Keep On Chasing Waterfalls - EP 014

pleasure & profits podcast Mar 26, 2024



In my recent series, Lessons From The Jungle (Episodes 10, 11 and 13), I shared a number of lessons learned on my most recent visit to Costa Rica.

In a couple of those episodes I referenced an experience I had at a sacred waterfall, and how those experiences reminded me of another, strikingly different experience I had at a waterfall on my first visit to Costa Rica in 2016.

I’ve written about my experience on that waterfall (yes ON the waterfall, also IN the waterfall) a number of times and I’m excited to be sharing that story with you here in this episode, along with a fresh and ever-evolving perspective on how these types of growth edge experiences have evolved for me in recent years, and the significance of this experience in my entrepreneurial journey.

I hope you enjoy.


Pleasure & Profits Podcast, Episode 10 - Lessons From The Jungle (Part 1) 

Pleasure & Profits Podcast, Episode 11 - Lessons From The Jungle (Part 2) 

Pleasure & Profits Podcast, Episode 13 - Lessons From The Jungle (Part 3) 


If you’re ready to have a deeper conversation about how to maximize impact, profit and pleasure in your business and life, you can schedule a time to connect with me right here >>> 

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Episode Transcript:

Hello and welcome to Pleasure & Profits, I’m your host Rachel Anzalone, Satisfaction Strategist. In January of this year, I had the opportunity to visit Costa Rica for the 7th time since 2016. It’s become a sort of a pilgrimage for me, traveling to a place that’s both familiar AND full of new and interesting experiences.

Over the course of 3 episodes (10, 11 and 13) I shared a number of lessons learned on my most recent visit to this place, that I can only describe as bright and joyful and deeply connected to nature.

In a couple of those episodes I referenced an experience I had at a sacred waterfall, and how those experiences reminded me of another, strikingly different experience I had at a waterfall on my first visit to Costa Rica in 2016.

I’ve written about my experience on that waterfall (yes ON the waterfall, also IN the waterfall) a number of times and I’m excited to be sharing that story with you here in this episode.

I hope you enjoy.

“This is totally fine,” I thought to myself, as I watched a stunning Blue Morpho butterfly lilt lazily through the air, riding the draft of the waterfall that I was about to rappel down.

“If that butterfly can do this, then I can too.”

Never mind that the butterfly was in her natural environment, doing what butterflies do, while I was standing on a wooden platform at the edge of a cliff in the Costa Rican rainforest, watching my travel companion work his way down the waterfall, outfitted in a plastic helmet that I’m certain was designed more for emotional protection than for any actual, physical safety measure.

I had no idea how high up we were. I still don’t, really. I’ve searched and searched for any piece of info on the interwebs to find out just how tall that waterfall actually is, but to know avail. All I can say is it was a pretty strenuous hike to the top, and from up there, it looked a long way down. I’m gonna guess somewhere around 75 feet, maybe 100? I don’t know and frankly, it doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is that I was standing at the top about to do a thing that until a few days earlier had never so much as crossed my mind.

“I’ve rappelled before and you’ve totally got this,” my friend had said after a couple of tequilas the night before, convincing me to join him the next day.

“Okay,” I thought, borrowing his confidence in me. “How hard can it be?”

So there I was. Standing at the top. Looking down at the rocks and the water and the tiny people below.

“You ready?” the guide said. 

No backing out now.

And then I was in it. I was IN the waterfall. Shimmying my way down, inch by inch. Feet slipping. Arms burning. Getting pummeled in the face by icy cold water.

It was epic.

It was challenging.

It was breathtaking—probably due to the ice cold water in the face.

And it was simultaneously scary and exciting and exhilarating.

The scariest part though, I realized eventually, was actually before I began. Looking over the edge. Thinking about all the things that could happen—that could go wrong. But none of them did.

Once I’d taken that first committed action, that first step off the edge of the cliff, once I was in it, it was all adrenaline and momentum. And there was nothing to do but focus and move forward (or down, as the case was).

As anxious as I was standing at the top, looking over the edge, once I got started, I felt f*cking invincible.

When I reached the bottom, I thought, “That wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.”

My friend blurted out, “That was WAY harder than the last time I did this!”


That first trip to Costa Rica came with a whole slew of growth edge experiences, of which the waterfall rappelling was just one.

In my two weeks there I had found myself: 

- Navigating my way through a foreign country where I spoke only fragments of the language
- Stretching myself financially to even make the trip happen at all
- Allowing for more abundance than I’d ever experienced while staying at a beautiful retreat center and getting a magical upgrade to a poolside suite
- Attending an embodied movement teacher training intensive that would stretch my emotional bandwidth and spiritual perimeters in ways I could never have imagined
- Traversing class 4 rapids, which resulted in me dragging a person out of the water with my own two hands after a part of our group got pinned against some rocks, dumping the entire raft full of passengers into the river 

Each trip to this beautiful country since that first one, has brought its own growth edge experiences, some outward facing, and some deeply internal. 

There have been seasons in my life where I’ve taken great leaps, pushed all the boundaries, and lived intensely beautiful, expansive experiences. Where I woke up every morning thinking, “Holy shit! I can’t believe this is my life!”

