Living Pura Vida: Day 1 and 2

Day 1: Give the Unexpected a Big Ass Hug
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If there is one thing I enjoy most about plane travel, it’s the people you see and meet. Everyone is on their own journey but you all ended up at the same place together. I got a call the day before my flight saying that my super shuttle ride to the airport would be coming a half hour earlier than scheduled. Instead of 3:30am (which was the latest I could get for my 6:45 am flight) I had to be ready to go by 3:10am. At 3:00am I got a call saying the shuttle was waiting for me outside. The shuttle driver was a hilarious jazz fan from Cameroon. He asked me what I did for a living, then said “wait let me guess…a doctor?” The fact that 3am Ashley who barely made it out the door with both shoes on (and no jacket) was mistakened for a doctor meant it was going to be a good day. I didn’t plan on getting a call from Super Shuttle to say my pickup time was being bumped up, but sometimes in life you’re not ready for things, you just gotta roll with it. Oftentimes you’re meant to cross paths with certain people, however brief or fleeting. I’m sure he didn’t want to be up that early, but still remained cheerful and friendly. He really made me appreciate that I was waking up to go on vacation, not work, that little conversations can be meaningful, and that everyone has a funny story to tell if you talk to them. Always be open to others and express gratitude. Gratitude is the cranberry sauce of life. The more you welcome the unexpected, the more the unexpected will give back to you.

When I arrived at the airport, I was early–beyond early, the airport check-in wasn’t even open. I laughed a little because anyone who knows me, knows I’m never early for anything. As other passengers hurried to line up in anticipation of the check-in opening, I decided to have a seat and crack open a book. I’m not sure why I felt like reading at 3isham and neither did Don Cheadle’s father. That’s what I’m calling him anyway because he legit reminded me of Don Cheadle. It’s so early to be reading,” he said as he walked past me “but that’s good.” “Reading is fresh air for the mind.” It was literally like a scene out of a movie. I’ve never heard anything so succint, prolific, and incredibly random at the same time. It’s hard to read as much as you want to with work and busy schedules, but there’s nothing like the feeling you get after reading a good book. Take a pause in your day to read or reflect. It’s easy to get sucked into the hustle, give your mind a little fresh air. At the very least, channel the cool of Don Cheadle.

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The flight from Charlotte to Costa Rica was a party to say the least. The 2.5 hour drive to the place I’m staying on the other hand was…uhh let’s just say biblical. Monsoon caliber rain, cows and horses crossing the road, unpaved streets, wooden bridges, traffic. It was epic and my stomach complained the whole time. “Damnit Ashley, all you fed me was a damn Bojangles chicken bisquit. I’m fucking starving.” What was supposed to be a 2.5 hour drive quickly turned to 3 and some change, but once we reached the place, I realized it was worth the trek and BONUS it was time for dinner. Sometimes in life we have to wait. And waiting when we’re hungry, or tired, or frustrated can feel like forever. But once the good stuff comes, you realize that it was totally worth the wait. The key to happiness is learning to ride the waves of your emotions. Sometimes you’re gonna be frustrated and tired but like a wave, you’ll eventually roll into entirely different new, joyful emotions. Be ok with the frustration. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t experience it. When you’re really feeling it, close your eyes and tell yourself, this will pass. Because it will.

Day 2: Stay Open to New Experiences

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The morning started with a 7am yoga session. I’ve never done yoga. In fact, when I told people I was going to a yoga retreat I got a lot of dog- like head tilts. But life is all about trying new things and what better place to try yoga than Costa Rica. I have to say, it was very refreshing. Each day we focus on different chakras (which in yoga are kinda like energy centers in your body). I like to think of them as stores in a mall. The first day focused on the root chakra, the Macy’s of chakras. The root is our center. It relates to survival, security, family connections, and fear. Balancing it helps us feel energy and helps the spinal column, legs, and bones. In balancing the “root” chakra we were told to think of something we really fear, bring it to mind and then think of the best possible outcome. Then let the best possible outcome and the energy from thinking about it move throughout the body. It sounds really new agey and you’re probably thinking, what the fuck are you talking about Ashley? But try it. Think of something you fear. Really bring it into your mind. Feel where it hurts…probably in your stomach/lower back? Now, imagine the best possible outcome. The lower part of your body probably feels a lot better now. Trying to find balance in your life can be difficult, but in face of fear or difficulties imagine the best possible outcomes and really feel the joy and energy those thoughts bring to find your center. You are more powerful than you think. It’s all about finding the good things that bring you balance.

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After a day of exploring, I joined my group for dinner. There are such a wide variety of people here. A hand therapist and her friend and hairdresser for 15+ years, a mom and daughter from Arizona, a few Canadians, women from Chicago, New Jersey, and California. The interesting thing is that everyone kind of found there way here by accident/on a whim and we each relate to one another in interesting ways. One woman went to my high school 9 years before I did, another has an eerily similar complicated family history, and another has the same quirky free spirit as me. I feel like I’ve known everyone for years. We talk and listen to each other like family and see pieces of ourselves in each other. It’s strange really, but talking to some of these women I feel like I could have been them had I taken a certain path or turn. It’s really very interesting. It’s like those movies where you can see what your future would look like if you did one thing versus another. Life is interesting that way. Finding happiness with yourself, your choices, your turns doesn’t mean you’re always going in the right direction and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going in the wrong direction either, it just means you’re enjoying the ride. Nothing will ever be 100% right or wrong, perfect or imperfect, but realizing this will bring you peace of mind. So turn up the music and enjoy the ride. You never know which detour or left turn will bring new fun into your life.

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