On International Women’s Day, I headed out with three incredible women I know to a local business event. It felt great to get out with friends after weeks of omicron keeping most people home.
As I caught up with one friend, she shared her excitement as she was planning a retreat in Costa Rica in late October. She talked about how she would lead this group of participants to reconnect with themselves in such a beautiful place full of nature.
Within a few minutes, I said, “I want to go.” And she said, “I’d love that!” With that I said, “I’m going to send you a deposit right now.”
Our friends stood around as I placed an e-transfer from the banking app I have on my phone. And voila, within about 20 minutes, I was signed up to go to Costa Rica. After months and months of being grounded, I felt excited for the first time.
Unfortunately, the next day, I realized that the retreat dates extended over Halloween. And although that might not be a big deal to many, as a mom of a 4 and 6-year-old, the idea of missing a Halloween with them felt wrong. My son dresses up as a superhero almost every day – this is the one day of the year his wardrobe makes sense! Somehow, missing Halloween with them at this age felt like too big of a sacrifice for me to make.
I reached out to my friend, and I apologized that I could not go on the retreat after all. I was bracing myself for every valid response she might have, such as “you should have checked the dates before you signed up” or “this is a bit frustrating given you made a big deal about signing up.” I even offered to let her keep the deposit, given I felt like a complete jerk.
But her response was quite different. She said “it sounds like a trip like this is important to you even if it’s not meant to be this specific retreat. What can you learn about the way you responded to this opportunity? What was it about this trip that caused you to respond so quickly with so much confidence?”
[Sidenote: This is the moment when chills shot up my arm and I am yet again reminded of how fortunate I am to have so many wise and amazing friends in my life.]
Not only was that not the response I was expecting from her, but her words forced me to do some deep reflection.
What about this conversation I had with her inspired such a strong reaction in me? Was it my ego that wanted to show how decisive I could be? Was it my mind that thought getting away for a week sounded like a welcome break? Was it my intuition that was telling me that it was time to revisit the adventurous nature I have – the one that I put up on a shelf after having kids… and tucked further behind my piles of medical masks once the pandemic came?
So with that, she warmly refunded my deposit, and I was left to reflect on her words. And with that, the idea of heading to Costa Rica would not leave my mind.
A few weeks later, I started to carve out two weeks off in my calendar in late June. My research into planning this trip began. It was energizing to spend time researching a new country and speaking with friends about their travel experiences. At times, I felt like I was visiting an old part of myself that was full of curiosity and excitement – this made me realize that I used to have a lot more zest for life.
I’m happy to report that my family went on a fantastic adventure in late June to Costa Rica. Not only did we experience a different culture and way of life, but we also got to experience nature in a new and profound way.
Many times over the trip, we heard Costa Ricans say “Pura Vida,” a term in which the English translation means “pure life” or “simple life,” however it’s more than just a phrase – it is a way of life. I quickly found this relaxed approach to most challenges a refreshing change of pace from what I’m used to.
This trip was not only good for my soul, but it was also good for my family.
Some days, my son, who is often a bit scared of the unknown, would push back when it was time to leave for a day trip or an adventure. So I’d start to chant, “say yes to life! Say yes to life!” Pretty soon, the rest of the family would be cheering him on – “say yes to life!”. And once we were doing something exciting, he’d always agree; he was really glad he said yes to life that day.
Maybe I was teaching him something I had just learned myself.
When’s the last time you felt life calling? Did you say yes?