As a blonde foreigner, I get a lot of attention here in the Dominican Republic. I’m always hearing new pick up lines or comments designed to get my attention.
Some of my favorite pick up lines (from this week):
*Would you like a private Uber driver?
*Oh, how God has blessed you!
*CITTAAAAA (short for “mamacita”… I think)
But here’s the thing: I really hated this attention when I arrived. And I hated it even more after six months. It’s not until recently that I developed a sense of humor about it. After that happened, I got to enjoy everything I LOVE about this country without all the stress of something I can’t control. What freedom!
This reminds me a LOT of starting my business.
When I began, the things I couldn’t control made me so uncomfortable. I had to CHOOSE to show up again and again until, one day, things felt slightly less scary. As time went on, the things that used to send me into a panic became no big deal.
This is the way the comfort zone works. When you commit to creating something new in your life (whether it’s living in a new culture or starting a business), you feel uncomfortable. Beginning is scary and staying with your decision can be even scarier! Your stress levels get higher until slowly — over time — the fear around the change subsides.
There’s a word for this: Acclimation (I talk a lot about this in my forthcoming book “Life Beyond Should”). Stay with what you’ve chosen and your comfort zone will expand.
This applies to SO MANY THINGS:
*Starting a new relationship after a really hard breakup
*Starting a business
*And a lot more
Have courage and stick with your process!
I hope the pickup lines I shared will remind you to keep your sense of humor in the face of your own challenges. Whatever you’re working on creating (or adjusting to), you will hit your stride.
Embrace the Adventure,
I love how peering into other people’s worlds fuels our own inspiration and creativity. Lately, many of my clients have asked me about my day-to-day, so I wanted to share more in case anything I’m up to sparks something for you!
Here’s a glimpse into my life:
- Book I’m loving: Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. I listened to this three times over on my morning walks and it’s encouraged me to act NOW on my desires. If you need more NOW in your life or business, check it out.
- What I’m enjoying most about living in the Dominican Republic now: Eating pasteles de hoja — Dominican-style tamales. Here’s a recipe. You’re welcome.
- I’m terrified to commit FULLY to my passion project: I’m digging into the connection between African dances and solo vernacular jazz more deeply than ever (watch the dance I’m currently working on here). Because this is so close to my heart, I have a ton of resistance to following through. I procrastinate, make excuses, and — bottom line — don’t practice. So… I just hired a private African dance instructor to work with me virtually and in-person. I know this project in my heart needs to come out, and I need a lot of loving support to make sure it does! (P.S. This is YOUR reminder to get support for the passion projects that mean so much to you!).
- Cool new testimonial: I just love my client Yvette Gorman-Holmes from Grow Your Moxie Coaching. You can read it below.
- Masala Chai: All day every day. Since getting back from India, I can’t stop drinking it. Here’s the recipe I’m using. Try it for yourself!
- My book: Life Beyond Should is moving right along! I got edits back from my first readers and am incorporating more interviews with scientists. This will be a scientific, spiritual, and practical guide to embracing your authentic desires!
Stay tuned for more updates! And let me know if you try out the book or recipes!
Embrace the Adventure,
P.S. Here’s the testimonial from Yvette:
“Megan OVER-DELIVERS as a coach and keeps you accountable to what you say you want! Through our coaching together, I learned to boldly move through the inner whispers of fear and ego, as well to stop using shame to fuel my productivity. I discovered how to increase my drive in a way that builds my confidence, inspires me, and makes me feel loved and acknowledged. I raised my prices and got hired for what I’m worth, as well as created a new level of compassion, commitment, and desire in my 20-year marriage. Working with Megan has been a celebrated gift to myself. She is a driven, compassionate, fun-loving, super-organized, disciplined soul who helps you get results and leads by example in all she does.”
We talk about how obstacles and doubt are an inevitable part of any journey, and ways for you to motivate yourself to walk right through them.
Megan offers so many insights and tools in this conversation- I can’t wait for you to watch!
Plus, we go over:
~(3:26) The 3 places we make decisions from + a tip to help us to remember how to show up powerfully in our lives
~(4:52) A somatic exercise for you to do with us to help shift your energy when you’re frustrated
~(16:30) How using an empowered pose can help you walk through things that are challenging you.
*Don’t miss out on an exercise that you can do with us that starts at 4:52
**Watch this TED Talk after to learn more about somatic exercises and power posing!
We’d love to hear how it goes, so share with us in a comment below:
~ What in your body or perception shifted from doing this exercise?
WANT MORE FROM MEGAN
Whether you’re looking for a business coach or looking for someone to guide you through a dance adventure – Megan can help! Learn more about Megan’s work here.
