Finding Our Center at the Art of Living Retreat Center

Like any couple, we need to constantly adjust in order to recharge and stay centered. That can be difficult with our lifestyle of nearly constant motion. That is why we were so intrigued when The Art of Living Retreat Center contacted us… CONTINUE READING >> 

In the midst of all of our travels, sometimes we can lose our connection and become a bit disconnected. Like any couple, we need to constantly adjust in order to recharge and stay centered.

That can be difficult with our lifestyle of nearly constant motion. That is why we were so intrigued when we learned about The Art of Living Retreat Center.

This serene sanctuary tucked away in one of our favorite parts of America, high in the pristine forests of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, looks to be a perfect place to relax, unwind, and rejuvenate.

The more we investigated, the more we were impressed with their mission to facilitate a journey of self-discovery along the path to complete wellness and health. The goal is to provide true nourishment in mind, body, and spirit.

That certainly seems to dovetail nicely with our ongoing explorations of the world around us. The inspiring surroundings at The Art of Living Retreat Center generate an environment that pairs perfectly with their team of genuine and engaging thought leaders.

The tranquility, wisdom, and knowledge are meaningfully integrated to direct visitors along the road to contentment and transformation.

An Ancient System

An integral portion of the process can be realized at America’s premiere Shankara Ayurveda Spa, where centuries-old science is utilized to bring life into balance.

This was new to us, so we had to look into Ayurveda.  We learned that the word means knowledge of life and longevity, and the origins have been traced back over seven thousand years to teachings on the Indian subcontinent.

According to Hindu tradition, the creator god Brahma delivered the secrets to Dhanvantari, who then became the patron to those seeking sound health. Yet, as ancient as these practices may be, Ayurveda is one of the only medicinal systems from those times that is still widely followed today.

Dr. Deepak Chopra describes it this way: “The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda are that the mind and the body are inextricably connected, and nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind.”

For the Art of Living Center it means that when the world around you is at peace it’s easier to find true connection within.

Still, we had to dig a little deeper. We wanted to be sure that we would find plenty to occupy us and that we would not be leaving all of the creature comforts we have come to appreciate behind.

Not to worry, Art of Living retreats can be experienced with all of the amenities of a hotel style room, or even a completely self-contained apartment for a longer getaway.

Active Mind and Body

We also found plenty of options for us to stay active, which we find imperative to keeping the mental and physical balance we need. In addition to the spa, yoga, and meditation, there are plenty of outdoor activities ranging from an easy going hike on a nature trail to exciting climbing, kayaking, or whitewater adventures.

For those times when we might be feeling a little less adventurous, there are more pacific pursuits such as pottery, kirtan, or listening to local Appalachian music.

Nourishing Body and Soul

Of course eating was also on our minds. Isn’t it always? So we had to check out the dining and what we uncovered was more than satisfying. The chefs blend the fresh flavors from the center’s own mountain-top vegetable garden with lively influences of Indian cuisine into an outstanding vegetarian menu.

Previous guests have declared that the food “was delectable and seemed to have healing qualities.” Can’t ask for much more than that from a meal!

No matter where we are in life, empty nester or still in the throes of day to day parenting, one thing we have become acutely aware of is the need to find peaceful time to reconnect as a couple, with each other and our world around us.

So now we’re ready to book our rejuvenating respite at The Art of Living Retreat Center.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

All in for an Alicante Escape

When we aren’t traveling, we are studying for our next adventure. So it’s not often that we hear about a place unfamiliar to us.
When it does happen we are thrilled, then we want to find a way to go there without breaking the bank…

CONTINUE READING >> 

Click graphic for larger version.

We travel a lot.

Like, all of the time.

And when we aren’t, we are studying for our next adventure. So it’s not often that we hear about a place unfamiliar to us.

When it does happen we are thrilled, then we want to find a way to go there without breaking the bank.

That’s why we are so excited to hear about Alicante from the folks at Dealchecker. Their great deals on holiday packages to Spain’s dazzling Costa Blanca make discovering this seaside resort region absolutely affordable.

Without a doubt beautiful beaches are a major attraction, and we are big fans, but history and natural wonders also rate high on our list when it comes to choosing a destination and Alicante certainly checks both those boxes.

Stepping back in time is as easy as wandering the streets of the Old Town to check out the many museums, the elegant baroque Town Hall, and the Basilica of Santa Maria, or heading up for a bird’s eye view of it all from Santa Bárbara Castle.

Perched on the top of Mount Benacantil, this is one of the largest medieval fortresses in Spain. But fear not, the amazing observation point at the summit can be enjoyed without climbing. Though the castle was built well over a thousand years ago, there is an elevator running right through the heart of the mountain.

