My Journey

My Journey

Manifesting Goals


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Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in a decade.

A little over a month ago I turned thirty years old. As I reflect back on these past thirty years of my life I realize that I have accomplished a great deal. I have surrounded myself with amazing family, friends, and coworkers. I have traveled, explored, journeyed, and set my eyes upon some of God’s beautiful creations in this world. I have grown to be a strong, confident, independent woman. I have ran nine Spartan races, joined two salsa dance teams, performed at a salsa festival in New Mexico, learned to pole dance, performed in a pole dancing show and will be performing in another. I have dealt with adversity and risen above every challenge thrown my way. I have had heartbreaks, great loves, and learned that the greatest love of all is self-love. I have done all of this and so much more, yet I’m not even half way through my life. At thirty years old I have a lifetime of chances, opportunities, moments both big and small to make my dreams come true. 

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At the end of July I came across a podcast episode of Ed Mylett interviewing Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich. Since I follow Jules and Brooks on instagram I decided to check it out. At the end of listening to the three of them speak I felt a small spark inside of me ignite into a flame. Whatever had shifted inside of me since coming back from Costa Rica wanted me to sit and listen to it. So I sat in silence and asked myself what I truly wanted. Over the last month I have been listening to more of Ed’s podcasts, meditating, and reading a lot to dig down deep and discover my sole purpose in life.

There are two big concepts that Ed talks about in his podcasts that resonate a lot with me. The first one is that he wants to be having a “life crisis” every year of his life. I loved the idea of this and I believe I already live it, but not fully. I don’t want to be the same person I was at 29 now that I am 30. This past weekend when my sister and I were on a road trip she mentioned to me that she’s seen a change in me. I’m usually someone who is easily triggered with anger, but as of late I’ve been more calm and carefree about things. I am a person who wants to grow and become the best version of myself, this can only happen if I aim to not be the same person I was a year ago.

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The second concept that Ed talks about is that when he dies he believes that when meeting our Maker he will also meet the man he could have been. When Ed meets that man he wants to be staring back at his twin. How profound is that? When I die I want to come face to face with the person I was made to be and meant to be on this earth. I want to be staring back at my twin. I want to look myself in the face and for her to say back to me, “you did it. You not only made your dreams come true, but you changed the lives of so many. I am proud!”

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If I am to grow year after year and eventually meet the person I am meant to be I need to spend the next decade (and many after that) putting in the work. In order to do that I must establish my goals, visualize them, and work towards them on a daily basis. I started this post with the saying, “most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in a decade.” I have big goals that I want to reach by the time I am forty, but I recognize that they will not happen over night, nor will they be easy. So what are my goals?

 

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Financial

Before I turned thirty years old I had a goal to make six figures a year. I reached that goal this past year. Some days I wake up and can’t believe that I made it here, especially after the financial setbacks I have been faced with. I am honored and blessed to be able to say that I make six figures, but it’s not enough for me. I want to strive for more, not for selfish reasons, but in order to accomplish some of my goals I will need to be making more money. Because nothing happens over night I split my financial goals into five year increments. By the time I am thirty-five years old I want to be making five hundred thousand dollars. Then by the time I reach forty years old I want to be making a million dollars a year. To some of you this might seem a bit excessive, but in order to accomplish great things I need to dream great things. 

Travel

One of the big things I have always dreamed of is taking a year off of work and traveling the world before I have children. I ultimately would love to travel with my partner, but we will see what God has in store. Exploring is something I grew up doing. My parents instilled in my siblings and I this sense of stepping outside and seeing different parts of the world in order to truly appreciate the life we are given. I want to dog sled under the Northern Lights in Alaska, swim with humpback whales in Tonga, learn about various wild animals in their natural habitats, and meet people along the way to learn their cultures and what makes life beautiful to them. I want to spend time truly getting to know this world and seeing its beauty around every corner I turn.

Family

I want to fall in love with a wonderful, caring, hardworking man. One who supports my dreams in the same way that I support his. A man to walk hand in hand exploring this world and accomplishing our goals one day at a time. With this man I want to build an empire. One where we serve God’s children and help others find the greatness within them and find their own successes in life. Along with an amazing husband I want to foster and adopt children. There are many children out there who don’t get to experience extraordinary love and I want to give that to them. I want to provide a home where they can walk in the door and leave their worries outside because they know that inside they are safe and loved. This home that I raise my family in will be one of inclusiveness where their friends will feel safe as well. Open doors and open hearts. 

