Medicine for the soul traveling….

When was the    last time you went on a trip, long or short, and returned home feeling overwhelmingly inspired and motivated to create something new in your life?

The first time I experienced a trip like this wasn’t very long ago in terms of all of the traveling I’ve done throughout my life. I traveled every summer growing up for anywhere from a week to three months at a time. My family managed to cover the entire US48 while I was still under the age of 12. Those vacations provided me plenty of quality time with the fam, some great adventures, and many new pen pals. But I wouldn’t describe those excursions as being “medicine for the soul.”

My first trip to Europe a little over a decade ago proved at the time to be the most inspiring travel experience I’d had up to that point. It was a whirlwind trip covering eight Western European countries in less than three weeks, but I was absolutely inspired by the Swiss Alps, the architecture of Vienna, the romance of Paris (I happened to be there for my own wedding, so the romance I experienced in Paris was supercharged!), the slow villas along the Rhine, and the whimsy of Amsterdam. I made more new discoveries and saw more cultural diversity than I ever had, and it was an amazing experience that I would repeat tenfold. But thinking back on it now, while that vacation was very, very good for my soul, I still don’t think I would describe it as being “medicine for the soul.”

It wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I went on a trip like this. Seven friends and I piled into a couple of off-road SUV’s and headed for the West Texas desert for only a couple of days. We stayed in rustic lodging, ate fairly simply from what I recall, explored local art galleries, and enjoyed the serenity. The rural desert has some kind of energy that can’t be described, but I felt it on that trip. I came home with renewed passion for photography, which had always been something I loved. I stopped taking photos for the sake of making art around the time everyone started switching to digital cameras, which was also around the time I became a mother. So that trip to me was pivotal because I came back overwhelmingly excited to once again practice my art. That road trip was “medicine for my soul.”

Since then, I found that I began to crave these kinds of getaways. I’ve been back to the desert, and I’ve traveled to places like Southwest Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Vancouver to explore the beauty and drink up some of the medicine that these places offer my soul. In order to find the medicine though, I had to be outside in nature, feeling relaxed and still with my voice. Without nature and relaxation, these pivotal experiences won’t happen. It was just after my last trip to Arizona when I realized I wanted to start a retreat series. I wanted to make sure I was inviting others to participate in these kinds of restorative and awe-inspiring getaways, and I wanted to be able to schedule them for myself on a regular basis. And so last year EE was born. Traveling to the hill country for an Essential Excursion will provide you with the ingredients to drink the medicine your soul needs to come home ready to get your life going the way it’s always been meant to go. You will be surrounded by natural beauty, practice some yoga, be a part of intriguing conversation, eat healthy meals, and be given a handmade journal to keep for yourself.

The $100 discount and price of $250 for the entire weekend ends on Monday night, and the price will return to $350 (which is still a deal!), so do yourself a favor and register soon. I hope to see you at Namaste next month for the health of our souls…


The Next Essential Excursion February 24 – 26: Out with the Old and in with the New

As you start to decompress from the holidays and mull over those resolutions, consider this blog post for a moment. It is all too common for us to make multiple hard and fast resolutions because we feel both relief and pressure of a new year, and a chance to transform into our best selves. And when we don’t stick to these resolutions, we love to berate ourselves and thus start the circle of never-ending frustrations and self-loathe. Isn’t it lovely to think that we do this to ourselves year in and year out, yet continue to mentally over commit ourselves every January? Did you know that January is actually a very bad time to make these kinds of drastic changes? Not only does it fall right after the hectic holiday season, which leaves most people feeling frazzled and utterly drained, but it’s also winter—cold, dark, dreary winter. When seasonal affective disorder (SAD) hits, it hits hard. Depression, sluggishness, and exhaustion are all common around this time of year, thanks to chilly temperatures and dwindling daylight hours.

‘A 2009 Marist poll found that of the people who made resolutions the previous year, 35 percent ditched them by the year’s end. A study led by Richard Wiseman, professor and author of Quirkology: The Curious Science of Everyday Lives, produced even more dismal results: of the three thousand resolution-making participants Wiseman and his colleagues tracked from the beginning to the end of 2007, only 12 percent of them achieved their goals. When you consider that 52 percent of them felt completely confident at the start of the study about their objectives’ coming to fruition, their ultimate failure seems even sadder. Obviously, people want to succeed, and they often make resolutions with their well-being in mind. For example, the Marist poll showed that weight loss is the most common one among both men and women. But for some reason, trying to make changes like that happen on January 1 seems to actually increase the risk of failure.’  -via Vicki Santillano

Might I suggest a more effective (not to mention enjoyable) way to begin the transformation into your best self? Join us for the next Essential Excursion retreat in Boerne, TX the weekend of February 24 – 26. This is an opportunity for you to put into practice some new habits that will stay with you long after you leave the weekend experience. You will leave feeling restored and ready to take on your life in a new positive way through baby steps of real change. And you will be allowed to celebrate every single step! Even if you aren’t one of those who creates overly ambitious annual lists of resolutions, you will still benefit from a healthy and relaxing weekend where you can enjoy yoga, solitude, relaxing amenities, therapeutic discussions, and eat delicious food for 2 days and 2 nights.

