Massage: The Antidote to Tax Season Stress

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 | Beauty, Energy Work, Healing, Healing Music, Michigan spas, Relaxation, Skincare, facials, healthy living, massage, spa, stress relief, well-being, wellness | No Comments

Massage:  The Antidote to Tax Season Stress

You’ve been hunched over your desk reviewing your financial records and preparing to file your taxes.  You’re in the homestretch, however you have more to review and your mind and body could use some relief.  Or, perhaps you’re an accountant and you haven’t seen daylight in weeks due to filing returns for your clients.   None of us are alone in how we’re feeling during this time of year.

Stress, whether it’s during tax season or any other time of year, takes a toll on our physical and mental well-being.  Disconnecting, even for an  hour, can spell relief.

And the research is no surprise.  According to the 17th Annual Consumer Study by the American Massage Therapy Association, 75% of individuals surveyed claim their primary reason for receiving a massage in the past twelve months was medical (43%) and stress (32%) related.  88% view massage as beneficial to overall health and wellness.

According to the International Spa Association 2013 U.S. Spa Industry Study, there are over 343,000 employed in the spa industry and over 19,000 spas.  These numbers reflect a positive growth in the industry and an opportunity to support many of us looking to reduce stress and increase overall wellness.   “The number one reason both men and women visit a spa worldwide is to learn how to manage their stress. Men and women may deal with stress in different ways, but they both find spas as a management tool,” says ISPA President Lynne McNees. “As a global society, we are experiencing more stress than ever before and seeking alternative ways to cope.  Receiving a massage or facial, taking time to meditate, or visiting a spa; these activities give you permission to pause.”

While there are several ways to relieve stress, a massage is one of the most effective in relaxing and rejuvenating your mind and body.   And I’m of the belief that consistent massage sessions are key to reducing stress and beneficial for overall wellness.   As someone involved in the spa industry, getting a massage is important to me and I’ve always been aware of the membership type programs, however it wasn’t until recently that I looked into them a little further.    I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the most affordable ways to incorporate massage into your lifestyle, and not just during tax season, is to consider a membership program like the one offered at Massage Envy.

With a Massage Envy membership program you have access to all of their locations across the country (over 960) so membership has no borders and I also liked the other benefit of preferred booking times and member-only specials.  One of the best benefits is their customized approach to massage therapy as the client and therapist work together to create the massage session that best fits what the client needs and as a recent first time guest I found the pre-arrival call to be most helpful.  It offered the opportunity to share my goals before I arrived so that we could spend more time focused on the massage and my own stress reduction.

“In addition to stress reduction, massage can also help with increased range of motion, decreased inflammation in the joints, decreased blood pressure, improved posture and better sleep,” says Kerry LaCroix, Massage Envy Regional Trainer, Michigan and Northern Ohio.  To further customize the experience aromatherapy can be added for a nominal fee and guests can select the natural blend that’s best for them.  “The blend is mixed at the front desk and then the therapist uses the infused lotion throughout the session and you receive the benefit through both inhalation and skin absorption,” says LaCroix.   And you get to take the remainder of your blend home with you to extend the experience.  For tax season stress, I’d consider the Anxiety Release blend.

In addition to massage therapy at Massage Envy, you can also relax with a facial using Murad skincare products.

So with the tax filing deadline quickly approaching on April 15 and Stress Awareness Day on April 16, perhaps it is the best time to go for a massage and get on the road to reduce stress and enjoy your own feeling of Ahh!

The therapists are standing by!

Top left photo credit: ©2014 Massage Envy Franchising, LLC.
Lower left photo credit: ©2014 Mindful Adventures LLC.


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Embracing Hope and Finding Faith – Part 2

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 | Adventure, Gratitude and Inspiration, Healing, Healing Music, Peace, gratitude, joy, love, mindfulness, well-being | No Comments

Embracing Hope and Finding Faith – Part 2

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe  that love is stronger than death.”
- Robert Fulghum

It’s best to continue reading this post if you’ve already read Part 1.

(Still) Embracing Hope
At the end of Part 1 I was pondering the idea of ‘what’ else could I do with this (donor) experience.  Surely it would come to me if I continued to embrace hope and hold on to faith.  As my journey continued after donation day, I returned home first, as expected.  Even though I knew he was in good hands I felt that I needed to be there with him at the hospital as his advocate.  It was the only way I could feel some sense of control, yet my job at that moment was to recover.  I understood that the donor is typically in more pain and challenged with a longer recovery, however I was most anxious for him to return home, recover and then begin to enjoy the rest of our lives together.

