back home had given me my keychain, I was asked if I going to be ok here.  I wasn’t surprised to be asked that, after all, I do talk about my family and friends back home quite often.  I’m proud of where I came from and the large and supportive group of family and friends I have there. “Of course I am!”
I explained that I was feeling a little guilty, like I should feel the emotion of “missing” people, but I don’t think I do.  My people are with me whether I am here in Costa Rica, or in Cleveland, Ohio.  I’m only half a day trip away, and we are all very deeply connected, not to mention there is always the internet.  So my answer, of course, was yes.  I am going to be ok here. What my life is missing right now is familiarity and a tribe, and there is no way to recreate that without staying somewhere, meeting new people, and spending some time.  Three weeks isn’t going to do it.

Maybe Costa Rica is where that happens for me, maybe not.
What I do know is that it’s only been 3 weeks, I am not interested in moving on just yet, and to get to the good stuff, I have got to work on the hard stuff. Diving deeper into myself is what I asked for and wanted, and as always, when I ask, I receive.

Yesterday already started the new week off right, and I can’t wait to share it with you… next week!

Side note:  I always write these blogs before I title them… I like to see what direction they go in and decide from there what to call them.  I hope you’re enjoying reading, as much as I’m enjoying your comments.  Thank you for being with me.  Love and light ~L

Lessons to Learn

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I’ve now officially been away from home for two weeks, and I am still alive. It seems like half of my thoughts are about missing home, while the other half are about feeling at home where I am now. This is good, I think. I haven’t cried about missing my Ohio home yet, and if you know me at all, you know that this is a good sign.

It feels like longer, though, that I have been away. I have teaching jobs lined up, have met new people and some new friends, have crossed the border to and from Nicaragua on foot, and have even acquired part time use of a golf cart in exchange for private yoga sessions.

Like the rest of my life, doors are opening, only this time I’m walking through faster and not wasting as much time using my thinking brain, as opposed to my feeling gut. I’ve learned throughout my life that my feelings are much more reliable than my thoughts that were based on what I was taught to believe. Isn’t that what Yoga teaches us? That we learn to trust ourselves and our basic instincts again, undoing all that was taught to us as the way things “should” be.

I initially took this journey with the idea that I would not “work”. I had hoped to come here to rest, to explore the country and other countries, and to read, write and exercise daily. When I was asked to teach, my initial reaction went something like this, “Noooooooooooooo! I just want to sit! I’m tired! I want someone to teach me and to rest. I don’t want to think!” Then my gut kicked in. “Yes!” is how I felt and how I immediately responded without hesitation.

I love teaching yoga. I love the way my students’ breathe different at the end of their class compared to when they walk in. I love hearing the big sighs of relief as they settle into a relaxing pose, or the way they look proud of themselves as they find balance in a standing pose. I live for the stories of how yoga has changed their lives, and I learn from each class I teach on how to be a better teacher, and a better person.

In Nicaragua last week, I had the incredible opportunity to teach the children of the Barrio Planta Project in San Juan del Sur, again.  I had wondered beforehand if it would be as exciting, fun, and rewarding as it was the first time.  It was.  I can’t explain what it felt like to stand in front of so many children of all ages and my peers and friends of the LiveLife Light retreat, and watch them all gleaming from ear to ear as they followed me in a ridiculous mix of yoga asana and animal noises.  The language barrier forced me to use my imagination to convey the name of the poses I lead.  I “moo-ed” for cow, “meow-ed” for cat, and even howled in downward facing dog.  I learned Spanish for inhale, exhale, and a few others, by asking the children, “como se dice…?” (how do you say…?)  That few hours we spent there had me feeling like a kid myself, laughing and playing and being completely present.  I want more of that feeling!

I have no idea what I am doing here in Costa Rica, but that is what keeps me in the moment.  During our retreat I learned that I have more dreams to live out.  I have more goals, more plans, and also that maybe I could focus on the way I want to feel more than what I want to do. I learned a lot this time around, and would do it again in a heartbeat.  I feel open and willing to listen, to learn and to explore without expectation.

It seems like everyone around me has their own opinion of why I am here, what I’m supposed to be doing with my time, and how I should be feeling. As long as I can’t explain it to them, how could I convince them, or myself for that matter, otherwise? Maybe they are right. Maybe they are all right in some way and I just don’t know it yet. Maybe they are all projecting their own needs and fears and beliefs on me without realizing it. Maybe. Maybe It doesn’t matter, and maybe I am finally strong enough in myself to not let their opinions get to me.

I’ve become more of an observer the past two weeks than I’ve ever been in my life. Without the teachings of yoga I’ve learned, I’d most likely be the Lisa who liked to control everything. I would not be able to survive this if I tried to control the outcome of it. There are bugs, giant bugs, people from other cultures I don’t yet understand, foods I’ve never heard of, heat that is unbearable at times, dirt everywhere, lack of transportation and cell phone service, and newness in every direction.

There is also beauty, kindness, sharing, food, sunshine  and water like I’ve never experienced anywhere else on earth. This place is magical in all sense of the word, and I am so grateful to be in a place in my life and my heart to appreciate it.

I am excited to take on more teaching opportunities, and trusting that I won’t overload myself as I did back home. There will always be more lessons to learn, but I am resigning myself to take them one at a time.