Living Pura Vida: 8 Steps For Living "The Pure Life"
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April 20, 2016

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We just got back from Costa Rica and Nicaragua for my daughters’ Spring Break. For an entire week, we rested in the hot sun (with loads of sunscreen on!), ate amazing grilled fish, veggies and fruit, and recharged. Pura Vida is Costa Rica's motto, which means the “pure life.” But its true meaning goes beyond those two simple words. I went to Best Costa Rican Tours web site because I think they describe this “pura vida” mindset best:

Associated with many different English interpretations like “pure life”, “take it easy”, “enjoy life”, “all good”, “purity in life”, “hello”, “goodbye”, “this is life!” and many many more….

Pura vida! means that no matter what your current situation is, life for someone else can always be less fortunate than your own. So you need to consider that maybe… just maybe, your situation isn’t all that bad and that no matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together and life is short… so start living it “pura vida style.” You want to know what living a peaceful, simple, uncluttered life with a deep appreciation for nature, family and friends, just come to Costa Rica and experience it yourself! PURA VIDA!

I bought a Pura Vida bracelet to remind me that everything that I am, everything that I want to be, is in the meaning of those two simple words: pure life. I've said it before but here I go again: Cancer changes a person. So does divorce. I know many who shut down-- they give in, struggle with depression, and barely function. And there are others who take an opposite approach: life is a gift. Enjoy every moment. Live big and grand.

The latter describes me best. I live the most amazing life I know how. Sure, I struggle with fatigue and fear. But until God calls me home, I am living life with purpose. Purely, authentically, honestly. Throughout my divorce, as hard and ugly as it was, I stayed honest and true to my values. Well, first, I really discovered what my values were and what mattered most. It was a pretty simple list: health, family, relationships, making a positive difference in the world, and creating memories. And then I never waivered from living those values. I might have been in fighting mode during divorce proceedings and chemo; I might have even been a bitch at times. But I stayed authentic ME and I write about it. Raw, honest, always true to, well, TRUTH. Why do I care to document my life? Because it matters to me. It's cathartic. And it will matter to my children one day who will, if they want, learn why their mom made the decisions she did. And, lastly, I know it helps scores of my readers out there to know that they are not alone in their struggles in life. And despite life's tough times, we can still do amazing things, accomplish what we never thought possible, and have loads of fun doing it.

So on our trip to Costa Rica, as I re-commit to living Pura Vida, here's how I try to do it:

1. When buying, keep it simple

I was once a shameless consumer. I loved to shop and spent way too much time doing it. And when I got sick and looked at all my possessions, I was disgusted. What the hell was I thinking spending so much of my life walking through shops and spending money on stuff that I didn't need and didn't matter. What a waste of resources. These days, I still love cute clothes and shoes, but I buy a lot less of them. And when it comes to the BIG purchases (like another house or another chest of drawers), I refrain. We need nothing more. Our home is perfect as is. These days, instead of shopping, I'd rather go for a walk or take a nap. (Or binge watch House of Cards, to be honest.)

2. De-clutter

It's hard to relax when surrounded by "stuff." I've seriously de-cluttered and I'm ready to do it again. Go through the closet and get rid of anything I haven't worn in two years. My daughters' closets-- if it doesn't fit or they don't love it, toss it. Extra furniture and knick-knacks? Gone. The cool thing is that that I can find what I'm looking for, be it passports, Social Security cards, or that cute soft pink scarf that was buried under coats. I've also de-cluttered my relationships. If I don't love spending time with someone, I just don't. I only do things that I love doing, too (minus the "musts," like putting laundry away). Saying "no" is easy.

3. Organize

Everything I own has a "home." It took a lot of time getting to this point, but now that I'm here, it rocks. And the fewer things I own, the easier it is to stay organized.

4. It's all about the relationships

I love the people in my life. And if I don't love them, they're gone. Just like that-- cut out all negative influences like a tumor. I spend all the time and energy I have into building relationships. Last year, I bought my daughters season ski passes at Park City and every weekend, we drove 45-minutes each way to get them on the slopes. I loved our time in the car. There was one rule: no cell phones. Instead, we talked a lot, listened to music, and re-connect. I know they loved to ski and snowboard, but I also know they valued our drive time.

5. Love and smile

As awful as life can be at times, smile as much as possible. Laugh. And love those around you. Like, actively love them. How? Do simple things that show you care-- bake cookies, clean a bedroom, give a scalp massage, or simply drop off a sandwich at their school for lunch. Small gestures mean a lot.

6. Live in the moment

Slow down. Notice what is going on around you. Listen to the birds or wind in the trees. Take deep breaths. It is incredibly calming. When I was in Costa Rica, I splurged on a 90-minute massage on the beach. Almost as amazing as the massage was simply listening to the waves crashing on the shore, the birds chirping, and the sound of the (very loud) wild howler monkeys. I could smell the ocean and the peppermint massage oil that my therapist was using. Every time my mind wandered, I brought it back to that moment. I still think about that amazing experience. 

7. Own it

Stop making excuses. Sometimes we just have to accept what "is" and move forward. I have learned to accept my imperfect body and the mistakes I've made. I make no effort to hide it. I've apologized to those I feel I have wronged. I have a cut-out of a cross hanging from my rearview mirror. It says: "Good morning, this is God. I'll be taking care of all your problems today." Every time I get in my car, I can't help but see it and read it. I know life is not perfect, I know that I cannot control much, and I just need to accept my imperfect life and make the absolute best of it. What choice do I have?

8. Take a nap

That's right-- we need to give ourselves permission to rest. Naps are good. So is meditation. Or just... nothing. Simplicity. Peace.

And here's to living the Pura Vida principles every day! Live, love, smile.


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