Tag Archives: Nicaragua

Lessons to Learn

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kids

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

 

Big Moments

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volcano

That’s me in front, carrying my wooden sled over my head.  The volcano is Cerro Negro, in Nicaragua.  The date was Sunday, November 30th, 2014.  I was born on a Sunday, in 1976.  Sunday is a holy day, and it’s also the day I was supposed to fly back to Cleveland after our retreat in Nicaragua.  I like to see the symbolism and signs in everything, it’s comforting to me.

It was meant to be. I had exactly 15 minutes, the day before this picture was taken, to get a hold of my travel agent via Facebook Messenger to see if she could move my flight back by one day.  Within that 15 minutes, and as we were driving away from the wifi, she confirmed my flight change, and I had committed to climbing a 2388′ volcano, the youngest in Central America, and still active. Very active.

Did I mention my fear of heights?

When this photo was taken I was having a moment with myself.  The wind was intense, and I went back and forth between being terrifyingly focused on not getting blown off the side of the volcano, and realizing my strength.  Not just the physical strength it took to climb that magnificent landmark, but the strength that comes from deep down inside.  The strength that showed up for me in all of my Lupus flares, in my divorce, in my weakest moments.  I realized on top of Cerro Negro that I had overcome almost all of my fears within the previous 7 days.  Then I had to pause and breakdown.

I realized that my past was my past.  In fact, I “heard” it.  Once again, spirit, God, gave me a message loud and clear; “My past is my past.  I don’t need to live in it anymore.  From here on out, this is my life, and I am going to LIVE IT.”

It was one of those moments where you feel like telling everyone what just happened, but I had lost my voice the day before, was really focused on not flying off the edge, and wanted to keep it to my self, in my heart, for a little while anyway.  I actually felt the experience of detaching from my past.  The only way I can describe what happened to me would be to compare it to the movies, when someone is dying and they see their life flash before their eyes.  I actually saw my most painful moments from childhood to my current 38 years, and put them to rest. “The suffering portion of the show is over folks, now on to the reward!” – would’ve been what the narrator of my personal imaginary play would have said.  I felt all of this and more, in less time than it took you to read about it.

I will never forget that moment.

I also will never forget how much I hated sliding down the side of Cerro Negro! I may be over my fear of heights, but not over my fear of speed!

At the bottom, I needed a moment, mostly to swear and shake off the pure terror, oh, and to just be on the solid, still Earth.   There was a boulder and a little tree, about the same height as me, and they were calling to me.  So I didn’t sit with my friends, I sat on the boulder and looked at the little tree growing out of the black lava rock, and I saw miracles.  I was very shaken up in that moment, embarrassed about my fear of sliding down when everyone else was having the ride of their lives.  Then, as I cringed, my friends came over to me.  Without teasing me, as I had expected, they just sat with me, hugged me, talked, laughed, and took silly pictures.  I felt supported,  I felt loved, and I felt even more strength than before.  I knew then that those were the type of people I want more of in my life.

There were a lot of “big moments” in Nicaragua, but this one was definitely the most powerful.  With fire under my feet, it makes the most sense that my solar plexus was tested, re-charged and fired up on top of beautiful Cerro Negro.