September
29

How to Help: Hurricane Maria

If the hurricane season of 2017 wasn’t devastating, it would be funny.

First it was Hurricane Harvey, then Irma, and now Maria. Three major hurricanes, all striking within one month. From small Caribbean islands to the United States, people need help with recovery and they need it now. Puerto Rico has over 3.4 million American citizens, but the US government has been slow to respond to relief efforts. The destruction and devastation is being described as “apocalyptic” – – it will take weeks, if not months for power to be restored on parts of the island. Water, food, and fuel are scarce on the island. So, how can you help?

  1. Cash: Most organizations are asking for cash, rather than supplies, so they can route help to where it’s needed most more quickly. Here are some of the largest groups with campaigns underway
  2. Supplies: The government of Puerto Rico has also launched a guide that details how individuals or companies can donate emergency and construction supplies (from bottled water, hand sanitizer and formula to extension cords, tarp and safety glasses).
  3. Volunteer: Once infrastructure is stable, the island will also need volunteers.
  4. Spread the word! Part of the problem is that much of Puerto Rico isn’t able to ask for help, due to loss of power and infrastructure.

Check out Vox.com’s recommended list of list of charities accepting donations to help Puerto Rico:

ConPRmetidos: The Puerto Rican organization focused on public-private partnership is aiming to raise $150,000 for relief and recovery. You can give here.

Global Giving: A charity crowdfunding site that is attempting to raise $2 million to be used exclusively for local relief and recovery efforts. You can give here. (4/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)

Salvation Army: The Christian charity is emphasizing its intentions to help with long-term recovery. You can give here.

Americares: The nonprofit focused on medicine and health is seeking to provide emergency medical supplies and other basic resources to first responders and others. You can give here. (4/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)

 

PR Power NHC

Night-time images of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Tortola and Saint Croix before and after the recent hurricanes. Image courtesy NHC

DONATE AND HELP.  But please… DON’T DONATE MONEY TO THE RED CROSS. Instead donate to organizations that will be on the ground helping people get back on their feet. We believe that there are many other options who will use your money better to aid those affected by the Hurricanes.

I was personally made homeless by Hurricane Sandy.  In the months after the hurricane, we saw a lot of amazing volunteers and organizations from around the world that helped the people on the Rockaway Peninsula. (Thank you!)

We did not see the Red Cross. Except for on TV — you know that big concert with Bon Jovi that raised over $300Million for Hurricane Sandy victims. That money that was very slow to be distributed and some of which was moved to other areas of the country after the Red Cross determined that no more help was needed in the Rockaways.  (BTW – people are still not 100% back in their houses, 5 years later.)

Do a little more research.   Here are other sources that also suggest that the Red Cross is not the best at Disaster Aid.

During Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, 40% of the Red Cross Relief Trucks were diverted for public relations

25% of the funds raised to help Hurricane Victims in Haiti was used for internal expenses

Here are a couple of articles with lists with other great options.

What every American needs to know about Puerto Rico’s hurricane disaster

How you can help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

September
22

Tips for the Great Outdoors with your Dog

Do you have a bucket list of places to explore?  Do you have a dog?  If you’re like me, you have both.  Have you ever thought about bringing your pooch along for your adventures?

MI OLA ambassador Becca (@roamwildandfree) and her husband roam the United States in an 18ft foot RV, and they travel with their two dogs as well. From Oregon, Utah, Montana, to California, Becca’s two pups certainly live the good life. Here are Becca’s best tips for exploring the great outdoors with your dog!

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 9.08.30 AM

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

Tips for the Great Outdoors with your Dog

My husband and I live and travel full time in our 18ft RV with our two little American Hairless Terriers. Both dogs are under the age of 2 and need lots of exercise every day! My husband and I have been living a nomadic lifestyle for over 3 years and have our two pups while traveling. We made the promise to each other that our dogs wouldn’t rule our life choices, but we would give them the best love we could. Where did that lead? Lots of research on how to backpack with dogs, how to rock climb with dogs, how to fly with dogs, and a lot more “how-to’s”. I’ve condensed what I’ve learned into a quick list below to save you time and get you out exploring with your 4 legged friend!

Tips-for-the-Great-Outdoors-with-your-Dog-4

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Safety

When you’re getting out there, really out there, YOU are responsible for your dog’s safety. You would never go out on a hike without necessary preparations, neither should your pup! Whenever I take the dogs out for a hike, I always make sure to pack the following items for them.

  • Collapsible, lightweight water bowl
  • Dog First Aid Kit – I love this one from REI
  • Food/treats
  • Leash and Harness (even if your dog is trained off leash!)
  • Wag Bags – Clean up after your pet!
Tips-for-the-Great-Outdoors-with-your-Dog-3

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

Where to Go

Dogs can’t go everywhere that humans can, even in nature. National Park trails are off limits to dogs and many National Monument trails as well. Some city parks, beaches, and even outdoor patio restaurants don’t allow dogs. So where can you take your dog? Lots of places, you just need to know where to look!

  • National Forest hiking trails are perfect for dogs. Many trails allow your dog to be off-leash and under voice command.
  • Dog-friendly beaches are puppy heaven. There are even beaches specifically for dogs where your pup can run and play to his/her heart’s content with other dogs. It’s like a dog park on the beach! Bring Fido is a great resource to seek out these types of beaches.
  • Dog Trekker and Puppy Mama is another valuable resource to find dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, and events.
Tips-for-the-Great-Outdoors-with-your-Dog-1

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

 

Road Trip or Fly?

Flying with your dog can be a daunting task but sometimes the only option. If your pooch is small enough and can fit in the carry-on space under your feet in the airplane, this is a good option. We use a Sherpa airline approved carrier and our dogs can travel with us wherever we go. I personally would never put my dog under the plane in the checked baggage. A road trip with your dog is also a fun way to see the country! To our dogs entertained as we travel, we always have a box of toys and chew bones for them to play with.

