Browsing Category


Blog, Travel

Know when to Say When

Know when to Say When

With the college application process behind me for my son, Jackson, I am looking back over the last year and seeing that I did still check a few off the writer’s list:
  • Writer's Retreat Haven in Ashland, VA.

    At Politic’s and Prose Writer’s Retreat Cottage in Ashland, VA – Spring 2017

    Finished fourth book (1ST DRAFT- HARD KNOCKS -oh joy, edits await.)

  • Journal writing * meditation writing/with yoga
  • Writer’s Retreat Cottage in Ashland, Virginia; featured in the Washington Post. Click on link for where you can book for yourself.

    New book proposal (new treatments written out)

  • -New projects in the work; online related

I feel so refreshed though from taking a major break from goal hitting. I love racking in the goals, making the goals, planning the goals and redefining goals…to where now I see, that

the best thing I did for my soul was just to breathe in and out, and observe life for a bit. Think, retreat, and be a full time mom again with my son (I do other things and such like help my husband, and manage marketing part time for a company in San Diego).

In 2017, I took a year retreat on reflection regarding Motherhood, friendships, writing and inner soul work. Luckily, I had these lovelies with me and fabulous books to read with my coffee with cream and cinnamon. Know when to ‘when to say, when.’

Then, when I least expected it, I won a fabulous yoga retreat to Lake Louise that helped my unravel my un-anchored feelings of motherhood.

I had no idea that Motherhood had become such a deeply cast anchor within my soul. To feel as if that was unraveling, was such a quick onslaught of heavy emotions weighing my heart down. I needed to retreat more within to figure my hear out. Now here in 2018, I am on countdown to graduation. Exuberant new feelings are bubbling up, and spilling forth. New goals are back on the map. Edits are under way. Secret book ‘unexpected book challenge’ almost done.-Updating blog and meeting my 5 sun salutation daily. This year have never felt more exciting. After almost 18 years of placing motherhood before me, I just realized that I am finding my way back to me. At the age of 46, life is marching on and I am thrilled to find my writer’s voice again and that unstoppable feeling within my heart.

Hang out with lovely people. If those around you are constantly dimming your light, you might begin to feel a shade bit darker, too.

Lake Louise Wellness Retreat. The best retreat to discover new beginnings for yourself.

That last paragraph fits in because last year I took a retreat of sorts from relationships. And, it was such a blessing to come up smiling from within my own inner well.

When the world begins to pull us down, or more specifically direct circumstances that undermine our soul and self worth, make sure you know ‘when to say when,’ just like in the coffee shop.

Too much cream and it ruins the perfect cup. 

Blog, Travel

Motherhood & Graduation

As my son approaches his senior graduation in six months, 2017 became the year to reflect and remember. Some say don’t look back,  but we must, if we are to learn from the past and understand how our daily choices and thoughts leads us to right where we are right now.


I never knew that a big part of my identity was rooted in motherhood. I had thought that I had my own ‘intense sense of purpose’ besides being my son’s mom.

However, I happened to be wrong.

You might think this realization brought on the inner-side of me that wants to reflect more, but just the opposite. I showered my heart and soul with more love.

After looking back over the last 18 years, I see much sacrifice and devotion. I made choices that didn’t always make sense to others, but they did to my mother’s instinct.With this year ending and the new year beginning and my son graduating in 2018, I am grateful to my younger ‘mom self’ that rooted her purpose in motherhood. While other my other titles, ‘wife,’ ‘writer,’ ‘marketing executive,’ ‘yogini’ all are fabulous, too, becoming a mother was just what I was born to do.

I have that now with my family of three-my husband, who has made Jackson the center of his own world and raised him like his own son and Jackson, my soon-to-be-18-year-old-that’s-off-to-college.

They say ‘It goes fast.

That expression doesn’t exactly capture the truth. You think when you are a young mom  with the days stretched for hours and beyond, that motherhood will continue on forever.

And, motherhood does…in different chapters.

I recently won a yoga retreat to my favorite place in the world, Lake Louise, Canada at the Fairmont Chateau. The retreat helped me define my feelings of motherhood and redirect my thoughts to higher ground. In Yoga, Zen—non-attachment is key. Of course, easier said than done. And, I have written in one of my books, LIVE LOVE SOUL that I find “Non-Attachment” to be a find a balance of truth, love and reality. This is true for motherhood, too. While, I was at my retreat I came up with an affirmation that has given me much solace and reprieve from that aching ’empty nester’ feeling:

*”There are no losses in motherhood. Only new beginnings.”

