Childlike not Childish

Photo: Guillermo Loria

Photo: Guillermo Loria

I live my life by a cliche…”live each day as if it were your last.”

Cliches are cliches for a reason. They hold real meaning. But we’re fed them in such a way that it becomes repetitive. Eventually, they’re met with eye rolls and tired sighs. But every now and then someone grabs onto it and wrings out every last bit of truth. Drinking it up until it becomes a part of who they are. This has always been me. Not that I live every day like it’s my last…that would be impossible and exhausting, but I blaze my trail with this as my ethos.

Sometimes I am self-conscious about this and I wonder if it will fade like it has with so many others. I wonder how sustainable it is. But this is part of the fear conditioning I’ve been given growing up in an individualistic capitalist society. The other day I asked a good friend if my lifestyle and perspective is childish?
He said, “Childlike, yes. Childish, no.”

Those two words have completely different meanings. One positive and embedded within our nature. The other negative and lacking in intelligence and self control. As humans we are born with a childlike curiosity. But slowly, we get in our heads that at some point we must “grow up”. While some are able to maintain their childlikeness while committing to a career, family, and mortgage there are so many that don’t.

I am more motivated and driven right now than I have been since the accident. And I owe that to travel. I owe that to feeding my inner child with new experiences. Three weeks ago (before my trip) I told my friend my plans for the rest of the Winter: staying somewhere familiar where I can have a strong routine, doing more or less the same thing. This is what I felt like I needed. I wanted to be a regular at a local restaurant and coffee shop. I wanted to be part of a book club. And I wanted to have, more or less, a predictable day in and day out. We talked again when I got back. I told him about my plans to go back to Costa in a couple weeks, my new sense of purpose, mine and Natali’s new business plan, and taking spanish classes.
There she is.”' he said, “This sounds much more like you. Honestly, when we talked before your trip, the only thing that sounded like something you would do is jumping into ice baths.”

He was right. That wasn’t me. I had fallen into the comforts that come with predictability. I realized that our childlikeness is like a muscle. If it’s not regularly stimulated and exercised it becomes weak. Eventually, you forget about it all together. But then you do some new activity or movement that activates it, and for days you’re hyper-aware of its existence. Until the soreness fades and if you don’t continue to work it it’ll be forgotten again.

It’s easy to forget about our inner child. It’s easy to believe that your comfortable routine and predictable way of life is part of who you are and what suits you. For a brief moment I believed that for myself. My childlikeness hadn’t been exercised for six months. But this trip reminded me of my purpose and brought me back to me.

I encourage all of you to tap into your inner child. I’m not saying you need to go to Costa Rica and SUP rivers (although I highly recommend it). I’m saying when you travel internationally don’t stay at a resort, get out of the bubble. I’m saying try something new; take dance lessons, learn to scuba dive, join a rec soccer team. It doesn’t have to be huge or expensive, the thing or act itself doesn’t matter. What matters is how it makes you feel. Does it bring you joy? Does it fill you with a new unfamiliar energy? Does it challenge you? Is it uncomfortable (because it should be at times)? Don’t lose your curiosity for this life and this world. There is so much to see and do!

Life is too f#%king short to be boring!

Costa Rica 2019


It’s five in the morning in Turrialba Costa Rica. This has been my regular wake up time since I arrived. When I lived in Costa Rica three years ago, it was the same, I can’t sleep in here. It sounds like a bad thing but trust me, it’s not. Waking up before the sun and listening to the jungle come alive is possibly one of the most satisfying experiences for me. The life surrounding me provides me with so much energy and inspiration.

It is hard for me to believe that a couple weeks ago I was preparing myself to not come on this trip. I kept getting sick. I have had strep throat five times in the past five months and was worried about getting it while I was down here. I thought that maybe what my body still needed was rest; despite resting for the past six months. But, Jason Tonioli, the man who helped make this trip happen reminded me of how amazing of an opportunity this was and that I would surely regret it if I didn’t come. We’ve been here for one week so far and I feel the strongest and healthiest I have since my accident. He was right…I would have regretted it.

Turns out I didn’t need rest…I needed to be surrounded by and doing the things that have always given me purpose. It’s funny how one trip can change so much. This is why I am always moving. I’ve been stagnant for months, giving my body time to heal. Which is what I needed; but for six months….I’m not so sure. It’s so easy to get caught up in the comforts of a familiar place. You’ve got your regular coffee shop where the barista knows you by name, the yoga studio where you the teacher knows exactly where you are in your practice, and a home where everything is exactly where it’s suppose to be. For me, it’s so easy to lose my passion (for lack of a better word) when I’m living in such a routine way. But, before I left for Costa Rica I felt like that routine life was exactly what I wanted and needed. I was comfortable.

As I get to know the people here and fall in love more and more with the beauty and pura vida mentality I am so grateful for how free I am. If a place speaks to me I can pack up my stuff and continue to explore that connection. I’m not saying this to brag, I know I am very lucky. All the work I have done up until this point was to allow me to have the lifestyle I do. It is why I worked towards the job I have. It is why I haven’t married or had children. It is why I haven’t bought a house or acquired massive credit card debt. This is the life I have always dreamed of and for a moment there I almost forgot that.

