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The Gift of Self Care

Entering The New Year With Optimism

14 February 2024

“Companionship and self-care are a wonderful way to kick off the year, giving us a sense of optimism and positivity. Last month, I gave myself the gift of self-care with a trip to Costa Rica with a friend from Chicago — also an interior designer — to heal, rejuvenate and reset. (We might also have talked shop just a bit.) I hope the story of my journey to start the year inspires you to take some time for that important person in your life — you.” — Kriste

To start 2024, I took a trip that gave me the time and space to be still, experience and move through the grief of having recently lost my mother. This trip was all about self-care, and all about wellbeing. I took the trip with a dear friend, adding the healing power of friendship and companionship to my journey.

Our destination was The Retreat — a beautiful wellness center located about 45 minutes outside of San Jose, Costa Rica. Set in the rainforest on the side of a crystal quartz mountain, The Retreat’s 18 units overlook a verdant valley and the Pacific Ocean to the west. We were surrounded by nature, in an atmosphere filled with quiet, in a place devoted to transformational healing and wellbeing. It was perfect.

We hiked, enjoyed beautiful, healthy, plant-based food, and surrendered to the slower rhythms of the rainforest. I took part in a cacao ceremony that showed me the power of plant medicine. We ate, then drank the cacao, which was cathartic, like a heart opener.

I experienced a healing sound ceremony, which used bowls and other instruments, along with scents, to open pathways of connection through different channels than those we are used to.

I took a solo trip to Manuel Antonio National Park where, with a guide, I hiked and explored. I floated in the ocean, alone with the sounds of the sea.

The healing power of nature. The alignment of body and soul through relaxation, nourishing food and mindful exercise. The calm silence brings. These things really work, and all too often we forget that though a trip to Costa Rica is a wonderful experience, we can make these a part of our life wherever we are. Sometimes it just takes a reset to remind us.

Some Of My Favorite Places

In Costa Rica, I was able to float in the Pacific Ocean, alone with the sounds of nature. Here are a few of my favorite places in the Bay Area to be alone with nature, and feel the healing power of silence.

Muir Woods: Who doesn’t love those towering redwoods and peaceful trails? It’s the perfect spot to unwind and find some alone time surrounded by nature’s giants.

Point Reyes: Secluded beaches, quiet forests and jaw-dropping ocean views – it’s the ultimate escape for some much-needed tranquility.

Mount Tamalpais: Those views, though! Whether you’re hiking through forests or lounging in meadows, there’s no shortage of serene spots to take it all in.

The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park: This place is a hidden gem. Swing by during quieter times for a dose of zen amidst the beautiful gardens.

The Presidio: From quiet trails to scenic overlooks, this former military base-turned-park is a haven for anyone craving solitude surrounded by nature’s beauty.

Mount Diablo: You want panoramic views? These are amazing. Whether it’s catching a sunset or just gazing out over the Bay Area, Mount Diablo never disappoints.

You Never Know Who You’ll Meet

A chance encounter with a kindred soul seated next to me showed how much there is to gain by staying open, and receiving what life brings you.

When we travel, it can be tempting to put in our earbuds and remain disconnected from those sitting just inches away from us. For some reason I can’t explain, the woman seated next to me on my trip to Costa Rica didn’t do that, and neither did I. We introduced ourselves and talked. I told her that I was traveling to Costa Rica, just a few months after my mother’s death, to give myself time to grieve and heal. She listened, and I felt heard.

She told me about her life, which had been filled with abuse from an early age, from family members, foster parents, even therapists. Then she told me about her journey to choosing victory over victimhood, fostering an astounding 170 kids — often victims of abuse themselves. She wrote a book about her life — “I’m Still Standing” — a triumphant story of turning pain into purpose.

Our conversation is something I will never forget. Before we went our separate ways, she told me she felt like my mother had sent her to me to deliver a message. I felt it too, and I’m grateful.

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