I expected that to be the case.

A few days later he returned home in great spirits.  My sister and his brother along with some friends enjoyed that day and a sense of ‘normal’ had returned to our home.  He continued to recover over the next few days and I decided to ease back into work.  By the end of the week (about 10-days after the transplant surgery), his oldest brother and my sister went home and his other brother came over to stay with us for the weekend.  They both had a great Saturday afternoon together and everything seemed perfect, especially as we discussed what time to leave for church the next morning.  As the light turned into darkness he looked over to me and without a sound gestured I love you.

As the sun light began to show through our window that morning, he got up and walked out of our bedroom and that would be the last time.   No more I love you’s, no more travel plans, no more songs or guitar playing.

The 14th to the 26th.
Twelve days.

Broken
Consumed in sorrow I couldn’t help but wonder how I would find peace let alone faith.
Faith was such a part of me.  What was I supposed to do?
On that day hope was gone and faith was nowhere to be found.

Mathew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
And I was.  My family.  My friends.  And time.

Asking Why?
In Part 1 I discussed asking ‘What’ instead of ‘Why’ as a more empowering question.  ‘What’ can I do with this experience is what we reviewed, however for Part 2 the big question is why.   Why was I donor if he wouldn’t survive?  Surely survival was God’s plan.  ‘Choose’ me as the donor and he survives and thrives.  The questions were there and there would be no answers.  No more asking why.  Healing would take time and maybe someday the ‘why’ would be revealed.  So the question became ‘what’ am I to do with this?
I couldn’t and I still cannot forget this as there must be a lesson and a reason to share this with others.

Finding Faith
Finding Faith wasn’t easy.  Disappointment and sorrow surrounded me and yet I continued to pray.  I prayed for strength, courage and peace. As broken as I felt and as broken as I was, I prayed that I could be enough. I came to realize that perhaps my faith was never truly lost and that it was more about trust.   I had to trust God about that which I didn’t understand and I didn’t know how I would do that.

The Five Questions
Who?
The biggest of these – ‘who am I’ without him?  Who am I in this new journey and will I transcend, accept and embrace this new ‘normal’ for my life?  Who am I living for?
What? ‘What’ impact will I have on others?  What will I do next? What is my new life going to be like?  ‘What’ am I living for?
When? ‘When’ will things come together?   And I had to fall apart numerous times to come back together in a new and unexpected way.  It’s truly about staying in the present moment and that took time.   I learned that the only thing I could be certain of was uncertainty and that would be okay.
Why? I don’t ask why any longer, however at first it had to do with why was I a match if it wasn’t going to be forever?  The question became more about ‘what’ will I do with this experience to help others.   That was one answer right there as my natural tendency is to help so the journey would continue with that in mind.
Where? Where will I live?  Where will this road lead?

An Unwritten and Unfinished Life
I use looking back as a way to move forward.
How will I grow from this and what lessons will be revealed?

When I decided to write ‘Embracing Hope and Finding Faith’ my intention was to do it in two parts, however there will be a Part 3 coming out close to Easter, a time for new beginnings. I’ll review more of the journey including some vital lessons as my hope is to help others on their own journey.

In memory
Shortly after Tom passed away the song My Wish, by Rascal Flatts would come on all the time and I knew it was him.  I knew then and know now that his wish was for me to live with love, joy, passion and peace.

He inspired me in many ways and still does due to the memory of a life lived with passion.  As Wayne Dyer said, “don’t die with the music still in you,” and he didn’t.  He shared his gifts with many and today, on the eighth anniversary of his passing I remember him with great love, respect and appreciation for a life well lived.                                                             .

The Journey Continues.

Photos by: Donna Adinolfi (c)

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Still Embracing Hope – The Journey Continues

Friday, March 14th, 2014 | Gratitude and Inspiration, Healing, Peace, healthy living, joy, love, mindfulness, well-being, wellness | No Comments


“Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.”
- Napoleon Bonaparte


Still Embracing Hope

A year ago I wrote a piece called ‘Embracing Hope and Finding Faith,’ which marked the seventh anniversary of being a live kidney donor.  Today, of course, marks the eighth anniversary.   I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the last post about this journey as I revealed five (personal) lessons that might be useful for your everyday living.

