Questioning Your Truths

What does truth mean to you? What are your truths? Who gave you these truths?

Now, question all of it.  Dare to ask "What if?"  Once you tackle and address your subconscious beliefs, you'll find what's really going on and open up the space to invite fresh new awesome beliefs and experiences that you'd love to welcome into your life.

1. Career 

Truth or Myth: "A successful career will prove my worth."

I always considered having a successful career as my ultimate goal.  That's where I placed my self-worth. I was always good at school because I enjoyed learning and I was self-disciplined and a bit of a perfectionist and obsessive.  And someone who excels in school ultimately pursues a big shot career, is what I thought.  So, every decision I made leading up to applying for college, securing internships, graduating, moving to New York City – it was all towards one goal: a prominent career that would be viewed as impressive and high-profile by my peers, family, friends, LinkedIn contacts, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc, etc.

I thought this was how I was going to prove myself and find fulfillment.  Yet, surprise, the only thing I found was a sense of emptiness because I wasn't pursuing my truth.  Now, I've found myself questioning now more than ever whether a career is what I really want to spend my lifetime on.  Why do I have to do one thing for my whole life?  Why not spend my life pursuing experiences?  Why not follow what makes me actually, genuinely happy?

2. Money 

Truth or Myth: "I don't have enough money to do that."

Why don't you have enough money to do what you want to do? Where else is your money going? People always want to know how Leah and I afford to travel as much as we do, and we always tell them the same thing – we make travel our priority.  When it's a priority, you allocate your income accordingly.  Our fantasies are our realities in an excuse-free world.

Stop to think about why you've convinced yourself that this is your "truth."  Is it because you've grown up not having any money?  Is it because you struggle with poor money management? Whatever it is, it's nothing that can't be changed. You have the power to manifest your own reality.  If you believe it, it will become your truth.  Speak your truth to the universe, and the universe will respond. 


3. Timeline

Truth or Myth: “I must follow the traditional life path to be considered successful: college, marriage, kids, house, retire, die.”

We grow up with society convincing us that this traditional path is our only option to follow if we don’t want to suck at life.  But when we actually reach the age where we’re supposed to start following through with each step, it gets scary and intimidating.  We think, this is what I’m supposed to be doing, though, right?  Isn't this what everyone else is doing too?

I tried following this path myself when I got married at 18 years old.  I blinked and my entire life changed.  I was expected to be a wife, a homemaker, a life partner.  The topic of kids would come up and I would feel my heart beat faster and anxiety build in the pit of my stomach.  When I thought of having kids, I thought of all the things I hadn’t yet been able to do. I thought of the places I wanted to travel to and the different cultures I wanted to experience.  Those dreams felt so far away and impossible to reach as I settled into my life as a wife.  Needless to say, the marriage ended and my life restarted.  Getting a divorce felt like a fresh start for me.  I was able to live again.  I was able to be me again.

This experience opened my eyes to my own personal truth. What is yours?  Don't wait until one day,  in 10 or 20 years, you wake up and look back on all the things you’ve missed out on in life because you chose this path that someone told you to follow.  Find your own path.  Everyone’s looks different.  Embrace yours!  Stand proudly in the truth that you’ve discovered for yourself.

4. Relationships 

Truth or Myth: "I have to be in a relationship in order to feel happy and complete."

I often see people jump from relationship to relationship so quickly without allowing themselves the time to heal from their last relationship before committing to the next.  It seems like this behavior stems from the common perception that if you're single you must be doing something wrong.

Tinder and dating sites have become such a huge part of our generation because we are so desperate to find a partner.  Instead of obsessing over finding someone to love you, why not spend that time and energy loving yourself?  In relationships, we invest and sacrifice so much of ourselves and often lose ourselves in the process.

It's easy to become dependent on someone else, which causes us to forget how to be independent and content by ourselves.  There is something so empowering and beautiful about being completely independent and totally self-sufficient.

Of course, relationships can be wonderful, but we should never measure our worth on our relationship status.  No one will ever complete you – only you can complete yourself.


