The Choice is Yours

Every day when we wake up we have a choice; we can choose to be happy & grateful for all that is, or we can choose to be down about all that isn’t. I choose to be happy & grateful each and every day. I know life comes with challenges, and I am not naïve to this, but I choose to look at the bright side of all situations because it could always be worse.

Instead of dwelling on the negative, I like to relish in all of the positives. Waking up every day and being alive is a gift in itself. Being alive is enough to be grateful for. When we focus on the negatives and dwell in the should’ve, would’ve, could’ve moments, we are losing time when we could just be happy. It is that simple! The world owes you nothing, so to live life thinking that it does is a mistake. You are the controller of your happiness. It is your responsibility to be the voice for your wants and needs. You cannot expect anyone to be looking out for your whole heart at every moment. Life is difficult enough for one person to live, so it’s essential we take responsibility for our own being and choose the outcome we want every day.

My trip continues to get better and better. That isn’t to say I haven’t experienced any challenges, because believe me, I have! I’m in Colombia where the native language is Spanish and I don’t speak Spanish. If you can imagine, there are many moments where I feel left out, but the only person to blame is myself, because it is my own responsibility to learn. Sure, I have met many amazing people who have had patience in translating for me, and even spoke English so we could communicate. But I am not entitled to have this be the case and I deserve to experience the challenges I have. Who am I to come to someone’s country and expect them to speak English when I can’t even learn Spanish to speak their native language? All this said, I am trying to learn Spanish and have spent a lot of time studying.

My biggest challenge is that I am dyslexic and pronunciation in general is very hard for me, so it’s taking a lot to learn. I will continue to try my hardest and am grateful for everyone who takes the time to speak English, translate for me, and teach me Spanish. My attitude in the end is what determines the outcome, and my undying decision to be happy is what makes each day continue to flourish the way it has.

The challenges we face can always be turned into a positive light. Every situation in life is either a lesson learned or experience. Be grateful for both. I spent a few days of my trip sick already and have realized that I am not as invincible as I thought and need to be more careful with the water I’m consuming. My body isn’t used to being in a foreign place and the adjustment time is valid. So instead of dwelling on it, I’ve learned and appreciate when I feel 100% even more. I also have more bug bites than I’ve ever had in my life and it is SO hard not to scratch them. On the flip side, I’m staying next to a river in the jungle in an outdoor cabana and get to enjoy all sorts of wildlife nightly. I feel one with nature and know this is a unique experience that won’t easily be repeated.

I’ve quickly had to overcome any fear I’ve had of bugs, especially cockroaches. They are innocent bugs that cause no harm, but aren’t the best looking. At night they roam all around our cabin and I had the pleasure of finding them in my jean pocket and sleep shirt. Gross I know, but hey, I survived! Everything is only making me a stronger more fearless person in the end. I can overcome uncomfortable situations and grow into a better person because of it.

The best part of my trip so far has been the people I’ve met. I love being reminded of all the wonderful people that exist in the world. Traveling always restores my faith in humanity. Sofia, a 22-year-old solo traveler from the UK, and I have quickly become great friends. We spend the majority of our time together and I’ve turned her into an acro-yoga addict. She is also volunteering at Mayapurita Eco Yoga Farm and is on her third month of traveling. She has great stories and within the first day of meeting her she reassured my belief of how exciting and fun traveling is. I no longer question a year being too long of a time to take off and just be.  We stayed up late swapping travel stories our first night, and our friendship has grown from there.

The farm has been an incredible experience and has given me the opportunity to teach daily yoga classes. What better way to start the day then teaching a 7am-8am yoga class? It feels magical to be in a routine at an Ashram that includes two yoga classes a day. I’ve also been so happy to be back to a place of only eating vegetarian food, and again feel so incredible because of it. I know that it is confirming my desire to fully give up all meat. It is becoming a part of my identity and who I see myself being. It embodies my best self and allows me to show more compassion to all living beings.

