THE FIRST FIVE YEARS

One of my favorite musicals of all time is called The Last Five Years by J. R. BrownI know it by heart and although it’s a sad story, it’s also enduring. Two people tell the story of their five year relationship, she from the end to the beginning and he from the beginning to the end. Sounds confusing, but it’s really lovely. Each tell the story from their point of view and only meet in the middle, where they sing one song together and then are back on the path to their ultimate demise. The point of mentioning this story, and the reason that I think I love it so much is that it accepts and confronts the truth, that marriage is hard, it’s complicated and it’s rarely what you see on social media. It’s getting to know someone more deeply than you ever thought possible. It’s teaching each other things, staying curious and being champions for one another. It’s being vulnerable long past the first few dates and in new ways. It’s good at times, it’s bad at times, but it’s also so rewarding.

Today I’m celebrating five years of marriage with my husband and it’s so amazing to look back on the last nine years of our life together. The places we’ve gone, the journey’s we’ve been on together. The moves we’ve made, the push and pull of two upstaging, ego filled Leo’s trying to share their feelings, work together and understand who we are together. It feels like a lifetime already, but there’s so much more to go. I can’t believe how much we’ve both grown, both together and individually.

I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned and then I asked my other half, W, to be a guest on this post and share his thoughts as well:

What I’ve learned (and am still working on):

Stop striving for perfection and be present with the person right in front of you. The day after our wedding was a hurricane, not ideal, but oh well, it was still an insanely perfect day.

Growing together and as individuals is equally important.

Meet halfway, and also decide what’s truly worth arguing about. Let it go. Don’t pick fights because you’re scared.

Feed the whale. Before we got married, Wyatt and I did a marriage success course (yep, it’s a real thing and I totally recommend it!) and the thing I remember most is that you have to reward good behavior, that’s especially true for men (their words, not mine :).

Stay curious.

Have integrity. If you say you’ll be there, be there. Make your relationship a priority every day.

Don’t fear change. Thinking that a relationship will ‘change us’ causes us to become guarded. Call it growth instead of change. Growth is inevitable (and amazing) when we choose to share our lives with someone else.

Listen. Seriously. Put your phone down and hear what the other person is saying, be curious, be understanding.

Sometimes going to bed mad isn’t such a bad thing, resolution is often easier after a good nights sleep.

Keep exploring. Each other and the World.

What W’s Learned:

Focus on your own individual happiness. This way you can bring joy and love to your partner when you get to spend time together. 

I consider my wife my best friend, I share everything with her good or bad. This friendship is imperative to our relationship.

Time apart is awesome, every time I’m away from my wife, I miss her – we are independent souls and individualists so this time apart is an important space to create and then get to refill!

Make decisions together and be OK with the answer when it’s NO. The more important decisions you work through as a couple, the stronger the bond. 

Touch each other – even just a pat on the butt or holding hands often – it’s something to remind us that we are sensual beings and to take it easy.

Learn the signs of a bad argument and draw lines around the communication. My wife and I occasionally get stuck and dig our heels into an argument. It’s better to take a walk, blow off steam etc. before saying something that leaves a mark. 

Sex – often, it matters. 

You can’t make the relationship be anything other than what it is. Life is too short to try to change people. I accept my wife and love all the nuanced behavioral traits as a part of what makes her whole.

Explore the world together. For my wife and I, rarely are we as alive as when we are visiting a new country- Romantico!

Be curious, learn about what makes her happy. I often ask to try something out that she’s interested in. Right now we’re cooking Blue Apron together. 

It’s been an awesome journey and I’m so excited for the next five years to come.

6 REASONS TO STOP WAXING AND START SUGARING

Waxing is really unpleasant, if you’ve ever tried it you’re no stranger to the pain. If you haven’t, good for you, way to #embracethebush. I’ve been waxing on and off for many years, mostly because my skin is sensitive and razors are a no-go on my bikini zone, not mention, just like a mani/pedi hair removal is a necessity for bikini season and I love a good trip to the beach!

The thing about wax is it’s not a gentle method, at all. Regardless of whether your esthetician is using a hard or soft wax you’re going to experience some serious pain, redness and possibly blisters and bumps for at least 24 hours. Different salons use different methods, some preferring hard over soft wax, or vice versa, but it doesn’t really seem to matter and taking advil won’t help, sorry.

What is sugaring?

I was recently prompted by a health coach in Oakland to try sugaring for the first time and was curious to try it out when she told me it was a more natural alternative. After doing some research for this article I found that there really isn’t a lot of information out there about the process, which is weird because it’s been around since 1900 BC when the Persians started using it! Regardless, I was ready to give it a try. A quick Google search only brought up a few sugaring services in my area and I chose Yung who was totally amazing! Yung let me know that not many aestheticians use the sugaring method because it takes much longer to learn and making/using the paste isn’t nearly as straightforward as normal waxing methods. In fact, in France they go through two years of schooling just to learn it! Yung also said she did a lot of trial and error on friends and family before working on clients… brave souls.