Closing Thoughts

One of my closing comments from the original piece had to do with asking why when challenges arise in our lives and I still believe that it’s more empowering to ask what.

What can I do with this experience?
What did I learn from this experience?

There were lessons and while I stopped asking why, I’m still wondering what else I can do with this experience.  In the last piece I said there would be a Part 2 and I couldn’t get myself to write that last year and since my intention was to post it on March 26 and only that date I decided that I would do so this year.   I hope you’ll come back and check for it.  It will reveal more.

Until then…..”The rest is still unwritten….” from Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

Photo Credit: Donna Adinolfi (c)

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Maui News: Rock & Brews, KISS and Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Kea Lani

Friday, January 10th, 2014 | Willow Stream Spa, spa | No Comments

January is a great time to be in Maui, especially if you’re a KISS fan and love spas as much as I do.  Since there’s a connection, I thought you might like to get the skinny on what’s going on.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley will be on Maui for the grand opening of their Rock & Brews® restaurant in Pa’ia and The Fairmont Kea Lani’s new Willow Stream Spa on January 26.  And if you’re a fan interested in attending both events, you can check out The Fairmont Kea Lani’s special KISS Rock & Roll VIP Package.

Rock icons Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley will host the opening of Rock & Brews in Pa’ia from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., followed by the VIP rock & roll opening event for Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Kea Lani from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on January 26.

Rock & Brews restaurant in Pa’ia is the brand’s first location in the Hawaiian islands and fourth location in the United States. This new location will feature Rock & Brews’ unique concert-themed atmosphere, popular casual American comfort food, as well as local favorites, and a full bar, including Pa’ia’s largest selection of craft beers.

KISS Rock & Roll VIP Package:
- Includes a one-bedroom suite at The Fairmont Kea Lani
- Two tickets to the Rock & Brews Pa’ia opening
- Accees to the resort’s Willow Stream Spa VIP rock & roll opening event, and two Rock & Brews Pa’ia t-shirts.  Package is valid January 24-27 (three nights) and priced at $349 per night, plus tax and resort fees.

Rock & Brews Pa’ia is located at 120 Hana Highway in Pa’ia.
For more information, please visit www.rockandbrews.com

Willow Stream Spa is the new 9,000 square-foot luxury spa at  The Fairmont Kea Lani and offers locally-inspired experiences combining Maui-sourced products, oils and herbs with Hawaiian tradition. In ancient Hawai’i, balance was found by honoring the nā akua (spirit), nā kanaka maoli (people) and ka ‘āina (land).  A few features include a mud bar, hot lava stone foot bed and showers inspired by varieties of Maui rain.
I’m already thinking of what I might enjoy and this signature treatment
speaks to me:  Aroma ‘Ili‘ili Intuitive Balancing

For more details on the Rock & Roll VIP Package, visit:
www.fairmont.com/kea/kiss-rock-roll/.

And, for more details on Willow Stream Spa, visit:
http://www.fairmont.com/kea-lani-maui/willow-stream/.

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Birthdays are for celebrating and embracing your life’s journey!

Saturday, October 26th, 2013 | Abundance, Adventure, Challenge Course, Destination Spas, Gratitude and Inspiration, Healing, Meditation, Peace, healthy living, joy, love, mindfulness, spa, well-being, wellness | No Comments

Journey through Arizona

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves
the gift of living well.” – Voltaire

What a year it has been for me and Mindful Adventures as I reflect today, on my birthday.

A year full of change and what I know to be true is that change is inevitable and…required for our growth.  Stepping out in faith hasn’t been easy though.  And, there have been trust issues along the way as well.  Yet, I’m standing on my own two feet and inspired to continue the journey I signed up for.   One of the highlights of this past year was my latest  cross country road trip taken over the summer.  All three of my solo journeys required trust and faith and they fulfilled me tremendously with new lessons from this latest one and the potential for more growth moving forward into this next year (more on the latest road trip in another post).

Many of you that follow this blog, and my Facebook and Twitter posts know that while my writing focuses on travel, spa and wellness; it is also about creating a life you love – one with hope, inspiration, mindfulness, authenticity, and positive and healthy living.  And there are times when you have to embrace the ebb and flow and dig deep within and know that everything will be okay.  It reminds me of the movie, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,’  when one of the characters (played by actor Dev Patel) said “In India, we have a saying: Everything will be all right in the end. So if it is not all right, it is not yet the end.”  I love that because despite our best intentions there will be challenges in our lives.  I have been through some difficult challenges over the years and the key word here is ‘through’ and while it wasn’t easy (at all!), I did get through them with hopefully more grace than I give myself credit for and while some are still on my mind it’s important to step in faith as I’m sure that’s one of my lessons and one for many of you (and to trust and have patience…..).

