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What Does Mindfulness Mean to You?

What Does Mindfulness Mean to You?

These days, the word 'mindfulness' comes up so much that it seems like more of a buzzword, a word that we should use to feel better somehow. I want to take this moment to share my perspective on what mindfulness means to me, and how I have integrated this concept into my life. Perhaps it will spark some thought about what mindfulness means for you.

There was a time in my life where I coasted through days not fully aware or grateful for all that I had. I never gave too much thought to getting out of bed on my own, or being able to walk down the stairs of my house to make a fresh cup of coffee. I guess I just took it for granted. But those simple things I took for granted are true miracles every day. Walking out of my house to feel the fresh air of a new day, or looking up at the sky to see big fluffy clouds were all things that I never paid attention to because I was too busy going to work or stressed out about life circumstances. My body was more reactive than proactive back then. 

It took a major car accident to help me understand the concept of mindfulness. In 2013, my car hydroplaned on I-40 in North Carolina, and was hit by three cars and an 18-wheeler head on. I will never forget seeing the truck driving towards me at 50+ miles per hour while I was sitting in my car, virtually helpless. I scrolled through the rolodex of my life in my mind and thought, "If I have to go today, I'll be okay. I've done everything I could have possibly done for my life up to this moment." My car was an absolute accordion, but I walked out of my car that night in complete and utter shock that I didn't have a scratch on me. 


How many moments do we go through life without awareness of our surroundings? 


Everyday (since that day) I wake up with enthusiasm for all that I am lucky enough to have in this world. I have a food, clothing, shelter, family and friends. I have the ability to take walks, to look up at the sky with awe and wonder like a little kid, and to taste food that I choose to eat (among many other things). My senses are alive, and I am happy without a doubt. 

It's this level of awareness that has sparked passion for what I do. It's this type of mindfulness that has elevated my passion for life, and how I interact with people at home and abroad. I try my best to let go of petty misunderstandings as humanly possible, because it's just not worth it in the end. 

Mindfulness has been the first step to making more thoughtful decisions in my life. For me, practicing mindfulness has translated into a healthier way to live, love, and forgive. 

The art of mindfulness starts by asking yourself this one question: what is one thing you are grateful for each day? Don't wait for a big circumstance in your life to take place to shift priorities. Make time to appreciate all that you have right now, in this moment. 

TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO LOOK UP AT THE SKY.

TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO LOOK UP AT THE SKY.

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. 

IMG_8741.JPG

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. 

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

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

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

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. 

 

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

 

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.

Happy Mother's Day From Papilia

Happy Mother's Day From Papilia

AMMU - AKA DELARA HYDER

AMMU - AKA DELARA HYDER

To the woman who taught me to be fearless. To the woman who encouraged me to pursue my dreams and passion for travel. 

My mother passed away on Feb 2nd this year. She (along with my Dad) always encouraged me to do what I believe in, to explore the world. Papilla has not been an easy venture to build like any other entrepreneurial endeavor, but my Ammu (Mom in Bengali) always told me that my hard work would pay off, and to never give up. 

It is through her positivity and belief (in me) that I am staying strong and will continue to make Papilla what I envision it to be. 

I am a result of her love for travel and exploration. I am a result of her persistence to ensure that her kids are strong and independent. Her teachings and morals stay with me everyday; and that will never die.   

To all the Moms out there: thank you for your nurturing guidance, patience, and love. 

To all the kids in the world: live life with thoughtfulness and appreciation. Live every day like it is your last, and show your Mom and Dad how much you love them. I will do the same personally and professionally. 

Happy Mother's Day! 

OUR FINAL FAMILY PICTURE TAKEN THE SUMMER OF 2015

OUR FINAL FAMILY PICTURE TAKEN THE SUMMER OF 2015

Rejuvenation Through Meditation

Rejuvenation Through Meditation

I will be the first to admit this: life is stressful. It does not matter what you do, who you are, or where you live. Most of us tend to have responsibilities and concerns that effect our daily lives. One responsibility we tend to neglect is our personal well being, not taking enough time for ourselves. If we just had one moment of peace...

A CBS Sunday morning clip about meditation inspired me to try this out for myself. I made a promise to take at least 10 minutes in the morning to meditate before starting my day. Mediation offers a wide variety of benefits to the human psyche and I can say from first hand experience that meditation has given me moments of peace everyday.