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Helpful Hand

Years ago I had gone down to Skid Row and tutored underprivileged children. When it came time to say goodbye to them for the night I remember the looks on their faces. They would tell me that they didn’t know where they would be sleeping that night, or if their parents would even show up to get them. My heart would break to pieces every time. This past year I became involved with the groups #shedoes and The Shower of Hope. Both groups are out their trying to change the homeless issue in Los Angeles. I aim to become more involved with both groups and work alongside them to help end homelessness. Along with that I want to fight the fight against poverty. I don’t know yet what exactly I will do, but I will do everything in my power to fight for these people. One of my biggest goals is to open a shelter where people can come and find a restful place to sleep and have counselors to work with to get them back on their feet. Making a million dollars a year will help me do this. Every single human on this planet deserves to be treated with dignity and to have a fair chance at the life they dream about. My goal is to make that happen for at least one person, but hopefully thousands. 

Fitness

I’ve seen what I am capable of. I’ve lost weight before and I am working on losing weight again. I love my body one hundred percent in every state that she is in, but there is no greater feeling than that of being in shape and being able to have the ability to do anything. As I stand in the shower every morning I run my hands over my curves and tell them how beautiful they are, but I also remind them of the strength they will have when we are at the healthiest version of our self. I recognize that in order to accomplish all of my dreams I need a body that will be able to carry me through each and every moment. In order to do this I must be in tip top healthy shape. So my goal this next year is to get myself down to one hundred and twenty-five pounds. Once I accomplish that then I can focus on my other goal of being a personal trainer. I want to inspire people, show them what can be done and push them to conquer the goals they set out to accomplish. 

The next ten years are going to be filled with many ups and downs, but I know that when I set my mind on something I can see it to fruition. As the weeks, months, and years go by I will be sharing my journey with you on here. I hope that as you read about what I am accomplishing that you work towards accomplishing any goals you may have. Remember, every goal is important so never doubt what you set out to do. You are a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time, so enjoy each high and be thankful for each low. Go out there and kick ass because I know that I will. 

Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey

Fun fact…


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Back in 2012 I was asked to take over a bootcamp for an instructor who was leaving. The owner of the bootcamp met up with me, talked to me about getting my certification and insurance and we discussed compensation. A couple weeks later the current instructor asked me if I could cover one of the classes because she couldn’t teach. I wasn’t able to cover, so she called the owner and told her that I said I am not able to teach at the normal times and that I would change around the whole schedule when I took over. All of this was a lie, but instead of talking to me the owner sent out an e-mail saying that the bootcamp was indefinitely closed because there was no one to take over. I felt like I was thrown under the bus and man that hurt! Since then I’ve had this passion to train and inspire people to get fit. This passion is what I used to get me in the garage tonight to do my workout. 

Workout

1 mile run: I PR’d tonight with 12:24!
– 0:30 walk to warm up
– 2:00 run
– 1:00 walk
– 2:00 run
– 1:00 walk
– 2:00 run
– 1:00 walk
– 2:00 run
– 0:54 walk

2 sets – 8 exercises – 14 reps @ 4/2/1
– alternating box step ups
– push-ups
– single leg bicep curls (switch legs after 7)
– donkey kick right leg
– donkey kick left leg
– lat pull down
– standing oblique twist right side
– standing oblique twist left side

Love always

Jess

Fitness, My Journey

Booty/Abs/Shoulders


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I consider myself to be one of the most forgiving people and when someone doesn’t forgive me for a small mistake I make it hurts me. For a brief second today I started to beat myself up for what I had done, but the thing I need to do is forgive myself. Instead of putting my energy into beating myself up I walked downstairs to my garage, threw together a workout, asked my sister to join me, and kicked ass. 

Workout

6 exercises in each section, do all 3 sections, repeat 5 times

Booty
1. 14 alternating reverse lunges
2. 14 dead lifts (I used 2 8 pound dumbbells)
3. 14 ski hops (each side counts as 1)
4. 14 quadruped fire hydrants – right leg
5. 14 quadruped fire hydrants – left leg
6. 14 kneeling hip thrusts

Abs
1. 14 plank jacks
2. 14 bicycle crunches (both sides count as 1)
3. 14 reverse crunches
4. 14 alternating modified Turkish getups (only go to the point of the situp)
5. 0:30 left side plank
6. 0:30 right side plank

Shoulders
1. 14 lateral flies
2. 14 forward flies
3. 14 upright rows
4. 14 clean and press – right arm
5. 14 clean and press – left arm
6. 14 bent over rows

Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey

Visualization


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This past weekend I celebrated my 30th birthday, so I spent my time with family and friends walking around DTLA and enjoying some delicious food. More often than not when you talk to someone about turning 30 you often hear a sigh and then a list of regrets or things they didn’t accomplish before they were 30. Instead I’m extremely thankful and blessed for each day that led up to my 30th birthday. As I look back on the past 30 years I hold nothing but a smile on my face. A smile that I am going to take with me into the next decade of my life. One of my biggest goals is to get back to my fit and healthy self. That begins with visualizing where I want to be and determining the necessary steps to get there. Tonight’s exercise was one of those steps.

