Washington Post Features Rancho La Puerta in the Sunday Travel Section - Two of my Photos Used!

A Thrill that two of my photos were used to illustrate a travel story in the Washington Post about Rancho La Puerta - a little bummed to not get a photo credit, but hey, visits to RLP are enough!!!

A Thrill that two of my photos were used to illustrate a travel story in the Washington Post about Rancho La Puerta - a little bummed to not get a photo credit, but hey, visits to RLP are enough!!!

I always call it my "favorite place in the world" and I think Dina Mishev writing for the Washington Post hits the nail right on the head when she describes what's so special about Rancho La Puerta. It's precisely ALL of what she writes about that has inspired me to want to found The Healing Farm: Rancho La Puetra-esque with more of an affordable cost structure, a focus on functional healing.... and meat!

Funny. The first time I went to Rancho La Puerta was probably almost the same week and year as Dina! I was lucky enough to be called on to help them re-build their photo library for their marketing materials. I'm now proud to say many of my photos have become some of the iconic shots in the RLP marketing materials including a lovely photo of my friend Patti enjoying the view under Alex's oak, my friend Lyn on the cover of the spa brochure, a photo of a visiting yoga instructor doing dancer's pose and of course that outdoor shot at the lounge building with the wisteria which has ben one of the post cards you receive in your room every time you visit. See my photography site for more samples of my photos from RLP.

Whether I build The Healing Farm or not, RLP will always be one of my favorite places to go in the world and I'll always be honored to tell the newbies on the bus that this is my _________ time (currently eight) that I've been to "The Ranch" and that I have the honor of getting to know the guests so well having fun with them while photographing. They all are more than happy to sign model releases because everyone is on board with promoting our "favorite place in the world"!

The second of my photos used to illustrate the Washington Post's article on Rancho La Puerta.

The second of my photos used to illustrate the Washington Post's article on Rancho La Puerta.



Favorite Place in the World!

Rancho La Puerta

The wisteria was in bloom, the hills were green, the organic garden was brimming with asparagus, lettuce and all sorts of other goodness that we ate in our meals and the guests were, as always such fun to meet and all so interesting! I've posted a few of my personal photos here, but you'll have to go to Rancho La Puerta's site to see the pro pics!

I am truly blessed to go to Rancho La Puerta to do photography for their marketing materials. It's been an inspiration to me since the first time I went and will always be my favorite place in the world, unless I successfully build The Healing Farm property! 

I learned so much this time about the history of the ranch, attending a lecture series by Ludwig Max Fischer PHD and watching a new documentary about the life of Rancho La Puerta founder Edmond Szekely and the origins of this first wellness spa in the world (established in the forties!). Edmond Szekely was so ahead of his time studying other cultures as well as ancient cultures to uncover various natural healing, spiritual  and meditation practices. Founding the ranch in the forties with his wife Deborah the now hugely successful wellness spa started as a tiny camp in Tecate Mexico. Deborah often comes to the ranch to speak to the guests and I was fortunate that Max's appearance and lectures last week also coincided with a visit by Deborah who is still active in health and wellness advocacy. Deborah's "people's lobby" called Wellness Warrior should be an inspiration to all who yearn to get back to whole foods and simple, organic and local agriculture practices and want to lobby congress about big ag!

I would highly recommend watching "Tree of Life, The Living Legacy of Edmond Szekely" here if you want to be inspired by a true forward thinker about our health and longevity and natural healing processes:

Viva Rancho La Puerta! - until the next time.....


Another Bay Area Affordable Gem

Piedmont Springs - Oakland, CA

Piedmont Springs - Oakland, CA

Starting a business, running a current business and in the midst of a family crisis. I was coming out of a very traumatic week and the businesses kept demanding and demanding - as they always do. The clock just keeps on ticking, doesn't it? 

Keeping up with my daily routine of coffee, news and e-mail in bed, my NYT Seven Minute Scientific Workout followed by stretches, hot shower and daily smoothie really helps keep me in control, (mostly) stress-free and refreshed, but sometimes I need to take a step back and realize I need a little more downtime to get me back in a calm state of mind. 

Yesterday I was intuitive enough to realize this was one of those times, but how many of us can really afford to go to a spa or local hotel to luxuriate in a hot tub, steam and sauna and then get a really worthwhile and long massage? Believe it or not, there really are some affordable options out there!

