Winter Journeys Continued…

Onward to Jackson Hole, WY winter wonderland! Jackson Hole with its rustic charm, embraced my heart, tantalized my taste buds and brought out the wildlife enthusiast in me!  My husband Ben and I took a road trip from Big Sky, MT, thru Yellow Stone, into Idaho, then thru the breath-taking Teton Pass…ultimately ending at our destination, Jackson Hole.  What a beautiful & adventurous 3 hour drive it was! Winter road conditions were present, though it was slow to go, the safe pace allowed us to really take our time and soak up the vast and mesmerizing landscape.   In this post, I will introduce you to a new mountain luxury, “family owned” boutique hotel. Scrumptious local restaurants where “soul” is the common ingredient used. A journey to The National Elk Refuge & conservation, and lastly our experience down the steep and deep terrain of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.  Whether you are looking for the authentic vibe of the historic western town or deep connection in Mother Nature…I hope this post will guide you to the amazing local places found off the beaten path of tourism.

Hotel Jackson: Located in the Heart of downtown Jackson Hole just steps from the famed antler arches on the Town Square.  After browsing the internet for several days looking for a place for us to stay, I finally found the hidden gem!  Hotel Jackson just opened its doors a little over a year ago, HJ is a local family owned and operated luxury boutique hotel. Cool fact: HJ is LEED certified.  Upon checking in I was greeted by Sadek Darwiche, director of operations. Sadek spoke passionately about his family roots in Jackson and why his father Jim Darwiche purchased and opened their first business back in 1978 called Crazy Horse Indian Jewelry. I read a really good article on Jim Darwiche; … Jim is from Lebanon and first came to Jackson in 1977. The article states, “it was love at first sight” for Jim once arriving to Jackson. With Jim creating numerous successful business ventures in Jackson, the family had a vision of opening a boutique hotel offering modern amenities blending with western charm. Fast forward to 2015 the Darwiche family dream now became their reality. The attention to detail in Hotel Jackson does not go unnoticed, as you can feel the family’s intention in creating such a special place. Hotel Jackson guest are not only welcomed but embraced with the authentic passion and connection the Darwiche family has in Jackson.

“Touring his new country by way of Volkswagen bus, Jim Darwiche’s wanderlust brought him to Jackson Hole in 1977.” –

Hotel Jackson room: We stayed on the third floor and asked for a room with a balcony. Upon entering our room I instantly appreciated the modern décor with soft western elements of reclaimed wood walls.  There is a minimalistic fireplace that adds ambiance and purposeful warmth.  A small sitting area to cozy up and read a book or enjoy a glass of wine.  The bed was heavenly.  Linens were high thread count, mattress was on point in balance with firmness and softness. Loved the throw pillows that brought Jackson wildlife inside the space. There is a decent amount of storage, including drawers under the bed.  A nice added amenity HJ offers is complimentary ski chalet that will hold all your ski and snowboard equipment, keeping the bulky and wet stuff warm and dry in their climate controlled storage room.

HJ Bathroom: Thoughtfully designed with functionality. There is a nice soaking bathtub and big glass shower.  Great lighting also! HJ also offers one of my favorite apothecary brands; L’Occitane bath and body products.

HJ roof top hot tub: located on the third floor, with mountain views and hot water to sooth your achy muscles. Wonderful way to end the day while soaking up glow of the evening sunset cascading on the snowy mountain tops.


HJ Library: an exquisite and cozy space to relax and find a good book to read!  With a large gas fireplace and comfy lounge furniture to get lost in. The walls are adorned with native American artifacts, energy of the library is very zen and peaceful.  This was a space that was unexpected yet so much appreciated. Well done HJ!

Figs Restaurant & Bar: Ben and I had our last dinner in Jackson at Figs, Hotel Jackson Restaurant…we both were so glad we did, the food is AMAZING.  Cozy & modern ambiance unite together.  The sound of the crackling wood burning fireplace enveloped the room. FIGS, a Mediterranean-inspired Wyoming fare restaurant using  of the freshest local and regional ingredients.

