Serendipity at Sansara

My goal with this blog is to keep the posts shorter and sweeter. With that, this IS going to be a long one but I’d encourage you to read all the way through.

This post started with the intention of speaking to serendipity: when things fall perfectly into place by chance, essentially. By the time I finished writing I realized what is WAY more important is actually the opposite of random chance and happenstance. What is WAY more important is the fact that this incredible experience was 100% manifested through my own intentions and vision in combination with a higher energy source. I call it God, you can call it whatever you want. Let’s not judge each other for it either way, kay?

I would love to share all the amazing details of my trip to Sansara Surf and Yoga Resort. The experience was truly m a g i c a l. I will share what’s important but the thing is, the magic of Sansara, it’s energy and it’s people is something you need to experience for yourself (Shameless plug: keep your eyes peeled because I am trying to book a retreat here).

The story…

I have an amazing friend who I call my roommate because of the proximity of our apartments. His name is Steve. Steve is a power house. Steve doesn’t do excuses, complaints or anything mediocre in nature. When I told Steve, repeatedly, for weeks, that I wouldn’t be able to attend the retreat he was leading in Panama this April, he pushed, like he does, “Make it happen, Candice.”

At this point we were about three weeks out from the retreat and I actually saw no way that I could make it happen. As this beautiful, challenging human does, he took matters into his own hands. Steve saw something that I couldn’t see. He led a retreat at Sansara earlier this year and knew of the m a g i c.

I received a text after teaching Monday morning, “You have a passport right?” My stomach dropped. I’ve known Steve long enough and had a sense for what was coming next. Me: “Yes, why? What are you doing?” Steve: “Good, you’re coming to Panama. Don’t as questions just get off of work.” I followed with lots of freaking out about not being able to repay him for something like this and excuses about getting off work and getting my classes subbed. The response I got was clear and direct, “It’s not about money. Just f@#$%^& get the time off.” Yes, I went back into my texts to verify this. Steve is a classy guy and he really does save his swear words for important occasions like motivating people to get out of their own way so, I knew this was important.

Lesson 1

Accept gifts graciously and stop whining about how you are unworthy.

Steve's kindness taught me the power of gracious acceptance. When someone wants to do something nice for you, the only requirement is that you accept graciously. The size of the gift doesn’t matter. Consider that they are giving at a level they are comfortable with and all you need to do is say a big stinking “Thank you.” Consider that you deserve amazing things and the universe delivers them in unexpected ways, when you’re ready. I will be forever grateful for Steve's generosity and I know at some point I will be able to pay forward the gifts he gave me.

Everything fell into place from there. I got 9 days off of work and all my classes subbed in less than 24hrs.

Two weeks later I am on a bus with Eddie our driver and 17 other beautiful people heading to Sansara Surf and Yoga Resort. After a 5 hour drive from Casco Viejo, which included a stop at a fruit stand to get fresh coconut water, “Operation re-hydration,” as Eddie called it, several pee breaks, and lots of twists and turns into the mountains, we arrive in Cambutal at Sansara.


The sun is g l o r i o u s and HOT and feels amazing on my wintery Buffalo skin. The entire staff is there to greet us with the biggest smiles and huge hugs. Does everyone get hugs?” “Maybe they are just for the people who have been here before like Steve, Melinda and…” NOPE, they are for me too! Hugs were not optional and I could tell through each person I embraced that this was part of who they were. Nothing was forced. Just pure joy pouring from these people like it was nothing.

Lesson 2

Give your gifts generously. Whatever you have to give IS enough.

From the first hugs to the last goodbyes, I could feel how invested every single person on the resort was in making the retreat and this place amazing. Like I said in the beginning, the magic is very difficult to transfer through words. The feeling you get as you walk around the resort and everyone, I mean everyone, is greeting you by name and hugging you all week as if you were old friends, is what feeds the magic vibes I’m talking about. Whether they are preparing your meals, teaching surf lessons, bartending, serving, leading waterfall tours and horseback riding adventures, taking pictures or fixing the wifi for the 342038423 time that day, every person in this place generously shared their gifts of love, kindness, and presence with us. This alone permeated any and all barriers I came into this place with.

