Rancho la Puerta

Last Minute Healthy Holiday Gift Guide for Travel, Spa, Wellness and Inspiration

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 | Adventure, Ayurveda, Beauty, California Spas, Canyon Ranch, Cooking Schools, Destination Spas, Energy Work, Gratitude and Inspiration, Healing, Healing Music, Meditation, Nutrition, Peace, Rancho la Puerta, Red Mountain Spa, Relaxation, Skincare, Weight Loss, facials, fitness, healthy living, hiking, joy, love, massage, mindfulness, spa, stress relief, well-being, wellness | No Comments

Healthy Holiday Gift Guide
Travel, Spa, and Wellness

It’s the season of giving and if you’re like me and seek out healthy holiday gifts that keep on giving all year, then my hope is that you’ll enjoy this thoughtful list.  Many of these gift ideas will inspire others and truly make a difference in a person’s life, perhaps your own life.

Merry Christmas and holiday greetings to you and yours. Best wishes for a New Year filled with Good Health, Joy and many Happy Adventures! – Donna


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Coloring Books
I love that Coloring Books are so widely available.    This is one that I love and it inspires me, brings me peace and truly brings me back to the present moment.  And, yes, it reconnects me with my inner child and offers a way to relax and have fun.  Coloring offers a mindful way to take a few minutes  out of a hectic day and tap into our creativity.
The Mandala Coloring Book – affordable and has 100 Mandala Coloring Pages


Skin Authority
There are several products that I like by this brand.  For family and friends living in colder climates, this is a great option for the winter season. The Holiday Essentials Duo is a useful option to keep skin, hair and nails nourished and hydrated during the winter and beyond.  This item includes the Oil Nutrient for Face, Hair, and Nails and the Moisturizing Mist..

The other product I love for gift giving is the Stocking Stuffer Sampler, offered in the 0.7 oz personal size. The Sampler includes: Hand Foot Body Restoration; Olive, Fig, Shea Butter Body Cream: Sunscreen Moisturizer SPF30 and Daily Cleanser*
* Both items offer a price break and they’re both packaged in the gold organza pouch.


Tony Redhouse
Music
is Uplifting, Inspirational, Soothing, Relaxing and Energizing.
I’ve personally known Tony Redhouse for several years having first met him at Miraval Arizona.   His music touches my soul and brings me to a higher level of awareness and I believe it will do the same for you.  Tony is an Inspirational Speaker, Native American Spiritual Coach, Native American Musician, and offers Yoga and Meditation.  His titles include: Soul Blessings, Release, Deep Within and Harmony of East and Westwww.tonyredhouse.net/


Brittany Shane
I came upon Brittany’s music from an Indie film called The Village Barbershop.  I enjoyed the movie and the music so I set out to connect with Brittany and listen to more of her work.   These are two of her CDs I enjoy listening to and I chose them for this list because her music (rock, pop and poetry) inspires me and improves my well-being.  www.brittanyshane.com


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Wellness Retreats for Body, Mind and Spirit
Destination spas offer programs for healthy living and are designed to help you get on track with tools to help you continue on the path to wellness when you return.  If you’re still thinking of something to do for someone close to you and you have a larger budget to do so, this is a gift that will inspire wellness for years to come.
Ideas include:

1. Shankara Ayurveda Spa at the Art of Living Retreat Center.
With stunning mountain views, this Center is just outside of Boone, N.C.   This option is great for a solo traveler, friends, couples and offers meditation and programs based on Ayurvedic practices.  www.artoflivingretreatcenter.org

2. Hilton Head Health, Hilton Head, SC.
Hilton Head Health
(H3) has over 40 years of experience with their weight loss program and their newer Live Well Program.  Beginning on day one you’re assessed by H3’s fitness experts and given a personalized program, one that is effective and tailored to your needs.  Scheduling features healthy eating, fitness, behavioral health and they’re offered in private and small groups.  H3’s all-inclusive program is effective, empowering and fun.
Promotional rate effective until the end of 2015 starting at $3700 Single (7-night stay).

3. Vera Via, Carlsbad, CA
Vera Via
offers one of the most unique programs among destination/health spas.  Their program helps guests accomplish specific goals including weight reduction, personal fitness and programs for long lasting health and well-being.  I love that you meet with their experts and create an individualized plan that helps you realize success during your stay with continued progress when you’re back home. Treating the ‘whole’ person leads to long lasting results.
Vera Via offers 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-week stays and a Vera Via Express 3-night stay. Rates start at $2950 per person.

