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Highlights from Costa Rica

Highlights from Costa Rica

I’ve just returned from sixteen blissful days in Costa Rica. My friend and I met in San Jose and then took a journey to Manuel Antonio, Montezuma, Sámara, Nosara, and Arenal. I kept a record of the highlights of each day and now have added pictures!

Day 1: San Jose

- seeing the view of Pura Vida from the plane

- my little airport adventure 

- meeting an awesome couple who were raising their kids in the mountains

- relaxing in the pool

Pura Vida

My first glimpse of Pura Vida

Relaxing at Adventure Inn in San Jose and waiting for my friend to arrive.

Relaxing at Adventure Inn in San Jose and waiting for my friend to arrive.

Day 2: Manuel Antonio 

- being blown away by the awesomeness of the view from the  backpacker’s hostel

- listening to the warm, Costa Rican rain falling on the tin roof

- taking a midnight swim in the hostel’s pool (it was surrounded by jungle and the rain poured down on us)

Bakpacker's Manuel Antonio Hostel

Bakpacker’s Manuel Antonio Hostel

 

Day 3: Manuel Antonio/Montezuma 

- hiking through Manuel Antonio Parque

- playing in the ocean and collecting rocks

- drinking straight from a coconut en la playa!

- seeing an adorable monkey yawn

- taking another late night swim and looking up at the stars. I have never seen them look so near before.

 

The view from the hike in Manuel Antonio!

Playing on the beach we found during the hike!

Beach yoga sequence

Beach yoga sequence

 

Day 4: Montezuma

- doing yoga with a view of the ocean, the warmth of the sun, and the coolness of a breeze.

- taking a four wheeler across the peninsula

- driving through two herds of cattle and seeing horses roaming on the side of the road

- exploring the little beach town of Montezuma

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This is the result of flying through a huge mud puddle

Our adorable little place at Casitas Sollevante

Happy in a hammock

Happy in a hammock

Day 5: Montezuma/Sámara 

- meditating and relaxing by the pool all morning

- seeing the extreme back country of Costa Rica (we actually had to turn around because we couldn’t ford a river)

-seeing the breathtaking sunset and eating a candlelit dinner literally on the beach in Sámara

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Our amazing pool at Casitas Sollevante.

I spent at least 25% of the trip in hammocks!

I spent at least 25% of the trip in hammocks!

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Dinner time in Sámara – it was so amazing to eat with my toes in the sand!

Day 6: Sámara/Nosara 

-  stand up paddle boarding – it was really tough with the waves!

-  found a tarantula on my friend’s pants…after he’d put them on.

-  discovered an awesome raw restaurant on the way out of town

-  had a crazy driving experience and had to turn around because of a flooded river

-  arrived at the amazing Villa Mango

Our little friend...

Our little friend…

The view from our room at Villa Mango

The view from our room at Villa Mango

 

Day 7: Nosara 

- did morning yoga surrounded by jungle

- had delicious banana/chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast…while watching monkeys play!

- went to Playa Pelada

Mono

Mono

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Playa Peladas

Sunset from the terrace at Villa Mango

Sunset from the terrace at Villa Mango

 

The played me a song!

The played me a song!

Lovely beach

Lovely beach

Day 8: Nosara 

- did yoga on the terrace of Villa Manga

- felt super amazing and then the universe gave me a big lesson in self-growth

Felt blissed out and made a video on Presence (click photo to be directed to YouTube)

Felt blissed out and made a video on Presence (click photo to be directed to YouTube)

I love getting in touch with my feminine energy!

I love getting in touch with my feminine energy!

During our yoga session, the monkeys were playing in the trees and a beautiful, gentle rain came.

During our yoga session, the monkeys were playing in the trees and a beautiful, gentle rain came.

angry sea

Day 9: Nosara

- saw the black beaches at Ostienal

- drew in the sands

 

the black sand of Ostional

the black sand of Ostional

fly on black

 

Day 10: Nosara 

- ate breakfast with a birdy on my head

- spent most of the day in the hammock

- went to Playa Guinnes and saw amazing sunset

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Soon after, he migrated to a more comfortable spot…on top of my head!

Sunset on the beach

Sunset on the beach

Freedom

Freedom

horses

Day 11: Nosara/Arenal 

- had a long drive to Arenal…but with gorgeous views!

- stopped at amazing restaurant, Macadamia

- saw the lake views

Flutterby.

Flutterby.

The view on the drive from Nosara to Arenal

The view on the drive from Nosara to Arenal

Windmills...do you see them?

Windmills…do you see them?

Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal

 

Day 12: Arenal

-  went to hanging bridges

-  got stuck in a thunderstorm

Sunset at Nepenthe, our hotel for the first couple nights in Arenal.

Sunset at Nepenthe, our hotel for the first couple nights in Arenal.

I like leaves!

I like leaves!

The view from the hanging bridges!

The view from the hanging bridges!

Hanging Bridge

Hanging Bridge

Day 13: Arenal

- hiked up Volcán Arenal

- met a honey badger

Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano

Volcan Arenal

Volcan Arenal

Honey Badger don't care

Honey Badger don’t care

Flower at Nepenthe

Flower at Nepenthe

 

Day 14: Arenal 

- got rained out of our hot springs plans

- relaxed at Hotel Linda Vista

Typical breakfast

Typical breakfast

Hotel Linda Vista - if I were to return to Arenal, I'd definitely spend more time here.

Hotel Linda Vista – if I were to return to Arenal, I’d definitely spend more time here.

View from Hotel Linda Vista

View from Hotel Linda Vista

Day 15: Arenal

- spent the day in bliss at Ecothermal Hot Springs

Heavenly hot springs

Heavenly hot springs

So relaxing

So relaxing

Pure bliss

Pure bliss

Day 16: San Jose

- parted ways in San Jose

Although our foot prints have now been washed away, Costa Rica and the experiences I had there left a lasting impression on my heart.

Although our foot prints have now been washed away, Costa Rica and the experiences I had there left a lasting impression on my heart.

 - To see more photos of the trip, check out my Facebook album by clicking HERE. -

Transformational 2012

Transformational 2012

For me, the year of 2012 was one of monumental changes…

Shortly before ringing in the new year of twenty-twelve, I spent a weekend with someone who was quickly progressing in the realm of self-development. Little did I know that our time together would begin an inner process – one that would eventually alter how I saw reality. In a matter of days, he helped me recognize how out of touch I really was with the Now. He introduced me to the work of Eckhart Tolle – if you don’t know him, I heartily recommend looking him up – and sparked my interest in really delving into the process of self-discovery. Although the time we spent together was comparatively short, his impact was lasting.

The months following were filled with transformational self-exploration. Formerly strongly tied to the future, it was not easy for me to begin rooting myself in the Present. Although I still struggle with letting myself succumb to worry, months of practice have helped me stay more consistently grounded. It was during this time that I reconnected with an old acquaintance. We had met a few times in years past, but had never really gotten to know each other. Through social media, I realized that years passing had lead to us having similar interests! Although we barely knew each other, I invited her to travel from Ohio to my home in Tennessee. Though she didn’t have enough money to get here, fate was in our favor. Things were in alignment and the financial means presented themselves to her. It was at this time that I got to know one of the beautiful, soulful, kind, genuine people I have ever met. She helped me become even more in touch with my inner light and the beauty of life.

On a mid-summer’s day, I was speaking with a close friend about my plans for graduate school. I was frustrated, because I was unsure if my chosen path was really “right.” Despite this, I had been emailing back and forth with various programs, studying copious amounts for the GRE, and trying to make a decision that would dictate the next four years of my life. It was then that she asked me what would happen if I invested this time and money into a program, only to graduate and realize it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. For the first time in my academic career, I considered altering my plan. Previously, I had not really considered any other option beside continuing my education. Being a psychology major doesn’t really lend to many post-grad opportunities. After this conversation, I realized I didn’t need to be tied to this specific path. Previously, I had found validation through my academic standing. My self-exploration lead me to realize that nothing I will ever achieve academically, monetarily, or relationally will ever determine my intrinsic value. With that, I decided to use my youth to its fullest extent and postpone graduate school to travel Europe!

The past year has been a highly transitional time. I strengthened old relationships and made new ones. I shifted my focal point to the Now and started to make constant, conscious effort to stay positive. I realized fully that Present moment is all we really have and we need to take full advantage of it. I became introduced to people that have such a wealth of knowledge to share (you’ll do yourself a big favor to check out Eckhart Tolle, Abraham Hicks, Katie Freiling, Kyle Cease, and Mike Dooley). It’s not always easy to internalize, but I now know that my value and worth is not contingent upon anything I can ever achieve. I am so excited to see what 2013 holds and I plan to live it – and every year after I am blessed with – to its fullest extent! I wish all of you the very best!

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 Stay positive, be Present, and set your intentions!

