How I Battled My Demons While Traveling Solo

In my previous posts I shared how I had faced my fears while surfing and zip lining in Costa Rica…but I did not mention the biggest fear that I was taking on – traveling solo and attempting to be comfortable with myself…ALONE.

When I had been researching where I wanted to travel…my hope was that I would have a traveling partner. But everyone was too busy…either with their marriage and kids…or because they had other things going on in their lives that they could not break free from.

So I was at a crossroad…I desperately needed a holiday to clear my head…so do I hold off a little bit longer until I had a travel partner…or do I just go ahead solo?

My mind was so chaotic and I had not been able to think clearly for some time. I am a very ambitious person and when I put my mind to something…I typically achieve it. But I was so confused about my life and what direction I wanted it to take…

So I couldn’t wait.

I needed to go.

The only way I was going to travel alone is if I was going to a retreat which would allow me the opportunity to socialize and be surrounded by other people consistently. I have traveled alone before and I did not enjoy it. Mainly because I had been living in England at the time…away from my family and friends…and so traveling alone did not provide the reflection it was meant to because I was already living a life on my own.

I researched yoga retreats in Hawaii…but they were too pricey. I continued to search and ended up coming across a yoga and surf retreat in Costa Rica. This retreat would give me the opportunity to have my own space…but to also be able to socialize in the common areas of the lodge. The retreat had amazing reviews and the owner was always available to check in with…and that was important to me…so that I would also feel safe.

I spent some time thinking about it…and the more thought I put into…the more I realized that I would actually relish the idea of being alone…being away from all the demands of my current life…and to just focus on myself.

I was ready.

I was excited.

But I was nervous too.

So off I went.

During my holiday…I battled a lot of demons in my mind…and a lot of them surrounded around the SHOULD’s. What SHOULD I be doing? How SHOULD I be behaving? How SHOULD I be spending my time?

1. I SHOULD be making friends. Typically people always ask if you made any friends on your holiday. My intention for this holiday was not to meet people and make new friends.  I did not have to. If I made plans with people…then great. But if I didn’t…that was ok too. I did not need to latch onto anybody to feel worthy and to feel less alone. I let conversations occur organically and I definitely had some interesting conversations with people that I met. But I had to accept that I am a quiet person. I am an introvert. That’s who I am. I did not need to pretend to be someone else just to make friends.

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All my delicious meals I ate solo

2. I SHOULD be doing things with other people. I had to let go of the fear of judgment from other people. I was alone…what if people are looking at me and feeling pity? Or think I’m a loser because I am on my own? It didn’t matter anymore…I had to own it…fear of judgment from others only meant that I was judging myself. The sunset was just as beautiful in my solitude.

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Sunset in Santa Teresa

3. I SHOULD be making a love connection. Now I am a romantic…and typically I end up having some small romance on my holidays…but this time I steered clear of it. I did not need the affection of a man to help me feel more comfortable with being alone and this would not automatically make my holiday even more special than it already was. Even on Valentine’s day…I enjoyed a lovely margarita and a delicious seafood lunch for one in a romantic beachfront restaurant. I also met a few young children from a local family and I gifted them with colouring books and crayons.

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Valentine’s Day at Las Caracolas

4. I SHOULD be more calm and relaxed. I’m on holiday after all! But my anxiety was not going to be cured during a 1 week holiday. Managing anxiety is a lifestyle. I am an anxious person and it is not easy to come down from that just because I am sitting on a beach. I had nowhere to be…yet it was difficult at times to relax on the beach and I would switch from doing my puzzle book…then reading…then going into the ocean…sitting in the sun…back into the shade…eating…going to yoga…but I just had to accept it. That’s just me and I was not going to judge myself because of it.

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Pura Vida = Pure Life

5. I SHOULD be out at the beach all day. There were times where I just felt tired and all I wanted to do was sit in my air conditioned bungalow and just watch Full House on Netflix. And that’s exactly what I did. Let’s just say that I finally learned the correct lyrics to the theme song (apparently I had been singing the wrong lyrics for 20+ years!) and it was running through my head almost everyday…all day! But hey…I am not going to judge myself for it! Who wouldn’t want to enjoy the beautiful and simplistic bungalow that I was staying in?