WITH LOVE AND POWER POSING,
About the Author
HIYA, I’M ELYSE!
I’m a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online programs. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I’m not doing squats and sun salutations, I’m dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! – stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com
English is my boyfriend Angel’s second language, and sometimes the expressions he creates are illuminating.
A few months ago, Angel really pissed me off…. and I lashed out. After a particularly animated fight, he said,
“You’re such a good person, but there’s a black spider that lives in your heart.” And you know what? He was right!
My sweet, loving boyfriend harassed that spider, and it bit him. Hard.
I wasn’t offended by Angel’s observation because he shared it without being judgmental. He wasn’t shaming me or making me the bad guy. He wasn’t trying to control me or that spider. He was simply sharing what he saw.
He shared his observation so lovingly that I was able to hear it…. and to show that black spider of mine some compassion. In the past when that spider came out, I would feel awful and berate myself for saying or doing something less than perfect. I’d over-associate with this black spider and wonder “Is this who I really am?”
Instead, I now ask: “What’s really going on here? What is the need I have that I’m not honoring? How does my spider need me to take care of myself so he can go back to sleep?”
It’s a lot easier to tame the black spider in our hearts when we understand that it’s just part of our humanity and a sacred indicator that something is missing.
How much compassion are you showing your spider this holiday season? Are you looking deeper when it shows up? And how much compassion are you having for friends and family when their spiders come out?
This isn’t your typical Christmas eve message, but it’s important nonetheless. Let’s be good to ourselves and each other as we wrap up this year!
Embrace the Adventure,
People often ask me “What is it like to live in the Dominican Republic?”
I lived in Santo Domingo full time from 2018 – 2020, led multiple retreats for Americans to the region of Samana, toured the country extensively, and have been traveling back and forth from the United States to the DR for the last five years. Based on my experience, I’ll answer the following questions:
- What is the cost of living?
- Can a US citizen live in the Dominican Republic?
- How much money do you need to live comfortably in the Dominican Republic?
- Where do expats live?
- What’s the food like?
- What are the best restaurants in Santo Domingo?
- How do I get around?
- How hard is it to find housing?
- Where are the best places to go out?
- How hard is it to make friends?
- Where are the best places to visit?
- What have I learned from living in the Dominican Republic?
What is the cost of living in the Dominican Republic?
It depends on the lifestyle you want. It was quite expensive for me — someone who works remotely and wanted to spend my first few months living in an upscale, furnished apartment in Santo Domingo.
My rent was about $1200 per month for an apartment in a nice building with a doorman. The apartment was located in Piantini, an upscale area of town (although there’s still quite a bit of noisy construction that happens there…). Because the internet was not always reliable, I also joined Chez Space — a co-working spot. That ran be about $150/month for use of the shared area. A private office runs about $1000/month.
For food, you can go grocery shopping at Supermarcado Bravo, La Sirena, Carre Four, or Nacional. Prices and selection there are comparable to grocery stores the United States. Bonus: You can get cool things like soursop, giant avocados, passion fruit, and other tropical foods there for cheap.
As a dancer, nights out were also factored into my budget (I’ve created a map of where you can go out dancing in Santo Domingo if you’re a dancer like me!). This is not very pricy, but I did always put aside some cash for an ice cold Presidente beer or two ($10/night to be safe).
Can a US citizen live in the Dominican Republic?
While I’m not sure about laws and regulations around residency, US citizens are able to stay in the Dominican Republic for very extended stays (we’re talking years, not months). You simply pay an overstay fee when you leave.
How much are these fees? As an example, you’ll pay $100 if you choose to stay for 9 months – 1 year. This website gives a more detailed outline of cost.
I traveled back to the United States about once every three months for work (I am a life and business coach who offers private coaching, a business mastermind program and virtual coworking). This meant, I paid a fee each time I left. I also opted for a passport with more pages (since I got two immigration stamps for each of my trips there).
How much money do you need to live comfortably in the Dominican Republic?
See the note above about the cost of living. If you want to go see different parts of the country, have a nice apartment, and otherwise keep a lifestyle similar to yours in the United States, I would reserve $3,500 – $4,000 a month.
Where do expats live in the Dominican Republic?
The United States embassy is near the neighborhood Arroyo Hondo, so many expats live there. That said, it’s pretty out of the way. If you want easier access to downtown or the Colonial Zone for movie theatres, nightlife or a more lively atmosphere in general, I would opt for one of the following expat-friendly areas:
- La Zona Colonial
- Bella Vista
Outside of Santo Domingo, popular expat towns are Punta Cana, Las Terrenas and — increasingly — the region of Samana.