 Figs, The MEZZE PLATE: yum, yum, yum!!! We ordered the Mezze Plate- hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush and fresh, warm pitas made from scratch! I have a very dear friend in AZ, Micheline Etkin with Lebanese-Brazilian heritage. Micheline has introduced me to her rooted culinary creations… Figs reminds me of her delectable heartfelt dishes made with love.  So if looking for authentic, fresh Mediterranean inspired food, Figs is a must to experience.

We also ordered Figs signature cocktail : LEBANESE LEMONADE – Grand Teton potato vodka, orange blossom, mint, lemonade, another must try!

Jackson Hole local restaurants: Ben and I really enjoyed the variety of quality local restaurants in Jackson: A small Thai restaurant located right behind HJ – A bakery that is sure to satiate anyone’s appetite and healthy high vibe eatery. Below is the “must visit” list for local food when in Jackson Hole:

1. Persephone Bakery: 

2. Lotus Organic Café:

3. Thai Plate:

4. D.O.G: A tiny hole in the wall place with awesome breakfast burritos! It’s a local fave, we went twice while staying in Jackson. Perfect meal on the go when heading to the mountain to ride.

5. Coco LOVE: AMAZING Hot chocolate & artisan desserts. Located just accros the street from Hotel Jackson. A sweet indulgeance that needs to be savored!

National Elk Refuge: What an experience we had visiting the Elk Refuge! Ben had done some research the night before we went.  We knew we were taking a day off from snowboarding and wanted to explore the land.  Ben had read about sleigh rides thru the Refuge to get up close to the Elk herd, we both thought what an incredible way to witness these majestic creatures.  We walked to the National Elk Refuge center from HJ, signed up for the sleigh ride that was to take place within the next hour.  We toured the center, which provided in-depth information on all the animal species within the conservatory.  A shuttle came to pick the group up to head out to the snowy pastures.  It was a bitterly cold day, but we had prepared and bundled up with protective layers of Smartwool and snowboarding gear.  It was a quick 10 min shuttle ride to the refuge where the sleigh rides awaited.  It almost felt fairytalish seeing these beautiful statuesque horses in the wintry setting.  Once we got on the sleigh, we were given thick, warm wool blankets to cover up.  Our guide was wonderfully knowledgeable with the Elk herd, the wildlife, and his horses that took us on the winter journey thru the refuge.  Highly recommend when visiting during the winter, sleigh rides run thru April.


Inversion Yoga Studio:  What’s a trip without hitting up a local yoga space? At least for us – it’s a must on our list.  When traveling, it is so nice to be able to get grounded, make time for an inward journey and stretch out the body.  Inversion yoga also is within walking distance of HJ.  Great space with wonderful teachers!  Inversion Yoga has a cute boutique shop where you can find some local bath salts, yoga attire, soulful books etc. 

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: Well this has been on our bucket list of places to snowboard!  We have heard from friends and read numerous articles that this is where you go for steep and deep! With already over 400 inches of snow this winter season, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort gets socked in with the powdery white fluff!  The terrain is steep and wildly adventurous…we loved it!  They just added the new Sweetwater Gondola that takes you up to Casper’s Restaurant. Also, the Sweetwater now provides access to a new and enhanced children’s ski school facility. Fun for all ages and skill levels.

I look forward to returning to Jackson Hole in the summer and explore the Grand Teton National Park.  If any of these journeys speak to your soul, I encourage you to listen, feel and go! Life is just waiting to be experienced…Enjoy your travels inward and Onword!

