Guest post by Emily Miller.
Traveling to Costa Rica had long been on my bucket list. The rainforests. The beaches. The waterfalls. The howler monkeys munching mango's overhead. So when I learned that Seo Kelleher and Rose Maghdouri were hosting a week-long, women’s-only Strength and Relaxation Retreat on the sandy beaches of Playa Grande, Costa Rica, it didn’t take me long to pack my bags.
Traveling is familiar to me. I’ve filled a passport, and then some. But traveling without a rigid agenda — now that was totally foreign. As much as I love exploring in the world, challenging my language skills, sense of direction, and taste buds, traveling is typically a bit of a race for me: a race to see the most, do the most, pack in as many sights and sounds and smells as I can before I return home; often wearing myself ragged and moving at such a frenetic pace that I don’t always remember what exactly it is I’ve seen and done and eaten. My memories of Peru become muddled with my memories of Ecuador. The photograph I think is my sister and I on the cliffs of San Cristóbal Island was actually taken in Paracas. I’ve spent plane rides looking forward to my favorite macaroon shop in Paris, only to discover upon arrival the cosmopolitan café I’m thinking of was actually in Fes — a whopping 1500 miles away.
This was not so in Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica, there’s a saying: “la pura vida.” Simply translated, it means “the simple life” or “the pure life.” But for those who live there, la pura vida is more than just a saying — it is a way of life. It’s all about taking things slow, going with the flow, letting the energy of the day move you in ways you might not have anticipated. It’s about savoring every moment. It’s about being in the present moment — whether that moment is filled with high energy and activity, or is a space for stillness. More often than not, as I discovered, the present moment was one of stillness.
It took me a little while to get used to la pura vida.
Not having a to-do list a mile long was a new feeling for me. Not having a packed travel itinerary, scheduled down to the minute, was new for me. Going to sleep without the stress of knowing my buzzing alarm was just four, or five, or six hours away was new for me. Walking slowly enough to notice, say, the blue crab tucked away in the rocks at my feet, was new for me. Stopping in the middle of my day just to take fifteen or twenty minutes to watch the family of howler monkeys playing in the treetops above, was new for me.
And guess what? I remember every single meal I ate in Costa Rica. I remember savoring the plates of fresh fruit, rice and beans, crispy fish tacos. I remember the names of everyone on the retreat with me (I’m usually terrible with names.) I remember conversations — both those had in passing, and ones of greater significance. I remember where every single photograph was taken. I took late-night swims without worrying about being tired in the morning. I actually sat down to eat breakfast. Every. Single. Morning. I took walks. Slow walks. Mindful walks. I meditated — I actually meditated, by myself, without feeling guilty about the 100 other things I “should” have been doing. I practiced yoga. I laughed my butt off during water aerobics. I got to connect with strong, empowered, beautiful, like-minded women who were as unfamiliar with la pura vida as I was, but who were embracing it.
I took the time to invest in myself and my well-being, and my right to take it easy every once in a while. I got to connect more deeply with my sister, who traveled on the retreat with me. I made new friends and new professional connections. I discovered the world’s greatest sunburn treatment. I took one whole nap. I left my phone off for entire days. I discovered something new about a relationship I was in back home. I discovered a few new things about myself too.
Are you ready to discover la pura vida for yourself? If so, the ladies who introduced me to the pure life are headed back to Costa Rica in February! You don’t want to miss it, believe me.
Meet Seo Kelleher, an intuitive coach for life and business, committed to empowering women. "I am passionate about helping women find the courage to transform their lives by embracing their vulnerability and taking the responsibility."