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Birthday in DTLA. PC: my best friend Bhanuja

Workout

Tabatas 0:40 on/0:10 off – 4 rounds

1. Sprints up and down driveway (doing this with your dogs chasing you adds laughter)
2. Jump rope (I don’t know about some of you, but I struggle with this one because jumping makes me have to pee, and so I had to take a bathroom break part way through the third round.)
3. Push-ups
4. Curtsy lunge to a 180° squat jump – begin by lunging your right leg, at an angle, behind your left leg (like doing a curtsy). Come up to neutral stance, squat and jump while doing a 180° twist. Once you land do a curtsy lunge with your left leg behind your right and do another 180° squat jump.
5. Crunches
6. Parallel bar jump overs (I used 13″ parallel bars)
7. Reverse crunches
8. Overhead twisted ball slams – Begin with legs hip width apart and a medicine ball in your hands. Lift the medicine ball over your head, rotate your upper body to the right and slam the ball to the ground. Picking the medicine ball back up, lift the ball over your head as you rotate to the left. Slam the ball to the ground. Repeat this sequence through the remaining time.
9. Football shuffle to plank burpee (count to 5 in your head while you shuffle before you drop to the burpee)
10. bicep curl to shoulder press (I used 6 pound weights)

 

My goal during this workout was to get my heart rate up in a short amount of time. Overall I was able to burn 475 calories in under 40 minutes. By the 4th round I was tired, but I didn’t want to give up on myself, or my goals. Always focus on what your vision for your future is when you’re at the point of quitting. It’s that reminder that gives you an added push to finish what you set out to accomplish. 

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Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey

Sisterly Fun


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It’s my birthday weekend and I spent today being celebrated at work. They decorated my cube with confetti, bought me fruit for breakfast (yay for being healthy!), and had a bundt cake for dessert. I know that I am going to be enjoying some delicious food this weekend so when my sister asked me to workout with her tonight I said of course! Tonight’s workout is brought to you by Carissa, enjoy :). 

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Workout

Part 1 – partner rotation

For each letter grouping you will do 8 rounds of 0:30 on and 0:10 off. At each resting point you will switch exercises, doing each letter 4 times each. Between each grouping of exercises you will take a recovery period of 1:00, at which time you will do your burpees (i.e. 5 burpees, 0:30 on 0:10 off of A, 0:30 on and 0:10 off of B, repeat A and B 3 times, 1:00 recover and 4 burpees, then move onto C and D).

5 burpees
a) battle rope composers: with your arms straight in front of you, lift the battle rope up and down. Next as you lift your arms up circle them out and bring them back together at the bottom. Repeat the two movements for the 0:30.
b) bicep curl –> overhead press

4 burpees
c) funky T’s –> Frankenstein: with arms straight out to the side (like a T) lower one arm down and bring it back up (single arm fly). From the T position bring arms together in front of you and then back out to the T position. Do a single arm fly on the opposite side and then bring your arms back together in front of you. Repeat the sequence for the 0:30.
d) alternating single arm row

3 burpees
e) triceps dips
f) 90° fly –> superman: Place your elbows at your sides, arms bent 90° (halfway point of a bicep curl). Leaving your arms in a 90° angle lift your right arm laterally at the shoulder (elbow is in line with shoulder) and lower back down. Straighten both arms out in front of you at chest level, palms down. Bring elbows back down to your sides with arms bent at a 90° angle. Lift your left arm laterally at the shoulder (elbow is in line with shoulder) and lower back down. Straighten both arms out in front of you at chest level, palms down. Bring elbows back down to your sides with arms bent at 90° angle. Repeat sequence for the 0:30.

2 burpees
g) scaptions
h) chest squeeze to alternating shoulder press: Arms begin in a goal post position. Bring arms together in front of you (squeezing elbows together). Taking arms back to goal post position lift right arm in a shoulder press. Squeeze arms together again and once back in goal post position lift left arm in a shoulder press. Repeat sequence for 0:30.

1 burpee

Part 2 – Pyramid of core & buns

Each exercise in this section has a specific number of reps associated with it. Beginning with the exercise that has 10 reps you will work your way down to the exercise with 1 rep. As you move on to each exercise you will repeat all of the exercises before it (i.e. 10 SL dead lifts; 10 SL dead lifts, 9 squats; 10 SL dead lifts, 9 squats, 8 pike toe taps; etc.). Once you make it all the way down the pyramid, do one round of the pyramid backwards, so start from the exercise with 1 rep and finish with the exercise with 10 reps.