Visit the full list of destination spa ideas:
www.mindfuladventures.com/top-10-spa-wellness-retreats/

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A book is one of the best gifts you can give and this is one of a few that I’m including on this list. The author, Kimber Simpkins, is also a yoga instructor and author of Full.
52 Ways to Love your Body is her latest and it truly spoke to me.  About a year ago I told myself to ‘embrace my body,’ and yet I’ve fallen short just as many others have in their lives.  This book gives you 52 ways to love your body and discover/rediscover your unique attributes.   Many chapters spoke to me, however Chapter 34 (Not All Hunger is for Food) did so the most.  Chapters 6, 11 and 20 also spoke to me. Kimber offers insight, tips and action steps and one per week can help you make effective changes through the year.  You may choose to get one for a friend and one for yourself!

Wine Trails: Plan 52 Perfect Weekends in Wine Country
For the family member and/or friend that loves wine and travel!
This is the latest by Lonely Planet with amazing photography (only wish I was a contributor!) and offers ideas for your next wine getaway.
20 Countries – 52 Itineraries – 327 Wineries
This guide covers where to stay, where to eat, what to do and more.
Consider pairing Wine Trails with a bottle (or two) of the wines covered.

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Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea by Annelies Zijderveld
I first connected with Annelies several years ago when she was with Mighty Leaf Tea and I was delighted when her book came out.  She’s a food writer and creator of the food blog - the food poet.  Steeped is also a Los Angeles Times Favorite Cookbook of the Year.  This book is filled with creative recipes, information on cooking with tea tools, a guide to teas and more.  Some recipes that stand out for me include Green Tea Granola, Orange-Jasmine Brussels Sprouts and Blueberry Scones with Rooibos Honey Butter.
Tea offers numerous health benefits and Steeped offers many ideas to add more creative recipes to your healthy meal planning.

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Another book that I love!  It’s actually a journal and written by self-taught artist, Meera Lee Patel.
Start Where You Are – A Journal for Self-Exploration
Meera believes that it is the act of starting somewhere first (anywhere) that takes us to where we want to be.  This is also part of my belief system, which is why I think this journal resonates so much.  I think it’s one that you’ll also enjoy.  It is filled with Meera’s colorful artwork, insightful quotes and thoughts to inspire you to take action.

7 Spa-Inspired Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself in the Busyness of Work-Life

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 | Adventure, California Spas, Canyon Ranch, Destination Spas, Healing, Healing Music, Meditation, Mii Amo, Miraval Spa, Nutrition, Rancho la Puerta, Red Mountain Spa, Relaxation, Weight Loss, fitness, gratitude, healthy living, hiking, joy, massage, mindfulness, spa, stress relief, well-being, wellness | No Comments

7 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself in the Busyness of Work-Life

This past week was one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in the last several months, which is great, of course.  Writing about wellness spas and talking to others about the benefits of going to a wellness spa inspire me for many reasons and time away devoted to our health is invaluable.

Massage and other services are vital for our well-being, however what I love most about the spa industry is that it’s a lifestyle.  So while we can learn a lot about living healthier lives, implementing what we learned to our daily life is important.

The Spa Lifestyle (for me) is about Eating Healthy, Moving our Bodies, Going Outdoors, Meditation and Prayer and so much more. The busyness of this week reminded me of a few things to re-evaluate for my own health and perhaps they’ll remind you of the importance of taking care of yourself.  It isn’t selfish.  It’s necessary. And while my intention is to engage in all of these there are times that even our best intentions fail us.  So let’s get back on track together.

1.  Always take advantage of ’slow times’ to complete other goals.
This is something I always think about when I get really busy.  It also reminds me of a job I had years ago when I was told to enjoy the slow time because it was about to get very busy.  I know I tend to thrive in the energy of the busyness, however the lesson here is to take advantage of the ‘ebb’ in our lives and use the time to complete other tasks to avoid stressing over not having the time later.

2. Go to the gym in the morning because ‘later’ comes much too soon.
Old habits aren’t always easy to change, however this one has to.  I like to start my day with breakfast, followed by going through my emails and prioritizing tasks, etc.  My intention is to reward myself with going to the gym in the afternoon.  I’m sure you know how that’s been working out.  Obvious?  Yes.  Take care of this early.  No guilt later and I’m pretty sure we’ll feel more energized (without a second cup of coffee).

