An Ageless Inner Child

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Two days ago I had one of those days that will be etched into my mind forever. I think every day that I live on this planet, I have something to be grateful for, but this day….this particular day was exceptional!

I woke up and drove down the beach to a neighboring community for a yoga practice. Practicing on the beach, in the sun, with the waves crashing right in front of you, is second to none in my book. Before practice, we talked about having no exceptions and having a child-like sense of wonderment. To not allow “should” to come into your mind, as in “I should be IN this pose” or “I should be able to get into this pose.” Instead….forget it, and allow yourself to be like a child, who, never thinks that they need to or should be doing something. They just do it. If it works out, fantastic! If it does not, what happens? Most often THEY LAUGH! As we went into tree pose, she then asked us to close our eyes, which makes the pose that much harder (for me anyway.) It’s easy to have balance when your eyes are open but shut them, and you have to really find some inner focus. Your drishti. She reminded us that if we fell out of the pose to

laugh

about

it,

and to not put pressure on ourselves OR our practice. *For the record, I am a HUGE proponent of laughter! Even at my own expense (just ask my family.) quotes-the-purpose_5321-1

After leaving that morning, I thought about those words all day. It’s what I took off my mat. Be Childlike. When is the last time you allowed yourself to feel like that? To let go of fear? Of expectation? Of the pressure to be perfect or get “into a pose” To laugh hysterically when something

 DOESN’T

work out? My hubs and I talked about the fact that when we were younger, we just did stuff, throwing caution to the wind…. Build a bike ramp with the neighbor boys, and then have the same boys lay on the ground one after another past the ramp, and see if the boy on the bike can jump them all! Build a treehouse with a Tarzan swing to get down, tied to a limb by your sweet friend from next door, who was just learning to tie her shoelaces. And GUESS WHAT? You tried the swing out on the first try without even thinking about the safety. The fact that you could fall to the ground never crossed your mind. We were fearless. We didn’t even believe that we were incapable of doing things. We were adventurers and crusaders and pioneers of the unimaginable. How about learning something new? We tried, and if we didn’t quite succeed, WE LAUGHED! It never crossed our minds to get upset. Ever!

How do we lose that?

Unknown-1 They say “older is wiser” but sometimes that means “older is limited.” Limited in our thinking, our actions, and our behaviors.

The words from our yoga teacher stuck with me throughout the moring and as we went out surfing later that day. It was late afternoon, and we figured if we only had an hour, it’s STILL an hour on the water! It was so incredibly enjoyable out there. We were having a blast! We were being a little bold. And guess what? LAUGHING! Laughing-out-loud at nothing, other than the sheer thrill of what we were doing right then. Laughing at our stupid mistakes that sent us flying off our boards or being tossed and turned in an underwater washing machine of salt and sand (ahem…me) that had us rolling along the bottom of the sea. We felt like kids. Entirely in the moment, throwing caution to the wind and just being present on the waves in the warm ocean.e9fc788cf15b3f8542f8576b962c87c5--teaching-children-quotes-quotes-children

Then it happened.

As I headed into shore on a soft pillowy wave, I turned to paddle back out. The sun was setting, and I hadn’t even noticed, BUT when I turned around the sky had changed into the most extraordinary work of art I’d ever seen. Brush strokes of bright oranges and

P I N K!

The water in front of me turned the most amazing rose coral, and I sat up on my board and just started crying. Have you ever seen something so beautiful that it’s made you cry? I sat in the rosado water with a sky bursting open, and I just cried. At that moment I was so incredibly beholden by what I was seeing. I continued to paddle out to where my hubs was floating, transfixed by the same sun-setting sky and he said: “Do you see this the same way I am?” We were both so taken by nothing more than the sun, the sky and the sea. I thought for a second that I wished I had my camera; to have a witness to such artistry. Honestly, I could have paddled back in, but I just sat there and knew that it was going to have to be a moment that I simply remember. Like all of the great memories in childhood…we didn’t always have a camera handy. There were no cell phones and selfie sticks….you had to bank the experiences in your mind tucked away to pull out and relive later.
I think living in Costa Rica has allowed for more of a child-like sense of wonder in us. Living in another country, you are continually seeing and doing things that are different from what you’ve become accustomed to. It’s exciting! I love the fact that we can wake up every day and learn and discover something new and most of the time I DO feel like a child, laughing as we speak Spanish that is not always correct, learning the different animals, reptiles, and bugs and being wholly astonished when a Toucan lands in the tree next to you on your patio.

