I Attempted To Do A Headstand And...

I Attempted To Do A Headstand And...

...I toppled over onto the opposite side of my mat thankful that I didn't break my neck or back. I failed to do a headstand once again. I have been trying to do this pose for over a year now, and this was the first time I felt like my core was actually going to help my legs go up in the air. Alas, this day was not the day for a headstand.

I could translate this 'failure' into a shameful negative experience, but falling over like a three year old was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It gave me the confidence to keep trying. I will admit, I was embarrassed to fall in front people who seemed to invert their bodies with complete ease. I was also scared to fall over; fearful that I would break a vital part of my body. But guess what? I didn't break anything, and no one laughed at me. In fact, I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training at Be Here Now Yoga in Washington, DC, and I just completed the training. 

On my way home after this yoga class, I thought about how much my practice has developed over time. What's awesome is that I gained the capacity to attempt challenging poses over time. What's not awesome is that I never made time to acknowledge my progress. 

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I remind myself about that poignant moment on the mat when my mind takes over with reluctance, fear, or impatience. What is the point of being paralyzed with thought when my confidence is strengthened through trial and error? 

The day I do a headstand will be a glorious day; I will acknowledge this personal accomplishment, let you know how long it took me to get there, and keep practicing another challenge. Until then, I anticipate having many more failed attempts but I need to give myself credit for practicing. More often than ever we condition ourselves to focus on things we can't do rather than celebrating how far we have come. 

My Takeaways For You: 

1.  Think about all the times you didn't acknowledge the progress you have made but you put yourself down instead.  The next time you put yourself down, think about the flip side. What can you give yourself credit for?

2. Failure is key to immense learning and progress. 

3. Significant rewards are a result of perseverance, patience, and hard work. 

7 Ways To Build Customer Confidence and Obtain Referrals

7 Ways To Build Customer Confidence and Obtain Referrals

We all have instincts that make us feel receptive to a product or turn us away from an offer. The question is WHY we feel the way we do. 

Developing healthy relationships is necessary for life, but it is not easy. Diverse backgrounds contribute to the complexity of a situation, but everyone is human. The phrase, “treat people the way you would like to be treated” sounds cliche but transcends cultural boundaries. Think about your last positive and negative interaction with someone. Why did you feel that way? 

After countless meetings as a client and with clients, I have identified seven attributes that have enriched my personal life and have helped me build effective relationships. The common factor among the seven = respecting and valuing TIME, our most precious commodity.


1. Confidence: I always do my homework before speaking with a client by researching pertinent topics and reading articles that relate to the topic of interest. The information from my research is used to ask my client informed follow-up questions. In return, I expect to receive responses that will help me tailor my implementation plan. By asking thoughtful questions, my clients trust that I can get the job done because I have taken time to understand their situation. 


2. Trust: Trust is developed through responsive interaction and intuition. I listen to my clients' needs before providing a response or interjecting my perspective. Honest and constructive feedback is provided as necessary, and I take client confidentiality very seriously. Gossiping about someone or something is bad practice, can damage your reputation, and is a waste of time. 


3. Honesty: I ask for clarification or provide my interpretation of the issue if I do not fully understand the clients' perspective. When I am not familiar with a topic, I admit it. Pretending to sound intelligent about something out of my purview tends to have a negative effect on the quality of my product and with relationships moving forward. 


4. Respect: I typically begin initial email exchanges by writing, " Dear Mr./Ms.," or "Hello Mr./Ms.," if I do not know the person. Similarly, I may call someone Mr. or Ms. depending on the context of the situation. Earning respect takes time, but addressing your client with his/her proper title will only help your situation. 


5. My client is my priority: Regardless of my schedule, I always give 100% of my attention to a client meeting whether it is in person or over the phone. They need to feel like they are #1, because they are.  

Tip: Never tell your client, “It’s been so long since we talked, and I haven’t looked at your file in a while.” I have had some people say that to me in the past, and they are automatically red flagged on my list of referrals. 


6. Punctuality: Time is valuable commodity. I cannot stress this enough. If I attend a meeting in person, I estimate the amount of time it will take to arrive, and I take unforeseen traffic delays into account. If I am late, I notify my client as soon as possible. Generally speaking, I try not to postpone meetings more than two times.   


7. Mind My Manners: I put myself on mute when I am on a call so the sound of keyboard strokes do not interrupt the flow of conversation. When I meet with people in person, my phone is placed on silent in my bag, I have a notebook out, and I make appropriate eye contact with the person who is speaking. Each situation varies, and observing social cues are critical to building client confidence and trust. 

Take these seven attributes into account the next time you are receiving services, or you are scheduling a meeting with a client regardless cultural background. Paying attention to these mannerisms have saved me a substantial amount of time and I have gained a reputation that reflects my persona.

When in doubt, ask yourself how you would like to be treated, and treat your client with equal respect. 

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Maximize the Impact of Your Global Interactions with Papilia

Each day I am astonished by how much I continue to learn through my experiences with Papilia. I am constantly reminded by how fascinating people are; add culture into the mix, and we are now dealing with another set of special circumstances which need to be acknowledged and understood. 

The original concept for Papilia was to provide business and leisure travelers with a customized packing list, culture etiquette tips, and shopping advice. The goal was to help each person feel confident and prepared for their trip prior to departure so they could focus on what actually matters when you travel: to absorb local culture, to develop meaningful relationships, and to create lasting memories. Our original mission was to, "Travel More. Worry Less."

Throughout this journey, I have listened to embarrassing travel-related faux pas, and "I probably shouldn't have done of that" moments from travelers. I spent time thinking about how Papilia's mission could impact the lives of travelers in a more thoughtful way, (in addition to the personalized traveler itinerary). After many months of brainstorming ideas, and reflecting upon global perceptions of culture in the United States and abroad, I came up with a solution that I'm really passionate about.

Papilia now offers customized cross-cultural and international etiquette training and coaching for businesses and individuals who want to improve upon their strategic international relationships or expand their portfolio to develop partnerships internationally. (Detail on these and other trainings are provided on Sophia's personal website and the Papilia website.) 

Our new mission, "Maximize the Impact of Your Global Interactions," addresses a greater need many people are facing and want to better understand. Cultural intricacies are complex, but they are key to successful interactions and will also facilitate a deeper appreciation for local culture and surroundings. 

These training and coaching sessions will also integrate a component that is near and dear to my heart. Mindfulness. In order to interact with other cultures, you have to be mindful of your own interactions. I will incorporate what I have learned from my yoga teacher training to create an experience that will enhance your professional and personal life if you are receptive to it.

Just an FYI: I have a Papilia site and a personal site. Feel free to contact me on either site. I will typically share professional development, personal lessons learned, and other valuable insights on my personal site. Papilia focuses on training and services with a greater focus on travel preparedness and travel inspiration.

I am so excited for this next phase. My ultimate goal is to empower you with the proper tools needed to succeed in any professional or personal setting. 

If you are interested in taking the next step or finding out more information: Please fill out this initial survey so I can understand your training or coaching needs.

If you aren't ready yet, I would love your feedback to my ONE ASK: What is your single biggest communication challenge? 

...and remember...

Culture makes us who we are.

Perception defines how we act.

Knowledge is power.

 

I look forward to hearing from you wherever you are in the world. 

Discovering My Fearlessness at Pink Pangea's Costa Rica Retreat

Discovering My Fearlessness at Pink Pangea's Costa Rica Retreat

This article was originally posted on Pink Pangea's site here. 

I cannot pinpoint the moment I began to look for writing retreats the summer of 2016, I just knew my soul needed to find a deeper sense of purpose through prose. Tremendous loss factored into my decision to look for personal inspiration. My mother passed away unexpectedly on February 2, 2016 from a heart attack. I am a huge proponent of experiencing life to the fullest, but her sudden death sent a jolt of sadness and reality to my system; I was reminded once again about the value and fragility of life. I needed to awaken my inner fears.

MY BEAUTIFUL MOM

MY BEAUTIFUL MOM

 

I love to express myself through words, but I never attended a retreat, never had taken a writing class, and never had traveled with women I did not know. Yet, the sense of community reflected through stories from previous Pink Pangea participants aligned with what I was intuitively searching for. I made the commitment to attend the Costa Rica retreat six months prior to the trip, also something out of character for me. I am a big last minute adventure traveler.