Several months ago I met a woman that was fighting cancer – it turned out she wanted to go to one of the destination spas I work with with her daughter.  She and I really connected and  we would read each others blogs, review the services and activities she would do along with her daughter and it was the start of a friendship.   She was filled with joy and was living her life on purpose.   We both agreed that we were destined to meet because we connected almost immediately and she used our connection as a topic for one of her blogs, I was so touched by her words.  Sadly, about a month ago she passed away and I felt a deep sadness over her loss.   Her joie de vivre inspired me then as it does now and she left me with a profound image for what it’s truly like to be living life to the fullest – I believe that was a large part of her legacy and a gift to those of us whose path she crossed.

I’m simply speaking from my heart in this post and if you’re still reading, and I hope you are, then I just want to remind you that our birthdays are a time to celebrate our life and a time to embrace who we are and to continue taking action towards creating a joyful and fulfilling life.   I am choosing to live life more fully…..for my friend above, for my late husband, for myself and those I love.   My birthday wish is for you to do the same.

Happy Birthday to all of you celebrating in October and to those of you
who choose today to be the first day for the rest of your magnificent life!

(Photo credits: Donna Adinolfi)

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Pure and Positive Energy at Mii amo enhances your Journey

Friday, October 25th, 2013 | Adventure, Destination Spas, Energy Work, Meditation, Mii Amo, Peace, healthy living, hiking, spa, well-being, wellness | No Comments

“When you are enthusiastic about what you do,
you feel this positive energy. It’s very simple.”- Paulo Coelho

Energy work is part of a healthy lifestyle.

One of the most profound services I’ve had at one of the destination spas I work with was at Mii amo – A Destination Spa at Enchantment Resort in Sedona, AZ.    Sedona in and of itself is a healing destination for many and it’s that one place where the sky just appears more blue and the energy of the red rocks creates inner  peace. If you’ve been to Sedona, then you know what I mean. Mii amo is one of my go-to places (for myself and my clients) when seeking serenity, relaxation and a greater connection and reconnection to self.

I received something from all of the services I enjoyed on my recent stay, however one service called Harmony (a 90-minute service and appropriately named) helped me to reconnect with a part of myself that I must have been pushing down and not allowing to ‘be’. A therapist by the name of Bhakta, who I wanted to meet during my stay, turned out to be my therapist. There was meaning in that alone!  Bhakta was so insightful and really ‘got me’ and the experience was cathartic to say the least.  She used her intuitive and psychic abilities to realign my energy pathways and she created a customized guided meditation and an in-depth reading. It was interactive for me and there was a pattern that emerged from this service and others that I experienced.  Even though it’s been a few months since my personal journey, they are still quite meaningful to me today.

More on Mii amo from one of my older articles.

For more insight and information about Mii amo – a Destination Spa and other energy/spa opportunities feel free to e-mail me directly at donna@mindfuladventures.com.  If you’re considering a Mii amo Journey I’d love to assist you with your planning and questions (and you’ll also receive my signature gift during your stay) when I reserve your Mii amo journey (using the best available promotion and/or rates for your dates).

Note: Above links will take you to my other spa site with more information about each of the spas I work with in order to help my clients create and healthier and happier life.

Mindful Adventures – Let your Journey Begin!

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Autumn Hiking at Red Mountain Resort and Spa

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 | Adventure, Destination Spas, Healing, Red Mountain Spa, Relaxation, fitness, hiking, mindfulness, wellness | No Comments

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”  – Albert Einstein

Whether you love to hike or are new to hiking, this area offers stunning views and many opportunities to get out and practice mindfulness while enjoying physical activity.

Red Mountain Resort and Spa offers some of the best hiking anywhere and with Snow Canyon State Park in their ‘backyard’ you don’t have to wander far.  Snow Canyon offers close to 7,000 acres of red rock canyons and cliffs, lava caves and two volcanic cones. The morning hikes are a draw for many and the guides practice the “Leave No Trace” program and are trained in CPR and American Heart Association First Aid.

A bonus is just an hour from Red Mountain Resort – what is it you ask? It’s Zion National Park and is open year-round.   There are several adventure trips (group and privately led) that Red Mountain offers to this spectacular park.

