How A House Swap In Costa Rica Inspired Me To Ditch My Old Life As A Wellness Influencer

Photo by @fernolivia

This summer, mbg is celebrating travel that really goes the distance. Our new Transformative Travel series will spotlight how to forge meaningful connections on the road and carry life-changing insights back home as souvenirs. Today, we’re hearing from yogi and mbg class instructor Fern Olivia on how a journey to Costa Rica changed her entire worldview.

Recently, I've reunited with the little girl inside my soul who has craved my attention for so long. Since living in Costa Rica and connecting with myself deeply, I've found a wholeness within that I had long forgotten. I've traded my jam-packed schedule for simplicity, freedom, and playfulness. I've abandoned all to-do lists, and instead I'm living each day surrendering to the flow, what we know here as Pura Vida.

I live as I would if I were retired. Instead of worrying that I'm not "doing enough," I do less. I feel more.

It all began when I agreed to a monthlong house swap: my house in Los Angeles for one in Nosara, Costa Rica. I didn't even Google Nosara or make a list of things I wanted to do or see, because in the days leading up to the trip, I was so busy filming a TV show, offering yoga workshops, and working on other passion projects. I was loving my busy LA life, but I couldn't shake the feeling that there was a part of me that was calling out for attention.

How a month in Costa Rica forced me to face my fears and ditch old thought patterns.

Living in Costa Rica immediately forced me to go face-to-face with scary, larger-than-life forces (in fact, there was a huge earthquake my first night here—which I like to think was just the jungle shaking off old karmic patterns for me). But living alone in the jungle, hiking through the rain forest, trying my hand at surfing—every day has quickly shown me that I am fine, I am safe. We're all just here to coexist with nature, barefoot, nearly naked, and connected to the source from which we all came.

I found that once I journaled about my fears, they started to vanish. And through my entries and poetry, I began to realize how I was compromising my soul's desire for freedom in exchange for a busy lifestyle that I thought I needed to live in order to "be successful." Once my house swap came to an end, I knew I had to come back a few months later—a very clear intuitive hit that wasn't backed by logic.

Upon my return, I immediately started questioning my decision. "Why? Why am I here again? I have work to do in Los Angeles!" Heavy winds stirred the land upon my arrival in Nosara, and I felt Gaia's resonance, stirring emotions within me. I couldn't sleep, and my mind raced. I felt heavy and not like myself.

I prayed for guidance. I went deep into the forest and surrendered to the trees and the found comfort in the whispers of the jungle. Through deep introspection, I found courage in knowing what I had to do.

I ditched my return ticket.

Photo: @fernolivia

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Breaking up with my old self and embracing the magic in new places.

I can't believe it's been a year since I moved to Costa Rica full time. Since then, I've been going off the grid as much as possible for solo beach days and hikes—in giving this to myself, I feel lit up and inspired, with more to give and more to serve. I now realize that for so many years, I had been seeking answers from everyone else outside myself—whether that was a doctor, a relationship, intuitive healers, teachers, anyone.

Our lives are precious. It is our birthright to love fully, to live courageously, and to allow ourselves to feel happy and at peace—in this moment.

Everything and everyone else overpowered my voice, as I allowed it to. I didn't have the confidence in my own knowing. I didn't know where to begin to quiet my mind amid my busy surroundings. The energy was so intense, and I wasn't strong enough to say no to the things that were draining me. I didn't understand how to set boundaries and clear space for myself. This fierce drive manifested as a gripping tightness in my belly, finally relieved by uninterrupted time with my thoughts. How sweet this feels in my belly. Breath. Now, I go into nature, sit with her, and the answers arrive to me, from me, with remarkable clarity.

I've realized that many people, myself included, hold on to the mentality of "I will work hard until I retire, and then I can enjoy my life," and upon learning the Pura Vida way, I've realized that life is meant to be enjoyed and lived fully right now.

How can you find some of this lightness—without picking up and moving to the jungle.

We all have an inherent sense of ease and inner peace, but some of us bury it under a veil of self-expectation and busyness. I know I did. Moving forward, challenge yourself to take more moments to connect with yourself and your earth, wherever you may be. Journal on the following questions: What old stories of suffering do you cling to? What habitual patterns have you been holding on to that are keeping your stuck? Where are you missing sweetness in your life? Let the answers be the call to honor your body and soften into a space of receptivity and do the work. No one can do it for you.

Breathe deeply into the parts of you that are asking for your own tender, loving attention. Embrace the shadows; become friends with the parts of you that you've kept secret. Release your grip on anything or anyone that isn't an embodiment of your highest vision. Sometimes this is the hardest part, though the most important. It's safe to let go, even if that means a brief period of discomfort or solitude.

Most importantly, stay open to the next opportunity to sing your truth—and answer the call.

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Fern Olivia
Fern Olivia
Fern Olivia, a former finance professional and biomedical engineer, is now an internationally...
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