Tips-for-the-Great-Outdoors-with-your-Dog-5

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Becca.- @roamwildandfree

Don’t Forget!

Dogs are pretty incredible and resilient creatures, but they are not superheroes. Be realistic with their athletic abilities and plan accordingly if you are going on an adventure that may be too much for your dog. Our dogs can’t hike for more than 8-9 miles without getting a split pad on their paw so we make sure to bring a backpack that they can ride in if they get tired. When we are rock climbing, we secure each of them in a backpack so they can come along with us.  At the end of the day, have fun! Bringing your dog into the great outdoors is something you both with never forget.

 

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Then shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com

 

September
18

Hurricanes Irma & Harvey: How to Help

It seems like Mother Earth is reacting to centuries of mistreatment, doesn’t it?

First it was Hurricane Harvey, and now it’s Hurricane Irma. Two major hurricanes within only a couple weeks of each other, wreaking havoc.  Estimates are saying that hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused destruction of $290 billion combined. That can seem like an unreal number, so here are some examples to give you an idea of the scope of the damage.

Before Irma hit Florida, Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin / St. Maarten, the US Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos were the hardest hit, with up to 99% of structures damaged.   Electricity is out in many areas, as is running water. Looting has started in some of the islands, making them more unsafe.

In Florida, residents in the Florida Keys were only allowed to travel back to their homes yesterday… with warnings.  If you’re not there to help salvage and repair, officials are asking that you stay away.  Power is not consistent and water is not drinkable.

In Texas, Hurricane Harvey damaged more than 500,000 vehicles.  Gas prices are rising due to the refineries being affected.  This storm has affected the economy of Texas,  and thus the economy of the US. Texas has the 2nd largest economy in the US.  30,000 people had to leave their homes during the storm.

Everyone affected is now facing economic hardship, mental and physical health challenges.  Many are without homes and don’t know where they will live.  So, how can you help?

Give time

With hundreds of emergency shelters in operation, volunteers are needed to staff them. You can sign up online with the state-run Volunteer Florida and receive shelter training or call 1-800-FL-Help-1.

Use your skills

Florida needs 1,000 volunteer nurses to help at special-needs shelters

Give shelter

AirBnB

The travel site Airbnb has been utilizing their widespread network of housing options to find hosts and locations for evacuees and relief helpers of Hurricane Irma. Encompassing most of Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, you can sign up to be a host yourself or can find free housing if you want to go down and volunteer in relief efforts.

Give money

Waves for Water 

Getting water to people who need it in the Caribbean Islands affected by Irma.

Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon is an organization of veterans who deploy to disaster areas and help, on the ground.  They have many capabilities but those most important will be Medical Services, Debris Management and helping to rebuild.  (Team Rubicon was instrumental in Hurricane Sandy, in salvage and repair. I am a HUGE fan. This is where my donations are going.)

Donate Blood

You can find a local blood drive on the Red Cross website, by calling 800-733-2767, or by using the Red Cross blood donor app.

Adopt a pet

If you’re thinking about adopting a dog or a cat, for example, this could be a good time. Animal welfare organizations in Texas, Florida, and around the country are likely to take in pets that have lost their owners. For instance, St. Hubert’s Center, based in New Jersey, has listed 12 Northeast animal shelters that are expected to take up to 100 shelter dogs from Texas. Check with your local animal shelters.

*** To ensure that your money is going toward a reputable charity, you can check whether the charity has been rated or accredited by an organization like Charity Navigator, Charity Watch or the Better Business Bureau. These might not cover smaller, community-based charitable organizations. But you can read useful tips about choosing a charity from the Federal Trade Commission.

SAY NO TO DONATING MONEY TO THE RED CROSS. Instead donate to organizations that will be on the ground helping people get back on their feet. We believe that there are many other options who will use your money better to aid those affected by the Hurricanes.

I was personally made homeless by Hurricane Sandy.  In the months after the hurricane, we saw a lot of amazing volunteers and organizations from around the world that helped the people on the Rockaway Peninsula. (Thank you!)

We did not see the Red Cross. Oh wait, except for on TV — you know that big concert with Bon Jovi that raised over $300Million for Hurricane Sandy victims. That money that was very slow to be distributed and some of which was moved to other areas of the country after the Red Cross determined that no more help was needed in the Rockaways.

Do a little more research.   Here are sources that also suggest that the Red Cross is not the best at Disaster Aid.

During Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, 40% of the Red Cross Relief Trucks were diverted for public relations

25% of the funds raised to help Hurricane Victims in Haiti was used for internal expenses

 

 

Here are a couple of articles with lists with other great options.

Here’s How to Help Victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose, Right Now from Your Computer

Hurricane Irma: How You Can Help

How To Help As Florida Is Dealt ‘Catastrophic’ Blow From Irma

Hurricane Irma: where you can donate to help with disaster relief and recovery

 

 

 

August
4

Coral Reefs Need Your Help!

Andrea-Mermaid.Drea

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Andrea – @mermaid.drea

We surf, snorkel, free dive, paddle and play in Mother Nature’s glorious ocean. But a fundamental part of the ocean’s ecosystem is at risk.  The biggest story of our changing climate is hidden beneath the waves. Coral reef ecosystems support 25% of marine life in our ocean and they are at extreme risk of  dying. In fact, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia experienced a devastating and unprecedented severe coral bleaching two years in a row the past two years, killing 29% of shallow water reefs. And it’s not just the majestic Great Barrier Reef – – coral reefs all over the world are being affected.

2.-The-Rainforests-of-the-Sea

So what is going on?
There is a huge heat wave traveling all over the world. It’s like your body temperature changing – – a temperature increase of just 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) may not seem like a lot in the air, but for marine life this is like living with a constant fever. And for the corals’, it’s catastrophic. When the corals are exposed to higher ocean temperatures, they bleach and die. What remains is the white skeleton.

