Stephanie M., Holistic Nutritionist and Coach

My entire life I have been striving for the next best thing. An obvious Type A personality, I was never content just sitting still and relaxing…enjoying the little things life had to offer. I was so focused on moving to the city and getting that big corporate job and working my way up the ladder. I was always on the go, never stopped to smell the roses.

I landed that big job with a leading company in the medical/surgical industry.  Two weeks into the job, the unexpected happened and my life has been completely changed ever since. I got a very bad concussion/head injury. 

About a year into the concussion, things took a turn for the worst. In addition to the pain, tingling, numbness, visual issues and the loud ringing in my ears (daily…it never stops, not even to this day), I experienced my first panic/anxiety attack, and my whole world changed again. Just when I thought “I can manage this”…“It’s ok, I can push through and try and live the life that I was living before – even with the pain”…”it will pass, it’s just a concussion”, within a minute I was unable to leave my house because of the fear and anxiety that I experienced and when I did, it was a short period of time and an anxiety attack was always on the verge.  That tight tingly feeling in your chest…the flutter, the deep breaths and thoughts of passing out or dying…knowing that you have to get out of here right now or something bad is going to happen. I now had a full blown anxiety disorder associated with my concussion. Sitting still caused more anxiety not to mention depression and lack of interest in life.

I moved home with my parents, thank goodness I have such an amazing and loving family that was there to help me and support me when I needed it the most. Every morning I woke up with pain and symptoms and uncertainty…everything in my life I questioned “should I do this today” “I can’t do this it’s going to make things worse”, “I don’t feel good but I really want to do this…what should I do?” How can one person live their life questioning every single feeling they have and every event in their day? Something had to give.

Almost two years into the injury with little or no relief and no end in sight, I decided that I couldn’t let this control my life anymore.

My friend Andrea, after going through her own personal hard times, had been living part time in Costa Rica for over two years…learning and living the Pura Vida lifestyle.

I always knew I wanted to go to Costa Rica WHEN I was healed and she kept telling me how amazing it would be for me and for my health, but I knew I couldn’t travel. I could hardly leave my house and interact/function on a daily basis, how was I going to get on a plane and travel 6000 km to go to a destination where I didn’t know the language, and only knew one person. What if something happened to me while I was gone??

The day came, I was a little nervous for the craziness of the airport and the flight…hoping my anxiety wouldn’t get the best of me. But it made it a lot easier knowing that Andrea would be there on the other end waiting for me to help me get to my condo and get settled in. A great help! I survived the airport and the flight and as I knew she would be, Andrea was right there waiting for me with a big sign when I arrived in Liberia. My condo was amazing, something I would totally live in back in Canada. Once I got settled in, Andrea showed me around the neighborhood, made sure I knew where to get groceries and helped me rent a bike so I could get around. She also introduced me to some others in the area, which really helped to make me feel comfortable, and at home. She was so knowledgeable about the area and the country (and so many other countries!) and travelling in general, that it was great to have her with me throughout my journey.

Always a message away and I was lucky enough to travel around and experience Costa Rica with her. 

Costa Rica was definitely the most amazing and life changing experience thus far. It gave me the strength and courage to face my limitations and symptoms and to accept them as part of who I am now vs. being angry or afraid of them. It taught me that it’s OK to slow down, to relax and take time for yourself…that nothing needs to get done right away and it’s OK to do absolutely nothing. It also gave me my sense of independence back…that feeling of knowing that despite how I feel and how afraid I may be, that I will be ok on my own.

The Pura Vida lifestyle is something that everyone needs to incorporate into his or her lives, no matter what your story or situation. Take things one moment at a time…and one day at a time. This life is yours and you are the only one who can create your reality and the life that you want. Don’t let anything hold you back.

I can’t thank Andrea enough for all of her support, guidance and encouragement throughout my journey. Her knowledge, passion for travel and helping people along with her outgoing, kind and understanding nature truly makes her someone that you can trust and someone that you will want to put your faith into while planning a life changing adventure of your own. I highly recommend Andrea to anyone looking to travel…anywhere and for any reason!

xo Steph