At the farm, I teach in the morning followed by breakfast, then usually a cold shower. By 9:30-10am I am ready to begin my volunteer hours. The farm asks for 4.5 hours in return for the accommodation, food, and small daily fee of $12.00 USD. I happily accept this and enjoy the different volunteer tasks. I see everything as a learning experience and a way to grow into the person I’m meant to be. A few of the days I’ve spent time scraping what seemed like bark off sticks for a new bungalow the farm is building. I find the work to be like pulling a scab off, and enjoyed using a machete to get it done. Another day I spent time raking and tidying up around the farm. Practicing Spanish was also included in my volunteer hours and I helped one of the yoga teachers on the Farm, Gopal, say phrases for teaching a yoga class in English. Needless to say, my volunteer work at the farm is flexible and enjoyable because of my attitude towards it.

The power of positive thinking is so significant that I think it’s best I give examples to show its proof. I am hoping my journey can inspire others to see firsthand how powerful our mind is. 

I’ve been wanting to try paragliding for quite some time now, and have put it out in the universe that this is something I wanted to do. Two days after arriving on the farm, during breakfast, we saw someone paragliding over the mountains. I instantly explained my desire to do it, and Krisina said she knew a company in town and would call to arrange it. I couldn’t believe how easily it happened, and within a day I was set to go paragliding the following  Sunday for 100,000 Colombian pesos,which is $29.99 US dollars! Can you believe it?!  A dream come true and affordable enough to not make me feel guilty for splurging on it.  Leading from this example is my next point where positive thinking helps. I became good friends with Sofia over the week and she decided to take a few days off and head to Salento with me.

I was thrilled, because although I had no problem going to Salento alone, I did like the idea of having someone with me. And it couldn’t have been better than going with Sofia. Since meeting, my stomach has hurt more from laughing than anything else. It is almost nonstop. She understands my humor and comes back with even funnier responses. Our 1.5 hour bus ride from Cartago to Salento was filled with laughter. Sofia shares my positive thinking and is such a joy to be around.

Our plan was to go paragliding Sunday morning, then take a bus to Salento in the afternoon. We didn’t end up getting on a bus until 5:30pm due to the fun morning that extended into the afternoon and all the goodbyes at the farm. When we got to Pereira, we had to book another bus to Salento. We arrived at 6:30pm only to find out that last bus to Salento left at 6:30pm. The lady at the ticket booth called the driver and asked them to wait until we made it to the bus. We felt so lucky with our timing. We enjoyed nonstop laughter and jokes during our hour bus ride to Salento.

When we arrived in Salento we needed to find a hostel. This is the first time I’ve ever just showed up to a location without any idea of where to stay. We decided to walk around and asked two girls if they knew of any nearby hostels. We were directed to one and found out they only had availability for that night, when we needed a place that could accommodate us for two nights. The receptionist attempted to call another hostel, but they didn’t answer. So after continuing conversation (thank goodness for Sofia and her Spanish),  the lady asked us what we would pay and we repeated the price she had told us initially: 35,000 CSP which is $10 US dollars. Then out of nowhere the lady said, “Alright, we have a room for you,” and we saw her erase an appointment for the following day. We were both shocked, but so happy because the hostel was super clean, nice, and just the luxury we needed after being on the farm all week.

We got room 7 which had two beds and our own bathroom with HOT water! Did I mention we didn’t even need mosquito nets?! It’s amazing how one week of pure torture from mosquitos can make you realize you don’t have to worry about them for a change. Anyway, in total we only ended up spending 70,000CSP for our time, and it was worth every penny. The hostel, Casa Borbon, was right around the corner from the main square and next to a pizzeria. Our plan the day before was to find a hostel then a pizzeria for pizza & wine. Low & behold, there was exactly that next to our hostel! By putting the thoughts of what we want out into the world, we are allowing them to manifest and come true.

I cannot stress this enough, our thoughts are everything! By changing our point of view of a situation from negative to positive, we are still allowing anything to happen. But our chances of having a better outcome and experience are much greater. What we think becomes our reality, so remind yourself to find the positive in every situation. Your world will change. Namaste! 

Thank you for continuing to follow along. I have not had good Internet to be able to update my blog the way I would like, but I will continue to post when able. 

Making another check on my bucket list. Paragliding in Cartago, Colombia. What an incredible experience. I realized I am more afraid of heights than I thought but enjoyed being able to fly for 30 minutes.