3. Always have a pitcher of water on your desk.
Last Christmas I purchased a water pitcher thinking I would keep it filled and on my desk everyday.  It worked for a little while and then I decided I’d just get up and down to get a glass of water to break up sitting so long.  Well, it’s truly best to keep the pitcher close at hand so that you’re staying hydrated throughout the day.  The more you drink your daily water, the more you’ll naturally get up!

4. Go outside, breathe in fresh air and connect with nature.
This is so important on so many levels.   I find that even when I’m engaged in my work flow there comes a time in the afternoon, usually about 4pm, that I have to go outside.   It may only be for about 10-20 minutes, yet the benefits last much longer.  Go outside!

5. Play music you love…music that inspires you.
I love most kinds of music and choose different kinds depending on what I’m working on.
Music inspires me.
Music gets me moving.
Music stirs my soul and helps my creative process.
What kind of music inspires you?

6. Read more and watch less (TV).
I’ll confess that I do have a few favorite TV shows.  Watching them distracts me from the challenges of life and yet I’ve been reading less and miss that time.  I love to read and most of what I read is in the self-help genre.
I have every book by Dr. Wayne Dyer, most from Louise Hay and Paulo Coelho and many, many others.   Reading helps me to slow down and immerse myself in the power of inspiring words.   It’s time to finish what I started.  What are you reading?

7. Eat Lunch!
More often than not I ‘forget’ to eat lunch.  That 4pm time comes along and I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t have something earlier.
It’s important to eat healthy and frequently during the day.  It’s a matter of taking just a few minutes and yet we get distracted by all of the busyness of our task-driven day.  With all of the cookbooks I have from my favorite spas like Miraval, Mii amo, Canyon Ranch, Rancho la Puerta, Red Mountain Spa, Cal-a-vie and Golden Door, there’s no excuse.   A good plan is bag some cut-up veggies, nuts, and whatever you’d like so they’re ready to grab.

I know these are obvious, however when you’re ‘in the flow’ it’s easy to put off doing what you know is best so this is a reminder for all of us. 

Now go outside, grab a bag of veggies and enjoy the day!

8 Ways to Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Scale by Linda Spangle, RN, MA

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 | Adventure, Beauty, Canyon Ranch, Challenge Course, Cooking Schools, Destination Spas, Healing, Nutrition, Rancho la Puerta, Red Mountain Spa, Weight Loss, fitness, healthy living, joy, mindfulness, spa, stress relief, well-being, wellness | No Comments

This book is so timely.

When I was first approached about reviewing Friends with the Scale: How to Turn Your Scale Into a Powerful Weight Loss Tool by Linda Spangle, RN, MA I couldn’t help but think about my own angst about the scale.  At a recent medical visit I kept thinking about what I could do to ‘fool the scale’ into showing a lower weight*.  Surely my sneakers weighed about 5 pounds.  Well, not really and so I asked the nurse to write down the number and not share it with me.
* From her book, this is Power Key #2:  Remember that I can’t trick the scale.

I’ll include a review and other tips from her book in another post,  however I also reviewed Linda Spangle’s ‘8 Ways to Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Scale’ and I know you will connect with these (I’m connecting with 5 & 6).  These are also in the book and so much more.

Please include a comment about the one that helps you the most.


8 Ways to Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Scale By Linda Spangle, RN, MA

The scale isn’t our enemy. We allow negative self-talk, pressure from others, life-long behavioral patterns, and other factors to give that number on the scale more importance than it deserves. It’s time to use the innocent bathroom scale as the helpful tool it was intended to be!

The way to do this is to change your relationship with the scale and make it your friend. Here are eight ways to do this.

1. Step on, step off, leave.
You don’t brush your teeth in the morning, then obsess all day about whether you should brush them again. With the scale, build a similar routine. At your chosen time of day, step on the scale, note what it says, write it down if you like, then leave the room.

2. Look, then move on.
No matter what the scale says, learn to treat it as a number, and nothing else. More important is what you do after stepping on the scale. Eat a healthy meal, take a walk, or do something that’s productive and moves your thoughts in a positive direction.

3. Note how you’re trending.
By recording the number on your scale at regular intervals, you can track your progress over time. As you do, don’t concern yourself with the daily number, but whether it’s trending in the right direction.