1.-Coral-Fever

So what can you do? 

We live at a unique point in time where we can change history. It’s not too late for coral reefs – – they can recover if the ocean temperature returns to normal, but prolonged stress may cause the corals to eventually die. Every little action helps – – if we all chip in to reducing our carbon footprint we can help to reduce climate change and stop ocean temperatures from rising. Here’s a couple things you can do:

  1. Recycle!!!!
  2. Make sure your lighting is efficient. LED light bulbs generally use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescents, and they last longer.
  3. Replace old appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines, water heaters, and clothes dryers, with smarter models.
  4. Maximize fuel efficiency, no matter what model you drive: Keep tires inflated, avoid speeding, keep your trunk free of excess weight—and above all, avoid driving when you can walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit.
  5. Bring your own bags and buy in bulk when possible to reduce packaging.
  6. Reduce your consumption of bottled water and other packaged drinks.
  7. Check out more at National Geographic
  8. Watch Chasing Coral on Netflix and share this blog post and/or infographics with your friends + family!Reduce CO2

March
10

Living the Dream: How I’m making it – Tamarindo, Costa Rica

8 years ago, I moved to Costa Rica after falling in love with surfing.  And I found that everyone I knew back in NYC either thought I had lost my mind, or found the meaning of life.  And most tourists I met who were visiting Costa Rica were dreaming about living there, and were full of questions on how people make it work.  The answer?  Everyone hustles to figure it out.  And then keeps hustling.

Many of the jobs or skills that people have in the US corporate world are not available or useful when you’re living in Costa Rica in a tourist town.  So you’ve got to be opportunistic, and still find a way to enjoy your new life in paradise.  Here is an account of how one of our favorite surfer girls is making it happen in Costa Rica, from Kristen @sambatothesea.   — Chief Bikini Officer, Helena Fogarty

Kristen M. Brown of Samba to the Sea headed for a surf in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Kristen @sambaotothesea headed for a surf in Tamarindo.

 

As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun – – and I really can’t believe over four years have passed since leaving NYC:  quitting my corporate job, putting all my belongings in storage (called Mom & Pop storage), and moving to Tamarindo, Costa Rica to surf. When I first moved, I worked for Robert August (AKA Mr. Endless Summer), blogging and running his social media. Working for such an iconic person in surf history was definitely an experience. I loved how most of the time I could make my own work schedule and I was stoked to not be working “in the office” every day.  And I got to surf.  All the time.

Kristen M. Brown of Samba to the Sea photographing a beautiful sunset in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Kristen @sambaotothesea chasing sunsets in Costa Rica with her Chihuahua Gidget.

In my free time, I started to follow my other passion, photography. First, photographing and posting images of Tamarindo on my blog + Instagram was a good way to keep my family and friends updated on my Costa Rican adventure. Then, it became a side job.  Why?  Because I saw way too many ugly postcards for sale in Tamarindo.  I decided to take the #uglypostcarddilemma into my own hands. I made my own, featuring my Costa Rican sunset photographs. They were an immediate hit in Tamarindo and I was stoked to have found a niche in market.

What started with nine postcards has evolved into over forty postcard designs with ~15,000 postcards sold in three and a half years. And selling my photographs via the postcards gave me confidence to pursue photography as a career – which happens to also be a good way to make a living here in the tropics.  Today I’m so stoked to launch something I only dreamed of a year ago – – an online store designed to help you have a little bit of paradise in your home, with sunset prints, pillows, baby blankets (and more to come), aptly named The Sunset Shop.

(P.S. you totally want to keep reading for a special offer just for MI OLA mermaids!!)

The Sunset Shop by Samba to the Sea.

Ahhhh, the magic of sunsets in Costa Rica! Prints of breathtaking Costa Rican sunsets available at The Sunset Shop.

I now spend most of my year in Costa Rica, with the remainder spent in magical Savannah, GA – which is gorgeous, amazing and also happens to be where my family lives. I know, you’re probably thinking why would I ever want to leave Costa Rica or split time? The honest truth? Costa Rica may be a little slice of Pura Vida for vacation, but living here (like I believe living anywhere else in the world) has its pluses and minuses. So what should you expect if you’re thinking of moving to Tamarindo, Costa Rica?

Pros & Cons of  Living the Dream in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Pros:

No need for a beach getaway:  I don’t have the crazy urge to go on vacation like I did when I lived in NYC. Sure, I miss the ease of hopping on a plane at JFK to Europe, but I’m at the beach every day!

Sunsets:  The sunsets in Tamarindo are AMAZING!!! Soon after landing in Costa Rica, I started chasing and photographing the sunsets.

Pura Vidadise print by Samba to the Sea at The Sunset Shop. Image of a gorgeous sunset in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Free mobile background download!

A breathtaking sunset in Costa Rica. Photo by Kristen M. Brown, @sambaotothesea

Surfing:  The waves in Costa Rica are simply magical – – peeling waves, offshore winds, and warm water. Within a 5-10 minute bike ride, I have access to several surf breaks and several others within 30 minutes. Without a doubt, I’ve gotten spoiled here real fast!
(Check out MI OLA’s surf guides to Tamarindo, Avellanas, and Playa Grande)

Surfing Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica.

Wave breaking at Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica. Photo by Kristen M. Brown, @sambaotothesea

 

Nature:  Ahhhh, nature. It’s right outside – –  the Howler monkeys at dawn, iguanas, singing birds. I love my daily walks on beach and through the hills in Tamarindo with my little Chihuahua Gidget.

 

The people: My friends are from all over the world.  Tamarindo is a great example of a diverse, mixed community.

