Anne Havens | Cancer Warrior

Anne opens the door with a gentle smile and a glow that I wouldn’t expect from a person battling cancer. Her radiant skin and eyes show no signs of illness or struggle. Hope permeates through her home. Plants and alters invoke a sense of peace and contentment.

It is mid-morning, so she is making her typical cancer-fighting smoothie. I enjoy green smoothies myself, but I cringe when she adds raw red onion. Anne says this is her medicine. The taste is not a concern. She pours a little for me to taste…not too terrible actually.
A good part of her day is consumed with preparing meals and eating, especially healing plants!


When Anne was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, she became a warrior, ready to endure the battle. She armed herself with an arsenal of health care providers ranging from acupuncturists to traditional oncologists and considered everything from food to environmental toxins and even the flow of energy in her body.

To some extent, the idea of a holistic approach was sparked by her oncologist’s mention of meditation, but as a spiritual being, Anne was likely to go that route anyway. She sought out anyone who could help and read books like Radical Remission and Crazy Sexy Diet. She surrounded herself with an amazing group of friends (you know…like the kind of friends who get matching tattoos and enjoy solstice celebrations).


I can’t possibly sum up Anne’s whole story in this short blog- but here are a few ways that Anne is kicking cancer’s ass.

Anne nourishes her body with an array of vegetables, greens, warm lemon water with cayenne, green tea, smoothies, apricot seed kernels and other whole food. She leaves out anything processed and treats herself to dates and fruit when she wants something sweet. She follows the Ayurvedic practice of eating warm foods in the winter and cooler foods in the summer.

Physical practices
Her routine includes healing practices such as meditation, yoga, Qigong, rebounding and acupuncture. I’m impressed by Anne’s dedication. Each night and morning Anne has a one hour practice that includes central channel breath work, deep quantum meditation, visualization, blessing each cell in her body and then concludes with a prayer and affirmation. Rather than being dragged down by cancer, she is raising her vibration. I’m amazed by her positive attitude. She says, “If you want to change you life, you have to do something different.” Amen, sista!


On top of her intentional lifestyle choices, she recently opted for support from pharmaceuticals and cannabis too. Anne carries the BRCA gene mutation, making her more susceptible to breast cancer, so she is holding nothing back.

Limit Toxins
Carriers of the BRCA gene mutation, like Anne, tend to be more susceptible to environmental toxins. Toxins are a constant threat and there are many we cannot avoid. Anne’s wellness plan includes scrutinizing labels and avoiding any and every toxin possible. She is letting her hair become more natural as she phases out hair dye from her life. She is mindful about her choices in soap, shampoo, and household products.


Anne started this journey with a regimen of intermittent fasting. Fasting has been proven to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells. Fasting stimulates autophagy and apoptosis. Both are normal processes in the body, and are enhanced when fasting. During autophagy, worn out or dysfunctional cell parts are “eaten up” by the body and new parts are created. After a certain number of divisions, our cells are programmed to die. It’s a healthy process called apoptosis. Both of these processes are critical to human health…especially when you are fighting cancer. Anne plans to resume fasting in the Spring, but needs more nourishment this winter…especially after recent weight loss.

In addition to her own radical self-care routine, Anne teaches and practices holistic skin care and wellness. Learn about her Full Moon Facial here.


If you are inspired by Anne’s story, spread hope and share it with a pal.

Badass Mother | Andrea de la Garza


Meet Andrea, inspiring personal trainer, Barre babe and badass mother. When she isn’t at the gym, she is enjoying the outdoors with her sweet boy. Andrea exemplifies what it is to be a nurturing, engaging and supportive mother while somehow rocking the fitness world too. I love keeping up with her mother-son adventures on Instagram. She is truly an inspiration!

Scroll down for some wise words from Andrea.


Cheryl: What is your favorite way to sweat?

Andrea: My favorite way to sweat is a Barre workout! I love Dance, gymnastics and yoga! Barre incorporates movements from those three activities.