My hubs and I sat until the sky was dark. We just didn’t feel like we could dishonor what we were witnessing by turning our backs. To say this was quite possibly the most amazing sunset we had seen in our lives is understated. We both fell in love with that moment. Being silly and simple and allowing ourselves to stop and do nothing except stare in a childlike way into the sky. Marveling at the craftsmanship of such a generous gift.

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Finding Contentamiento

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-Porque yo sé muy bien los planes que tengo para ustedes —afirma el Señor—, planes de bienestar y no de calamidad, a fin de darles un futuro y una esperanza.  – Jeremías 29:11

Here I am with a million days gone by and adventures and experiences had and finally getting around to writing some down. I’m a terrible blogger! A terrible “Keep up on the blog” blogger.

I guess in the grand scheme it makes no difference as long as the story is told. I feel like a lifetime has gone by and I have failed to sit down and put pen to paper ..ahem, fingers to keypad, words onto the screen.

I am going to start with today. Or yesterday. Or this past week…..IMG_2017

 

We moved. The earth moved and I had a slight meltdown.

At the beginning of this year, we decided to take a leap! Greg and I both being “no regrets” types of people, moved from the comforts of our home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to another country that has really felt like home since the first time we set foot here ten years ago. We sold/gave away most of our things, stored what we needed to keep in the States, packed up footlockers and suitcases, backpacks and our dog and boarded a plane for a one-way trip to Costa Rica. The decision was made for this looong ago. Years ago God had planted this in our hearts. Our first trip down here was so life-changing that we knew eventually we would be here full-time. It was that trip that tipped our lives of consumerism, materialism, wants over needs, unhappiness in careers, our marriage, the place we lived, our quality of life, of corporate ladders and shopping madness, the never-ending, un-fillable hole of discontent to where we are now.

Contentamiento! IMG_2016

After being here that very first time, friends knew and family knew and friends of family knew…that at some point God was going to bring us back. That trip had such an acute and profound effect on us and set the wheels in motion for HUGE life changes! Since that first trip, we have been here 7 times and have fallen head over heels for Central America. We have been to Panama, Nicaragua, and traveled for mission work in Honduras. We know God’s hand was on our first trip here and that He gave us the love and desire for our trips to Honduras, and eventually to take the leap and move here to Costa Rica full-time.

 

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Moving Day! Leaving Spokane with our lives in footlockers and suitcases.

What an adjustment! It’s different being on vacay and MOVING and yesterday proved to be one of those days. Last winter we were here for two months, but we knew we would be going back to the States. I think yesterday I had that “A-ha moment” when I knew we weren’t going back.

Coming off of our first Thanksgiving without family and friends and being in a country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving was tough on me. We DID have an amazing dinner at a local hotel on the beach that was incredible ( I mean here I am whining about having turkey on the beach) but for me, Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday. It’s one I almost always host (with my MIL taking Christmas) in our home with family and friends. The days leading up, I cook and sing and listen to music. It’s a no-pressure holiday for me because I enjoy the prep. I love hosting, the decorating, the setting of a beautiful table. We love food and wine and talking about how thankful we are for the year we have had, sharing stories, and achievements, as well as being grateful for the hardships and struggles that have refined us a bit over the year. IT’S A DAY OF GENUINE THANKFULNESS and GRATEFULNESS! To me its a way of life, everyday, but I love that a day is set aside for giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year <tradition> and expressing and learning to live with an attitude of gratitude and appreciation in all parts of your life, big and small, on a regular basis. The kids come home, my family and friends are present and it’s just a FULL nest. Full-ness.