The Process

After my first session, I can see why the price point is slightly higher–the whole process is much more bearable. So what’s the difference? First, sugaring paste is kind of like a blob of wax and the same piece is used for the whole session. It’s placed on one spot and then pulled in the same direction as hair growth, helping to fully remove the hair follicles. The session took a bit longer than my usual wax would, but that’s primarily because I was asking a million questions. Based on what I learned from Yung and my research it turns out there are a lot of reasons to try sugaring vs. waxing, here are a few:

  1. Cleaner ingredients: Wax is usually full of toxic ingredients like preservatives, resins and chemicals that can cause rashes and bumps, especially when used on sensitive skin. Sugaring paste, on the other hand, is generally made of just a few ingredients including water, sugar and lemon juice and may contain cornstarch, honey or molasses, with the worst ingredient I could find was guar gum.
  2. Less ingrown hairs: Sugaring removes dead skin cells helping prevent ingrown hairs from growing in. The sugar can also be used over the same place several times to ensure removal of small stubborn hairs that cause problems later. Finally, unlike wax, sugaring isn’t as likely to break the hair and cause it to get stuck under the skin.
  3. No sticky residue: Unlike wax, sugaring paste doesn’t contain resins that stick to skin and therefore won’t need to be removed with a chemical solvent (gross!). You’ll leave your sugaring appointment with no wax pieces leftover and skin will become calmer more quickly because the skin is less damaged.
  4. No Burns/Infections: Wax is often overheated and can result in burns and scarring to the skin, especially if it’s left on too long. Some women have also reported infections occurring in the bikini zone which happens when bacteria gets into open hair follicles. To top it off, wax is also often cross contaminated with bacteria because of double dipping. Since one blob of sugar is used for the entire sugaring session no contamination is possible, making the experience cleaner and producing less waste.
  5. Slower re-growth: Sugaring doesn’t require the hair follicle to be as long as it needs to be for waxing. Getting ‘sugared’ every three weeks for the first few treatments will help to extract the hair at it’s earliest growth phase, which can lead to permanent hair removal.
  6. Less Pain: Ok, there is still some pain, but I found sugaring a lot less intense. My waxer told me this is because she’s pulling smaller sections than traditional wax would. Alternatively, the sugaring paste seeps into the hair follicle, lubricating it and making extraction less painful, grabbing the hair from the root and quickly removing, with less disturbance to the skin.

I’m only a couple of weeks post my first sugaring experience, but so far I’m impressed. I have less ingrown hairs and my skin was much softer and less aggravated after. In just a few hours it was totally back to normal. Apparently, you can even make your own sugaring paste at home… I think I’ll let the pros handle it for now!  Have you tried sugaring? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

A GOODBYE LETTER TO 2015

Thanks to E.B. for introducing and offering this end of year practice. I recommend everyone try this, it’s felt very liberating getting these words out and saying goodbye to the good and the bad!  

Dear 2015,

Before we say goodbye I want to thank-you for everything that you have been and everything that you have not. This has been a year of change and opening, learning, feeling alone and embracing a new life. You’ve asked me to find growth and accept change in new ways, starting with a cross country move from NYC to Berkeley. Leaving friends and a life that was invigorating and inspiring, but draining and ripe for change was a sudden and intense experience.

You forced me to help my family in a time of need, mourn the loss of two people close to me, not just through death, but also separation, which often feels worse. Alternately, you allowed me to welcome in health and light for my Mom and be with her through an amazing transformation.

On the West coast you’ve put me through the ringer and asked me to truly consider what the work is that I’m after and that will feed my heart and soul, I’m still on that path, but my writing truly lights me up and I got to do so much of it this year; meeting new people, writing for amazing brands and entrepreneurs, stretching my skills and giving me some time to enhance my own blog and clarify my work.

You gave me my dream home in the hills surrounded by nature where I can really let my mind wander and get great sleep. You’ve given me new friends and re-connected me with a few oldies that I’m so glad to have near me!

2015, you’ve asked me to be ok in extreme change and it’s been really hard and uneasy, but I know this is something that I’ve needed to work on for some time. Fortunately, I have the best partner anyone could ask for and this year has been one of hard truths and growth for us as well as we learn more about one another and discover what nearly a decade of togetherness looks like and who we want to be as a pair and individually.

You’ve also allowed me to rescue the sweetest little being I’ve ever met, a 6-lb Chihuahua named Bernadette who has brought me so much joy and love I can’t even describe it. I feel my love and dedication to animals growing non-stop and I truly desire to commit myself to helping bring change for them next year. 