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My air conditioned private bungalow at the Funky Monkey Lodge (kitchen suite was on the right)


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My private deck

I just had to let go of any and all expectations…and just go with the flow…knowing that no matter what I did…or how I did it…I would be ok. I did not allow my mind to make me feel sorry for myself.

And as it turns out…being alone was not so bad after all…actually…this was one of the THE best holidays I have ever had. I did exactly what I wanted, when I wanted, and how I wanted to do it. What was initially a reluctant solo holiday turned out to be a blessing in disguise where I had to come face to face with my own demons…and I came back with clarity and ready with the mindset to move forward with the next vision for my life.

So if you ever have the opportunity to travel on your own and want to work on your self-growth…I highly recommend it.

I became comfortable with myself.

I felt empowered.

Are there any SHOULD’s that you are battling with in your life?

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Another Fear Conquered in Costa Rica

The last few days of my holiday in Costa Rica were amazing…despite being hit on the head by my surfboard during my final surf lesson…I took a short break and continued on in the water…I was not going to let my fear take control and defeat me.

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Surf the waves in Santa Teresa

I focused at looking ahead and not down on my surfboard…which would always lead to a guaranteed tumble. I spoke to myself…in my head…and said that I could do it…and that I just needed to be patient and to take it one step at a time.

I was surfing on the small waves…and I even got some photos to show for it…complete with a smiling face.  I was so happy to have completed all three of my lessons…and my instructor was so incredibly proud of me.

I was so proud of me.

I also went zip lining in Mal Pais. I am afraid of heights and wanted to challenge myself and face this fear. There was no one else at the Canopy Mal Pais Tour when I got there and so it was me…on my own again…with the 3 guides…and these guys were incredibly kind and funny…putting me at ease…

There were eight zip lines and the first one was short and of course I didn’t take in any of the jungle scenery or the ocean during the first one. I was pretty focused on ensuring that I had the right technique.  But when I did manage to look around…the view was spectacular…lush green jungle and the soft blue of the ocean…I was drinking all of it in…

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View while zip lining in Mal Pais

Now…was I scared? YES!

But I didn’t give myself any time to think about my impending fall to death…and I was strapped on and I was pushed…perhaps it was the positive energy and friendliness of the guides…who told me that I could do it…or perhaps I had more strength in me than I realized…

The next few zip lines involved doing tricks…which meant that I would have to let go of my tight grip and put all my faith into the guide…and also onto myself…with the prayer that gravity would not propel me to my death.

I thought they were crazy for allowing people to do this…

I was essentially hanging off the zip line…with my instructor holding my legs up on a V position…I was upside down…hurling at top speed with just my face…and I could feel my heart jump into my throat…I was petrified…I initially wanted to panic and cry…but I actually talked myself down from that…mid flight…and I screamed the entire way…but I made it…I made it in one piece!

What a thrill…I just couldn’t believe that I did it…I was still alive!

I was so ready for the next one…nothing could stop me now!

I did another trick where I flew like Superwoman through the trees…with the guide holding me…always feeling the sheer terror during the first half…but enjoying it and continuing to screaming during the second…but with a smile on my face…

upside-down-zip-lineThe last trick…I was hanging upside down like a cannon ball…going backwards…with my arms spread out like wings…without being able to see…this was by far the most scariest one…because I couldn’t see where I was going! I had to let go and believe that I would be caught at the other end and stopped just in time before smashing into the tree…

Oh my god…the terror…the thrill…

The triumph…the victory…

I did it…how amazing…how gratifying…

Another fear conquered…

I am invincible.

My Surfing 180

I had my second surfing lesson yesterday and it was a completely different experience than my first. 

I woke up wondering if there was any way that I could get out of the lesson because I feared that it would be as unproductive as it was yesterday. I was also exhausted from not sleeping well and my body was incredibly sore.

How was I going to do this?