What keeps you motivated to stay fit?

I’m inspired to stay fit for my job, to motivate my clients and fellow women and to feel amazing!

I struggled with an eating disorder for 18 years and now I love that I am healthy and thriving; I love and appreciate my body! I have become so strong and done things I never thought I could do. I hope to inspire women in that way! We have control of our bodies and our minds. Also, my family has a lot obesity within and my father raised us to aspire to a healthy way of life.

2018-07-24_0007.jpgLet’s talk about self care.

Being a mother of a kid with Down syndrome and a single mom to boot, self care can be a challenge. I get as much sleep as possible. I eat really healthy and I remind myself that it is ok to take breaks. I love to sneak in acupuncture when I can!

Amen sister, take those breaks!


How did you create a career in fitness?

I have been in fitness since 2009. I started as a spin instructor, then expanded to Barre, weightlifting and cardio, group fitness administration then became a personal trainer in 2017. I grew up a dancer, a gymnast and a runner. Movement has always been a passion of mine. I also have an orthopedic exercise certification and I am a licensed CNA.


Do you have a favorite indulgence?

My favorite indulgence is chocolate and wine! I can never get enough!


Badass Mother | Heather Lorince Harrington

One day, I dropped in to take a Yoga Sculpt class at the club, not knowing who this Heather chick was… but 15 minutes into class I had developed a love-hate relationship with her. I love a fitness instructor who you think of the next day when all those little muscles are aching that you didn’t know existed. You know what I mean?!

Let’s get straight to the point- this woman is an inspiration! There’s something in the way she guides you through the hardest workout of your life with a sense of humor and that innocent look on her face…like it’s no big deal.

My first impression was that she just spent like 8 hours a day working out and spent the rest of her time munching on kale. Come to find out she balances her love of fitness with motherhood, a real estate gig, and margaritas!

Here are some words of wisdom from this amazing fitness guru:

CS: Why is fitness important to you?
HLH: Fitness has always been a huge part of my life.  Growing up on a farm, living 10 miles from the nearest town…I did a lot of running on dirt roads.  I also had nothing else to do but play sports.  And volleyball paid my way through college and still pays me – as I play on the beach volleyball circuit competitively.  I found yoga after I was done playing collegiate sports and that paved the way to learn and teach lots of other fun styles and modalities.  I love to move and I love to connect with other people…fitness has allowed me to do both.  I also have a 2 year old I have to keep up with…so I have to be in shape because she’s crazy.

heather-favs-20_WEB-1.jpgHow do you stay inspired?
I stay inspired by always being a student and always learning.  I’m inspired by other teachers, I’m inspired by my students and their fitness journeys and I’m inspired by my family.  My daughter and husband make me always want to do better and be better, as do the people I teach on the daily.

Do you have any advice for busy moms?! How do you stay so strong and healthy?
My best piece of advice is always make time for you…whether it’s a workout at home or finding an hour to go take a class even when it doesn’t make sense in your schedule.  You can’t take care of others on an empty tank so you have to fill yourself up and create joy for yourself…and a workout class can be just what the doctor ordered even when you’re exhausted.
I stay healthy by doing everything in moderation and I don’t freak out on the scale.  I know what my body craves and I listen to it.  I don’t deprive myself and I don’t over exercise.  I keep my brain as active as my body and I have a great group of friends who love to workout together.
heather-favs-6_WEB-1.jpgWhat’s your favorite way to sweat? 

I love a variety of workouts…I love heavy weights one day, sand volleyball doubles the next, a body weight pilates or yoga class, mixed in with a boxing class or cardio class.  I have workout ADD and I can’t just do one style.  Which is why I’m opening a studio called Compass Fitness — where you can  take a variety of fun classes throughout the week and find your direction.

