Tag Archives: costa rica

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!

 

 

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“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.

Time to Move On

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Today is the day.  I’m finally on my way to Costa Rica and able to sit and relax.  This is heaven, despite the fact that I am in the unpleasantly fascinating  Miami Airport. It doesn’t matter, I can sit and breathe and do nothing if I want, which I do.  I realllllly do.

Just to recap, here is  the abbreviated and recent chain of events that lead me to this point: November 22nd-Dec 1 Retreat in Nicaragua, Nov. 24th I made a joke about moving to Costa Rica to live with Penny.  By December 1st  my joke turned into my plan.   December 4th I told my business partner at one yoga studio I owned, and by January both of my studios had been sold.  By February 12th I had moved out of my apartment and sold all of my furniture and most of my things, donated two truckloads and moved the rest to my grandparents’. There was Christmas, New Year’s, up to four dates per day with friends and family, and so many going away parties I lost count.  I traveled to Canada for three days to be with new friends I made while in Nicaragua, and to Columbus to be with old friends.  Then there’s all the little incidentals like changing my phone plan, returning my modem, changing my address, etc.  Somehow, I managed to continue teaching and seeing clients up until February 10th, and not surprisingly, ran myself into the ground and got sick the very next day.  It’s been amazing and exhausting both, in so many different ways.

I have been looking forward to sitting in the airport to eat, relax, and write, for weeks! However, as I wander this cold, dark and unfriendly airport, I’m reminded of what I left behind everywhere I look. I’ve seen a handful of men who resemble my father. Probably because his tears seem to be the most frequent image in my mind.  I’ve seen the name of my yoga teacher on signs, little girls who remind me of my nieces, a balding head that I swore was one of my students, and even macaroons just like the ones my girlfriends and I drooled over just yesterday (yes, I bought and ate 4 while writing this).  It’s been a surreal morning.

I slept for three hours last night, with dreams of all the incredible and beautiful things that lie ahead in my future. My alarm went off at 3:00 a.m.  By 3:30 my grandfather had gotten dressed and had coffee waiting for me.  By 4:00 a.m. my parents were at my grandparents’ house to pick me up. Grandma, and even my aunt visiting from out of town, wanted to be woken up to say goodbye to me.  Yes, I was surprised!  Who wants to wake up at 3:00 a.m. unless they have to?!

The energy of the house once everyone was there was heavy.  I know there are all sorts of mixed emotions, especially from my parents.

When we arrived at Cleveland Hopkins Airport it was a bitter -12 degrees outside. My parents were on edge, and I had an overwhelming amount of excitement I was filtering; careful to not make them feel like leaving them was what was exciting me.  How do I be happy for myself and express my pure elation at this opportunity to them when I know that what’s lifting me up is bringing them down?

I understand that they want me to be happy, they are excited for me, and they’ll miss me in ways I can’t understand because I am not a parent.  It’s so hard to know though, that I am the reason for my parents’ tears, my grandparents’ worry, and my own anxiety. At the same time, I know that I have to go.  An aunt reminded me this week that those are their fears and emotions, lessons to learn and grow from.   Whatever is ahead for me, it’s going to make this all worth it, for me and for them, and in time we will all be ok again.

Shortly after I arrived in the Cleveland airport, my Father’s friend showed up for his own travel plans, and kept me company.  As we talked about what’s happening in his life currently, I was taken back to my own similar history of illness and heartache.  He’s healing and growing, doing the right things.  It seems most of the people I know are going through some sort of transition in their lives right now.  Whether we bond through blood, interests, pain or pleasure, the most important thing to remember is that we don’t break that bond.  We put our differences of opinions, our own personal fears, and our egos aside, and we focus on growth, love and the bond itself.  Somehow, changing the focus of any situation from the petty and the ego, to the love and positive truth of our initial connections, seems to make everything ok. At least it does to me.

That’s not to say I haven’t cried.  I’ve cried almost daily.  I’ve felt pain on my heart the past few days that can only be described as a feeling of something being pulled, or ripped from my heart.  I’ve felt much appreciated grief for the life I have healed from, and sadness to be leaving friends I’ve just recently become close to.  I’ve sobbed for my father, and ate my feelings 5lbs heavier. I’ve cried with my girlfriends and even my ex-boyfriend.  I’ve blogged, prayed, boxed and danced, I’ve even tried to “yoga” the emotions out of my system.  It all felt good to do, and it all was healing.  So, why am I doing this if there is pain involved? I think about how much pain I would feel if I didn’t do it, and that thought is unbearable.

