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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!

 

 

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.