With love and gratitude,

Stacey Leigh Barnes


Big Sky Winter Journeys

Happy New Year everyone!!! I hope 2017 is feeling wonderfully expansive,  supportive & wildly intentional for an amazing year ahead! I just returned home from a snowy vacation full of Big Sky, Montana exploration and some much-needed restorative down time.  Ringing in the New Year in unchartered land for me offers expansion and openness to dream into the unknown. This New Year’s Eve, I decided to go to Montana during the winter for the first time and oh what a wintry wonderland journey it was…

My husband and I are winter adventure enthusiasts – snowboarding, hiking fishing, and we’ve even tried snow shoeing…we love to get out in nature when the white fluff falls.  Have you noticed that when it’s snowing how truly quiet it becomes?  It’s almost as if time stops; there is a stillness that just holds a sort of introspective space. Living full-time in AZ also invokes the desire for us to get out and explore new wintry destinations.  When I was “feeling” into where to go for our New Year trip, I was drawn to Montana.  I journeyed there with my husband last July for the first time and fell in love with the land and wildlife. Glacier National Park is astonishingly wondrous! I thought…we should explore Montana in the winter.  Big Sky Resort was calling to us for snowboarding, BAM…that’s where I started to look for places to stay.  I came across a historic homestead called Rainbow Ranch Lodge located in the Gallatin Valley just 10-12 min from Big Sky Resort.

Since it was our first time to Big Sky,  it took some time to navigate on where to explore.  My intention for this blog post is to create a little road map on  special places where we’ve connected and hope you will too; from the rustic charm of Rainbow Ranch Lodge, to the vastness of Big Sky Resort, to some yummy local restaurants full of Montana character.  We even found an awesome yoga studio with grounding energy & beautiful views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains. Below is some detailed information on our Montana Journey; which I hope may be useful and offer some guidance if Big Sky, Montana is calling to you.

Rainbow Ranch Lodge: Nestled along the Gallatin River and surrounded by Rocky Mountains. Rainbow Ranch was originally built in 1919 and named “The Halfway Inn” because of its location halfway between Bozeman and West Yellowstone; RR Lodge has undergone many changes in its 90+ year life. Rainbow Ranch Lodge now is an award winning, luxury lodge resort that combines the rugged West with high quality amenities and recreation under the Big Sky.

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Summer HeyDay memories

With December’s cold weather brewing and the New Year upon us, I’d like to share a warm summer journey intended to inspire travels for 2017. Back in late July, a fellow soul sister, Dusti, and I journeyed to Bainbridge Island, WA for a weekend Heart Awaking workshop created by Elisa Romeo.  Having never been to Bainbridge before I was excited to start the search for place to stay during our soul connective retreat.  After spending a day navigating the web I found a charming historic farm called Heyday

HeyDay Farm is a family-owned 25- acre sustainable & historic farm.  When I called Heyday to get more specifics on staying in the beautifully restored farm house, I spoke to Tadao Mitsu, executive chef.  Tadao passionately shared about the historic farm and the accompanying scrumptious farmhouse breakfast. I knew once chatting to Tadao that Heyday would be the place to stay. From the dairy creamery located on the property to sustainable farm land… this would be our home away from home for the weekend.Heyday FarmHeyDay FarmHeyDay FarmHeyDay FarmWhen booking our rooms I worked with Shari Stoddard – HeyDay Farm Host, she was a wealth of information on Bainbridge and did a wonderful job making us feel right at home upon our arrival.

To get to Bainbridge Island it is necessary to take a ferry from Seattle.  We knew this “girl’s trip” was going to be mysterious & transformative. Our plane had landed in Seattle Thursday evening; we hopped in our rental car & made it just in time to take the 7pm ferry to Bainbridge. Once leaving the dock, Seattle’s skyscrapers were softly illuminated from the sunset. Looking west, we could see Bainbridge Island with a glowing sunset painted sky. I knew our soulful journey had begun.Bainbridge Island Ferry

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Beautiful…what does this word mean to you? In our society, beauty is seen thru external perfected imagery.  From airbrushed models in magazines, to perfectly casted commercials and flawlessly edited social media posts.  It’s no wonder how beauty has become defined by outward appearance.  My question is this, “How do we take off our tainted lenses of preconceived external acceptance and see the true beauty illuminating within each of us?”

