20 March 2012

s p r i n g !

I just got back to NYC last week after my last trip abroad for EAT.PRAY.MOVE. There were two back-to-back retreats in Marrakesh, Morocco then I ended the trip with a few days in Provence, France scoping out a new location for another retreat this coming May.

...and I'll try to write about all of this soon...

Now, though, it's time to talk about spring! Today's the official first day of the season, and it's already stealing my heart. Each day there are changes in the blooms, colors, and fragrances - and I find myself walking as much as I can. Not to mention - the weather here has been incredible! Today it was 70+ยบ!

So I just wanted to share some of the beautiful scenes that made me smile as I wandered in and out of Central Park today, and a few other places in the city we happened upon in the past few days...

I always think fall is my favorite seasonal change, but then spring comes along and changes my mind. Even though it was an unseasonably warm winter here, it's still a welcome change to feel the sun on your shoulders.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like people are smiling more lately too. I think the sunshine and magnolias are to blame...


04 January 2012

happy 2012


We're already a couple days in to this new year and things are happening! There are things to look forward to, places to go, people to meet, and lots of time to be still...

Next week I start French lessons which I'm really looking forward to. I took French back in college for a little but then it fell by the way side especially when we were learning Italian. Now I feel like my Italian is at a good place where it will only help in my learning of French (with the patterns, conjugations, etc) and instead won't have to be forgotten to clear my brain for a new language. Plus, French will come in handy on my many trips to Morocco and the future retreats to France!

On the travel itinerary this year is a myriad of places...as for the EAT.PRAY.MOVE Yoga Retreats, I've started to break up the trips to seasonal times. This year there are six retreats planned so far...leading to my main goal of eight by next year. For this spring I have two in Marrakesh planned for February and March, then it's to Italy (Venice and Tuscany) in May, and back to Marrakesh in September as well as another week in Ischia.

In between all of this I hope to do some research trips for future retreats in new locations and climates! And then the big question I get is "Does Chris get to go with you on these?" Usually the answer is no, as he has a more regular vacation schedule, so we hope to go to a new place this year for both of us as our main holiday - either Iceland or Japan. Both of which we've always wanted to visit! We'll have to see how the year pans out.

I hope to be sharing some more exciting news soon in the way of yoga...lots of opportunities lie on the 2012 horizon. One of my goals and intentions that I wrote down for this year is just to be more organized with all of my daily tasks - actually have a systemized approach at getting things done. For some reason this quote has kept coming up in my mind. Funny that it's from Woody Allen, but to me it is partially how I'm going about this next year - showing up, being present, and doing it day after day.
"Eighty percent of success is showing up." —Woody Allen

29 December 2011

fall travels :: a look back

camel rides in Essaouira, Morocco

As promised in the last post, here is a bit more on my fall travels. Just about a month after moving to New York, I headed to Morocco for one of the EAT.PRAY.MOVE Yoga Retreats. Morocco has been on my 'must-visit' list for a while now and I was so excited to finally get to visit. The retreat was held at the boutique hotel Peacock Pavilions in Marrakesh, just outside the medina.

guests visiting sites in the medina

It was an amazing week with a great group of guests. Everyone got along so well and each day was filled with new sites, sounds, smells, and tastes. It's really a sensory overload in a culture like that. The food is more flavorful, the streets more full, the fabrics more colorful.

Peacock Pavilions

It was a week to remember....(and repeat! We have 2 more planned in Marrakesh for 2012)
VIDEO (email readers must click through to watch online)

At the end of that week I flew to Milan to meet up with my parents and another couple for my kick-off SOJOURNISTA Travel Stylist week. We'd all met back in the spring to go over any specific places, sites, or activities that they wanted to include in this 2-week trip, then I went to work organizing the personalized vacation. We ended up exploring the "waters of Italy"...

Varenna from the lake

from the LAKES where we stayed in Bellagio, and took the ferries around Lake Como to visit Varenna, Menaggio, and Lecco...

view of Venice from the ferry


and on to the CANALS of Venice, where we took in the city as well as the lagoon islands of Burano, Murano, and Torcello...

overlooking Florence

biking past vineyards

then inland to the famous Arno RIVER in Florence. Here I was able to guide them around one of my favorite cities, which feels like a second home to me. We even took a bike tour through the Tuscan hillsides to visit a winery...

beach in Monterosso

boats in Riomaggiore

and finally to the SEA where we spent several leisurely days in the lovely Cinque Terre before one final night in Milan as I said 'arrivederci' to them on their flight back to the States.

on top of the Duomo in Milan

sunset from the villa

view of Ischia from the Castello Arogonese

beach in Sant' Angelo

That same day, I traveled down to Ischia to prepare for the last yoga retreat of the season. As you know if you've read the blog for the past couple of years that Ischia is one of my favorite places. Positioned in the bay of Naples, this volcanic island was the perfect place to 'retreat'. As the guests arrived, we got to know each other and settled in for a week of good food, relaxing day-trips, thermal spas, and plenty of yoga overlooking the sea.
VIDEO (email readers must click through to view online)

I finished my 5-week long excursion with a few final days in Florence visiting friends, decompressing, and preparing for the return to home in NYC. It was a wonderful five weeks, full of adventure and thankfulness...but it was really nice to come home as well. Just in time for the fall weather, changing leaves, and settling into our new home...

