True Nature Travels Blog

 Student Service Trip in Costa Rica and Overcoming Obstacles

True Nature Education had the privilege of partnering with The National Society of Leadership and Success this past month. 25 lovely students with hearts full of compassion and eagerness adventured to Costa Rica to provide service to the local communities, and in the process had a blast!  A student service trip is a fantastic opportunity to broaden horizons and participate in global community service. 
True Nature Education works with some amazing individuals in the local villages. One of these leaders is Lindsay Padilla. A Costa Rican native, her mindfulness and guidance always touches our hearts.
Check out some of her insight on shining bright through the storms and spreading this light through service!
student service travel
student service travel
“It was a rainy night and I was at home with my two little boys.
No more people there and lots of thunders dancing and singing in my backyard… I love to listen to Mother’s Nature sounds, however sometimes it seems like a different rhythm… Mother’s Nature wasn’t as peaceful as I wanted her to be specifically that night.
So I decided to sit on my favorite rocking chair, with my kids. We played a game, it consisted of imagine us to be sailing, enjoying of the blue ocean and the bright sun… Everything was fantastic until the moment when Andres, my 8 years old asked me if I was scary…
Game over! They discovered my feelings and guess what? I was really scary…
We were expecting to welcome a TNE group next day and the volunteer action already planned was to work on a sustainable farm, a new project that is going to benefit a group of people from my community.
I am not always so dramatic, but Imagine your plans, imagine your dreams surrounded by lots of rain and maybe lightening… I was scary for the moment, for my present and I was not sure about next day, about my future, about our tomorrow…
I was expecting to share my “tomorrow” with people from different places, coming from far away to make a difference and the weather was not the perfect from my perspective.
As soon as I listened my husband opening the door, I felt better, I felt my family completed. My kids went to sleep and we sat on the floor, with a candle.
All the house was dark, but  there was a little light… Poor darkness, I bet darkness was not feeling completed because of our little light…
And I suddenly thought of our actions… Sometimes we feel it is not too much what we can do, sometimes we think of the storms, we think of the scary moments, we think of the darkness around the world, but we were born to be a light, to bring light, to make the darkness a little clear. Do we have to limit our good intention because of our doubts about the future? About tomorrow? No!!!
We were talking until our candle decided not to light… And it was a good night, the light is still inside us and you know what? Next day we enjoyed of the sun. No more rain until the moment when we finished our volunteer service… Mothers are known because of their DEEP love and Mother Nature showed us what love means, even during the rain…
It feels incredible to be part of the ones that are doing something, anything.
We have been welcoming too many “lights” from TNE. People that decided to be the difference, to be grateful even for the stormy days.
The stormy days are not totally bad, during the stormy days, maybe you can find out inspiration to be the light that others are needing.
Let’s your light be!”
Shine on True Nature family!
Interested in joining a service student trip? Check out our calendar here!
student service trip

True Nature Travels Blog

By: Jessica Durivage-Kerridge, Director of Global Relations for True Nature Education

Artwork: Kimberly Dawn Clayton

I’ve been accused (more than once) of giving away the farm.  Whether it was business advice, personal time, working for free or less than what I should have been paid – you name it.  It was never my intention to work for free.  It was just, well… time and time again I would find myself in a place where what I was giving was not lining up with what I was receiving.  While I knew that there was some sort of imbalance there, I could not quite put my finger on it, and so the cycle and pattern continued on for many years.  My own personal projects and family priorities were what kept ending up on the back burner – and while I loved helping people out, giving the “friend” discount for my services and offering my gifts and talents for free – it was eating up my self worth and creating a distorted view of how I was valued by myself and others.

I wanted to shift this pattern.  I NEEDED to shift this pattern. For not only the sake of my mortgage but also my marriage and the future of my own dreams and desires.  

I began in internal process of investigating WHY I felt the need to give my services away without expecting anything in return.  Well, right there (without expecting anything in return) was a big “aha!” moment for me.  I was taking a spiritual principle about non-attachment and manipulating it so I could use it against myself.  Beneath this idea of “working for free” was a deeply embedded belief that I was “not worthy.” Hmmm.  That was pretty darn interesting. I began to quietly invite this feeling of “not being worthy” into my meditation practice, into conversations with my husband about bills.  I began to notice how much resistance I had around “feeling valued.”  This practice of “just noticing” turned up opportunities to dig a little deeper and ask more questions.