What if I panicked like yesterday?

My instructor came to get me and we both shared how tired we were…but nonetheless…we both had to do it. I told him that I needed to take it easy because my body can only handle so much since it is quite sensitive. I guess I wanted to explain my inadequacies…just in case I floundered again. 

I practiced the technique on the sand several times…trying to memorize the steps so that I could make it flow…because I was not supposed to ‘think too much about it’ when I am on the surfboard. 

And then off we went…into the water. 

Trust me – he said. I am always with you. 

We went into the waves…head on…jumping up as they came at us in full force…pinching my nose to make sure I didn’t over indulge in my salt intake. 

We turned around…I hopped onto the board…ready…

Hands in position…push into cobra…downward dog…left foot forward and then right…and I was surfing!!!

I did it…I couldn’t believe how much my energy and my disposition had changed from yesterday…I was confident…and I felt exhilarated! 

High fives from my instructor! 

He was so proud of me and said that I had done a complete turnaround from yesterday…which even he was surprised by. He re-affirmed to me that I had taken some major steps towards freeing my mind of chaos…and I was able to surf because I had let go…


Back towards the waves we went again…and my eyes pierced through those waves with such intensity because I knew I had defeated them…and despite a few falls…I was standing…I was surfing…I was riding those waves. 

I was fearless. 

I went from having major anxiety to feeling free and liberated with a sense that I had just overcome a major obstacle in my life…I didn’t have to be afraid anymore. 

I was laughing.

I was smiling.

I was happy.

I felt alive. 

Perhaps I was finally starting to absorb the Pura Vida lifestyle of Costa Rica. 

Do Crying and Surfing Go Together?

Today was my first full day in Santa Teresa and I started it off with my very first surfing lesson. I have taken surfing classes before in Hawaii, Australia and Tofino…but they were more one off lessons with the last one being about 6 years ago.


I met my surfing instructor at 8am and discovered that there was no one else in the class today except for me. My immediate sarcastic thought was that this was just fantastic…as it would mean all unnecessary attention would be solely on me. But it turns out that the universe knew what I needed more than I did…

I mentioned to him that I get tired fast…as my anxious reaction was to think that this surf lesson was going to exert more energy than I had to give…and I would get sick. But I just had to fuck it. He re-assured me that today was just an introduction and we would be taking it easy as I needed to learn the techniques.

He said we would start off slow…but I followed him into the water…wait…I hadn’t learned any techniques yet…is he crazy? What is happening?

Breathe…just breathe…

We walked through the waves and he told me to hop on the board…which I did a few times…and then we went back to shore. He said that, based on my skills, we would start from the very beginning.

He proceeded to show me how to get on the board in preparation for a wave…lie down on the board, hands in close, get into cobra, elbows locked, get into a downward dog type position, left leg in front, then right leg and into position. We practiced this several times on land and then we headed back into the waves.

These waves can get intense. I was tired just by going through them and I could feel the panic rising in my chest. He asked me if I was ok…I nodded saying that I was anxious…he told me to breathe and said that he would be wth me the whole time. I turned around with the surfboard and followed his instructions.

I tried a few times with no success…just got tossed in the waves over and over…I was trying to breathe and relax…he said that I was thinking too much…and he asked me again if I was ok…I said I was not and that I needed a break.

My eyes started to well up and I began to cry.

I told him I was scared and that I hate that I have become so fearful over the years. I never used to be like this…I’ve jumped out of a plane for god’s sake!

He told me it’s life that has created this fear…and gently instructed me to lie down in the sand. He laid down next to me and breathed with me while I sobbed. He told me to feel the wind…feel the sand…hear the ocean…and to just breathe. He told me not to worry…that I was taking a huge step today and that many people cry during their first lesson because surfing can bring out really deep and intense feelings within us.

He patiently supported me while I slowly regained my composure…never rushing me in any direction…but just being there…with me…in the moment.