A few months ago, I posted about the super affordable (and lovely) Kabuki Springs and Spa in SF, but this time I didn't even have time to go into SF and needed to stick with Oakland. In comes Piedmont Springs. Just a couple of blocks from my house (lucky me!) I was able to make a same-day appointment. They have hot tubs for rent (yes! You get your own!), sauna and steam rooms and various options like massage and body treatments. I booked the minimum hot tub rental of half an hour which was meant to pre-relax my truly tight muscles, followed by a 75 minute massage (going more than an hour I think is essential. Would have done 90 minutes if it were available). All for under $100.00 less tip. Now THAT is a deal. Brennan picked me up, we went to dinner out on the Avenue and then went home to listen to music together. Today I am refreshed, relaxed and energized. Something I really didn't think was possible at this time in my life - especially this week!

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness


Cavallo Point Complimentary Wellness Lectures

My friend Jennifer Cooper will be our speaker and one of the wellness practitioners at the "Wellness and Yoga on the Ranch" Retreat with MALT October 25th. She asked me recently if I wanted to join her for a wellness lecture at Cavallo Point. I was unaware that Cavallo Point offers "Tuesdays to your Health"; a complimentary wellness lecture series the second Tuesday of every month with their resident integrative medicine practitioner, Dr. Brad Jacobs, MD. Informative and friendly Dr. Brad leads you through a lecture on a wellness topic in laymen's terms, offers advice on alternative solutions to whatever topic he's covering and ends with a Q&A. What a terrific deal! 

On the Tuesday we went to Dr. Brad's lecture, the weather was gorgeous so we met early and had a glass of wine on the porch of the bar/restaurant, then wandered over to the spa and sat in the lovely common area of the spa listening to Dr. Brad. The wall of windows was open and the birds were chirping outside. It was the beginning of the allergy season so the topic was on allergies. Dr. Brad offered advice on where you can go online to find out what the allergy "forecast" is, homeopathic remedies for allergy relief and good practical advice on what you can do around your home to help prevent allergic reactions in the first place. Super worthwhile and informative and certainly an inexpensive way to visit this lovely resort and spa and if you can swing it, why not get a spa treatment while you're there!

Cavallo Point Spa

Cavallo Point Spa

The Bath House Experience - The Way It's Supposed To Be!

"You American's don't know how to relax!"

As I luxuriated at the Kabuki bath house yesterday - somewhere around hour FIVE, I was reminded of a bath house experience in Capetown South Africa. I was traveling alone and decided I would check out a bath house I read about in my travel book. When I went in and tried to schedule an appointment time for a massage, I was confused when the woman at the desk told me I would get the massage when I was ready. 

She led me to the bath house where there was a sauna, steam room, cold plunge hot tub and lounging area where I found three Malay (local) women smoking cigarettes. So I got undressed and started the "circuit". After my first circuit I told the woman in charge - and seemingly the only person there - that I was ready for my massage. She then went on to scold me and said she's always amazed at "the americans". She said we didn't know how to relax. We are always in a hurry. She then told me I wasn't ready for my massage. The three women laughed and then welcomed me into their bathing experience. Although I didn't take them up on the cigarette smoking (that seemed a little counter-intuitive!) I had a joyful day lounging, loofahing and snacking with them and after about five hours, the woman in charge came in and told me I was now ready for my massage. 

Lately when I've gone to the Kabuki bath house, I've met my sister-in-law after work, we do the circuit for an hour or hour and a half and then leave to get in a gab-session and dinner. Although I love this time with my sister-in-law, I realized yesterday that once in a while, visiting the bath house on my own, staying for hours and truly relaxing is an incredible experience. Alone with my own thoughts, the sounds of trickling water and hushed whispers between friends and loving hands and warmth around my body is an incredible meditative experience - one that I hope I will do at least a couple of times a year. Someday I hope to structure my life in a way - The Healing Farm! - so that I can do this once a week. I can't even imagine what an incredible state of mind it will produce. Just six hours and I'm completely refreshed and inspired!

Kabuki Springs and Spa - One of the Best Deals in SF!

In one of my UC Berkeley business classes, we were told by our instructor to build in celebratory treats at certain milestones. Given the launch of The Healing Farm website today, I am taking the day off tomorrow to enjoy one of the best deals in San Francisco. The Kabuki Springs and Spa. What a super gorgeous bath house. An incredible deal. Their bath house day pass is only $25.00! You can't beat it. It's gorgeous, clean, has the full circuit - sauna, steam, cold plunge, hot tub and a lovely bathing area. When you need to get out of the chill of the bay area (like now!) it's the perfect cheap escape. I'm adding on some treatments as a bonus thanks to my dear brother and sister in-law who just gave me a gift certificate! Woo hoo and I can't wait!