This post is about my personal inward journey; I am 36 years old and just now awakening to who I authentically am.  Meaning, I am stripping myself of all self-imposed labels that I’ve thought define me.  I am letting go of who I once dreamed to be…as my dreams were not from my heart but from my head.  I can say this; I have always felt like a free spirit that doesn’t quite fit in to the normalcy.  So I’ve adapted, shapeshifted and molded myself into what I thought would be accepted – I was choosing to lead with my mind.  There is much falsity that resides in this eggoic head space; it’s full of deception, fear and judgement.  Though I sensed I was being accepted and heard; I never really was.  People can’t love you fully, see you entirely and accept you with respect until you show up as your authentic, soul embodied self.  As I’m writing this, I ask myself why it has taken this long to awaken to the discernment between expectations & truth.  I thought that perhaps by sharing my personal navigation into self-love, this might resonate with some.  And even if it doesn’t, somehow this post is a part of my growth, putting it all out there to speak my truth. 

I’d like to share some of my background, as a good chunk of my life was all based on outward image. There was an impactful time in my life when a big shift happened.  It was the summer of 1992; I recently had my braces removed & celebrated my 12th birthday.  That summer I also experienced a significant growth spurt; I went from 5’7 to 5’10 in three months.  All of a sudden I hugged my Mom and she was shorter than I…it was an odd felling. Later in the summer I started middle school, 7th grade. I would walk down the hallways to class and towered over all of the kids; I felt all eyes on me…I stuck out like a sore thumb! I actually would hunch over trying to “fit in” and not be noticed.  I felt very insecure and self-conscious, both physically and emotionally.  Ironically one afternoon at the mall, my Mom was approached by someone asking if I might have an interest in modeling.  I couldn’t believe it, as I never envisioned myself as “beautiful”. I didn’t think much of it at the time but my Mom did.  She could see that I was struggling in school and wasn’t involved in sports or other activates, so she asked me, “Are you interested in modeling?”  I remember thinking, I do love fashion & I’m not doing anything else, why not give it a shot.  Though I also remember fear coming thru and asking myself, “Can I handle the rejection or can I live up to the high perfection standards?”

That fall at 12 years old, I signed with a modeling agency in Las Vegas.  I did my first photo shoot and felt odd and super intimidated.  I also had my first runway casting for Niemen Marcus, to my surprise I booked it!  Brooke Shields was a guest model in the fashion show; I was beyond excited and nervous at the same time.  While rehearsing for the runway show I worked with a wonderful man who would be my mentor for years to come, David Cordoza.  He took me under his wing and taught me every runway walk you could imagine, and this is an understatement – “no one could walk better in stilettos then David!”  Before I knew it, I was working constantly in print and runway in Vegas and LA.  I had to start home schooling because I had too many absences at public school from working. Honestly, I loved being home schooled because I never felt accepted in school.  Also I never have been the scholastic type.   As I started the home correspondence testing, I found out I had a learning disability, I am dyslexic.  After being diagnosed with Dyslexia, I had clarity on why I always felt so confused in class and struggled with reading, testing, etc.  Thankfully I found this out and I actually applied myself to read more and came to an understanding, “I’m not dumb, I just learn differently”.  My mom was very supportive and never made me feel “less than”… in fact, she encourages me to see the good in Dyslexia. This is my gift to experience life as being unique and not like everyone else.

Stacey Leigh - Onword Journeys

Three years into my modeling career I had signed with multiple agencies in LA, NY, and Miami.  My Mom gave me strong guidance and fundamental tools to treat my career as my own business.  Though modeling wasn’t a true passion of mine, I learned so much about fashion, it created travel opportunities and taught me how to stay grounded & rooted in my core values.  Working in a superficially based industry can lead you down many different paths. Honestly I saw so much self-destruction with others; I think it scared me enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.

