So… WHERE IN THE WORLD AM I & what exactly have I been up to??! I know I made a post when I first got to this mystical place, explaining that I was making a “big change” & listening to my intuition (which said, “get the heck out of city life and take a risk!” haha). But I also know that post was quite vague, and I’ve been a bit hush hush ever since… because the truth is, I’m still figuring it out myself. That’s the strange part about social media. So much of what I do is rational and well thought out, like making self-healing info/research accessible, and designing products that I’m passionate about. Yet what got me here, to this place where I consider you guys my friends and we trust each other, is completely irrational: it’s because I’ve been vulnerable and shared my life, journey & struggles as well.
If I could, I would share my entire diary with you because there’s no better feeling than hearing you say you’re going through the same things and you truly UNDERSTAND me. You guys are my people and I mean that (who else can I talk about parasites with?!) But sometimes, when my life is changing fast and I’m trying to process it myself, it’s easier to write about it in past tense rather than while I’m in the thick of it.
Perhaps I should start at the beginning… phew, are you prepared for a novel?! Buckle your seatbelts because you know your girl can ramble (but I promise it will be worth it).
After ‘waking up’ so to speak around 2012, Nick and I ditched GMOs, stopped relying on a broken/corrupt system and found the power of natural medicine. That was when I first began HEALING my body from the diagnoses and pharmaceuticals doctors said I would be on for life.
For those of you who have been here from the jump, you know that this was when my life changed forever. I met like-minds on social media and started my website where I shared the information/remedies that healed me (and that I KNEW would heal others too). Information that has been systematically kept from us for the interest of corporate profit, but I won’t go too far on my views regarding conspiracies because I get a little wild haha!
At that point, barely a sophomore in college, I had 3 full time jobs: writing/working on my passion (Organic Olivia), getting my degree, and my actual hourly job that made ends meet. Over the next few years, thanks to all of you (and blood + sweat + tears), my dream came true. OO became a bonafide company, making important products and sharing info that has had a true impact on peoples’ lives. When readers started writing me about how I helped them overcome a health obstacle or symptom, I thought: THIS IS IT! I’ve reached the pinnacle! I’m actually making a difference in the world. All I have to do is keep this up forever… what could go wrong?! Guuuuuuurl.
After many breakdowns & sleepless nights, I finally graduated which made my parents very happy. What made ME happy though was my work, which I lived and breathed every moment of the day. I had no idea what being an entrepreneur would take out of me, because that was never my goal – it was simply a means to an end (with the “end” being me fulfilling what I feel is my purpose in this lifetime).
I thought the workload would get easier after college, but things only continued growing. Don’t get me wrong – it has been the biggest blessing and I thank God every morning when I open my eyes. But it has also been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It pushes you to your limits, it makes you cry. It isolates you from your friends and family… but yourself the most. A lot of my loved ones didn’t understand at first why I couldn’t always visit anymore. No one tells you that you have to put in 100 hours for yourself if you don’t put in 40 for someone else. I had to be available to troubleshoot, learn, write, manage, create, and communicate with customers 24/7 – to the point where my work has almost become my identity. When something goes wrong I take it personally, and it’s been hard for me to remember that OLIVIA is a real human separate from Organic Olivia, even as transparent and raw as I strive to be. There’s still a complex being here that feels, bleeds, and has needs. It’s weird navigating how to draw lines, it’s almost impossible to separate work and home life, and I don’t know how Nick has put up with me all these years. I don’t think I would have.
It’s hard for me to have compassion for myself. It’s hard to remember that I’m still only 23, because it feels like I’m a 50 year old man working in a skyscraper that needs to play some damn golf to get my blood pressure down! It’s hard to figure out how to have ‘fun’ since my mind is always ticking. Sometimes I don’t know who I AM anymore since so much of my life is my work and I take it all so seriously. It’s because my job, my livelihood, and my team’s livelihoods fall on me now – and I still haven’t figured out how to balance that weight on my shoulders.
I started all of this for my love of HEALTH. Yet the stress that was flooding into my life was anything but healthy. Everything I preach, love, and believe in – like spending time in nature and taking time to DISCONNECT from technology, was not being achieved with my current workstyle and lifestyle – “style” being the key word when we talk about what I changed.
