As you know, I'm here in Costa Rica (I have since returned) with my Prometido (fiance'). We just flew (in one of those tiny little planes where you see your life flash before your eyes) into Manuel Antonio from Arenal Volcano area. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and I've never met nicer people in my entire life - granted I grew up in New York so my comparison is a bit skewed, sorry New Yorkers but youz' guys are not the kindest bunch. For anyone even contemplating visiting this country, my advice is to get on a plane as fast as you can.
This morning we were sitting on the beach when a woman walked over to us selling various little gifts. We quickly said no thank you but it was almost like she didn't hear us, continuing to bargain with herself. Instead of buying, I wound up talking to her for a half hour. Although I don't consider myself to know Spanish well, we are able to hold a pretty decent conversation.
She told me that she actually lives in Nicaragua with her four children, but every few weeks her husband and her take a 14-hour bus ride to the beaches of Manuel Antonio where she sells her crafts and he sells coconuts. She explained that there is no business in Nicaragua and she's not a Costa Rican citizen so she can't work in the hotels. I asked her about school and she said she started studying but it was too expensive so she couldn't continue. I know this sounds like the typical sob story to get me to buy her products, but I already told her I had no money with me. After a few minutes it truly felt like two gals chatting it up over coffee.
She wound up asking me how old I was, and when I told her (31, I ain't ashamed) she exclaimed "me too!". We compared birthdays, she showed me pictures of her kids, gave me a hug and thanked me for talking. As she left, my heart sank. We are the same age. This woman travels 14 hours on a bus so she can sweat her ass off walking up and down the beach making $4 for a bird whistle. She does this to feed her four children, who live with their grandparents in god knows what type of "house". The thought kept running through my head: we are the same age. I am here vacationing on the beach and she is worrying about feeding her children.
I, on the other hand, worry about missing that end of day spin class because of downtown traffic, whether or not my newest online purchase will fit (ugh how annoying if I have to return it), if my conscious eating workshop will fill up or not. I've heard your worries as well. We are all worried about losing that last 5 pounds, whether getting pregnant in December means we will be too hot by our 8th month, what school district to send our kids to and so on.
I don't mean to diminish our experiences, I just want to provide a little perspective. In fact, I met this woman because I needed some perspective. We get so caught up in the nucleus of our day to day, we forget what is truly important. Health is important, thigh gap and the last five pounds are not. Happiness is important, things are not. The present moment is important (in fact it's all we have), the past is not.
I think that I work very hard in my job, but the next time I have a scheduling conflict, a computer glitch or any difficult situation that comes up, I am going to remember this woman walking up and down the beach, hustling to provide food for her family. I am going to be grateful for everything I have instead of being stuck in the cycle of always wanting MORE. I commit to practicing this so that I can be the teacher for you, and allow you to feel more peaceful and happy with where you are at this very moment.
I have no idea why, but I felt a connection with this woman. Her determination and drive were so inspiring, I'm sure she has no idea how much she has touched me. I'm sharing this so she can touch you too. She has so much more power than she will probably ever realize.
There is a saying in Costa Rica, "pura vida". It means simple life, no stress, easy living, no worries. What a great motto to live by. When you feel anxious or stressed, repeat this mantra to yourself and ground yourself in the present moment. All is truly well if we trust the flow of life.
Take a deep breath, pura vida.
We've heard this before and it sounds like a great idea....but, ummm...we haven't done it yet. I've kept a gratitude journal for years and it is an amazing way to pull yourself out of a bad mood. Try committing to it for a week using the "notes" section on your phone and see how it helps you. If you have kids, get them started early and bond by doing it together before bed!
That homeless person with the dog that you pass every day in your cozy car on the way to work; go grab him/her some dog food, make eye contact and acknowledge that person. Whether it's a small or grand gesture, getting out of your own bubble creates instant gratitude. Gratitude is the only attitude!
When you are feeling stressed about something, say the statement "I feel stressed about..." And then reverse the statement (hence flipping the coin). Find a reason why the reverse of your statement is true in order to neutralize your stress and keep a grasp on your positive, kick-arse perspective.
"I feel really stressed about a rock hitting my windshield. Now I have to stop my entire day to get it fixed, what a waste of time and money."
Flip the coin!
"I'm really grateful that I have a car and that nothing major happened to put my health in jeopardy. I'm happy to fix and maintain my car because I understand things just happen, and maintaining my car reflects my willingness to get things done and take care of the things that are important to me. I love my go with the flow attitude!"
1 daikon radish
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons dried mulberries (or cranberries)
2 tablespoons coconut vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon coconut nectar
1/4 wedge of lime juice
1 teaspoon red chili pepper
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 wedge of lime for garnish
Peel daikon and use a spiralizer to create noodles. Soak daikon in a warm salt water bath for 15 minutes. (This removes the bitterness and softens the noodles.). Chop remaining veggies. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Plate the daikon noodles and then the veggies and mulberries. Garnish with cilantro and lime. Pour dressing on top and grab your chopsticks.
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