On a cold Saturday morning in Washington DC, I woke up at 3:50 in preparation to go to National Airport; my carryon full of yoga pants, swim suits, journals, and passport in hand. Pure nostalgia ran through my veins in anticipation for this new experience. I had a quick layover in Miami, and could not stop smiling a big cheesy smile walking past the LOVE & PEACE sign at the airport. I was almost in Costa Rica! As the plane landed in San Jose, I was overwhelmed with nervous emotion. How was the week going to unfold? Would our expectations be met? Would we all get along? Why did we decide to make this commitment to come to this retreat? 

This experience exceeded my expectations in every plausible way.

Every morning I woke up to a vibrant sunrise ready to start my day with a yoga class that overlooked glorious mountains, and every night I soaked in a hot tub watching the sunset in a tropical oasis. Each day was filled with copious amounts of fresh food, a plentiful selection of herbal teas, luscious fruit, and thoughtful conversation. On Friday, the last day of this magical retreat I sat on a hammock to absorb all the experiences I had embraced. I felt like I became a better version of myself; I came to Costa Rica with an open heart and an open mind. I was ready to find greater meaning in my life, to invest in myself, to breathe for serenity, to take my writing to the next level. I flipped through my journal to see how the week transformed my inner and outer being. At our first orientation session, we were asked to complete this prompt: “When I see myself writing I see…” I wrote: “I see potential to impact others but there’s a barrier of fear in my mind.” After less than a week some of those barriers dissipated into the clear blue Costa Rican sky. I asked myself, “Why?”

THE VIEW FROM THE YOGA STUDIO AT THE PURA VIDA SPA

THE VIEW FROM THE YOGA STUDIO AT THE PURA VIDA SPA

 

I had the opportunity to write about thought provoking topics personal to my heart in a paradise that embraced self-reflection and encouraged vulnerability. I read my writing in a space where critique was constructive and where I trusted peers for whom I had the utmost respect. I distinctly remember the day we wrote about “A Woman’s Worth.” I described my Mother’s journey from Bangladesh to the United States in the 1970s. Towards the end of sharing my story about her, I burst out in tears of joy and sadness. I could not believe that I had written words that possessed such raw emotion. It was incredible.

When I was not writing, the warmth of the air along with the sound of palm trees swaying in the wind guided my intention to stay in the present moment. I was free from daily responsibility, free from external noise, free from fear.

Above all else, what made this experience in Costa Rica memorable were the people. When I booked this trip, I did not realize that I would be at this retreat on February 2nd, the one year anniversary of my Mom’s passing. Yet, the ability to be my true self and to be comforted by newfound friends gave me the courage I needed to move forward in my life and through my writing.

I have transferred so much of what I learned in Costa Rica into my daily life; enough to conquer the world with all I can offer. I just needed the right opportunity to discover my fearlessness.

THE FEARLESS HAPPY MANGO

THE FEARLESS HAPPY MANGO

7 Awesome Neighborhoods to Experience In Washington, D.C.

7 Awesome Neighborhoods to Experience In Washington, D.C.

THE JEFFERSON MEMORIAL BY MOONLIGHT

THE JEFFERSON MEMORIAL BY MOONLIGHT

As the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. tends to have a politically motivated reputation than being a fun city full of culture and diversity. I moved out of the city over a decade ago because I was tired of people asking me what I did for a living before asking me what my name was. This year, I made a decision to move back to D.C. for a few months. I will admit I was a little reluctant at first, but since I have been here I have noticed an amazing transformation that transcends beyond museums and monuments.  Not only has Washington, D.C. been named The Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetit Magazine, but each neighborhood that I have explored has established its own distinct personality. 

For those of you who are looking for some inspiration, I have picked seven areas that are worth checking out.

Shaw - This area is historic and hip. Weather permitting, check out one of the four rooftop bars/gastropubs that boast beautiful scenery and delectable food. Brixton, 801 Shaw, Takoda Restaurant and Beer Garden, and Nellie's Sports Bar are all within walking distance of each other between 9th on 7th streets NW. If you are in the mood to shop, browse through Kit and Ace, Frank + OakMinistry of Supply (for men), Bonobos (for men), Chrome, and Warby Parker. They are all within walking distance of each other and also between 9th and 7th streets. If you are in the mood to see a show, The Howard Theatre have a wide variety of engaging performances. 

ROSE ON THE ROOFTOP OF BRIXTON ANYONE? 

ROSE ON THE ROOFTOP OF BRIXTON ANYONE? 

Columbia Heights - Many people go Columbia Heights because the neighborhood Target and Bed Bath and Beyond are located right near the Metro. But if you are searching for truly authentic ethnic restaurants, it's worth visiting Columbia Heights. If you love Laotian food: Thip Khao offers steamed fish cooked in banana leaves, goat curry, and tamarind/lemongrass infused, spicy dishes. Mi Cuba Cafe offers much more than traditional Cuban delicacies like Ropa Vieja or a Cuban sandwich. Visit this cafe for breakfast, lunch, or dinner if you want to try Cuban coffee, grilled meats, plantains or rice and black beans but with a Cuban flare. Bad Saint, is a Filipino restaurant awarded as the number two best restaurant in the U.S. by Bon Appetit Magazine. But be prepared to stand in line to get into their 24 seated restaurant space. It will be well worth the wait. 

MOAK PAA WITH MONKFISH AT THIP KHAO

MOAK PAA WITH MONKFISH AT THIP KHAO

 

Union Market - Find an oasis of culinary delights in the warehouse district on 5th St NE near the Gallaudet NOMA Metro stop. You are guaranteed to find a craving here. Over 40 vendors offer endless food and drink options. If you love salmon, Neopol Savory Smokey offers fresh salmon lox on bagels or a Salmon BLT sandwich which will leave you always wanting more. For dessert, stop by Toli Moli to try falooda popular in the Asian subcontinent. I grew up drinking falooda, and was personally excited to try this stand, and I was not disappointed. Falooda is a healthy alternative to ice cream; it is a refreshing drink full of superfoods, rose water, and basil seeds the tastes and textures will leave you wanting to try more flavors. And, if you love hosting guests and are looking for some inspiration stop by Salt & Sundry to find small-batch foods and craft cocktail ingredients. 

EX

EX

 

Monument Walk at Sunset/Nighttime - There is something so special about walking through monuments during or after sunset. The crowds are light, the atmosphere is serene, and there is a sense of reverence in the air. Depending on the time of night, take a taxi to the Jefferson Memorial. Take time to sit on the steps of the monument and watch planes fly by. From the Jefferson Memorial, walk to the FDR and MLK Memorials. Cross the street toward the WWII Memorial to see a beautiful view of the Washington and Lincoln Memorials. If you have time, walk beside the reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial. Bring your camera; you will want to preserve these precious memories. 

THE WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL 

THE WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL 

 

The Kennedy Center- You don't have to buy tickets to a show just to visit The Kennedy Center. Tours of the center are offered, free concerts take place every night at the Millennium Stage, or dine in one of the two restaurants that overlook the Potomac River. The outdoor area boasts shimmering views of the Georgetown Harbor. 

VIEW OF THE POTOMAC RIVER FROM THE KENNEDY CENTER

VIEW OF THE POTOMAC RIVER FROM THE KENNEDY CENTER

 

U Street Corridor (Includes 14th St)- This neighborhood is full of restaurants, bars, clubs, and yoga studios. Some of my favorite selections include Barcelona, Le Diplomate, Compass RoseCork Wine Bar, Pearl Dive Oyster Bar, Lost Society, and Yoga District (I had to include at least one yoga studio), but there are so many options to choose from. If you are a music lover, the Lincoln Theater and 9:30 Club are historic venues where you can listen to legendary classics as well as budding artists. 

THE U STREET CORRIDOR 

THE U STREET CORRIDOR 

 

Chinatown- This part of the city is well known for Asian cuisine and entertainment via the Verizon Center. I have discovered a few favorites that are worth tasting: Reren Lamen and Bar for fresh noodles and organic ingredients, and Graffiato by Mike Isabella for artisanal pizzas and Italian inspired small plates. If you are in the mood to for a little retail therapy, City Center is where you need to be. 

THE OFFICIAL ENTRANCE TO CHINATOWN

THE OFFICIAL ENTRANCE TO CHINATOWN

 

Does this destination inspire you? 

Vibrational Food Tour: Raleigh, NC

Vibrational Food Tour: Raleigh, NC

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA

A couple of weeks ago I was able to head back to my former home, Raleigh, NC. I love Raleigh and tend to miss it when I am on the road. However, when I left Raleigh I was eating very differently. When I arrived, I was a little concerned about where and what I would be eating for the weekend.

Let me say this, the south has a rich food history that should be praised. It extends beyond BBQ, biscuits, and sweet tea. The Triangle in particular prides itself in locally grown and seasonal produce along with creating wonderful atmospheres for people to dine in.