Do you have a self-care routine?
Self care…yes!!  I love to take baths…it’s normally with a 2 year old, but whatever.  It’s still nice at the end of the day.  I also get regular massage and facials.  And pedicures.  And blow-outs.  And anything I can do to not feel disgusting after teaching 20 classes a week.  I also like to buy myself flowers.  Because – why not?

What is your favorite indulgence?
Margaritas and chips and salsa…and more margaritas.


Tell us about your new fitness venture.
We are opening June 2nd…Compass Fitness is on Broadway and Evans and we will be offering a variety of fun class to challenge your body in ALL the ways you want to be challenged.  We want you to find a new direction and know that there are so many fun ways you can take your fitness journey.  We will partner with other studios throughout Denver and offer events with all of these great teachers – because we can.  We have 7000 square feet to work with and we love our fitness friends!  And we love teaching.  We will offer boxing, HIIT, pilates/yoga based classes, cardio dance classes, heavy lifting classes, upper/lower/and full body focused classes as well as offering childcare in our space!  It’s a win win!

You can find out more at:

Badass Mother | Jamaica Cooke

Meet Jamaica Cooke, entrepreneur, badass mother and super fit chick! Jamaica used to juggle a corporate desk job with a side of fitness classes, but soon realized that she was much happier when leading a group through a music-driven sweat session rather than twirling around in her office chair. So…she left the desk and never looked back. Now, a few years & two kids later…she is ready to bring Denver the newest in kickboxing technology.

So how did I meet Jamaica? Well, I’m glad you asked. After trekking through the sweltering Costa Rican jungle with 3 kids on the humid July day, the pool was calling my name. I swam up to the bar to order a few fruity frozen drinks just as another family arrived. Our kids starting splashing around together and become instant BFF’s! After the usual small talk, we discovered that we live approximately 8 minutes from each other back in Denver. What are the odds?! We had just one day left in paradise…so we vowed to reconnect back in Denver. The rest is history…


Here are some inspiring words from my interview with Jamaica:

What inspires you to stay fit?
My kids and my family! I want to be active with them. As a family, we run 5k’s, we jump on the trampoline and we don’t watch much TV or use electronics. I make it a priority to be fit and healthy for my kids.

Any advice for busy moms?
If you take that one hour for yourself, you are a better mother for the day. You might feel like you are being selfish, but you’ll have better energy to share with your kids.

What is your favorite way to sweat?
Kickboxing. It’s been a prime way to stay fit and reduce stress. I get lost in the music…it’s always been my preferred method of exercise. The class never gets dull or easy because my technique gets better. I can push harder and go faster. I love the variation.


Tell me more about how you ended up here
I moved to California to help a family member open a restaurant, then I worked a corporate desk job. I realized my part-time gig as a kickboxing instructor could be a satisfying full time job. I’ve wanted to open a studio for a long time, but we were moving often for my husband’s military job. Now that we are settled in Denver, I’m creating exactly the type of place I love to workout.

I started teaching 17 years ago and I see the difference in can make in peoples lives. I have worked with people who are professional athletes and some with disabilities like cerebral palsy…to see how they can all benefit is inspiring.

So, how do you stay fit as s business owner with young children?
We intentionally built a small studio because I want to oversee the whole group. When I teach, I workout with them. It’s motivating. We work hard together.


I imagine you and your family do a lot of physical activities together, what are your favorites?
We take bike rides, have races around the block, we all jump on the trampoline together. I don’t like to sit and watch while my kids do activities, we do them together. The kids think it’s hilarious when I get on the trampoline and do toe touches. That gives me the greatest joy, doing activities with them that they love.

Tell us a little more about the new studio.
Kickboxing and technology collide for an intense workout with heavy bags. It’s great for all levels because the workout intensity is controlled by you. You can compete with yourself, set goals for the day, week and month. Classes are set to upbeat music, we have fun…so that hour goes quickly. We include core work and add variety to the class with medicine balls and gliders. My background as a personal trainer has given me the expertise to help everyone get results.