What was my intention around giving myself away like this?

The answer that kept showing up over and over again was “a desire to serve.”  I wanted to make myself available to be of service to my community and show up to help in whatever ways I could offer. That beneath all of it, I felt that my life was a gift and that by God’s Grace, I have been blessed.  Now, I felt as if it was my turn to give back.

OK!  Another “aha” moment!  The desire I felt was “to serve.”  And serving my friends and the community was great and wonderful – but when my own family and my personal relationships suffered because it it, I realized that maybe all I needed to do was some soul searching around re-prioritizing what was truly important to me and where I wanted to be of service. So, I made a list of the top three important things in my life:

1. Family

2. Spiritual Practice

3. Writing


I then made another list of where I felt I need to create value and understand my worth so that I could “serve” what was important to me (are you still with me?):

1. My Social Media Business

2. Teaching/Speaking Career

3. Collaborative & creative endeavors

Another aha moment!  It seemed as if my two lists were a bit backwards.  I was placing more importance on my external world rather than my internal world.  Seem familiar?

Being able to name what was most important to me and go back to it everyday has slowly started to reshape my self worth and how I view myself. When I am able to properly apply the principle of “giving without expecting anything in return” in the areas of my life that are most important to me, I find that I do get back way more in return than I ever anticipated.  When I move back into the world, where it is important to me to feel valued, I am more aligned with negotiating my needs.  If what the world is offering does not serve what is most important to me, then it is not the right fit.

I am (this is) a daily work in progress.  I have lots of moments where I feel I could so easily slip back into my old habits and patterns.  I want to be able to lend a helping hand.  I want to give back.  I want to support my community and those around me.  I am redefining my definition of service.  Perhaps today it is sending a good thought, or sharing a compliment.  Or simply choosing, in my own self, to do what is most important to be so I can show up as a brighter light for those around me.

True Nature Travels Blog

CK_Costa_Rica_True_Nature_2014-184Dear True Nature Community,

Hi again! This is Lindsay, your friend in Costa Rica who lives amongst the birds and with the sky and who welcomes with an open heart your groups that visit my small community here.

Recently we had a beautiful group from True Nature visit our village to offer their gifts and talents. When we came home for lunch, one pretty girl  (Anais) asked permission to hug my mom.  She said, “your mom looks like my mom, and the taste of the food was as the taste of my mom’s food.” Anais’ mom is in Heaven now, so my mom suggested this girl to adopt her as her new Costa Rican mom. She was so happy. It made me cry when I heard this.

You can never imagine how many amazing moments can fit in just a few hours. You never know how deep a cultural experience can be. That is why I love this. There is no barriers, it is just a bridge and we all walk in the same direction: Towards equality, freedom, joy and peace 🙂

Pura Vida,


CK_Costa_Rica_True_Nature_2014-190Lindsay Padilla is a nature lover and mom of two boys. She has been teaching Spanish since 2006 and working for the development of rural communities in Costa Rica. She enjoys writing, reading and swimming.

Are you interested in learning more about the Costa Rican way of life, called Pura Vida? Our service programs which can be added on during any of our retreats include opportunities to stay with Lindsay and her family and support our efforts in their village.  Learn more here.


True Nature Travels Blog

Hi.  I am Jessica and I work for True Nature Education.  I help out with blogging and do a little marketing and I like to use fancy words like “high level strategic planning”,  yada yada yada.  I’ve been tasked with writing a blog about why it’s important to travel why you are young.  I am extremely passionate about travel – and besides my two children, traveling the world while I was young was what shaped me into who I am today.  I thought about writing this blog as more of a factual piece – in the 3rd person, and to try and give you all the stats and numbers as to why traveling is so freaking great (and important). But, my own personal experience with travel is a much more powerful story to share. At least, I think so.