So what did I eat all weekend?

TROPHYS HAS THE BEST LOOKING PIZZA THIS SIDE OF NYC

TROPHYS HAS THE BEST LOOKING PIZZA THIS SIDE OF NYC

 

Trophy Brewing & Pizza Co

The place I miss the most in Raleigh is Trophy Brewing & Pizza. I used to live right across from the beer and pizza stop and loved ordering a beer and their signature Daredevil pizza covered in cheese while sitting outside. It was to my surprise as I scanned the salad offerings that they offer Daiya (dairy alternative) cheese ! I quickly whipped up my own pizza with arugula, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and LOTS of cheese. It was divine.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOUR SUSHI LOOKED SO ALIVE?

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOUR SUSHI LOOKED SO ALIVE?

 

Fiction Kitchen

For date night, my fiancé and I ate at Fiction Kitchen. I had never given this restaurant much thought and I am really sad I didn’t before. This restaurant takes the motto “I can make anything you eat vegan” to the next level. We started with a summer must-have, zucchini fritters with a vegan sour cream, and completed the meal with vegan sushi and vegan lemon blueberry donuts. The ingredients are all sourced daily from the local farmers markets and the plates are almost too beautiful to eat.  The flavors and textures leave nothing to be desired. Next visit I will be ordering their signature “chicken” and waffles.

POKE SO GOOD I WENT BACK TWICE! 

POKE SO GOOD I WENT BACK TWICE! 

 

 

Raleigh Raw

A friend mentioned to me that a new raw spot had opened downtown and I of course went. Twice! Cold press juices fill the fridges and kombucha flows straight from the tap. The coconut ceviche makes you feel like you are in the Caribbean. But the true star was the tuna poke, using sustainable fish piled high with greens. While not a completely vegan food choice, this is what fast casual food should be like. I also highly recommend their blueberry bee pollen smoothie.

 

Whole Foods Market

Whenever I travel in the US I always find the closest Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods Market on Wade Avenue had their salad bar set up and ready to go by 7 am each morning, which made for delicious salads topped with breakfast potatoes and a side of vegan steel cut oatmeal. If you know how to stick to lighter weight options, like shredded beets, zucchini, and seeds, you can make an impressive salad for under $10.

These restaurants are starting a new movement of raw and vegan food joints in Raleigh. As people start demanding healthier and sustainable food options, I can’t wait to see how the vegan and raw movements redefine the food of this city in the south. 

This piece was written by Travel Expert, Jennifer DeSimone.  Reach out toJennifer via Facebook or via email at Jennifer@theartofintentions.com

Vibrational Food Tour: Bali

Vibrational Food Tour: Bali

One of my favorite things about traveling is the food. I literally get excited just walking by little food markets and looking at all the local favorites. I’ve been known to stand in the chip aisle just to read the flavor options or buy half a dozen candies for curiosity’s sake.

As I’ve been transitioning into a more vegan, high vibrational foods–focused diet, I was a little nervous about spending three months on the road, not having my Vitamix, or even access to a kitchen most days. I made a promise to myself that I would do some research to seek out the best options, but also to be kind to myself if I really wanted to try something outside my vegan diet or just couldn’t get a vegan meal.

RAW VEGAN PIZZA LOADED WITH TOPPINGS AND RAW VEGAN CHEESE

RAW VEGAN PIZZA LOADED WITH TOPPINGS AND RAW VEGAN CHEESE

 

First stop: Bali. Or, as I like to call it, The Vegan Food Mecca.

I mean wow!!!! An entire month flew by as I sipped on avocado juices, slurped down smoothie bowls, and indulged in raw vegan ice cream.

To be completely honest and transparent, I did enjoy some incredible prawn, a few bites of a traditional coconut beef stew, and lots of eggs, but in general I stuck to meat and dairy free eating.

Here are my top 5 picks for vegan eats in Bali:

Ubud

Seeds of Life Café
Located on a side and less busy street in Ubud, this restaurant is a 100% raw vegan restaurant which boosts a tea and tonic bar. Rotating daily specials and homemade desserts like “Oreo” cheesecake round out their all day breakfast options and lunch/dinner menu. My favorite picks include the dragon fruit sol jar, banana pancakes, Pad Thai, and the decadent chocolate torte. If you’re looking for a spot to get some work done, order a pot of oolong tea and savor the health benefits.

THIS RAW VEGAN PAD THAI IS ONE OF THE BEST NOODLE DISHES I'VE EVER EATEN

THIS RAW VEGAN PAD THAI IS ONE OF THE BEST NOODLE DISHES I'VE EVER EATEN

Travel Hack: Traveling with an omnivore? Check out Kafe. Their organic and vegan menu has something for everyone, including seafood, a kids menu, and a daily raw option. Don’t miss the the raw vegan moringa mint chip and maca cacao ice creams!

Seminyak

Earth Café & Market
Our taxi dropped us off at this gem by accident and I am so glad they did. They have a full market with all sorts of whole foods finds, including three floor to ceiling cases full of self serve desserts, many of which are raw vegan. The menu includes a cold pressed juices, soups, and salads, as well as a rotating power foods special plate. I love their commitment to sustainably and the community vibe the restaurant had.

SOBA NOODLES PAIRED WITH CRUNCHY VEGGIES, NORI, AND GRAPEFRUIT

SOBA NOODLES PAIRED WITH CRUNCHY VEGGIES, NORI, AND GRAPEFRUIT

 

Organic Café

If you are anything like me you follow various Instagram food accounts – and drool over them every day. I knew I just had to go after months of drooling over their feed. I began following this spot because of their beautiful smoothie bowls – and their incredible #gardengangters tag. I am talking smoothies served in fresh coconuts, fills with beautiful fresh fruits and topped with your pick of super foods. The bowls are simply filled with happiness. You literally cannot go wrong with anything off the menu here.

UNDER ALL THIS GOODNESS WAS AN AMAZING SUPER FOODS SMOOTHIE

UNDER ALL THIS GOODNESS WAS AN AMAZING SUPER FOODS SMOOTHIE

Travel Hack: Too full for dessert? Ask for a to go box from the register at Earth Café for a sweet ending to the day.

Sanur

Bali Buda

While not a 100% vegan spot, Bali Buda is every traveler’s dream. Along with its market and restaurant, they also have grab go fresh produce, vegan dairy products, and fresh baked goods and homemade snacks. They have some of the best soups and raw crackers I have ever tasted. If you’re feeling a hungry, stop in for a raw pudding pie and a Jelly Belly juice with turmeric and aloe.

SNACK TIME RAW VEGAN STYLE

SNACK TIME RAW VEGAN STYLE

 

Soul In A Bowl

Of all the restaurants we tried, this had the best urban vibe. They offer daily rotating smoothie bowls and insanely delicious vegan (and meat) burgers. Its like cheat day without the guilt. This is the spot you come to drink coffee, get work done, and then stay for lunch. Highly recommended for date night!

DRAGON FRUIT AND CHAI CHIA PUDDING SOL JAR FROM SEEDS OF LIFE: I WAS TOO EXCITED AND DIDN'T GET A PHOTO OF MY SMOOTHIE BOWL FROM SOUL IN A BOWL! 

DRAGON FRUIT AND CHAI CHIA PUDDING SOL JAR FROM SEEDS OF LIFE: I WAS TOO EXCITED AND DIDN'T GET A PHOTO OF MY SMOOTHIE BOWL FROM SOUL IN A BOWL! 

Travel hack: Bali Buda has a large grocery store in Ubud along with a restaurant around the corner. Soul Bowl also serves great mimosas perfect for brunch time!

As with everything in life, enjoy in moderation and order dessert first.

THE CHOCOLATE TART WITH DRAGON FRUIT ICE CREAM FROM SEEDS OF LIFE

THE CHOCOLATE TART WITH DRAGON FRUIT ICE CREAM FROM SEEDS OF LIFE

 

Have you been to Bali and have other food suggestions? I’ll be back this August and would love to try your favorite spot!

Drop me a line at Jennifer@theartofintentions.com

Four Places to Practice Mindfulness in Bali

Four Places to Practice Mindfulness in Bali

MOUNT BATUR 

MOUNT BATUR 

Bali is the Island of the Gods. There is no doubt about it, this is their home on earth.

The first time I learned about Bali was when I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love. “ Cliché as it is, I became obsessed with the allure of Bali. I knew I had to make it here. It took me more than a decade.

Once my ticket was booked, I romanticized ideas of what my time in Bali would be like. Mind-altering yoga. Beauty at every turn. More love.