You took me on so many adventures I can’t even count. Not only in this big move but also around the World to BerlinCabo San Lucas, Whistler, NYC, LA, Australia, Colorado, Calistoga and more. You’ve kept Wanderlust in my life literally and figuratively and staying in that community has meant so much and I know I’m not meant to be still. 

2016 is a year of expansion, not staying in something that doesn’t resonate, continuing to find my true path and staying present throughout the ups and downs. Feeling less constriction in change and being open energetically to what may come, continuing to strengthen my body and settle my mind through an ever changing yoga practice.

Thanks for everything 2015, you’ve been real but it’s time to move on. Goodbye 2015.

All my love,

C

TRAVELING AUSTRALIA: A GLIMPSE AT SYDNEY AND THE PERFECT WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS

When I was a kid my dream was to travel to Australia. For a few years I even collected koala bears and kangaroos in a variety of forms, from stuffed to porcelain and also started a piggy bank to save up. For some reason life got in the way and we never made it but finally, over a decade later I made it to the land down under and it was more amazing than I could have ever imagined! 10 days in Australia is just not enough. Choosing the perfect destinations was hard, to say the least, but we made a decision and got some great advice on must sees. We began our trip in Sydney and then headed up to the Whitsunday Islands and it was hard to choose what to highlight!

SYDNEY

There is a ton to see and do in Sydney, I had no idea what to expect, I only know a few people who have ever been so I had to do some digging for the top sites, not only tourist attractions but also more local, and of course, the best food!

We stayed at the Shangri-La in an area called “The Rocks”, on a hill above Circular Quay (pronounced Key), which is the popular harbor that you’ve probably seen photos of. The hotel was really beautiful and the view of the entire harbor was incredible. I was alone for the first few days of my trip, so I really got to explore my way aka see everything possible and walk everywhere! I wear my husband out with all my walking, seeing and doing, so it’s always nice to have a little bit of time alone to just wander and think and envision and explore, there’s nothing like it!

The Rocks is really interesting. It’s the most historical area in Sydney and holds a lot of historical buildings and interesting architecture but is also a hip nightlife spot and sits next to the cruise ship docks. I noticed equal numbers of tourists and locals flocking, here which gave it a much more authentic and local vibe.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia 

On day one in the height of my jet lagged unconsciousness I wandered out to the Museum of Contemporary Arts “Artbar” because I’d been told earlier in the day that the theme was Mad Max style dystopia and there would be rooftop drinks and DJ’s etc. I’m so glad that I went, it was really cool to see amazing art in a really interesting setting with some crazy costumes (pics here to see what I mean) and cool curation! I don’t know much about modern art (except that the creepy movie rooms scare me) but this museum, and the event especially were very unique, not to mention the view from the rooftop was absolutely incredible.

HUNTER VALLEY WINE COUNTRY:

Just 2.5  hours from the city is the beautiful Hunter Valley known widely for it’s Semillon production along with other varietals (Yep, fancy words, I know my wines…wink). Anyways, our guide Flynders (seen in the photo lying on the ground) was really fantastic and I got to meet some great people, primarily Americans living in Sydney, but also a German and young European couple who had been working on an organic farm, amazing! The wines were also great! Unlike wine country in the U.S. these wineries were much smaller and more laid back. We tasted several wines at each stop and then were invited inside to try anything else from the list that we liked; this made for a long day, especially since we also stopped at a chocolate  factory, vodka tasting room and cheese tasting room, OMG!

BONDI BEACH

Bondi Beach is really well known as a hotspot year round but we were lucky to be there during the Sculptures By The Sea exhibit with hundreds of works of art created by artists from around the World. There were so many stunning works and I’ve added a few of my favorites below, but I definitely recommend you check them all out on the website.

MANLY BEACH

I ventured out to Manly on my third solo day and I’m so glad that I did! The boat was jam packed with locals headed to catch some waves for the day. After a 40-minute ride we pulled up to the docks and I was really confused because I didn’t see any waves at all, in fact, just the opposite, totally calm mellow water. However, I quickly caught on that all of the hoards of people were crossing the street and walking along an amazing wide street lined with adorable boutiques, ice cream shops and cafes that led to the other side of the island which was indeed the total opposite. Rough, wavy, windy and full of surfers. Manly felt like a perfect beach town. I met an American nanny who asked about my shoes and we walked together for awhile while she told me her story. Next I did some shopping and enjoyed lunch at a small restaurant where plants grew on the walls and everyone was in a swimsuit, I loved Manly and could’ve stayed longer. If you go, you should try to spend a day or two there.

