Go it Alone: Nouria Newman is my Inspiration

Nouria, you are one of the most inspiring women on this planet! I was in tears for the full 13 minutes of this video. They came from a place of fear at first then shifted to joy, inspiration, and pure appreciation. I haven’t come across such an extreme act of athletic bravery performed by a female in my life (not saying it doesn’t exist, just that I have never seen it…not at this level). Full disclosure, I do not encourage people to paddle alone, especially on high consequence rivers. This could possibly resonate with me more because of my regular dance with fear with the river, as well as my connection and understanding of it. I should also note that this would be just as noteworthy if a man were to have done the same thing but means more to me because its a woman.

Traveling in a country as a woman, so far from home, requires an amount of courage in and of itself. But then to paddle some of the gnarliest whitewater that you’ve never paddled before solo? Damn girl! Some would say doing this alone is a sign of ego I don’t believe ego was at play here. I don’t want to make any assumptions but, to me, this seemed like an act of wanting to know what one is capable of mentally. This may seem like a test of physical strength, as well, but I think Nouria knows where she’s at in that arena. But mental strength, that is one that can be harder to gauge. Especially, when you’re always paddling with a crew. Your crew is like your buffer. If shit goes sideways you know they’ll be there. If you’re nervous about a rapid you have others to talk you through it or to follow. But when you’re alone it is all on you. Every mistake is yours to reconcile with. I can’t imagine a more empowering experience for Nouria.

Naturally, this made me examine my own life. I realized how much I can turn to others in the face of adversity. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but watching this made me curious. It made me want to tackle things that scare me alone more often (just in case you trolls didn’t hear me the first time I do not encourage or endorse paddling alone). As a woman it can be really easy to be the vulnerable one. My ego often times doesn’t get in the way when I’m paddling. I’ll happily say that I’m scared and request that someone goes first down a rapid so I can watch their line. I want to be the first one more often (only when I am certain my fear is an irrational one). Not because I have something to prove to others but because I often underestimate my own abilities. I don’t give myself enough credit even though I am just as capable as the person going first. Paddling is only one example. I’d love more solo travel and pursue new business endeavors by myself. I see that so much can be learned about one’s self from these sort of experiences.

As I’m getting ready to hop on a plane to Costa Rica for the rest of the Winter by myself (not that I will be alone there, I’ve made some incredible friends) this could not have come at a better time. I might be paddling some new rivers and there will be other opportunities for me to step into the discomfort of doing things alone. I am really looking forward to these new challenges. And whenever I doubt myself I will think of Nouria. Thank you Nouria for being an endless source of inspiration for me! You are a beast!

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!