4. Don’t assume you’ve gained weight.
A jump in the scale number may have nothing to do with your weight. In reality, your body takes a long time to translate food intake into actual fat stores–so let go of guilty thoughts. Among other factors, eating an extra-large meal or food high in salt can cause that scale number to go up. One bad evening doesn’t translate into a higher weight.

5. Detach from the numbers.
If you get a poor grade on a school midterm exam, it doesn’t mean you’ve flunked the class. Instead, it provides information about what you need to do before the end of the term. Likewise, the scale number is merely information. Learn to say something to yourself, such as “That’s interesting,” and then get back to work on your healthy living plan.

6. Stick with your scale.
One of the quickest ways to let your weight get out of hand is to stop weighing yourself altogether. Don’t ignore your scale because you don’t want to see what it says. Instead, stay aware of your weight situation and keep your data current.

7. Don’t discuss your weight.
Avoid discussing the scale, your weight, or your diet plans. You can say, “That’s information I keep private.” This will help prevent naysayers and curiosity seekers from sabotaging your success, and it will also help you avoid engaging in self-critical talk. At the doctor’s office, you can say you prefer not to be weighed. Or you can weigh yourself at home and then ask your doctor to record that number at the end of your consultation.

8. Use the three-day rule after holidays.
After you’ve been traveling or celebrating holidays, take a three-day break from your daily weigh-in ritual. Often a change in routine or diet will cause a temporary uptick in the scale number. Your body will get back to its old self after three days, and the reading will be more accurate.

More information about Linda:
Linda Spangle, RN, MA is a weight-management coach recognized nationally as a leading authority on emotional eating and other psychological issues of weight loss. A registered nurse with a master’s degree in health education, she is the owner of Weight Loss for Life, a healthy lifestyles coaching and training program located in Denver, Colorado. Her newest book is Friends with the Scale: How to Turn Your Scale into a Powerful Weight Loss Tool (SunQuest Media, 2014).

Summer Spa Specials – Explore the Possibilities!

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 | Adventure, Canyon Ranch, Challenge Course, Cooking Schools, Destination Spas, Healing, Meditation, Miraval Spa, Nutrition, Rancho la Puerta, Red Mountain Spa, Relaxation, Zipline, fitness, healthy living, joy, mindfulness, spa, wellness | No Comments

It’s been a hot summer so here are some cool savings at some of our favorite destination spas!

A Spa Getaway offers opportunities to focus on healthy living – engage in new fitness classes, improve your Yoga or Pilates practice, meditate, relax and reconnect with yourself.  Anything is possible at a destination spa.

Below is a sample of the summer promotions being offered at several of the top destination spas in the U.S. (and one just across the California border!).  If you’re ready to take the next step, please see the contact info below and let’s get started!

Canyon Ranch – Tucson, AZ
Special:  Students and Grads
Travel Dates:  Through August 31
Brief Details:  The first person pays the regular single occupancy rate and the student/grad stays free.
Spa/Services:  A spa allowance is included for the full-paying guest and may be shared between both guests.*
* Allowance varies based on number of nights and package chosen.

NOTE: Canyon Ranch offers other promotions including one for new guests (two sharing a room) as well as for Teachers, Nurses, Solo Travelers and local residents.
Promotions based on availability and subject to change.

Miraval – Tucson, AZ
Special:  Discover Miraval Package
Travel Dates:  Through September 19, 2012
Brief Details:  If you’re new to Miraval or thinking of returning and enjoying more of the activities vs spa services, then this is a great value for you.  Double occupancy rates start at $299 (plus tax & resort fess) per person per night and Single occupancy rates start at $349 (plus tax and resort fees) per night.
Spa/Services:  A spa allowance of $50 per night of stay is included.

Note:   Additional promotions including the 5-th night free is offered through 9/19 – based on availability.
Promotions based on availability and subject to change.

Rancho la Puerta, Tecate, Mexico
Special:  Family Weeks
Travel Dates:  August 4-11 and August 11-18

For Families with children 7-17 years of age – Your promotion:
Brief Details:  The rate for adults is $3000 per person (plus 8.14% tax) and the rate for children (ages 7-17) is $500 per child (plus 8.14% tax)*
*Each adult can bring up to two children for $500+tax each, staying in the same room. The third (or more) child per adult is $1000+tax each. Some restrictions apply.
Note: The regular schedule will be available as well as additional classes/activities for children.

