Hodge Podge Podcast and Blog is about ALL types of things! Join children’s book author, creative writer, blogger and podcaster, Alison Paul Klakowicz, on her journey to inspire! By way of guest interviews, travel, food, books, all things North Carolina, life as a military spouse and more!
What better way to spend a day than in mindful reflection!?
Caring for your body and soul, eating delicious food and drinking blissful adult beverages while discussing thought provoking literature surrounded by fabulous company— AND in a beautiful setting?
That pretty much sums up the experience I had last weekend at Guiding Wellness Institute.
The holistic wellness center is masterful in curating monthly events that incorporate wellness practices into perfect weekend outings appealing to the young and old, single or betrothed, hardcore yogi or novice.
All are welcome!
AND all will enjoy!
I attended the Yoga, Brunch and Bookclub this past Sunday which fell on Valentines weekend and made for a fabulous Galentines outing!
A 60 minute gentle flow vinyasa yoga class was taught by GWI CEO Kelsey Timas. The lantern lit studio paired with beautiful acoustic music playing in the background and Kelsy’s fluid class instruction kept each student engaged and made for a perfect yoga experience.
Following yoga, guests were treated to a gorgeous brunch prepared by Brittany Moore, GWI Holistic Wellness Coach.
During our brunch, attendees engaged in an enlightening conversation regarding the Bookclub pick—Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel Eat, Pray, Love. It was lovely to reflect on a book focusedon self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-growthandself-healing.
Overall the experience was wonderful and although most of those who attended the event met as strangers, I feel confident that we left as friends.
Mark your calendars for the next Yoga, Brunch and Bookclub May 3, 2020 from 11am-2pm.
Kelsy Timas is guiding the military community to wellness— one soldier, one military spouse, one veteran at a time. Civilians are welcome to join the journey as well.
With 20 years experience in the health and wellness field, she has developed an entirely holistic establishment dedicated to healing individuals from the inside out.
I recently received the opportunity to visit Guiding Wellness Institute in Fayetteville, North Carolina to talk with Kelsy about her mission and passion which pours from every inch of her business.
The center offers services ranging from yoga, therapeutic massage, facial treatments, acupuncture, holistic life coaching, wellness and nutrition consultations onto educational courses to include yoga teacher trainings.
In addition, Guiding Wellness Institute provides Warriors At Ease programs which support health and healing of service members, veterans, military spouses and their families through yoga and meditation. The program was first developed in 2006 in partnership with Department of Defense-funded research at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Through the programs success, a teacher training curriculum was developed to meet the growing demand of specially-trained instructors to share the benefits of WAE to the military community. WAE has grown to a network of 750 plus teachers worldwide who serve warriors and their families in the United States and abroad.
One of the most unique features offered at the institute are FREE (yes, you read that right… FREE) yoga classes provided weekly on Wednesday (6:30-7:30pm),Thursday (6:30-7:30pm) and Friday (9:15a-10:30am) for all active & retired military to include military spouses and their family members.
Scroll further to read about my personal experience at Guiding Wellness Institute.
Spa Wellness Experience
During my visit to Guiding Wellness Institute, I had the privilege of trying out some of the wonderful services it offers.
Upon entrance of the building I was instantly put at ease, felt welcome and secure as if somewhat familial. There is a great focus on creating a place where people instantly feel at home which I can wholeheartedly attest to.
I was first given a tour of the facility by Guiding Wellness Center Holistic Health Coach, Brittany Moore whose passion is true wellness starting with what an individual feeds their mind and bodies.
Brittany pointed out that healthy refreshments are offered to guests in the beautiful kitchen and bar space that overlooks the serene outdoor garden. Nutrition classes are offered in this space as well, she said.
Next we toured the vast and tidy fitness area where a myriad of holistic wellness fitness classes are offered Monday through Friday as well as special events held on weekends.
Last we toured the center’s massage and floatation therapy rooms that provide guests a perfect spa atmosphere.
My Personal Spa Experience
My first service was a traditional full-body massage provided by Coral Esparza, Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist. Coral provides great care in her work coupled with clinical knowledge and a solid background in massage therapy.
I suffer from aches and pains associated with sciatica- and most recently tendinitis in my right arm. Coral knew exactly where to focus deep tissue massage to my aching muscles and joints to provide relief. She was professional and kind as well as careful to make my experience holistically balanced, extremely pleasant and relaxing.
I highly recommend her for massage for anyone struggling with chronic pain issues.
Following the massage, it was suggested I try Floatation Therapy which is becoming a popular antidote in holistic wellness. I had not yet experienced floatation therapy and was extremely excited to try out this treatment.
If you are not familiar with floatation therapy, it is a healing treatment using sensory deprivation to heal your physical body, mental and emotional health as well as enhance spiritual growth.
The institute dons a custom-designed float suite which contains a luxury shower, along with a tranquil, large tub much like an oversized bath filled with soothing warm water filled with a thousand pounds of salt. You enter through a beautiful private dressing area that allows for spacious privacy.
Brittany set my mind at ease with the process of my float by explaining in detail the steps I would take to make my experience purposeful and successful. I was a bit nervous in not knowing what exactly to expect so her instruction and care was much appreciated. However, I grew up on the coast so my soul longs for salt water and I embraced the chance to reconnect with my beginnings while allowing my body and mind to succumb to this new experience.