Get more information about FLY here:

6 reasons to consider fasting

Well folks, it’s been exactly one month since I began a 5 day water-only fast. I waited to tell you about this experience so I can also include post-fast details…or maybe just because it is soccer season. Anyway, who cares?! Here it is.

Six reasons why you should experience the magic of a supervised water-only fast:

1. The post-detox glow
Really, it’s much more than a glow. It’s a sensational feeling. Fasting cleans out the whole system. It revitalizes and rejuvenates. It also removes you from the daily grind. Normally, I’m caught up in the chaos of family life…so the lack of schedule felt amazing. Meditation and journaling filled my days. Between lectures and cooking demos, I bathed in the California sunshine. After 5 days of fasting I felt pure, refreshed, relaxed…and SO ready to eat! Have I told you how much I love to eat?!IMG_8720_WEB.jpg

See…after five days of fasting and three days of glorious food, here I am all glowing and stuff! 

2. Discover what you body can do
Shortly after paying my deposit to visit TrueNorth, my excitement turned to, “What the heck did I just sign up for?” As I scavenged through the pantry between meals, I wondered how I’d make it through five whole days with NO FOOD! I reassured myself by reading studies and articles about the benefits of fasting. I read about tumors shrinking, diabetes disappearing and high blood pressure dropping. I learned about autophagy- where your body starts to consume dysfunctional or diseased cells…yes please! Who doesn’t want their body to repair and clean itself? During the fast, I spoke with people with health problems who were fasting much longer than my measly 5 days. So I sucked it up and made a commitment to my health.


I came across this instagram post (above, center) while I was fasting…just what I needed to read while surrounded by only water.


3. Reset and Cleanse
Doing a “cleanse” seems to be what all my health-conscious peers rave about…and for good reason. Interrupting your normal routine to focus on clearing out the junk is always a good idea. I’ve done a couple variations of this. Sometimes it means downing green smoothies twice a day. Often it includes avoiding dairy, wheat, sugar and caffeine. In the case of fasting, nothing goes down the drain except clean water, so those pipes will be shiny and clean! And afterward, you get all these beautiful juices to restart your system!


4. Health immersion
Several days at TrueNorth will help you reprogram your brain and taste buds. You become educated and empowered to make better choices! Bad nutrition information is everywhere…eat this, not that. But it’s hard to know what is fact and what is crap. So much of our “food” comes from big businesses who market the “health benefits” so they can sell us junk we don’t need. At TrueNorth, each day you have access to doctors, interns and cooking gurus who can answer your questions plus twice daily lectures on various health topics (posture, sleep, nutrition, oh my!). I found myself overwhelmed with ideas; luckily I brought my trusty journal to jot it all down. IMG_8601_WEB.jpg

5. Take aways
Absolutely the best reason to visit TrueNorth Health is for the life-changing tools, education and inspiration you take home. My whole family is benefiting from what I learned…mostly because I’m responsible for groceries and cooking. Also because I talk about what I learned. And I’m offering them all the nutrient-dense foods from my new cookbooks (I’m sure they’ll thank me later when they have strong, healthy bodies and glowing skin)!


Post-fast adaptations: 
First, there was the coffee. I didn’t drink it for 9 days while at TrueNorth and I felt great. So why would I reintroduce it?!

Then the food. It hasn’t changed much, but I pay more attention to nutrition information and I have cut out some crap.

Next went the late night snacking…right out the window. Poof! Well, it wasn’t that easy. But I learned the benefits of extending the time between dinner and breakfast. So each evening when I get bored and feel the urge to snack, I just remember the healing that will take place when I give my body a chance to rest. And I know I will sleep better if I limit evening consumption.

Next went the alcohol. Now, I’m not saying I’ll never have a drink again…but I haven’t had the desire to drink alcohol since leaving TrueNorth. Kind of like the coffee…do I really need it?! Not sure yet. Check in with me later.