After returning home, my buoyant step has returned. My shoulders are back. My eyebrows are relaxed, and once again, all is well in the world.

I see now how mothers all over the world (and including fathers) must suffer from this feeling–a loss-that we feel when our children grow up and leave home.

Now the future is his to create and make. We still have a few months ahead of us before graduation. He is wrapping up his college applications. I am proud of him no matter what college he ends up choosing. I am just excited he had the courage to reach for the moon.

Turn away from the doom-gloomers, the naysayers, those that say it can’t be done and go for your dreams ANYWAY. We don’t always achieve every dream, but isn’t that the point? Living, dreaming, trying, carving out the best possible life you possibly can? With each step a new door can open. With each goal, a new dream can be achieved.

Jackson has a few favorites in California. I am not sure which one it will be. I am just thrilled he has the courage to dream big and explore his own future.

When we have the courage to say YES to life, amazing things can happen. Doors unexpectedly open. Opportunities knock on our door. Never let the safety net of home keep you back. Fly to new heights.

So now I am here at the end of 2017, looking back. I am proud of myself as his mom. I put aside my own feelings and allowed his to become first, just what my parents did for me, too. The sand does keep going down the hourglass. Chapters change. Life remains…if we are so lucky enough to keep on living.

Motherhood changes but the mothering remains.

*Some would argue that this affirmation is not true. It depends on how you define your own version of motherhood. For me, this affirmation has worked wonders! 

Tulum, Mexico: Machel Shull shares inside secrets on traveling to Tulum, Mexico
Blog, Travel

Yoga Retreats in Tulum, Mexico


It is 2017 and if you are a yogi or yogini, there is a high probability that you are online looking at yoga retreats to add to your calendar of events for this year. In addition, if you have been in the yoga community for a while, you know that taking a yoga retreat anywhere — even nearby where you live can be costly for your wallet. Not to mention, space availability goes quickly.YogaShala-Tulum-Yoga

I know that self-care and self-love is number one for us and good to keep in the forefront in terms of health and well-being. However, it can be a little depressing when, just as you’re about to sign on the dotted line for your next yoga retreat, you realize airfare and transportation are not always included.

After researching online, I was shocked at how much the total bill would be if I add up the retreat cost – which usually ranges from $1500 to $4500 – with travel and food expenses. I have good news, though! There are options out there and other ways to take a retreat by yourself or with a friend. After visiting Tulum last fall and seeing some of the yoga retreats in person, I discovered ways you can go to this wonderful place and enjoy a week of yoga practice right near the beach, without breaking your pocket book.


Yoga Shala


This yoga spot is just on the other side of the road from the turquoise water and the white sands in Mexico. Nearby are many other hotels and a few restaurants.

I checked with Yoga Shala, and found out that you can buy a one-week pass for $50. You can check room and other rates on their website. But keep in mind that this popular yoga spot in Tulum gets fully booked pretty quickly. If you book in advance, you can reserve a single room for under $50 a night, or share a room with a friend for under $80.00.

Why stay here? Besides the excellent pricing, the tropical atmosphere surrounding the yoga studio, which is made with a thatched, bamboo roof, will make you feel like you are in paradise, and the beach is within walking distance to the studio. Location, location, location.

Air Travel

Check Volaris Airlines. If you live in Southern California or nearby Arizona, you can fly out of Tijuana, Mexico and book a red-eye to Cancun for a direct flight. Sleep on the plane and wake up in paradise. Go on their website and sign up for their emails. This is how I found out about their lower airfare prices to Cancun and their monthly specials. I have purchased a round trip ticket for under $300.

You can book Volaris out of the U.S.A., too. You simply need to check their route map on their website. For economical airplane travel, they are similar to US-based Southwest Airlines.



You can ride a bus from the ADO line from Cancun to Tulum for under $20 one way, depending on the time you arrive. We averaged about $15 a ticket one way.  This bus is like a charter bus, with air conditioning and comfortable seats. Travel time is about two hours with a couple of stops along the way.

Tulum, Mexico, Yoga

Maya Tulum, Mexico

Cab to Hotel

Taxi fares cost roughly under $15 when you hail one from the beach. Some accommodations in Tulum that are near bus stops typically offer you the option of renting a bike. I just took cabs when I traveled or walked, because a bike rental, if not included with place is about $12.00 a day. This amount still isn’t too much if you consider your own personal budget and what works for you. It does get humid, so consider that, too.