22 December 2011

life summary :: fall, winter 2011

Life is crazy. Life is good. I'm not exactly sure all the reasons why I haven't been keeping up on this blog...some part may be that I've been working on other online projects that I've just neglected this one, some part may be that I've been a bit more present in real life than an online life, and some part may be that SO much has happened in the past 6 months that it's hard to try and sum it up in a post (or many posts) or even convey properly my feelings about experiences.

Whatever the reason - I'm going to do my best to do some year-end summary posts as I've had some special requests by multiple people for some blog updates on NYC life, my recent yoga retreats and travels, and other projects in general.

...so here goes...

I ♥ NY. Seriously, finally living in NYC feels like a great fit for this time in our lives, and what comes to mind most is "it was about time". There's an energy here unlike any other place, and at least for now is a very welcome energy that encourages and nudges for forward growth in me rather than a stressful hectic energy that's moving too fast. From the late summer until now the seasons have been so evident (especially right outside our window in Central Park) and something we haven't experienced in a long time. The park is my refuge and I feel so happy and lucky to live next to it. I've ended up being very involved in things that are on the west side, so I walk across the winding park paths almost everyday...and I'm not exaggerating that everyday it makes me smile.

Even though we've only been here for about four months, five of those weeks I was in Italy and Morocco for my fall EAT.PRAY.MOVE Yoga Retreats. These were the second season of the retreats and the weeks went so well - amazing guests, wonderful hosts and locations. It's really my dream job come true. I also spent two of the weeks abroad leading my first Sojournista Travel Style project...fully planning and being an on-site concierge and guide for four people (granted, two were my parents, but it was a great way to test out the services). We did a "Waters of Italy" personalized tour - from the lake region (Como, Lecco, Varenna, Bellagio) to the canals of Venice, then to Florence with the Arno River, and finally to the sea alongside the Cinque Terre. *MORE ON ALL THIS LATER*

Although it was an amazing five weeks, it was so very nice coming back home and really starting to get settled in here. Watching the holidays slowly descend on the city has been fun...I've already lost count of the times we've walked up and down 5th Ave to see all the store windows and lights. The annual NYC Marathon was fun to witness as it brought so much energy that pulsed through all 5 boroughs. And for Thanksgiving we went to the Carolinas to see our families and although it was nice getting out of the city - it was very nice coming back as well.

My parents came a couple weekends ago for their first time ever to NYC. We had four days packed with main (and not so main) sites. And we're getting ready for Chris' family around New Year's. It's still a bit unseasonably warm here, which I guess is helping us transition from the Florida winters - although I've enjoyed the colder days especially now that it's almost Christmas. And speaking of weather, we have experienced some weird natural occurrences since our arrival — an earthquake, a hurricane, and a sudden showstorm on Halloween weekend.

I'm looking back on my photos from the past few months to remember what I should mention, and really there is too much - so I'll just stop here for now and say that life is good. I'm grateful everyday. And I'm looking forward to 2012.

14 August 2011

making home of an apple

So....lots has happened since the last time I wrote! Life has been a bit crazy lately. Mostly all for good reasons, which helps to put things in perspective when stress levels tend to rise. I was gone to Italy for 5 weeks earlier in the summer to lead two of the EAT.PRAY.MOVE Yoga Retreats in Tuscany and do some research for the upcoming retreat to Ischia in October. During my time overseas we found out that we were officially moving to NYC! Long story short - it was for an amazing job opportunity for Chris and since it's a place we love and have talked about "one day" maybe, just maybe, living there - we figured this was a great chance that we couldn't pass up.

So on my way home from Italy, I had a layover already scheduled in New York and just ended up staying for a few days while I tried to find us an apartment. And yes, all the rumors are true - finding an apartment in Manhattan can steal your sanity. Luckily, a place (that we love) was finalized within a few days, and back to Florida I went to pack, pack, say goodbye, wrap up work, pack some more, and get ready for a 17+hr drive north...all within 3 short weeks.

By the first week of this month, we'd made it all the way up here with a moving van, 2 cats, no cars, not a lot of furniture, and a great deal of anticipation. Overall the trip was fairly smooth and we were able to stop for a couple of nights half-way up to visit with Chris' family as well. It's definitely a bit of a transition, but one that feels right and appropriate. Like it's the natural move for where we both were in our lives.

Moving from the ocean to a concrete city would have been a lot more intimidating if we weren't able to be so close to Central Park (which I adore). It's quite amazing to see it from our window and be able to step into the oasis of nature within a minute. We've already enjoyed lots of walks around our neighborhood - getting to know the area, find all the best and closest shops from groceries to coffee shops, check out a few good restaurants, pop in the MoMA, explore the trails in the park, and visit with friends.