It was added just a few centuries later, and in case we find the ride a little too strenuous refreshments await atop the peak, plus a spectacular panorama of the entire city and coastline.

From high above we can also spot the way to go down below, as in beneath the surface to the Caves of Canelobre. They are located a few miles up the coast, and descending into these breathtaking caverns feels like entering a Gothic cathedral.

Not only because of the size and shape, but the acoustics resemble a giant church as well. So much that concerts are periodically held within the hollow limestone. Talk about underground music!

The town of Benidorm, a few minutes from the caves, is known for several theme and water parks, along with two outstanding Blue Flag beaches.

While we love hanging out where the sea meets the shore, we are even more fond of getting into, or better yet under, the water. That is definitely one of the highlights of this corner of the Mediterranean.

Just a few minutes offshore, the tiny island of Tabarca is surrounded by the crystal clear waters of Spain’s first marine reserve, which was also declared a Zone of Special Protection for Birds in 1986. The protected area is widely acclaimed for fantastic diving and snorkeling.

Yet again, in the midst of all this natural beauty, a unique history unfolds on shore. This smallest inhabited islet in Spain was known as Illa de Sant Pau, or Saint Paul’s Island, up until around 1700. That is because it is believed to be where St. Paul may have landed on his travels west from Rome.

Centuries later, Barbary pirates used it as a hideout for their raids. Once they were run off, the wall that still surrounds the town was built to hold them at bay should they decided to return.

One thing we know, we would certainly try to come back again.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

We are happy to present this post in collaboration with dealchecker.co.uk to offer valuable information to our readers.

Rebuilding Together: How to Help the Seniors in Your Community

There is strength in numbers, so by banding together we can accomplish much more than as separate individuals.

Together our team of volunteers completely repainted the home of a retired nurse in need – in one day!

We weren’t the youngest chicks in the coop – but we were enthusiastic, and relentless…. CONTINUE READING >>  

Our Rebuiling Together team painted an entire house today! We were so honored to help out a retired nurse in need

There is strength in numbers, so by banding together we can accomplish much more than as separate individuals. That is the idea behind AARP.

AARP Celebration of Service volunteers getting geared up to help those in need in their community
Volunteers getting geared up to go out into the community to help those in need.

They are dedicated to enhancing quality of life for all as we age by harnessing our collective power.

Most of us know them by their magazine and great discounts, many of which we often forget to take advantage of, but AARP also partners with many charities to help older Americans in more life-changing ways.

Volunteers packing food at AARP's Celebration of Service. Every bit of this food was served at a family in need's table that very night!
That’s a LOT of corn! Every bit of this food was served at a senior in need’s table – that very night!

Our favorite part of their Life@50+ events is the Celebration of Service – the kick off to each of the get-togethers.

At the gathering in Miami, as part of the Drive to End Hunger, members joined with the Feeding South Florida Food Bank to pack 50,000 nutritious meals, and with the Society of St. Andrew to gather and package fresh produce donated by local farmers for delivery to at-risk seniors in the Miami area.

AARP volunteers put together FEMA Emergency Kits at Life@50+ in Miami during the Celebration of Service
Miami is hurricane territory – FEMA Kits are necessary!

Several other volunteering opportunities were also available, such as putting together FEMA Emergency Preparedness Kits and making greeting cards to be delivered to nursing and veterans facilities.

This is all a part of AARP volunteers striving to Create The Good.

We helped a senior in need with Rebuilding Together in Miami

We chose to join another group that was heading out into the community with Rebuilding Together to lend a helping hand to a senior homeowner in need.

It was exciting to get to play a small part in their mission – to be of service to the elderly, people living with disabilities, and military veterans facing difficult times, giving them the chance to remain in their homes by providing much needed repairs.

Rebuilding Together

For over twenty-five years, Rebuilding Together has modified, upgraded, or repaired 150,000 homes, with nearly 100,000 volunteers completing about 10,000 projects each year.

All of these are provided with no charge to the homeowners. Unfortunately, even those impressive numbers leave many people on waiting lists for much needed assistance.

WATCH: We collectively kicked butt at the Celebration of Service!
See if you can pick out your GypsyNesters (actually, it’s hard to miss us!)

Poor dear – she just couldn’t keep up anymore.

Our group of AARP volunteers became a precision painting crew for an elderly South Florida woman, a retired nurse who spent her entire life helping others.

Okay, perhaps we weren’t quite precision — or the youngest chicks in the coop — but we were enthusiastic, and relentless. We split into two teams, and while one tackled the outside, the other took on the interior.