 

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Here Monkey Monkey

The sand. OHHHHH MUH GOODNESS let me tell you about the sand that I clean daily. Surfing/Salty Couple + Golden Retriever + Ocean + Sand Rolling = Mountains of Sand! Mountains! (Again, here I am whining about sand. Living on a beach)

The bugs. Oye! We haven’t lived in a climate that breeds a lot of bugs. I’m talking spiders, ants of various varieties, millipedes, centipedes, Palmetto roaches, geckos and huge beetles, butterflies and flying “things” that are for the most part harmless, just ya know…. SCARY! I hear that “we will get used to them” but the jury is out on that. Can’t image that day, but Lord, I’m ready! I’m not a tremendous lover of bugs and have had some pretty interesting and some downright funny experiences with bugs since we’ve moved.

 

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Meet “Sandy” our Sea-Pig

Adding those up with the VERY ground moving earthquake we had 2 weeks ago while my husband was gone, I was feeling a little down yesterday. I know, I know, it’s natural after a move and I fully understand that. I am just keeping it real. Keeping it authentic! There are ups and downs to any move or with any giant life-altering decision. I talked to my mother-in-law yesterday and said to her “even in paradise we have bad days” No one is immune, no matter where you are and what you’re doing. I am generally a pretty easy-going, optimistic, upbeat person…but rest assured, I DEFINITELY have my moments. She understood; they just built and moved into a new house!

So after an afternoon of feeling “not so sure about this” we walked down for sunset. This is something we do every day, as does most of the village. There is something about sitting under a sky that God has painted in the most extraordinary colors. As we walked the beach I was reminded of WHO brought us here. “Look around you Paula and see my goodness” I needed an attitude adjustment and a quick reminder to LOOK. LISTEN. WAIT. HEAR. FEEL.

Look around at His beauty and creation.

Listen to His voice above all others.

Wait for His guidance.

Hear what He has to say to us.

Feel His love and His grace.

I know full-well this is where we are meant to be, I just needed to reset. I mean honestly, I feel like we are living our dream and by no other way than by the grace of God.

WE ARE LIVING OUR DREAM!

 

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This move was not on a whim, this was Him. Yes, this was the desires of our hearts, but we know who puts those desires and dreams there. It was bigger than us! This is the place that He put on our hearts long ago. A change in lifestyle. A call to mission. Sand and sun and surf. Amazing people. A slowed life. A life of adventure, and bugs and iguanas and monkeys and earthquakes and broken TVs. Of parrots that wake us up at 5 am on schedule, every day and a symphony of frogs that serenade us to sleep every night. Of sandy dogs, of knowing and living the meaning of Pura Vida. Of things NOT moving at an American pace but the ground and earth moving A LOT! Of sunsets that set your soul on fire. Of monkeys on the roof and crabs in the house. Of butterflies, so incredibly beautiful they water your eyes. Of mountains, and rainforests and waterfalls. Of people so loving and generous and passionate and genuine that you are immediately family. I have said it a million times, this place is magical!

We are where we are supposed to be.

Is it perfect, no! Is it an adjustment? Yes! Did we think we’d be coming to live in Costa Rica as Americans with our American ways, no! Are we missing family and friends? Only like crazy!! BUT we are grateful to be gaining new family here. Every single day that we wake up here I am SO thankful. I am sold-out, overwhelmingly, falling down thankful to be living in “our” paradise. I am grateful and at ease knowing I can trust God with ALL OF THIS. Even the bad days.

 

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Thanksgiving Morning- A little different tradition. Eating pie that a sweet friend made for us in the sunshine

Now I ask a favor….pray for us, because as much as we KNOW that we are meant to be here, we are still looking for the purpose. This isn’t on accident. This isn’t a vacation. The WHY is what we are praying about. Why are we here? I KNOW someone prayed for me yesterday when I was having a bad day and I thank you! Join us in praying for God to show us the path He has for us right now. Show us if there is a need in our community, a way we can help others, a way we can invest in and pour into others here. We are ready. We aren’t here on coincidence.