– 10 alternating single leg dead lifts (5 each leg)
– 9 wide stance squats on tippy toes
– 8 pike plank toe taps: starting in plank position on your hands bring your right hand to your left toe and return to plank position (this counts as 1). Repeat with left hand to right toe.
– 7 reverse crunches
– 6 lunge extravaganza: On your left leg do a reverse lunge, a curtsy lunge, a reverse lunge, and then a squat (this counts as 1). Be sure to balance through the entire sequence. Repeat on the right side.
– 5 varying jump squats: Starting in a closed foot squat, jump out to a wide squat and back to a closed foot squat. Each time you bring your feet back together this counts as 1.
– 4 archers: Begin in bear crawl. Rotate your body to the left, bringing your right leg under your body and extending out in an L in front of you. Stabilized on your right arm pull your left arm back as if you are an archer pulling a bow (this counts as 1). Return to bear crawl position and repeat on the opposite side. Your extended leg should be flexed and at a 90° angle at your hip.
– 3 box jumps
– 2 mercy bicycles: With your legs straight and hovering an inch from the ground, bring your right elbow to your left knee for a bicycle crunch. Hold for 2 seconds and bring legs back to hovering (this counts as 1). Repeat on the opposite side.
– 1 “I’m a Star”: jump in the air with arms and legs out like an X.

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Happy partner workout!

Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey

Workouts don’t always go as planned


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I had a plan today. I was going to get off work at 4:30, go home, workout and have dinner with my family.

Then life happened.

I left work at 4:30, got in my car and as I was turning out of the parking lot I remembered I had dinner plans. Crap! The questions started bombarding my brain, do I call and see if we are still on for dinner? Do I go home and then message her and say oops? Do I not say anything? Did she forget too? I ended up calling her and we decided to meet up for sushi. 

Once I arrived home I said hi to my family and then began cranking out my workout. Half way through my sister came into the garage and told me that her and my dad needed help with our dog. Kalen, our male golden, is currently suffering from an infected wound on his balls and they need help holding him down while they cut the hair around the wound. Again, life happened and I had to roll with the punches (maybe while being slightly annoyed). After all the hair was trimmed I jetted back to the garage and finished up my routine. 

I could have easily thrown in the towel from the moment I realized that I had dinner plans. Knowing that I still wanted to get my workout in I didn’t eat a lot of sushi and we kept our roll choices on the lighter side. I could have also ended my workout when my sister asked for help, but I decided that finishing my workout was more important to me than the time on the clock. 464 calories later, I am proud of myself for not giving up on my goals and what I said I would do. 

Workout

Run: 1 mile finished in 14:20
– 7:00 run
– 7:20 alternating between 1:00 walk and 1:00 run

4 Rounds with a 1:00 break in between each round
– 20 crunches
– 12 push-ups
– 20 crunches
– 12 alternating reverse lunges
– 20 crunches
– 12 plank jacks with knee tucks
– 20 crunches
– 12 bicep curls (6 pound weights)
– 20 crunches
– 12 plie squats to releve

 

Now time to meditate.

Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey

Accountability


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This past week I’ve been listening to the Ed Mylett show and a lot of what his guests have been saying has been resonating with me. They have been talking about manifesting your dreams, going after your goals, and holding yourself accountable for what you want in life. As I’ve been listening to these podcasts my health and fitness goals have been at the forefront of my mind. On July 17th I went to the doctors to get my blood work results, and although they weren’t horrible, there are things that I need to work on. As I go into my thirties I want to live a life at the healthiest I have ever been. I’ve been slowly making progress at losing the excess weight, but the current patterns I have been living with aren’t sufficing. To reach my goals and succeed at living a healthy life I need to hold myself accountable on every level. Starting today, July 28th, 2018, I am going to share my workouts, meals, and measurements on this blog. I will post my measurements every Saturday and post my workouts either every day, every few days, or once a week, depending upon how my week goes. I hope that in keeping myself accountable I will inspire you to hold yourself accountable as well.

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Measurements

Weight: 185.8 pounds
Right Calf: 14 1/8″

Right Thigh: 26″
Hips: 45 2/8″
Waist: 36 1/8″
Chest: 38 2/8″
Neck: 14 1/8″
Right Forearm: 9 5/8″
Right Bicep: 12 6/8″

Workout

20 minute run
– 1:00 walk
– 6:00 run
– 13:00 broken up by 1:00 walk followed by 1:00 run

Tabatas 3 rounds @ 1:00 on 0:20 off with a 2:00 rest
– Reverse crunch (round one 16, round two 20, round three 28)
– Upper cuts
– Side shuffle (3 steps) to side lunge toe tap
– Alternating single arm clean and press with a 10 pound kettle bell (round one 17, round two 18, round three 20)
– Russian twists
– Ball slams with and 8 pound ball
– Standing oblique crunches with a knee tuck right side (round one 32, round two 39, round three 44)
– Standing oblique crunches with a knee tuck left side (round one 32, round two 39, round three 44)
– Jump rope

At the end of the workout I was a sweaty mess (see hat below). I’m not usually a sweater, but with the heat and humidity today I definitely got my monies worth in this workout. I burned a total of 778 calories and spent majority of my workout in zones 3 and 4. 