Rebuilding Together volunteers paint a retired nurses home. It had fallen into disrepair

We scrubbed away mold, sanded and scrapped away old chipped paint, and then spread on the new.

We were honored to help a retired nurse in need by volunteering with Rebuilding Together. GypsyNester.com

We also had a wonderful time meeting and getting to know new friends from all over the country. The conversation, and laughter, flowed every bit as easily as the paint.

Within a matter of hours we had painted nearly the entire house – it was amazing how much we accomplished!

But for us this was just one day, Rebuilding Together is rejuvenating homes — along with people’s lives — all across America every day.

This couple spent their 60th wedding anniversary helping those in need with Rebuilding Together
We met a bunch of wonderful people that day, but our favorites were these two. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary by helping those in need! LOVED them.

Their network includes affiliates across forty-one states and in the District of Columbia, so a project could be happening right in your neighborhood.

To find one, just click here to see if there is a Rebuilding Together chapter near you.

If there are none nearby, they are always in need of donations as well.

We can promise that there is no better feeling than joining helping hands to provide a better place to live for folks who just want to stay in their homes.

Housing is not the only challenge that many seniors are facing. Hunger is a growing problem with our aging population.

Learn more about it  and some ways to help at Aging in Place.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Can you believe how much we got done in one day? Have we convinced you to look into Rebuilding Together?

Deciphering the Multi-Generational Vacation Dilemma

We are big believers in celebrating the empty nest, but one downside we’ve found is that getting the whole family together keeps getting harder and harder as our kids have grown and scattered across the globe. Add to that aging parents, along with the next generation of kids, and managing to vacation together becomes even more difficult… CONTINUE READING >> 

We are big believers in celebrating the empty nest, but one downside we’ve found is that getting the whole family together keeps getting harder and harder as our kids have grown and scattered across the globe. Add to that aging parents, along with the next generation of kids, and managing to vacation together becomes even more difficult.

But it’s not mission impossible. A great solution can be a family friendly cruise holiday.

This solves so many of the problems associated with planning and pulling off a multi-generational getaway. Rather than booking hotels, restaurants, tours, and attractions for the individual tastes of each family member, the ship offers almost anything anyone could desire, and one booking covers everything.

Believe me; we still remember what it was like to travel with three kids in tow, so we understand how important keeping them occupied can be. Let’s face it, mom and dad, and grandma and grandpa, are going to relax and enjoy the trip a lot more when they have some free time of their own.

Activities

These family-friendly floating resorts offer something for everyone, from children’s play areas, puppet shows, and active dance and movement classes for toddlers; to sports days, game shows, music, and discos for the teens. And all ages are sure to love the water slides and pools at the Aqua Park.

As for the other two, or maybe even three generations, they can while away a day at the gym, or stretch out at yoga, or maybe feel the burn at a Zumba class. Perhaps a spa day is more in line, or a wine tasting, or best of all, just unwind and watch the ocean roll by with a good book.

Then everybody can meet up at the swimming pool for an ideal afternoon together.

Dining

In our family, getting everyone to agree on a restaurant is like negotiating an international arms treaty, so we really can appreciate the value of the numerous dining options on board.

Whether it’s kicking back at a coffee shop, or nibbling on tapas or sushi, or bellying up to a sumptuous spread at the buffet, the arguing will be replaced with happy sounds of contentment.

For a more memorable meal and family reunion, specialty restaurants offering culinary delicacies from across the globe can arrange an amazing dinner, and even accommodate reserved seating in a private space.

Entertainment

Whenever we get together with our extended family, after dinner doesn’t mean the fun calls it a night. Good thing the options include shows featuring live acrobatics and circus feats guaranteed to astonish any aged audience.

For the older kids, and we are happy to still think of ourselves in that group, there are comics, dazzling dancers, or Broadway shows to choose from. After the show any number of nightclub choices await for cocktails, casino games, music, dancing, or just hanging out.

Often our best family memories are made when we get goofy and throw caution to the wind. So we always look to laugh it up at some of the crowd participation activities like trivia contests, or karaoke.

Accommodations

One thing we have learned on our previous cruises is that we don’t spend much time in the room. Still, comfort and amenities are important, and with the whole family along having options is essential.

Many ships have Mini –Suites that sleep four, just right to fit a new family with younger children. They are conveniently located near the kids’ area, and even have a private balcony.

Other couples, and singles, can split into convenient groups for cabins that provide privacy in the midst of all of the comradery.

Destinations

As fantastic as the ships are, nobody wants to spend all of their time onboard. Good thing there are almost endless choices of destinations to discover on a family-friendly cruise.