Having quite a few friends already in the city helped us feel more at home and even a friend from St. Augustine has stopped by! The new place is all unpacked now and routines are forming. The new excitement may take a while to wear off (and maybe, hopefully, a bit will always be with me) - but for now I'm just truly trying to enjoy our time here, take it in, soak in what the city has to offer, not get overwhelmed...and if I start to - to just take a walk to Strawberry Fields.

Here's a little video of our first couple weeks...
(email readers must click through to watch online)

16 May 2011

torniamo ad ischia

Castello Aragonese off Ischia Ponte

Well, I think I've narrowed down one of my most favorite places ever - to a small(ish) island in the Bay of Naples. Ischia, where we visited last summer, had always enticed me, and now entices me even more since experiencing it firsthand. I found a partially abandoned building overlooking the ocean when we were there and tucked it away in the "maybe-one-day-I-can-make-that-a-yoga-studio-and-live-here-part-time" file in my mind.

view back over island from the Castello

There's something magical about this place for me - not only for the pre-Roman history, lush landscapes, natural thermal spas, small castles in the sea, or the dormant volcano which the whole of Ischia rests - but it largely has to do with the pure kindness of so many people there with whom we've come in contact. Plus, since it's a bit more off the grid than at least the main stops like Rome, Florence, and Venice, it feels a bit more authentic Italian and less touristy. Don't get me wrong, it definitely fills with travelers in the busy season, but a lot of the visitors are Italian or at least European. Second to Italian, German is next on the list instead of English. I'm sure you can get around just fine only speaking English (maybe if only as the people seem nice and patient enough to try and communicate with you even with a language barrier). But this is very appealing to me as it's a wonderful place to immerse myself in the language without the immediate "you're a tourist so you speak English" stereotype. This combined with the amazing hospitality we encountered and the breath-taking beauty of the island, it's easy to see why it's a place I've wanted to return.

As I'll be in Italy for a month coming up between June and July - for some further yoga training myself, and to lead two EAT.PRAY.MOVE Yoga retreats, Chris decided to join me for 2 of the weeks. I had one week completely free to travel, so during that time we're headed back to Ischia to explore even more of the island - plus scout out some locations and details for yet another EAT.PRAY.MOVE retreat I just announced today, taking place in Ischia in October.

The retreat will be at Villa Lina which overlooks the Mediterranean from the western coast of the island, I'm so excited to share all the things I love about this place with the guests. We'll be taking day trips to thermal spas, hiking up to Mount Epomeo for views over the entire bay, visiting famous gardens, and lounging at the beach. Plus enjoying daily yoga classes at the yoga space overlooking the sea. Can't wait!

A side note to all my blog readers...thanks so much for the support of the yoga retreats and helping me spread the word! I can't say how much I appreciate it. I'm thankful everyday to be able to do something I love: yoga + travel!

12 April 2011

yoga retreat in morocco

So as I posted *just yesterday* (I know can you believe it, 2 posts in 2 days?!) about some exciting things in store for 2011, here is one that some of you may not know, especially if you just follow me here on this blog. But the EAT.PRAY.MOVE Yoga Retreats are going so well and besides the extra week in Italy that I already wrote about, we also added a week in Marrakesh, Morocco in September! There's a few other things on the burner that I'll have to post about later...

For now, here is the post from the EPM blog which talks about the retreat.

The most recent big announcement is the addition of an exotic retreat in MARRAKESH, MOROCCO! Taking place SEPT 11-17, 2011, I'm so excited to add this to the growing EAT.PRAY.MOVE yoga retreats in the Mediterranean area.

This fantastic yoga retreat will take place at the fabulous Peacock Pavilions boutique hotel. Located in Marrakesh on 8.5 acres of land, including 5 acres of olive grove, this stylish and eco-friendly abode has been featured in worldwide publications, including National Geographic Traveler.

Breathtakingly beautiful and luxuriously designed, the living quarters where guests will stay during the retreat features gorgeous fireplaces and a glamorous bathrooms in each room. Each bedroom also has its own private terrace...just the right place to enjoy a minty tea or a zingy cocktail!

Guests will not only enjoy the grounds of Peacock Pavilions, the outdoor areas including a lovely pool, patio, private terraces, and covered yoga platform, but the retreat includes some amazing day-trips to the surrounding sites. A guided day in Marrakesh will lead guests through an introduction to Souqs and visits to sites such as Jardin Majorelle, Djema Al-Fnaa, Bahia Palace, and Saadian Tombs.

A full day will be spent in Essaouira, a historic fortified town on the Atlantic coast. Here we'll experience camel rides along the shore, yoga on the beach, meals on the docks, and plenty of exploring. The final full day entails a trip to the famous Bains de Marrakesh, a luxurious spa facility, where guests can be pampered to their heart's content (one treatment is included in retreat cost). What better way to wrap up a week of yoga than a day of pure relaxation.

Learn more about the Morocco Retreat HERE
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