Lessons Learned on Serendipitous Travels

I just got a pop-up from WordPress, it’s officially my one year blogiversary.  This calls for an ENORMOUS THANK YOU to all of you out there who follow, comment and support.

When I started this blog, I had no idea what I was in for… though I was ready for anything.  It was a journey of self healing and self discovery on which I took leaps forward and bounds backwards. I have been left with experiences and learnings that have marked my soul, carved deep synapses and forever changed the way I see the world.  Now that I’m back in Costa Rica, I’m back to feeling right.  I feel hopeful, nurtured, supported and once again sure I am on the right path.  This place works magic.

As late as it is, I find no better way to get my first post of the year out there than to share the lessons I’ve learned since “giving up” on a normal life.  These lessons have set me on an undefined trajectory, to my surprise much richer and fuller than the one I was on just a short time ago.

There is no such thing as a mistake…

…Only lessons.  In other words, “everything happens for a reason” and the reason is growth.  This is an incredibly empowering perspective that opened my heart to a new feeling… a deep sense of forgiveness.  Life just feels lighter when you know there is opportunity in everything.  Throughout every trial, every struggle, every bump in the road there is a lesson to be learned.  The only true mistake is leaving this life without truly learning from it.  But as long as we are alive, we will always have another chance to learn those lessons…

Our beliefs can either limit us or expand us.

The key to moving forward in life is becoming aware of your limiting beliefs, telling them to shut the fuck up and doin’ your thang anyway.

There are few things more annoying than watching your brilliant, creative, artistic friend working at a grocery store because she doesn’t think she is talented enough to make her art work for her.  Or your buddy who stays with his cheating girlfriend because he doesn’t believe he’ll ever find someone again.  Limiting beliefs are those pesky little thoughts that pop up as you dream, stopping you dead in your tracks.  “I’m not smart enough” “I could never be that creative” “there are so many other people out there doing it better than I ever could”.  Those are the thoughts that dictate whether our dreams come alive or not, and I for one have become a huge fan of taking mine captive and beating them into submission with positive affirmations and self-love.

We are all inherently worthy.

I’ve come to find that anyone raised in the Western world has a deep seeded issue with self-worth at some point in our lives, so deep that it completely dictates our lives without our realizing it.  This is because we are taught from birth that our worth is based on external things…  our looks, our fashion sense, our education, our social skills, our jobs, and most of all, the money we make.  Because of this, most of us are constantly searching for ways to prove ourselves worthy.  For some it’s by sacrificing their lives to their career, for others it’s by pleasing others.  It most often takes the shape of bragging or complaining; we all know (and are probably guilty of being) that person who is addicted to talking how hard they work, how much they’ve had to sacrifice, how many hours they spent… it was a heart opening discovery when I realized that those people are simply looking for validation.  They need to know and speak their worth, because they’ve forgotten that they were born enough.
I think the best way to fully understanding our inherent worth is by cultivating our self-worth, by doing what you love consistently enough to get good at it.  At this point, you may relax 🙂
We were born worthy.  Every single one of us.  We were born worthy of love, of respect, of space and of freedom.  In fact, it’s our birthright.

I am who I surround myself with.

As if it weren’t enough to have to deal with my own emotions, it turns out that I have to deal with those of others as well.  I always wondered why I zone out so much around certain people, it always bothered me that I would find myself in ADD Land in the middle of conversations with others.  I see now that it’s been my way of protecting myself from their drama!  It turns out that I am an emotional empath (and many of us are).  Without realizing it I take on the emotions of those around me and until recently I’ve assumed that they were my own (and that I was nuts).  Knowing this is becoming truly liberating.  I’ve learned that I need to be more selective with who I allow in my circle and that my self-care rituals need to be prioritized.  We’ve all heard about “toxic people”, people who just make you feel awful, even for no apparent reason.  There are people in this world who are simply draining.  People who simply by sharing a coffee with them can leave you in a negative spiral for the rest of the day.  Even though we may love these people, sometimes we need to step away in order to protect our own well-being.  And it’s OK!  Getting the space you need from them doesn’t have to be dramatic, we can do it with empathy, and it can even happen naturally when we begin to set stronger boundaries for ourselves.

Trust.  Not only in myself, but in God.

Throughout my travels, I developed the mindset that I would not plan more than a few days in advance.  And when I fully let go of expectation and worry and trusted that the right opportunity would arise, it always did.  When we are brave enough to let go, to stop trying and TRUST that on a deep level we KNOW exactly what it is we want, we are somehow lead toward it.  It is a divine force, which to me feels both internal and external.  And I never thought I would say this, but I think it’s God.

Gratitude transforms everything.