When I write, speak or even think about this experience it, it evokes such a visceral response, right between my gut and my heart. It feels like I could cry and laugh and explode with joy all at the same time. What I learned from the level of generosity here was how much of my own love, kindness and presence I was holding back out of fear of rejection and learned behavior from past pain. Sansara and it’s beautiful people cracked me W I D E O P E N.

This leads me to lesson 3, because what else do you do when you’re cracked wide open and vulnerable…

Lesson 3

Take surf lessons. Learn life lessons.

On the first day, Janel, the resort owner said they like to call the surf lessons life lessons because you learn so much about yourself out on the water.

I resisted the whole idea of surfing at first. I blamed it on the money. At one point I said something like "I want to honor my body and get a message instead." If you're wondering what it looks like to take powerful language and use it to make excuses instead of creating growth, there it is right there! Luckily I was wise enough to look underneath those words and not live that excuse out. After we did the dry lesson in the yoga shala, I realized quickly that it wasn’t about the money or getting a massage. It was 100% about fear so I signed up for surf lessons immediately.

Day 1: Killin’ it. We were in the whitewash: the shallow water where the waves have already broken and you ride in closer to the shoreline. Ellie was my instructor. This young woman has the chill of a 'surfer chick,' the beauty of a literal mermaid, and an encouragement style like the best soccer mom in the world-no matter how much you suck, she's jumping up and down and cheering for you. I was so grateful to have her with me my first day! I felt pretty successful simply based on the fact that I was getting up on the board. The only fail was not putting sunscreen on my hands and having lobster claws by the end of that morning.


Day 2 in a few words: Hilarious. Spastic. Eye opening. Body(and ego) crushing. Life changing. During the dry lesson 3 days prior, Nic, our lead surf instructor, gave us a beautiful talk on the importance of slowing down so you can make decisions instead of reacting to the ocean. I guess I accidentally forgot everything on day 2. Slowing down and calm decision making are a work in progress for me. I can definitely admit that high pressure situations make this work even more challenging. This showed up when Kenny took me out to the ‘green waves,’ a.k.a. the B I G ones.

When he asked if I was ready to go out further I responded by asking "Do you think I am?" He reminded me that it only matters if I think I'm ready. Anyone who can handle my level of what I will call 'curiosity' in uncertain situations, is basically a saint. You all know who you are and I thank you.

Long story, well, still super long, I let my “I got this…ok just kidding, I don’t got this” mentality run the show and I. got. crushed. Not once. Not twice. Three times. I bailed on the first wave and the ocean owned me from there. I would surface with just enough time to breathe in and get pummeled again. I had no choice but to s l o w d o w n, let my breath out intentionally, and trust that I would surface if I surrendered. It worked.

It has been so natural for me to live my life in chaos for as long as I can remember. People who know me and love me have tried to tell me but I couldn't really see it. As Kenny put it later when we recapped my surf, he knew exactly how it was going to go because I asked him "100 questions in 60 seconds" as we started to make our way out further. I realized that my rapid fire questions indicated that I had lost my cool making it impossible to slow down and that I had given away my power to make decisions. In this conversation all the areas of my life where I have completely lost my ability to slow down and see the big picture; all the places where I gave up my power to make decisions in the moment; all of it came to the surface, unexpectedly but so clearly, ergo surf lessons=life lessons.

I could go on for 5 more pages about the clarity I left Sansara with but I will cut to the chase on the final lesson.

Lesson 4

What you think, you create.

In March of 2014, I put up an Instagram post of a yoga room overlooking the beach and wrote, “If nothing stood in my way, I would practice yoga overlooking the beach every morning.” Three months before I received the 100% unexpected gift of Panama, I put a picture from Yoga Journal on my vision board that says “Give Sun Salutations. Take surf lessons.” Three years after my Instagram post and three months after my new vision board, I’m in Panama, at the most gorgeous resort, doing y o g a overlooking the beach every morning, t e a c h i n g

a restorative yoga class, and taking s u r f lessons. What?!

This trip was the most m a g n i f i c e n t reminder of the power of intention and that what we think creates our reality. This trip opened my eyes how limited my thinking has been and pushed me into a huge shift about what I believe is possible for myself and others. To be honest, my website and my blog were born out of this shift and I cannot even wait to see what comes next!

Through each of your intentions, you have the opportunity to create for yourself, the life that you dream of.