Discovering Pura Vida

Costa Rica Part 2: 

"Discovering Pura Vida"

Manda and I have traveled to many beautiful places and met dozens of amazing people in the past three years, but when planning our next adventure, we have never considered revisiting a place because we would rather continue exploring new locations. Then there was Costa Rica. It was different for us. We fell in love with the jungle, and everything changed.  The salty, warm water, the humid jungle air, and the sense of family in the community there sent us on a spiritual awakening.

Here are our top four reflections that we took with us from our Costa Rica adventure. (If you missed Part One, you can catch up here.)

1. Live the Pura Vida.
Ticos not only use this phrase constantly throughout conversation – to greet each other, to say goodbye, to say “no problem,” “all good” – but they also live by its meaning.  Pura Vida means Pure Life – a reminder to be thankful for the simple things that make life worth living, like good health, the beauty of nature, our loved ones.  They have a way of seeing the beauty and good in everything.  Ticos literally live in the moment. They take life hour by hour, minute by minute.  Their concept of time is different from ours in America.  Their priority always is to enjoy life.

On our last night in Costa Rica, we finally caught a sunset on the beach.  This was the third night we had tried because the previous evenings were overcast, hiding the epic sunsets.  But this one on our last night was perfect. It was bright and brilliant and powerful. Now, when I think of Pura Vida, I think of that evening on the beach – watching the sun fall into the ocean, surrounded by the best company, in the most beautiful place I’ve ever experienced.  Since we've been back to our normal routines here in Denver, Manda and I tell each other “Pura Vida” every day to keep everything in perspective.

A resounding lesson we learn every time we travel is to put our phones down, to check out of the stress and pressure from our inboxes, social media, text messages, etc., and to truly tune into the present.  In Costa Rica, I learned to think deeper while also thinking less.  I learned how to allow myself to be vulnerable and feel real, raw emotions.  We learned what it means to be truly genuine and true to who we are.  The community here is like a family, where everyone knows each other.  They are so kind, welcoming and genuine, it felt like a breath of fresh air we never knew we needed so desperately.

2. Chase what satisfies your soul. 
Manda and I are often asked about the way we live our lives.  People want to know how we are able to travel so often.  Our answer to these questions is always that we make it our priority to pursue what satisfies our souls.  Adventure feeds us.  We thrive on meeting people from around the world, with cultures that are different from our own.  Getting out of our comfort zone pushes us to new growth and discovery.  

We always feel refreshed and inspired after traveling, but this trip left us on a whole new level.  Since we returned from Costa Rica, we haven’t been able to stop talking about it.  We are inspired to chase Costa Rica and find out if we could make a life there because it feels like more of a home than anywhere ever has before.  We realize it probably seems like an impulsive or rash decision to leave everything and move our lives to a new country, but life is too short to play it safe.

3. Go Barefoot. 
On the first night in Costa Rica, Manda and I kept laughing at how it was common to see people walking around without any shoes on. That's not really a sight you see very often in Denver, or anywhere else in the country for that matter.  By day two or so, we realized that’s just part of the Pura Vida vibe here.  It was something so small, but so different from what I was used to, that it really left an impression on me.

By day four or five, we stopped wearing shoes completely, we stopped brushing or even messing with our hair and we lived in swim suits because we were in and out of the water constantly.  Our entire outlook changed completely by the end of the trip.  We felt more connected to nature than ever.  We were so inspired by their simple lifestyle that we now can't imagine living a fulfilling life any other way.

While struggling to walk barefoot on the rough rocks on the beach one day, my Tico friend told me, “Breathe into it. Walking barefoot on the rocks is good therapy for your feet.”  Those words resonated with me and reminded me to embrace the experiences that may feel uncomfortable, because sometimes those are the best experiences for you.

4. Allow fate to happen.
When we travel, we try to really live in the moment and follow what feels right.  Sometimes that means extending your trip because it would be a shame to leave something so beautiful.  Sometimes that means loosening that grip of control and living in the moment.  Whatever happens, enjoy the ride.

Manda and I almost didn’t even go on this trip, but when we sat back and stopped worrying about all of the tiny details, we were amazed at what happened when we followed fate.  And now, we’ve found our new favorite place on earth.

Welcome to the Jungle


Everything about this trip feels like fate. Beginning with the moment I bought the flights on a whim – my coworker forwarded me an email with discounted flights to Costa Rica in November, and I immediately texted Leah, “Hey, wanna go to Costa Rica for Thanksgiving?” Of course, she was in.