Last, and most important. I pay more attention. I pay attention to how I treat my body. I pay attention to my sleep schedule and how it makes me feel. I am mindful about creating a self-care routine. I take long baths. I read books that make me laugh. I blast feel-good music in the car with the windows down. I pay attention to myself so I can be a better mom, so I can be responsive and not reactive. I am here, in the present, taking it one breath at a time. Living the best life that I can.

I’m not looking to add years to my life, but I will add life to my years.

Pack lunch…like a boss!


Well, lazy summer days are over and we are back to chauffeuring kids to sports, attending school events, running bedtime marathons and…lunch packing!

I’m exhausted just thinking about it, but food can make or break the education experience…so it’s worth the effort.


It’s important to take the time to pack a nutritious lunch for our little humans, because…

  • Your kids are worth it! They deserve good food.
  • Real, nutritious food nourishes the brain so that it can perform optimally.
  • Kids who eat well perform better academically.
  • Processed foods or foods full of sugar can negatively impact their mood & behavior.
  • Real, whole foods can help them succeed in school by keeping them satiated and not distracted by afternoon hunger.
  • Good food can keep kids healthy…so they don’t miss school and you don’t miss work.
  • What about ADHD? You can decrease ADHD symptoms and increase their ability to focus with the right food and exercise.

and…because you love them!

Try these nutritious lunch options:

  • hummus and veggies
  • apple slices with almond butter
  • nuts and dried berries
  • fresh fruit
  • chia pudding


I know, it’s time consuming to pack a healthier lunch. Here’s how I make it simpler: chop fruits and veggies right when you get home from grocery shopping, then place them in serving size containers in the fridge. Just grab a few containers, throw it in the lunchbox and voila! Lunch-packing might be done only 1-2 times per week this way.

Or make the lunch while you are making dinner. If you are already chopping and making a mess of the kitchen, why not go ahead and put some of those veggies in a lunch box?


Your kids are worth it! Fuel them with real, whole food.

Opt outside | Buena Vista CO

On Monday morning I hop in the car and breathe in the sweet smell of campfire smoke. Days after our excursion I enjoy this subtle reminder of snuggling by the campfire. 2017-buena-vista-CO-2_WEB.jpg

“It’s a mommy and me trip,” he says as we cruise west on Wednesday morning. We have no real plan. We just need some time in the outdoors, a break from our busy urban life. We throw a tent and supplies in the car. “How about Buena Vista?” I ask Oliver. “Ok!”

2017-buena-vista-CO-13_WEB.jpgIt doesn’t go quite as planned. After a tent fiasco, we end up driving down the road in search of a different place to sleep…not what I envisioned, but it works out. We still get to enjoy the simple pleasures of camping, like campfire dinners! We stay in a yurt one night and a cabin another night at Arrowhead Point.

I love the simplicity of camping life. We spend 95% of our waking hours in the fresh moutain air.



On Thursday we head toward Mt Princeton Hot Springs. Oliver notices, “We’re in the middle of nowhere.” I smile and think, “Yes, exactly.” We pass acres and acres of untamed land. It’s refreshing.

The warm pools are surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery. Oliver loves the long, windy slide at the upper pools! A sudden afternoon downpour reminds us to take a break. We sit in the car and have a picnic before we head down to the lower pools and steam room.

2017-buena-vista-CO-9_WEB.jpgAnd yes, we indulge in gooey treats. The nutritionist in me wants to skip the marshmallows, but the Girl Scout in me thinks, “What’s a camping trip without campfire-roasted marshmallows?!” Plus, it’s hard to say no to this sweet face!

If you’re looking for a quaint mountain town with plenty of camping options, Buena Vista should be on your list! It’s refreshingly small and offers a variety of activities for adventurous travelers!

Manuel Antonio | Costa Rica


The sun is shining so we spend our last mountain morning at the pool before embarking on the journey to Manuel Antonio.