Love always,

Jess

Erotica, My Journey, Pole Dancing

Someday ~ Sugar Ray


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Tonight I wanted to do something a little different. As some of you know, I am a pole dancer. I use pole dancing to express myself, tell stories, and get any emotions I may be feeling out of my system. On occasion I will have someone video my dance and I will post snippets, but tonight I wanted to paint the story I told through written word. Warning: not many people know this, but I write erotica and there will be some in this story telling, but it will not be super explicit.

The class tonight was a goddess flow class with the theme being beach. We each had to bring a song to dance to for ourselves and then a song for someone else to dance to. I was the last person to dance for the night and each of the women in the class were to give me an element to my story that I must portray:

  • Last night on a European vacation and reminiscing on the adventure that happened
  • 24 years old
  • Met a Spanish man while on the vacation and I had to leave him at the end of the trip
  • Bittersweet about leaving him behind

As the women continued explaining to me what my story would be I went to my bag and threw on a bikini, a pair of light blue jeans, a blue floral kimono blouse, a white scarf and a black sun hat. During all of this preparation I was not provided any information about what song I would be dancing to. As you can guess by the title of this post, the song was Someday by Sugar Ray. When the music started up I was whisked away to my European vacation.

Leaning over her balcony, staring out at the setting sun, she feels the wind caress her skin as the curtains blow in the wind behind her. Hearing him call her name she floats back into her hotel room and sees him sitting on the chase lounge beside the doorway. Enamored by his handsome face she leans up against the wall and pulls her hat over her face in giddiness. This man has changed her life and he doesn’t even know it, but as her last night in Spain comes to an end she doesn’t want to leave without one more night in his arms. 

Slowly walking towards the bedroom she beckons for him to follow. Surprising her he wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her in for a hug and a gentle kiss on the cheek. Grabbing her hat, he tosses it on the floor and whispers something in her ear that fills her with laughter. Playfully pushing him away she continues on to the bedroom, unwrapping her scarf along the way.

Once in the bedroom she begins to dance around the room, teasing him with the swaying of her hips. Taking control now, he slowly pushes her to lay on the bed. Releasing the button on her jeans he begins to unzip them and pull the fabric down her hips. She stops him, sits up, and looks him in the eyes as she slowly peels her legs out of the jeans. Without missing a beat she spreads her legs open and he begins gently trailing kisses down her inner thighs. As she becomes hot and bothered he dives in and takes what’s his.

Hands in his hair and all over her body she writhes as he takes her to ecstasy. Before her climax can release he turns her face down and enters her from behind. Thrusting into her he begins reaching his own climax. She stops him, rolls him onto his back and climbs on top of him. Hips grinding she pulls her shirt over head as their bodies merge together in orgasm. Collapsing down onto the bed next to him, he wraps her in his arms and caresses her sparkling skin.

Moonlight peeking through the curtains she rolls out of bed, leans back against the wall and captures one last mental image of this beautiful man asleep. Picking up her things, she walks out of the bedroom, blowing him a kiss goodbye. A piece of her heart forever staying behind.

When I finished dancing to this song I felt some sort of clarity wash over me. Over the past couple of weeks my heart has been broken and tonight I felt at peace. Delving into this story brought me a sense of hope, passion, and trust in whatever my future holds for me. It’s amazing how in these pole classes a song and a dance can be chosen for you, the universe knowing it’s what you need in that moment. I hope you enjoyed the painting of where my dance went tonight and that it brings you a piece of joy and some longing for a European vacation somewhere. Thank you for allowing me to open up and share a side of me not many people see. 

Love always,

Jess

My Journey, Travel

Pura Vida!


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For a few weeks now I’ve been trying to find the right words to put into perspective what I felt, learned, and discovered during my trip to Costa Rica. Countless times I have sat down in front of my computer screen only to be stumped at how I can portray to you readers everything that was experienced in the jungles of Uvita. Upon my return to the States I quickly became aware that I have been transformed, but it wasn’t until the past two weeks that this transformation became apparent. 

At the beginning of the year I joined a book club and our first book was Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. This book challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and do something completely unexpected. The unexpected thing happened to be traveling to a foreign country, by myself, to join a bunch of strangers for the Live Your Journey yoga retreat at Selva Armonia. The day I left I surprisingly wasn’t nervous. Normally when I travel alone I get anxious, cry because I’m leaving my family, and am afraid that I will do something wrong. This time around my soul felt at peace and was ready for this adventure. 