This should be number one.  Making a daily diary of things I am grateful for has completely shifted my mindset.  Admittedly, at first it was annoying, and I could hardly think of things to be grateful for. So I would write, “my arms for allowing me to carry things” “my feet which have never failed me”.  Then I became aware of the little things… that smile on the bus, good memories, opportunities…

My focus quickly started shifting from what’s wrong to what’s right, from what’s missing to what I have.  I began to find more and more reasons to be grateful.  As restrictive as a rut of self pity is, so expansive is a mindset of gratitude.  I realized I always had what I needed, and that more and more frequently I would find what I want.

If you’re looking for a quick fix for depression — count your blessings.

I am as beautiful now as I always have been.  I’ve wasted years hating my body.

If you’re like me, and like most people I know, you hate at least one part of your body.  I’ve hated my stomach for years, and I never thought I was thin enough.  Then I water fasted, and became thin enough.  Yes, I felt amazing, yes I felt healed, I even almost felt perfect… for a month.  Then my old patterns started coming back. Stomach’s not flat enough. Boobs aren’t big enough.  Then the rapid weight gain after fasting sent me on a spiral of body hate, for the first time almost obsessively.

I was overweight, more than I ever had been, and I started looking at old pictures of myself in a whole new light.  I realized I was beautiful.  And I don’t mean this in the conceited sense, I mean it in the sense that I was FINE.  There was nothing wrong with me.  Yet every time I would look in the mirror I would see something I wanted to change.

This realization was one of those slap in the face kinds.  How many years have I wasted hating my body?  For nothing.  Ten years from now I will look back at myself, even in my 30 pounds overweight glory and see how JUST FINE I was. That I had nothing to criticize.  Just as I would never judge another for having a little extra weight on them, I refuse to judge myself.

It takes practice to fully embody this truth, to truly love yourself enough not to compare yourself to others.  But awareness is key, and I’m grateful to be aware at 30 as opposed to 70.

Our reoccurring struggles are our biggest opportunities for growth.

Life is funny.  Not necessarily the ha-ha funny, but the ironic kick in the ass funny.  The ha-ha funny part tends to come later, after the lesson’s been learned and even then, only with a good sense of humor are we able to find it.  Life likes to place big old rocks in our path.  No matter what country you move to or what fancy shoes you are wearing, that rock will find you.  And you will keep tripping over that same little bastard you’ve been tripping on for years, again and again until you finally figure out how to walk around it, or better yet, kick it so hard off your path that the rock will never forget you.
I met my father this year.  And those of you who know me may say I’m nuts… my father died years ago.  But believe you me, there isn’t a person on the planet that embodies my dad’s emotional state, behavior and zest for life as this guy.  Over the course of a year he took me on a thrilling ride on the Bipolar Express of acceptance, criticism, love, abandonment, approval, condescension, support, and threat.  Two men in this world have brought out the deepest joy in me, and also provoked the darkest, most unshakable fear.
Both gave me everything they could (without letting me forget it), and both turned their backs on me (without ever forgetting me).  Both developed my empathy, my ability to unconditionally love and understand them… even while being appalled by their behavior.  Both helped me see that we are just damaged children running around in grown-up bodies, all in need of love and approval.  Both taught me that I deserve so much more than I ever imagined for myself by doing their best to give it to me.
I seemed to have forgotten those lessons that my father taught me, so I was gifted with another rock to trip on.  But I refuse to step around this one, or even kick it away.  I’ve polished the dust off of it and with it completed the foundation to the beautiful life I’m building.  And with that sense of completion, there is only gratitude.

Stay tuned for the health and wellness lessons… that’s a whole other story!

6 Replies to “Lessons Learned on Serendipitous Travels”

  1. Great post !
    I would like to know if you gained the weight because you are not eating as healthy as you should or because water fasting destroy your metabolism ?

    Thanks a lot for all !

    Like

    1. Hi Lilly! Thanks ❤ My weight gain came from a series of things.. my metabolism was much slower due to decreased muscle mass. Stress was a huge factor as well. Following a fruitarian diet in Europe lead me to overeating because I never felt satiated. I'm working on a blog post about this, I'll let you know when it's up 🙂 xoxo

      Like

  2. Thank you Ana for a beautifully written and heart inspired article. It`s so true how our unconscious beliefs and unexamined life lead us down a path that is not truly our own.
    I have been spending more time in silence and meditation, contemplating my life from a deeper place. The deeper I go, the more I realize I just want to feel loved.
    For to many years, I have been searching outside myself for acceptance and love, when all along, it has been inside me. Thank you again for reminding me to look within.

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    —-from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.

    Hugs,
    Patrick

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wise words and beautifully written Patrick! I absolutely love that quote, I’ve added it to my inspiration list 🙂 It is so profoundly true, it’s the experience that I had going back to Europe after my water fast! Thanks for the clarity.. much love ❤

      Like

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