For Adults traveling without children during these two special weeks – Your promotion:
Brief Details:  The rate is $3000 per adult (plus 8.14% tax) and includes -five- 50-minute massages*
* Not valid with Four-Hands massage

If you’ve been wanting to go to Rancho la Puerta on your own- this is a great opportunity for the summer since it’s open to all, not just families.  The regular schedule will be available.

Note:  If these dates don’t work for you, we can review other possible opportunities for other dates through 2012.
Promotions based on availability and subject to change.

Red Mountain Spa, Ivins, UT
Special:  Last Minute Savings
Travel Dates:  Through August 31, 2012*
Brief Details:  Midweek rates begin at $200 per person per night for double occupancy ($230 per person per night (Thursday, Friday, Saturday).  Single occupancy rates begin at $230 per night/midweek and $250 per night (Thursday, Fri, Sat).
*Based on availability and may not be available between 8/5-18 due to limited space/high occupancy
Promotions based on availability and subject to change.

“The journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
Let’s get started!

Contact:
donna@mindfuladventures.com for more details and to inquire about your travel dates.
You’ll also receive our bonus for stays of 3-nights or longer (7-nights at Rancho la Puerta)

Life is a journey…travel!

New Year, New Chapter, New Journey – Are you ready?

Saturday, December 31st, 2011 | Abundance, Adventure, Canyon Ranch, Cooking Schools, Destination Spas, Gratitude and Inspiration, Healing, Manifesting, Meditation, Miraval Spa, Nutrition, Prosperity, Rancho la Puerta, Red Mountain Spa, Weight Loss, fitness, gratitude, healthy living, joy, well-being, wellness | No Comments

Many of us are contemplating what we’d like to bring in to our lives as we enter 2012 as well as what we’d like to let go.  I for one am working on letting go of the fears that hold me back and the disappointments, frustrations and things I can’t change.  I’m focused on what I can change, choices that will get me from where I am to where I want to be and a focus on taking action rather than over thinking.  And, first and foremost, I’m grateful for my family and friends.  These are just some thoughts that come to mind as the dawn of 2012 approaches.

And,  I also believe that 2012 will be another year of reinventing and redefining who we are.  Our ‘to do’ lists will be different, however I believe we have a common goal of being the best we can be.  Have you started your creation list for 2012?  Each year I find there’s a bit of a ‘rollover’ from the previous year and then a few new goals.  I’m finding a greater sense of urgency to accomplish these goals the older I get and it sometimes feels like a 2×4 is hitting me to move toward the direction of these dreams vs getting stuck in just thinking about them.  It’s so empowering to reach even the smallest of goals and so with that said, here are a few plans I’m getting ready to work on for this new chapter, new year and what I hope will be an amazing journey moving forward.

1 Planning: This is an annual tradition – the purchase of a new day planner.  A place where I can enter as much as possible for the new year.  Birthdays, anniversaries, special dates, appointments and goal setting.  If it’s written down, I find the odds are in my favor.   I still have a book called, “Write it Down and Make it Happen,” and it works.

2. Vision Board: A must have moving forward.  If you have one, you can easily refresh yours with new photos and new words, phrases and/or symbols.  If you don’t have one, consider creating one that you can view every day.  It works and I’m excited to see how the new one will unfold.

3. H2O: Yes, every year I make an effort to drink more water and I have to say that 2011 worked out okay, however I must refocus on this one.   If this isn’t on your list, think about it.  Are you getting enough water to stay hydrated and healthy?  I picked up a water carafe to help me out – always keeping water on my desk ensures I’ll stay with this.  For more on the benefits of water, perhaps some things that you haven’t thought about, check out this article.

4. Spa Cooking at Home: Let’s face out, going out to dinner is fun, great for socializing (outside the four walls) and it’s relaxing, however this year I intend on cooking at home more.   Since part of my business is working with destination spas, I know how simple, healthy and enjoyable ’spa cooking’ can be and it’s really about cooking healthy – fresh veggies, organic products where possible and portion control.  With that said, I’m going through my Spa Cook Books and staying in more…and will hopefully shed a few pounds.  Check back here from time to time for some healthy spa meals, photos of my efforts and notes on how they turn out.  And with the help of my new KitchenAid blender, healthy spa-like smoothies are on the menu!

Here is one Spa cookbook to consider from Canyon Ranch, a destination spa:
Canyon Ranch: Nourish: Indulgently Healthy Cuisine

And, if you’re a fan of Miraval Arizona, their much awaited Mindful Eating Cookbook will be available in May 2012.