Location

After a five and a half hour flight from LAX, and a four hour car ride from San Jose down to Uvita, I arrived in a the most magical place I have ever seen. Selva Armonia sits on thirty five acres in a rainforest that over looks the South Pacific Ocean. As I walked down to the common area I realized that I would be fully immersed in the jungle for the next six days. The entire place was built so that we were outside in the elements for our entire stay. Only the bedrooms and bathrooms had four walls. The location of the property was perfect because as you looked out from the common area you could see the whale’s tail (a sand bar) in the ocean. The most gorgeous, peaceful, quaint place I have ever stayed. 

Being submersed in the jungle for six days was soul cleansing to say the least. I was barefoot majority of the time, only wearing shoes when we went to the beach and zip lining. It felt nice to ground my body with the earth and feel her constantly underneath me, supporting me, and carrying me forward on my journey. The luscious greenery surrounding Selva beats any place I have ever been. Not only are the plants vibrant, but a lot of the stuff you can eat or use. For instance, there is one plant that provides you natural shampoo, and then there is another leafy plant, that when you eat it, tastes like cranberries. 

Living among the vegetation are various animals. Our first morning there a thunderstorm was rolling through and the howler monkeys started to fight. You look at these tiny little things and think they are cute, but when you are woken up at five in the morning by their loud howling you feel like you are in The Hunger Games. I never got to see the monkeys, but I did see toucans, mapaches, frogs, geckos, iguanas, hummingbirds, and many other types of birds. Listening to these animals sing while doing yoga provided serene background music for our practice. 

Food

While staying at the retreat center we were fed three vegan/vegetarian meals a day and started each of our mornings off with coffee, tea and fresh fruit. Our chef, Yery, is a culinary genius! Every single meal was organic, delicious, colorful, and left you feeling completely satisfied. The food tastes differently out there, and I think that has to do with the fact that we were in a rainforest, so the veggies and fruits receive a lot of water. I don’t typically like coconut, but our morning pineapple had flakes of coconut sprinkled over it and the taste and texture were so different.

After our first yoga session of the morning we would be fed breakfast, which usually consisted of eggs, rice, beans, veggies, and fruit. A couple of mornings he made a vegan cheese that was to die for. Each of us girls went back for seconds and piled heaps of it on our plates. Our lunches and dinners all included a jungle salad with homemade dressings. Each of the salads were made up of leaves and other vegetables taken from the gardens in Selva. One of the things I discovered while I was eating the jungle salads is that I like beets. I had never tried them before, but since they were on top of each salad I tried them. Out of all of our meals my three favorite were vegan pad thai, yuka lasagna, and turmeric rice burrito. 

Three of our nights consisted of mouth watering desserts. During our first night there we were sitting down to our desserts when the power went out. I have no idea what the dessert looked like, but it felt and tasted like granola bars topped with chocolate and passion fruit sauce to drizzle on. A few nights later we had a strawberry shortcake type dessert and our last night we had vegan sundaes. We were supposed to do the vegan sundaes over a camp fire, but due to the storm we enjoyed them in the dining hall. We were each given a banana cut in half and we could put in any toppings we chose to. I did chocolate, almonds, and peanuts. After it was warmed in the oven we dove in. It was scrumptious and definitely something I will repeat at home. 

Yoga

Our first night together we gathered on the floating yoga deck in a circle, introduced ourselves, and talked about what brought us to the retreat. In the few hours I had already spent with the other ladies I could feel that this is exactly where my soul needed to be. There we were, strangers, ready to embark on a journey together that would forever change all of our lives. As we sat in the circle we began to open the gifts that Allie so graciously gave us. In each bag there was a journal, a note card that said “Live Your Journey,” a pair of Buddha pants (if you have not tried a pair of these, please do. They are amazing!), and a set of goddess cards. After our gifts were opened we spent some time with our goddess cards and then journaled about our intentions for this trip. 

The next five days we spent our mornings and evenings on the yoga deck doing everything from relaxation yoga, arm balances, inversions, chakra yoga, breathing exercises, 108 sun salutations, meditations, and of course journaling. During our arm balance workshop I was really proud of myself because I got into crow pose for the first time! I did not get myself up into a headstand, but thanks to Sarah and Melody I was able to begin the process of getting into them safely. I think my favorite yoga practice had to be the 108 sun salutations along with working with our mala beads. To me it opened up my soul the most and it showed me my true strength when it comes to yoga. 

