#happy

What I Learned In The Costa Rica Jungle

My favorite thing to do is laugh and make others laugh. I think there is so much joy and freedom in laughter, and I could not stop laughing at the SISTERHOOD retreat in Costa Rica.

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SISTERHOOD retreat at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers in Costa Rica. We are wearing our favorite yoga pants: Miami Fit Wear (www.miamifitwear.com), created by fellow sister, Raquel Ponce (front)

Fifteen women ranging in age from 19 to 47 arrived at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers in Cabuya, Costa Rica, for a weeklong adventure of self discovery, transformation and fun. We stayed in eco-chic tree houses enclosed with screens where we went to sleep and woke up to real-life jungle sounds of monkeys, insects and birds—no sound machines or alarm clocks needed! The howler monkeys (who sound like shrieking deep-voiced aliens) and the sun let us know when it was time to wake up.

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We showered outside surrounded by lush jungle plants and trees. To even get a cab into town, we had to hike down an obstacle course-like path filled with large rocks and rivers (sometimes in the dark using only my cell phone flashlight to guide my way.) The hike took about 30 minutes. I was soaking wet every time. Bug bites and bee stings were a common and expected occurrence.

We packed into old, beat up papi cars (a car driven by a Costa Rican man, whom I called papis), to get into town or go to the beach. I was so completely outside of my comfort zone (literally sweating 24/7 with no air conditioning in 90 degree jungle heat), but I found myself unable to stop laughing the entire trip. Literally, everything was hilarious. (We weren’t even allowed to flush our toilet paper because of weak plumbing.)

The Costa Rican jungle was stunningly majestic, but it was also extremely uncomfortable for me. It was hot. I was wet and sweaty at all times. There were no air-conditioned rooms to retreat to. I looked and felt like a wet dog. I didn’t feel remotely pretty. I wanted these incredible new women I was meeting to think I was beautiful, and that I looked like I do in my modeling portfolio.

Any makeup I tried to wear wouldn’t last five minutes, I would sweat it off. My usually perfectly styled, thick, wavy hair was tied up in a frizzy knot, trying to stay cool and out of the way.

I kept waiting for someone to care that I looked like a hot mess, but nobody did. I quickly learned it is okay to not look cute, seriously, nobody cares. It was like being eight-years-old again: the most important thing was to have fun, play, laugh, dance, climb mountains, get dirty, messy, swim, snorkel and go with the flow.

The freedom of it all made me laugh, thinking about how seriously we take our day-to-day lives, when what we should really be doing is surrendering to what is, trust we are on the right path (even in the dark), remember we are always supported, expect miracles and sit back, relax and allow true transformation to occur.

Stress has no place in the jungle. It gets laughed at. My absurd, self-limiting beliefs and stories I have created over the years that no longer serve me are comical. I let them all go with a deep breath and a deep, hearty laugh.

The heat makes me uncomfortable, but also present—I must stop and pay attention to the fact that even my knees are sweating, and it is okay. Self awareness is sexy. Joy is girl-next-door hot. Not needing to be anything but myself—sweaty face, bad hair day and all—is success. It is healthy to let go. It is safe for me to be myself. I am supported.

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The ultimate nourishment: homemade, fresh, organic, vegetarian meals prepared for us three times a day.

This epic adventure wasn’t about going to Costa Rica, it was about journeying inside, reconnecting with and embracing my fearless 8-year-old self, sharing my truth and coming home.

I wrote the following in my journal. This is my wish for everyone. You don’t have to travel abroad, you just have to be willing to open up and let go:

Fifteen sisters went off into the jungle and had the time of their lives. Opened up. Showed up big. Let it go. Let it fly. Surrendered to something so much greater than themselves. Relaxed. Released. Loved more. Lived easier. Created harder. Smiled. Felt free. Felt supported. Felt alive. Breathed easier. Got on with what’s really important, what really matters: They loved themselves. Effortlessly. Easily. And so it is. All is well.

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Santa Teresa Beach sunset

For more information on SISTERHOOD, you can email the creator, Emily Nolan: emily@mykindoflife.com.

Writing A Love Letter To Your Younger Self

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I was born in a historic blizzard in Cincinnati, Ohio, and this past Saturday I spent my birthday snowed in during another record-setting blizzard in New York City.

One of my favorite mantras is, “Everything is perfect,” so as I winked back at God, curled up with some hot tea in my favorite robe, and began to reflect back on my special day (January 23), I couldn’t help but think of the little girl in the picture above.

I’m very proud of this little girl. She has been through a lot, but she never stops smiling.
When I feel the need to be self critical, I think of this little girl, and remember to love and nurture her instead. She deserves the world, and I’m going to give it to her.

My birthday wish is that you can do the same for yourself. I think we’d live in a much different world.

I invite you to take a few minutes to do a simple exercise with me in the name of self-love and your younger self. Find a photo of yourself as a child. If you can’t find one, close your eyes and imagine him or her in your mind. Your smile, laughter, innocence, joy, curiosity and hope.

That beautiful child still lives within you, and needs your care, kindness, gentleness and unconditional love. He or she needs to feel nurtured and supported. Your younger self needs to be forgiven in a non-judgmental way. This child needs to know everything is going to be ok.

Are you ready to give this awesome kid your attention?

When you feel ready, write this gorgeous soul a nurturing love letter. Tell her what you wish she had known back then. Give him the encouragement and guidance you wish someone had given you. Tell her some comforting words to get her through a challenging time.

As an adult, I used to catch myself dishing out some serious negative self talk and criticism (it has become less and less frequent now through consciously choosing to work through it), but if someone said even ONE hurtful thing to the little girl in the photo above, I would immediately go into protective mama bear mode, and fiercely roar at them.

This love note is just for you and your younger self, so no need to edit, just let your feelings flow. Really connect to this child. I find the exercise to be extremely healing, and it helps me connect back to myself, realizing I am that little girl, and I need to be kind and loving at all times.

This practice is therapeutic because it connects you to your heart–your true self. In the past when I was confronted with a crisis or indecision, I would seek out the advice of others, often times ignoring my own inner wisdom and guidance. My mind/ego was too in the way.

Connecting with my inner child and heart space allows me to listen to my own advice, which always points me in the right direction. I make decisions for the highest good for all.

The more you do this exercise and consciously consider the welfare of your younger self, the easier it will be to honor and embrace the person you are right now.

Here’s an example of a love note I wrote to my younger self:

Dear Kate,

I know you are in a lot of pain, and feel so alone. You don’t know what you’ve done to deserve this broken heart. I’m here to tell you that the pain you are in will become your purpose in life. Your broken heart will help others heal their broken hearts. Hang in there. Be kind to yourself. You are so strong and brave. I am so incredibly proud of you. You never give up. You always manage to land on your feet because of your fierce character, and yes, that broken heart of yours will make you a deeper, richer, wiser, more compassionate woman.

When you get rejected, say, “Thank you,” you are being guided to something so much bigger and better and perfect for you. I have your back. You are safe. You will experience so much love and joy if you just quiet your mind and allow it to happen.

You are so incredibly loved and blessed. You are going to live the life of your dreams.

Just trust. 

Just trust.

I hope you take some time to honor yourself and your inner child. He or she needs you, and is waiting to connect with you, heal and grow.

Sending so much love and hugs!

Kate

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