Total Price

If you booked a 4-night/5-day stay, you could do a trip with yourself alone or friend for under $900 to Tulum—including airfare, transportation, breakfast and yoga included. You could make it less, too if you decide to share expenses and living quarters.

Other Options


Tulum has many choices for yoga retreats, ranging from different pricing and experiences.  If Yoga Shala is sold-out for accommodations, you can still buy a yoga pass to practice yoga for the week and book at other nearby options on the map. There are hostels, bed and breakfast spots within two miles and biking distance with good reviews.

You could also stay on the beach in a cool camping Bed and Breakfast place at Turquesa Tulum Jungle Camping. This lovely spot is within walking distance to Yoga Shala. It’s under a 9-minute walk on a street in paradise that will inspire your soul right before you begin your yoga practice.

Tribal Yoga Tulum, offers budget yoga retreats, too. It is very close to the beach and the pictures look stunning inside the yoga space. They have a yoga retreat for $353 to under $850, based on days of stay.

Another wonderful option for those who prefer to stay on the beach is Play Esperanza which is about 3.5 km away from Yoga Shala. It’s located along one of the most beautiful streets in Tulum, with a view of the Mayan Ruins.

Two other hotel properties that I also saw were Shambala Petite to Maya Tulum. Thesare right on the beach, so expect these prices to be higher.

This year in 2017, I look forward to my return so I can try out these retreats, too.

I hope these tips helped you discover a few new retreats and ways to enjoy yoga. From a midlife yogini still working on her yoga groove, cheers to you and your new goals in 2017.

Keep dreaming.

Machel Shull, Yoga in Canada
Blog, Travel

Yoga and Lake Louise

Yoga and Lake Louise
Sophie Machel Shull, Headstand, Yoga, Lake Louise, CanadaThis picture is when I experienced a sudden surprise trip I was able to take to Lake Louise, Canada with my mother-n-law, my husband’s uncle and girlfriend. Last minute someone couldn’t make it and I was able to squeeze in. The trip was like something out of a movie really. Five days on a train from Vancouver to Lake Louise, Canada. I thought I would share this experience with you because it does tie into my book SPIRITUAL. 

I am so excited to release by book soon, this is one I have been working on for about a year or so. I have published two other books with a wonderful Mind Body Soul Publisher-O Books (Ayni Imprints) in the UK for my first two books, MIDDLE AGE BEAUTY and LIVE LOVE SOUL.

But for my third, I thought I would try on my own. I must say this process in itself has been a happy soul journey. Trying this avenue has been a leap of faith and fun to try something new.  But back to Canada and this photo of me doing a handstand. What made this trip so special, besides being a last minute fabulous surprise?

Well, in 1998 I had been married once before and traveled to Canada for my honeymoon. On the trip I read Dr. Zhivago in Tofino on Vancouver Island. I had always loved the movie with Omar Sharif.

So I finally read the classic novel that special week.

My first marriage was really wonderful in many ways…but with life comes change and with so many somehow we didn’t make through those as well as we had hoped.

In 2002, I ended up getting divorced. I had a two year old son that I dearly loved and the good news was the divorce was amicable for all three of us.

Like most, being divorced wasn’t on my road map. I hadn’t figured that into my scheme of dreams. I felt a slightly sideswiped by this new turn of events. But I was determined to keep my chin up, keep dreaming and believe in my best self. I wasn’t sure if I would ever re-marry. I wasn’t sure if I would be lucky enough to find love again. Maybe that was too much to ask?


A lucky girl like me was fortunate to have a wonderful grandma Lula that shared her wisdom regarding positive thinking during my twenties with me. She sent a copy of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s book, THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING. This book helped me so much in making choices regarding my life. Back to that question- “Maybe that was too much to ask?”

Well, If you know the teachings of Dr. Peale, then you know, he was a believer in prayer and so was I. After a few years of being single, I started praying with my mother that I would meet the right man that would be a great match for not just me, but also as a step dad for my son, Jackson.

We prayed for three years….

In the meantime, I must admit, I had lots of fun with my girlfriends in San Diego. I got on with life. And I became a columnist and a magazine writer for local publishing companies in the area. I didn’t just sit around waiting, my life was full of happy moments and fun times. In fact, even though the prayer had become a ritual, more like a quick conversation to catch up with my mom, I had kind of let go of that dream and was okay one way or the other.