Just as I finish writing this, I looked out to see the cutest baby coming up our road. No, it wasn’t a baby iguana or baby coati (Pizote) but this little cutie!

 

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Hola BABY!!

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Low tide kissed by the sun!

Tales From the Trail -The Mess of Healing-Donahue Pass

Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~John Muir

IMG_5693Marie Lakes Junction. 2.67 miles from the top of Donahue Pass. This pass is long. 23-miles. And we have been climbing for 2 days already. We will go up and over the pass in the morning. We are camped next to a gorgeous creek with the pass in view. I climbed to the highest point of an outcropping of rock that I could find at camp and picked up limited reception on my cell. I called G. He and Finn (our pooch) are in Bend, OR, making their way to Yosemite to retrieve their weary hiker. I cannot believe we are almost done with this journey. It makes my heart ache.

We woke early and were really pushing and surging ahead today at a pretty quick IMG_2205speed. It was a lot of switchbacks and granite. A lot of work. J tripped and pulled her calf which slowed our pace a little. K and I went ahead and found some great campsites. It was earlier than we would have usually stopped, around 1:30, but it allowed for the day to become a little unscripted. I always know when things don’t go as planned there is a HIGHER plan. I sat on a flat rock out near the water, bathed in sunlight. I was praying and thanking God for this journey. This adventure. The able body I have to be able to complete the things I love. The passions that drive me. His passions. I thanked Him for WHO I AM and the person he’s created in me. I marveled at the fact that as I looked up, even the pines and the mountains stretch their way up towards the Heavens. Even they are in praise! I was lying there in the silence, listening, God really started to speak to my heart. “Your walls Paula! It’s really time to fully allow me to break them down.” I sat bolt upright! Years of not knowing how to love and be loved flooded me. I have always held people at a distance. That’s what hurt and betrayal do to you. I know this. That’s a part of me that is broken. My past had taught me that trust was something that cannot be easily given and once broken so terribly hard to repair. I was really never taught, unconditional love. Or maybe just never felt it. Laying there in that moment, in the wilderness, I felt a deep, cemented-on-layer, strip away. It pealed right off and fell to the ground. And oh it hurt! I knew this was a point of complete rawness. Complete vulnerability. I don’t trust people because they constantly let you down. What a HUGE fault of mine. What chances have I missed because of this? Even with my incredibly, amazing husband, who has shown me nothing but complete unconditional, true, passionate, deep, love, respect, and adoration I think in my mind I’ve felt there has always been that chance of him trampling my heart. I am not sure that I have ever truly let love completely in. And that is tragic. It was time. It was like a veil being lifted. I sat out on the rocks for a long time. I cried, I laughed and I cried again. God had to take me into the wilderness, in the silence, in the deepest canyons and highest mountains to peel me down, to allow me to see and feel and realize and taste the incredible love all around me. His love is so vast and so wide and so deep. To allow me to see how my past has shaped me, but for it to be used as GOOD! I have walked some pretty desperate and terrible roads and its ok. In fact, it’s amazing, because God brought me through. There is no other answer than that! He strengthened me and gave me a story to share. Not to be ashamed about. Not to dwell about or continue to feel hurt by, but to thrive out of, to show His goodness and his love and his miracles. That no matter the past, He is the present and the future. And He is so good and so faithful and so giving and SO full of healing!FullSizeRender

My relationships with people will never be the same now. They can’t be. I am a lover…but MAN has that grown ten-fold. I don’t hold back. I LOVE with the most extreme passion. Truly! I am not afraid to let love in and even risk the possibility of being hurt. I think to NOT would be the hugest tragedy of all. I’m not willing to allow the fear of being let down, stepped on or not being someone’s cup of tea ruin what could be an extraordinary relationship. Hurt and emotion are the consequence of loving. It’s so worth the risk!IMG_5696