BLUE MOUNTAINS (AKA NO MOUNTAINS DUE TO RAIN):

Our Blue Mountain trip wasn’t all of the mountainous wonder that we’d envisioned when signing up. But, it was still a good time. This just so happened to be the same day of the Melbourne Cup, an event that seemingly all of Australia takes the day off for. Much like the Kentucky Derby, everyone puts on big hats and goes to a bar to drink all day. A local explained that each year there is one big race and many small ones, and this year a female jockey won the big race for the first time ever, pretty amazing! We also paid a visit to scenic world with many, many squealing Japanese tourists (my fave) and very little scenery. Finally, the highlight of the day, a trip to a wildlife park to say hello to some Australian wildlife! This was so much fun. We got to pat a koala bear on the booty (as instructed) and feed some wallabies. We also got to check out other native animals that I’d dreamed about seeing forever!

ONE & ONLY HAYMAN ISLAND & THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

…Skip to Wyatt and I re-uniting, heading back to the airport, flying to Hamilton Island. I have to start with thanking my friend Kelly for this amazing intel. I had never heard of the Whitsunday Islands until she told me I should check it out. Kelly basically said these were the best beaches she’d ever seen and I was sold! I’ve seen some great beaches so I was ready to be totally wowed!

The One & Only experience is just like it sounds, completely one of a kind. (p.s. they are not sponsoring this post, but I’d gladly come back :). We disembarked the plane at the tiny airport on Hamilton and stopped by the O&O desk and that’s it, they got our bags, led us to our taxi (a yacht) and we were on our way to paradise. We also got champagne for the trip, not a bad deal! Hayman Island is a tiny chunk of land that is super secluded and private for hotel guests only. The resort was recently renovated and is completely beautiful and luxurious. When the boat docked at Hayman there were golf carts waiting to take us to the main building and there each guest got their own guide to give us a tour and complete the super brief check-in to our room. Because we were celebrating our anniversary, we also had chocolate and more champagne waiting in our room. I was overwhelmed to say the least. This is why we go on yearly honeymoons, married life is hard!

Our stay was so magical. Giant breakfasts every morning, easeful but active days in which we took long walks out on the sand flats, laid in comfy beach chairs or big beanbags in the pool, took sunset hikes and a kayak snorkel trip and finally went to the Great Barrier Reef to Snorkel! I wrote a ton about the reef for GLDMNE, you can read that here, and I will here say I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m usually a wary snorkler but this felt so free and wide open. There is nothing around the reef so coming upon it by boat was remarkable, the water so clear you can see the fish and turtles right through it.

Leaving Australia was not easy! I felt very at home in this place across the globe which didn’t surprise me since every Australian I’d ever met has been so kind and generous. Hopefully we’ll make it back again some day and if you’re planning a visit I hope this will help you choose some great sites to see!

GET TO KNOW SPIRE PLUS UNIQUE TOOLS FOR HAPPINESS SEEKERS

There are a lot of tracking devices on the market and it can be really tough to decide which is right for you! The one thing that I’ve felt is missing from most wearables was the mindfulness component, who cares about counting steps if you’re still mentally distracted and anxious, if you’re not feeling completely amazing body and mind? Today, I’m so excited to announce that I’m working with Spire to create useful content for their readers. Spire is such a fantastic tool for keeping your cool, not helps its wearer improve both physical and mental health. There are some great articles on their blog and below is my first article on some creative and slightly unconventional ways to work more happiness in to your life.

Cool, Calm, Collected: Unique Tools for Happiness Seekers

A CHARMING CHRISTMAS VISIT TO BERLIN

If you haven’t been to Berlin, I highly recommend adding it to your destination list! Recently celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of Berlin wall, the city, which was once separated into East and West is now unified and a place of amazing culture, art, and innovation. Although the city still holds some immense heaviness from the destruction of both World Wars, but there are also uplifting surprises around every corner. I’ve travelled to Berlin during a couple of different seasons and it’s always so magical. The winters are really cold but the architecture and scenery make it amazing year round!

This trip was a whirlwind! Only 48-hour with my husband was such a whirlwind, but fortunately it’s very walkable so you can take in a lot in a short time.  Below are a few of my favorite spots, both top tourist stops and some more ‘local’ attractions as well.

START WITH AN AMAZING GERMAN, ASIAN AND EVERYTHING- IN- BETWEEN BREAKFAST

I may have mentioned it before but I love breakfast, like a lot, especially on vacation! Wyatt and I were thrilled to find one of the most amazing and vast buffets we’ve ever seen at the Intercontinental Hotel in Charlottenburg Berlin, I could’ve spent an entire day there eating not only German and American cuisine, but also a full spread of traditional Japanese goodies (my obsession with Japanese breakfast food is a post for another day)!