I am content. I am so happy to be here and so grateful for Amazing Vacations Costa Rica and all their incredible guides. I want to share this with you! In March Natali Zollinger and I are offering a Costa Rican SUP experience with Amazing Vacations…join us!

The Forest Fire of 2018

Photo: Heather Jackson

Photo: Heather Jackson

Sometimes, a forest needs a fire. This years series of events were my fire. It was time to let it all go up in flames. Everything. Up until this year, my life had been packed-full of trauma and bullshit. Think of me as an emotional hoarder. Unresolved grievances, resentment, and pain were sitting dormant on the forest floor, starved of sunlight, not contributing to the ecosystem, just taking from it. Cutting alcohol out of my life was lighting the first match.

This was the most transformational part of my 2018 journey. Once I eliminated the thing that allowed me to run from discomfort, the canopy opened up. I used alcohol to deal with my social anxiety and cover up my insecurities that have dug their claws in since I was a child. Usually, it’s unlike me to spark up a conversation with a stranger but give me a few drinks and all bets are off. This wasn’t news to me…I knew in my teenage years that alcohol was my tool for coping with my social discomfort. What I didn’t know was that I could have fun without it. That I could rage and dance (well maybe not dance yet) without it. And maybe a glass of wine helps give me the nudge I need but a bottle dilutes it…to where I wonder,
“Is this really me?”

It was a great challenge for me; not caring what people thought. To avoid the discomfort I would go to bed early, I would miss out on concerts and events, I just couldn’t let go without the alcohol. And this…I am still learning. I haven’t been able to let go of my fear of what others think of me. But alcohol can’t be the tool I use to get there, otherwise I will never be free. And so the work continues.

I had to let go of a lot this year if I was ever going to grow. That first match shined a light on the trauma that was stunting my growth and depriving me of my potential. The #MeToo movement inspired me to finally come forward and let go of something that had been haunting me since I was a kid. This person, I had not realized, had taken so much power from me. This secret, I hadn’t known at the time, was a boulder resting on my shoulders. It had manifested in my body in a way that physically weighed me down. Once I let go of it, I don’t know how to describe it any other way than that I felt reborn. After a while, when you’ve been living with something for so long, it becomes a part of you and you don’t remember what life was like without it. I thought this weight was a part of me, until it wasn’t anymore, and when I dropped it I couldn’t hold myself up. It’s how I imagine the experience of a lion when it’s returned to open space after living in a cage all of its life. It was challenging and scary at first; but I could finally move through this life freely and without fear.

Letting go of alcohol and pain is all well and good but I needed a tool to help me truly understand what I was now seeing. So I lit the next match, meditation. Meditation had the most sobering effect of all. It changed the way I communicate. I began to notice so much more. Becoming aware of my actions and emotions in a way that I had never experienced. Everything in my life began to move slower. So slow I could really take the time to observe it, understand it, appreciate it, and let it go. But I wanted to slow it down even more.

The morning of the accident, while we were on our way to Buena Vista, I told Natali this. I had looked into different Ashrams and was considering going on silent meditation retreat. An hour later an air compressor over-inflated a board and the force from that resulted in a major brain injury and I was taken by helicopter to St. Anthony’s hospital in Denver. I can’t think of a more appropriate time to say,
“Be careful with what you wish for.”

Like a herd of horses being chased to the edge of a cliff my life came to an abrupt stop. It doesn’t get much slower than having to spend days in bed staring at the ceiling while your brain tries to put itself back together. Accidents and injuries have the ability to teach you the greatest lessons at an alarmingly fast pace. And this one was no different. This accident was the gust of wind that spread the fire to the deepest part of the forest and cleared it out. Up to this point I had been testing and challenging myself, doing everything I can to understand my true nature. Now, it was time to look outward and take a deeper look at my relationships.

When you’re stripped down to your most vulnerable state you no longer have the ability to sugarcoat your reality. I felt like I had x-ray vision at times. Able to see through so much bullshit. Before, I could brush things off and not recognize how deeply I was being affected by other people’s actions. But now, I had no bushes or trees to hide these feelings under. It was all laid out there in the beaming sunlight, exposed, and impossible to ignore. Just as I had cleansed myself of alcohol, trauma, and illusion I cleansed myself of unhealthy relationships.

This year I’ve cleared the forest floor. All of the things that had been holding me back have been turned to ash. I’ve made space for the really important people in my life. And am now fully able to offer them the support and unconditional love they deserve. I am wide-open and my soil rich to nurture all the new experiences and people that come into my life. The only way to deal with trauma is to look it dead in the eyes, acknowledge its presence, and let it fade away in your rear view as you continue to move forward. And once you start clearing out that forest you realize there was so much more there that was stealing your light. Plus, there’s so much more room for activities!

Set that forest ablaze! Let’s do this 2019!