I am 36 years old and I can confidently say that my decisions to travel and explore different countries and cultures have been a few of the best choices I made in my life.  Hey, I am sitting here getting paid to write about it and share it with you, so I guess I am doing something right!  I am not talking about travel in the sense of “booking an all inclusive trip to the Bahamas” where you receive an ice cold lemonade upon arrival and the biggest decision of the day is whether you make that extra investment in a poolside cabana.  Now, don’t get me wrong, that sounds pretty sweet – but those are not the experiences in life I crave.  I wanted something more.

When I was 19 years old I decided to go to Haiti on a two-week mission/service trip.  Not the typical place a 19-year-old is spring breaking.  I just knew I wanted to experience something more.  And, I did. That trip changed my life.  So much so that I signed up to go back for six months and teach at a local school.  I was immersed in the culture.  I was given an opportunity to share my gifts.  And, most of all, I could feel that I was receiving so much more than I was giving.  It was not always easy. I saw what real poverty looked like for the first time but I also saw what real joy looked like, too.  My world view at 19 years old was just being shaped and I am so thankful, 17 years later, that I chose the dirt floor of a class room with 20 absolutely gorgeous and smiling faces as my spring break that year instead of getting a tan.  I can’t imagine the direction my life would have taken i had I made a different choice.  Because after that trip, everything changed. And these five principles have helped to guide and shape the person I am today.

1. The world is bigger than your iPhone screen.


Well, 20 years ago I guess you could say “back yard” but with literally anything you want or need at your fingertips these days, some might say, why travel when you can, you know, snap chat all day long.  Or that snap chatting all day long is actually keeping you from engaging and exploring the world around you. Put the phone DOWN, unless you are using it to book a plane ticket.

2. Traveling teaches you compassion


For me, my first experience in traveling was visiting one of the poorest countries in the world.  From my travels to Haiti, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and of course, Costa Rica, one common thread that weaves through all of my journeys is that I have lived a very privileged existence.  The fact that I can leave my country and for the most part, go where I want, is extremely fortunate.  And, it becomes very, very clear that no matter what country you are from or what economic status you hold, we are all one, beautiful human race. The smiles of the children you will meet along your travels will open and melt your heart, in ways you never imagined. Their toothless grins and bare feet will soften everything you ever thought you knew, about anything.

3. You have no excuse not too.


Nope. You do not.  Take it from me.  I am 36 years old now with a 9 month old at home and a mortgage to pay.  I don’t think that I can stress enough that I AM SO THANKFUL I TRAVELED WHILE I WAS YOUNG (did ya get the point yet?).  There have been many late nights with my son where I find myself rocking him to sleep and I get to day dream about all of the adventures I have had.  The things that you might think are holding you back now – money, resources, don’t have a passport, etc – are all things to rise above and overcome.  Yes, it does require putting a plan together, following through and being responsible – but the rewards you will reap and the lifetime of memories you will create are, priceless.  As Nike keeps on telling us over and over again, Just Do It.

4. Feeling like you are a part of a global community is so empowering.


Just because you are traveling elevates you to this sort of amazing status where you can immediately make a friend for life in about 10 minutes.  I have had more fun with the complete strangers I’ve met on the road, from all over the world, than with some of the friends I have had since birth! It is magical and difficult to put into words actually, but you seem to connect to friends you meet while traveling and see them as family. Sort of one of those things you need to experience to really know.  Another great reason to get out there!

5. The Opportunity to Serve


It may be because my first experience in travel was also my first true experience in service.  After my passport was officially stamped, I was hooked. Service, in one way or another, is a filter that I desire to live my entire life through, and, it is because I took a journey and gave of myself and my talents, freely.  Teaching school on that dirt floor in Haiti, filming a documentary in Ecuador, living in Costa Rica with True Nature Education gave me the wisdom to see that living in service to others is a way of life that lives on long after you take your backpack off.  It is a daily gift.


One of the greatest gifts that travel has given me is the ability to look at my life, everyday, as a journey.  We can take the spirit of traveling across distant lands and seeing things with new eyes right into our own back yard. My son will inherit my obsession for looking through a passport that is full of colorful stamps from places seen.  My stories and memories will live on through him and hopefully his desire to see the world and make it a better place. And, that, is how traveling changes you, for the better.

My son and I in Costa Rica this past spring. He has an impressive two stamps on his passport already!

 Got the bug? Check out our 2015 Calendar of Retreat and Workshops in Costa Rica!

