Finding Peace in Costa Rica

Twenty five was a transformative age. Seeing a semi inexpensive spiritually cleansing trip a friend and I booked a trip to Costa Rica. There was something raw about the Spanish speaking utopia laced with trails beaches, jungles and volcanoes and upon arrival Mother Nature did not disappoint.

When we arrived a friend and I met with our traveling group and ventured out towards the pacific coast. Along the way was a roadside fruit stall offering exotic fruits. Nearby Caiman crocodiles lounged in the riverbanks where baby caimans can be seized by herons and other birds of prey.

Then Playa Hermosa a black sand beach that is the product of lava deposits from the volcanoes that divide the country’s pacific and Caribbean slopes. Surrounded by the fragile ecosystem the lackluster sand still couldn’t dim the vibrancy that surrounded it. Dinner was served then back on the bus it was towards a hammock endowed villa where a three fingered sloth rotated its neck 360 degrees comfortably in a tree nearby. The day was done and lying in bed the immense sense of life was dominant.

The morning came. Beans, rice, and fried eggs awaited consumption. Then the hike through Manual Antonio National Park. Amidst the 300 species of birds. The most malicious attraction were the white faced capuchin monkeys. Agile animals, they spend their day searching for food from tree to tree. They eat everything from buds, fruits and nuts to birds’ eggs, insects and small vertebrae. It is the most intelligent of new world monkeys using twigs to hunt for insects and stones to crack open crab shells. It also rubs itself with crushed millipedes to repel mosquitos.

Once sightseeing was complete the city center nearby. Scurrying down and around the trees were squirrel monkeys, who were more friendly than capuchin monkeys and are declining in population due to deforestation. Across the street Playa Espadilla where flamboyant alcoholic beverages were served with psychotria poepigiana or the “hot lips” forest flower that attracts butterflies that are just as vibrant. In the water a separate kingdom of animal life.

The next day the adventurer inside zip-lined through silk cotton trees before the Costa Rican rain came down creating the ultimate tranquil rainforest experience.
On the last day I got on a bus filled with Tico men, women and children that made its way through rainbow colored houses towards a small aerial yoga studio with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ocean on one side and an eventful small street on the other.

Limbs flowed through the soft hammock held by carabineers, support chains and webbing straps. Twisting poses wrung out venous blood from internal organs allowing more oxygenated blood to stream through. Blood flow increased from the legs, to pelvis to heart. The intestine relaxed. Serotonin levels increased. Monoamine oxidase decreased. Asana complete pranayama followed. Senses withdrew, grey matter augmented, the fifth brain wave gamma was reached through meditating while levitated. Cognizance lost motion. Time stopped. Stillness and serenity ruled. Slowly lifting up my eyes opened to the sunset that was being admired by new friends parasailing on the other end of town and by the hundreds of other different species.

Feeling the magnitude or how interconnected everything was I noticed that even in the dead quiet the sound of the world is still so loud. It was here that I realized peace isn’t quiet. It roars.

-Tatiana Ristevska

Advertisements

The Woman That Doesn’t Exist

The beauty industry seems to have changed over the years. Several decades ago bigger women were praised then somewhere along the way smaller frames took over. Now there is the misconception that the beauty business has become more body inclusive and is empowering women. In reality this is an illusion that keeps women’s insecurities and well-being stagnant.

Beauty advertisements, magazines, and clothing lines have begun including different body types. A shift that has brought with it language that uplifts some women and scoffs at others. Thin is a body type too and body shaming thin girls is as ignorant as shaming thicker ones. This tone is two faced and the women that endorse this mentality are feeding the deception that they are breaking the mold that women are forced into.

The deception is that these advocates are still proportioned. They still have flowing hair, radiant skin and wear skin tight clothing. They are not empowering the female that is a size 16 with a flat chest. They are not empowering the female who spends days at the gym but still doesn’t have a flat stomach or the female who reads up on healthy food choices drinks a ton of water but still has cellulite. They are not empowering the female with tattoos draping her arms or the female that wants to wear banana print pants because they despite being thicker are still submitting to the pristine vision of what a woman should like. The goddess like image is what needs to be removed from the mainstream media not the thin girl.

Women want so hard not to be pressured into looking a certain way yet criticize women that don’t look a certain way and keep putting these dainty looking women on pedestals. If what women really want is to just be confident with what they look like then wouldn’t the easiest way to achieve that be for women to stop admiring women because they represent what they look like or what they want to look like and start admiring women who aren’t celebrities. Celebrities that feel the pressure to perfect themselves subsequently enabling the unrealistic ideal woman. Celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe is one the most famous woman of all time yet she never really existed but that doesn’t stop women referring to her as the ideal lady. Not too thin and not too big. Soft features. An elegant walk and a sultry talk but most importantly- she was suicidal. She tried to kill herself three times before she was successful at it. This detail is what women should focus on the most – not what she looked like. The woman that was depressed and suffering from an identity crisis was not Marilyn Monroe. Her name was Norma Jean Mortensen and she represents women more than Marilyn Monroe ever has or will.