One of my favorite cities that I worked in was San Francisco, I moved there at 18.  I ended up living in SF for a year, enjoyed the balance of work and exploration of the charismatic city. In 1999 I decided to move back home to Arizona where my parents where living. AZ is where I meet my husband Ben – I was 19 years old; he was a hairstylist. Flash forward 17 years & we are still together and just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary…oh what a journey it has been!  Ben has a beautiful daughter named Sierra, she was 6 when I meet her and is now is a successful & thriving 23 year old living in CA.  I married Ben when I was 22, it was comforting to put my energy into my family vs just career.  Into my mid 20’s modeling just wasn’t feeling right anymore, I was tired of extreme dieting and having to look a certain way for others.  I found myself yearning for more challenge, creativity and to work from within.


At 27, I decided to retire from the modeling industry – I can’t describe how freeing it was to “let go” of my modeling career.  Yet I’d be lying if I didn’t also share how fearful it was to shift my energy into unchartered territory of simply “being” Stacey.   Modeling was all I knew, it paid my bills and gave me a sense of purpose for 15 years.

I had a potential new business opportunity that would support my transition from modeling into entrepreneurship.  My Mom, Donna Hansen had been hand-crafting our family toffee and selling at local farmers markets.  I worked with her in production and sales during the busy holidays.  I presented to her my interest to grow and expand the toffee brand.  Neither of us knew what we were getting into but working together was a win, win! 9 years later we are still in the biz of making toffee; our company is called Goodytwos Toffee Company.  We’ve had the pleasure to be featured on the cooking channel show called Food Crafters

“”Our toffee is hand crafted with a double dose of vitamin L-O-V-E… our cure for the common toffee”.


So here I am today, writing a blog post for my travel/lifestyle blog that I created in the fall of 2015. The irony in my bog is that I am tapping into and exposing my feeling of inadequacy due to my dyslexia…writing!  My little blog has created a space for me to share freely and shine from within. 

“It’s time to honor my imperfections, allow my quirkiness to show thru it’s own beauty and to own it”!

As I reflect back on certain stages in my life which include my modeling career, being a wife/ homemaker, a small biz owner. These are all labels that I have attached to myself; they are valuable and important relationships and experiences in my life.  But I’ve come to the realization that they do not define me, I must define me. It’s scary to say that because I have to ask the question…“am I enough???”am-i-enough-onword-journeys

This is where my self-discovery process has begun.  I’m not suggesting to abandon your dreams and to not set big goals; these are important building blocks to grow and evolve, they create drive within us.  What I am suggesting is this, take time to really get quiet and listen to the inner guidance from your heart space not your head.  Our minds are always going, going, going and can have big ideas and also create big fears.  If we quiet our minds and simply focus on just being present and conscious, there is wisdom and guidance waiting to be received based from truth and love.

I recently read an incredible book called “Meet Your Soul – A Powerful Guide to Connect with Your Most Sacred Self “ by Elisa Romeo.  I can’t tell you how impactful this book has been on my soul awakening journey!  I have also attended 2 workshops guided by Elisa Romeo, one in Scottsdale and one most recently in Bainbridge, WA held in Elisa’s Soul Barn. The retreat was so powerful, full of deep conscious soul connection and inner self knowing. 

“Instead of making decisions based on safety, security, or practicality, the Soul wants us to live our lives according to what we find to be most beautiful.” – Elisa Romeo

eart Awakening Soul Barn- Elisa RomeoHeart Awakening Retreat- Elisa RomeoHeart Awakening Retreat- Elisa Romeo- Onword Journeys

There are many books, workshops, groups and activities that can support us all on living into our authentic being.  I encourage anyone who this is connecting with this post to make the time and create the space for self-love…YOU deserve this.  If we take away the labels and external acceptance and then replace them with inner knowing, our self-imposed filter is lifted.  We’re no longer viewing ourselves thru tainted lenses, instead we see with clarity and shine our higher selves.  Our true beauty is revealed. 

“May we all have the courage and vulnerability to live into our most authentic, Be-YOU-tiful self”.