Overthinking was not just applied to surfing…but to my life on a daily basis…

We went back into the water one more time…and this time I managed to almost stand up on the board…and I was smiling..and laughing as I did it! I could feel that my energy had shifted…and the smiling and the laughter meant more to me than actually standing on the surfboard…I felt like I had won.

Thank you to my surf instructor who is a gentle soul…thank you for showing me kindness and compassion…and reminding me that life is a gift…and that we are lucky to be alive.

This was a true testament to the Pura Vida lifestyle that the Costa Ricans embody…I only hope that I can carry this on in my lesson tomorrow…but I will be gentle with myself in case I’m in need of another nudge…

As I was saying..the universe knew what it was doing when it sent me as your only student today…

My Worst Travel Experience to Costa Rica

I finally made it…to the yoga and surf retreat in beautiful Costa Rica! This is the sunset that I enjoyed once I finally arrived…but getting here…to this moment…was not even remotely close to being flawless…


I only arrived this afternoon and I am thoroughly exhausted. It was quite the feat to get here and it is easily one of the worst travel experiences I have ever had. I had to take 3 flights to get to Santa Teresa and I had plenty of time in between flights so that I could have a very chill and laid back experience. My flight from YVR was to leave at 2pm, then arriving at LAX with a 6.50 hour layover and then the flight to San Jose, Costa Rica leaving at midnight.  I would arrive at San Jose early in the AM and then catch a domestic flight a few hours later to Santa Teresa.

But this is not what happened. I always make the effort to enjoy the journey…as a means to better manage my anxiety. I arrived several hours early for my flight…enjoyed a glass of wine as I usually do…and then boarded my plane. After about an hour we were told that a mechanical issue has popped up so they are waiting for maintenance to check on this. In the meantime, the snowstorm is picking up and the plane has been de-iced with a neon green chemical of some sorts. Every time we got an update we were told that it would be another 15-20 minutes and they are sorting out ‘paperwork’. Then were told that another mechanical issue popped up and had to wait for maintenance again. So it has now been 3 hours that we were stuck on the plane and then we are told that we can de-plane while they fix the problem. Back to the terminal we go where we waited another hour. Again…everything will take 15-20 minutes and more paperwork. Surprisingly, everyone had remained fairly calm during all of this…despite the fact that we did not get any compensation for the delay.

Back on the plane we go…oh we must get de-iced again…and then we wait another hour on the plane. Due to the snowstorm, one runway has been closed and so we are waiting our turn. Finally…5 HOURS LATER…we depart for LAX. I am hungry and exhausted…and on my period which made everything worse.

My body was tense and in a heightened state.

We arrive at LAX. What was supposed to be a 6.5 hour layover is now less than 2. I hurry to the gate where there are two options for food. I stood at one place for 10 minutes and did not get seated. I went to other place and was told they are closing soon so I would have to make my way over to the other side which is a fast food type option.

With tears welling up in my eyes…I placed my order…the kind lady asked me if I was ok. I just wanted to eat and I was exhausted…wishing that I was not by myself and craving a hug from someone that I love…

I finish my less than stellar chicken teriyaki and make my way to the gate.

Oh no…I’m nauseous…this is not ok…I ran to the bathroom…and was sick…several times…

My panic is starting to set in…what is happening?

My flight is set to leave in less than an hour…how can I get on this plane…what am I going to do?

This flight also ended up being delayed…which was a God send…my sickness was short lived…I took an anti-nausea pill and managed well on the fight. I tried to explain to myself why I got sick…when my body exerts more energy than it has…I always end up getting sick…and today was no exception.

I did not sleep well on this overnight flight…and finally landed in San Jose to board my 30 minute domestic fight to Santa Teresa…oh God..the plane is so tiny…and I am hating myself for not buying another pair of sea bands to get me through this.

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But I survived…not moving a muscle and keeping my vision clear. Following this was a one hour car journey over very rough terrain…where my Spanish speaking driver and I tried to communicate with broken English and Spanish between us.

I made it.

I am here.

It is beautiful.

**Dislaimer…please pardon any grammatical errors in this post. It is due to exhaustion and a new IPad mini keyboard…which is…a little hard to adjust to…