I am not as far advanced as majority of the ladies who went on this retreat. A few of them each yoga and others have been practicing for a good chunk of time. I’ve been doing yoga on and off for about two years now. Being on this retreat and doing our daily yoga practices I realized how rejuvenating it is for my soul. A lot of my life I spend on the external, but it was on the yoga deck that I was able to focus on the internal. Surrounded by these women who come from different places in yoga allowed me to witness a time of support, encouragement, and a judgement free zone in my own yoga practice. This is something I have never experienced in a yoga studio.

When I came across Allie’s online yoga, called The Journey Junkie, I knew instantly that she was the instructor for me. She has a big heart that resonates across the screen and she is always encouraging you to put your best self out there. The other thing I love about her is how open and honest she is about her own journey. She is raw with her community, embracing her positives and negatives. This allows each of us to look at ourselves and love ourselves for who we are. This retreat was a first for all of us. Allie was hosting her first retreat and being allowed the opportunity to meet her in person and learn from her was truly spectacular. I am thankful for the community she has created and for making yoga such a big part of my life. Mostly I am thankful she created the opportunity to go do yoga in the jungle. See for yourself in the photos below and you’ll understand why yoga in the jungle is so magical. 

Activities

When we weren’t doing yoga we were either spending time resting by the pool, laying around in a hammock, reading books, or going on excursions. On my travels from the airport my driver stopped at a rest stop that had a bridge you could cross to look at some crocodiles. Those things are massive! The next morning we were supposed to hike to waterfall, however it had been raining all morning and it would be too slippery for the hike. Instead we had a mini spa day. The staff of Selva taught us about home made face masks, healing remedies, coffee scrubs and makeup tips all from the natural plants on sight. After our lesson was over we put on a blue clay mask and hiked down to a mini hot tub they had on the property. In the hot tub they used natural plants and herbs to create an aroma therapy experience. It was super relaxing and neat to learn about how much more nature can provide us than her beautiful scenery. 

On Thursday, our second full day at Selva, we took a trip down to the beach and ate at a restaurant in town. The beach was absolutely gorgeous and I loved how it butted up against the jungle. While we were there Yery came and brought us fresh coconuts to drink from. Man were those things refreshing! I had never drank coconut water straight from a coconut and I am so glad I got the opportunity to. After we finished our coconuts, and capturing some yoga pictures on the beach, we headed to a hostel/restaurant in town. Although this restaurant had chicken and bacon I decided that I would eat vegetarian to maintain a vegan/vegetarian diet while I was in Uvita. I really wanted to see how my body felt while eating fresh, organic, and meat free foods. The restaurant made each of us a smoothie and with the temperatures being hot that day the cold smoothie felt wonderful going down. As we finished lunch majority of us decided to head back to Selva for some R&R, while the others headed back to the beach. 

As we headed into the evening we began to prepare for our sound healing ceremony. Included in the sound healing ceremony was a cacao ceremony as well. As we walked down the path to the yoga deck we were met by the beautiful Tish, who saged us off and asked us to grab a Soul’s Journey card as we entered the deck. In the middle of the deck sat a gorgeous set up of plants, along with the cacao drink we would soon be indulging in. Cacao has a spiritual aspect to it, that when consumed allows us to connect to ourselves and our loving energy. Tish led us in this mesmerizing ceremony, followed by a sound healing meditation. As we sipped our cacao we were to focus on our card (mine was guilt) and our intentions for our future. I learned so much about myself during this time and I wanted to continue to explore what Tish had to offer. Unfortunately she was not able to come back to work with me on womb healing, but I will be reaching out to her eventually to continue working with her. If you ever get the opportunity, I highly recommend experiencing a cacao ceremony on your own. To me it was life changing. 

Friday happened to be my favorite day of the retreat. This was the day we went zip lining!!!! When I first signed up for the retreat zip lining was not going to be one of the excursions so I had planned on doing it on my own my first day there. However, as time went on Allie decided to add it to our retreat package. I am so happy she did because I got to experience flying through the jungle with my JJ sisters! The course included nine zip lines, two rappel stations, two bridges, and a Tarzan swing. My favorites were the rappel stations because we got to rappel upside down :). Sooooo fun!!!!! We even got to see a sloth while were zooming past on one of the zip lines. It was asleep up in the tree, but it was stinkin’ cute! So were the guys who took us on the tour ;-p. They had us laughing the whole entire time and made sure that we were all having a great time. If you ever get down to Uvita, do yourself a favor and check out Osa Canopy Tours. By far my favorite experience on the entire retreat. 

