Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Knapsack on my Back

The Grand Canyon--red, rugged, magnificent and deep. My first visit was just a year ago. It was snowing, cold and unforgettable. The deep red and burnt sienna were bordered by bright white, untouched snow. The contrast was striking as was the freezing air that made me want to run back into my heated car.

Determined to stay a while longer, I pulled the beanie down a bit further over my ears, tightened the scarf around my neck and buried my gloved hands into my pockets. I stood there shivering yet could feel warmth in my soul. I love that about nature; it feeds my soul. Every time I am in a beautiful place, my soul instantly feels connected to the nature that surrounds me and I can't help but offer up my gratitude.

My return to this beautiful place is less than a month away and I am giddy with anticipation. This time, I will hike to the bottom and stay there for a couple nights. I have always wanted to backpack and this opportunity arose thanks to a couple adventurous friends. It will be lovely to see the Canyon from a different perspective and spend some quality time in its grandeur. The physical challenge will be exhilarating as well. I believe this hike will awaken my strength, courage and gratitude a bit more.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tamarindo Ballad

When I arrived in Costa Rica, I had no idea what to expect. I was hoping to lay in a hammock and drink something tropical and that was about it. I decided to go without plans and keep myself open to whatever came my way. I am so happy that I did. If I had planned my trip out, I would have missed so many lovely moments, people and reflection.

Tamarindo is the place where my heart opened fully, my soul was nourished and my mind calmed down finally. My days were filled soaking up the hot sun on wet sand, writing, drinking lovely coffee and cold coconuts, swimming in the warm ocean and yoga that pushed me beyond my limits.

I recognized my courage finally as people questioned my decision to travel alone and told me I was brave. I never would have described myself as courageous or brave as I still feel hints of anxiety every now and again. However, a very in depth Intuitive Painting course helped me reveal this trait and even own it. I could not have planned that encounter. I had never even heard of such a thing, but I love painting and decided to give it a try. If you are ever in Tamarindo, check out True Colors; I am so grateful that I did.

So many lovely people were milling about and since the town is small, it was easy to see them on a regular basis. Most people were from Canada and the North Eastern US as it is freezing for them right now. I found them to be warm, open and genuine. I loved having coffee and beers with them and sharing travel stories and life experiences. That's one of the best things about travel for me...the stories people tell. We all become storytellers when we experience something foreign. It changes us and we feel compelled to share.

My favorite book has been A Moveable Feast since I took an American Studies course in college as it opened my eyes to the lost generation of Americans living abroad in France during the 20s. I wanted to be one of them and write. There were many ex patriots from the states in Costa Rica each with their encouraging stories on how to live down there. The seed has definitely been planted and we shall see what grows.

Most of all, I want to keep the joy emanating from within. I want to take the habits and practices I learned during my travels and implement them daily. During my Intuitive Painting class I learned that in order to make a big change, I have to start with something small. For instance, practicing gratitude daily or beginning the day with a positive intention. Practice make perfect.

Costa Rica was a dream come true and I can't believe my time there has come and gone after 10 years of dreaming. The timing of this trip was perfect. As I look back on the past 10 years of my life, I know I was not ready to be as open as I was during my time away. I had too many hangups and unresolved issues in my way. I felt like an empty palate in Tamarindo; ready to be filled with a new picture of vibrant colors. I think that is exactly what I needed. I am donning a new outlook and am so excited to see what dreams may come next.

Muchas Gracias, Costa Rica!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Learning to Soar

I just returned from my dream trip to Costa Rica and my heart is a contradiction of joy and sadness. Tears were definitely shed as I drove away from my lovely haven in Tamarindo. The past two weeks were full of magnificent nature, amazing encounters and lots of realizations. My intention for this trip was to keep my heart, soul and mind open to whatever was going to happen. I knew the dream was persistent for 10 years and could only imagine why. What happened was beyond my imagination--it was amazing.

The butterfly is my symbol for this trip. I remember having butterflies in my stomach as I purchased/planned the trip; I could not believe it was finally happening. I felt as if I was preparing for a first date with someone who I was immensely interested in. However, in this case, it was a foreign country. Not knowing what to expect is part of the excitement of adventure!

On my first day, I went down to the beach and yellow butterflies were flying over me. The scene was magical. The sun was intensely hot, the ocean was deep blue and yellow butterflies came to welcome me to the beach. Every day that I laid on the beach, I saw a yellow butterfly. One day, while I was swimming, a butterfly was out with me in the waves...incredible!

Butterflies are symbols of transformation, renewal and playfulness. The most important symbolic meaning is finding joy in life and the lightness of being. I found the bearable lightness of being in Costa Rica. I glided through each day calmly, joyfully and fully open. I even found that my playful side was alive and well.  My intention is to continue this lightness...at least make it a practice. Practice makes perfect and this lightness of being makes me soar to new heights.