In modern times she is usually a go to example when discussing the ideal women. Women now use her image as an example of a woman who has been deemed one of the most beautiful and sexiest women of all time yet she was curvy and this would probably make Marilyn Monroe want to commit suicide all over again. Her body wasn’t meant to be a precedent or a beauty goal. She was not an example of how women should carry themselves. Her body was the same as every female body in existence – a vessel to carry thoughts and emotions from one experience to the next. Bodies that are just going to end up in the ground underneath the rigid standards we’ll never amount to no matter what we look like.

Among the many reasons why Marilyn Monroe killed herself was because she wasn’t taken seriously by men, was whispered about by women who felt inferior to her, was insecure and felt people only focused on her looks and not who she was. Yet still women hypocritically reduce her and each other to the very thing they try and fight against – image. Women spread her picture on their bedroom wall or blog overrated quotes of hers. Here are some of the underrated ones…

From Gloria Steinem’s Marilyn: Norma Jeane

“I did what they said and all it got me was a lot of abuse… Big breasts, big ass, big deal. Can’t I be anything else?… I was wearing this open skirt – I think they call it a flamenco- with this black bra and panties underneath. The dance people kept making me flash the skirt wide open and jump around like I had a fever… It was ridiculous.”

From Marilyn Monroe’s autobiography

“Why I was a siren, I hadn’t the faintest idea. There were no thoughts of sex in my head. I didn’t want to be kissed, and I didn’t dream of being seduced by a duke or a movie star. The truth was that with all my lipstick and mascara and precocious curves, I was as unsensual as a fossil.”

There are countless accounts about her never feeling like she knew who she was and wishing people would see passed her beauty and still to this day that is all we recognize. She was a civil rights activist, she was a writer and hated that she was a beauty symbol. So if from Marilyn Monroe’s existence all we can gather is “pretty woman” then we have a long way to go because referencing Monroe and praising modern day plus size models isn’t  breaking the mold. It is reversing it back to what it was.

The battle shouldn’t be this waste line vs that waste line. The battle is realizing that the media and men created the unrealistic woman and women keep her in place.

– Tatiana Ristevska


A Well Traveled Woman

“I love traveling” is such a misused statement. Often what people really mean is they like a place with a beach or they want to visit typical well known vacation spots – like the Caribbean. Or they don’t want to go anywhere if it’s cold. Or they do some multi city trip in two weeks or less. Or they travel because they think it makes them sound philosophical in conversation. Traveling is sacred it’s not a bonus point for the personality especially if the intention behind it is superficial. It’s a privilege. It’s not just an escape but a chance to confront ignorance, wonder, wander and progress.

Wanting to travel the world should mean visiting Paris in the winter when there are little to no tourists to sense what the city is really like because the winter quiet is just as beautiful as the summer noise. It should involve an appreciation for architecture like the neomanuelino Gothic-renaissance style Real Gabinete Portugues de Leitura in Brazil. Roaming open towards all the gritty places in the world like the garden of poison in Alnwick, England. Or Venezuela despite the fact that they do their local food shopping in prisons and the children of the Piaroa tribe roast goliath spiders like marshmallows until the air escapes from their knees because you can’t be a picky eater in the jungle.
Traveling offers adventures that can’t be experienced at home because nature is cathartic and no matter how many mountains you climb the feeling when you get to the top is always worth it. Earth provides more for us than we think. From swimming with jelly fish that don’t sting in the lakes of Palau to watching the burnt orange sunset while camping in Morocco. Marveling at Fingal Cave in Scotland that Celtic mythology claims was once part of a bridge that stretched across the sea, built by giants to fight one another. The Wisteria Tunnel in Japan, the Tunnel of Love in the Ukraine, Halong Bay and Pongua falls in Vietnam. Norway, Namibia, Montenegro, Cambodia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, Jordan, Madagascar, the stone forest in China and Lake Retba in Senegal.

Traveling is the best form of self- education if our journeys lead towards cultures that are unlike ours, immersing ourselves in them instead of judging them. Visiting institutions and sites that address the history of the world. Visiting India. Getting lost in its vivid southern temples. Feelings alive during its bright elephant festivals. Weaving on a traditional loom with women whose hands have produced goods that have made other women look lavish. Meeting peace and harmony in Tibet where a leader taught a nation in exile that retaliation by violence is weaker than retaliation by peace. Indonesia. Croatia. Guam. The Dead Sea. The curiosity to experience the world not travel it.

-Tatiana Ristevska