With love and gratitude,


Stacey Leigh Barnes- Onword Journeys

Big Sky Glamping

What are your thoughts on camping?  How about gathering around a crackling fire, connecting with friends/loved ones thru good conversation under the starlit sky…sounds of the flowing river soothing your soul?  Imagine adding a little juxtaposition to your camping adventure with luxurious comforts that feature a big canvas tent with a private wooden deck overlooking the Black Foot River.  Inside your large tent awaits a plush king bed, cozy sitting area and a full private bathroom with heated floors, spacious shower and two sinks.  Electricity to offer light and connectivity with your mobile devices (if you choose) seals the deal. Then falling asleep listening to Mother Nature’s lullabies and awaken to the sun illuminating your tent with a soft glow and warmth.  No need to grocery shop and load up a cooler, in this juxtaposed camping journey your meals are prepared by your private camp chef using organic and locally sourced produce.  How does all this sound? Too good to be true?  This experience does exist and has a name, it’s called…Glamping!  The first luxury ranch resort to actually create and offer this rustic yet luxurious glamping experience is called The Resort at Paws UPThe Last Best PlaceRiver Camp Pavilion- Paws Up- Onwordjourneys

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Glacier National Park, MT

“Awe-inspiring” and picturesque photos of Glacier National Park have been flowing thru my Instagram feed this year. One mesmerizing photo after another have been coming thru, month after month… I knew my soul journey to Montana needed to happen soon.  Though my husband and I had never been to Montana before, we could hear Montana beckoning us.  We’re both small business owners in the Phoenix valley, during the summer months each of us experience a decline in business, especially with my company.  We’ve turned this “down time” into our opportunity to travel and get out of the AZ heat.  While doing my research on places to explore and stay in Montana, I found an amazing place called Paws Up where you can experience “glamping”, basically lux camping … more on this gem coming up in my next blog post.

The beginning of our Montana Journey, first 2 days were set aside for the breathtaking Glacier National Park.  I had 2 things to get figured out. First, where will we stay in Glacier, and second which one of the 700 miles of hiking trails would we pick?  Thanks to google, it makes this searching process pretty darn easy.  By reading other blogs I get inspired and read good info on personal experiences on hiking, food, hotels etc. – this is what makes the web community so awesome & connective. We are all here to share our journeys, and at the same time provide a glimpse of what may be of interest to you, the reader.  Sending a big thank you to all of the brave souls who write, explore and share so freely!

Belton Chalet Glacier National Park

Where to stay in Glacier? Well, there are lots of options from affordable motels to some historic lodges actually located in Glacier National Park. You can even camp if you’d like. For us we were really only there 2 nights and for one full day, a nice cozy bed and warm shower was all that was needed after a full day’s adventure in Glacier.  I found the Belton Chalet located just outside of the west entrance of Glacier National Park.  This historic lodge was built by the Great Northern Railway in 1910.

“Taken by the surroundings, Louis W. Hill, son of the Great Northern Railroad magnate James J Hill, imagined a series of lodges, chalets & camps that would funnel wealthy railroad passengers from the East to magnificent mountain vistas, rivaling the great tours of Switzerland. In 1909 the Great Northern Railway authorized construction of a new depot at Belton & a 42×37′ hotel to be located adjacent to it.-

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L’Auberge de Sedona

I wanted to share one of my all-time favorite luxury boutique hotels – L’Auberge de SedonaI’ve had the pleasure to stay at L’Auberge resort 3 times with my husband…it’s a luxurious investment for my mind, body and soul. 

L’Augerge is located on the banks of majestic Oak Creek in Sedona, AZ.  There are numerous room & cottage options like the Vista cottages with beautiful views overlooking the painted Red Rocks of Sedona.  Or the Creekside Cottages where you can be lulled to sleep by the sound of the running creek.  I’ve always stayed in the Creekside Cottages and this time I stayed in “what I would consider” one of the best cottages on the property, cottage number 6.  However there is a row of three cottages, numbers 5, 6 & 7 that are the most private and closest to the creek, you can’t go wrong with either of the three.