We arrive at Si Como No in time to see the sunset overlooking the ocean from the open air lobby. We finish the day as we started, at the pool. This one provides a little extra excitement with the water slide. We share a few dishes at the hotel restuarant and call it a night.


We rise at 6am and enjoy the early morning sunshine over the ocean while we eat breakfast. At 7am a shuttle picks us up for a quick ride to Manuel Antonio National Park. Our guide, Fillipe, is a young Costa Rican with a keen eye for spotting camoflouged creatures. He sets up his scope to show us a bat. As we make our way down the trail we stop to see a lizard, a toucan, a couple of sloths, a couple more lizards and a troop of capuchin monkeys. The trail brings us to a shady picnic area at the beach where we stop for a refreshing fruit snack. I can’t get over how amazing the papaya, mango and pinapple are here! I don’t waste a single bite.



After we refuel, we opt for a bit more trekking instead of a dip in the ocean…afterall, we came all this way to explore! Fillipe is excited because most people spend the remainder of their tour in the water, but he takes us on a trail that he hasn’t been on since he was a teenager. He talks about his father and how they used to come here. We hike up and down a steep, wet trail to enjoy new vistas and interesting creatures. By the time we get back to our shuttle, we are thoroughly worn out, wet and exhuasted from trekking through the hot and humid rainforest. We get some fresh clothes and walk to the Falafel place nearby. The warm chickpea balls and refreshing mediterannean salad were just the right choice to refresh and refuel.


Shortly after lunch we make our way back to the pool. While ordering my Pina Colada at the swim-up bar (tough afternoon, huh?), I start chatting with another family who has just arrived. Coincidentally, they live about 15 minutes away from us back in Denver. Oliver makes instant friends with their daughter. Kayla and Kendyll are excited that he’s occupied!

For simplicity, we choose to eat at the restaurant that’s about 18 steps up from our villa. I enjoy the Quinoa salad for the second night (delicious) and the kids find some great pasta dishes. After all the hiking and swimming today, the dessert menu grabs our attention. We order some banana flambe which arrives with the sound of Harry Belafonte singing “Day O”. When the fire juggling, musical production concludes the whole restaurant applauds and we indulge in our highly anticipated dessert.


The sun seeps into our rooms and we peel ourselves out of bed with no agenda. We start with food while we debate over beach then pool or vice versa. Tough choice. We land on beach first just in case there is an afrernoon storm…which works out in our favor. I play in the waves with the kids while David plays security guard at our rented umbrella. As we change shifts, we reminisce about the good old days (last week) when we were at the beach in Tamarindo with our belongings locked away at the surf shop. But I enjoy some quiet time under the shade…it’s all good.

Our stomachs start talking, so we head across the street in search of sustenance. I’m worried that these ocean-view restaurants are going to be over-priced, but I’m pleasantly surprised when I peruse the menu. The food is delicious, inexpensive and we enjoy a fresh ocean breeze…doesn’t get much better than this.


We hit a few shops then head back to Si Como No. We spend another afternoon splashing and chatting with our new Denver friends until dinner time. We’re tempted to eat at the hotel again, but being our last night, we opt to take a taxi into Quepos and try something new. We walk down a couple of streets and glance at menus. Then David spots a sports bar full of locals cheering for the Costa Rica soccer team as they play in the Gold Cup against French Guiana. They squeeze us into the back corner at their a table that’s just been abandoned (maybe they were French Guiana fans). We are amused by the liveliness of the crowd while we enjoy “comida tipical”. David and I spend several minutes talking about how amazing our $27 meal was. We have a hard time dining out at home for less than $60…and the food was fantastic.


The party is over! We rise at 7am, which feels late with the 5:20am sunrise. We shove all the stuff into all the suitcases and walk upstairs for breakfast. David and I talk about how sad it will be to discontinue our new daily routine of Gallo Pinto, veggies, plantains and ridiculously tasty fruit. Maybe we should make this at home?! We savor our last few bites and sip coffee by the oecan until our airport shuttle arrives. Goodbye Costa Rica! It’s been real.