And yet somewhere, deep down… I knew that the ‘weight’ on my shoulders I just mentioned was STILL not a burden, no matter how heavy it felt. It was and has always been a gift. I am so lucky, SO incredibly blessed to be able to do something that I love. That is not the problem at all, so I needed to change the WAY I was doing things instead. I needed to take a risk and add BALANCE to my life, even if the way I had to go about achieving that balance was extreme.
After visiting Costa Rica in January and being in such a natural environment, around such happy people, who use and need so much less than we do in the states… I realized that I too deserved to be that happy. And I COULD be that happy, with a few tweaks of course. Being back in New York, it felt silly leaving a full day at the office only to go home to an apartment surrounded by concrete (that I was paying a premium for just to be close to the city!) I wanted something money couldn’t buy – the peace and love that only Mother Earth brings. I wanted to PRACTICE what I preach. I wanted to work better and harder because I’m joyful and have extra energy to give others, not because I’m forcing myself to “get shit done.” I never realized how much I glorified being busy, something that was ingrained in my mind at a young age.
Still I trucked on, and the first Monday back from our trip Nick and I woke up and got ready to head to work as usual. Suddenly, we got a call that our office was on fire. As in literal, full on flames. If that wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what is!
The fire stopped THREE windows before us. Three. It took out an entire wing of the building before sparing ours. The lesson I gained that day is that EVERYTHING in life is temporary, down to the office that represented the very thing I was taking so seriously and stressing myself out over: my work. The truth is that my business could fail tomorrow. I could be hit by a bus full of nuns next Tuesday. I could catch a deadly bacteria from the taco stand at the Farmer’s Market. We think we have control, but we never, ever will. And that is where the beauty lies: we are free as soon as we remove our own restraints.
That day I decided: Just because I have a lot on my plate, doesn’t mean that I can’t be young, free, and adventurous. I don’t have to stop living or taking risks just because I had to grow up fast in terms of my career (and in fact I CAN take risks BECAUSE of the blessings I’ve received in my career. It’s all about perspective). I can’t let fear OR stress consume me, I have to listen to my heart and experience the world while I still have the chance to. One day I’m going to WANT to be rooted so that I can have a family of my own and take care of my parents who will need me sooner than I realize. They had me at a late age and I see them getting older before my eyes. I want to be there for them when they need it, so I have to be here for myself now.
I asked myself, what would I do if I had no money, no responsibilities, no cares in the world? What would I do if I truly ’felt free?’ I would travel the world and sleep on couches. I would venture out into pockets of wildlife where I can see lizards and toucans up close, I would dive into waterfalls and I would eat fresh local cuisine with new friends that don’t speak my language. I thought, the only reason I’m not doing that right this minute is because I don’t “feel” free… so I made the choice in that moment to be released from my own mental limits. We ARE free, we were born free, and we should live as though we are. (And in my experience, when you make the choice to do that, doors somehow ALWAYS open for you even when it seems impossible. Call it chance or even magic, but I prefer some good ‘ol divine intervention).
Although my business is a very important part of my life (and on a deeper level my spiritual purpose), I can’t let myself get so sucked into it. My choice to travel may not be everyone’s idea of “freedom” or “balance,” but that’s what it is to me. If nature and exploration will make my work feel more balanced & manageable – if it is important for my health, both physical and mental – and if it’s what my soul is calling out for, then I should AT LEAST give it a try. I hate to be that guy but YOLO, right? We all wanted to take that “year off after college to backpack”… well I decided that this is my year. If you don’t take your own dreams seriously, who will?
The very night of that fateful fire, I began looking at flights. I looked around at an apartment that suddenly no longer felt like my own. I glanced at the pile of “stuff” in my closet and thought, why the fuck did I buy any of it in the first place? I was metaphorically filling the circular void of experience with ‘things’ that were shaped like squares – wondering why they never quite fit. I pack-ratted to make up for what was missing, but never even made a dent. (Seriously, how the hell did Amazon not stop my tab after 5 drinks—-er, himalayan salt lamps?)