And there have also been seasons where what I needed more than growth was rest, and retreat, nourishment and support. The last few years have been mostly that.  

And now, looking back on those early years, where the growth edges I was facing were external in nature - new travels, new adventures, new extremes, new limits to be tested - I realize that I often threw myself into one experience, and then just ran right on to the next adventure without taking the time to be present, to reflect, to consider the significance of that experience and what I could take from it into the next chapter, the next season. What the lessons were that I could learn from it, and also that I could share with others. 

This is true of that era in my life, both in the adventures I was seeking out personally, and in the experiences I was having in my work & business life. 

During the same time period, I found myself deeply immersed in an entrepreneurial space that was all about the sprint and the hustle. It seemed that everyone around me was in a hurry - to make more money, to make it big, to become known, to become influential.

I found myself sprinting to keep up, against my nature and against my better judgment. I perceived these people around me as more sophisticated, more accomplished, more experienced, and more successful. I felt like I needed to follow their lead. And it played right into my blue-collar, gen-x upbringing–work for your worth, earn your position, don’t ask for help, and be grateful for whatever you get in return. 

But deep down I knew that this wasn’t the way–certainly not the only way–and certainly not the way for me. I also knew that it wasn’t the way for most of the students and clients we were serving. 

Deeply immersed in the online business industry, I would often look around at what people were begging sold, and promised, and encouraged to do, and feel overwhelmed with ick.

I still feel that way, when I look around at the messaging out there, at the stories being sold. 

Back then, I intuitively knew these things didn’t make sense. And I would often find myself presenting a different perspective to clients, who either didn’t want to hear it, or simply weren’t able to. 

Or they would hear it, make it part of their vernacular on stage or in their courses, but never actually slow down enough to internalize and embody the message. It was all for show, to demonstrate that they were “feminine leaders”, while behind the scenes, the reality was shockingly different. 

And frankly, I was guilty of much of the same. 

Because that gen-x, blue-collar, hard working part of me felt obligated to get shit done for the person who was paying me, even if I didn’t agree with the message or the method. And the ultimate insult hurled at me from more than one of these “feminine leaders”, stated directly or indirectly, was that I couldn’t keep up with them. 

I felt like Michelle Tanner on Full House circa 1987–“Wait for me! I got little legs!”

So often we would sprint from one epic accomplishment to the next, without taking even a moment or a day to celebrate what we had done, or to reflect on what went right, what went wrong, or any of the human experiences that occurred in the process.

And we definitely didn’t take time to rest or recover in between.

Recently, I was on a discovery call with a colleague I sometimes partner with and a prospective client. After the call my colleague said, “You really need to talk yourself up more. You’ve done so many incredible things.” 

My response to her was that I really struggle to do that, because so often, when I was doing those incredible things, I was being rushed along on someone else’s timeline and rarely, if ever, took the time to document the accomplishments. They all feel like abstract and mostly faded memories. It’s hard for me to pin down the details of what I actually did or what role I played in the success of so many entrepreneurs of the past decade. 

There’s so much mining to be done in this era of my life and business. Some of it I’m just starting to unpack. This is where those internal growth edges come in.  

These days, it feels like it’s not about doing a new thing, or having a new adventure.
It’s about going deeper. It’s about doing a thing with new eyes. 

It’s about being fully present for the experience and building in time for reflection, integration, and ways to share those experiences with others. 

It’s about experiencing life at a more intense level of observation and presence and intimacy than ever before. And sharing it. Sharing the meaning. Sharing the insights. Sharing the wisdom gained from over 25 years of experience in small business and entrepreneurship. And a lifetime of experience as a person who has the ability to see both the big picture, and how all of the pieces within it can come together in a cohesive and purposeful way. 

In 1994 TLC told us … Don't go chasin' waterfalls

These lines will forever be burned in my memory:

Don't go chasin' waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to
I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all
But I think you're moving too fast

And I agree. I think that often, we, myself included, are moving too fast. 

But I don’t think that means we should stop chasing waterfalls.

These days, the waterfalls I’m chasing are internal, even if the best place to connect with them is in the Costa Rican rainforest, on top of a volcano in Sicily, or in the desert of West Texas. 

I do think we need, collectively, to take the time to slow down, be present with these experiences. And allow ourselves the gift of integrating and really learning from them, instead of racing on to the next one and the next. 

The last time I shared the story of the waterfall, I concluded with these lessons I had learned from that experience:  

- That I’m stronger & more capable than I realize (and so are you)
- That sometimes you have to borrow someone else’s confidence
- That the scariest part is often right before you take that first committed action
- That trusting yourself and trusting the process is the best way to navigate uncertainty
- That once you start down the waterfall, there’s no bailing out—you have to stay focused until the very end
- And if you do, you’ll feel (and perhaps BE) f*cking invincible

Reflecting on them now, these learnings are evidence of what I was seeking at the time, and how that experience pushed my edges in so many ways. 

From where I’m sitting now, the new, clear message is this:

Keep chasing waterfalls.
Just make sure you slow down enough to appreciate them. 

Until next time, I’m wishing you even more pleasure & profits. 

I’ll see you soon. 

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