A Year of Growth
This tale begins back in February 2015, when I experienced a plot twist in the story of my life. The details surrounding the twist are not important. Just know that I experienced quite a bit of discomfort and heartache during this time. In short, I was forced to reevaluate what makes me, me.
Before now, I had been an occasional patron of yoga. I had used it for the 10 years prior as a way to balance out my fitness routine. However, this out-of-the-blue event catapulted me head-first into a yoga practice- to be more specific, a “yoga every damn day” kind of practice. For the next 3 months, I got my butt up every day and showed up on my mat. This daily hour brought calm and comfort to the emotional hurricane that was raging inside of me.
As time went on, I began to see yoga in a different light. I saw and felt a deeper connection with my practice, as it had never been before. I was intrigued. I became obsessed with the feelings of peace, calm and ease that would come to me on my mat, and it only got stronger as the days progressed. I had begun this pursuit to heal myself from the inside out, and now that I felt close to healing, I only wanted to keep digging deeper.
The Start of a Journey
As February 2016 approached, I had many mat-hours logged and almost a year of consistent practice under my belt. I felt I was ready for a yoga retreat, and Costa Rica, with all its beauty and magic, presented itself as the perfect place to do it. I put trust in my journey thus far, and began to patiently research resorts, reading reviews and weighing my options. Among the many choices I came across, Blue Osa kept popping up. This place just felt right. It was as if the Universe was holding a giant neon sign above it that said: PICK THIS ONE! I felt I just had to listen. I ended up booking a month-long yoga teacher training, (guaranteed to deepen my practice, even if I didn’t end up teaching) and then I waited patiently for June 3rd, the day my life-changing journey would begin.
However, two days before I was set to take off, I had a sudden change of heart. I’m sure many people experience this feeling when embarking on an epic adventure. It’s that, “I’m not going,” “You can’t make me,” “I’m actually too busy for this,” last-minute panic mentality. Thank goodness for my mom, who adopted a, “WTF, you’re doing this!” mentality. She shared a beautiful quote with me, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but how you overcome fear,” which ultimately set me straight. What I would do without this lady is beyond me! So, after this brief hiccup, I was off!
Through Facebook, I had become acquainted with my fellow yogis, who I would meet up with in Costa Rica. One such yogi, Morgan, (a.k.a. Yogi Mogi) is a fellow Canadian, and had just so happened to book the exact same flight to Costa Rica as I did. So here I sat: at Gate 25 at Pearson Airport in Toronto, a million butterflies in my stomach, a new friend at my side, ready to introduce myself to this brand new beginning.
At Last: Costa Rica!
As the 17 of us arrived one by one at Blue Osa, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were like a bunch of kids showing up at a new school for the first day of class. As intimidating as it was, it was oddly comforting knowing everyone else was likely feeling anxious as well, considering none of us really knew each other or what lay ahead. We were all coming together to achieve a common goal, but for so many different reasons. As the first day came to an end, it became clear that this group was truly meant to take this 28-day journey together. The sweet chatter of everyone sharing their stories and getting to know one another was as perfect as you could imagine.
And now, we must introduce into the story our Yogi Aaron, with his laugh- his full, from-the-belly, purely authentic laugh. I have to say that this man’s smile and genuine presence were what finally sold me on Blue Osa. This presence, shining through in the pictures on the website, drew me in, and once I met him I was captivated! Here now was my Yogi, our Yogi- Yogi Aaron would lead us on this path for the next month to yoga, self-discovery, and eventually BLISS.
Early Mornings, Bright Ideas
We began day 2 at 4:30am with morning silence and the sunrise on the beach, then we all headed up to the yoga studio for our first morning of meditation. Aaron led us through an hour and a half of breathing and relaxation exercises, which introduced us to our first moments of stillness. I have to admit, the stillness is not something that comes easily to my artistic, overly active mind, and I was actually very nervous for this part. But, I thought, this is what I signed up for, so I gave it my all.
I believe that meditation has no real rules. There are so many different ways to create the end result, which for me is presence and peace. My process for this practice is to focus on my breathing while allowing productive, authentic thoughts to float in and out of my mind as they wish.
This is how I came to my Idea, which I dubbed “Airstream Dreams.” This curious little Idea introduced itself to me on the very first morning of meditation, in the form of an Airstream camper. I saw the Airstream as if it were playfully dancing, surfing on the waves of the ocean toward where I watched from the shore. This is a bizarre image, to be sure, but meditation works that way sometimes!
Growth, Progress, and Special Relationships
In our first week at Blue Osa, we learned so much, and did a ton of yoga. We talked about the Yoga Sutra and had studying days. The 17 of us and Aaron bonded over dinner every night, talking about what we had learned that day or about the people we loved back home, or about the friendships that were blossoming before our eyes. The accommodations were a lovely backdrop for the whole experience; the food at Blue Osa deserves 5+ stars, and so does the staff.
I would never have thought that I would be excited to wake up before the Sun to be still and silent and think for an hour and a half. But every morning when Brian would ring that tiny bell, my eyes opened wide and I was ready- sometimes I would even be up and waiting. I began to feel that this was my happy place, and wondered how I could ever leave! Everything was truly magical.
I surprised myself every day, with my enthusiasm to sit there and visit with my Idea. I couldn’t wait to talk to it and to help it grow and become something significant. It became almost as if this Idea and I were in on our own little secret about something. I could feel this was on its way to becoming a magical thing. It felt like the Idea and I were both putting genuine energy toward the creation of this dream. We spoke in our own special language, and I fell it love with the Idea, to say the least.