Notable fact #1: I want to mention that L’Auberge just went under beautiful renovations in the summer of 2015 including all cottages, main lodge and both restaurants on the property.  As I mentioned, I’ve stayed here twice before and fell in love with the property but now with the updates…L’Auberge is at its best!!!

Notable fact #2: L’Auberge is pet friendly!  We brought our boxer pup, Ellie May.  L’Auberge is wonderfully welcoming to dogs; when arriving at our cottage, Ellie sniffed her way to her own “treat bag” full of goodies.  Have to say Ellie May was just as spoiled as we were… she was in pup heaven!


L’Auberge Creekside Cottages :These cottages have a large expansive deck overlooking Oak Creek, perfect place to read a book enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of wine, practice yoga.  The interior of the cottages have vaulted ceilings, cozy wood burning fireplaces, heavenly beds and linens, bright, fresh bathrooms with; wait for it…AMAZING outdoor private cedar showers!!! To shower under the sun, moon and starry night sky is truly soul connective. The outdoor shower has a rain shower head with hot water – easing your muscles; add the fresh air and the view of the sky above and all your embodied senses are ignited.  Honestly there are no words…you just have to experience it for yourself.

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Journey to Peru

My journey to the sacred land of Peru ignited a deeper passion for travel and self expansion for me.  I experienced a spiritual awakening  as I met the loving, kind souls native to Peru; hiking the land, visiting the ruins and learning about the ancient mythology of the Incas.  Pachamama  (Earth/Mother- is the goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes)  holds a healing energy that I hope all who are being called can journey to & embrace.

Machu Picchu in Peru has been on my “dream list” of travel journeys. I honestly didn’t think I would travel there for another  3-5 years.  As all opportunities come knocking, some at unexpected times, Peru did just that.  Good friends of ours and highly respected AZ yoga instructors, Desiree Lapre Grobstein and Anton Mackey were hosting a Peru yoga retreat.  We have previously journeyed on one of their yoga retreats 2 years ago in Tulum, MX.  We had an amazing soul connective experience and met so many new friends, whom we are still very close with today.  We found out about the yoga retreat in Peru with our soul family, answered the knock at the door and eagerly said yes!

Peru culture

It took me a couple of weeks to fully digest that we were actually going to Peru, not to mention Desiree and Anton’s retreats  happen to fall on our wedding anniversary, June 21st.  My husband and I choose not to do gifts for each other, instead we invest in travel!  Traveling offers us time to connect, to expand and learn…creating truly eternal memories.  Peru was certainly an awesome way to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary!  Interestingly, June is winter in Peru, as here in the states June is our summer.  My husband picked our wedding date, June 21st because it is the “summer solistice”- longest day of the year.  In Peru June 21st is their “winter soltice”, shortest day of the year.  On top of all of this, June 21st  2016 also was a full moon!  Needless to say, there was some amazing  full moon, winter solstice, Peruvian energy happening on our anniversary.


The land and culture in Peru is colorful, filled with heart and purity.  We flew into Lima, then into Cusco (first of the Incan sacred cities) and took a two-hour bus ride to the Sacred Valley where our resort, Willka Tika resides. We drove thru winding roads in the mountains and thru tiny alleyways in the villages.  The bus ride itself was very adventurous.  On our way to the resort we stopped in an area that had an outlook on the vast mountains.  There were also some local artisans selling their handmade, colorful goods, and sweet children holding baby sheep & alpacas.  They are there to take photos with you,  all they ask for is a Sol (Peru’s currency) in exchange for a picture.  It was a wonderful start to our Peru vacation.

Willka Tika Resort: The local Quechua Staff  “who are like family”,  as well as the locally sourced, sustainable food were truly an experience I will never forget… AMAZING!  Carol Cumes is the owner and founder of Willka Tika,  our group had the pleasure of Carol walking us thru her extraordinarily beautiful & lush Seven Chakra Gardens. Each garden contains symbols, shapes, sculptures and medicinal plants that resonate with one of the seven chakras, or energy centers, of the human body.  Carol shared the history of Willka Tika and what inspired her to build this healing retreat center.