5.  Journal: This is always on my list.  I have a Gratitude Journal and another journal for ideas, and day to day entries.  I keep both the Gratitude journal and the Idea Journal by my bed.   Begin yours by entering what you’re thankful for each day – it could be one, two, five or more things.  A sunny day, connecting with an old friend, drinking your water, anything and everything you’re grateful for.  A Gratitude Journal is about awareness – reflecting on what we’re thankful for keeps us in a positive mindset and that is what will help us move forward.   Your journal can be a notebook, however if you’d like something special, consider this one Gratitude: A Daily Journal

If you’re looking for a journal that will help guide you to rediscovering yourself, this may be another to consider Soul Catcher: A Journal to Help You Become Who You Really Are

These are just a few of my personal thoughts, plans, ideas for 2012.  What is on your list?  Perhaps one of these will inspire you to Plan to Cook More at Home, Begin your Gratitude Journal, Create a Vision Board and Drink your Water.  And, a carry over for me from 2011 is to write my book…looking forward to taking the first step to chapter one.  (And, yes, exercise and moving more are always on the list!)

“The Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a Single Step.” – Lao Tzu
What step will you take today to begin this new journey in your life?

May 2012 be a year of good health, joyful living, new adventures and much prosperity!  Believe in yourself, continue to have faith and trust that you are exactly where you’re meant to be.  Happy New Year from Mindful Adventures.

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The links for the above are also on the home page.

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Photography by Donna Adinolfi.  Copyright 2010.

Top 7 Favorite Gift Ideas from Mindful Adventures!

Thursday, December 15th, 2011 | Abundance, Adventure, California Wineries, Canyon Ranch, Destination Spas, Gratitude and Inspiration, Healing, Meditation, Miraval Spa, Nutrition, Peace, Rancho la Puerta, Red Mountain Spa, Relaxation, Weight Loss, fitness, gratitude, healthy living, joy, well-being, wellness | No Comments

‘Tis the season and as much as I think about buying gifts earlier, I never do.  So join me for a few minutes and review the latest Mindful Gift Giving ideas from Mindful Adventures for anyone else on your shopping list.   Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays!

1.  Shop locally
Now that I live in Michigan I’ve been paying more attention to what I can send from this area.  Michigan is one of the largest producers of cherries and for that reason, I like Cherry Republic, located in Traverse City, otherwise known as ‘The Cherry Capital’ of the world.  Cherries are also healthy and one of my favorites is the Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries – double dose of goodness.   And, I must not leave off another Ann Arbor, MI institution – Zingerman’s!  There’s still time to send out some delicious treats and you’ll love the choices – so many to consider.  Both of these Michigan options are offering flat rate shipping.

2. Tea
Do you enjoy tea?  This is another favorite gift because tea is more than a beverage to me, it’s ceremonial and all about mindfulness.  Think about the old Tea Houses and Afternoon Tea.  Nothing is rushed.  It’s a time to be in the moment and enjoy a relaxing cup of tea with friends or on your own for a few moments of solitude.   Check out Tea Forte for some last minute ideas and consider one of my favorite books Tea Here Now.

3.  Nourishing & Natural Body Products
Most of you enjoy chemical-free, natural products and one of my favorites for this is Burt’s Bees.   Their Cranberry & Pomegranate Sugar Scrub is great for this season as well as the Bee Pampered Spa Set.   There are great gift ideas for everyone and they’re affordable and so well received.

4.  Uplifting Books
Another favorite gift is a Day Book.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving year round because each day there’s an uplifting message and when I find one I like for myself I often gift it to friends, family or colleagues.   One of my personal favorites is by Mark Nepo titled The Book of Awakening.

And, if you or a loved one is going through a difficult time due to the loss of a loved one, or other personal loss, this one came into my life and helped me and I feel compelled to share with others, especially at this time of year.  It’s by Susan Barbara Apollon and is titled Touched by the Extraordinary and her second book, Book 2: Healing Stories of Love, Loss & Hope

5. Wine & Dine with a different twist
These are some of my favorite vino finds.  Some can be ordered online and others can be found at your favorite wine store.  In addition to giving the gift of wine, consider making it more of an event – include a note to enjoy a wine-pairing dinner that you prepare at home, or perhaps a private wine tasting with your friends. These aren’t new ideas, however perhaps they’ll spark another idea for a last minute gift with more meaning and an opportunity to get out more and enjoy the moment with your friends and family.  Okay, the list… Tres Sabores Vineyard – I love their Red Zinfandel; Husch Vineyards – check out the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; and Cline’s Cashmere – this one has a limited supply available for both the ‘09 and 2010.    And how about an added link for some wine pairings for that special wine & dine gift at your house!