La Fortuna | Costa Rica


We arrive in Arenal in the late afternoon. We are greeted in the lobby of Mountain Paradise Hotel with fruity beverages and damp towels, refreshing after a long drive from Tamarindo. Our luggage is loaded onto a golf cart and we go up the hill to our villa. It’s peaceful here. The cooler mountain air is refreshing after a few days on the beach. We settle into our villa. I love that we’re not stuffed into a hotel with the sounds of foot steps up and down the hall and doors shutting. I hear only the sounds of wildlife and my own pack of creatures.


For convenience, we eat dinner at the hotel restaurant, Arenal Koita. Since it’s my birthday, we indulge on patacones (a local appetizer of plantain chips with bean dip) and we go all out on the fruity drinks. The service is outstanding the food is stellar. Back at the villa, I enjoy a cold glass of wine courtesy of Sarah – a family travel blog and then relax in my little mountain house.


The fiesta continues! Today we start David’s birthday with a delicious breakfast at the hotel. It’s the usual Costa Rican fare with plenty of Gallo Pinto, veggies and fruit. I enjoy bottomless coffee and conversation- one of the many benefits of leaving the kids devices out of our vacation!
A van arrives after breakfast to take us out to our next adventure…ziplining. David and I are both a little timid about soaring 300ft in the air above the rainforest canopy, but also excited to share this new experience with our kids. I have no problem expressing my fear in front of the kids, I think it’s powerful for them to see vulnerability in their parents.
After the first “warmup” ride, I’m quickly reassured by the detail-oriented crew who checks my gear each time they send me soaring. I actually start to enjoy myself! The kids seem to have no fear and love every second of the experience. While we wait between rides, we enjoy the sights and sounds of unique creatures and plants.
We are delivered in La Fortuna to refuel at a soda for la comida tipical– rice, beans, veggies, plantains. We stroll around town and enjoy views of the volcano. The afternoon calls for some pool time and blended beverages. For dinner we enjoy Nene’s. They treat David well and sing to him with a giant flaming candle. We all get dessert of course!


With nothing scheduled (how refreshing!) we take our time at breakfast and discuss options for the day. The resort offers some outings, but they come with a high price tag. We opt for a shuttle to Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park for a self-guided tour. I’m surprised by the entrance fee while I imagine a standard hiking trail and some rustic rope bridges. However, the beautiful park is well maintained with gardens and a paved trail connecting a variety of bridges- totally worth the price of admission. We spend about 2.5 hours meandering through the rainforest. You can defintely move faster, but we stop frequently to watch leaf-cutter ants, listen to the humming of unkown creatures and Kayla stares desperately into the trees in hopes of spotting a sloth. The adventure is complete with a nice afternoon downpour and we hop in the hotel shuttle back to La Fortuna.

David’s Google search turns up a cute little restaurant called Organico Fortuna. I’m quite pleased to find a place that resonates so deeply with my values! The food is amazing, Kayla loves her pitaya smoothie, but even more, we enjoy the colorful decor that illustrates the philosophy here…food is the best medicine! Plates are passsed around a battle ensues over who will finish each dish. I’m in love and consider never leaving.
David takes the kids to the pool in the afternoon while I enjoy a siesta. We lounge around the resort in the evening and skip dinner because everyone is still satisfied from the late lunch.



We spend our last mountain morning at the pool, of course…then we’re off to Manuel Antonio!

Tamarindo | Costa Rica


We arrive at Liberia Airport, hop in our shuttle and stop for a taste of the fresh local food we’ll be enjoying for days to come. My skin already feels softer in the humid air. We enjoy the scenic drive through small towns. We notice a pattern: soccer field in the center, encircled by a school, a church, a mini market and a bar. We are greeted by a friendly host at Cala Luna who offers us an expedited check in after our long day of travel and we quickly settle in for the night.