One day, a few years later, I met a lovely young man that proclaimed he would marry me. “Really?” I asked, intrigued by his confidence.We ended up becoming friends. But would you believe it, we did indeed get married a few years later and he was right.

“Keep your dreams close to your heart.” Last year when I squeezed in last minute in the Canada trip, when we got of the Rocky Mountaineer in Lake Louise, there was another train at the train stop.

Dr. Zhivago Train- in Lake Louise. My trip to Canada with my my mother-n-law, Katie Shull.

Dr. Zhivago Train- in Lake Louise. My trip to Canada with my my mother-n-law, Katie Shull.

It was one that had been used in a movie set and preserved there for tourists to see. The train had been used in the DR. ZHIVAGO movie. When I read that, my heart felt so heavy with love and appreciation for my little circle of life, my ups and downs and all the in between stuff and the meantime moments of waiting for other dreams. What made it extra special is I was with my mother-n-law this time around…another trip back to Canada. (I mean, if you knew what an avid reader I am, this would even make this coincidence even much larger, plus it’s not every day I hop off a train at Lake Louise to see Dr. Zhivago train staring at me.)

So dearest reader,  if you are dreaming and praying for new things to come in your life,  make sure to keep having fun in the meantime of your schedule. You might need to be a bit patient. Not everything happens when we want it to. But believe in the divine plan of things. Believe in the power of prayer. Never giving up on your inner right to find peace, love and joy.

This book HAPPY SOUL is really about using 10 steps that I share to help through the ‘meantime of our lives,’ the ordinary, which can be extraordinary, too.

Never believe that you do not DESERVE the gift of happiness or true joy. Expect miracles and keep dreaming. You might be surprised at how wonderful life can turn out when you strive for your divine right to be happy. Life is yours to create. I hope my book Happy Soul will be one more tool to help you never give up on yourself.

Life will not always go the way we hoped it would, but if we hang on, God might have something even better than you could have ever thought of before. As I look back over the story of my life, some of the scariest moments were my most important. I am not sure what I would have done without the power of Biblical scripture. It reshaped my future. I am so grateful I held on to my hope of being happy. Being happy isn’t just feeling. It’s a way of life. It’s how you decide when you get up in the morning what way your day will go. In essence, this is the story of my life. This is my journey and what lead me to the ten suggestions to living a happier life, in my newest book, SPIRITUAL.

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my blog. Wishing you to be your best self and to always believe in the beauty of happiness and the power of your dreams.





The Open Seas

The Open Seas

Luxury cruising is all about the journey.

by Machel Shull

Holland America luxurious travel fine magazine june
Holland America luxurious cruise travel

Thankfully, luxury cruise liners have preserved the art of travel, allowing for days spent on the open seas devoted entirely to relaxation and rejuvenation. And there is no shortage of voyages departing from southern California.
Accompanying the luxury of balmy weather is our privy access to the port of San Diego, which welcomes travelers from all over the world. Those looking for an escape can book a cruise that sails between new and exciting ports.
Holland America Line, which still boards out of the Port of San Diego during the wintertime, has nearly 140 years of experience sailing the open seas. In fact, the oldest cruise ship line in the world—P&O Cruises—only pre-dates Holland America by 36 years. And thanks to its “Signature of Excellence” program, Holland America has upgraded amenities, improved dining options, expanded the youth facilities and added larger cabins, providing an option of luxurious travel.

Gone are the days of small portholes and crammed beds. On Holland America Line, guests can book a grand suite the size of a two-bedroom apartment, devoting nearly 1,300 square feet of personal space on the ship. The penthouse Verandah Suites include a king-sized bed, Jacuzzi bathtub with shower, a separate living room, dining room, expansive windows and a private verandah—all enhanced by luxurious décor. Guests also have access to 24-hour concierge service at their fingertips.

Out of the Port of San Diego on the Holland America, guests have a choice of a seven-day excursion to the Mexican Rivera or a 21-day cruise to the Hawaiian Islands. And the indecisive can choose both with the 21-day Mexico and Hawaii Collectors’ trip. Beginning off the shores of Mexico, this voyage docks in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, before island hopping in Hawaii, dividing the days among Hilo, Lahaina, Honolulu and Nawiiwii in Kauai. For those who cherish nothing more than the vast blue horizon and the ship parting the Pacific Ocean, this trip offers 10 days out at sea between the ports in Hawaii and Mexico.

