the subjective perspective of an analytical optimist

Paradise Within Paradise


September 14, 2013

I’m sitting here on the floor of the airport in San Jose airport, snacking on dark chocolate-dipped cocoa nibs and enjoying my four hour layover from Costa Rica back to the states. Lost in a trance, listening to the sleeting rain and  mumbled Spanish announcements.

In 12 hours, I’ll return to my normal routine. But my life will be anything but normal.

I have spent the past nine days in Paradise. Yes, the ocean was lovely and the sunsets breathtaking; the locally harvested foods were incredibly delicious; the colorful macaws and humorously loud howler monkeys made me smile. But, those were all secondary. True Paradise is bonding with 20 of the greatest masterminds I have ever met: beautiful souls with open hearts, expansive dreams, deeply-set passions, and a conviction to serve this world and live out their personal legends. Simply being in the presence of this exceptional elite has made me a better person.

I have spent the last week at the Blue Osa Eco-Spa in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica at a Trailblazers Retreat for entrepreneurs. Surrounded by passionate, driven, and inspired world-shakers. We were momentarily suspended in a greenhouse of symbiosis and growth, where everyone offered their open heart to the group, as well as their knowledge, experiences, and expertise. When you present your raw, authentic self from the start and selflessly share your gifts with others, rapid exponential growth ensues. It is inevitable. And it is indescribably beautiful.

Vulnerability opens space for empathy, compassion, and support. Raw honesty allows for constructive feedback. Seeing someone else apply the skills and insights you’ve shared is one of the most rewarding feelings. We all have stories–pains, passions, secrets, and dreams–and I believe these stories are the backbone to all success in life: business, relationship, self-awareness, and all else.

I’m still processing the hundreds of insights packed into the past nine days.* We explored a wide range of topics, from business and entrepreneurship to authentic relating and spiritual grounding. We shared stories, poured out our hearts and insecurities, and built life-long relationships that are rooted in selfless giving, mindful awareness, engaged listening, helpful feedback, and sacred space. These newly developed relationships stemmed from open hearts and open minds; they would not have been possible otherwise.

Being highly empathetic, I’ve known for years the power of presence. Of listening, supporting, loving, challenging. Of simple being there with someone. My relationships, my spiritual practice, and the ways in which I engage the world are based on the loose concept: Be a good person. Love everyone. Selflessly offer all you can, without compromising your values or depleting your own energy supply. Just be a good person.

I had no idea that the values that rule my concept of humanity could apply so aptly–and in so many ways–to business. Though the work I do at the office and in coffee shops is ethical and people-based, I suppose I had never recognized it as such. It has always just been what I do, who I am.

To attend a small gathering of entrepreneur–successful, aspiring, and residing on the spectrum between–and to see such a strong focus on relationships, loyalty, selfless sharing, and mutually-beneficially collaborations felt like coming home from college for Thanksgiving with the family. It was a warm, fuzzy, welcoming homecoming where everyone felt happy, healthy, and satisfied.

That feeling lasted the entire week and has yet to fade from my days. We gained valuable insights and one-on-one coaching for work within the business realm, but even more importantly we forged familial friendships. Not only do we have the skills to move forward, but we have a network of support to help pick us up when we fall on our faces and are on the brink of giving up. I could not have anticipated how much I would bond with these strangers-turned-best-friends over the course of a few short days, or just how vital their support would be in helping me to believe in myself and make progress.

Synchronicity and a fiercely insistent intuition carried me across the world, where my path would intersect and align with others who had experienced the same magnetic draw. To make such a huge investment in oneself–in terms of money, time, comfort, and commitment–is no small feat. It requires strong self-awareness and an open line between the heart, mind, and gut. That being said, I’m not sure why I am so surprised by the crowd who came together, or by the strong spiritual undertones, the focus on trusting oneself and practicing raw authenticity in every interaction.

We must live our brand in order to refine our voice and attract our ideal clients, just as we lay everything on the table to connect with the right friends. Resonance will generate revenue, not the other way around.

I have pages upon pages of notes to process but, at this moment in time, my biggest takeaway is the relationships developed. The love, the support, the like-mindedness, and comfort of a creme de la creme network that will always be here to support me. I am so pleased to have discovered a tribe of seekers and strivers who know what I know, feel what I feel, and are committed to building their lives and businesses on the solid foundation of authenticy…just as I am.

Many good things will come of this, I am sure of it. So much already has.


*Ten days, if you count the delayed flight and missed connection that left me sobbing on the floor at George Bush Intercontinental Airport overnight. (That is a story for another day…)

One Response to Paradise Within Paradise

  1. Erin,

    Sounds like a fabulous trip! The feeling of ‘being home’ among “family” if you will, is a super-energizing motivator, let alone support system. I know it…and so glad you’ve arrived with one!

    Apologies for arriving here late. The school year makes my hobby-schedule and time infrequent. *frown* But I will try to get around to at least another one of your posts today!

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