Saturday was our last full day at Selva and I spent it relaxing. Some of the ladies went on the waterfall hike, but I laid by the pool, read, and enjoyed a massage on the yoga deck. That morning we had written down on post-its all of the negative things we wanted to leave behind to throw into a bonfire that night. Due to a big storm that rolled through our bonfire was cancelled. I thoroughly enjoyed watching that storm roll through though. There is nothing more peaceful than being in the middle of a rainforest and listening to the sounds of mother nature all around you as she cries out. We all spent our last evening together sitting around the dinner table enjoying conversation, laughter and sharing memories.

The next morning as we packed up, said our goodbyes, and exchanged contact information, I was reminded that this time at Selva was one of the most special things to ever happen to me. We grabbed our post-its from the day before, burned them in a pot, and released everything to the Universe. Once on the bus for our four hour ride back to San Jose you could see pure bliss on everyone’s faces. We were all leaving with souls open and ready to take on the next chapter of our lives. We were ready to conquer what life threw at us. That night some of us went out to a Mexican restaurant in San Jose and had one last celebration. A celebration of coming home to ourselves!

Post Retreat

As I sat in the hotel on my last night in Costa Rica I felt content. I was ready to head home with a new outlook on life. I did not know, and still don’t know, what life will bring me. What I do know is that I am better equipped with tools to help myself find out what I truly want out of life. A couple of weeks ago I was blindsided by a situation that occurred. Since then I have realized that I am handling the situation a lot different than I would have in the past. I owe that to Costa Rica. I allow myself to feel all of the emotions that I need to, but at the end of the day I am reminded of my strengths, of my JJ sisters and of all of the possibilities out there. Life is not always going to be easy, but it’s in how you handle what gets thrown at you that shows your true character. I feel at peace. I feel happy. I feel renewed, rejuvenated, restored. 

During the trip I lost seven pounds due to the healthy lifestyle I was living while in the jungle. I am trying to maintain that same lifestyle out here. I am not one hundred percent there yet, but I am working towards it. However, in the changes that I have so far implemented I have lost four pounds in the past two weeks. I know what my goals in life are right now and I won’t let anything get in the way. On top of my healthier lifestyle I have been practicing my Spanish every day, seeking out the goddesses when I am feeling lost, doing yoga at least once a week, and meditating every night. It’s all of these positive changes to my lifestyle that are going to keep launching me forward into the best me that I can be. I cannot wait to join Allie again on another retreat, but until that time comes around I want to make sure that I nourish my soul so that I can live out my best self in all areas of my life. Until next time my beautiful readers. Pura Vida!

Love always,

Jess

Letters, My Journey

#SHEDOES


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Today I sit in my cozy office, safe from the outside elements. I hear my coworkers and I remark how cold it is, even inside. Then I feel guilty, probably a guilt I don’t need to feel, but one that is sitting upon my heart nonetheless. It’s the middle of March and California’s rainy season is in full force. We may not have it as bad as the East Coast right now, but desert temperatures fluctuate drastically throughout the day, leaving one’s body in shock. How privileged I am to be able to neutralize those affects with warmth and protection inside 4 walls and a roof. 

The small nip I feel from the cold as I walk from the door to my car is nothing compared to what our homeless men and women feel every minute of every day. They may be lucky enough to receive temporary shelter, but only 1 out of every 4 homeless people are currently in shelters. In Los Angeles that is a staggering number considering we have an estimated 57,794 homeless people in Los Angeles County. This is according to the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority. That’s 57,794 sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, and children who are freezing on our streets any given day. When temperatures get this low, adding rain to that, some people don’t make it through the night; shivering all night long until their body succumbs to the cold. In most parts of California there are winter shelters, but they are only open from December 1st to March 31st. With both the cold winters and sweltering summers we need shelters that are open year round. 

Not only do we need shelters that are open year round, but we need more shelters for homeless women. According to the 2017 census, women make up 31% of the homeless population. Majority of these women face sexual assault and are being forced into prostitution by gang members. What’s hard is that 34% of the homeless population are homeless because of lifetime experience with domestic/intimate partner violence. These women are leaving abusive relationships, ending up on the streets, and are finding themselves back in abusive circumstances. It’s a cycle that needs to end, but how? 

The movement #shedoes is focused on pushing to get shelter for these women. A few weeks ago I joined them for a prayer circle in Downtown LA outside the Mayor’s prayer breakfast. Although Mayor Garcetti didn’t show up we had the opportunity to pray with some of the local pastors for the safety and protection of these women. The goal of #shedoes is to get 1,000 homeless women off the streets and into shelters by August. I am still in the beginning stages of getting involved with #shedoes and learning about the homeless problem in LA. This is not something that can be swept under the rug because homelessness is on the rise. We should fight to change the stigma around homelessness and to change the circumstances they fall into. You can learn more about this organization through #shedoes on Facebook or the #shedoes webpage. As I continue to learn more and become more involved with the #shedoes movement I will keep you informed. 

Love always,

Jess