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Highlights of 2012

- Decided to move to Europe

- Went skydiving

- Participated in a yoga flashmob

- Grew my own (little) garden

- Fully recognized the power of synchronicity

- Went bridge swinging

- Saw my baby sister graduate high school

- Went to a couple music festivals

- Attended my first APA conference

- Flew to Ohio for less than 24 hours to be a wedding date

- Realized my value isn’t contingent upon my actions

- Maintained a vegan diet for seven months

- Became introduced to raw foodism

- Saw my grandparents celebrate 50 years of marriage

- Watched Back to the Future with friends, on the side of an abandoned building, laying on a gravel parking lot

- Sporadically attended the World Yo-Yo Championship

- Did barrel rolls in a plane

- Made my first YouTube video

- Finally visited Disney World

- Adopted a kitten and named him Ug

- Went off-roading

- Started a blog

- Started living in the Present and not for the future

 - Randomly moved into a house and realized it was perfect!

- Got a cabin in the mountains with friends and made a ton of guacamole!

- Went on a girls’ road trip to Chicago

My dear friend/housemate and I playing in the leaves!

Became friends with the newly appointed world champions of yo-yo (Check out In Motion!)

Became friends with the newly appointed world champions of yo-yo (Check out In Motion!)

My wise grandfather and baby sister

My wise grandfather and baby sister

Megan Amigo and me watching the Goo Goo Dolls across the river (at a random house party we attended)!

Megan Amigo and I watching the Goo Goo Dolls across the river (at a random house party we attended)!

Megan Amigo and I belly dancing in the mountains of Tennessee

Megan Amigo and me belly dancing in the mountains of Tennessee

Yoga Flashmob

Yoga Flashmob

Girls' trip to Chicago

Girls’ trip to Chicago

Floating in bliss

Floating in bliss

First time at Disney World!

First time at Disney World!

Revelry after Summer Fest 2012

Revelry after Summer Fest 2012

My best friend since pre-school

My best friend since pre-school

First pair of climbing shoes!

First pair of climbing shoes!

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Joyous children like this are why look forward to being an au pair

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Kissing Princess, the camel!

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Eating way too much ice cream!

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Amazing people in Orlando, FL!

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Enjoying an outdoor concert in TN

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Exploring nature with Megan Amigo

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I got to see my baby sister graduate high school!

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“We just jumped out of a plane!”

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My delectable, organic tomatoes!

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Emma Parker’s “Yellow Chair Project” for charity

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One of my delicious vegan creations – Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

First time bouldering!

First time bouldering!

Haley and I had our first, Southern off-roading experience!

Haley and I had our first, Southern off-roading experience!

Casual train yoga!

Casual train yoga!

APA Conference 2012

APA Conference 2012

Oh, just about to jump off a 100 foot bridge!

Oh, just about to jump off a 100 foot bridge!

I wish I could express how much I adore yoga, laughter, and friends!
I wish I could express how much I adore yoga, laughter, and friends!

Soaking up some vitamin D

Soaking up some vitamin D

Loved the looks on my family member’s faces when they realized I’d driven seven hours to surprise them!

Imitating the statues

Imitating the statues

Nothing like playing dress up in a country store

Nothing like playing dress up in a country store

Got to love football matches!

Got to love football matches!

Little kitten, Ug.

Little kitten, Ug.

Nothing can compare to nature.

Nothing can compare to nature.We're a silly family!

Happy NYE from the Nicholas sisters! Try and ignore our glowing eyes...

Happy NYE from the Nicholas sisters! Try and ignore our glowing eyes…

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Steps to Become an Au Pair in Europe!

Steps to Become an Au Pair in Europe!

1. Explore websites
-www.greataupair.com
-www.aupair.com
-www.aupair-world.net

2. Determine personal stipulations
- What country/countries do you want to work in?
- What length of time do you want to be in Europe?
- Do you want to live in a city or the country?
- Is it important for you to have the weekends available?
- Are you willing to work weekends?
- Do you want to live-in or live-out?
- What is the minimum amount of money you are willing to accept per month?
- Are you willing to do (light) housework?
- How many hours are you willing to work per week?
- Will you work with single parents?