True Nature Travels Blog

You are not a tourist…

You are an amazing person, traveling so far in order to discover the culture, traditions and history of Costa Rica.

CK_Costa_Rica_True_Nature_2014-183Your temporal home is in a rural village, you enjoy eating in the kitchen, close from the woodstove, learning to make tortillas and coffee without an electrical appliance…

You are not a tourist; you are part of the family.

Sometimes you help washing the dishes or putting the table, you also can look into the pots in order to get an extra portion of homemade food.

You are the one who walk barefoot in the house, the one who laughs, and the one who miss the people you leave far away, when you decided to come and make a difference here…

You work here, you help Mother’s Nature, and you share with local people and play with the Costa Rican kids. You are not a tourist, you are part of the family, part of the village, and you are also from here.

Js6C6kIlYb0y5Jl17fALkgvwKq-rA4oseOTKVSgppIMYou are the one who has a schedule, the one who pays for working! The one who gets a smile and hugs instead of a salary after your volunteer service.

How much you can buy with a smile?

Well, too much! Enough. The courage to give back to the world in a very deep way…

Yes, you are not a tourist. You are the one who learns Spanish, the one who practices the basic words, the one who enjoys saying GRACIAS after tasting a delicious and fresh meal, after getting a coconut drink or a piece of fruit.

Are you the one who travels? The one who enjoys adventure tours?

Yes, you are. You deserve it, too.

6X8_IIIuTpqwENNiJFaKPEzgl3dghVp1QZjhht29f4UYou are not a tourist. You are a temporal “tico”. You are the one who will always have a space in our village, your village…

Next time when you think you are another tourist exploring the world, take a minute to remember, you are much, much more.

Written from the land of Pura Vida.



CK_Costa_Rica_True_Nature_2014-190Lindsay Padilla is a nature lover and mom of two boys. She has been teaching Spanish since 2006 and working for the development of rural communities in Costa Rica. She enjoys writing, reading and swimming.

Are you interested in learning more about the Costa Rican way of life, called Pura Vida? Our service programs which can be added on during any of our retreats include opportunities to stay with Lindsay and her family and support our efforts in their village.  Learn more here.


True Nature Travels Blog


It’s True Nature Fan Appreciation Week and we could not think of a better way to celebrate than to honor all of YOU!  We have decided to extend our “$40 REI Gift Card for 4,000 Fans” until this Friday so if you have not shared your favorite travel quote on our Facebook Page, there is still time!

10377236_10152059113700812_2616840917481252804_nWe cannot begin to express our gratitude and appreciation to our fans.  It was pretty incredible when we looked at our Facebook page a few weeks ago and saw we were getting close to 4,000! What a milestone! We wanted to do something special, just for you.

Being and staying inspired is what gets us through the day.  And, obviously, travel.  There is no better way to wake up the senses and connect with the heart than traveling to a new place – or back to somewhere you love.  There have been many a day when it’s literally been an inspirational travel quote that has pushed someone over the edge to finally “take the leap” and book their yoga yoga retreat.  Maybe this will be your leap!

So, here is to you!  The wanderers, the seekers, the travelers, the explorers.  Here is to you – who desires to “be something more” and is not afraid to go out into the world in search of it.  Here is to you – the ones who listen to the whispers of their hearts and follow their dreams.

Don’t forget! Leave your favorite travel quote on our Facebook post by Friday at 2pm and you will enter to win a $40 gift card to REI!

10277556_10152059113690812_8718986919491367843_nAre you ready to take the leap and book a retreat to Costa Rica? Maybe your dream has been to guide a group of students on a yoga journey in the rainforest or along the beaches?!  We’d love to connect with you! Reach out and connect with someone


True Nature Travels Blog

409201_10150518830832015_723680458_nIt’s not everyday that you think, “Hey, I want to manifest my dream to teach a yoga retreat in another country.”  Let’s face it, life gets in the way doesn’t it?  Finances, families and fears can all stack up to make a pretty good argument why “this may not be the year for your dream.”  Well, we are going to challenge you on that this year.  We are looking for teachers who want to “be something more.”

And by being something more, we mean...

Being something more on the mat.

Being  something more off the mat.