TIERGARTEN AND VICTORY COLUMN

Literally translated, “Animal Garden,” the 520 acre park is a great place to begin your walking tour. The park has been around since the 1830’s and was originally an electoral hunting reserve, hence the name. Today the park is home to multiple governmental and parliamentary institutions. As you stroll you’ll notice many statues and monuments, but the most visible is the Victory Column, a 70-meter-tall structure built on a roundabout with a gold statue of Victoria, the ancient goddess of Victory, now dubbed ‘Golden Lizzy’ by locals. Completed in 1873, it’s well worth climbing the 285 steps to the top of this magnificent monument for the sweeping views. Also, the leaves match my hair so that was an added bonus 🙂

BRANDENBURG GATE

Continuing the walk from the Victory Column you’ll get a great view of the approaching Brandenburg gate and Potsdamer Platz beyond it. The gate is a strong symbol of the immense change that Berlin has undergone over the years and is an important symbol of what the city has overcome. The gate is the monumental entry to “Unter den Linden”, the renowned boulevard of linden trees, which formerly led directly to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs. Today the gate is a symbol of unity and peace and a meeting point for residents of the city to celebrate anniversaries such as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

UNTER DEN LINDEN BOULEVARD

After walking through the Brandenburg gate you’ll find yourself on a lovely tree lined pedestrian mall (if the season is right, that is), great for taking your first rest stop, having coffee or tea, and taking in the busy city around you. The trees, like the rest of the city, have had a long history of being cut down and then regrown, the current trees were replanted in the 1950’s.

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL

Located one block south of the Brandenburg gate is the memorial to the victims of the holocaust. The site is covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stele“, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field, creating an eerie but amazing visual impression. There is also an underground museum in the information center which pays further tribute to the victims, listing every known victims name and displaying important historical timelines of more personal artifacts like letters and family stories.

EAST SIDE GALLERY, WALL MEMORIAL AND CHECKPOINT CHARLIE

All three of these sites are amazing to see, but if you can’t make them all, try to at least check out the memorial gallery for a great look into the immense history of division between East and West Berlin from 1961-1989. The East Side Gallery, established in 1990 and located in central Berlin, pays tribute to the freedom of Berliners after the collapse of the wall in 1989. The gallery is located on the so-called “hinterland mauer”, which closed the border to East Berlin. The gallery consists of 105 paintings from International artists and is the largest open air museum in the World. Checkpoint Charlie is the name given by the Western Allies to the most well known crossing point between East and West Berlin, and is now home to an open- air exhibit with information on the history of the wall, escape attempts and the importance of the checkpoint to military personnel.

EAT LOCAL

We’re lucky to have an amazing friend, (and DJ) Mike  as our guide for an evening on the town in Friedrichshain, a great neighborhood with a lot character. He picked a Russian restaurant, Cafe Datscha for us and the food was amazing. We skipped the Russian vodka selection but still enjoyed the atmosphere and authentic decor including huge piles of Russian newspapers, very authentic!

NEUE HEIMAT (“NEW HOME”)

The second stop of the night was a tour of this awesome food and flea market. Neue Heimat generally opens it’s doors on Friday evenings and lures locals in with food trucks, drinks and live music and local owned craft shopping, all of my favorite things! I was amazed by the design of the space, shipping containers and what Finding Berlin calls, ‘a gloomy but romantic indus­trial set­ting that was dec­or­ated lov­ingly,’ I couldn’t agree more! This market definitely rivaled our favorite Brooklyn holiday markets!

KAISER WILHELM MEMORIAL CHURCH AND CHRISTMAS MARKETS

If you’re lucky enough to visit Berlin during the holidays you’ll get a special treat, Christmas markets that pop-up all over the city! Warm up and stroll around the little shopping villages with Gluhwein, similar to mulled wine, but even better! We had pretzels and bought a giant ‘Berlin’ inscribed cookie to bring home. The market near our hotel also happened to be on the site of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which appears to be two churches in one, both the ruins of the original and a super modern new version right next to it. The site is now a famous landmark and war memorial in West Berlin.

Although 48 hours in Berlin is definitely not enough time to enjoy everything the city has to offer, you can still get in an amazing tour and a ton of steps, if you’re counting. Seeing the city by foot is definitely the way to go!

COCONUT BUTTER IS THE BOMB: 5 WAYS TO USE IT + RECIPES

I bought my first jar of coconut butter at the local farmers market over the weekend and I’m totally hooked! I’ve been obsessed with coconut oil for years now and have almost stopped using olive oil altogether for cooking as it actually goes rancid in high heat, yikes! The flavor of coconut butter is slightly sweeter than coconut oil and it has a really nice, buttery consistency. Another thing I didn’t realize is that that coconut is a nut a tree and a seed. Therefore, it could be considered a nut butter but people with nut allergies rarely react negatively as they would with peanut or almond butters.