I had no idea what I was in for. The people were among the most harmonious I had ever met. The food tasted alive. The scenery looked straight out of a dream. The air hot, but fresh. What captured me was the way people lived, providing offerings to the gods multiple times of day. It made me stop to realize that nothing is more important in life than honoring the universe, the greater being that provides life to you. It was on the second day where I realized that Bali was also the home of mindfulness.

Here are four locations to practice being mindful in Bali.  

JATILUWIH RICE TERRACES: A WALK WITH THE GODS

JATILUWIH RICE TERRACES: A WALK WITH THE GODS

 

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

A UNESCO World Heritage site, and a little far off the beaten path, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces reach as far as the eye can see. I was captivated driving through the paddies and humbled as I walked the paths. There was a pulse in the land. I felt as if the gods were walking beside me. If I was quiet enough I could hear a soft hum, like a mother calling her children home. I felt the spirits dance around me.

Travel hack: the journey is a little far so make sure you give yourself at least an hour before heading to Tanah Lot for sunset.

TANAH LOT- THE TEMPLE IN THE SEA

TANAH LOT- THE TEMPLE IN THE SEA

 

Tanah Lot

Among the most iconic temple in Bali, Tanah Lot is the Temple in the sea. As I walked around the bend, the temple came into view, and my breath was instantly taken away. Separated by the sea, I walked to the edge of the rocks. As the water crashed around me, I now understood why this temple was built for the God of the Sea. Even though non-Balinese people are not allowed to enter the Temple during low tide, I only needed to stand in its presence to feel the blessings of prosperity it can offer.

Travel hack: The grounds can get quite crowded so come early for the temple and stay later for sunset. A little harder to find quiet but the views are not to be missed.

SEBATU - SACRED WATERS TO PURIFY THE SOUL

SEBATU - SACRED WATERS TO PURIFY THE SOUL

 

Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple, Tegallalang, Gianyar

The next stop was the Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple, one of the least visited temples in Bali. The waters are believed to be sacred and cannot be touched by human hands unless permitted by the high priest, and after one has bestowed offerings to the gods. Staring at the statue of Sarasvati, in the water gave me chills. (Sarasvati is the the Hindu goddess of knowledge, art, and wisdom. A guide next to me told his group that he wishes to be re-born as a fish in the scared waters. His idea of what the best possible vision of his next life could be took me by surprise.  But the more I stared into the water, the clearer it became to me. It wasn’t the life of a fish he aimed for; the honor of living in these waters could only be bestowed upon the best among us. Maybe that is what the concept of the after-life is: honor.

Travel hack: you need to wear a sarong in order to enter and can save a couple dollars by borrowing the sarong from the Temple. If you bring an offering you may be blessed in the scared waters.

MOUNT BATUR AT SUNRISE

MOUNT BATUR AT SUNRISE

 

Mount Batur

The moment that made me feel the essence of mindfulness was climbing up Mount Batur with my Under30Experiences group to watch the sunrise. It was the hardest thing I have ever physically done by far. Reaching the top was an internal spiritual awakening; I proved to myself that I am strong enough to do anything I am asked to do. The reward? It was as if the gods had gifted the sky to me that morning.

Travel hack: You will want to start your hike by 4 am. You can’t hike up without a guide and make sure you have a flashlight. The top of the summit gets cold so ensure you have on pants and at least one warm layer and enjoy a cup of warm tea at the top too.

These experiences all provided me with a sense of mindfulness, of connectedness, one of peace. Throughout my 20’s I struggled with the concept of God, of religion, of there being something greater than myself out there. But here in Bali, there is no question that the gods live among us, that we are connected to the land and the spirits, and that all we need is to surrender ourselves to see it.

MALA BEADS

MALA BEADS

 

This week I custom made some mala beads for myself, complete with rose quartz as a reminder to always lead with love. I will wear my mala beads with the utmost reverence, a reminder to continue to stay connected and remain mindful.

This piece was written by Travel Expert, Jennifer DeSimone.  Reach out to Jennifer via Facebook or via email at Jennifer@theartofintentions.com

Time Travel: (Re) Exploring Washington DC

Time Travel: (Re) Exploring Washington DC

I have had the privilege growing up in many places around the world. At the age of 16, I moved from Santa Barbara, CA to Washington DC. Since my family moved in June, I had no friends to spend the hot summer days with. But, my friendless summer turned into one of the most thrilling memories to date. As a solo traveler in my new hometown, I used the Metro to take me throughout the District. My prerogative was to learn all about America's Capital. 

Fast forward 15+ years later, I'm living in the city for a few months. My perspective is still through the lens of a tourist who calls Washington DC one of my many homes, but it's now mixed with memories of what was, along with what currently is. 

I will take you down memory lane to five areas in Washington DC that will always remain close to my heart, and in no particular order. 

Georgetown: I used to love Georgetown for the immense amount of shopping, restaurants, and beautiful waterfront property, and I still do. If you appreciate shopping like I do, walk along M Street and up through Wisconsin Avenue. Men, you must visit Suit Supply if you are looking for sharp business and casual clothing. Women, Intermix is a hip and trendy boutique shop that I always check out when I'm in the area. Walk to the waterfront to see boats sail along the Potomac River and to watch planes taking off or land into National Airport. If you are in the mood to spend the day near the waterfront, consider buying food for a picnic from Dean and Deluca. I also recommend the kabobs from Moby Dick

WATCHING THE PLANES ABOVE THE BOATS IN GEORGETOWN

WATCHING THE PLANES ABOVE THE BOATS IN GEORGETOWN

Smithsonian Museums: I am HUGE nerd when it comes to soaking up anything educational. I have always been fascinated by the intricacies of this world, and I take my sweet time walking through the art galleries and history museums. I recently went back to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs, elephants, and to learn about the underwater sea animals. Seeing an Anglerfish, especially blew my mind. I walked through the Sculpture Garden on my way to the National Mall to see the displays from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. I sat on the grass, absorbed the rays of sunshine, and spent some time reflecting and appreciating all this country has to offer. I plan to visit the National Archives this summer, and cannot wait to see original documents on display such as the Declaration of Independence. Lines for the Archives can be long, so plan to spend some time in line, or pay $1.50 for a timed visit. Visits to all Smithsonian Museums and the Archives are free if you do not pay for a timed visit.

THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AMERICA 

THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AMERICA 

Dupont Circle: My first international development internship was in Dupont Circle. I always loved the energy of this area; there was never a dull moment walking to and from work. I still stop and shop at some of my favorites: Kramerbooks & Afterwards Cafe for intellectual inspiration and a good book, Teaism for the most amazing masala chai and french toast, and Urbana for a delectable bite to eat.  

ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKSTORES 

ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKSTORES 

 

Adams Morgan: It's true. This area is popular among the undergrad crowd, but Adams Morgan still appeals to 30-50 somethings. Bars and late night eateries like Madams Organ, Jumbo Slice and Amsterdam Falafel are foundational establishments, but the ultra laid back coffeehouse Tryst will always be my favorite place to work. The Diner offers the most amazing comfort food in a retro-modern setting, and the DC Yoga Studio takes me to a place of serenity and perspective. It is also the first place I was finally able to do a handstand, which represents years of patience, practice, and pure excitement. 

...AND ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE COFFEEHOUSES 

...AND ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE COFFEEHOUSES 

 

Union Station: I used to commute to the Union Station Metro for my first internship on Capitol Hill. The architecture of Union Station always impressed me, and the eatery on the basement floor was to die for when I loved eating fast food. I use Amtrak quite a bit now, and I recognize and appreciate the ease and versatility of Union Station more than I ever have before. It is a hub for various modes of transportation, city tours, food, and shopping, AND it's clean.  

HUSTLE AND BUSTLE WITH CULTURE AT UNION STATION

HUSTLE AND BUSTLE WITH CULTURE AT UNION STATION

Washington DC will always be one of the many places I call home. I encourage you to not only visit DC, but to view your hometown from a visitor's perspective. You will appreciate your town even more than you anticipated.

Do you have stories you would like to share about your hometown? Email me at sophia@papilia.co - I would love to hear them! 

Does this destination inspire you? 

Why Partner Travel is the Next Big Thing

Why Partner Travel is the Next Big Thing

I lived the single girl dream. I had studied abroad in college, lived in various cities, and traveled on my own. I was – and still am – a HUGE proponent of single girl travel. With the world becoming more connected and easier to travel with apps and wifi almost everywhere, there’s no reason why anyone should deny themselves the gift of solo travel.

