Where do you live or consider your home base?
I live in Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica, and have considered it home base for nearly nine years now. I am the co-founder and co-owner of a surf and yoga camp here called Bodhi Surf + Yoga!
Why did you start surfing?
I started surfing originally because of a significant other. He was an avid surfer, and when we decided to build a life together (by the sea), I decided I wanted to try to learn to surf because I didn’t just want to be that spouse that sat there, waiting and watching from the beach. I wanted to be able to share that. It turned out to be the greatest thing I’ve ever done, one of the accomplishments I’m most proud of, and a real tool and asset for my health and wellbeing.
What motivates you?
I am most motivated by creating and sharing positivity. I love making people feel good, special, and taken care of. As one of the captains of the ship I have helped to build with Bodhi Surf + Yoga, I am amazed how well people respond to positive reinforcement, love, compassion, and appreciation. I constantly strive to be a caring and empathetic leader. And larger than just my work or home community, I want to create and influence people to tap into their true purpose, incorporate it into their lives, and share that with the world. I am so happy to be able to utilize my work to achieve both of these goals.
What do you fear most and how do you overcome it?
My biggest fear — the one that causes me the most stress and anxiety, and that keeps me up at night — is what we are collectively doing to our planet and home, and by extension, to each other. This fear, if I allow it to, can run rampant in me and cause paralysis. For me, it is very important to have a good understanding of what is happening in the world, to not get so swept up in what’s going on in my life, that I bury my head in the sand. Yet to also balance that with self-care (not allowing myself to get so deep in the negative or scary things that are going on, to the point where it overtakes my life and I become useless to myself and others). And finally, to be in constant momentum with what, to me, are the solutions or antidotes: projects or activities that I see as contributing positively to the world.
What’s your #1 self care routine/tip?
I’m not going to claim that I am a master of self-care, in fact, I’m beginning to learn that it is something that I may have to constantly be reminding myself to do, always making an effort to prioritize. It doesn’t come super easy for me. And in times of stress, it seems to be the first thing to go. I recently started meditating — I am in the very beginning stages of this journey but I can see that it has the potential to be a game changer for me. I am also realizing that I need to have a pretty rigorous physical activity every single day in order to tire myself out. Sleep is my biggest problem, as a highly sensitive and anxious person, I have suffered from mild insomnia my whole life, which has ramped up in the past year with increased stress. So I guess the number one tip (for myself) is to prioritize self-care, every single day. I am no good to myself or anyone else if I am not okay physically, mentally, spiritually. Oxygen mask!
What’s one of your 2020 goals?
This was the first year I ever created a vision board, but one of the goals that I am definitely on track to achieving is to cultivate more strong female energy around me. The past year has been the most challenging of my life, and I am realizing the power, wisdom, and strength that a strong female support system gives me. For me, there seems to be so much to be learned by opening up and being vulnerable to the women in my support group, and being open to listening and receiving when they too choose to share and be vulnerable. There are so many parallel stories, shared experiences, and synchronicities. Strong female energy is giving me life right now.
What’s your top tip for a beginner looking to get into your sport?
For me, it is imperative for any beginner looking to start or improve their surfing, to get expert help. There is something to be said for learning something on your own, but you can really shave some time off the process by working with an instructor or coach who can clearly impart and demonstrate skills and tips to help fast-track your development. Surfing is not something that comes naturally to many. A good mentor is, in my opinion, imperative.
What’s your favorite mantra?
Lately, I find myself repeating “How did I get so lucky?” to myself, often multiple times a day. Not just at the big things (when I look at the life I’ve built, it’s hard not to), but the small things. A beautiful sunset. A delicious plate of food. Being out in the water catching waves with all my friends. I have found that the times of challenge and duress (when I get so exhausted, so worn down, so reduced to the base self), have also opened up this new side of myself. A side that is deeply grateful for the things I do have — too many to list — including this ability to be challenged, to learn, to grow, to see what I am capable of, to surprise myself. This realization has changed so much for me, that recognizing what I do have and being thankful for it (versus focusing on what I lack or all that could be perceived as “going wrong”), in itself generates more to be grateful for. It’s been an amazing realization. [more tips to start a gratitude practice here]
What is your pre session go to snack/meal?
Nothing too fancy, I enjoy eating lots of fruit as I live in the land of delicious fruit here in Costa Rica. I think bananas are the perfect pre-or-post surf sesh snack because they’re easy to transport, high in both carbs and sugar, and just consistently delicious. If I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I slap some peanut butter on a flour tortilla and wrap that situation up :)
What do you do to make your lifestyle more eco-friendly?
I really just try to limit my consumption in general. In terms of lifestyle items, what I do buy should be only what I need, lasting, and quality. Preferably from a company that is interested in much more than the bottom line (I love to support fellow Certified B Corp and 1% for the Planet companies). In terms of food, I endeavor to do over 75% plant-based (though am excited to be challenging myself to go plant-based in March, inspired by the wonderful Changing Tides Foundation!) Minimalism, simplicity, and durability are qualities I look for in products. In general, I have designed a life for myself that highlights and values experiences over things.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by nearly anyone who is living outside the box or going against the grain. The great thinkers, the risk-takers, the ones who don’t care too much about what others think of them. There’s so much to be said for eschewing the status quo (especially because, at least in my opinion, the status quo is neither sustainable or equitable). I am in particular inspired by those in the business world who are hustling to both create awesome products or services for their patrons but also going out of their way to forge a better world because they recognize that having a business means you a platform from which your individual voice can be amplified.