Being something more to your community.

Being something more to your family.

Being something more to yourself.

Join the True Nature and BE a part of our Teaching Community!

dsc_0224-2And our commitment to you is that our dedicated staff is ready to support you in creating the experience of a lifetime for you an dour students.  We don’t just “do yoga.”  We don’t just “do meditation.”  We don’t just “do adventure.”  We don’t just “do service.” We don’t just “do health and wellness”.  We don’t just “do sustainability.” With over ten years of running retreats in Costa Rica, we have cultivated a thoughtful and customizable formula for our teachers that helps to mindfully weave together all of the elements we have learned to create a transformational and unforgettable retreat experience.

If you have a desire to serve and a call to be something more – we would love to set up a call with you to discuss how we can support you in bringing your dream of leading a retreat to life.

Check out our blog series for teachers –

Want to Lead a Yoga Retreat? Here is the One Thing You Must Do

Six Ways to Make Your Yoga Retreat Unforgettable

Are you ready?  We would love to set up a call with you to talk about your vision and share how we can support you.  Email us at



True Nature Travels Blog

47srJjX5DnUXMc9b4kLxaGKmU5MoPu-cKBG7lPXcaj8Being open to discovery can come at any age.   Realizing the true meaning of travel, learning about new cultures, traditions and ways of life are at the core of what we offer our students who participate in our True Nature Adventure and Service experiences. This poem is an excerpt from a recent trip with Milford Middle School and the journals of one of the students.




Iy_ZSG5c4cEUhiNAbp04Vva0J_b7MBrROEj-61DWtNUWhat Costa Rica Means to Me

Peace.  One with Nature.  Tranquility.

Costa Rica is Family.

Natural Beauty.

Beauty, new adventures and experiences.

Costa Rica means being one with nature.


6X8_IIIuTpqwENNiJFaKPEzgl3dghVp1QZjhht29f4UNew beginnings.  A pure new outlook on life.

Costa Rica means beautiful sunshine and time away from a hectic life.

A spiritual journey to help me see what I didn’t see before.

The world is not as pretty as I once thought.  It could be better.

Costa Rica is great people, great food, great places, and great opportunities

Js6C6kIlYb0y5Jl17fALkgvwKq-rA4oseOTKVSgppIMTo help.  It means a lot to the world, and animals, and people that live here.


Costa Rica is people with amazing personalities.

Wild and good.


Costa Rica is remote.

Beauty and Peace.

aWVGNfhZcpdtr-fvmYC8b9B7FJArQAJPtQ9wDnb4nhgAre you looking to create an amazing experience for your students?  Learn more about how to plan a Student Retreat for Service and Adventure in Costa Rica for your school or classroom.




True Nature Travels Blog

“It was amazing to see these kids with no technology. Like this is what they do for fun. They don’t watch tv or play video games mainly because they don’t have those things. Yet they still have fun.”

wmjOsCvBQFPf-Z6iJqeKhdolgCFPVU4AKcQNIa_xcxUSome of our favorite Costa Rica Service and Adventure Retreats are the student focused trips.  To be able to witness middle and high school students traveling out of the country (most for the very first time), seeing the ocean, plants and animals, trying new foods and introducing them to a new culture is one of the most rewarding parts of our job here at True Nature.  One of our recent trips was with Milford Middle School.  The amazing teachers who accompanied the kids had them journal their experiences day by day.  This series we are calling, Mindful Monday with Milford, pulls out some of the great quotes and thoughts from their journals, reminding us all to remember to see things anew, laugh a lot, be grateful and much more.  

“Everyone got to know each other on that bus ride. Also on the bus, everyone was amazed by like everything outside and all the cool trees. It made America look dull. Like the trees here are perf. I love how everything is outdoorsy.”

Am7rz_CvsNZfB-6HaWxNunSklnGSl6aMwdNm0jv1ovA“After dinner was circle time and we said one thing that we were grateful for. Lea played her guitar and Lydia, Jaida, Me, and Kat all sang with her. It was very good. Then we went back to our cabin sat outside, talked, laughed, made stupid jokes.”