For more insight and information about hiking at Red Mountain Resort and other spa adventure opportunities feel free to e-mail me directly at donna@mindfuladventures.com.  If you’re considering a Red Mountain adventure I’d love to assist you with your planning and questions and you’ll also receive my special bonus to use during your stay when I reserve your Red Mountain journey (using the best available promotion and/or rates for your dates).

Mindful Adventures – Let your Journey Begin!

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International Spa Association Innovate Award Recipients 2013

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 | Destination Spas, Miraval Spa, well-being, wellness | No Comments

“My view is there’s no bad time to innovate.” ~ Jeff Bezos

I love being part of the spa industry for so many reasons and was thrilled to hear about the ISPA Innovate Award.  Members submitted their successful spa-related innovations for the chance to be recognized by their peers and the celebration will take place at the 2013 ISPA Conference & Expo this October.

““ISPA is excited to highlight some of the very talented and innovative spa professionals we have within our association,”” said ISPA President Lynne McNees. ““Not only would we like to applaud these individuals for thinking inventively, but as an association, we would like other members to hear about these winning ideas and perhaps this will grow even more innovative ideas.””

Congratulations to all of the ISPA Innovate Award recipients noted below.  The future of the spa industry is now, the possibilities for growth are unlimited and I’m inspired by these innovations.

Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, located in Lantana, FL
Innovation: Successful retail program that raised profits and increased employee morale
Represented by Catherine Warren, Spa Director

Fayez Spa, located in London, Ontario, Canada
Innovation: Marketing that positively impacted multiple stakeholders and dramatically increased retail sales
Represented by Fayez Tamba, Owner

Four Seasons Maui, located in Kihei, Hawaii
Innovation:  “‘Seniority”’ system for massage therapists that empowered therapists with priority booking
Represented by Pat Makozak, Senior Spa Director

Glen Ivy Hot Spring located in Corona, CA
Innovation:  Quality operating system that defines processes for continual improvement
Represented by Cristen Stier, CFO

Hiatus Spa + Retreat, located in Dallas, TX
Innovation:  Affordable monthly membership program tailored to guests personal needs
Represented by Casey Evans, Regional Director

Hutchinson Consulting, located in Sonoma, CA
Innovation:  Interactive website at the electronic heart of the global spa community called Our Spa Community
Represented by Lori Hutchinson, Founder and Co-Owner

JW Marriott San Antonio- Lantana Spa, located in San Antonio, TX
Innovation:  Farm-to-treatment table spa experience
Represented by Travis Anderson, Director of Spa

The Marsh, A Center for Balance and Fitness, located in Minnetonka, MN
Innovation:  Creation of trunk show partnerships with local artists for revenue generation
Represented by Arlene Robitshek, Retail Director

The Mirage Spa, located in Las Vegas, NV
Innovation: Integration of yoga program with a separate attraction that raised profits and hotel awareness
Represented by Stephanie Doud, Director of Spa, Salon & Pool Operations

Miraval Resort & Spa, located in Tucson, AZ
Innovation:  Online questionnaire called MyMiraval.com that generates recommended spa services, sessions and activities
Represented by Michael Tompkins, CEO

Phytomer Corporation, located in Salt Lake City, UT
Innovation: New process to treat waste water using a natural, sustainable resource
Represented by Lenette Casper, Phytomer USA’s President and CEO

School of Resort and Hospitality Management at Florida Gulf Coast University, located in Fort Myers, FL
Innovation:  Student-managed and operated on campus spa lab
Represented by Mary Wisnom, Professor and Spa Management Coordinator

Spa 4 the Pink, located in Denver, CO
Innovation:  Developed on-location spa days coupled with mindfulness at cancer centers
Represented by Julie Bach, Executive Director

The Spa at Charleston Place, located in Charleston, SC
Innovation: Cause-marketing campaign that promoted sun safety and skin cancer awareness for school children
Represented by Annette Sandford-Lopez, Director of the Health Club & Spa

The Spa at the Peabody, located in Orlando, FL
Innovation:  Initiatives that raised community awareness of ovarian cancer
Represented by Bill Toth, Spa Director

The ISPA Conference & Expo Innovate Sessions will be held on October 21 at 4 pm and October 23 at 3:30 pm at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the award recipients will share their innovations with ISPA Conference attendees.