So how is Coconut butter made? Basically, it’s pure coconut flesh placed into a really strong food processor or blender and pureed into a thick and creamy consistency. The benefits are pretty awesome too! Coconut butter is low on the glycemic index due to its high fiber content,  high in protein and a good healthy portion of fat. Coconut also contains lauric acid, which has antiviral, antibacterial and immune boosting properties. According to pediatricians, Lauric acid is one of the predominant fats in human breast milk and when fed to babies will help them build up natural immunities. So basically, it’s the bomb!

While I could eat this stuff right off of a spoon, I decided to check out some other alternative ways to nom it up. Here are five:

  1. Use in place of flour or butter for baking.
  2. Add to Oatmeal to up your filling fats and a touch of sweetness.
  3. Spread it! On a brown rice cake, sprouted bread or a tortilla.
  4. Use it in a curry.
  5. Add to a smoothie.

 Here are a few yummy recipes to try out from some healthy foodies:

Coconut Butter Pancakes by Holistically Engineered 

Paleo Coconut Butter Balls Dipped In Dark Chocolate by Paleo Living Magazine

Coconut Curry Sauce by GirlsGoneStrong

THE TREMENDOUS HEALTH BENEFITS OF TRAVEL

I’m addicted to travel. As soon as I return from a trip I’m brainstorming the next. I’ve been so fortunate to travel to some of the coolest places on Earth, including multiple trips to Asia and Europe. Fortunately, travel is one of the healthier addictions to have! I believe that globetrotting improves our lives in powerful ways, affecting us on emotional, psychological, and spiritual levels.

If you’ve had a restorative vacation or inspiring adventure abroad, you can relate to the sensation of total wellness that travel brings. And if you haven’t, that’s even more reason to pack your suitcase and buy a ticket!

Health Benefits of Travel

The benefits of succumbing to wanderlust are countless and very personal to each traveller, but here are the top 5 reasons I recommend booking a trip for your health.

1.    Travel helps you recharge and de-stress.

The instant we step off the plane and into a new place, we feel lighter and our minds let go. This mental transition can have a positive impact on our performance at work as well, as studies have shown that employees who take more time off are far more productive and healthier than those who don’t use their vacation days (no more excuses!). Plus, according to Forbes, “not taking vacation has been linked to increased chance of heart disease for both men and women. The cost of stress-related health care is estimated at $344 billion a year.” Taking the time to get away helps us relax and frees us from the constant stream of thoughts and to-do lists we experience in our daily lives. While this clear-headed feeling may not last indefinitely after a trip, it does hit the reset button in your brain and serve as a potent reminder to live mindfully and in the present moment.

2.    Travel helps you reconnect with what matters.

In our modern, go-go-go lives, it’s very easy to disconnect from the things that matter most: our partners, nature, our creative passions, our families. When we travel, we re tap into these things. Activities like hiking through mountains, swimming in the ocean, and walking barefoot along a beach allows us to appreciate nature. Similarly, planning a getaway with someone we love helps us reconnect with that relationship while also strengthening it through new shared experiences.

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3.    Travel encourages spontaneity and self-discovery.

Chances are, you’re so caught up in your hectic schedule that you can’t remember the last time you tried something new. Travel can really help you get out of a rut and re-gain some of the spontaneity that gets lost in the daily grind of life. Being in a new place, and with more free time, gives us an opportunity to discover new things about the world and ourselves as we experience things for the first time. When I graduated from college, I visited Tokyo alone and learned so much about myself through exploring this very foreign, very beautiful city. I visited museums, temples, and shopping malls, learned to navigate a complex subway system and found out a lot about myself through those experiences. When we try new things our bodies are filled with adrenaline and energy and we get a confidence boost along with a sense of achievement that we did something new.

4.    Travel exposes you to new cultures and perspectives.

The first time I traveled out of the United States, I was amazed by how different lives in other parts of the World could be—and I was right next door in Mexico! I love seeing how different cultures live, what they eat, how they spend their free time and how they interact with one another. In Bali, my husband and I were invited to have coffee with a family who grew vanilla in their backyard,  saw some local theatre and went shopping for art. All of these experiences were amazing and taught us so much about the Balinese way of life. What’s really incredible is to discover that, despite these lifestyle differences, humans are all remarkably similar, and we all share the same basic needs for food, shelter, expression and love.