But all that changed when in December 2013, while traveling with Under30Experiences in Nicaragua, I met my now husband.  Falling in love with another traveler awarded us the opportunity to build our travel lifestyle together. In addition to various one off trips, we’ve lived in Costa Rica, got married in Nicaragua, and are now backpacking our way across Southeast Asia.

To say traveling with your partner is the best thing in the world is an understatement. Here are five reasons why:

1. Breaking Comfort Zones: It’s no secret that travel of any sorts pushes you outside of your comfort zone. But traveling with a partner brings it to a whole new level. When you travel with your partner, you find that you are willing to take steps outside your comfort zone that you may not have been able to do alone. Knowing you’re going to be caught no matter what and celebrating together after one of you conquers a fear? Priceless.

OVERCOMING MY FEAR OF ZIP LINING IN COSTA RICA

OVERCOMING MY FEAR OF ZIP LINING IN COSTA RICA

 

2. Experiencing Moments: Watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean with my husband is one of the most special memories I hold in my heart. Traveling with your partner provides you with experiences you otherwise would never have. You are sharing moments that you simply can’t describe to others, that you two alone own. You understand the impact on the other person without ever having to express one word. 

RICH IN EXPERIENCES - WATCHING THE SUN SET IN BALI 

RICH IN EXPERIENCES - WATCHING THE SUN SET IN BALI 

 

3. Learning About Each Other’s (Not so Wonderful) Qualities: Traveling with a partner teaches you more about one another than just living together does. My husband has learned that I require plans and will read 100 reviews before I settle on something and I have learned that he is content just going with flow. This spills over into other aspects of our relationship. When dealing with differences on the road, you have to face them – together. You only have each other so if you’re mad or annoyed, you better get over it fast. 

 

4. Creating Space Together: Traveling is exhausting – mentally, emotionally, and physically. As such, it’s important for travelers to create space for the mind, body, and spirit to decompress and rest. While we may be sharing a small AirBnb room, giving each other the space we both need to read, write, exercise, and rest is critical to ensure the long stretches on the road. Being able to selflessly give that space to your partner is truly a life skill.

GLACIER HIKING IN ICELAND

GLACIER HIKING IN ICELAND

 

5. Being Home is a State of Mind: Traveling with your parents makes you realize what’s important from the start. For us its actively listening, encouragement, giving each other the space to grow, patience, and always coming from a place of love. It’s the foundation of everything we do. It doesn’t matter if we are traveling or spending a week at home base; home is a state of being with the one you love.

Are you and your partner living a travel lifestyle or are thinking about traveling soon? I’d love to hear your perspective about partner travel.

HOME IS WHERE YOU MAKE IT - RANCHO MARGOT, COSTA RICA

HOME IS WHERE YOU MAKE IT - RANCHO MARGOT, COSTA RICA

 

This piece was written by Travel Expert, Jennifer DeSimone.  Reach out to Jennifer via Facebook or via email at Jennifer@theartofintentions

Our Inside Scoop: Stitch Fix First-Timers

Our Inside Scoop: Stitch Fix First-Timers

Attention travelers who need personalized style tips and clothing to arrive at your doorstep; consider Stitch Fix! 

This past year I decided to try Stitch Fix, a styling service recommended by a friend. She raved about the convenience not to mention the anticipation of receiving her 'Fix' in the mail. My natural curiosity to try this service resulted in scheduling my fix as soon as I got home to my computer.

Reactions from my first experience: 

1. I was precise about my style preferences: I took the Stitch Fix styling service seriously. They asked me detailed questions about my measurements, style aesthetic, and need for professional/leisure ware. 

2. I was not precise about what I was looking for: I left the decision for my first fix up to my stylist to see what she could come up with.  She found some great pieces, but I already had some of the staple items that were sent to me. 

3. I loved the concept, so I decided to stick with it:  I really liked the idea of having a personalized service that would find clothing, accessories, or shoes that I never would have thought to try out or purchase. 

ONE OF MY FAVORITE DRESSES - AN ORANGE A-LINED EYELET DRESS 

ONE OF MY FAVORITE DRESSES - AN ORANGE A-LINED EYELET DRESS 

 

Tips If You Decide To Try A Fix :

1. Be precise about what you are looking for with your stylist: If there is something you have been looking for but can't find, let your stylist know! Let her know what she shouldn't send too. 

2. Create a Pinterest board: This board will do wonders for your fix! Visuals are the easiest way to communicate a concept to your stylist. 

3. Be realistic about what you can afford: Do the math and be honest with yourself about your price range. If you have a certain amount of money allocated toward a clothing fund, think about how often you want to receive a fix. Do not feel pressured to purchase the whole fix; you have to be happy with your purchase. 

4. Think about gaps in your wardrobe: If you know you are missing a staple item in your wardrobe, this is the place to find the perfect fit. I was looking for a dressy sweatshirt, and I now have one because of Stitch Fix. I honestly don't think I would have made time to find the right one on my own.  

If you are intrigued by the idea of having handpicked styles delivered to your door, click the link below:

As a disclaimer, I decided to become one of their affiliate partners because I loved their service so much. This post has been written because I genuinely love the service.  

Travel Influencer: Andy Ung

Travel Influencer: Andy Ung

ANDY UNG LOVING LIFE 

ANDY UNG LOVING LIFE 

Andy Ung is an aspiring photographer who has adopted a special perspective on life through mindfulness and appreciation for the little things along the way. He never takes a moment for granted, and tends to live a journey full of curiosity, purpose, and happiness. 

ANDY IN 60 SECONDS:

Current Location: Poughkeepsie, NY

Favorite Place to Travel: Tulum, Mexico

Travel Motto: Travel for freedom, adventure, memories, and experience. Most of all, travel to live a life worth remembering.

Favorite Activities: Hiking, Photography, Fitness, Dancing

 

1) WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT TRAVELING?

Traveling helps us realize our true potential. We get out of our comfort zones to discover a new area that is much different than what we are used to. It can be a scary thing but once we step away from our bubble, we soon realize that the world is a wondrous place with amazing people living alongside us.

From seeing nature in its purest form, appreciating cultures and traditions of a country, understanding the history of how a country came to be, to learning life lessons from the least expected place. 

2) WHAT DOES YOUR ULTIMATE TRIP LOOK LIKE?

My ultimate trip would be able to traverse across a mountain, being physically and mentally challenged to reach the top. Yet have days where I can relax in the hammock, hearing the sounds of the ocean hitting the sand, and reading a book. I would lke to have the best of both worlds. My ultimate trip would be surrounded by nature, and capturing photos that last a lifetime.

3) WHAT IS YOUR PERFECT DAY IN YOUR CITY? 

Tulum is a small town with big culture. From the Mayan Ruins, swimming with sea turtles, graffiti artwork off the main road, to charming handmade souvenirs, this place has much significance to my heart. It was one of the first places that Seng and I visited. Seng was a friend who recently passed away during our travels together. We went to this coffee shop called Ki'bok Cafe and spent time with the owner, Tony and his family. We created friendships and had deep conversations with Tony that altered our way of thinking.

ONE OF OUR MANY VISITS TO KI'BOK CAFE

ONE OF OUR MANY VISITS TO KI'BOK CAFE

 

4) WHAT CULTURE HAS SURPRISED YOU THE MOST AND WHY?

Costa Rica. My first international trip was in Costa Rica and it was a whirlwind of culture. Just seeing how different it was and how happy everyone was living the way they did, gave me a whole new perspective on life and traveling. I met a local man there that change my worldview and thus began my quest on self-discovery. 

THE NIGHT SKIES IN COSTA RICA (PHOTO CREDIT: SENG NGO)

THE NIGHT SKIES IN COSTA RICA (PHOTO CREDIT: SENG NGO)

 

5) WHAT'S THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM ALL OF YOUR TRAVELS?

Choice. When my friend passed away we had a deep discussion about our greatest life lessons. His was choice. We all have this ability to make a choice to be happy, and living a life that we want to create. Making decisions that will create self-happiness and live a life we love. 

6) WHAT IMMEDIATELY CONNECTS YOU TO A NEW PLACE?

The vibe of the place and how the people react around me. Society makes up most the connection of an area and depending on how open and welcoming they are, the deeper the connection I have with it. 

7) WHAT ARE YOUR 5 MUST HAVE TRAVEL-RELATED ITEMS THAT YOU DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT? 

1. Tortuga Backpack, 45 liters (I don't need much)

2. Sony a77 Mark 2 DSLR camera w/ 16mm - 105mm lens

3. Lowepro - Transit Backpack 350 AW Camera Backpack. 

4. Journal

5. Apple Macbook Pro

8) WHAT IS YOUR NEXT TRAVEL-RELATED PURCHASE?

