Nicaragua: San Juan Del Sur


First impressions… This place is heaven on earth.

When I was flying in for a landing in Managua, Nicaragua I gazed out the window at the landscape in childlike wonder. That’s pretty much what I do anytime I journey to a new place. This time I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to a native Managuan who informed me that I was entering the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes”. Another look out the window affirmed that. There is a large lake near the airport in Managua with volcanoes situated along the edges. My brain was just taking all this in, already tuning in to the mellow vibe of the place. The mellowness continued upon exiting the plane and entering the airport. Never have I been in a more relaxed, air conditioned, welcoming third world country airport! I took my time getting through the processes to enter the country, already feeling the chilled out vibe that would stay with me the entire trip. Finally met up with my Gracious Living yoga/surf, self-love retreat cohorts and we piled in the retreat’s pre-arranged transport. Destination: The time of our lives.
nicaragua 2014
Photo courtesy of Gracious Living.

We had a world class team put together for us by Grace Van Berkum. Aniko Farkas founder of BodyBeautyMind, a force of sheer goddess energy who provided us with copious natural skincare information and infused everyone with over the top positive vibes. She had us all laughing as we slathered up on the beach from head to toe with papaya, honey, avocado, coffee grounds, sugar and coconut oil. Yum! I believe she is a life coach & massage therapist as well. Not a surprise as all the people I met in this dynamic place were multi-talented. Photo 3-11-2014, 6 43 35 PM
Photo courtesy of Gracious Living.

Mirella Saraswati, a beautiful, willowy yogini/ayurvedic nutritionist from Amsterdam who made the most gorgeous yoga-inspired jewelry. This girl was as hilarious as she was brilliant. The highlight for me was when she had us make our own mala bracelets one breezy evening as she presented her delicate Kalpana jewelry creations. No wait, the highlight was definitely her energizing morning yoga sessions on the open third floor veranda of the hotel. Maybe it was the gentle, unobtrusive way she conveyed her vast nutrition knowledge every day… Whichever it was, this was one dynamic member of Grace’s angels.

Angela Morris was our resident guru of all things female. This woman is full to the brim of information regarding our hormones, our roles in society and finding our power as women. She’s like all three Powerpuff Girls rolled into one. I learned so much about my monthly fluctuating energy levels from her and seriously considered her information before I powered too hard into the surf sessions. It is her life’s mission to educate all ladies of the world about their body and their personal power. Oh yeah, also an amazing massage therapist. Rock on girl, I’m lucky to have met you.

pacific bay hotel
The hotel was situated at the top of a hill overlooking Playa Marcella. Pacific Bay Hotel is a little slice of heaven at the end of an unmarked dirt road (that driver really came in handy). From our perch we could see the waves of the pacific ocean lapping gently on a small beach between two rocky cliffs. Talk about AMAZING sunset views! To the east was a lush, untouched landscape of hills and trees full of monkeys. Perfect place to breath, relax, take in nature from the swinging hammocks…

Photo 3-10-2014, 1 20 19 PM
Got surf? This place sure does! And delicious fish tacos. Playa Maderas is all about surfing. There are locals, seasoned surfers and surf instruction available here. Consistently peeling off waves and gorgeous scenery are the draw. It’s a relaxed place you’ll want to check out if you’re in the area. playa maderas
Image courtesy of Gracious Living.

This is where Survivor Nicaragua was filmed. You can see Costa Rica from the long shoreline here. Playa Hermosa is another favorite surf spot. The day we were here, they were setting up for a big surf tournament the following weekend. We passed our time doing yoga on the beach, laying in the hammocks of the beachfront hotel and practicing our surfing. This is also the spot where we clogged an outdoor shower drain rinsing off our papaya body masks 😉
Photo 3-12-2014, 6 21 18 PM

Photo 3-13-2014, 6 11 00 PM
Photo courtesy of Gracious Living.
Photo 3-13-2014, 6 00 42 PM
This town is as charming and as ripe with surf bums as it gets here in San Juan Del Sur. Grab your souvenirs and meet locals selling handmade crafts on the side of the road. Enjoy strolling under the squawking of the parrots from the rooftops. This is where you will find a hilltop statue of Jesus which is a nice, steep, little hike that rewards with breathtaking views of the Bay of San Juan. My favorite part of this day, after watching the sun dip into the ocean, was a being served a delicious, raw, vegan, gourmet meal at a restaurant called Buddha’s Garden. It’s a little tucked away, inside of the Zen Garden yoga studio but with a little wandering around it can be located.