For a longer and more adventurous cruise, take the quick drive up the coast to Los Angeles Port, from which Crystal Cruises departs. This luxury cruise line has options for traveling many ports all over the world, including the “Los Angeles To London Explorer Combination.” This 33-day excursion takes guests halfway around the world, including port stops in Mexico, Costa Rica, the British West Indies, New York, Iceland and Norway.

Crystal Cruises luxury cruise line fine magazine june
Crystal Cruise line’s have amazing destinations

Amazing suite on Crystal Cruises fine magazine june
Amazing suite on Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruise line dining on the patio fine magazine
Crystal Cruises fine dining on the deck

See this changing landscape from Crystal Cruises’ well-appointed staterooms and suites, which boast private verandahs, Internet access and the softest linens, including plush Frette robes and personal slippers. The Crystal Penthouse has separate living and dining areas, a private workout studio, three flat-screen televisions and a personal butler to anticipate every need.

When all you have to do is walk on board, travel becomes a moment to be savored, a relaxing retreat that can change your worldview. As Miriam Beard said, “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

And living is about the journey.


Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Playadelcarmen-mexico-reflection-travel-pieceMachel´s Ranch
I brought a wardrobe with me to Playa del Carmen. Usually when I travel to Mexico, I travel light. As my husband slept last night, I arranged my outfits perfectly in the wardrobe. I tried on my various outfits for the trip under the silence of our thatched roof in our hotel room The humming of the ceiling fan added that ´white noise´ effect that felt like a zen meditation moment in the wee hours of the morning. Then I actually did meditate. You know, like Julia Roberts did when she played Elizabeth Gibert in EAT PRAY LOVE. I sat with my legs crossed, my back straight and I took in those deep types of breath you forget to breathe in every day normal life. The cold Spanish tiles added another layer of mystery to the ambiance is surrounding me. During this time of reflection much gratitude emerged from my heart. An overwhelming sense of how special it is to be alive; to share, to experience, to commit to this moment and open your soul to feel the power of love.
After meditating, I laid down on the hard mattress in the darkness of the night. I could see bits of light streaming in from the outside  behind the drawn curtains. I stared up at the A-frame thatched roof with thoughts of how my journey has taken me here to Playa Del Carmen in the silence of this place, the foriegn surroundings with the smell of seasalt mixed in with moisture dangling above me. The White sheets seemed oddly ethereal in the dark.
What is this life but a vapor? Do you know that passage from the Bible? That’s how it feels right now. Like life is so precious. Like each momento needs to be savored, loved, held onto so I do not forget the textures, the smells and the feelings that embue  me. Life can be incredibly short. That’s what I want to tell you from Playa del Carmen. So make each moment count. Be soft. Be bold. Be real. Feel something. Don’t numb yourself to the beauty  because there is so much to be thankful for each day. Tell someone you love them. Thank you for reading my column. I am grateful for you. Thank you for that.
Story originally appeared here: Playa Del Carmen

GranSueño Resort & Beach Club

Best Resort in La Paz Mexico: GranSueño Resort & Beach Club

Why you should stay at this resort in La Paz Mexico

The Sea of Cortez has been the site of many dreams, famously inspiring John Steinbeck to pen “The Pearl,” a novella about the discovery of a giant pearl. The sea’s tranquility sets the stage for moments of peace and reflection, drawing travelers in search of treasure or an escape. Why you need to stay at Gran Sueno Resort, one of the best resorts in La Paz, Mexico.

My interview with Gran Sueño Resort & Beach Club Managing Director, Mark Azoff

 GranSueño is located on the ‘Bay of Dreams’ near La Paz, Mexico. When did this  destination open and what is the resort’s style?
Mark Azoff: GranSueño was originally built as a private second estate residence of the founder of the Bahia de los Suenos development. The original footprint of GranSueño covers some 30 acres of the 4,300-plus acres of ‘the Bay’ development, located in a relatively remote oasis on the Sea of Cortez. It was designed to showcase the possibilities of what (others) could build as their own dream. In addition to his dreams and vision for a spectacular seaside resort community resonating a classic Mexican/European village, the founder also brought paved roads to the property edge and brought in electricity, water and Wi-Fi technology.