For our February installment, I would like to welcome our newest “Excursion Expert,” Mary Armstrong with MarYoga who will join us next month. Mary is a certified yoga instructor practicing primarily Hatha and Ashtanga. Mary is registered with the Yoga Alliance, and is an eternally fun and gifted human being! We are thrilled that she will guide us through some yoga sessions during the next Essential Excursion.

So bring your resolutions or leave them at home, but do join us for an experience that will surely be worth your year. Visit the registration page to sign up.

On the right track!

It is with a mile-wide (and maybe permanent) grin on my face that I share with  you the great success of the first Essential Excursion! We had an amazing group of ladies, some very tasty food, and we shared the kinds of ideas that are capable of changing the world, imho. One coincidence after another seemed to happen the entire time, and I can honestly say that I experienced a wealth of personal growth, even as a “facilitator.” That is the beauty of what these retreats are all about. Every one of us needs downtime to relax and reflect on those big questions in life. I am there to guide the discussions, but by no means do I stand up in front of everyone like a teacher. I much prefer to play the role of an active participant, because we all have valuable lessons to teach one another and I am inspired by the things I learn from you all.

There is no doubt in my mind that I’m on the right track with this endeavor, and I’ve already reserved the beautiful Namaste Retreat Center again for the weekend of February 24 – 26, 2012. Save the date, and get your toe socks packed for a cozy winter weekend in the gorgeous hill country full of rest and wonder. For this next one, I will be making an exciting announcement in the coming weeks about a guest specialist joining us, so stay tuned! I have updated the registration page with new dates and info. This time I am bringing my husband, so I want to remind you that men are welcome and encouraged to join us too, because even guys need time to reflect and tap into their creativity, no?

Please enjoy these photos from this last weekend…..

Discounted Price for November 18 – 20

Inaugural Essential Excursion Retreat SPECIAL for next weekend. We still have some open spots, so join us at Namaste Retreat Center in Boerne, TX for only $250. Price includes lodging for two nights, all meals, snacks, materials, and use of all retreat center amenities (zen gardens, hot tub, labyrinth, reflexology path, and more). Get relaxed and renew your mindset just in time for the holidays! Email to reserve your spot.

Our November 18-20 Retreat is starting to fill up!

Register today, and get a discount if you register with a friend or loved one! Come relax in the beautiful Hill Country and find solace amidst uncertain times in our society.  Start the often chaotic holiday season with true contentment and a peaceful mindset. Details and registration here!

Save the Date for Our Debut Essential Excursion Nov 18 – 20, 2011

Welcome to Essential Excursions, a series of self-discovery retreats achieved through sustainable tools and creativity.
Photographer extraordinaire and Creative Director Ange Fitzgerald and I are excited to be launching this new endeavor and will host our first weekend retreat at Namaste in Boerne, TX on November 18 – 20, 2011.

Throughout our own journeys and successes in finding contentment and purpose, we realized that we needed to design this type of program and share it with others. There are many retreats available for intensive therapy, meditation, yoga, and spirituality, but we noticed a void of getaway programs centered around practical ideas that are not difficult to adopt, yet can have a very profound impact on our lives.

Whether you sometimes experience feelings of hopelessness, are too often tired, pulled in too many directions, or simply feel like something in your life is amiss, an Essential Excursions weekend retreat will give you the opportunity to find meaning, tap into your creativity and provide you with the necessary take home tools in order to experience continued growth and progress.

We all need to take the time to travel away from our normal surroundings to rest and rejuvenate. Our program will allow you free time to enjoy the lovely atmosphere, as well as participate in an engaging, creative and productive environment full of guided activities and practical ideas centered around these four principles:

– Slow Down
– Reduce/Reflect
– Simplify
– Create

All meals will be thoughtfully prepared to offer nutritious food throughout the weekend in order to enhance your well-being. Our goal is for you to have an unforgettable experience and gain a better understanding of what your true life dreams are, and how you can begin a path to reach them.

Pricing includes 6 meals, snacks, lodging for 2 nights, creative workshops, self-discovery sessions and plenty of free time in the beautiful surroundings at Namaste.

The retreat is located 30 miles NW of San Antonio and 40 miles from Fredericksburg. The cost for the full weekend is $350 per person or $675 per couple.

Register here, and if you have questions, please email us at

Warm Regards and Happiness to You,

Andrea Roberts

Founder and Program Director 

Essential Excursions

‘Smile, breathe and go slowly.’ ~Thich Nhat Hanh