“Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away”. – unknown

We did it. Our first real epic family adventure and it was absolutely amazing. I confess that my expectations were a bit guarded when we finally agreed to do a big international trip with the kids. It is not that they are unruly kids. But they are kids. I have traveled for many years all over the place going to some of the furthest reaches of the earth but I have never brought the kids.

So this time we did. We waited many years, doing various family trips around the US and when they finally reached the age where we thought we could give it a try we did. We packed our bags, boarded a plane and headed south of the border to Costs Rica. And it was marvelous.

We didn’t stay at an all-inclusive resort on the beach but drove all over the place having quite the adventure for our first land trip out of the country. It was the best family trip we have ever been on, hands down. There were no meltdowns, no drama, no sibling bickering or bell bottom tears. Instead, it was nothing but laughing, smiling, enjoying each others’ company and getting out of our comfort zones to try new, daring things. 

I came back from this trip with a new lease on life. On a personal level, the past few months have been emotionally challenging for me. I was often overwhelmed, stressed and feeling like I was losing control. I realized that I had not been feeling at ease for months –quite frankly since the election. My world and everything that I have cared so deeply about was unraveling and falling apart. I was in a constant panic about the crumbling of human rights, the dismantling of the climate and environmental policies, the loss of dignity and the utter hatred, violence and cruelty surrounding the world.

I was constantly on the phone with my senators fighting, begging, and pleading to protect international foreign aid, to make sure mothers would have clean water for their children and that my friends in the community wouldn’t be deported and sent back. It was consuming my life to a point that I was constantly on edge, anxious and filled with dread and despair. I felt like a heavy weight was pushing me down and I was losing my breath.

Until I just simply couldn’t take it anymore. I could no longer obsess and be miserable over things that were out of my control and I couldn’t change. I stopped reading my friends posts on Facebook, stopped getting worked up about every little thing (that albeit in my opinion is terrible yet I can’t really change), and now I skim the newspaper. Slowly but surely the suffocating blanket of anxiety lifted and I could breathe.

I brought my focus back to the things I can change. I can continue to use my voice, I can be kind and good-hearted, I can give back to others and I can give myself some slack. I can live in the moment, and be grateful for the things I do have. Yes, there are millions upon millions of people in this world who are suffering but I can’t let my soul die to save them. I also know that my problems are “first-world” problems or even problems associated with living in the liberal middle class. Not everyone can go on a week trip to Costa Rica! But I’m human and like every single human being on the planet, we all have issues, worries and concerns whether it be health, economic or simply survival.

So I’ve turned over a new leaf. I’m practicing mindfulness and living more in the moment. I’m committed to enjoying what I have, my life, my family and as always to giving back and making a difference. That is what one week in Costa Rica with my family did. It brought me back to the now. To being alive, happy and free.

Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing Anyway”. – Emory Austin

Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica
“Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish.” – Ovid

Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

“If you love life, life will love you back.” – Arthur Rubinstein

Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Park Costa RicaManuel Antonio Park Costa Rica

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

Manuel Antonio Park Costa RicaI hope you have enjoyed a preview of some of my pictures. These are the ones I’ve been sharing on Instagram. I’ve become a bit more active on there as I’ve enjoyed experimenting with creative photography and creating mini stories of my photos. As part of my “slowing down and stopping to enjoy the little things in life” I am going to take my time with my blogging. I can’t do my posts justice if I rush through them too fast. Over the next few months, I will be telling tons of stories about our family adventure. I can hardly wait to share it with you.


  1. I’m happy to read your reflections and resolutions, Nicole. Your photos are sun-sational and I’ll look forward to reading about your family vacation…when the time is right.


    1. Thanks Janet. Sorry I’ve been so behind on reading your blog. Keeping caught up online on everything has been a struggle. I hope to get back up to speed again but realize it will always be a challenge for now keeping up. 😌

      1. Don’t worry about it. I post every day, so it’s harder to keep up. I didn’t really get much read during the Thursday-Sunday period, as I was busy with church, my s-i-l’s visit, making ravioli for Easter, etc. Life happens. 🙂 Always glad to see you when you have time and any time you get to Chicago.


      2. Thanks Janet. I just didn’t want you to think that I don’t care. I always always appreciate your comments so much. It means a lot to me. So thank you and glad you had an enjoyable Easter. We actually were untraditional and my husband cooked the meal and made an entire turkey dinner! I did a nice lasagne dinner Friday night for our neighbors. Yes, life is always o busy. 🙂 The kids keep us on our toes plus the one year old pup who is barking at me know to get off and take him on a walk before I pick my daughter up at school! 🙂

      3. I appreciate you telling me that, Nicole. Ever since I learned to make ravioli, that’s what everyone wants for holiday meals. This year I ended up saying I’d make them for about 12 people at a friend’s house. It was a lot of work, but they were quite good. I did one batch with a meat filling and one with artichoke.

    1. Thanks Sally. Still trying to get through the poetry book. Like everything it is gathering dust but I’ve been trying to slow down a bit. I saw some new buds coming up in my garden. This summer I think I will try to focus more time on it and nature. 😌

  2. Gorgeous photos. There is still a lot of good and beauty in the world despite how it seems in the media. I’ve withdrawn from Facebook and I don’t watch the news and since then I’ve felt a slight shift in my attitude for the better. Enjoy your upcoming family adventures.