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Miraval at Natirar – A destination spa comes to New Jersey

Saturday, August 24th, 2013 | Adventure, Challenge Course, Cooking Schools, Destination Spas, Miraval Spa, Nutrition, fitness, healthy living, wellness | 1 Comment

Arriving at Natirar
The anticipation continued to build as I made my way to Natirar in Somerset County, New Jersey, formerly owned by the King of Morocco.  Brimming with excitement I drove past the stone pillars and finally arrived at what will soon be Miraval at Natirar by early 2015.

Growing up in New Jersey I never ventured out to this lush and beautiful 500-acre park and it was such a pleasure to explore what Bob Wojtowicz, Founder of Natirar and Kim Wojtowicz, have created.  It was evident from first meeting both of them that it’s a labor of love and the passion for their vision was evident.   Knowing Miraval as well as I do, it was clear to me that both visions are aligned for wellness and life changing experiences.

A few days prior to visiting Natirar in Peapack-Gladstone, I had the pleasure of meeting with Michael Tompkins, Chief Executive Officer of Miraval Resort & Spa and he shared his excitement for the New Jersey expansion. “With so many of the Miraval Tucson guests residing in the Northeast, Natirar’s proximity to New York City and the surrounding region coupled with the extraordinary physical setting made it a natural choice for Miraval,” said Tompkins.  “Although the new property will offer the same level of luxury and authenticity as the Tucson property, each location within the Miraval brand is unique to its setting and will offer its own authentic experience.  We’re excited to be poised for growth, and are actively evaluating additional select locations across the U.S. at this time.”

Plans for Natirar
Plans include an 86-room luxury hotel, including restoration of the mansion suites as well as the addition of villas.   As my tour with Bob Wojtowicz began and as we approached the mansion I felt transported to another place and time and the protected view of the vibrant green rolling hills from the mansion was spectacular.  Plans for restoring the mansion to its former grandeur will soon be underway.  The mansion is rich in history as it was originally completed back in 1912 by architect Guy Lowell, known for his many designs including the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

The hills will soon be alive with a new 20,000 square foot spa with plans for a grass roof, a unique feature (in my opinion) to integrate nature even more as well as an infinity pool/water feature as you enter the spa. Continuing our tour we visited the expansive swimming pool and activity area and Miraval at Natirar will also include a yoga center.  One of the other features with Miraval at Natirar is the river that is about two-miles and meanders below the property, great for fly-fishing and winter-sports are possible too, like cross-country skiing. Miraval at Natirar will also offer activities that Miraval is known for including nutritional counseling, wellness classes, the Miraval Equine Experience and other signature activities.

Ninety Acres (left)

Anise Hyssop at the farm (center)

Cucumber Gazpacho (right)


The Farm
After touring the property with Bob Wojtowicz, I met with Kim Wojtowicz who runs the farm and what a farm! The 12-acre farm supplies Ninety Acres Culinary Center.  They also offer a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) vegetable box for members (offered from June to November).  Kim shared that the chefs like different kinds of herbs and vegetables from German striped tomatoes, to Adirondack blue potatoes to anise hyssop, which I tasted (big anise fan).  Natirar’s farm also raises sheep, pigs and chickens in a stress-free environment.  Organic berries and an abundance of herbs and beautiful flowers make up other areas of this 12-acre sustainable farm that will provide ingredients for both Miraval’s spa restaurant and Ninety Acres, their farm-to-table restaurant.

And, if you’re wondering about the name “Natirar,” it is an anagram for the Raritan River.

For more updates about Miraval at Natirar, stay in touch on Facebook @Mindful Adventures.

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Embracing Hope & Finding Faith – Part 1

Thursday, March 14th, 2013 | Healing, gratitude, healthy living, joy, love, mindfulness | No Comments

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu

Embracing Hope

The quote above is so appropriate for this post because it was love that gave me the courage for what I was about to do seven years ago today.  The days leading up to March 14, 2006 were filled with hope, excitement and relief for both of us involved and yet those other emotions of fear and yes, a little anxiety, were evident as well, at least for me since I can only speak for myself at this point.  And, yet, above all there was a sense of acceptance and while I embraced hope at this time there would be a day not too far from today that I would be on a quest to find my faith.   More on that in part 2.

Some of you by  now are wondering what I’m talking about, however for those of you who remember, you’re probably finding it hard to believe that it’s been seven years for I can hardly believe it myself.  There were intentions, goals, plans and so much more going through my mind.  When I decided  to write this I thought I would be able to share a few lessons that I learned from this experience and I’ve narrowed it down to 5 Life Lessons and by the time I share Part 2 there may be a few more.