Do you have any sustainable travel hacks or tips?
I am honestly trying to cut down on air travel as it is such a huge GHG-emitter, but it is indeed a conscientious effort, and one that I realize I am incredibly privileged to even have as a choice. Always offset flights when flying, at the very least, it’s an investment into renewable energy. At Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we do this for our guests, and I know that there are other companies out there beginning to offset their guests’ travel, so look out for that! When traveling, I do my best to bring my own food, and always have my reusable water bottle and coffee cup. Airports and airplanes are particularly difficult places to avoid using single-use plastics. I find that the “bring your own” mentality is great for travel, and can apply to: containers, cloth napkins, reusable food wrappers, etc. At Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we recommend Klean Kanteen and Khala Cloths for this.
Headed on a surf/yoga getaway? Check out our list of what to pack.
What is your day job, and how do you manage work/fun balance?
I am incredibly lucky that my day job is super fun — co-owner and founder of a surf and yoga camp in Costa Rica. It’s an incredible amount of work being a business owner, and in particular, one who lives at their place of work and has sometimes no days off for months at a time during the high tourism season. Yet it’s also the most rewarding: it’s my baby, life project, and the best thing I have ever been a part of. As a business owner (of a company that’s incredibly ambitious, and always looking for ways to use our ‘business as a force for good’), the work is never over. So, in an effort to have more balance and in the name of self-care, I am doing my darndest to just stop sometimes and get physical: surfing/bodysurfing, running (sprinting, in particular, is what I’m most intrigued by lately), dancing, etc. I also love (and get to do all of these things at work): cooking, socializing and getting to meet a wide array of people, reading/researching, writing, scheming ways to make our world a nicer place for all to live. And spending time with our awesome guests, whether it’s sharing meals, being out in the ocean together, or on the yoga mat. Just sitting back and enjoying the experience that I have helped to curate every once and a while!
Have you experienced any traumatic or scary events in your sport and how did you overcome it?
I always had a decent fear of the ocean, and have definitely made fairly steady progress in overcoming it (to where I am at now, which is with a healthy level of respect for and humility in the face of the ocean). I’ve had your garden variety of incidents; hold downs, wipeouts, bruises, gashes, light panic attacks, etc. Nothing too major over the years, fortunately. I would say that in the past year or so, I have really made huge strides in my ocean confidence because, encouraged and assisted by two close pals/co-workers/bodysurf aficionados/fishpeople, I started bodysurfing. I didn’t really understand [the point of] it until I deliberately started practicing it, and now I am hooked. I started with small whitewater waves (as one does), but now can comfortably catch pretty big, “whompy” waves. It’s so exhilarating, so different from surfing — it feels super raw, and like you’re so closely connected to the ocean. It’s helped my surf technique greatly, but most importantly, I feel so much closer to and comfortable in the ocean. I’m excited to keep pursuing it.
How do you cross train in your down time?
These days, I try to do yoga at least once or twice a week — sometimes Vinyasa, and sometimes Yin. I typically run a few 4-5kms/week, though that’s more for the mental gains than anything. When my body is feeling top notch, I do several sprints at the beginning or end of those longer runs. I do circuit workouts once or twice a week as well, and a little boxing. And then just surf (shortboard, longboard, bodysurf) as much and as often as I can, as for me it’s the whole package: a total mind-body-nature practice.
What are you currently struggling with?
This past year and a half has been the most challenging period of my life, dealing with divorce and the departure of a business partner, all in one fell swoop. It’s been a lot of emotion as I grapple with this loss; feeling angry at times, elated at others, devastated, content, lonely, steady. Simultaneously, Bodhi Surf + Yoga is also undergoing a huge period of change, growth, and adjustment. I have had to step up and take charge in many instances where I formerly may not have. All in all, this past 18 months or so has been relentless, and the most challenging bit has been the side effects of stress, insomnia in particular, which I am learning makes everything about 1000% more difficult. But while it has indeed been a struggle, it’s also revealed a great about myself that I did not know. I’m really stoked to learn how strong I am, and that I am willing and able to open up and be vulnerable with others. Doing so has elicited such awesome moments of mutual sharing, has made me feel much less alone in this process, and hopefully has inspired or helped a few others as well.
What are your favorite books?
I am a reader, so this is hard for me as I read so many books every year. Many of them are not memorable, but the most recent enjoyable books have been
- Swell — Liz Clark
- Educated — Tara Westover
- Come As You Are — Emily Nagasoki
- Do/Purpose — David Hieatt
- Sapiens — Yuval Noah Harari
What's something you're really proud of doing or accomplishing?
The two things I’m most proud of accomplishing are the following:
- Learning to surf: it’s been such a journey — I didn’t start learning really until my early 20s, and it did not come easy. I didn’t do sports or any real physical activity up until that point, and therefore had zero body awareness. So I actually had to learn much more than surfing, I had to learn how to be in my own body, how to use it, and move it how I wanted. The benefits it has given me are innumerable, but the physical part of it is a fraction. I am in love!
- Co-founding Bodhi Surf + Yoga. We are celebrating our 10-year anniversary this year, which means I started it when I was a mere baby. I have grown up alongside this company, and have put my heart and soul into helping to forge it into what it is today. I know that it has positively affected so many people already, and I feel like we’re just getting started. I look forward to continuing to use it as a platform from which we can amplify our voices and our positive impact in the world.