As the trip approached, some things had come up that made the timing of the trip a bit complicated, not to mention the fact that we had both been traveling for what felt like nonstop over the past few months. We’ve never second guessed going on a trip before, but we had a serious conversation where we debated canceling the trip. I even remember the day before feeling anxious about going, which is unusual. And the morning we were flying out, Leah was clearly in a funk after having a really rough night at work. I just remember thinking, “I hope this works out…”

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the catch about the cheap flights – they included overnight layovers both ways. We left Denver at 2:30 p.m., had an hour layover in Dallas, and landed in Miami at 10:30 p.m. While getting a drink at our hostel in Miami, we were chatting with a group of guys and one of them was from Costa Rica. He told us Monteverde was where we needed to stay the entire trip, and even insisted on messaging his buddy who runs a hostel there to ask him to reserve a room for us. In the moment, I was totally convinced, although Leah wasn’t.

The next morning, we somehow caught our 8 a.m. flight, sat on the runway for two hours while we were delayed, and were in San Jose, Costa Rica by noon. In the line at customs, Leah and I decided to stick to our original itinerary and head to Manuel Antonio.

The drive there was crazy… We were supposed to take turns driving, but of course, Leah falls asleep immediately and I take one for the team. The road transitioned from a busy, multi-lane city freeway, to a two-lane winding road. The city lights disappeared behind us, and everything turned green, green, green. The darker it became, the deeper we drove into the jungle. After what felt like 12 hours, we arrived at our hostel. When we checked in, the cute girl with wild, curly hair told us, “You came on the perfect weekend – we’re celebrating our one year anniversary, and we’re throwing parties all weekend!” Leah and I smiled and gave each other the look: “Oh yeah, this is going to be good.”

Friday. Once we got settled in, we cleaned ourselves up and ordered some food at the bar. I felt totally wiped after making that drive on what was probably 3 hours of sleep. I assumed this would be an early night for us. Nope, I was wrong.

We watched as more and more people started pouring in and a live band was setting up. It turned into a party, and of course, Leah and I ended up right in the middle of it. One of my favorite memories always of staying in hostels is the diverse blend of cultures that come together – all barriers are gone, it’s a fluid exchange.

Selina’s was a multi-layer maze of a jungle fun house, and Leah and I were all over that place, meeting fellow travelers and mingling with locals, as we do. This is the environment where we thrive. At the end of the night, we ended up going down to the beach with a few locals. It felt like we had landed on another planet. We hadn’t seen the beach yet and had no idea what to expect. By night, the jungle beach was psychedelic.  

Our room at Selina's.

View of the jungle from the roof of Selina's.

Saturday. The next day, we walked to the restaurant across the street for lunch. Again, we hadn’t seen anything in the daylight yet, so we were completely awestruck by the view. The restaurant stretched out over the top of the jungle, the ocean not far in the distance. Over lunch, Leah decided to Facebook message one of the local the boys, Bastian, she had met last night. He offered to come pick us up to show us around for the day. He took us to the beach, but it started raining as soon as we got there, so we got back in the car and he gave us a tour of Manuel Antonio.

Bastian needed to go home and run some errands before the party started again at Selina’s, so he dropped us off at a local favorite spot, Sancho’s. We walked in and already recognized people we had met, including the bartender who was working at Selina’s the night before. We ordered some tacos and beer and were having a great time entertaining ourselves as we always do, when a group of middle aged white men who had gathered at the bar approached us. They were retired expats, and clearly liked to party. They insisted we join them at one of their mansions to pre-game for the night, but we told them we had plans to go to Selina’s later and were waiting on our friend to come back and pick us up.


When Bastian walked in, they all exclaimed with amusement, “Bastian! THIS is your friend you were talking about? He’s our neighbor!” It was becoming increasingly evident that this place is very small.

This night at Selina’s was expected to be even busier than the last night. There was going to be a DJ and everyone in town knew about the party. We danced until they shut the party down, and then Bastian brought us to his friend’s “after-party.” 