I'm thinking about buying a MeFOTO A1350Q1T Aluminium Roadtrip Travel Tripod/Monopod Kit. Also thinking about buying a drone so I can take aerial shots. 

9) WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEASON TO TRAVEL AND WHY?

Each season brings out a unique experience in each country. There isn't a season that I would choose not to travel.

_____________________________________________________________

To stay connected to Andy follow him on Instagram and Facebook

Travel Zen: 6 Items That Will Help You Travel Better

Travel Zen: 6 Items That Will Help You Travel Better

The word 'travel' has connotations for being exciting yet stressful. Most people love taking a trip, but really dislike being off their normal schedule. The Papilia team has selected six suggested items that will melt away the stressful parts of your journey, whether you are traveling for business or leisure. 

1. Travel Candle: Candles have a way of calming your senses when you need to relax or feel like the pace of life needs to slow down for a few moments. Recommended scents: jasmine, lavender, orange peel, lemon. Light the candle. Breathe. Relax. 

2. Aromatherapy Mist: Another scent related product, aromatherapy mists have a way of revitalizing the energy of your space. Spray the mist into the air, take a few deep breaths, and clear out negative energy to renew your body with a fresh perspective on life. 

3. Resistance Band: A day of high intensity activity whether it's for business or leisure should be balanced with a healthy stretch for your body. Resistance bands help to maintain the flexibility you need to go about your day with less pain and stiffness. 

4. Comfortable Shoes: Nothing spells comfort and happiness like a sole supporting shoe. It is highly important to take care of your feet, especially when you are on-the-go. Comfortable shoes help with proper alignment and posture, two things that your body will thank you for a lifetime. 

5. Body Scrub: Exfoliation, proper moisture, and protection of your skin are key anti-aging tactics. If you do not have time to make your own, it is worth your time to buy a scrub that not only exfoliates, but leaves your skin feeling soft and healthy. You may be able to skip the lotion if you are adequately moisturized. 

6. Favorite Pictures: Be sure to bring pictures of your loved ones or favorite memories. They are always great for a smile when you need one. 

5 Ways to Handle Grief Through Travel

5 Ways to Handle Grief Through Travel

This year has undoubtedly been one of the hardest years I have endured. My mom passed away unexpectedly in February. We were very close, and I have tried to view life through a glass half full. By this, I mean: I hope she passed in a way that was painless for her, and I hope she knows how much I love her with every breath I take. 

I have been treating each day as a precious gift, taking it as it comes, but I also needed to get to a place where I felt a sense of solitude again. I channel my inner peace by traveling, one of my favorite things in the world. My Mom's memories will always be in my heart, but I have been able to handle grief through my love of exploration and mindfulness.

Everyone process grief differently. My suggestions for you are guided by what I love:

1. Spend Time At The Beach: The sound of waves, sand covering my feet, and warmth of the sun (under an umbrella, of course) has always put me in my happy place. I have fond memories being near the beach, especially growing up in Santa Barbara.  Exploring Playa Del Carmen in May was a new yet familiar experience because the sounds and the smells of the beach made me feel like I was home again. 

THE BEACHES OF TULUM, MEXICO 

THE BEACHES OF TULUM, MEXICO 

 

2. Yoga Retreat: Yoga is a practice where I am truly able to be at peace. Where my mind and body are at one, AND I get an incredible workout. A retreat is on my 'to try' list. If I love every session I have attended, why not make a weekend out of it? 

YOGA IS AMAZING FOR THE MIND, BODY, AND SOUL

YOGA IS AMAZING FOR THE MIND, BODY, AND SOUL

 

3. Time In The Mountains: A place where the mountains meet the sky. Another spot that completely inspires me to believe in all the wonders of this world. It is serene, absolutely beautiful, and relatively untouched. It is a place for me to breathe fresh air and to simply smile. 

THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS, VIRGINIA 

THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS, VIRGINIA 

 

4. Visit A Loved One: Seeing a familiar face and sharing a mutual bond brings comfort to my soul. Being able to talk about my Mom with people who knew and love her is always a good thing. It's an awesome reminder about how she is loved around the world. 

VISITING MY PARENTS IN FLORIDA 

VISITING MY PARENTS IN FLORIDA 

 

5. Go To A Place Where You Have Amazing Memories: I recently went back to Charlottesville, Virginia where I went to undergraduate school. I remember how proud my Mom was seeing me graduate. My roommates and I hosted a party in one of the gardens on the University of Virginia grounds, and I could picture her smiling face wherever I went that weekend. Knowing we shared special moments together, even if it was over a decade ago, warmed my heart. 

Bonus Moment: My Mom loved magnolia trees. To my recent discovery, not only are they planted all around the UVA grounds, the flowers were in full bloom when I was there.  

A MAGNOLIA IN FULL BLOOM ON THE UNIVERSITY GROUNDS 

A MAGNOLIA IN FULL BLOOM ON THE UNIVERSITY GROUNDS 

 

I want to remind you again that everyone processes grief differently and there are no two situations that are alike. Give yourself time to heal, and celebrate precious moments the best way you know how. I will continue to travel, I will continue to be mindful, and I will always remember her everyday through my experiences. 

 

Should You Go On That Trip With Your Beau, Friends, Or Solo?

Should You Go On That Trip With Your Beau, Friends, Or Solo?

Let's face it, planning and booking a trip anywhere can be exciting and scary at the same time. The thrill of exploration is fun, but it can also be bogged down by the unknown. There are many things out of our control, but you CAN control your travel companion(s). Our team is here to help you think through your decision making process so everyone is happy in the end. 

Here are five questions you need to ask yourself. 

1. What is the purpose of your trip? The kind of companion you want to travel with or without will depend on the nature of your trip. If it's for work or professional development purposes you may want to go with colleagues. If you are traveling for leisure, your travel companion will depend on the memories you would like to make. OR Maybe you just need to hit the reset button and go on a solo journey. 

1. TRIPS SHOULD BE FUN

1. TRIPS SHOULD BE FUN

 

2. What kind of expectations do you have for your trip? The right companion will depend on what you may need from them. If you are going for work, perhaps you need a mentor-like figure to guide you. If you are going for leisure, you may want to be around someone that makes you laugh or helps to give you a richer perspective on life. 

2. SET POSITIVE EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR TRIP

2. SET POSITIVE EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR TRIP

 

3. Do you want to share these memories with your beau, be solo, or with a group of old friends? Be honest with yourself and think about what you need out of this experience. You want to look back at the time spent on this trip with a smile. 

3. WHO DO YOU WANT TO CREATE MEMORIES WITH?

3. WHO DO YOU WANT TO CREATE MEMORIES WITH?

 

4. If it's not a solo trip, do you love the people you will be traveling with? You may not have the option of choosing work companions, but you may have a little more leeway choosing leisure companions. Some of your best friends may not be your favorite travel buddies. 

4. MAKE SURE YOU LOVE THE PEOPLE YOU ARE TRAVELING WITH

4. MAKE SURE YOU LOVE THE PEOPLE YOU ARE TRAVELING WITH

 

5. What was your state of mind when planning the trip? Your mood factors into the kind of trip you will want to experience. If you are grieving, you may want a quick get away. If you are stressed, you may want to go on a retreat. If you just had a break up, you may want to experience an 'Eat Love Pray' moment. You understand my point.

Be aware that you mood may change; so if you plan your trip way in advance you may not want to take that trip anymore. It's okay to change your plans, but be mindful of your travel companions. It is unfair if your cancellation disrupts plans for your friends.  

5. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR STATE OF MIND WHEN PLANNING A TRIP!

5. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR STATE OF MIND WHEN PLANNING A TRIP!

 

AND REMEMBER: This assessment will only work if you are honest with yourself! 

How to Set a Mantra to Find Your Truth

How to Set a Mantra to Find Your Truth

Mantras are deeply rooted in various eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. An active practice of repeating a sound or phrase over and over, mantras unlock power in each of us seeking truth.

Whatever lifestyle choice you choose, we all are seeking truth. Whether you are living the traveler, entrepreneurial, or 9-5 lifestyle, we are all using our experiences to come to some understanding of truth. Often, the road will get difficult. You will fail, or feel lonely, or feel like you just can’t do it. Setting a mantra will give you something to come back to, to focus on, and to find strength in.

While this seems simple in theory, in practice, the work is hard. Setting your mantra can be seemingly unapproachable. Sitting with your mantra can be uncomfortable.

YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW. GIVE YOURSELF THE RIGHT TO BE STRONG.

YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW. GIVE YOURSELF THE RIGHT TO BE STRONG.


Here are 5 ways to create a mantra to find your truth:

1. Be inspired: Mantras are a deeply personal experience but being inspired by other people’s mantras allows you to play with different mantras. Whether you start by chanting “om” or borrow words from others that you feel drawn to, playing with various mantras can help you find something that speaks to your inner truth.

2. Allow your mantra to serve you: My (current) mantra is “I am enough”. It comes from a place where I often feel like I am not enough. Turning to my mantra in moments of self-defeat often changes my perception and helps me shift my mindset to one that is encouraging and empowering. By changing the way you speak to yourself, you allow yourself to show yourself kindness.

 

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TOLD YOURSELF YOU WERE ENOUGH? 

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TOLD YOURSELF YOU WERE ENOUGH? 

 

3. Commit to a mantra: Your first mantra may not be the best one, but commit to it for a few days. Settle with it. You will find that sticking to a mantra, even for a short time, allows you to go deeper inside the mantra. Sometimes all you need is to know that a mantra is available to you, even if its not your mantra.

4. Repetition: One of the best mentors I have ever had tells her students to repeat their mantra 20 times to themselves and to come back come back to it if their mind wanders. Tell yourself something true, forgive yourself if you lose it, and come back to it. Repeat this. How beautiful is that practice?

5. Live your mantra: In the moments that life is hard or you feel overwhelmed, know your mantra is within you. You can come back to it at any moment. You only need the permission of yourself to go back to it. Live your mantra and your mantra will come alive.

GO FIND YOUR TRUTH. YOU CAN DO THIS!

GO FIND YOUR TRUTH. YOU CAN DO THIS!


Mantras work in mysterious ways, but remain open to the possibility that your mantra will be there when you need it. The work that you today on your mantra will build the foundation for your life tomorrow.

This piece was written by Travel Expert, Jennifer DeSimone.  Need help setting your mantra? Reach out to Jennifer via Facebook or via email at Jennifer@theartofintentions

 

Sophia's Skin Care Regimen

Sophia's Skin Care Regimen

Skin care has always been an important yet exhausting part of my life. It doesn’t matter if my skin is brown with more melanin, I still get sun poisoning within minutes if I do not protect myself with proper SPF. I learned this lesson the hard way when I was a kid playing at the pool. Days of applying Benadryl to my itchy-sore skin didn’t stop me from going outside and playing. But as I got older, I started paying more attention to my skin care regimen, and asked myself:

Do I want to feel uncomfortable while neglecting myself? 

OR

Do I want to feel fabulous and radiant while pampering myself?

And thus the journey began to find the perfect skin regimen which required the following criteria: 

1. Did not take too much time out of my day 

2. Was natural and not scented 

3. Provided my skin with noticeable benefits over time

I am proud to tell you that this regimen has been tested for over 10 years, and I have gotten many compliments over the years. So many, that I want to share my regimen with you. Regardless of where I go, I always carry travel-sized products with me. However I recommend buying the larger bottles and placing them in carry-on sized containers

NOURISH YOUR SKIN WITH MOISTURIZERS THAT CONTAIN SPF. I DO EVERY DAY. 

NOURISH YOUR SKIN WITH MOISTURIZERS THAT CONTAIN SPF. I DO EVERY DAY. 

 

MORNING ROUTINE IN ORDER OF USE

1. Philosophy Purity Cleanser OR Aveda Tourmaline Charged Exfoliating Cleanser (only use once a day)

 

HAIR ROUTINE IN ORDER OF USE: 

1. Invati Shampoo, Conditioner, Scalp Revitalizer (I have psoriasis; the turmeric helps with my condition while thickening my hair).

2. Aveda Flax Seed Aloe Strong Hold Sculpting Gel 

 

BODY ROUTINE IN ORDER OF USE:

1. Sophia's handmade body scrub

2. Aveeno Lotion OR Neutrogena Body Oil Fragrance Free

NIGHT ROUTINE IN ORDER OF USE

1. Philosophy Purity Cleanser OR Aveda Tourmaline Charged Exfoliating Cleanser (only use once a day)

This regimen may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get the routine in place, it really takes no time. Most importantly, it i has helped me feel confident and love the skin that I am in.

If you have any questions, about my routine, please feel free to contact me.  

Explore The Charm Of Valladolid

Explore The Charm Of Valladolid

Valladolid is a charming town in the Yucatan Peninsula. Many people stop by en route to/from Chichen Itza, but it is worth spending a full day here if you have the time. The colorful architecture, colonial churches, and ample amount of ice cream will keep you curious and satisfied all day long. 

 

Weather: The weather in the Yucatan Peninsula varies from warm to hot year round, but there are two noticeable wet and dry seasons. The wet season, (also known as the hurricane season) typically starts in June and ends in October. The dry season begins in November and lasts through May. An optimal time to travel is in May after Spring Break and before June. Prices tend to be a little lower, the volume of visitors have decreased, and the weather is still great. If you plan to book your trip in the summer months be sure to check the weather patterns. Valladolid generally tends to be hotter because it is inland. 

Basic Style Etiquette for Men and Women: Casual. Men and women should pack clothing that is light and breathable; leave your jeans at home. For women: when you are touring around, it is acceptable to wear a bathing suit with a tank top, shorts, and sneakers. Men can wear similar attire when touring; bathing suit, shirt, and sneakers. If you plan on spending the night, dinner attire is also casual.  Even though Valladolid is inland, respectable bathing suits underneath attire can be worn if you plan on going to a cenote (underground sink hole ideal for swimming and exploring). 

Culture: Valladolid has a small town friendly feel to it; they are very welcoming to visitors. Please be respectful of the town to maintain the charm. The staff at the visitors center (located across the main park) are also available to answer any questions you have, and signs are bi-lingual. 

Shopping: If you love chocolate, you are in the right place. Chocolate Artesenal Maya Chocol Haa is a museum, cafe, and store. Learn about the importance of chocolate, taste the 10 different varieties, and buy your favorite flavor. You can find this gem on Calzada de los Frailes, a beautiful road mixed with Mexican stores and restaurants.   

VIEW CHOCOLATE MAKING IN THE PROCESS IN VALLADOLID (PHOTO COURTESY OF TRIP ADVISOR)

VIEW CHOCOLATE MAKING IN THE PROCESS IN VALLADOLID (PHOTO COURTESY OF TRIP ADVISOR)

 

Some Suggested Activities In Valladolid:

Calzada de los Frailes: Walk around this colorful street, search for your perfect souvenir, and try local delicacies such as Lomitos de Valladolid, a pork dish in fresh tomato sauce. 

CALZADA DE LOS FRAILES

CALZADA DE LOS FRAILES

 

Francisco Canton Rosado: Take a walk around the central park, eat ice cream, and people watch. It's one of my favorite things to do, and you can learn so much culture through observation. You will hear laughter, see lovers, and watch entrepreneurs making the most out of a hot day. 

FRANCISCO CANTON ROSADO 

FRANCISCO CANTON ROSADO 

 

Traditional Agave Distillery: Take a tour of the blue agave distillery, walk through the fields, and learn about the traditional step by step process to obtain the agave liquid. This tradition has lasted for over 400 years; and will add special insight about customs and culture of the Maya. At the end of the tour, you will have the opportunity to take some tequila home with you! 

BLUE AGAVE - MAYAPAN - TRADITIONAL AGAVE DISTILLERY (PHOTO COURTESY OF PEANUTSORPRETZELS.COM)

BLUE AGAVE - MAYAPAN - TRADITIONAL AGAVE DISTILLERY (PHOTO COURTESY OF PEANUTSORPRETZELS.COM)

 

If You Are A Foodie: Enjoy fresh Mexican food atop the Cenote Zaci. Savor fresh salsa, tortillas, nachos, plantains, and other Mexican specialities. A bonus: if you have lunch here, you will get free admission to the cenote. 

HAND MADE TORTILLAS AT THE CENOTE ZACI RESTAURANT (PHOTO COURTESY OF LAND OF THE HAW BLOG)

HAND MADE TORTILLAS AT THE CENOTE ZACI RESTAURANT (PHOTO COURTESY OF LAND OF THE HAW BLOG)

 

Safety Tip: Carry water, biodegradable sunblock, a snack, and an umbrella and/or a hat when you are touring. You do not want to get dehydrated or sunburnt on your trip, do you? 