 

Cons:

When your dream becomes everyday life, there are definitely things that can wear on you… until you get back in the waves. Here’s the reality that many don’t consider when they dream of moving to paradise.

Pura Vida:  Ahhhh, the small thing called Tico Time. Meaning “latin time” or tomorrow is another day. Pretty much everything here just operates slower than the US. Long lines at the bank, slow internet, and driving 40 miles down the coast takes over two hours!  Convenience and ease is not a focus, like it often is up north.

Sometimes I don’t surf everyday:  Contrary to what my parents think,I don’t surf everyday. I’d love to surf everyday, but my work takes priority and other times the conditions are just not that great. Sometimes a week or more goes by without surfing – – (gasp!) I know!

Cost of Living is high:  It’s expensive to live here.  Costa Rica is not a cheap country. Most tourists are surprised at the cost of accommodations, tours, and food.  And people who live here make a lot less.  Think US prices, but much lower wages than the US.

It’s tropically hot:  The sun is HOT, HOT, HOT! Tamarindo is located 10 degrees north of the equator, meaning that the sun is very strong here! And in April, the temperatures soar over 100 degrees with high humidity.

People come and go:  Tamarindo is a tourist and very transient town. Just as fast as you make a new friend, another one is moving out of town! Some people only come for high season to escape the northern hemisphere winters and others are like me – – how has it been over four years?!

 

Four years ago, never did I think I would still be living in Costa Rica AND working for myself – – a passion that my pre-Costa Rica self would have said was impossible. In celebration of the launch of my shop, I’m stoked to offer you FREE sunset downloads, oh-so-perfect for your phone or computer background! Click here for your freebie, add the downloads to the shopping cart, and use code “MIOLA” at checkout! AND this weekend only, for MI OLA mermaids only, enjoy 25% off her whole shop – – use code “MIOLA25” at checkout.

 

 

 

 

February
25

5 Apps to Help You Stick to your Fitness Resolutions

It’s the end of February… how’s that 2017 Resolution going?  Mine, it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride with lots of effort and some progress. The big bumps can really have me thinking about ditching the resolution completely.   If you’re in the same boat, we have yogic advice and technology to come to the rescue and help you (and me!) persist.

Last week, Brand Ambassador Leslie wrote about how to make positive changes in life and how to reframe them to have lasting and positive effect. Now we have some great technology apps to help you stay on track with those resolutions. Paige Johnson, a self-described fitness “nerd” from Learn Fit, provides 5 valuable smartphone fitness apps – – check it out below!

Lauren-Wheel

 

5 Apps to Help You Stick to your Fitness Resolutions

If you find yourself giving up your New Year’s resolutions just a few weeks (or even days) into the year, technology can play a big role in motivating you to persevere. Try using your smartphone to download the right apps and give yourself an increased likelihood of becoming healthier, slimmer, smarter or richer by the time December comes.

Technology has completely taken over our lives today—from smartphones to robots, gadgets are everywhere you can see. There will always be a debate about the pros and cons of these devices, but you can use your smartphones to keep you on track with your New Year’s resolutions. This is where app stores come in—there is no dearth of applications today to do just about anything you can think about, and monitoring your fitness levels figures somewhere close to the top. In fact, a 2015 study found that 58% of smartphone users downloaded health apps. There are too many choices out there, so we have listed five of the best ones that will help you stick to your fitness resolutions this year.

 

Surf-MI-OLA

Goals in Google Calendar

A more recent addition to the app world, Google goals are something that you can create on your phone’s Google Calendar app. For those using it specifically for fitness-related goals, you can connect it to Google Fit. You can add any goal you want, and the app will do the work of finding the best-suited time on your calendar for the goal. Moreover, Calendar will automatically reschedule a goal if it overlaps with another event. Basically, the app does all the planning; all you need to do is get moving to reach your goal. You can download the Google Calendar app on both iOS and Android devices, so start creating your goals today.

 

Map My Fitness

This is another free app for both Android and iPhone users and features built-in GPS to help users log outdoor activity statistics. It lets you keep track of hundreds of activities and your diet as well as  share your progress with friends. If you are looking for a comprehensive fitness app, Map My Fitness is the one to download. There are more than 70 million routes you can choose from, and you also get real-time feedback in addition to statistics like distance covered, pace, and the number of calories burned.

 

Rover

If you want to make a buck while getting fit, Rover.com’s dog boarding app makes it easy for you to get dog walking or pet sitting clients with just a few screen taps. Working with animals will keep you active, which will be a great help in meeting your fitness goals, and it’s also been proven to boost mental health,  so you’ll be getting fit while feeling great and making a little cash on the side. What could be better than that?

Rover

Rover

 

Keelo

Designed for beginners and experienced athletes alike, Keelo features high-intensity workouts by certified health coaches that can be performed at the gym or even at home, so no more excuses about not having a gym membership, as you have full-body workouts that will take you no more than 20 minutes. You can also filter exercises according to the equipment you have available. Keelo is available for iOS devices and works great with an Apple Watch. You can download it for free!

 

Diet Plan

If you wish to start eating healthy but keep racking your brains to find the right meals, downloading this free Android app is all you need to do. Diet Plan offers you a personalized fitness plan based on your goals and body type. Weight and activity trackers, motivational tips, and budget-suitable recipe suggestions are some additional features of this innovative app.

Diet Plan

Diet Plan

 

Streaks

If forming good habits is your new year’s resolution, Streaks will help you stick to it. You can start with the app’s built-in tasks or create up to six customized ones and set reminders to make your physical activities a habit. If you break the streak, it will automatically reset to zero days. This is a free app, but currently available only for iPhone.

Streaks

Streaks

 

We’d love to hear what you think and what your biggest challenge to achieving your 2017 goals is so far, so please sound off in the comments!