Once Brittany ensured I was ready to begin my float, she left me in the suite where I changed into my bathing suit (which is required by law for the float bath). I rinsed off in the shower beforehand as you would do in any public pool area. I then entered the bath where I stepped into the most luxurious warm water. I allowed myself a moment to become familiar with my surroundings then placed the small floatation pillow provided to me behind my head and allowed my body to submerge in the water.
Effortlessly, my body floated to a natural state atop the water. The weightless feeling was utterly wonderful and I felt instant relief. For people like myself who have a difficult time of letting go of the need to be in control, this experience might be an adjustment. But for me it was a welcomed change of pace.
As I eased into my new state of body and mind, relaxing music played for a few moments. But as Brittany forewarned previously, the music began to fade as did the lighting and the bath became dark as is recommended to receive the full sensory deprivation therapy experience.
There is a button along the wall where guests can lightly touch to turn a dim light on if they need to do so. I will admit I chose at one point to turn the light back on to put myself at bit more at ease with my surroundings, but I then relaxed, closed my eyes and focused on the beauty of the moment.
I will definitely try floatation therapy again as I reaped the benefits and felt utterly relaxed and renewed following my visit.
I hope everyone has the opportunity to try this therapy treatment at some point whether for chronic pain, mental and emotional health or just to have a break from your hectic life schedule and routine.
Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, freelance writer, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.
My family and I attended a very special wedding ceremony this past April at the whimsical and enchanting Chapel Hill Carriage House on Jones Ferry Road in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We were ecstatic to support my cousin, Matthew Duarte, (son of my mom’s sister Fran Austin Duarte) as he celebrated his marriage to his lovely bride, Ellie Bolas.
You see back in Fall 2018 the two planned to wed, but Hurricane Florence had other plans for North Carolina (and their special day). The day the two spent a year planning from their California home— dreaming of beautiful memories to be made with dearest friends and family back home in North Carolina— would have to be postponed.
True to the couple’s fifteen year partnership, commitment and independent spirit, the two fled Raleigh out of the hurricane’s path to the North Carolina mountains and eloped— as not to let Florence ruin the special union between these two strong, love-filled souls.
However, they promised their families to return from their home in California in Spring 2019 to celebrate and renew their vows among their loved ones. They held true to their promise and on Saturday, April 13th, 2019, their special day finally arrived like a dream come true.
It was a…
The ceremony was conducted by a dear friend of the couple who knows them in and out. There was meditation, reflection, laughter, memories, poignant handwritten vows— and passionate kisses.
Not to mention, the most gorgeous setting!
PSA- Anyone looking for a wedding or party venue should seriously consider Chapel Hill Carriage House for a multitude of reasons:
3) Children absolutely LOVE this place: games, grounds to play and run, and lots of charm and whimsy!
But let me place my focus back on the special bride and groom.
YES, I am biased because they are family. BUT, their journey is an incredible one and I’d like to brag on them just a bit.
The two began dating fifteen years ago while attending undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill— Matt, a student of Psychology and Ellie, always the over-achiever, a double major in Environmental Studies and Religious Studies. A UNC couple with dreams of the world ahead of them.
Upon graduation, Matt earned a travel scholarship which allowed him the opportunity to travel to Japan 🇯🇵 for a solitary pilgrimage across the country to visit and study Buddhist Temples and Japanese culture.
Ellie studied abroad as well and spent time in Tibet. After graduation she would go on to travel to Turkey and Japan to teach English as a second language.
Following their international journeys the two settled back in the United States and found themselves at home on the West Coast in California where they have blossomed and embraced the state’s natural beauty to include surfing those awesome California waves.
Matt has worked for Student Conservation Association, where he led young adult teams doing service work such as trail building and habitat restoration in wilderness settings. In addition, through REI’s Outdoor School, he has taught outdoor adventure classes.
Currently he teaches First Aid for backcountry enthusiasts with NOLS Wilderness Medicine. He is also a certified yoga instructor and is working toward a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
And if his plate isn’t already full, he carves time out to volunteer at a local prison in California where he is part of a horticultural inmate rehabilitation gardening program.
Ellie, a Graduate Group in Ecology, Master of Science Candidate, at University of California, Davis, is researching two rare carnivores, island spotted skunks and island foxes, that live on the California Channel Islands.
Prior to graduate school she performed research on wildlife living in and around Los Angeles (such as mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes) with the National Park Service, a project she is returning to for her PhD.
Ellie has also worked as an outdoor science educator and currently works with initiatives to increase diversity in science.
When asked what the secret is to their incrediblejourney and relationship, Ellie answered, “I don’t know any secrets to a long lasting relationship, for us, it’s just that we really like being around each other and we like to make each other laugh. Also, we both love being outside, which is part of why we love living in California- there are so many great opportunities to adventure outside and we love it all, from surfing on the coast to hiking in the mountains to wandering in the desert.”
How fortunate the world 🌍 is to have two mindful, intelligent, fun-loving, and holistic souls to share their passion for betterment of the planet and humanity as well as a sincere commitment to each other.
I’mproud to call them family.
Here’s to many more years of happiness, adventure, and travel!
Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.