6. Gifts that Give Back
The best gift is the one that keeps on giving.  These are few to consider:  Rails to Trails Conservancy, Feeding America, Bread for the World, American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.

7. Relaxation and Rejuvenation
Well, this one is on my list every year – it’s the gift of spa.   A gift card to their favorite day spa to enjoy a relaxing massage or revitalizing facial, or perhaps a year of Yoga or Pilates.  There are so many options to give the gift that enhances their health and rejuvenates their body, mind and spirit.   Another favorite is a destination spa – an opportunity to immerse into a week or so of activities, healthy meals, hiking, fitness and services that uplift, rejuvenate and inspire.  If you’re looking for more insight on a destination spa like Miraval Arizona, Canyon Ranch, Red Mountain Spa, Rancho la Puerta or other last minute ideas, e-mail me at donna@mindfuladventures.com.

There you have it – a short list with some ideas to get you going or help you finish up your holiday shopping.  Thank you for stopping by. – DMA


Rancho la Puerta in TravelWorld International Magazine

Saturday, March 19th, 2011 | Adventure, Cooking Schools, Destination Spas, Rancho la Puerta, healthy living, wellness | No Comments

Seeing one of my published articles in the latest issue of a travel magazine is like opening a present at Christmas.   There’s an excitement that builds as you await the release of your latest work.  What will the layout look like?  Did I choose the best photos for the piece?

The March issue of TravelWorld International Magazine is focused on Adventure travel and is full of beautiful photography and amazing stories and I’m happy to share this issue with you.

Enjoy the issue and consider reading Rejuvenation Vacation at Rancho la Puerta beginning on page 62 where you’ll get a full account of my latest adventure to this 70-year old destination spa located about 2 hours from San Diego.  It’s where the spa lifestyle began and continues to be a leader for those interested in fitness and healthy living.

As always, thank you for stopping by and may all your travels be an inspiring Mindful Adventure!  -DMA

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A few of my favorite things to do at Rancho la Puerta!

Monday, October 4th, 2010 | Adventure, Destination Spas, Rancho la Puerta, wellness | No Comments

It’s been about a month now since I left Rancho la Puerta and I’m having spa withdrawals!  There were several reasons I chose the Ranch this year and one was to celebrate my 50th birthday during their 70th anniversary year.  And it was time well spent as I participated in a Writing Workshop, enjoyed a week of healthy meals and reconnected to nature and different parts of myself and that was a big reason for going.

So, just a few of my favorite things from the Ranch.

First on the list has to do with fitness.  So many options and there isn’t a way to do it all in a week, so you do what you can and for me it’s usually about doing something different.  Per a previous post I mentioned my injury which kept me from some activities, however I loved Release & Mobilize with Denise.  She’s one of my favorite instructors at the Ranch and this something that I continue to do at home.   Using tennis balls on specific trigger points you can experience a deep release and that’s why it’s a favorite of mine.  The description says that the goal is to decrease tightness and muscle spasms to create greater mobility and that is exactly what happens.  I felt great when I left that class and continue to feel that release every morning when I do this at home.

Second on my list is the food.   A vegetarian menu that is creative, colorful and nourishing.  The granola is the best I’ve ever had so of course I brought some home with me.  Fish is served about six times during the week and if you are a vegetarian you can choose an alternative entree if you don’t fish.

And another of my favorite things about the Ranch is the garden.  I love walking through the garden and taking photos of the flowers, herbs and anything that catches my eye.  It’s fragrant, colorful and nourishes my soul.  I feel so healthy when I’m at the Ranch and know that I’m doing good things for my body, mind and soul.

My hope is that more people will experience Rancho la Puerta and other destination spas to improve their well-being and live a healthier and more enriching life.   We all need to rejuvenate and reconnect to nature from time to time and this is one of the best ways to do just that.

Enjoy your journey!

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Hands-on cooking at Rancho la Puerta’s La Cocina.

