Music from my iPod blasts into my ears as a steadily put one foot in front of the other.  I’m heading uphill now which, for someone who hasn’t jogged in awhile, is quite a challenge.  No matter how many Pilates or boot camp classes I attend, running is a form of exercise that proves to be so difficult, it makes me feel like I’ve never broken a sweat a day in my life.

“OK.  Just make it to that second fire hydrant and then you can be done,” I tell myself.

The intensity of my breath increases and I can actually hear the beat of my heart over the ‘Milky Chance’ song that is emanating from the ear buds.  My legs are burning and my face is on fire, but that second hydrant is slowly becoming larger and larger the closer I get to it.  There is nothing now but that white symbol of pure ecstasy, for it signifies the end of this unrelenting pain.

Another jogger passes me from behind.   He looks back and smiles as he confidently moves his feet like he his skipping on a cloud.

…Did he just yawn?

Fuck that guy and his fucking perfect jogging.

OK…where was I?  Ah yes!  The fire hydrant! I’m almost….

YES!

My legs slow to a fast walk and I start panting like a dog in heat.  I mindfully slow my breath down and, after a few seconds, my vision begins to come back and the endorphin-fueled euphoria begins to settle in.

I continue to move at a walking pace as the cool breeze dries the sweat from my face.

I turn the corner and, there it is. The best view of this city I could ever see.  It rushes over me like an old friend…familiar but with a distinct mark of mystery.

I am not talking about San Jose, Costa Rica.  I am talking about San Francisco, California…U.S.A.  I am standing at the top of Bernal Hill which yields one of the most stunning views of this City by the Bay.  Thousands of tiny houses leading to sky scrapers in the background.  The Bay Bridge to my right and, to my left, rolling hills and, behind them, the familiar dark orange glow of the Golden Gate Bridge just barely peaking out from behind them, like a shy child.

It has been 9 months since I’ve come home for a visit.  The last time I was here, I couldn’t stand it.  The traffic, the fast pace, the awkward conversations.  Where was the Pura Vida lifestyle I longed for?

This time, however, it’s different.  My heart is open and I feel appreciation for everything around me for what it is.  True, this lifestyle isn’t for me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still love it.  After all, this very lifestyle was a vital part of molding me into the person I am today.

Most of all though, I really value the people who I’ve had a chance to see this trip.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t feel like I have to be anyone other than who I am anymore, which leaves me space to really see INTO people.  See their fears, their vulnerability, listen to what is said but also hear what isn’t being said.

Unlike my last trip home, I have been in Costa Rica long enough to allow it to allow its magic deep into my bones.  I have come to realize that the way I feel about the outside world has so much less to do with what is around me, but with what is within me.  The more love I have for myself, the more I condition myself to seek out love around me.  And, if Quantum Physics has anything to say about it, simply by observing the outside world in this way, I may even have a part in changing it.  Oh, wouldn’t that be just wonderful??  Simply by loving what is around me, I could be creating even more love!

As the sun sets behind the city and the lights inside homes begin to turn on and brighten them from the inside, I can’t help but display the biggest grin on my face.  This is the city that bore me and raised me.  Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  So, Thank You, San Francisco.  Thank you, United States.  You’ve raised quite a wonderful young woman and I have every intention of continuing down this path…wherever it may take me.