What about you? I’ve loved asking others through this process, what they would do if they had all the means to do it.  So, what would you do if you could.  If you were absolutely free to do whatever you wanted to, with no fear.  I’d absolutely love it if you would post your answer in the comments!  You’d be keeping me company, and maybe even giving me some new ideas too!

A friend made me the best travel cd, and on it is a song by Tom Petty: “It’s time to move on, time to get going. What lies ahead I have no way of knowing, but under my feet baby, the grass is growing. Ya, it’s time to move on, time to get going.”

You’ve got to hear this song.  It captures the hope, the knowing, the pure joy, the sadness and the readiness I feel.  Maybe it will do the same for you in your transition too.

Time to Move On

 

Hanging by my Hair, Part 2. This Time, it’s Metaphoric.

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As most of us do, we expect our big life moments to turn out a certain way, through a specific series  of events, and without a hitch. Unfortunately, nothing is ever that simple.

Lately, I’ve felt like I did on that zip line in Nicaragua, like I am hanging on by my hair.

It is now 20 days until the day I leave for Costa Rica. In the past 60 days, I made the decision to change my entire way of life, sold two yoga studios, found a home for my cats, sold almost all of my furniture, found a few jobs in different parts of the world, and my new roommate found us a place to live. In the next 3 weeks I have to prepare my taxes, move into my grandparents so I can clean up my apartment, spend a weekend in Canada, take my cats to their new home, continue to teach and see private clients, have a few more going away parties, have a few more business meetings, and pack for the next 3 months of my life in Costa Rica. 

Yes, some days it feels like I’m hanging on by my hair in all ways good and stressful. 

In addition, there’s been interesting reactions from others I’ve shared my news with.Those who I had expected a negative reaction from were some of the most supportive, and someone I had thought was one of my best friends ended our supposed friendship for good.

Then there’s the strangers’ reactions.  Most get very excited and want to know how to follow along in any way they can, and a very rare few have said something negative.

The other day I phoned my car insurance representative and told him what I was doing, wanting to know what the best way was to handle my insurance. He replied with a somber sounding, “Ya, well the world’s a scary place. I appreciate the United States.”
Hey Mr. Downer, I do too, but I’m not going to let your experience influence mine. I called about insurance, not a dose of negativity!

Last week, after meeting a nice girl in a parking lot to sell some of my belongings, I received a message from her.
“The second I met you I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to pray with you. Weird. I will have you know that my children and I prayed for your safe travels and my entire church will be praying for you tomorrow. I don’t usually tell strangers that, but for some reason I think you will get it. Lord, please lay your protecting hands around this vibrant soul. Let your light shine through her in her new journey. May her belly and heart always be full. God bless you in your new life.”
That was a beautiful surprise and gift.

Overall, I’ve been surprised at some of the reactions I’ve received, good and fear based, but of those reactions, mine were the most surprising to me. When my furniture sold I felt lonely. I’ve since equated that lonely feeling with the emotions that come along with leaving one life behind to start an unfamiliar new life. There’s been so much heartache and sadness about the friend who I thought for sure would’ve been supportive but wasn’t, and so much joy about the ones I didn’t expect to hear from but did. 

I’m very blessed to have so many loving and supportive people in my life that I can’t find the time to see each one individually before I leave, and to have so many wonderful clients that I am starting to book them for my visits home.  I know that I am blessed and I am always in gratitude for whatever is happening, because I know from my past that each experience is another chance to learn.  Yes, I know all of these things, however, I am human.  I will be completely honest in admitting that I am exhausted! I battle between fitting in another “date” or getting much needed sleep.  They idea of adding one more thing to my schedule, and it could be as simple as paying a bill online, can both invigorate me and bring me to tears simultaneously.

I realized recently I can continue to “hang”, or I can do something about it. So to cope with the anxiety, excitement, joy and sadness, I’ve turned to what saved my life in the recent past.  Yoga, Reiki, a healthy diet, good friends and family, and every chance I can, I call on God and my angels to help out.

I wake up at 5:00 am to take a yoga class before the sun comes up, because I know it will set me on the right track mentally for the rest of my day.  I box to burn off the anxiety, I write to keep my heart open and to heal it, and I take it one day at a time.

I have a feeling that I won’t feel like I’ve released my hair from the rope completely until I am sitting on the balcony of my condo in Costa Rica, taking a breath, and laughing with my new roommate about all of this. That said, I am at peace with knowing that sometimes we have to hang by our hair in order to shake off the old with appreciation for the lessons learned, and make room for the new. 

Everything is unfolding just as it should.