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Local Escapes to Restore, Renew and Reflect!

This time of year we’re drawn to go inwards, to create new beginnings and transform old habits. Fall is a great time to make a shift – For health reasons or to boost immunity, to focus the mind how to accomplish new goals for the coming year, and uplift our spirits to reset our attitudes. Here are my favorite local escapes to amazing retreat centers that are guaranteed to nurture your body, mind and soul!

Esalen Institute – Big Sur, Ca

If you have never been to Esalen, prepare to be blown away! Situated on 27 acres of spectacular Big Sur coastline, The Esalen Institute was founded in 1962 as an alternative educational center devoted to the exploration of what Aldous Huxley called the “human potential”- the world of unrealized human capacities that lies beyond the imagination. Esalen soon became known for its blend of East/ West philosophies, its experiential/ didactic workshops, the steady influx of philosophers, psychologists, artists, and religious thinkers, and its breathtaking grounds and natural hot springs. Offering 500 workshops each year in a wide range of topics. For more info click HERE

Optimum Health Institute – San Diego, Ca

The Optimum Health Institute offers an amazing holistic approach to the treatment of cancer, heart disease and other terminal illnesses. Many friends and clients have gone or taken relatives for a week or month and return transformed – physically, mentally and spiritually. OHI provides a holistic healing program where participants cleanse and nourish the body with diet, fasting and exercise; quiet and focus the mind with journaling and meditation; and renew and awaken the spirit with study, prayer and celebration. For more info click HERE

The Blue Pearl – Laguna Beach, Ca

Created by two world-renowned yogis, Geo and Katresha, The Blue Pearl Laguna not only offers a calming and gorgeous escape, it also provides proven results. Nestled amongst the trees in Laguna Canyon, this twelve-bedroom, twelve-bath luxurious ashram offers single week and multi-week programs, designed to harness the transformative powers of yoga and nature. Enjoy pure organic food, daily yoga, hiking, massage and meditation. For more info click HERE

BACK TO LIFE ~ The inspiring true story of courage and the will to survive.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

In life we all will experience hardship and triumph, suffer through illness and celebrate another year of good health. Although, we all go through the ups and downs life brings, we never expect things to change so fast or to overnight lose control over it all.  Almost four years ago, I got a call from my mom that my beautiful, healthy, amazing cousin Penny was holding on to her life by a thread. I almost fell off my chair in shock and couldn’t believe it.

Penny was happily vacationing with her family in Palm Springs when she fell gravely ill. Her husband took her to the local hospital to get checked out and the doctor told her to take a few over the counter pills and sent her home. About six hours later, she returned back to the hospital barely able to walk and after they finally admitted her, she fell into a coma diagnosed with TSS, (Toxic Shock Syndrome) and was teetering on the brink of life and death.

Miraculously Penny survived and came back to life after 3 months of being in a coma. After overcoming many obstacles, years of pain and grueling rehabilitation she is thriving again.  A few months ago she wrote about her experience for the first time and it is such an unbelievable account of strength, courage and the will to survive. I hope that her story will inspire you as it continues to inspire me and will remind you not to sweat the small stuff in life.

Here is the link to Penny Fisher’s Story: Surviving a Coma AND Staying Fun Mommy

Why Organic Matters

As a health food advocate, vegetarian and environmental activist I always seem to get into heated discussions about why organic matters. There is either a lack of information out there, or plenty of false, biased information coming from the major food industries that want the monopoly of our food supply. Eating organic food and supporting organic farming is simply healthier for our bodies, the animals, the soil and the  planet! Here are my Top 5 reasons why organic matters.

1. Chemical Toxins – Conventionally grown crops are sprayed with significant amounts of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, and chemical fertilizers. Recent cancer rates are as high as one out of every two people and chemical toxins are a leading cause. To learn more click HERE

2. More Nutrients – Scientific evidence shows organic food to have far greater nutrient levels than conventionally farmed food. Although organic food is more expensive, you can’t put a price tag on good health. For more info click HERE

3. Healthier Livestock– Buying certified organic animal products ensures that the animals they came from were raised humanely and were not fed any chemicals, drugs, or hormones. Today, hundreds or thousands of factory farm animals are crammed into indoor warehouses, unable to move, forced to live in their own fecal matter, and never see natural sunlight. To learn more click HERE

4. Carbon Footprint – Research has found organic agriculture to be up to a 60% smaller carbon footprint than conventional. Soil is the foundation of the food chain and the primary focus of organic farming is to use practices that build healthy soils. In response to the rapid pace of global climate change caused by human activity, the Marin Carbon Project seeks to enhance carbon sequestration in range land, agricultural, and forest soils through applied research, demonstration and implementation. Click HERE to find out more.

5. On & Off Farm Pollution – Giant livestock farms, which can house hundreds of thousands of pigs, chickens, or cows, produce vast amounts of waste, often generating the waste equivalent of a small city. Industrial agriculture doesn’t singularly pollute farmland and farm workers; it also wreaks havoc on the environment downstream. Pesticide drift affects non-farm communities with odorless and invisible poisons. The elimination of polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, done in combination with soil building, protects and conserves water resources. Click HERE for more.

Apparel For Change ~ BE LOVE

Every now and then you come across a brand or company that is true to their advertising and really puts their money where their mouth is! BE LOVE is one of those companies who works to share resources that empower communities to create positive social change.

With a mission to educate, inspire and create social justice through the practice of nonviolence, BE LOVE designs original apparel that communicates a message of strength, compassion, and loving determination for peace. Their apparel is also fair trade, sweat shop free, eco friendly and use only organic and sustainable fabrics and materials.