  3. I am pleased you are feeling better. As long as Trump doesn’t do something too stupid time will pass and life will go on. Turkey is another issue! The world has gone mad. All we can do is live as well as we can.

  4. The photos give me goosebumps, Nicole! 🙂 So glad you’ve regained your joy in life. You being miserable and under such stress was never going to help anyone and you have your lovely family to live for.

    1. Oh thanks Jo for your kind words. I put way too much pressure on myself and I’m learning to relax and slow down and stop worrying. It has helped so much!

  5. I’m glad you are feeling better. I’d been in quite a funk myself – partly election, partly reaction to the election, partly personal upheaval, etc., etc. – but I feel myself emerging from the morass these days, too. Maybe it’s a new location, the arrival of spring, or the realization (as you note) that I can’t fix everything in the world (or even my little world) myself. Enjoy these glorious family days and trips as much as you can; I miss those days a lot even though my kids have been great about staying attached and traveling with us (or to us) as much as they can. Happy spring, Nicole!

    1. Thanks Lexi! You have had a lot on your own plate too with all the moving. Yes I agree enjoying these special years and every day is so essential. Excited to read your blog post soon… in my inbox!

  6. I was amazed at how well my kids got along when we took a trip to the UK the summer before last. They were for the most part unplugged and the only time they really argued was when we were all crammed into a mid-size SUV (there are 6 of us). We all have wonderful memories of it.

  7. What a wonderful post Nicole. I’m so glad that you’ve stopped stressing so much and rediscovered your centre. Now you can spread joy in the world. What could be more helpful than that?
    Alison xox

    1. Oh thanks Alison! I think I also have been so overwhelmed with keeping up. I am so behind in blogging and reading my favorite blogs. It used to stress me out but now I just leave it all in my inbox and wait until I have time even if it is a few weeks!

      1. We’re in Vancouver for about a year this time. I’m having problems with chronic pain and mobility that I need to get sorted. We realised we just needed to take whatever time it takes for me to heal.

      2. That is nice you will be in Vancouver. What kind of chronic pain do you have? I remember we chatted before about pain. I’ve had chronic neck and back pain since I was 13 and my hip area has been on and off pain for about three years. It sucks!!! I just had a flare up myself with both my neck and hip area so I’m back in physical therapy and pain. It is annoying because I can’t do all that I want to do. Yet I remind myself it could always be so much worse. The Costa Rica trip got to me with all the driving. Oh well. I’ve been doing a lot of acupuncture which has helped a bit and in time hopefully it will be manageable again and I can back up running! 😌

      3. So sorry to hear how difficult it is for you! And yes, chronic pain sucks! I’m pretty much in pain from my hips to my ankles and the more I do the worse it gets. I haven’t yet found a doctor to diagnose it beyond arthritis in both knees and one hip, but I know it’s much more than that. I see yet another specialist next week.

      4. It is annoying as I am sure you can relate. Ironically I am much better when I’m on vacation and relaxed. I tend to hold a tremendous amount of tension in my body. Oh well. So did you have an injury? My mom has arthritis everywhere so she has suffered a lot herself. She had surgery on both knees. I know I have arthritis in my neck. Hope you mend soon… 😌

      5. I had a rough weekend as I drove to a conference and spent 12 hours driving! 😐result was that I am very stiff yet better than expected . It is tough on the body isn’t it Alison. I have begun experimenting with supplements like fish oil and magnesium and it actually seems to have been helping cut down inflammation. Fingers crossed 😌

  8. ये तस्वीरें इतनी अद्भुत हैं कि शाृद शब्द कम पड़ जाए। Must say, amazing photography . Moreover, our nature is plenty of surprizes.

  9. I love Costa Rica! We just visited Puerto Viejo in October. Such a beautiful country and people. Beautiful photos! Where did you visit in Costa Rica? We stayed on the Southeastern Caribbean on this visit. We also went to Bocos Del Toro in Panama, which I highly recommend. Our trip was 10 days of heaven! We also stayed in Cahuita. We loved the local culture and the fact that where ever we went, it wasn’t built up to high heaven. I never saw a building over two stories. I would retire there in a minute if I could.

    1. This was my third trip to CR and I’ve been all over- the Osa Peninsula is my favorite! I wrote a lot about it on my blog as I went in January. We just got back from a family trip a few weeks ago and went to Arenal, Rio Celeste and Manuel Antonio. Loved it. I also have heard a ton about Bocos del Toro and wanted to learn more. Would it be a good place for kids? Have you written about it? How did you reach it? From CR?

      1. Thanks so much for this! I did read it and it is great! If we decide to go that way I will be sure to let you know as I may need some advice/tips.

      2. Glad you enjoyed the article. We really liked Panama, and will go again. Also every single beer we had was ice cold, and cheap! Like a $1 a bottle!

  10. Beautiful photos Nicole! I know exactly how you have been feeling, as I am walking in those same footsteps, feeling stressed every day, making phone calls, going to meetings, signing petitions, staying informed. I feel like I am suffocating! I am about to step away as we head out on Monday for the summer, an educational summer one for us as we have elected to volunteer for Yellowstone Association, supporting the naturalists who conduct the field seminars. Our internet access will be very limited so I will not be bombarded with the day-to-day madness of this administration. I think this is just what the doctor ordered. Looking forward to hearing more about your CR trip.

  11. What a spectacular post Nicole. From your beautiful Instagram posts I know how deeply this trip affected you. And I’m so glad you have come back with a new lease on life. Look forward to reading more. 💕

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.