“On Saturday, we got up around 5:30. This may seem extremely early, but in costa Rica, the sun rise is like 5am so like sleeping in here is like 6:30. After breakfast we walk up to this old cabin and start cleaning it up. We will use the things we find to make toys for the monkeys. This was a hard job and it was very hot outside. Someone spotted a snake and Paydro picked it up and thankfully it wasn’t poisonous because it bit him on the finger.”


“The parasailing was like one of the best things I’ve ever done like awesome.”

“Then we went to go eat and we saw a sloth like on the ceiling sleeping, it was the cutest thing. After lunch we went on a tour in the jungle and saw sloths, monkeys, and frogs. They were cute and very cool. Then we went to a beach and saw a lot of crabs on the rocks. Then we took a short cut back to the original beach. On the way we saw monkeys, like so close to us. About three feet away from our feet. One of the monkeys had a baby on her back it was so adorable.”

“We talked, laughed, and talked some more. Then we went to bed.”

“When we arrived we got on the boat and left the dock with one other group of about 5 people. It was so fun, we saw pods of dolphins. There were pretty fish swimming around. I tried to touch one but they were too quick for me. The boat we were on had a water slide and you could jump off the edge into the water. We left the snorkeling area and headed back to the dock. It was a peaceful ride back, the breeze was very nice, and the food was good.”

EqWfM2MoG0QrYG6ijNIQJ2O7Oq4ZfiUhm_JktLu1cW4,ppQXcAl9BLvdtvHFFw4fnfnEmjPbIFeO7L4FDTj5-Ak“(Tuesday) In the morning we went on a meditation hike for about 20 minutes before breakfast. After breakfast we went on a tour and got to taste some of the plants that are used for food there. We learned about the chocolate making process. We saw the pigs sitting in the shade and the sun. ”

“When we got back, we thanked them and left for the homestead. We arrived about an hour later. It was cool to see how the people here live and actually get to experience it. They had 3 kids (Andres 6, Gabrielle 2, Angelica 11). They were so fun. We played soccer, duck duck goose (pato pato gonzo), water balloons, ninja, sardines, and guess who. The food was awesome. It was amazing to see these kids with no technology. Like this is what they do for fun. They don’t watch tv or play video games mainly because they don’t have those things. Yet they still have fun.”

we3iBLoJ273TFYZulvpk-KvaYLLXda1fwZCUPBV8y-M,NlN-qlI939AoZGlCFEILpJOCi9RyVxYubpeTLtypJX8Are you looking to create an amazing experience for your students?  Learn more about how to plan a Student Retreat for Service and Adventure in Costa Rica for your school or classroom.


True Nature Travels Blog

998cbfc255a3e88b0a7c45dd05152825For many of us, international travel has become a homogenized, sterile experience and, for the host country, a consumptive, offensive one. We need a new model for travel — a model that allows for discovery and mutual interaction with others at a heartful level. This new model of travel could be called, “Mindful Travel.”

Mindful travel is about being alive in the moment — being wide-awake — being present to what life puts in our path. It does not involve elaborate itineraries, lists of tourist sites, high-rise hotels or pre-fabricated tours. When we become a mindful traveler, we invite events and experiences to appear at their own time and in their own way. We enjoy making plans but we are always open to new opportunities. We allow for surprises and new friends.

When we are mindful, we are aware of choices and opportunities as they present themselves. We open up to new experiences and to doing old things in new ways.

f1b85aa44f6487855266b083c6d08069This is the essence of mindful travel — observation and participation. Mindful travel is spontaneous. Because the journey is one of unfolding moment by moment, we remain fully present and come to see more clearly. This can lead to an acute observation of both ourselves and others. We see with new eyes and learn to appreciate both others and ourselves in a fresh way. We experience each new world as if for the first time.

Mindful travelers thrive on what is happening in the moment and choose actions within that context. Synchronicity occurs, and we encounter the right person and new experiences we might never have had. Mindful travel encourages us to question assumptions that can be obstacles to mindful travel. Some more common assumptions are.

5e0240289dd2421096d82163cbdf16baAre we alive to where we are, and not talking about some other place or somebody else?

How are we affecting the people around us and the environment?

How can we use travel to positively impact the world?

(adapted from

Are you ready to begin a new journey?  Book your next trip with True Nature Education – find out how right here.