As sunlight slowly seeps in around the edges of the curtains, we wake up smiling…it’s officially vacation! We dig around in the suitcases in search of surf attire that collected dust over the winter. We slather on sunscreen and head into the al fresco dining room for breakfast. I’m delighted to find real food for breakfast, this ain’t no American hotel with the standard american diet of processed, high fat food…this is a colorful display of rice, beans, veggies and fresh fruits. I savor every bite of papaya, I’ve never tasted fruit so fresh or flavorful. I indulge in an extra glass of French-pressed coffee before we take off.2017-puravida-7_WEB.jpg

A driver arrives to whisk us away for surf lessons. It feels reassuring to start off the day with a local who knows the water and waves here. After a couple hours of playing in the sand and surf, we stroll down the street in search of lunch. We enjoy cold smoothies, fresh fruit and veggie paninis. We spend a bit more time getting aqcuainted with Tamarindo before we walk back to Cala Luna. El ninos are enamored of all the creatures- we come across a large Iguana enjoying an afternoon mango fiest. The kids stare at him, he stares at us then he suddenly takes off running. Kayla lets out a terrified yelp, then realizes he is running away…not at us.

We spend some time soaking up the lush scenery in our private pool, this feels so luxurious! The girls take the trail down to the beach to photograph each other- I guess that’s how teens entertain themselves these days. Later, we find the Green Papaya Taco Bar, which becomes our favorite restaurant of all time. For me, because they serve tacos jam-packed with a variety of veggies and damn good guacamole. For the kids becuase they get to enjoy dinner perched on a swing. To each his own.


Is it Friday? I’ve lost track.
Kayla and I sit with our friend Gato on the patio until everyone else awakes. Gato is the cat who apparently lives at the villa and uses our lounge chairs when vacant. I enjoy the sounds of adundant wildlife, such as howler monkeys and an assortment of birds. After breakfast, we head back to the Iguana Surf School and spend the morning playing in the water.

The Zen Cafe satisfies our post-surf hunger. Yet again, we eat rice, beans, veggies and plantains…but I’m pretty sure this won’t get old. The kids have smoothies too and we all enjoy the best fruit on the planet.
The afternoon storm rolls in, so it’s siesta time. As it turns out, we were due for some lazy lounging in the villa. Everyone feels refreshed.

Dinner time comes quickly and we find the Dragonfly Cafe. I’m falling in love with the al fresco dining experience. We try some local delights such as Enyucadas and I have a quinoa bowl mixed with veggies and avocado. We say yes to dessert, it is vacation afterall. The kids get a giant churro bowl overflowing with caramel ice cream. We go back to Cala Luna with happy bellies and a sugar buzz!2017-puravida-9_WEB.jpg

To keep it interesting, we swap our normal beach morning for some time at the community pool. Oli plays with other kids (can I get a Hallelujah?!). David lounges in a cabana and the girls come and go…who knows what kind of trouble they’re up to. I don’t put much thought into it because I’m adrift in my inflatable avocado with a pina colada. After lunch at Zen Cafe, we head out to surf. The beach is blanketed with sunbathers and the surf is packed! I remember it’s Saturday. We cut our trip short because it’s just not quite as relaxing as past days.
We take bikes back Cala Luna and enjoy some quiet time before dinner. The kids are begging to go back to Green Papaya…and really, there is no argument, so we just go with it. We thoroughly enjoy eating all the tacos, enchiladas, bean dip and guac. No regrets.

It’s my birthday! As I finish breakfast, the staff comes over with a special treat and their best rendition of “Happy Birthday”…I actually wish they would sing in Spanish so I can really soak up the culture, but I appreciate the gesture. We spend the morning playing in the pool and enjoying pina coladas. I can get used to this. Then, we toss all our stuff back in suitcases and load up the van for Arenal. Read more