What I Do Every Morning:

I wake up, look outside the window, and set my intention for the day. Before checking emails, I use my mediation app to check in. I take into account how I am feeling, my state of mind, and choose the appropriate meditation for the day. (The Stop, Breathe Think app guides me to select these choices).

This Is How Those 10 Minutes Have Helped Me:

Peace and Clarity: I am reminded about the all the good things I have in life. How lucky I am to have family, friends, shelter, food, all the basic things we take for granted on a daily basis.

MEDITATION

MEDITATION

Focus: I eliminate all that extra noise that goes on in my head. I make clear action items for my day guided by the goals I set for the year.

FOCUS

FOCUS

Confidence: I remind myself that hard work and perseverance is always rewarded.

CONFIDENCE

CONFIDENCE

If You Are Interested In Meditation:

Meditation retreats are a great way to explore a new place while you take time to hit the reset button:

The Best Mediation Retreats in the US (Outside)

10 of the World's Best Meditation Retreats (CNN)

If you cannot book a retreat, and need a meditation app, here are our recommendations via Outside Magazine.

The Best Meditation Apps (Outside)

5 Tips for Coping with Long Layovers 

5 Tips for Coping with Long Layovers 

Whether you are a newcomer to the world of travel or an avid traveler, you are bound to experience a long layover in your lifetime. These layovers are typically tiring, especially when you may be jet lagged, or just want to get to your destination. The Papilla Team has developed five tips to help you cope with these long hours of obnoxiousness.

1. Be Patient + Have a Positive Attitude - Because, why not? Think about it this way, you cannot control the situation, so why not make the best of the situation? Having a positive attitude will help you pass time faster. You seldom have time to yourself, so take advantage of these moments of peace. I like to take time to write or meditate while watching the planes take off the runway. 

2. People Watch - The multitude of destinations and departures make airports the perfect venue for people watching. Find a comfortable spot at the airport and get your dose of international culture. 

3. Restaurant Hop - The transient nature of airports allow for diversity in cuisine. Choose at least three restaurants that you would like to experience, and try a small dish from each, or grab a drink and check to check out the vibe. 

47064759-Houston-Bush-Pappadeux-Seafood-Kitchen-Best-Airport-Restaurants-CNBC.600x400.jpg

4. Pack Lightly - The last thing you want to do upon arrival is wait for your luggage at baggage claim. Pack lightly so you can whiz through customs or through your regional airport. The Papilla Experts can help you with this.

5. Buy Your Fave Snacks Ahead of Time - There is comfort in having your favorite snack handy at any moment during your layover. The next time you have a flight go to your grocery store and remember to put your snacks on the list. Our personal favorites are the Original Goldfish, Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Pretzels and Kind Bars.  

Travel Unplugged

Travel Unplugged

Lesson learned for the week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: sometimes you NEED to travel unplugged.

For the Love of Travel

For the Love of Travel

Have you ever asked yourself what is stopping you from doing what you love? 

Do you even know what you love? 

Do you know what you are afraid of? 

I never asked myself these questions until 2010, and now I ask myself these three questions at least once a day. 

I’ll answer them right now for you.

Have you ever asked yourself what is stopping you from doing what you love? 

Initially, my fear of taking risks and feeling like I had to follow a societal norm stopped me from thinking outside the box. After years of asking myself this question, saving money, and quitting my job to do what I believe in, I’m starting to figure it out.   I started to pay attention to what made me happy and what made me a negative person. What made me love life was exploring a variety of cultures; using all my five senses to maximize each experience. I’ve never looked back and I am the happiest I have ever been, even if it requires a roller-coaster of ups and downs.

Do you even know what you love? 

I absolutely love to travel. I love to be creative, and I love having a flexible schedule that allows me to work hard and play hard. Papilla incorporates all these elements, and I’m willing to work hard to inspire other people to travel more and worry less. 

Do you know what you are afraid of? 

I’m afraid of failure. Intellectually I know it’s the best way to grow, but emotionally I don’t want to fail. I have a mini motivational moment every day. I remind myself that I am doing what I love and the decisions I make are my own. The world is truly my/your oyster.

I encourage you to ask yourself these questions; and I would be thrilled to hear your responses.

Do what you love. Life is too short.