5.    Travel gives you a hands-on education.

Travel often brings you to parts of the world that have rich history and fascinating cultures. Although it’s impossible to remember everything you experience in one visit to ancient ruins or gothic cathedrals, the experience stays with you for a lifetime, and can help put historical events or current political situations in context. Travel also introduces us to new cooking techniques, exotic local produce, and dishes that we might otherwise never encounter! All of this information contributes to your overall knowledge as a global citizen of this Earth. I’d have to say that my greatest learning experiences have all come from traveling.

How has travel improved your health? I’d love to hear your globetrotting stories in the comments!

FRIDAY FIERCE LIST: GIFTS FOR LOVERS

I’m all about celebrating love all year long, not just one day per year, but if you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day gift here are a few fun ideas:

1. Saint Clare Jewelry– I bought my first, and definitely not last, Saint Clare necklace at Wanderlust last year and absolutely fell in love with every single piece. Needless to say, it took me three days to decide which to buy, I wanted them all!

2. Gnosis Chocolate– Raw chocolate. No further explanation needed!

3. The Paris Wife– I just finished reading this book while on the beach and it’s a beautiful glimpse into the deep love of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife. Sad ending (spoiler, sorry) but a really, really, lovely story of Parisian glamour as well.

4. Gray Malin Art– I cannot get enough of Gray Malin’s work. I saw it on another blog and TOTALLY fell in love! I’ve been lucky to visit many of the places in his photos and each takes me back to the trip in such a unique way. Can’t wait to get my first piece (hint, hint, hubby) in our new house in Oakland!

5. Curandera Love Potions– I wear the white amber daily now and it’s divine, but I’d love to try out this self-love perfume as well!

6. Raw Coconut Oil Massage- When I was in Thailand the massage therapists used raw coconut oil for massage and it was heavenly! The great thing about coconut oil is it can do everything! I keep a gigantic tub of it around for sunburn, moisturizer, hair treatment, cooking, and everything in between. Trust me, this is really the swiss army knife of Vday gifts!

7. TUMI Luggage– My husband has been into TUMI since before I met him and I’ve seen how well it holds up. Totally worth the investment if you love to travel!

HOW TO PACK FOR YOGA TEACHER TRAINING ABROAD-THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE

It’s been almost one year since I went abroad to do my life changing 200hr yoga teacher training in Koh Phangan Thailand with Drishti Yoga International. In honor of this anniversary I wanted to share some of the things that I appreciated having with me during my 28 day training. Some of these I carried with me (packing light? what’s that?) and some I acquired on my travels. Even if you don’t plan on going to Costa Rica for a training, or Bali for a retreat, a lot of my must haves are good for any trip and will come in handy when you find yourself wandering away from the comforts of home. During my training lots of things came up that I didn’t expect but fortunately I was well prepared, and now hopefully you will be too!

#1 HAPPY BODY

1) Doterra Essential Oils- These little bottles of love are like a new age pharmacy. I had peppermint and grapefruit on me, but I would’ve taken more if I had known just how necessary they’d be. Thankfully, one of the other trainees was an oil expert and had most of the product line with her so we were all set (Thanks J!) ! I also love the ‘On-Guard’ beadlets, they are great for staying healthy in-flight.

2) Roll-On Fragrance- I’ve talked about these fabulous scents from heaven before. The Goddess Line is my favorite scent line ever, they are small and portable so you can simply throw them in your bag and go. Also good for those sweaty, showerless days during a retreat or training!

3) Traumeel- This stuff comes in pill and cream form and works great for muscle soreness, bruises, sports injuries and inflammation. Another benefit is the lack of aroma of most muscle goops, it’s basically odorless.

4) After Bite- I have a serious aversion to mosquito bites that developed in my twenties and now appears to be a full blown allergy. I discovered this on my honeymoon, when I left a window open on the first night resulting in giant welts all over my body, super sexy. I found this anti-itch product in Thailand. It brings the swelling down and keeps the itch at bay. Benedryl tabs are a great option as well, but often when the itching gets really bad a topical treatment is preferred.

5) Organic Coconut Oil- We found some locals that make their own coconut oil so I went a little crazy and got a huge bottle which I actually used most of in a couple of weeks. I put it on my hair and body and didn’t need anything else all day. Did you know that coconut oil is a natural sun block as well? Best product ever! Just make sure to go for the good stuff, organic, unrefined, extra virgin is the way to go!

6) Mozzie repellent lotion- Mozzie aka mosquito (that’s the Aussie term) repellant is a must have. I like the lotions because you can be more precise in application. Avoid Deet whenever possible and admittedly this one pictured smelled kind of nasty and perfumey and probably was not a super healthy option, I’d recommend searching for a more skin friendly version.

7) Nail Polish- Our schedule was pretty crazy for 28 days so finding a salon on the island and sitting down for a pedi wasn’t really happening. Save some time and money and just bring your favorite polish for touch ups. My sister and I love this Essie polish in Watermelon. All Essie nail polishes are DBP, toluene, and formaldehyde free, Essie.com.