As a resort, GranSueño took the private home feel and in late 2006, evolved as a collection of villas and casitas now totaling 23 rooms. As its buildings are generously positioned throughout the 30 acres laid out against the sea, whether it’s sold out for a large private group event or occupied with a mix of couples and families, GranSueño always feels private. There are several common gathering places on the grounds, including the spectacular white sand beach, Trenes restaurant, the fabulous Establo (stable) and several so-called public pools. GranSueño is truly a dream unto itself and can provide the backdrop of personal dreams and special memories of each of our guests.

 Located on the Sea of Cortez, what excursions are within reach of GranSueño?

Azoff: GranSueño is just 36 miles southeast of the Baja Sur capital city of La Paz and 75 miles northeast of Los Cabos. Both vibrant cities have their own wonderful culture, restaurants and tourist attractions. Also within an hour’s drive is the artist village — and surfers’ mecca — of Todos Santos on the Pacific Coast. GranSueño is located at what is locally known as a sport fisherman’s paradise, where the Dorado, marlin, yellow fin and the like are in abundance throughout the year. We are also close to spectacular diving and snorkeling in what Jacque Cousteau referred to as ‘the aquarium of the world.’

What is available to guests looking to enjoy a spa getaway?
Azoff: Presently, all spa treatments are done on-demand by appointment. Services come locally from La Paz and can be performed either in a treatment room on site, a private location on our spectacular grounds, or in-suite.


FINE: The Sea of Cortez adds to the allure of GranSueño. What kind of pampering can a guest expect at the resort?
Azoff: Our pool and beach service are similar to those provided in other world luxury destinations. Our staff-to-guest ratio is more than one-to-one. Our team is trained to be able to react to guests’ needs and communicate swiftly to meet their needs. Beach and pool service in particular include cabana reserve (on availability) chaise lounge set with towels, iced cold waters, snorkel gear and an attendant onsite for food and libation service throughout the sunny day.

FINE: La Capilla Del Cielo, ‘The Chapel of the Sky,’ looks like an enchanting place for a wedding. What kind of experience could a bride and groom expect here?
Azoff: We have had the honor to serve many weddings over the years. While our Capilla is a truly uplifting, magical and spiritual place of GranSueño, there have been several venues on the property that have been host to the traditional and not-so-traditional ceremonies. We custom design all of our weddings, preferring not to label or price packages as it limits guests’ creativity in planning their special day. As we are a destination, weddings are destination events typically encompassing three or more nights. There are no limits to what our professional event management company won’t go to achieve our guests desire to make their lifelong weddings dreams come true. Remember, we are GranSueño — a ‘grand dream.’


Many people in the U.S. are still hesitant about traveling to Mexico. Is the La Paz area safe compared to other cities in Mexico?
Azoff: This particular question does come up, and we liken it to a geography lesson. First of all, La Paz is one of the safest cities not only in Mexico, but the entire world. That being said, guests anywhere should demonstrate respect and intelligent behavior no matter where they travel. The issues about Mexico in general that are purported in the media, actually happen closer to where we live in the U.S. than where travelers are in Baja California Sur. We are proud of our security and safety record at GranSueño, where we have similar systems to other resorts in the world. La Paz is a modern city of more than 300,000 residents — a kind, generous people who welcome the opportunity to host tourists from around the world. Tourism is a key ingredient to the economy in La Paz, and the community is passionate to nurture and grow it.