This may seem an odd concept, of being in a relationship with an idea, but it’s quite real. This Idea introduced itself to me. I agreed to embark on this journey with it, to nurture it and give it a purpose. I learned about this concept reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) and I highly recommend it for further learning on the subject.
As the month progressed, I started sharing my meditation experiences with my fellow yogis. I thought maybe I was doing it wrong, or that I was selfish for only putting energy into these “Airstream Dreams.” I didn’t even have an Airstream, and it felt silly to put so much energy into something that wasn’t even a reality to me at the time. So one morning I forced myself to think about other things, and it was honestly my worst morning of meditation. It felt like really hard work. The next day, I simply allowed my thoughts to present themselves to me organically, and lo and behold, who was waiting patiently for me but my good old friend, the Idea. It was then that I promised to never shut those thoughts out again, and together the Idea and I moved forward.
The Idea Becomes Reality
Around the middle of our last week at Blue Osa, I began to flirt with the idea of looking at Airstreams for sale online in my free time. It was definitely a big job, but I wasn’t really taking it seriously as I was still in Costa Rica and only looking to do some window shopping. But very quickly after I began perusing, I saw it: THE ONE. She was a beautiful 17-foot 1967 Caravel style Airstream, in top condition, and she lived in Colorado Springs. I sent the link to my mom: “This is the one.” She responded: “The one for what?!” So I divulged my plan to buy it and turn it into a traveling photo booth. My parents have always been big supporters of chasing pipe dreams, and of always staying curious and hungry for living a creative life. So naturally, she approved, and her response was simply, “How will you buy it? You’re in Costa Rica for the next 2 ½ months!”
After talking with my mom, I took immediate action and messaged the number on the ad. Being in the jungle and off the grid, the only way to get a response was through imessage, so I had my doubts that I would hear back at all. To my surprise, I received a reply after 20 minutes that yes, it was still available, but that there were other interested parties. I let the owner know that I would get a plan together. At dinner, I got everyone’s attention and asked if anyone had people in Colorado Springs who could do me a huge favor. To my elation, Brian had a friend, Catherine, who was blessedly willing to be on Team Airstream Dreams when I asked her. The next day, she sent me videos and pictures- what a wonderful thing for a perfect stranger to do for me, this crazy artist with a crazy dream! I will forever be thankful to her for this generous act.
Knowing that my time was limited, I realized that it was now or never. After receiving my parents’ blessing, I went ahead and signed the “contract” with my Idea during meditation the next day, allowing it to truly become a reality in my mind. After this whole month of discussing the Idea with my fellow yogis (bless them for supporting me when they likely had no idea what I was talking about most of the time: “You want to buy what and put what in it and do what?!”) and manifesting the Idea every single day during meditation, I was actually on my way! But there was still a deal to be made, and I was still in Costa Rica.
Let’s get back for a moment, to the BLISS I mentioned earlier. Yogi Aaron had mentioned many times during our month together that we would all find bliss at Blue Osa. In fact, he guaranteed it! He told us that, with his guidance, we would be led to our own personal versions of bliss, so we followed. After all, who doesn’t want to find bliss? On the last day, during our last practice, Yogi Aaron told us that after this class, we would be at our bliss. So I dutifully completed class, got up from savasana, and….no bliss. “Where’s my bliss?” I wondered to myself, “Did I do it wrong?” I began to get nervous that I had wasted all this time thinking about this silly Airstream Idea that I missed the Bliss Bus and got left behind. I uttered a few choice expletives to myself, and tried to hide my disappointment.
Insert Jahendo, a very interesting free spirit who had joined the Blue Osa family as a permaculture volunteer for the resort during our last week there. His expertise included yoga instruction and tarot card reading, so we all had our cards read by the pool on our last free afternoon. Mine was the final reading of the day, so we sat there for almost an hour chatting about “Airstream Dreams” and how this Idea had blossomed during my month at Blue Osa. My reading consisted of 3 tarot cards. I usually take these kinds of things with a grain of salt, but I definitely drew meaning from the cards that related directly to my Idea. Despite my previously deflated confidence, my morale was somewhat bolstered by what I heard.
That night was our graduation ceremony, an event that is still one of the most special and significant in my life to date. As dinner began, I received an email message titled, “You just bought yourself an Airstream!” My mom had sent a deposit on my behalf and messaged me minutes later. I sat there for a moment in disbelief that “Airstream Dreams” was actually happening. Then, all of a sudden, there it was, washing over me: BLISS! It was the magic that Yogi Aaron had promised! I wasn’t sure what bliss what supposed to feel like, but somehow I just knew this was it. I had meditated and manifested this Idea organically and authentically in this pristine environment that was, itself, quite blissful. It was like the entire month made sense in one moment, in this one rush of emotion. I did find my bliss! I had been doing it right!
Now, I’m not saying that there is a right or wrong way to come to a life of bliss, but I think everyone has their own unique key for opening the door. If you open that door and allow yourself to believe that you deserve it, it is possible for you to achieve it. I was lucky that my year-long journey unfolded the way it did. It brought me to Blue Osa, this perfect little incubator in which to open my mind, follow my imagination, and create my future. This was pure BLISS.
I am so grateful to my parents for seeing my unique gifts, and for nurturing and supporting them. They understand that I was not meant for a traditional life, and believe that following our passions is the most important bliss we can offer ourselves. Without their support, this life would not be possible, and I am lucky to have them as my folks!
As I embark on this new endeavor, I cherish my time in Costa Rica and the people I met there. Blue Osa is where this journey bloomed, and it will always be part of the spirit of The Betty Loo Photo Booth. I feel so blessed to be able to live an authentic, creative life and to have amazing people to support me in all my adventures- adventures that are scary as hell, but definitely worth the ride!