I wake up to these sounds that I am only able to recognize as the animals of the forest because I have heard them every day for the past 2 months. I hear the wind brushing through the canopy of trees that surround me and slowly feel the heat creeping up against my skin as I start to open my eyes. I consciously know that I am in Costa Rica but it almost feels like I could still be dreaming, so I half sit up to turn around, and assuring myself that I must be remembering correctly, I glance out the window. Without fail a rush flies down my spine leaving me without my breath. I catch myself marveling at this incredible canvas that rests above my head each night.

Being present is a practice. And it is something I have learned to practice since I begun this step of my journey. As I have become more present in my life I have become more grateful for the simple reminders in life. Because I feel most of us have let this world take us to a place of darkness. In a very general sense we have become a very dark world and I think that while being caught up in all the darkness we forget to look up to the light.

This is something I have had to work a lot with these past few months. Most days on the finca ( property with the wildlife sanctuary) our schedule is fairly simple; wake up, prepare the morning feeding, feed the animals, enrich enclosures, clean, etc, lunch then repeat. Our days feel almost identical. I have been facing challenges with certain relationships in my life recently ranging from people I work with to my love life to friends and family back home. I have felt incredibly stressed about money as I juggle reaching for what I want, doing the work/not asking family, and figuring it all out while in a foreign country with a full volunteer schedule. And in all of it, because of all of it, I have felt pretty alone. (Now I don’t want to not give credit to my very supportive parents but even though I know they support me and love me from far away they have been pretty busy with doing the work that they are passionate about right now, which I am super proud of them for doing) But like I said, as a result I have felt pretty alone. I feel like sometimes I only get out of bed for the animals and through the week for my boyfriend and will only “get through” these 3 months, which is a hard feeling. So in my time that I have had “alone” I have had to learn and teach myself quite a few lessons in order to shift; to want what I want is okay, that there is no right way, that I have taken the road less traveled which means I can’t set expectations and things might get tough, to expect and accept change because often times we will fight it due to the discomfort it brings at first but what I have also learned is that you aren’t really living if you’re comfortable and that life is unexpected so be flexible… Though the 2 most important lessons I have learned over all is to never take a moment for granted. Slow down. You could be so focused on getting to your destination that you didn’t just sit back and enjoy the ride, even with a few unexpected bumps(and sometimes the bumps can be fun!). And to always go with your gut, because one day you could wake up and regret something you didn’t do, but at least if you did it and it went south, you got to learn from it and “now you know”.

I think I went into all this hoping I would find myself or what I wanted to do or maybe whatever I was looking for, but I think what I am realizing now is that these lessons were what I was looking for and they have given me opportunities to find more of myself allowing me to shed some light on what I really want. So for that I am grateful, and every morning I remember to take the opportunity to look out my window before my time here is over and the chance has passed me by.