Seven years ago today I added another ‘mission’ to my life’s story, which was to become a live kidney donor.   To be honest, this wasn’t something I thought about doing; it was something that life brought to me and there weren’t any questions about whether or not I would be tested because if I could help  save someone’s life, well, it had to be done.

When I found out that I was a ‘good match’ to the recipient, the joy I felt was overwhelming.  There were several important markers that created a good match and one of them was blood type.  Needless to say, we were hopeful that our ‘B+’ blood types  and ‘be positive’ attitude would help carry us through.  To be a match was a miracle in itself, however the bigger miracle was to be a wife-husband match.   The odds of being a match to a non-related live kidney donor are now more possible due to medical advances, however seven years ago it was a blessing to find out we were a match.   And surely it meant that everything would work out.  Right?  It had to because my husband’s life truly depended on it.

Lesson 1:  Control
If there was ever a lesson to be learned about control, this would be it.  I had no control over being a match other than being the one (in thousands) that had the markers (and good health) that would create this endeavor.  And, I absolutely had no control of the surgery itself or the outcome.  More about that in part 2.

Lesson 2:  Love
Love conquers all!  Or, as Lao Tzu brilliantly quoted (above), “…while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”  It was hard at first for me to embrace the idea about having courage as it was he who had courage.  The courage to go through everything he endured with diabetes….and I really didn’t want that ‘D’ word to appear here as I speak of love and courage, however it was the cause of so much pain and yet at this point in our lives this undertaking brought us closer together.   “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne
That says a lot……..it’s exactly how I felt just before the surgery.  I remember being told (a couple of weeks prior), that if I didn’t want to do this it would be okay, however that wasn’t part of the equation.  How could I not do this?  It was meant to be so I saddled up!

Lesson 3:  Uncertainty
I remember someone telling me that the only thing we can be certain of is uncertainty.   I didn’t know what the outcome would be, all I could ‘be certain of’ was prayer, embracing hope and having faith that everything would work out.  There was a part of me that was confident it would…which brings me to…

Lesson 4:  Spiritual Surrender/Letting Go
One of the biggest lessons was to ‘let go’ and trust in God.  My spirituality is important to me and at that time it was more important than ever.  As we’ve heard, “If God brings us to it, He will bring us through it,”‘ and I’m sure that was on my mind as well as asking my sister to be sure I woke up after the surgery.  Since I’m human, that was on my mind too, however I was ready, able and once again, embracing hope.    Lessons 1, 2 & 3 were all involved here too.

Lesson 5: Anticipation and Expectation
This is still a tough lesson.  If we live with anticipation then we won’t be disappointed by expectation.  That is all I can really say right now for this lesson.  More about this in Part 2.

And I think the biggest lesson of all is Gratitude.  I can remember this day like it was yesterday.  My family and closest friends were there to support us with countless others waiting for the updates by phone.  We were so grateful to have their support and prayers.  One team, one day, one chance to see this through.  Love is powerful and it was certainly felt so deeply that day.  It was a day filled with emotions and “they just showed up with their big old hearts…” from the Tracy Lawrence song, Find Out Who Your Friends Are

Find out Who Your Friends Are by Tracy Lawrence

Closing thoughts for Part 1:
We often ask why when challenges arise in our lives and maybe it’s more empowering to ask what.  What can I do with this experience?   I wasn’t asked to consider being tested when finding out that a kidney transplant was his best chance of survival.  I chose to be tested and volunteered to be a live donor and would do it again. I knew that a kidney from a live donor would be the best chance for him vs cadaveric kidneys.

Today, March 14, is World Kidney Day and maybe it’s serendipity, however I didn’t know this until today and also find it interesting that it’s taken me seven years to write something about this experience.  I think once I get through part 2 you will understand the why (okay, had to use that reference here).  For me and for today, I celebrate the gift of love and courage and ponder the idea of ‘what’ else I can do with this experience.  Surely it will come to me if I continue to embrace hope and hold on to faith.  My other hope with writing this is to spread awareness of  the living kidney donor program and to take care of your kidneys.  There are a few links included here that have more information.

Part 2 will be posted on March 26.  Thank you for stopping by and stay well.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu
Photo Credit: Donna Adinolfi (c)


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