A silhouette of the American cowboy

After watching The Good, the Bad and the Ugly earlier today, I’m in a western state of mind.

This gorgeous shot by John Partipilo just won a Feature Photography award from the Society of Professional Journalists.  Originally published in The Tennessean, Partipilo sought to capture an image that exemplified the spirit of his home state as he traveled through back roads and rural areas in search of a place where ‘the past doesn’t seem so far away.’  Tennessee’s ever-evolving landscape led to ‘fewer farms, more housing developments and busier roads’ than he remembers seeing as a boy, but the American cowboy still remains.

“Shadows of What Was,” by John Partipilo, The Tennessean

“Shadows of What Was,” by John Partipilo, The Tennessean

Get busy living or get busy dying

Timing is inherently perfect.  Sometimes it feels like a blessing, but every so often, it feels like a curse. 

I find comfort in realizing how much is out of my control and that everything is in the hands of the Creator. Each passing moment is timed so precisely, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.

Unfavorable timing can be tough, but there are only two choices: you either get busy living and live, or get busy dying, and fade away. Look for the light or stay in the darkness. Realize that every circumstance and seemingly minute detail plays a part in a bigger picture that leads to a greater outcome than you could have ever expected. Life is really, really hard; but aren’t you up for the challenge? Keep going and create the life you’ve always imagined.

In The Patio I, Georgia O'Keeffe

In The Patio I, Georgia O’Keeffe

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.” Isaiah 42:26

In The Patio VIII, Georgia O'Keeffe

In The Patio VIII, Georgia O’Keeffe

“This time, like all times, is a very good one…”

I recently returned from a trip to Concord, MA, a quaint, historic town that epitomizes Americana and the spirit of the Revolution.

Emerson's hat still hangs on the wall in his Concord, MA home

Emerson’s hat still hangs on the wall in his Concord, MA home

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a 19th century American writer, philosopher, poet, teacher and transcendentalist from Concord.  While visiting the Concord Museum I was really inspired by the following quote:

“If there is any period one would desire to be born in, is it not the age of Revolution; when the old and the new stand side by side and admit of being compared; when the energies of all men are searched by fear and by hope; when the historic glories of the old can be compensated by the rich possibilities of the new era?  This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I always hear people say they wish they were born in another era.  Now is as good a time as any.

Gazing at glowing prismatic hot springs in Jackson, WY

One of my favorite places out west is Jackson, WY. A real cowboy kind of town and home to Yellowstone National Park, Jackson is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

These crazy color formations are induced by geothermal activity. Salt water underneath the solid volcanic rock heats the hot springs to varying temperatures, allowing for striking hues of yellow, red, blue, gold, brown, green to swirl around the surface.

Yellowstone National Park, Jackson, WY. Photo taken by fellow traveler Matthew Levison

Brilliantly colored hot springs at Yellowstone National Park, Jackson, WY. Photo taken by fellow traveler Matthew Levison.

A taste of bohemian South Africa

Eagles Ridge Country House in Stutterheim, South Africa has an organic, barefoot, play in the forest all day kind of vibe.  

Click here to read my Eagles Ridge article on Forbes.com.

At first glance, Eagles Ridge appears to be a unique amalgamation of warm, contemporary and angular aesthetics.

The pleasant surprise is the interior, which looks like a luxury tree house.

Pure paradise, right outside the window.

Dream-catchers hang on trees that carve flower-filled paths around the property.

This is the entryway to the hut at Eagles Ridge where the Xhosas, a well-known South African tribe, perform traditional ceremonies and rituals.

A Xhosa woman preparing mealie, a type of flour made of corn.

Playing around the Eagles Ridge restaurant-art gallery before saying goodbye…an exhibit in and of itself.

A traveler, jewelry designer and child of the stars

On my recent trip to Los Angeles I picked up this Vanessa Mooney necklace from Fred Segal in Santa Monica.  Mooney is a Hollywood darling – she’s the great-granddaughter of Harry Warner, one of the original Warner Bros. – and she designs funky, handcrafted jewelry in her LA studio.  An extensive world traveler, Mooney’s pieces are often characteristic of a place’s culture, natural beauty and tradition.

The necklace pictured above is gold-plated with cubic zirconia and wooden skull beads.  It’s nothing fancy, but the contrast of dark wood against CZ creates a little extra sparkle – I’d describe it as delicate and slightly tribal.

Peace in the bustling City of Angels

Meet Terranea, a luxury eco-resort and spa in Rancho Palos Verdes, Los Angeles, CA.

This is a sprawling property to say the least: the 102 acre estate is spread out over bluffs that stand high over royal blue Pacific waters. Terranea is a rocky, coastal piece of perfection and is one of the most visually appealing places in SoCal.

Naturally occurring succulents grow on the bluffs overlooking the ocean

Endless wildflowers, succulents, palm and pine trees surround this expertly landscaped, Mediterranean-style eco-resort. I stayed in a spa bungalow as part of my ‘Wellness Retreat at The Bungalows’ package, which includes a fitness consultation, fitness classes, daily complimentary breakfast and lunch from the organic Spa Cafe (protein smoothies, specialty frittatas…the good stuff) and a reduced rate on spa treatments.

A variety of fresh squeezed juices, cookies and tea are found in the room every afternoon. Exercise equipment is available for use in every spa bungalow to further promote health and wellness.

A Mediterranean-style bungalow at Terranea

Guests have eight choices for food and beverages on the property…and this lovely, organic meal was my favorite. We started with a fresh juice taster, followed by a farmhouse quiche, green crunch salad (which was amazing!), olive oil poached albacore tuna and raw chocolate avocado pudding, a complicated recipe several years in the making.

A spa luncheon, served oceanside

Olive oil poached albacore tuna

The 50,000 square-foot oceanfront spa at Terranea is quite beautiful and exudes a SoCal, casual luxury vibe. During my reflexology treatment the spa therapist tapped my shoulder to show me a whale swimming out in the distance. Reflexology is an in-depth foot and ankle massage and it’s hard to master; the treatment at Terranea was the best I’ve ever had.

Spa time with travel writers

To sum it up in a word, the experience at Terranea feels like a revival. It’s the best way to kick back…every place should have a Terranea nearby.