A Four Seasons, Whisky Drinking, Dirt Bagging Kind of Girl

Photographer: Heather Jackson

Photographer: Heather Jackson

I've always said home is what you make it. It's not always a specific location, it can be multiple, it can be wherever you are in a single moment. I've spent a week in a new place and by the end of it it felt like home. Living in Costa Rica, a place that is so far from home in distance and  environment, helps me understand my sense of the word. Home will always be the mountains. 

Living in the jungle these past couple months I've realized I'm rooted much deeper to the mountain life than I ever thought. 

The jungle is busy, it's buzzing with life 24/7 and that energy fueled me creatively for quite some time. I'd enjoy the comfortable morning temperatures on my porch drinking my coffee dressed with foamy coconut milk and write for hours. My writing really took off here; the words were flowing so fast I could hardly keep up. But as time rolled on and the novelty of the jungle wore off my writing did too and I started thinking about the mountains so much I couldn't be in the moment. 

And so....I'm headed home. 

Although I've been missing home; money has been really tight here and it's been a challenge to sustain myself financially. The unpredictability that comes with the tourist industry makes it difficult to get ahead. Costa Rica is shockingly expensive.

Working with Paddle9 was amazing and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with them and have a job that requires me to jump off waterfalls and paddle in the ocean. Me leaving is certainly not a reflection on Paddle9...they're onto something really good and I'm happy to have experienced even a sliver of it. 

But as the days seem to get hotter and the pace of life seems to get slower I find myself very ready to head back to the mountains. I miss the weight of blankets on my body as I sleep and the sweet sound of snow crunching beneath my feet. I miss the food; buying all the things I love at the grocery store without breaking the bank. I miss having solid shits.  And I miss my mountain folk. 

When something isn't serving me anymore I'm pretty good at doing something about it. I've never allowed myself to be a sob story. I won't sit around and dwell in my misery. If my discomfort is simply just that and no longer constructive then I will do whatever I can to improve my current state. 

Costa Rica is a beautiful place but it's very clear it's not serving me anymore. So $250 later I've changed my ticket for the 10th of Feb and will soon be freezing my ass off. I'm not a beach girl. I'm a four seasons, whisky drinking, wood chopping, dirt bagging, river surfing kind of girl and it's time to get back in touch with that.




Ruffling Feathers

Photographer: Scott Martin

Photographer: Scott Martin

My most recent post ‘Grab 2016 by the Balls’ has ruffled some feathers and received some negative comments. As a writer I take it as a compliment. If my writing stirs up emotions be it anger, inspiration, embarrassment, etc… it doesn’t matter — what matters is it touched you enough to feel something and that’s all I want.  

Writing is open to interpretation but I had a specific intention with that post and that was to encourage everyone to live their best life; to not leave this life full of regret.

If you’re happy with your office job, your mortgage, and your 401-K this post wasn’t intended for you. It was for those who aren’t, it was a wish for them to value their happiness and the little time they have on this Earth — to fight for the life they’ve always dreamed of. 

The comments posted felt defensive for a life that doesn’t need defending. If you’re in line with what you want and happy with the path you’ve chosen then keep doing that — everyone has their own recipe for happiness. When people get defensive it’s usually because they’re being called out on their shit (nobody likes being called out) and there’s some truth in the words being projected on them. I’m doing my best to make sure this post doesn’t come off as defensive and as more of a clarification of my intentions. 

I don’t want you to live my life. I don’t think my life is the key to happiness, no fucking way. My life is an example of risking it all to be the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. An example of sinking into discomfort and coming out on top. An example of not taking no for an answer and to push myself past it’s boundaries mentally and physically.

I want you to live the life you’ve always dreamed of. I don’t care if that dream is owning a home, starting a family, or traveling around the world. Just grab life by the balls and do it. 

This is my path, my version of happiness. And when I receive comments like this one,

“I read it and have made some drastic changes in my life already. Loved every word.”

I know I’m doing something right. 

Grab 2016 by the Balls!

Being a guide I meet many different kinds of people. Most of them have this one thing in common, they have college degrees and a solid full-time job (almost always in an office).They’ll usually start the first “get to know me” question with,

“So, are you in school or just getting out…?”

Like what I’m doing is something someone does before they get their “real” job. Then I lay out the list of all the things I do, give them my back story. That’s usually met with one of two responses,

“Wow, that’s awesome, you do so many different things. Good for you.”

and then the more common response,

“You’re young, nows the time to do it.” 

My lifestyle choice, to them, is comparable to that of the college graduate who goes backpacking across Europe, getting it out of their system before entering the rat race. Like this life I have built is just an in-between time that I’ll soon grow out of. 

This isn’t a phase. This is my white picket fence. 

I had a client the other day, in his late 30’s early 40’s, and he’s never been outside of the United States. He got his first passport just this year. His idea of traveling is jetting down to Florida; safely within the boarders of the United States staying at resorts with the drinks, the pools, and the room service. 

He pulled me aside and said, 

“You’re very brave to come down here all by yourself. I was really hesitant to come to Costa Rica. I was scared.”

I’m not sure if he had met anyone like me before. This guy was thrown by all the things that I’ve done and enthralled by my courage. I was just as enthralled by his lifestyle choice, his love of predictability. This may come off a little presumptuous, but I never believed anyone could be genuinely happy with such a life.

There are so many people within the United States with the means to travel but choose not to because they’re afraid. If I let fear control my life I would have a college degree in finance and would most likely be sitting in traffic right now instead of writing this on my jungle porch. 

It tears me up thinking about the people ruled by their children, mortgages, and 401k’s; who haven’t taken time to live for themselves first. As Americans we’ve been taught to believe that living our dream life comes with retirement. When we’re too old to be of any use to the system anyway.

Do you think when you’re on your death bed you’ll be thinking about your house? Your bank account? Your desk job? I doubt it.

I believe in the power of experience and the value of discomfort. I don’t believe in excuses and I’ve heard every one in the book. I’ve met many people with all the same excuses you may be telling yourself right now but said ‘Fuck it’ and went anyway.

“Where theres a will theres a way”

We’re all familiar with this saying, this is one of my favorites. It’s not ground breaking but if we apply it to our own lives it can be life-changing. I live by it and it’s given me the life I’ve always dreamed of. My lifestyle choice isn’t for everyone and I don’t want you to want my life. I want you to find the strength that already exists within you to just go! Don’t be the person without a passport, be the person with a passport colored with stamps and a story to tell. 

Grab 2016 by the balls!