 

Paddle-Board

 

 

 

 

February
17

How to Make Positive Changes in Your Life

Did you start off the  New Year with a resolution or 3?  Eager to make a change you start determined, but by the time February rolls around you’ve strayed off course.  I’ve been there.

Not too worry – – it’s never too late to make positive changes in your life.  We caught up with brand ambassador Leslie (@goodgroundyoga) who gave us valuable insight on changing the way we think about our New Year’s Resolutions. Read on for more, because the insight is that good!

img_2472

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @goodgroundyoga

 

Almost all New Year’s resolutions fail.  Mostly because most resolutions start from the premise that you need to fix something. Thankfully, yoga has a way of reframing resolutions.  In yoga, we call this practicing a “sankalpa”.

A sankalpa practice starts from the RADICAL premise that you already are enough.  That you already are who you need to be.  All you need to do is focus your mind, connect to your most heartfelt desires, and channel the energy within. Basically, a sankalpa has to do with our overriding purpose for being alive on this planet.  It honors the deeper meaning of our life.  It is a guide that you call upon as you walk your life’s path. A sankalpa can take two forms.

The first form, known as “a heartfelt desire” is statement that reflects your true nature. Unlike a typical New Year’s resolution (I want to lose 20 pounds), a heartfelt desire doesn’t require change or action. It is literally and simply a statement of who you are.  An example would be “I am compassionate” or “I am whole”,

The second form is closer to a typical New Year’s resolution.  It is a specific intention or goal designed to help you live your life’s purpose.  It is a small milestone or action step that you can take along the way.  Moment to moment choices that help you to express your heartfelt desires.

1u8a0858

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @goodgroundyoga

So how do you know what is you heartfelt desire?

It requires listening to yourself.  Getting quiet.  Centered.  Grounded.  Feeling inside.  Your heartfelt desire is already present just waiting to be felt. Ask yourself what do I really want?  If the answer is something as simple as losing weight or stopping smoking, see if you can find a deeper need that is asking to be met.  For instance perhaps the deeper need is  “I want to take care of my body” or perhaps even deeper still “I love my body.”

Once you have an idea of your sankalpa, you must state it in the present tense.  Traditionally resolutions or desires are stated as something I want to do, or will do or won’t do.  The problem with this is that unlike a petition, a sankalpa is a vow that is true RIGHT NOW.

1u8a0602

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @goodgroundyoga

 

For example, lets say your New Year’s resolution is to make more time for you. To put your needs first rather than last.  I use this example because it is my own for 2017.  Instead of saying “I want to make more time for me”, my sankalpa is this: “I am worthy of time”.  Why this is radically different is that it presumes already that I am worthy.  If I act from the premise that I am worthy, making time for me is a natural extension and is not something I have to work at doing.

Every conscious choice you make is an opportunity to strengthen your sankalpa. We strengthen it by repeating it to ourselves like a mantra.  We use our resolve as an internal compass when challenged or tested.  We whisper it to ourselves enough times that we believe it to not only be true but immutable.

And when we stumble which we will, we brush ourselves off and state it again.

I am worthy.  I am worthy.  Simple.

 

 

 

 

December
16

How to SUP in the Winter

Stand up Paddling in the Winter?  

Just because the leaves have fallen off the trees and there might be snow on the ground, you don’t get to retreat inside to wait out winter! Our MI OLA brand ambassadors love getting out there year round.  They keep us inspired and offer a wealth of knowledge on how to continue to #GetOutThere when the temperatures get colder, from surfing to running in the cold.  Ambassador Jen P. (@flentil) stand-up paddleboards all year, and here’s her tips on how to SUP in the winter AND be safe! Jen started SUPing only in warmer temperatures, but last winter she decided winter was not going to keep her off her board.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jen – @flentil

How to SUP in the Winter

When I started off paddling a few years ago, I was like many other folks…the air cooled off, the water temps dropped, and I threw in the towel until spring. Last winter, I decided I was going to keep going as long as there was water to paddle. Fall and winter are amazing times on the water: people are gone, the water is crystal clear, and often the wildlife is very active – it’s a great time to see lots of fish, birds and other wildlife.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jen – @flentil

As a first-time winter paddler, my big question was: how do I do this whole winter paddling thing safely? Because really cold water isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be deadly. Cold water (gasp!) is a serious thing. So I spent a lot of time educating myself to ensure I didn’t end up a tragic headline in the local news. I knew I wanted to enjoy the winter experience, but I didn’t want to be stupid, either.

This post is going to be about flat-water SUP. Since I live inland, this is what I do the majority of the time. If you are paddle surfing, you’ll want to take some slightly different steps that are the same as cold-water surfing. Check out this great post from fellow MI OLA ambassador Susi Brunvaer on all things related to cold-water surfing and get the tips you need to enjoy winter sessions in the waves!

 

 

Winter flat-water SUP: how do you stay safe and but also comfortable?

This is a balancing act I’ve found. In calm conditions when falling in isn’t a significant risk, the general rule of thumb is to dress similarly to as if you were going to run in the cold – wear breathable layers made of performance, wicking materials. If you think there is any chance that you will wind up in the water, a wetsuit or dry suit is a must. Both of these options will keep you safe in the event you take a plunge. The down side of either of these is that you can really work up a sweat, and be drenched from the inside out. However, the extra confidence you may gain from wearing either of these options may make you more adventurous when you head out for your session, or allow you to feel confident paddling in conditions when you may otherwise stay home.

 

Feet, hands and head: Keep them covered!!

Nothing makes a paddle session more uncomfortable than frozen toes or fingers, and we lose a ton of heat through our heads, so keep all of these body parts totally covered! If you don’t already have them, get the thickest booties you can, it will make ALL the difference! It does change the way you feel the board, but at least you can still get out there. Same goes for gloves – keep the hands warm but make sure you can still feel the paddle. And wearing a hat will really help your entire body retain heat.