What’s the food like in the Dominican Republic?
Delicious!!!!! My hot tip is to visit the food court in the Acropolis Center and eat at the buffet with Dominican Food. You can get chicken breast, rice, avocado and beans for less than $5.
Traditional Dominican foods include love morro (rice with beans), ropa vieja (shredded beef), pasteles en hoja (it’s like a Dominican tamale) and sancocho (a delicious, hearty stew made with meat and tubers).
That said, there are many excellent and diverse options for places to eat in Santo Domingo. Restaurants offer Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Peruvian and many other types of food.
What are the best restaurants in Santo Domingo?
Some of my favorite restaurants include:
- La Dolcerie: A good mix of nice dishes with a gorgeous atmosphere
- Fresh Fresh Cafe: Fresh, healthy food
- Laurel: A good mix of delicious offerings
- La Locanda: Delicious Italian
- Falafel Zona: This may be the best falafel I’ve ever had
- Forno Bravo: Tasty Italian food
- LuGa: High-end burgers and truffle fries
How do I get around in the Dominican Republic?
I recommend Ubers or — if you’re very adventurous and have a helmet — motor Ubers. That’s right: You can order a motorcycle to come and pick you up. Is it dangerous? Extremely. Is it fun? YES!
How hard is it to find housing in the Dominican Republic?
Initially, I booked places through Airbnb, which is wonderful. There are many great spots available in Santo Domingo at various price ranges. After my initial stay, I moved in with my boyfriend’s family. Now, when I go back, I stay there, with friends or in Airbnbs.
Where are the best places to go out in the Dominican Republic?
This is the question people ask me most often, so I created a map that has my favorite music venues, places to dance and a lot more. Check it out here.
How hard is it to make friends in the Dominican Republic?
In the Dominican Republic, I found my friend groups through the local dance community (click here to see my favorite places to dance), as well as through the International Women’s Club in Santo Domingo. I loved this group, as it was an awesome mix of ladies from all around the world. Most of the women are there temporarily because their husbands work for a large international company.
Where are the best places to visit in the Dominican Republic?
For cooler weather: Head to Jarabacoa or Constanza
For beautiful waterfalls: Jarabacoa, 27 Waterfalls
For wild terrain: Samana — and stay at the Dominican Treehouse Village if you can!
For the coolest shade of water you’ve ever seen: Barahona. Stay at Casa Bonita if you have the cash.
For kitesurfing and dinners on the beach: Cabarete
For all-inclusives (not my jam, but they might be yours!): Punta Cana
For dancing: Santo Domingo (check out my map of where to go dance)
What have I learned living in the Dominican Republic?
<<The below was written around January 1, 2019>>
January 1 will mark ONE YEAR since I moved here… and it’s been a hell of a lot harder than I imagined.
Just because you’re called to something doesn’t mean the journey will gracefully unfold. The universe may invite you to a situation where you have to struggle, fight, and endure. Our destined experiences are meant to teach us something, and sometimes learning those lessons isn’t easy.
Being in the Dominican Republic showed me my inherent right to massive self-expression, that I can succeed as a business owner in any environment, taught me to love my body more deeply, demonstrated that self-love is my birthright (and has nothing to do with money or accomplishments), and reminded me how lucky I am to be from the United States. For all of the troubles in our country right now, we still have so, so much to be grateful for.
My favorite part about being here? How Dominicans sing and dance so freely. It doesn’t matter if they’re any good at it. They relentlessly express themselves, and can laugh at themselves and one another with pure love.
There are other things I hate about being here. I hate the negative attention I receive as a white woman, all the mosquitos, and the pollution of the downtown area of Santo Domingo (there’s a reason I run my annual retreat in Samana, and that I only take travelers to one part of the capital city). I hate the gossip and I hate the crime.
This is just life, right? There are pros and cons. The term “double edged sword” exists for a reason. I believe all I can do is follow my intuition, listen to my heart, and accept the imperfection of every experience as perfect.
I am so grateful to have spent my year here, and for all of the DR’s challenges and joys that gave me an opportunity for massive learning.
What was the choice that led to your biggest learning this year? Comment below.
Embrace the Adventure,
There is something in the air right now! People are feeling SCATTERED and FRAZZLED.
Maybe it’s the longer days. Maybe it’s the pressure of “getting it right” for Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s all the logistical planning for the holidays.
Whatever it is for you, remember: You will be much more primed for joy and gratitude if you are taking exquisite care of yourself.