8) Fingernail clippers- You’ll want these for sure. The baby ones are nice and easy to carry so your toenails don’t get freaky and distract your fellow retreaters.

9) Body Lotion with Sunscreen- Before I obtained my giant bottle of coconut oil (or even realized its sun blocking abilities) I found this cream. It was nice to put it on in the am and be moisturized and good to go through the morning sweat sesh. Absolutely bring sunblock as well to add during the hottest part of the afternoon and don’t forget sun rays can getcha’ in the shade too!

10) BB Cream- Getting up with the sun means no time (and a who gives a crap when you’re there to get your asana on) attitude around makeup. I like having some sunscreen on my face at all times and love the consistency and coverage of Tarte’s product. Two second application and you’re on your way!

11) Not pictured: Imodium…I won’t go into the gory details, but let’s just say the whole group went down for a few days straight. Just bring it, you’ll thank me.

#2 ADORNMENT

1) Headbands- I’ve always loved a good headband. After all, there’s nothing worse than having a hair meltdown all over your face. Violet Love does a killer job with fun designs.

2) Earrings- Notice how location and theme appropriate these styles are. *winks*

3) Mala- Great for meditation and to just feel more yogic in general. I got mine from the lovely Silver and Sage collection.

4) Wrappy Bracelet- Thanks to my mom-in-law Pat for this lovely piece. Great for when you’ve worn the same yoga pants 5 days in a row and just want to mix it up.

5) Alex and Ani- The go to line for mindful jewelry, they’re also treated with some kind of energy healing (who knows) they’re cool and you can layer them up for a night out on the playa.

6) A Crystal Necklace- I freakin’ love a good crystal necklace, seriously more than anything, dress it up, dress it down, just rock it, period.

#3 PROVISIONS

1) Pretzel Sticks- These ones are so so, but a healthier version if you’re Gluten Free.

2) Chia- As much as you can carry and more if possible. Chia is great to add to almost anything, provides a ton of fiber, antioxidants, and protein so you can’t lose.

3) Purely Elizabeth Granola These little mini pouches rule, especially when you discover breakfast on day 1 is literally a plate of fruit you’ll be thanking your favorite deity that you packed this.

4) Dark Chocolate!– Most important thing on this list. Just do it, but eat it quickly and maybe share with your friends so the bugs don’t get it!

5) Nut butters- Seriously, what is a vegetarian life without nut butter, it’s nothing, that’s what. Now there are super small jars and even pouches that are easy to carry.

6) Granola Bars- Some afternoons the gap between lunch and dinner is just too much, be prepared with some bars. It’s hard to find a good one that is totally clean, so just do your best and let people judge you, oh well.

7) Organic Tea- Our retreat location was totally coffee free with the closest caffeine quite a hike away. Losing coffee for a month was great for me, but a couple of afternoons I just really wanted a boost. Enter green tea stash. My friend Leisha from Crop Tops And Kale also sent me with the Aveda tea that is simply to die for, that flavor always reminds me of my trip now.

#4 A FEW EXTRAS

1) Probiotics- One of the toughest parts of traveling is keeping your digestive system happy. Always pack a probiotic, and if you don’t have a fridge, be sure to get a shelf stable version and keep them in a cool dry place to maintain effectiveness.

2) Muscle roller- While packing up your trusty gym foam roller may not always be plausible, the good news is  there are some amazing portable options as well. I love Soma System products, they have are a variety of shapes and sizes so you can find the right one for your sore muscle needs. Fortunately, getting a massage Thailand was super easy as well, but sometimes it’s nice to have your own personal masseuse available on demand.

3) Re-usable tote bag- Always have a reusable tote bag, it doubles as a beach bag, grocery bag, carry-on separator for things that may spill, and a day bag for all of your yoga essentials. I love my trusty Integrative Nutrition bag that folds up super small when you’re not using it, which is never.

4) Water Bottle– If you were stranded on a dessert island you’d definitely want to have a good water bottle. I’ve talked about my love for bkr bottle, it comes in lots of cutesy colors and because it’s made of glass can add hot and cold water and won’t have to worry about drinking plastic toxins.

5) Bobby Pins– I learned the importance of bobby pins in my theatre/dance days, you can never have enough. Probably a no-brainer but these are easy to carry and your fellow yogis will thank you immensely for supplying extras.

6) Not Pictured- A nice journal to jot down all of your favorite experiences, lessons, and teachings. I filled mine up, so be sure to bring a big one!

I’ll get into my must have yoga clothes in another post…stay tuned for that!

Anything that you loved that I missed here? I’d love to hear. Please share in the comments!

Happy Travels yogis!