One of the latest in drysuits that is getting RAVE reviews in the paddle community is SUPSKIN . It is on my wish list! Like all dry suits, it is not cheap, but it is supposed to be much more breathable and fitted than other dry suits, so it should be something that everyone looks into if they plan to winter paddle and stay safe.

 

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jen – @flentil

 

A Leash and PFD are absolutely, positively a MUST, regardless of local water laws or conditions.

Regardless of how glassy the conditions, or how short your paddle session is going to be, you need to wear a leash and personal floatation device (PFD). You simply can’t risk losing contact with your board for any reason, for any period of time, and you do not want your head to go under water. I know some folks continue to use a waist pack-style, inflatable PFD in winter, but once the water and air temps drop significantly, I switch over to a more traditional-style PFD. In the event that I do hit the water, I want to ensure that my head stays above the water and I don’t want to have to fumble around to deploy an inflatable PFD – at that point my sole focus needs to be on getting back on the board and out of the water. I have one from Kokatat that I have been really pleased with, but there are many other brands such as MTI, that also make great options.

 

Know your local water safety laws.

In the US, USCG laws require that adults have a PFD with them at all times when on the water. This means a traditional PFD can be sitting on the front of your board, or if you use a waist-pack style inflatable PFD, you have to wear it. In my home state of Pennsylvania, additional cold-water safety regulations are in effect from November 1 – April 30. This rule requires that you must WEAR a PFD at all times when you are on the water, with no exceptions. So if you plan to paddle all year-round, make sure you become familiar with any local water laws that may apply.

 

Let someone know your paddle plan.

This is really something that you should do year-round, but it is even more important in winter. And if you have the option, paddle with a buddy.

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jen – @flentil

Get ready to fend for yourself.

One of the magical things about winter paddling is the solitude. But this is also one of the dangers. If you get into trouble, there may not be anyone nearby to bail you out. This means basic precautions like bringing your phone in a water-sealed bag or a case is super important. Don’t paddle too far out – if conditions change quickly, you’ll be more exposed, and you may not be able to get back to shore quickly or easily. Stay close to shore so you always have a relatively quick exit plan. If you fall in, even if you still have your board, you won’t have far to go to get back to shore, and should you lose your paddle, you don’t want to have to prone-paddle for very long. If you have the option to paddle where it isn’t too deep, take advantage of that safety option as well.

 

If it’s icy on the water or on the ground, it’s icy on your board.

Once things start to really get to freezing, you need to be aware that wet spots on your board could be icy as well. I am extremely cautious about things like pivot turns in the winter, and it’s not the time that I decide to try anything that requires a whole lot of moving around on the board.

 

When in doubt, don’t paddle out.

Most of us know this saying already, and it’s even more true in winter conditions. In the winter months, I am way more selective about when I decide to hit the water. If there’s a whole lot of wind or chop, I tend to play it safe and wait for a gentler day. If the conditions look like they may change quickly, I play it safe. Wind chill feels a lot more extreme in the winter, so I pay attention to that factor as well.

 

Be bold, but be safe. Get out there!!

Winter paddling is a wonderful, peaceful and invigorating experience. With a combination of solid preparation and common sense, you can enjoy the beauty and solitude of this amazing time of year on the water! Happy Paddling!!

November
18

Giving Thanks

keri-in-langosta

Giving thanks in Langosta, Costa Rica!

What if I told you there is a way to have better days, every single day?  There is.

Gratitude.

Gratitude has the ability to change your life simply by acknowledging positive things in your life every day. And since we’re in the season of Thanksgiving, now is a great opportunity to use gratitude to start changing your life.

Really?  That’s it?   Let’s back up a little bit so I can explain how gratitude has changed my life. As a cynical New Yorker- turned-Costa Rica-pura-vida-surfer, my attitude can be a mixed bag.  Especially if you’re in the passenger seat while I’m driving! I used to have an almost immediate NO when it came to things I consider non-logical thinking or non-action oriented.  Talk of vision boards and magical thinking made me a very skeptical.

However that was all before moving to Costa Rica to surf (my passion), starting MI OLA (my passion), meeting my husband (passion again) and having my own baby, Mini (talk about unconditional love.)  All that has made me MUCH more open to alternate ideas (vs. hard logic driving everything), and I now know that my mindset creates everything or at least creates the way that I process everything.

easter-2015-copy-lr

MI OLA Chief Bikini Officer (CBO)  Helena with her daughter.

Starting and running MI OLA is a roller coaster ride. There are days that are tough, and days with  amazing wins.  It’s not every day that we see new samples, surf to test them out, shoot photos in the tropics, or celebrate being in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition!  We’re building a company that empowers women, is ethical and a positive force in the world, and makes the best swimwear available and that takes hard work and focus.  I have to motivate every day to make things happen, even when I feel like binge watching Westworld on HBO.

Along the way, I’ve started to acknowledge and focus on positive things in my life. This  simple act of gratitude has literally changed my life and made me more effective and happy.   Here’s my morning routine, which I recommend.

Here’s what I do:

1) I start every day by jotting down 3 things I’m thankful for. These things can be very basic… hot water, heat, great friends that I’ll see tonight, or they can be more deep like living in a country where we are generally safe. Either way, these things should be meaningful to you.

2) Then, I journal 1 really positive experience from the last 24 hours.  This could be having a great surf, or workout, winning an award, or just having a really great day.

3) Then I do a quick workout. A yoga flow, a quick mile jog, or jump rope for 10 minutes.

4) And then meditate for a bit. Research has shown that meditating, even for only 2 minutes, increases efficacy and clarity.

