In less than a month I will be packing my bags and heading on the biggest adventure of my life. I have never been away from home for 6 months before, but this is my time to do it. If I don’t do this now, I will always be wondering what if, so here we go!
Moments can change your life. And no moment has been truer than when I boarded my first flight to Costa Rica. The three of us plus our friend flew down to Costa Rica in January of 2014 to run the Coastal Challenge race. If only I knew in that moment how much my life would change from that moment on. I had never been to Costa Rica before, and to be honest, it really hadn’t been on my radar as a place I wanted to go. But when I got there, I immediately felt a connection to the country and it’s people. As we did our last minute preparations for the 6 day stage race we were about to embark on I felt a strange sense of being at home. I wasn’t uncomfortable in my surroundings like I had been in some of the other countries I had been to, and I immediately started to re-learn the Spanish I had forgotten from university.
The Coastal Challenge started on a beach about halfway down the Pacific coast of the country. We were to run from here to the bottom of the country, 235km away in 6 days… I had no idea what to expect. I would never have known that not only would I complete an incredible accomplish over that week, but I would meet someone who would change my life, and in fact Courtney and Dayna’s lives forever.
I am not meaning to write a love story, but in a way I am… a love story with a man, and with a country. He said he saw me at the start of the race and told his friend that I was the one. He knew nothing about me but he saw a spark and an energy from me. I will spare you all the romantic details but after 6 days of racing down the coast of Costa Rica, the wheels were set in motion of a crazy, new life adventure. He told me when we first got together that we would get married and live in between our two countries, Costa Rica and Canada.
Fast forward nearly three years and all this has come true, and now I am about to move to Costa Rica for 6 months, and I couldn’t be more excited. Not only are Eduardo and I married, we have also married his company REAL and Run Like a Girl into a beautiful experience for people. When we first dreamed up the idea for the Run Like a Girl retreats, we were at Chakra Lodge, a place where mother nature rules. Have you ever been somewhere and you instantly feel magic? This is one of those places for me. All I needed was one weekend of pure, delicious, natural magic and I was completely inspired to share what I had with other people. I don’t know if it was the moment I reached the summit of Ena Peak for the first time and experienced the Costa Rican alpine, or when Eduardo and I lay curled up in a hammock watching an incredible thunder and lightning storm in the valley bellow, or when I first slid down Chakra waterfall into the pool below and felt the waterfall above me, the first time I woke up with the sunrise pouring over the mountains spreading light into the entire valley, or the first time I saw a group of parakeets greet us at the sun came up. At Chakra lodge, these are the moments that completely consume you, and bring you exactly into the moment you are in. And that feeling of being present is where you really feel that magic.
After a weekend here… I remember driving down the bumpy, windy, dirt road back to the city trying to find cell service to call Courtney with my new idea. She was about to start yoga class when I got through. “Dude, get out of the studio right now, I have to tell you something”. “Seriously? It can’t wait like an hour?” “No! It can’t!”. In that instant, the RLAG Adventure and Wellness Retreats were born. 2 weeks later it was on our website, and 2 weeks later our first was sold out. We thank those brave souls for taking a leap of faith and joining us in the Costa Rican jungle in a town you can barely find on a map, at a lodge that you won’t find in the internet and with a group of strangers they had never met. But this is the magic I am talking about. It doesn’t take long to feel it, even if you aren’t open to it, or have any idea what magic I am talking about… it is there. And that first retreat was one of the coolest, most humbling, intimate, emotional, strengthening weeks I have ever had. And the coolest part? It wasn’t the only chance we got to share our paradise with the world… we’ve been able to do it 6 times… and we are about to do it 6 more times.
Costa Rica is a place where the phrase “pura vida” rings so true. Pure life. The countries phrase but also their entire way of life, and something we fully embrace at our retreats. It means to forget about your to do list, your stresses, even your clock and surrendering it all to the pace of nature. It means waking up with the sunrise and going to bed with a million stars. It means putting technology away and being completely present in the moment. It means eating fresh, home cooked food by the sweetest, hard working women, who really don’t have much… but are the happiest and most grateful people you’ll ever meet.
It means breaking down barriers and trying things out of your comfort zone. It means lying in a hammock and napping away the afternoon because that is what you chose to do. It means making life long connections and memories with people in places you might never have other wised experienced. It might even mean connecting deeply people who were complete strangers just a few days before, holding hands and singing in yoga class, and embracing after. It means whatever you want it to mean.
This sense of freedom, this pura vida is very lost in our culture and our western way of life. So… how lucky am I that I get to life the pura vida for 6 whole months. I don’t really know what they will look like, and yes, I am very nervous. But I am more excited. I am so excited to open my heart completely to whatever comes my way, and spend some serious time getting the know the country that totally changed my life.