Granada was a bit of a drive from San Juan Del Sur but the boat trip on the second largest lake in Latin America to monkey island was worth it. Most people come to Granada to see the colorful buildings of the oldest colonial city in Central America but for me it was all about the boat trip. Wealthy Managuans buy the little islands that are just off the coast of the lake for their weekend retreats. We were treated to a tour through the little islands to a backdrop of the setting sun behind the lush volcanoes.

Jungle fantasy mission accomplished. I will be back to this magical place.

☼ Namaste ☼

5 Tips for Taking Care of Yourself While Herding your cats

Ever try to herd cats? That is what I feel like on a daily basis trying to get done everything on my list. Even as a Personal Trainer I have to find balance to deal with things that come my way that were not on my list and take care of my own health needs. My daily routine is a mountain of chores including trying to build this website, coaching my clients, perform new client consultations, study for my new big Personal Training exam, look for new ways to build my businesses, home chores, art projects, personal reading and take care of my loving family with 3 kids. It almost seems impossible to get it all done! As a matter of nearly is.. my day almost never goes as planned. I have to prioritize my tasks and always be ready to take care of new challenges. I also must find time to take care of myself during these never ending tasks. How do I fit in eating healthy, exercise, surfing, yoga, and my own mediation? I don’t always. It is a daily struggle but I keep on plugging!

So many times I hear friends, family and clients complain of the same issues. They never have time to take care of themselves because they are too busy putting everything and everyone around them first. I understand that we have to work and we have to take care of family, even under times of severe stress. The mistake we often make is putting all these “fires” before our own well being. We think, “As soon as I finish this, I can do that”,  “I can’t do what I want, I never have time”, or the famous “” by the time I am done with everything else, I have no time or energy for myself.” We all have the same excuses…and you are right. The problem is, if we don’t make time for ourselves we will never feel complete. We need to take time out everyday to read, exercise, meditate, and have some quiet time in order to function effectively for all our other demands.

Here are some tips to help you to “herd your cats”.


1. Use a planner.  Keep a daily/weekly planner and schedule all your to do’s along with your personal time and STICK TO IT!! A plan is nothing if we don’t implement it.  After all, we never plan to fail, we only fail to plan.

2.  Combine your daily health goals. (This will be another blog topic)! Examples are working out with the family or loved ones, including family or loved ones in home health challenges, practicing yoga and mediation, or my personal favorite, Surfing! Surfing is playtime, mediation, quiet time, can be family time, and is great exercise!

3. Prioritize your “fires”. If something unplanned comes up, decide how important is it really? Does it have to be done right now? Can you deal with it later after you accomplish your original goals? So often we put others needs before our own when in can wait.

4.  Reschedule when necessary. If something comes up that must be dealt with immediately, reschedule your planned activity immediately after, for later that day or as a priority the next day. The sooner the better.

5. DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT  MAKING TIME FOR YOUR HEALTH. Believe it or not, your health is the most important thing you manage in your life. Without it, you will not be able to take care of the rest of your responsibilities, physically and mentally. Make time to prepare to eat right, make time to work out, and make time to meditate.

Yoga Cat

Just remember that you are not the only one who feels like they are herding cats trying to get through your daily grind. The goal here is to still make the time to take care of your health on a daily basis and not to compare yourself with others. Just because others are not taking care of themselves, doesn’t make you any healthier for doing the same.