5) Lastly, I write down 3 things to accomplish that day. And yes, on weekends, one of those things could definitely be Netflix and drool, my personal hangover favorite, or Netflix and chill for sexytime 😉

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-4-22-36-pm

Photo of MI OLA Ambassador Jessica by Diana Lee Photography- @jessicabellofatto

This routine can be as short as 20 minutes. And YES, this means I get up earlier than I used to, but it’s SOOO worth it. After I did this for a month, I started seeing my mindset changing.  I have become more open to helping other people, giving others time, and being patient.

Try it out and let us know how it goes!  And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there!!!!

(I am so thankful that you are reading this!)

Susi Tree Pose

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Susi- @insta_susi

FYI – The routine is pieced together from a few different sources, which are great reads.

A 23-Minute Morning Ritual That Will Transform Your Whole Day, by MarceL Schwantes

The Productivity Project, by Chris Bailey

Peter Sage  – a serial entrepreneur and life coach.

And if you google, “morning routine”… you’ll find endless wisdom on how best to start your day. Listen – we’re not all perfect.  There are days that I miss this routine, but my best days are when I stick to it.

 

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Then shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com

 

 

October
14

Hurricane Matthew: How can we help?

This week, we had a surf guide to the Outer Banks planned for our blog. It’s a great one. But, in light of Hurricane Matthew,  the major hurricane that caused extreme damage from Haiti up to North Carolina, we want to focus on how we can help the communities affected.

Devastation in Jérémie. The cities of Les Cayes and Jérémie received the full force sustaining wind and water damage across wide areas Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images

Devastation in Jérémie. The cities of Les Cayes and Jérémie received the full force sustaining wind and water damage across wide areas
Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images

Our hearts go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Matthew, in Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, and in the US – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The devastation is incredible, and every area will be recovering for a long while.  What you may not know if you haven’t been through a natural disaster (as we did at MI OLA with Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point, NY) is that the initial disaster is devastating. But, the effects of the disaster event are made even worse by the lack of resources and infrastructure afterwards.

For instance, estimates suggest that 900+ people have died in Haiti due to Hurricane Matthew. Entire villages were wiped out. And now, Haiti is dealing with a massive Cholera outbreak and there is a lack of clean water and adequate antibiotics available for those affected by the storm.

Damaged houses in Jérémie Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Damaged houses in Jérémie
Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

The US was not spared by the Hurricane.  30 lives were claimed and the flooding has not yet subsided in many places. Millions of people are displaced without water, electricity or heat, and they may be displaced for months, or even years.     (Hurricane Sandy was almost 4 years ago, and some homes destroyed have still not been rebuilt.) This is scary, life-changing stuff.  People have lost their homes, businesses, and belongings, and are seeking safety, shelter, food, and water with babies, pets, and entire families in tow.

Outside Surfin Spoon in OBX at MM 10.5, the day after the storm. PHOTO: Matt Lusk

Outside Surfin Spoon in OBX at MM 10.5, the day after the storm. PHOTO: Matt Lusk

south-of-milepost4-matt-lusk

OBX South of milepost 4. PHOTO: Matt Lusk

An aerial view shows floodwaters after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton. Photograph: Chris Keane/Reuters

An aerial view shows floodwaters after Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton. Photograph: Chris Keane/Reuters

If you can, please help. 

How?  Consider donating to an organization with proven results. Check out our list below:

Project Medishare for Haiti

Haiti Medical Missions of Memphis

Team Rubicon

Doctors without Borders

United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 

Food for the Poor

Leaving the Red Cross off this list was a conscious decision.  Due to their failures in Haiti after the earthquake and during Hurricane Sandy in the US, we don’t recommend donating funds to this organization.  Instead, focus on the others above, where you know your money will be used to help people and not just pay a CEO’s salary.

September
30

How-To: Rental Car Relocation

If you want to drive when you travel, have a lot of flexibility in your plans, and are looking to your adventures on the cheap, Rental Car Location is an excellent option.

Rental car relocation? What’s that you ask? Rental companies are always looking for people to move vehicles from where they were returned to their original location. The cost is typically around a $1/day and is great for you if you love to travel, and have the utmost of flexibility in your travel plans.

Check out the details to rental car relocation below!

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @lesnorberg

 

We’re back in New Zealand with MI OLA brand ambassador Leslie (@lesnorberg)!  Last (Northern Hemisphere) winter, Leslie went to New Zealand to enjoy the summertime weather there and worked as a canoe trip leader. Chasing an endless summer, Leslie went back home to beautiful summer weather in Minnesota and  then back to New Zealand this past August. Leslie’s final destination was Christchurch on this trip, but instead of hopping on another flight after arriving in Auckland, Leslie decided drive to Christchurch, with rental car relocation.  Here Leslie takes us through her experience and some tips.

 

How-to: Rental Car Relocation

I was heading back to New Zealand in August and wanted to change things up a bit. We had to get to Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand. My traveling companion suggested we do a rental relocation. She has done a few previously with a 6 berth camper van and a brand new Rav-4.

desert-road-north-island

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @lesnorberg

 

How to search for rental car relocation:

A few weeks before our flight (San Francisco to Auckland) we scoured through relocation listings, using the website www.imoova.com and www.transfercar.co.nz to see what was available. There was a moment of panic when there weren’t any vehicles listed for the day we arrived in Auckland, but in the end everything worked out. Just remember you’re not renting the vehicle you’re moving it for someone else, so flexibility is key!

Who is it for?:

Rental care relocation is for anyone, if you are looking to travel, have a limited budget and have a lot of flexibility.  Perhaps you are looking for a trip to take with your friends or family — why not do it for a fraction of the cost with a relocation?!

img_0097

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @lesnorberg

When?:

Rental car relocation is available anytime! Companies always have vehicles that need to be returned to other locations. Remember, since you’re relocating versus renting you have to be flexible with dates. We did our relocation during winter (August) in New Zealand and ran into snowy and icy conditions.  So be wary, drive appropriately for the weather, and don’t drive on the other side of the road unless you are 100% confident.

snow

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @lesnorberg

Where?:

Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA. A few options are available in Europe.