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How Eating High Vibration Foods Fuels My Lifestyle

How Eating High Vibration Foods Fuels My Lifestyle

Paleo. Whole30. Vegan. Vegan-curios. There are so many ways people define their food choices these days which can be overwhelming. Most days, I just want to eat a lot while looking great in my yoga pants.

WARRIOR BOWL WITH RAW VEGGIES, CURRY TOFU, AND TAHINI ZUCCHINI SAUCE

WARRIOR BOWL WITH RAW VEGGIES, CURRY TOFU, AND TAHINI ZUCCHINI SAUCE

My philosophy on food is pretty simple: 

1.     It has to taste good and be satisfying;

2.     It has to be ethical;

3.     It has to be cost effective; and

4.     It must be fiancé approved.

In March, as part of the EpicSelf fellowship in Costa Rica, I went (mostly) raw vegan for 30 days. I needed to go back to basics when it came to food. It was the first time I learned about “high vibrational foods” and the affects of these foods changed my entire mindset.

VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE? YES, PLEASE!

VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE? YES, PLEASE!

 

Here’s how eating these foods fuel my lifestyle:

ENERGY

Vibrational foods fire you up with energy because these are foods that eat sunshine! That sunshine literally becomes a piece of you and allows your inner light to radiate. You body takes this clean energy and burns it up. The best part? Some of the most indulgent foods are full of this energy like big bowls of “nice” cream, fatty dressings, and even dark chocolate.

INTENTIONALITY

The more I focus on intentionality, the more I find myself wanting to align my food choices with my lifestyle. Being impactful, conscious, and kind stems from my food choices. Food is a complex matter but knowing how, where, and by whom your food is grown and raised by, empowers us to buy better products.

AFFORDABILITY

Super foods can be pricey but are designed to last. Products like seeds, spices, and powders last since a little goes a long way. While fresh produce needs to be purchased more often, foods grown locally and in season can lead to big savings.

SHARING

Food is designed to be shared and eaten with loved ones. Many diets limit the foods you eat to the point that your social life suffers. Eating real food opens up new eating experiences. Eat with people you love and feed them delicious food. They will support you once they taste how good it is.


With any lifestyle choice, there is a learning curve and I was so lucky to have a teacher guide me through this process. I am not a nutritionist and do not claim to be one – yet I cannot stop talking about the new foods I eat like cacao, kale, turmeric, tahini, nori, spirulina and vegan protein powders The list goes on and on, which opens so many new ways to combine foods.

SUPER FOODS CHALLENGE: HOW MANY FOODS CAN YOU ADD INTO YOUR DIET?

SUPER FOODS CHALLENGE: HOW MANY FOODS CAN YOU ADD INTO YOUR DIET?

 

It has been almost 60 days since I made a switch to a mostly vegan diet. With any lifestyle choice, you will find yourself eating that slice of pizza. The key is balance and finding what works for you. Over the next several months I will highlight my food choices and their impact while traveling and encourage you to join me on this epic adventure.

One note: the food issues this country faces are enormous and I want to be sensitive to the fact that I am lucky to have access to such foods. While food is a basic human right, we need to ensure that everyone has access to healthy and affordable food.

Need an idea for breakfast? Try this amazing “nice” cream with chia jam for breakfast or an evening treat.

WHO DOESN'T WANT CACAO ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST?

WHO DOESN'T WANT CACAO ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST?

 

NICE CREAM

Serves 2
2 frozen bananas, in one each pieces

½ cup unsweetened almond milk

large bunch of kale

1 scoop of raw vegan protein powder like Garden of Life

Optional: turmeric, matcha, cinnamon, or spirulina
Add all ingredients to blender and mix until creamy. You may need to push down mixture or add extra liquid until it blends.

---


CHIA JAM

6 strawberries

Optional: mint, basil, cinnamon, or vanilla
Blend 6 strawberries until liquid. Pour into container and add ½ cup of chia. Stir to mix and store in airtight container overnight.

Pour nice cream into a bowl and top with your favorites like cherries, chia jam, unsweetened coconut shreds, cacao nibs, matcha, hemp seeds, and/or cinnamon. Grab spoon and dig in! 

This piece was written by Travel Expert, Jennifer DeSimone.  Find her @theartofintentions on Instagram.

Take A Road Trip To Chichen Itza

Take A Road Trip To Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza, one of the new seven wonders of the world is truly a wonder to be witnessed by the naked eye. The amount of science and math involved when these structures were built will leave you in awe and wonder. Even though you cannot enter or climb the Mayan Ruins, you will be able to learn why an observatory was constructed, how ancient games were played while standing in the playing field, and understand why your claps generate sounds from the top of El Castillo.

The best way to enjoy Chichen Itza is to take your time. We rented a car so we could manage our own time, and we also decided to get a local tour guide to talk/walk us through the experience. These two factors immensely maximized our trip experience, and are highly recommended. 

 

Weather: The weather in the Yucatan Peninsula varies from warm to hot year round, but there are two noticeable wet and dry seasons. The wet season, (also known as the hurricane season) typically starts in June and ends in October. The dry season begins in November and lasts through May. An optimal time to travel is in May after Spring Break and before June. Prices tend to be a little lower, the volume of visitors have decreased, and the weather is still great. If you plan to book your trip in the summer months be sure to check the weather patterns. 

Basic Style Etiquette for Men and Women: Casual and sophisticated. Men and women should pack clothing that is light and breathable; leave your jeans at home. For women: when you are touring around, it is acceptable to wear a bathing suit with a tank top, shorts, and sneakers. Men can wear similar attire when touring; bathing suit, shirt, and sneakers. If you plan on spending the night in Chichen Itza or dinner attire is smart casual.   

 

Culture: Many of the tour guides and vendors are from the surrounding towns. They are very much connected to the local culture and history. Ask your tour guide questions. I was particularly interested about the construction of the city itself and how the townspeople uphold traditions of their ancestors through the modern day. 

Shopping: If you are looking for a variety of handmade goods, be sure to make time to check out what the vendors have to offer. Be ready to bargain; you will have multiple vendors selling the same product. Inspect the quality of the product, and make sure it resonates with your style. Personally, I wished I would have picked up hand painted bowls, and slightly regret not doing so. 

HAND PAINTED BOWLS AND CRAFTS IN CHICHEN ITZA

HAND PAINTED BOWLS AND CRAFTS IN CHICHEN ITZA

 

Some Suggested Activities In Chichen Itza:

Clap In Front of the Mayan Temple of Kukulcan (the feathered serpent god): The sound of your clapping generates sacred sounds of the quetzal bird. As we said before, it is all about science and math. The number of steps, sides, and dimensions were designed to create this sound. The spring and autumn equinoxes are also a great time to visit. It has been said that Kukulcan returns to earth to provide blessings before entering the sacred water on his way to the underworld, expressed in this picture below. You can see a serpent crawling down the temple; a little creepy yet fascinating.

THE MAYAN EQUINOX IN CHICHEN ITZA (PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIDPEDIA.ORG)

THE MAYAN EQUINOX IN CHICHEN ITZA (PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIDPEDIA.ORG)

VIEWING EL CASTILLO / TEMPLE OF KUKULCAN FROM AFAR 

VIEWING EL CASTILLO / TEMPLE OF KUKULCAN FROM AFAR 

 

The Observatory: El Caracol is named after its interior spiral shaped staircase, is a Mayan ruin built to observe a 360 view of the stars, to track eclipses, and equinoxes. Windows were constructed to follow the movement of Venus in conjunction with the movement of Earth. 

EL CARACOL IN CHICHEN ITZA

EL CARACOL IN CHICHEN ITZA

 

Juego de Pelota - The games played in this field were no joking matter. The losing team is dishonored by sacrificing the winning team leader in front of all spectators. By killing the winner, they now have the honor to be with the Gods.

A VIEW OF JUEGO DE PELOTA (PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA.ORG)

A VIEW OF JUEGO DE PELOTA (PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA.ORG)

CARVINGS DESCRIBE THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME 

CARVINGS DESCRIBE THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME 

If You Are A Foodie: It is a little difficult to find restaurants near Chichen Itza. Surrounding hotels tend to provide a buffet lunch after you have toured the ruins. The Lodge at Chichen Itza was a place we discovered en route after taking the toll road from Riviera Maya. If you are driving, expect to have people from the lodge stop you to offer a packaged deal exclusive of parking, easy access to an entrance, and lunch. The deal was hassle free, and the local food was delicious.    

Safety Tip: Carry water, sunblock, a snack, and an umbrella and/or a hat when you are touring. You do not want to get dehydrated or sunburnt on your trip, do you? 

Does this destination inspire you?