Our last days on the trail were some of the best. Coming into Lyell Canyon in the Yosemite Valley was incredible. I longed to see even a glimpse of a bear, which never happened. We saw Tony, our dread-locked farmer pass us by only to meet back up at the end of our journey. We saw Igor’s bare feet in the dust of the trail but never saw our Euro’s until we were sitting at breakfast after meeting our loved ones. What a sight for sore eyes my husband was as he stood in the middle of the campground as we came off the trail. Clean, with his giant, loving smile, and heart outside of his chest laid open right on his shirt. Me, filthy and ragged and exposed. Bruised, uncovered and stripped of a lot of baggage.
We all came together for a last breakfast. My hubs had, as promised, met us with a cooler full of COLD beer. It was early morning, but our trail family (all of them) and our real-life families all shared in a SALUD to a journey complete!


It was hard leaving the trail. I feel a connection to these friends like no other. I love what being out there taught me about them and myself. I don’t think you can share in that sort of journey and not be completely connected and changed by the people around you.IMG_2195

K, your complete and utter will to succeed at this journey astounded me. You battled, failed equipment, the cold, broken laces and poles but never a broken spirit. You would grind out the day no matter how hard it was and finish in the evening laughing. Your determination and inspiration were incredible. Your fortitude and steadfastness is a huge testament to the type of person you are. You gave me the motivation to continue. You are one of the strongest women I know. You have such an incredible presence about you. Your friendship in cherished!

IMG_5703J, woman you are so tough. You could’ve allowed your falls and injuries to side-line you, but you just kept on. You were such a caretaker and source of reason for our group. Your sweet disposition combined with a kick-ass attitude was infectious. I loved your jokes, your singing and the games you initiated to help keep our minds off of the mire of the trail on those days when we all felt defeated. I learned a lot from you. You are so smart. The day we lost you out there my gut was hollow, I was worried, but I knew you are resourceful and smart and not one to go down without a fight. The Cheech lighter was the BOMB! Thanks for that and the gift of getting to know you.

K, our rooster in a flock of hens. Your desires and passions run deep. You’re a great coach and a greater friend. You withstood a lot from this group and I commend you for that. You are determined and so sold-out dedicated to everything you put your mind to. I know we had days of butting heads and I loved the challenge. I loved more the grace you extended to me. Your honesty and friendship mean the world to me. There aren’t a lot of people who can speak the truth and not be afraid. You’re kind and bold and persistent but have such a tender heart. Your willingness to be solid in your thoughts but show mercy when needed is an amazing quality. Thanks for not pushing me over a cliff when I really needed to be. And thanks for pushing me over the cliff when I needed it most.

IMG_2202I have loved reading through my journals of the JMT. It made me laugh out loud and become completely overcome with emotion at times. This trip stripped me down to bare bones and built me right back up. I am happy for the sheer blessing of this trip, for friends with the same passions, for a supportive family even when they are nervous or unsure of my outrageous decisions. For a husband that SO gets me, encourages the utter crazy in me and loves me to the pit of my being no matter the flaws and dirt and decay. The fact that you applaud and spur-on every hair-brained wild desire that I have in life and rally around me says so much about the man you are! God blessed me with such an incredible partner in life! I am so thankful that you’re the water that feeds the soil of my reckless, wild heart! I love that I felt through the adversity, I was reintroduced to myself. That we all chose to seek out the seed of triumph in the adversity along the way. I am grateful for the friends and family that encouraged us, prayed for us, thought about us, and checked in on us when they could. I am even more grateful for those who allowed me to come home a changed person and loved me all the same. Knowing my scars and my battles. My weaknesses and my strengths. Loving the soul of who I am and allowing me the true GIFT of loving you so deeply and so generously.IMG_2207
Good timber does not grow with ease. The stronger the wind the stronger the trees. ~T Monso 

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One of my FAVORITE pics from the entire trip. At the top of Donahue Pass. Job well done my friends!

*Start my JMT journey with me HERE