Why?:

If you are into road tripping in your home country or abroad and don’t want to spend a fortune, this is a nice way to do it (especially with friends!)

making-grilled-cheese

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @lesnorberg

What’s included?:
This varies a lot depending on country, rental company and a variety of other factors. Typically it is $1/day to relocate, although these base fees do vary. Use imoova.com or a similar site to compare costs. Some relocations may include the cost of fuel, others may not.

Do you have a ferry crossing in your route? We did! Keep this in mind especially in New Zealand, the ferry really adds up. The vehicle and the driver were covered but any extra passengers had to pay. Again this is still cheaper than paying for an oversized vehicle and passengers.

What’s not included?:
We all love a good road trip that allows us to wander where the wind takes us, but you may have to pick and choose your battles here. Most companies limit how many kilometers/miles and days you can drive. The allowances are usually pretty generous and there is often an option to purchase more days or kms as needed.

Age restrictions vary from country to country so you will need to check this out before you begin the process!

Make sure you understand the size of the vehicle you could be issued. The majority of websites will be able to tell you exactly what sort of vehicle you will be issued, or at the very least the approximate class size (eg. compact, station wagon, 4wd camper van, 6 berth RV, etc.)

keep-left

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @lesnorberg

That’s all there is to it! Now get searching. Remember to read the fine print. Relocations might not be right for everyone! Enjoy and be safe out there!

More on our rental car relocation trip experience in New Zealand:

We arrived in Auckland tired from the flight, had a nap while we waited for the rental car location to open, and then caught an Uber a few kilometers down the road. After signing some paperwork and receiving a run down of the vehicle, we were off in our Mercedes Sprinter (complete with shower, toilet, and full kitchen!)

van-pic

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @lesnorberg

Coming from the Northern Hemisphere summer to winter was a bit drastic. We had become acclimated to the sticky hot Minnesota summer and were met with high winds and snow. Still, the drive was incredibly beautiful, although getting used to less daylight was hard. All in all the entire process was super easy, stress free and definitely worth looking into! For the 4 day journey, including ferry, insurance, rental fee, and fuel, we paid under $300.00 USD to see some of the most beautiful areas of Aotearoa (New Zealand). In comparison, a flight from Auckland to Christchurch would have cost us around $100 USD per person.

coast-north-of-kaikoura

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Leslie- @lesnorberg

July
29

Yoga Teacher Training – Tips from our brand ambassadors

If you want to become a certified yoga teacher or just want to deepen your yoga practice, you can find “yoga teacher trainings” available around the world: India, tropical escapes, your home town and possibly your home studio.

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 6.53.17 AM

Photo by MI OLA Influencer – @yoga_lovely

With so many choices, choosing one can be tough.  Should you pick the five-month module based training at your local studio or is a one-month intensive course in Mexico a better fit?  We can help.  Our awesome yogi brand ambassadors have some great advice to make the most out of your yoga teacher training experience.  Read on, brave yogi!

You can go to yoga teacher training whether you want to be a yoga teacher, or not.  If you want to deepen your yoga practice and nothing more, teacher training is a great way to do so!

I have had many students in my teacher trainings over the years that simply want to immerse themselves in the practice. Sometimes half-way through they decide they want to teach and that is awesome. The great thing about a teacher training program is that it allows you to dive in much deeper to the practice of yoga than a couple of 75 min yoga class a few days a week. – Jessica B., @jessicabellofatto

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 5.38.04 PM

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jessica – @jessicabellofatto

Consider your time commitment, availability and learning style? Some people thrive in intense training programs and others need more time to absorb information. 

What are your time constraints? Do you need to work around a work schedule and only can go to courses on weekends? Can you take two sets of weeklong vacations to do a module style training? Can you commit to a month or more away? This will be the main factor in narrowing down training options, as well as reflects your personal learning style. – Briana, @openheartadventure

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 5.34.22 PM

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Briana.- @openheartadventure

Do you want to focus on one style of yoga, or all? 

I loved my program because it was incredibly open to ALL styles of Yoga. We were taught to teach what felt right to us. – Lauren, @rock3roll

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 5.49.21 PM

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

What is a good way to “test” out teaching yoga before making the financial and time commitment to a teacher training?

Try out teaching your friends first (with caution – every body is different and moves in different ways).  If you like teaching your friends and family, and it makes you happy and feel fulfilled, then start researching teacher trainings to see what fits best for you. – Lauren, @rock3roll

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 5.48.43 PM

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Lauren – @rock3roll

Keep in mind, your first teacher training (200 hours) is only a start.

Many people will start teaching right out of a 200 hr program which is great!  However, first and foremost you should be a student for life. Take as many trainings as you can.  Study with as many teachers as you can who inspire you. Read books on yoga philosophy & anatomy.  Take a Sanskrit course! If you LOVE Yoga, immerse yourself, stay open, and maintain a beginner’s mind. The practice is so endless and so vast that it will only serve you as well as your students! – Jessica B., @jessicabellofatto

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 5.42.05 PM

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jessica – @jessicabellofatto

Before you start training, start practicing yoga at home:

Your home practice will be a vital part in integrating what you are learning and really being to know and understand it in your own body. Start cultivating a daily home practice, including an early morning pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation, along with asana practice. – Jessica B, @jessicabellofatto

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 5.40.09 PM

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Jessica – @jessicabellofatto

It’s not just about what you will learn, it is also about the experience.

Commit and enjoy the process! An awesome part of teacher training is the experience. – Briana, Amanda, Jessica and Lauren

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 6.04.12 PM

Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Briana.- @openheartadventure

 

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Then shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com