I am CHOOSING to incorporate nourishing self-care rituals into this holiday weekend. Will you join me? My plan is…
*Pamper myself with extra fancy bath products
*Give myself permission to have a leisurely morning before I head to Thanksgiving festivities
*Integrating exercise and family time with activities like long, after-dinner walks
*Give myself permission to take alone time whenever I feel like I need it
*Take a break from technology for 24 hours
Are you on board with this challenge? If so, post below and let me know how you will take care of yourself over the next few days!
Embrace the Adventure,
P.S. Registration for the all-women’s self-love retreat to the Dominican Republic closes on November 30th! Are you ready to sign up? Reply to this email.
P.S.S. VIRTUAL COWORKING! Are you looking for more connection and accountability during your workdays? Join us! Contact me to take part!
Do you think success requires hard work? A friend asked me this last week, and I answered:
“Success requires consistent and dedicated work, but whether it’s hard depends on your mindset.”
I am sick of hard work. Hard work makes me feel exhausted. It makes me dread getting out of bed in the morning — even to work on a business I love! It turns my creativity and inspiration into a chore.
Instead, I focused on how to make my consistent and dedicated work feel amazing for me.
Some of my favorite methods:
1. Breaking up hard work with dance parties
2. Co-working with different people every day of the week
3. Creating partnerships with people I admire to launch cool new workshops and programs
4. Working from places that feel luxurious to me (beautiful hotel lobbies, cafes where I can get my favorite tea, on my personal retreats abroad)
5. Checking in with myself on a quarterly basis to make sure my programs, retreats, and work relationships make my heart sing (if not, I change things up!).
My favorite methods of all involve other entrepreneurs who inspire me. When I consistently connect with those people, I want to work and create new things. The ideas come easily, I enjoy the accountability and support I receive, and I get to celebrate reaching my goals with people I adore. Hard work is nonexistent.
Embrace the Adventure,
Let’s talk about magic.
I find magic when I leave behind “should” and choose the opportunities that light me up.
Case and point: My upcoming retreat to India.
When my colleague Cat and I chose the location for our second retreat, this was MAGIC. We wrote out all the places we could possibly go, and chose the spot that filled us with the most wonder and excitement.
Our decision went against many of the standard “retreat-planning rules.” We chose a location far from the United States, created a longer itinerary, etc… because it felt right.
Trusting yourself sometimes means breaking the rules.
Good thing we did! Our decision worked out beautifully! We now have 10 gorgeous people signed up for the trip of a lifetime (two spots are left — is one of them yours?!)!
You know, people talk a lot about RULES. But often, a rule just represents ONE option.
Many people, like Nelson Mandela, left a legacy by breaking the rules. Still more people found success in business because they went against the norm (check out this article by Forbes!).
It’s important to know the rules, yes. It’s also important to trust yourself enough to break them.
Here’s to less “should,” and more magic!
Embrace the Experience,
Do you ever want to say “Yes, yes, yes!!!!” to an opportunity… only to talk yourself out of it later?
These moments of clarity — where we know EXACTLY what we want and feel that desire deep in our bones — are downloads from the Universe. They are a spark meant to light your way in the darkness.
When we act on these moments with courage, knowing that second-guessing and fear is a normal part of the process, we can fast-track our success.
I see this with my clients time and time again. A couple recent examples:
*One woman declared her ideal salary (a number she threw out on intuition, having no idea how it could possibly happen). She got to work on interviews and, a few months later, received a surprising job offer for the exact number she named.
*Another woman got an intuitive hit that she needed a mentor with very specific knowledge. She hesitantly shared this with me. Living in a small town, she had no idea how she would meet this person. A week later, the exact person she needed showed up to a local networking group.
Empowering your divine downloads is a muscle you can strengthen.
In the past, it took me years to say “Yes!” to an opportunity I knew was right for me. It just felt so scary! Now, it can be a matter of minutes.
On a trip to New York in April, I met the man I knew would be my next mentor.
“I feel like I’m supposed to train with you,” I said. “Tell me how and I will make it work.”
Starting in November, I’ll be flying to the Silicon Valley every other month. I made this commitment to train under him before I knew any of the specifics.
I had no idea where or when the training would take place.
I had no idea how much it would cost.
I just had a deep sense that this was the RIGHT decision.
My commitment gave me a serious momentum boost and I’ve just closed out my most profitable 30 days of business ever. Paying for all those flights to California is no problem now!
This email is NOT meant to inspire you to say “Yes!” to any exciting idea.
It is meant to remind you that you can TRUST in the deep calling you feel or in the idea that comes to mind that somehow feels “right.”
Have courage! Listen to your gut! You are an intuitive being with the answers inside of you.
Embrace the Adventure,