We drove up a steep, steep hill to a beautiful house on a cliff with a pool and giant patio overlooking Quepos. We walked in and the girl who lived there was one of our friends we had met on the dancefloor, and a couple of our other friends were there too. It felt just like hanging out at a friend’s house back home. We listened to music and talked and laughed into the early morning.

Sunday. This was our last day. Our flight departed at 7 a.m. the next morning, and since the airport was 3 hours away, we were going to have to leave in the middle of the night to make it in time. We slept late again, and stuck to our routine of walking across the street for brunch. Afterwards, we decided to drive down to the main beach Bastian had taken us the day before.

We were struck by the wildness of it all – there were no rules here. We walked along the sidewalk by the beach, but we kept getting harassed by dirty men so we crossed the street and sat down in a bar with a view of the ocean just as it started raining. The rain had a hypnotizing affect while we drank mojitos and watched the local boys load up their surf school gear off the beach.

One of the men at the table in front of us turned around and said, “I saw you girls with my cousin the other night.” We just laughed. At this point, we weren’t surprised anymore. We knew everyone knew Basitan ­– and apparently everyone was also watching us.

Sipping mojitos, watching the rain come down, surrounded by local beach bums – we were totally entranced. We couldn’t leave. So, right there in the bar, we decided to extend our trip and booked our return flights for Wednesday.

Bastian met up with us, and by this time, some of the boys at the bar had started flirting pretty aggressively so we were glad to have Bastian by our side again. In an effort to get rid of one particularly persistent dude, I went over to one of the boys who had been working on the beach and said, “Hola.” He introduced himself as Erick, but everyone called him Palito (which he later told me roughly translates to "little tree"). He had dark caramel skin, sun bleached dreads, kind eyes and a wide white smile. I knew he had been watching me, so he was pleased when I approached him. He was polite and endearingly shy, and his nose crinkled when he laughed. 

We all decided it was time to leave this bar, so we left for another spot where Bastian’s friends worked. It was a small bar behind a restaurant, bordered by the jungle. When we walked up, a young woman at the bar exclaimed to me and Leah, “What, are you following me now?” We said together, “Ah, Maria! Sister!” She was another friend we had met at the party at Selina’s, and she was the manager at this bar. We were the only ones there when we first arrived. 

The spot (during the day).
Soon, a few more locals, including Bastian’s “cousin” and the bartender from the previous bar, showed up and joined us at our table. As they all conversed in Spanish, I tried to pick up words I recognized here and there and piece together what they were talking about. Palito was by my side, Leah and Bastian were sitting across from us – we were all totally relaxed, blissful. Sitting back, surrounded by a thunderstorm in the jungle, new friends that felt like family, I thought, “This is home.”

That night, we parted ways with our friends and Bastian and Palito dropped us off at our hostel, promising to see us again tomorrow. We ran back to our room in the downpour, soaked. Another night in the jungle. We were getting used to this life. 

Monday. After our first night of decent sleep, we sat in the bakery next door and came up with a plan for the day. We filled Bastian and Palito in on our plans, and then met Bastian at his friend’s house. We had some time to kill before we picked up Palito, so Bastian took us down to their favorite nearby surf spot. Before we left, he asked, “Your car is 4WD, right?” We said, “Yes, why?” And he told us that the road down to the beach is so rocky and steep that only 4WD is allowed to take it past a certain point. Leah and I looked at each, “Oh, right. Cool.”

After somehow successfully making it down to the beach, the view proved to be every bit worth the risk. It had just started raining by the time we parked, but we could see blue sky in the distance so we waited for it to clear. After a peaceful walk down the beach, we left to pick up Palito. The rocky path back up felt even riskier than the way down, but Bastian handled it like it was nothing. He kept laughing, "The roads in Costa Rica are really good, huh, girls?"

We stopped at a lookout point on the way up, and Bastian told us, “This is the postcard view of Manuel Antonio.” And we agreed.

Tour Guide Bastian showing us the postcard view of Manuel Antonio.

After scooping Palito at the PALI market, we all four set out for a drive south down the coast to Dominical. On the way down, we passed by a few large farms and the boys told us how these were foreign corporations that were taking advantage of their workers and abusing the land. It's clear that Ticos are very connected with and reverent of the nature they live in.

