Relaxed, Reflective and Re-energized After Spending New Year’s at Rancho La Puerta

It’s a new year and that means it’s a good time to reflect on the last 365 days. Getting away from the daily grind to travel always helps me get quiet, gain some perspective, and still my mind. Over the New Year holiday, I was lucky enough to escape to Rancho La Puerta, an organic spa and fitness center in the Baja California Peninsula. The ranch – as it’s affectionately known to locals and guests – is located right across the border from San Diego in Tecate, Mexico. The beautiful and expansive grounds which now sits on 4,000 acres originated in the 1940s as a humble wellness retreat built by health and fitness pioneer, Edmond Bordeaux Szekely and his young wife, Deborah.

While I was there, I was fortunate enough to meet Deborah, who is now a 95 year old dynamo, and still frequents the ranch giving monthly lectures. I was awe struck by this tiny woman who continues to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle. When I asked ranch employees about her (many of whom have been working for her for decades), their eyes would light up and they would tell me that Barbara continues to inspire them on a daily basis. One woman who has been at the ranch for 29 years said, “Barbara is an amazing woman and a true force to be reckoned with.”

Here are a few highlights from my trip that helped me relax, reflect, and invigorate, all the while staying committed to eating healthy food that truly feeds my body and soul.

Take me back!

A Prayer Arrow – A Votive Folk Art Practice

On New Year’s day, I made a prayer arrow under the guidance of a man named Tim and was asked to write down my intention (or prayer) for the new year. After writing down my prayer on a small piece of white paper, I wrapped it around a wooden stick and proceeded to cover the stick from top to bottom with a string of blue yarn. After the stick was transformed into a gradient of blue, I was told to choose a few herbs (I chose a small bunch of lavender, white sage, and rose geranium), and added a couple of feathers and a crystal to finish my work of art.

La Cocina Que Conta, Cooking School & Culinary Center, where I took a cooking class with Executive Chef Denise Roa who showed us how to use foods from the ranch’s organic garden. The food tasted so fresh and delicious; no cream or butter was needed to enhance their flavor.

It was a dream come true to meet Deborah Szekely, the co-founder of Rancho La Puerta (and the founder of the famed, Golden Door).

One of my resolutions is to “Just Breathe,” which is something that is always available, automatically brings you back to the present moment, and triggers your relaxation response.

Skull Rock (seen during the “Professor Hike” at dawn)


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