In addition, they donate 10% of all sales to Common Peace, an organization that has created a powerful and comprehensive curriculum for inner city schools that has been designed to help teach the principles of peace, nonviolence, and conflict resolution. The remaining profits sustain BE LOVE and go towards building nonviolence workshops and teach-ins as well as funding campaigns of non-violent direct action.

I am a wearer and supporter of BE LOVE and have been for many years. As a massage and yoga practitioner, I can honestly say that I live and work in their t-shirts, both long and short sleeve.  They also have an adorable children’s line that make great gifts!

For more info and to shop away click HERE

The Book of Rose – Stories, Wisdom & Bubby-ism’s

After 3 years and countless interviews I have finally finished and self published ‘The Book of Rose’, a memoir about the life and legacy of my amazing ‘Bubby’,(Yiddish for Grandmother) Rose DuCaine.

The intention of this book was to capture her life story as well as her amazing wisdom and insights for our extended family and future generations to come. After our grandfather Abe ‘Zeyda’ passed away 5 years ago, I felt as though I still had so many questions and had missed an opportunity to document his life story.

Bubby Rose is a big inspiration in my life, I quote her all the time and still learn from her every day. I have always jokingly call her ‘para-normal’ because of her incredible health, stamina and longevity. Today, at the age of 94 she lives alone, maintains her home and is completely independent. She is in perfect health and takes hardly any medication. She doesn’t need or wear glasses, has all her own teeth and still goes out in heels! Inspirational, or what?

I admire, adore and appreciate her more than she knows and hope that this book will (in her own words) tell her story, share her wisdom and continue to pass on her legacy.

To preview or if you would to purchase – soft cover starting at $42 or download as a ebook for $6.99 – click HERE!

10 Daily Habits for Optimal Health & Happiness

After researching many top 10 lists from other journalists, doctors and researchers, here are my 10 daily habits for optimal health and happiness. (Not in any particular order)

1) Drink lots of water, 8 glasses per day.

2) Eat 3 to 5 clean, light, organic (whenever possible) and balanced meals. Consume fresh juices and foods rich in antioxidants.

3) Breathe fresh air. Take some time to enjoy the outdoors, the sun, the breeze or a great view.

4) Practice good oral hygiene, brush your teeth for 2 mins, twice daily and floss.

5) Be active, make physical activity part of your daily routine. Exercise 20 – 30 mins. Try to include some yoga, cardio or strength training.

6) Practice your passion or hobby, spend 30 -60 mins on what you love to do.

7) Practice mindfulness: For 1-10 mins be present, (think positive thoughts) breathe deeply and smile.

8) Spend quality time with your family and friends.

9) Find joy, purpose and meaning in your work even on tougher days.

10) Be productive. Get something done for yourself and do something for others.

What are your favorite daily habits that bring you happiness? I would be interested in learning some from you!

The Devine Designs of Brooke Benson

Brooke Benson is one of my all time favorite jewelery designers. Her style is original, with ethnic influences and simple but creative flair.  There is a distinct characteristic that is captured in each design, revealing a uniquely raw, yet refined elegant style. Using spiritual symbols, gold, silver, rare one of kind pieces, wood and semi-precious stones, her jewelry is designed to adorn perfectly to those who wear it.

My personal favorites are the long necklaces from her Ancient Charm Collection. I have about three of them and can’t go anywhere with out someone stopping me to compliment it or ask how and where to get one. Her earrings are also fabulous and she is even doing custom rings! Click HERE to get to her site Brooke Benson Designs and for more info.

Brooke Bensone Designs

Eat Smarter

The newest release from one of my favorite nutrition authors, Michael Pollan. ‘Food Rules’ an eater’s manual, is a brilliant unconventional diet book for those of us who want to have healthier eating habits, but find it hard to navigate the confusing science of nutrition or tried many different diets that don’t last.  This book offers a welcome simplicity to our daily decisions about food and how we eat.

The health care crisis is in large part a crisis of the American diet of  processed food, refined grains and sugars, too much meat and lack of vegetables, whole grains and fruit.  Roughly three quarters of the two-trillion plus we spend on health care in this country goes to treat chronic diseases, most of which can be prevented by a change in lifestyle, especially diet.  Michael’s “Rules” are not framed in the vocabulary of science but rather culture and a source of wisdom about eating that turns out to have as much, if not more, to teach us than nutritional science does. Here are his top five and my favorites!

1. Eat food
2. Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
3. Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry
4. Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup
5. Avoid food products that have some form of sugar (or sweetener listed among) the top three

Click HERE for more info on the author and to buy!

The Magic of MYSTIC MAMMA

Created and curated by the visionary Mijanou Montealegre, MYSTIC MAMMA will delight, inspire and uplift you! A daily fount of wisdom, vision and beauty weaving a web of consciousness and connectivity.  Reflecting the creative and intuitive aspects of reality and the wisdom of the Divine Feminine. Updated daily, it’s an ever flowing resource of inspiration, and a craft fully woven web of spiritual memory gems.

For women, mammas and soul searchers this site will blow you away and is such a gift to us all!  Click HERE and Enjoy.

Desert Blues

Tinariwen, ‘Tassili’

As a lover of world music I was floored when I first heard a track from this album while listening to KCRW. Tinariwen, the Saharan, nomadic blues-rock group’s new album Tassili strides across several genres to produce something so unsettling and so good that you just might feel you are hearing something in music for the first time, something from the cellar of your heart.

For this release they’ve invited in a few friends as well. Nels Cline contributes a beautiful guitar to opener “Imidiwan ma Tennam”, two members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band add rough texture to “Ya Messinagh”, and TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe, who traveled out to the desert recording site, are on hand on five songs, adding subtle backing harmonies and even a bit of lead vocal on one song.

A world music favorite this year and a strongly recommended must buy! Also, don’t miss them live if you get the chance.  For more info click here!

I am always searching for new world music, if you know of a great album that you think I should check out please share!