We checked into Hacienda Baru, the national wildlife refuge and lodge where we had booked a couple rooms. It felt so peaceful, like a quiet oasis tucked away in the jungle. My soul was beaming to be surrounded by such lush nature.

We grabbed some beers, barefoot of course, and took them down to the beach. The boys told us about the massive music festival that takes place on this beach every year. They described the intricate structures that were built right into the jungle, and we tried to imagine the spectacular scene.

We caught a cloudy sunset and went back to Hacienda to take a dip in the swimming pool. I looked up, and I could see the constellations hanging above our heads.

After our swim, we went back downtown and had dinner at Palito’s friend’s place where we ate authentic meals of arroz y camarones (rice and shrimp).

Tuesday. The next morning, we woke up to a beautiful sunny day. We packed our things and headed out to breakfast at a place called CafĂ© Mono Congo, an organic, plant based resraurant right off the river. 

Pura Vida

El rio

We took off to find a waterfall nearby. We parked and climbed down mossy, muddy stairs to the roaring falls. On the way down, a guy asked us “Are you going to try the slide?” Leah and I laughed at the same time, “Uh, slide??”

When we got down there, we saw no slide. That’s because he was talking about the actual waterfall. Apparently, you can “slide” down the waterfall. We weren’t even there 30 seconds before Palito climbed up the rocks and attempted the “slide.” He ended up diving off head first after bumping his bum on a rock on the way down. We all got a good laugh, and he luckily wasn’t hurt.

We scrambled across the rocks to the swimming hole. It was paradise. We lounged on the rocks in the water, soaking up the Costa Rican sun. Everything around us was alive, breathing. I could feel the pulse of the jungle. I told Palito, “Did you know that trees talk to each other?” He smiled, and said “Si.” And then he taught me the word “tree” in Spanish (I already knew this, but I loved when he shared Spanish with me).

I could feel myself changing. I was completely spellbound by the energy of this place. 

We took a drive down to Playa Hermosa. We drove along the coast with the windows down. I was in the best company I could have ever imagined myself in, with my sister and Bastian and Palito by my side. We had zero distractions. We were surrounded by magic.

We walked along Play Hermosa, and I admired how Palito is naturally keen to finding beauty in nature. I was intrigued by his knowledge of the natural world.

Playa Hermosa

He said, “You have to try a fresh coconut!” I jokingly said, “Yes, get me a coconut!” And then he scurried up a palm tree, threw down a bunch of coconuts, slid down and threw his headful of dreads back with a huge, triumphant smile, just like a scene out of The Jungle Book. He and Bastian cracked them open on a rock, peeling them to their core with their bare hands. Palito handed me a picture-perfect coconut, open, ready to drink. I took a sip, and it was the purest, most delicious coconut water of my dreams. “Muy Bueno!”

Being covered in sticky coconut, I looked out to the ocean. “Can we get in the water?” I asked. “Of course,” they said. “Vamos!”  I felt my body longing for the salt water, and I ran straight to the waves. I dipped my dirty, sweaty, sticky, bug-bitten body into the warm water. I could feel it healing me. 

We went down to Matapalo next, a small, laid-back beach town. This was where Palito grew up, and he told us that even though it's beautiful, there's a lot of drug addiction in the area. When we got there, a young boy came up to us and was talking to them. I just assumed it was someone else they knew, but he told me later that he was a crackhead. I was glad for Palito that he escaped the bad influence here.

The four of us walked along the beach, where the waves met the sand, and watched as the sun melted into the water.

It was getting dark now, so we went back to Manuel Antonio to Casa Linda, a hotel/AirBnb Palito’s friend owns. We cleaned the day off of us, and then went down to Sancho’s one last time for tacos y cerveza.

We came back and sat on the patio upstairs, overlooking the ocean. This was what Ticos call "pura vida," the simple life. Here in Costa Rica, it is more than just a saying—it is a way of life. Pura Vida is the way Ticos live. It's the way I want to live.

The next morning, we were saying our goodbyes when Palito paused and asked, “Did you hear the toucan just now?”  And I thought to myself, "How am I supposed to leave this place? The jungle is home."

Read Part 2, where Leah shares more on our top takeaways from the trip. Pura Vida!