When I thought about it, I had already been wanting to leave my apartment for ages to begin with. I’m talking since the *DAY* I moved in. I was so uncommitted in fact that I built my furniture out of cinderblocks and wooden slabs. Including my bed. Ow. Best believe I got some snarky comments on Instagram for that one insulting my garbage-chic eye for design! So why was I staying in a place that never resonated with me in the first place? Because it was “the best deal I was going to get in the area” so I had to settle? Because it provided me with a sense of security? Because I was comfortable, and used to it, and didn’t feel like growing out of my shell? There I go again thinking I have control – I’m realizing that’s a biiiiig theme in my life. You don’t choose when you grow (and you can’t stop it either)… it just has a way of happening.
If the people on those tiny house documentaries could do it, I could do it. If all the ‘crazy hippies’ that have way-too-heavy backpacks, dirty feet, but huge smiles could do it, so could I (and I mean that in the nicest way possible because I’m one of you!)
And so I did.
Within a week, I found the rental of my dreams through a real estate agent (for an actual monthly rental price, not spiked hotel prices or even airbnb prices. We got a local place for a local price on a local street with kids playing and riding their bikes). A few days later, our flights were booked. And once everything was finalized, we gave our landlord the news: we will be out in 30 days. Thank you for everything but we need some sand and sea (and some windows facing the front of the house would be nice LOL – our apartment was attic style!)
We didn’t know our exact plans, and quite frankly, we still don’t. We did not move to Costa Rica, and we are still residents of good old New York, USA. But for right now, for these two months, we are TRYING something different. We are finding out who we are, and what makes us happy. We’re figuring out where we want to live, what climate we like, what part of the world feels good. I don’t believe that just because you’re born somewhere you have to stay forever. We’re learning how much time in nature we need to not pull our hair out, how to make friends in a place that’s completely out of our comfort zone, and how to rid ourselves of stress while still maintaining a work balance – thanks to this terrible Costa Rican wifi! At least it’s something, though. (I appreciate you now Optimum, after all the times I threatened to switch to Fios!)
Our “official” plan is to live here for these 2 months, then return to New York for a bit to check on the office and business, thennnnn continue our travels at our next destinations for a month or two each. That way we can really “live” in each place for at least 30 days – get a feel for how it is to be a local and work/play/eat/love there. That’s why we left our apartment, because we didn’t want to be tied down… we wanted the freedom to really take that full “year after college” I was talking about.
And yet, what I keep coming back to still rings true. There is no such thing as a “plan.” God laughs when we make plans, I heard that one recently and had a good chuckle. Who knows if we will get unbearably homesick after these 2 months and end up going back to a new apartment in New York immediately? Nick REALLY misses his family and friends, so that’s a definite possibility. Who knows if we’ll end up moving to Costa Rica one day for good? Who knows if we’ll finish out the full “year of travel” and live in Amsterdam, India, Peru, and Indonesia like I’ve dreamed up in my mind? I don’t know, and it’s scary, so I guess that’s why I’m getting it all out here. Because at the end of the day, you guys understand and support me, which has been the one constant in my life through these years of ups and downs.
So I guess that’s your answer, huh? We didn’t move away from New York, but for the moment we’re not so stationary. We’re taking it day by day, week by week, and this experience so far has already forced me to get to know myself the way I prayed it would. Some of it has hurt like hell, especially when I had to see how much I was neglecting my home/relationship/family life in lieu of my work and my iPhone. That, I’m working on daily, and I have the solitude of the mountains to thank.
I also wanted to note that I’m well aware this isn’t a “normal” thing. It’s a privilege, it’s insane. That’s why I’ve written this bloody 6,000 word college essay explaining said insanity. I’m not telling you to go quit your job and travel the world just because it’s what I vibe with. You do your own thing and find YOUR dream – that’s what I want for everyone. It’s not easy to pick up and be ‘free’ when you’re in the corporate world or have a classic 9-5, and trust me, I’m working on that in my plans for world domination. (Just kidding, but not really?)
My point is that I hope you find freedom in your own way, as scary as it may be. Maybe your freedom comes from leaving a toxic relationship, or maybe your it comes from finally deciding to STOP dieting and love your beautiful body the way it is. Remember what I said – FEELING free happens in your own mind. You make the choice to remove the mental restraints. You can do anything you want and I truly fucking mean that. I see you, I love you, keep going!!! Pura Vida from Costa RicaAffiliate Disclosure