The most popular tend to sail to the Caribbean, leaving out of Florida and Texas, and we understand why. Young parents and kids can’t always get away for more than a few days to a week and these trips work perfectly for those schedules, without sacrificing visits to incredible ports of call.

The wide array of destinations is extraordinary, such as Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico, where everything from Mayan ruins, to scuba diving, to jungle treks and motorcycle tours await, or Belize, famous for its rainforest nature reserves.

We even found a place that we have never been before, and those are getting rare, so the remote island of Roatán is over the top intriguing to us. About 30 miles off the coast of Honduras, it is known for gorgeous beaches and sensational snorkeling along beautiful reefs.

There are also a host of more far flung adventures available, such as exploring the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean, the fjords of Scandinavia, the Spanish coast along with Portugal and Gibraltar, Hawaii, and something that has been on our list for ages, a voyage through the Panama Canal.

All of these deliver once in a lifetime experiences that will live on in the family lore for generations to come.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

To Iberia and Beyond

That may not be exactly the famous Buzz Lightyear quote from Toy Story, but there just might be an infinite amount of interesting explorations on the Iberian Peninsula and beyond to Morocco. There is so much to uncover that the thought of managing a mission may seem daunting, if not impossible. Buzz would never let that stop him… CONTINUE READING >> 

That may not be exactly the famous Buzz Lightyear quote from Toy Story, but there just might be an infinite amount of interesting explorations on the Iberian Peninsula and beyond to Morocco. There is so much to uncover that the thought of managing a mission of discovery may seem daunting, if not impossible.

But don’t despair, Buzz would never let that stop him and neither should anybody else. There are specialists at Memphis Tours who plan these expeditions down to the last detail, so now Spain Morocco Portugal tours can be reality instead of a fantasy.

We have had the good fortune to visit Spain a few times, yet there remains a vast unknown space in the country awaiting our exploration.

Sure Barcelona and Madrid rank as two of our favorite European cities, and we would eagerly return for another look because we are fully convinced that we could never see Sagrada Família enough, or get tired of following in Hemingway’s footprints around the Spanish capital.

As explorers, we are even more thrilled at the prospect of seeing Seville. This is the final resting place of Christopher Columbus, and the port where both he and Ferdinand Magellan set sail in search of the East Indies five centuries ago.

But the history goes back much farther than that on the peninsula, as is evident when the tour stops at the ancient Roman ruins of Córdoba, or the amazing Alhambra palace and fortress in Granada.

Spain is not only historic; it is also gorgeous, as we can see by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, or the town of Cáceres, often called one of Spain’s most beautiful cities, or on the beautiful beaches of Marbella.

Another huge plus in our book for this trip is the chance to finally see something beyond the airport in Lisbon. Surprisingly, we didn’t get a good feel for the city while changing planes. I know, shocking!

The capital of Portugal has any number of impressive sights, including Cristo Rei, a three hundred feet tall statue of Jesus overlooking the city from across the bay. While it may not be as famous as Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, it stands about three times as high, with the caveat that two thirds of that is pedestal. That makes them about the same size.

We’ll also find another nod to the age of exploration at the Tower of Belem, built to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s successful expedition to India, a feat he accomplished by going in the opposite direction of his more famous predecessors.

In addition to Lisbon, while in Portugal there is a stop at Fatima, the world renowned site where millions of pilgrims come to see the place that the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in 1917.

With all of that, we still think that the most exciting leg of the journey happens after taking a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco.

This is a part of the world that we have longed to explore for ages. Landing in Tangier, we can imagine the Carthaginians arriving to settle the city some twenty-five hundred years ago.

Due to its strategic location on the southern shore of the narrow entrance to the Mediterranean, they may have been the first but they were hardly the last.

The Romans, Byzantine Empire, Portuguese, English, and eventually the Moroccan sultans all claimed this valuable port at one time or another.

Even more fascinating is Fez, the medieval capital of Morocco. The historic medina is a mind boggling maze of passages, paths, alleys, and corridors considered the best-preserved old city in the Arab world. This open air shopping madhouse is also the world’s largest car-free urban zone.

After stops in the former capital of Meknes, and the currant title holder Rabat, it is time to head back across the strait to Spain for a day in Toledo, known as the “Imperial City,” before finishing back in Madrid.

For those who might be wondering about Morocco’s two most famous names from film and song missing from this trip, if the desire to take the Marrakech Express or say “Here’s looking at you, kid” in Casablanca is just too strong, they are available on other itineraries.

After all, we started this story with a movie reference, only seems right to end it with one as well.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.