Sunday, September 12th, 2010 | Adventure, Destination Spas, Rancho la Puerta, healthy living, wellness | No Comments

If you’ve been following my blog, reading the articles and visiting other areas on MindfulAdventures.com then you know how I feel about destination spas and wellness.   I also enjoy assisting/coaching others in finding the destination spa that’s best for their needs, whether they’re looking to jump start (or start) fitness, go hiking, meditate and more importantly nutrition.  The bigger goal though is to help others integrate what they learned while away into their lifestyle at home.

One of the destination spas that I enjoy sharing with others is Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, Mexico.  You’ve seen some other recent posts here based on my latest adventure to the Ranch and I’m so grateful to have spent time at La Cocina que Canta.  This is the Cooking School and Culinary Center at the Ranch and offers a sensory experience, which is nothing short of amazing.

For many, this could also be a life changing experience.   I lost my husband due to complications of diabetes and although I did my best at the time with cooking healthy, this could have been (and I’d like to say would have been), a stronger catalyst for both of us to experience together.   I wouldn’t call him a foodie, however we loved watching the Food Network and participating in a workshop with someone like Rick Bayless would have been memorable.

Getting back to the present and another Mindful Adventure brings me to my La Cucina experience.  Chef Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen was our visiting teacher and everything from the moment we gathered for our short ride to La Cucina to the organic garden tour to the main event of cooking and enjoying the fruits of our labor was an experience I’ll never forget and one I hope to enjoy often.

Our group (full at 16) that day had such a great time together and when I close my eyes I can smell the fragrant garden and just taste the sweetness of the just-picked tomatoes and herbs.  I learned a lot that day, including how to properly chop chives (thank you Chef!).

This quote comes to mind:

“Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help in its work.  The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.  Our food should be our medicine.  Our medicine should be our food.  But to eat when you are sick, is to feed your sickness.”  – Hippocrates

I’d also like to mention how beautiful La Cucina is as the colorful hand-painted tiles and murals, the wrought iron gate and fireplaces set the mood for the class and the teaching kitchen is something that I think any of us would love to have in our own home.

Enjoy your journey!

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I knew then what I know now! Another Mindful Adventure.

Monday, August 30th, 2010 | Adventure, Rancho la Puerta, healthy living, wellness | No Comments

You’ve heard the saying, “If I knew then what I know now, I’d…” and you can fill in the rest with whatever you’re thinking.  Well, this is a twist on that phrase.

I’ll come clean here and say that at a very early age I needed surgery and then again at twenty something, however everything worked out for the best and I was semi-happy (and physically active).

Life has been challenging over the last twenty or so years, however now I see that the challenges have made me stronger and led me to set the bar higher on my journey.  I am fearless and tenacious in many ways and now is one of those times where that earlier thought has come back to me.  “I knew then what I know now!” And for me, it’s all connected to fitness and where I am right now……in my life and geographically, so basically another Mindful Adventure.

I’m currently at Rancho la Puerta, the “World’s Best Destination Spa” as announced in the Travel and Leisure 2010 World’s Best Awards readers’ poll.

It’s been five years (too long) since I’ve been here and Rancho la Puerta is as beautiful as ever, however this time it’s a struggle participating in many of the activities due to an injury I sustained about a year ago.  I won’t go into that, however the thought that keeps replaying for me is that fitness needed to be a focus in my life and I let some of the other challenges get me off track.

That’s where, “I knew then what I know now!” comes in.  It was my innate wisdom calling out to me so many years ago to make fitness more of a priority in my life and as I sit here and reflect on my life, I realize that it was a missed opportunity on so many levels.  For one, I’d be feeling better right now (and may not have been injured last year) and able to participate in what I really want to do like Latin Dance, Zumba, Advanced Hiking and maybe even Sand Volleyball.  And this thought is about more than going into the fitness field, it’s about “knowing” what my body needed to be at its optimum best and paying attention to it no matter what.

Here’s my point…..we all have that “innate wisdom” within, basically our intuition, and sometimes we don’t trust it and that’s the lesson in all of this.

If there’s something that’s calling out to you, whether it’s going back to school, a change in career, exercising more, eating healthier, etc., pay attention.  It’s your inner voice giving you hints about your journey.  Be mindful of what’s on your heart and what feels good to you.  Sure, it may seem a little scary “going against” the current, however maybe you just need to adjust the sails.

Lao Tzu’s quote, “The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step,” has been my guide.   Remember that when you have an idea about a different path.  Pay attention and choose what’s best for you.  Step by step is how you reach your destination!

Enjoy your journey!

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