3. Make detailed online profiles
- Many pictures
- General letter to potential host families
- What sets you apart from other au pairs
- Ideal weekly schedule
- Ideal pay rate
- Other relevant qualifications

4. Reach out
- Mark profiles as “interests” or “favorites”
- Send families messages expressing your interest
- Create a blanket message to send out and cater it to each family

5. Skype with serious interests
- Discuss expectations
- Express concerns
- Clear up any confusion
- Meet the children
- Get a virtual tour of the home (specially, your bedroom)
- Figure out about the surroundings of the family’s home
- Decide on a length of stay

6. Finalize
-After deciding which family you will be an au pair for, confirm that plans are in order
- Research visa options (if necessary, visit a consulate)

10 Reasons Why Becoming an Au-Pair is Exactly Like Online Dating

10 Reasons Why Becoming an Au-Pair is Exactly Like Online Dating
  1. Obviously, to get the best results, you need to actually make an online profile.
  2. Said profile contains descriptions, photos, and general qualifications, all meant to portray yourself as the ideal candidate. If you’re lacking detail in one of these facets, you become substantially less appealing and the same goes for the other party. You stare at your profile, trying imagine how viewers of it will perceive you. You also start wondering if you’ll ever find an ideal match.
  3. There’s an intricate balance between being fully authentic and showcasing your finer attributes (Obviously, you don’t want to mention that you can belch loudly, before you’ve even met them…). This all is occurring within both parties. Sometimes, you’re left wondering about the validity of certain profiles (e.g. “Is this host family really able to pay me €500 per week?” or “Can this au pair actually fluently speak/read nine languages, including ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics?”).
  4. You spend hours sifting through hundreds of profiles, marking “interests” or “favorites” along the way. These people get notified and there’s a moment of elation whenever they send back that they’re also interested in you. Unfortunately, you can’t help but feel a bit of rejection, whenever you get a notification that the party you were very interested does not reciprocate.
  5. If both parties are interested, one reaches out to the other and a message chain is started. Likes, dislikes, mutual interests, and what each party is looking for in the other are discussed.
  6. After realizing that the other party is everything you dreamed of, the excitement sets in. You find yourself talking about them to friends, many of whom will think it’s odd, seeing as you’ve yet to meet them. You have pictures of them on your cell phone. You have your friends sit with you and pour over their online profile. Overall, you’re just so thrilled that you found your ultimate match online, that you’re willing to tell anyone and everyone who will listen.
  7. There may a time when you haven’t heard from them in a week or so. You get very worried. You wonder if you’ve done something wrong and look back through old messages to see if you missed anything. The same people who you gushed about them to now get to hear how concerned you are. You realize you may have to accept that they’re not really “the one” and move on. Right when you’ve been about to give up, you get a message from them apologizing for the delay and explaining what had happened. You’re so relieved!
  8. Around this time is when you think it’s serious enough to tell your parents. You’re excited and nervous about what the future may hold. You gush about how great they are to your parents and show them an exorbitant amount of pictures.
  9. After much online communication, you decide upon a time to meet.
  10. Finally, you’ve realized they’re the one for you and decide to move in.
  11. Image

    This is the face you make when you finally find your host family!

1,000 LIKES!

1,000 LIKES!

1,000 LIKES!

Wow, I cannot thank you guys enough for being such involved followers! I’m about half way to having 1,000 “followers,” so you’ll see another excited post when that happens!

Since starting this blog in September, I have been ever impressed by the amount of interaction there has been on my posts.

Not only do I intend to keep blogging, but I will become increasingly involved! On that note, I’m very curious as to whether you prefer my vlogs or blogs more. Thoughts?

I sincerely appreciate every single one of you!

-Andi

Vlog: Travel Update

Vlog: Travel Update

Hi, lovelies! A lot of people have been inquiring as to my current game plan for Europe. Here’s a quick update on my plans!

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  • During late July and early August a few girlfriends and I are trying to arrange it so we can travel around together! The biggest hinderance is finances! Any tips on ways to make/save money on the road? We’ll be using www.helpx.net, www.couchsurfing.com, and staying in hostels to travel as cheaply as possible. 
  • At the end of August, I will move to Lausanne, Switzerland to be an au pair for a spectacular Spanish family! This is a great opportunity, because I adore Switzerland and would love to brush up on my Spanish. Although I will be doing some traveling on the weekends, I will be saving a lot of the money I make to put it toward further travels. Additionally, I’ll have to be putting a portion of it toward student loans.
  • The last week of November will mark the end of my Swiss living. That means I have December to travel around and hang out with friends…
  • If you are around wherever I am, I’d love to meet up! There’s a small possibility that my parents will try and come over and visit during this time. That would be great, seeing as I have no idea if I’ll be spending Christmas alone in a hostel (I doubt that would happen, though, as I have a knack for randomly meeting new friends!)…
  • In January, I will move to Torino, Italy to become an au pair for another beautiful family. I am thrilled!  I will stay here for a least six months.
  • After Italy, I will hopefully return to Switzerland for another three months.
  • Then…who knows!