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Wanderlust Festival-Soul Sister Vacation

I just came back from a beautiful “soul connective” girl’s vacation in Bundville, Vermont.  I have a sacred soul sister group, every year we plan a girl’s getaway to keep our connection strong, and our bond tight.  This year we chose the Green Mountain State, Vermont.  So why Vermont?  Well, there was certainly something that led us there.  A yoga festival called Wanderlust, the weekend of June 18th and we all just happened to be free for some vacation time.  With Wanderlust calling us and our open availability… all energies aligned just right to find our “True North” Wanderlust journey.

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When looking for lodging in Bundville, my girlfriends know that I have a passion on finding places to stay… they kindly delegated this task to me.  I eagerly got online and searched hotels and rentals.  Came across a charming renovated farmhouse rental on VRBO located in the cozy town of Bundville, VT.  Bundville is located at the base of Stratton Mt. where the festival is held, only 8- 10 min drive to our daily yoga adventures at Wanderlust.

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The Farm house rental is called “Rolling Hills” so appropriately named… as Vermont is full of picturesque vast green rolling hills.  The Rolling Hills farm house was super charming, Kim the owner is also an interior designer- which is apparent when entering the home.  The farm house was filled with natural light and contained a warm, cozy & embracing energy.  Kim did such a wonderful job with updating for modern conveniences, and left the character of the home intact with the original wood floors & spindle staircase.  Furniture was good quality and comfy.  The kitchen was our hub for connection; food, wine and good conversation.  We also used the outdoor hot tub, so nice to soak after practicing yoga all day at the festival.  Just happened that the full moon was upon us, our nights were illuminated by the luminescent moon.  The farm house has 5 bedrooms and 2 baths, which suited us perfectly as a group of 6 and would be great for families.

PicMonkey CollageWanderlust Festival – This was our first time to experience and I can say we all really enjoyed the classes, teachers and attendees.  All involved were there with open hearts, sharing their journeys that brought them to Wanderlust and the spiritual practice of yoga.  Wanderlust has done a great job of building a community of like-minded hearts and souls.  Not only was there a plethora of yoga classes available, they also offered “speak easy” classes, amazing local food vendors, and awesome clothing & apparel companies from all over the country.  Our bodies were stretched, our souls were connected, our bellies were happily full and our wardrobes grew. 

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In Remembrance

Honoring those who have sacrificed their lives & freedoms for our own.

Today I wanted to share a business that supports and honors our military troops and spouses. R. Riveter American Handmade bags are a business filled with heart and honorable intention.  So what is it that is so special about these American handcrafted bags?

R.Riveter is owned by Military spouses. It provides portable careers to Military spouses who produce their quality handbags and purses. 

File May 27, 5 46 14 PMThere are so many incredible core values behind R. Riveter. From the thoughtfully hand crafted bags to the mission & purpose behind the business. Also creating & activating the entrepreneurial spirit… I could go on and on.  I can honestly feel the pride, heart, and soul that was sewn into my bag.  Every R. Riveter handbag bears the mark of the Military spouse who assembled it + every Military spouse has a unique story of strength + determination to tell.  My bag was crafted by #RR023 – Hilary from Camp Merrill, GA. Thank you Hilary!!! My R. Riveter bag is with me everyday offering protection for my valued items, and makes the most comfy sweatpants look stylish.  There is purity & purpose in these bags that you can’t put a price tag on.  This is a full circle opportunity to offer support for our troop spouses, create job sustainability, cultivate creativity, empower and build community.

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“R. Riveter represents the fortitude of the American spirit- the legacy & strength of those who have come before us”- R. Riveter

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Each R. Riveter bag embarks on a journey across the country before finding herself delivered to your doorstep. Every part and piece that goes into your new American Handmade bag – from the hand-stitched liner to the hand cut leather – is crafted and secured by different Military Spouse Riveters stationed coast to coast.” – R. Riveter

With much gratitude & deep honor… keep shining R. Riveter and continue your journey onward.

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