Jamul Haven Luxury Bed and Breakfast – Southern California

Jamul Haven Luxury Bed and Breakfast – Southern California

Dear Bill and Mariann,
I am sitting in the white furry bathrobe I found hanging in the closet. I am reading your magazines on Victorian homes and relaxing, while my husband is having the most peaceful sleep. For a bit, I hung out in the Angel House kitchen and ate the delicious snacks I found in the refrigerator. I drank the milk and ate the banana. Then I called my mother and told her I was having the best birthday of my life. We haven’t even left the Peacock Room because we love it so much. We had forgone dinner in town because this time is too precious at your beautiful B&B and I don’t want to waste it by eating at a typical restaurant. My heart is quieted by the stillness and history of this room. Time feels trapped here and I am so glad to have found “Jamul Haven.”
“Sometimes dreams do come true,” is what I said to my husband tonight. Thank you for having us stay here this weekend. You deserve more blessings because you have blessed others by restoring such a wonderful historic landmark. God Bless you Always.
Sincerely, Machel Penn Shull and Robin
This was my entry the weekend of my birthday at a Bed and Breakfast I had found on the Internet. Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you. You don’t realize there is an ache in your heart until something reminds you it’s still there. That’s what happened to me at this quaint B&B. I found pieces of my childhood inside the walls in Angel House. I sat there on the wraparound porch and watched the clouds drift across this hills. I listened to the birds sing that weekend I turned 39. I reminisced about what I still miss, which is the farm I raised on in Missouri.
What I want to focus on here now with you is what I discovered that weekend. I unearthed the most amazing getaway that is like something out of a Jane Austin novel. We’re talking history and romance restored inside a ranch that was established by Charles Gifford in 1890. He was the first person to can olives successfully for commercial sale in America.
The owners today — Marianne and William Roetzheim — took three years to restore this historic landmark into an already internationally recognized B&B. The, which is an exclusive group of independently owned hotels in Europe, USA, Canada and Southern Africa, rate list only five B&B’s in America and Jamul Haven is one of them.
What you must know is there is a place within reach where you can escape for one or two days. You can find the relaxation you need and pampering in one of the finest B&Bs. You can drive to Jamul, which only 40 minutes to from Del Mar. There you can find reprieve in a forgotten time you cannot find here in San Diego.
Perched up on a hill, above the gated communities near the golf course there, Bill and Marianne have created a retreat where you feel safe from worries in the real world. Their caring nature and their suburb manor as the hosts of Jamul Haven, reassures you that good down to earth people do exist.
After one of the best breakfasts I have had in years — I had frittata, ham, fruit, homemade coffee cake, plus more — you simply don’t want to leave. What I discovered there was a little piece of my soul that still misses the red earth in Missouri. Thank you Bill and Marianne for letting me go home, albeit if only in my dreams.

This story originally appeared: Jamul Haven Getaway


Sea of Cortez La Paz Mexico

I thought I was going to tell you about my trip to La Paz. That was my original intention for this week’s column. In fact, my entire trip I kept trying to come up with the opening line in my mind. “There is no sense of urgency in La Paz. Life is slow, drawn out like the little ripples across the shores of Baja California.”
I was going to tell you about the importance of taking time to slow down and to remove your mind from computers, technology and all of those “must have” gadgets. I wanted to tell you how the hot air in Mexico felt like the softest wind to ever caress my skin. I wanted to tell you all of these grand things. However, as I sit here in the wee early hours of the morning, those images are wonderful, but they cannot convey to you the tranquility I found in a small fishing town, that most have overlooked as a vacation spot. I cannot capture in words the serenity I found in those scattered hot moments of daily showers to keep cool, or the wonderful day we laid out in the sun too long and my husband was sunburned. I cannot fit into this column the emotion that sits in me as I write this. I am pondering my thoughts to dig out the shining days we so loved. Yet, I cannot convey to you what I found in Mexico.
What can I tell you? I found pieces of my soul I had forgotten. While honeymooning in La Paz, I remembered the importance of silence and reflection. Lately, I have been so busy trying to do as much as possible when really I have missed out on the simple things we seem to forget, or maybe it’s just me. I think with all that has transpired over the past couple of months, I took refuge in those 10 days in stillness of the blue sky. The simple shades of the shallow water near the shores of town spoke to me.
I even found a bus ride to Cabo San Lucas to be one of the most romantic days of my life. Robin and I had chartered a bus to Cabo for one day. On our return ride home, we accidentally bought tickets for the bus that made all of the pit stops on the way back. Our two-hour bus ride turned into a crammed ride with local residents and their children watching a black and white movie in Spanish. Our legs were squished against the seats, and the speakers had a high-pitch whistle blaring out of the overhead-outdated speakers. This was not the trip back we had planned, but it turned out to be one of my favorite moments. The beauty of the resorts, the peaceful water, all of it reawakened that sense of innocence that I had misplaced. “I enjoyed the journey.” You know, that cliché saying that’s been written in too many self-help books over the last 30 years.  
I found all of these little lessons for me in those 10 days under the hot sun. I reflected on the importance of gratitude and love. I thought about all of my wonderful friends, and co-workers I had back in San Diego.
As I took my last ferry ride across the Sea of Cortez back to the airport, I kept thinking of the opening line for this column.
What I discovered is sometimes words cannot replace the experience of a soft summer breeze or the quiet moments we find in a fishing town called La Paz.

Story originally appeared: Sea of Cortez 


La Paz Mexico

Things to do in La Paz Mexico

Sometimes ‘peace of mind’ is only a flight away, located in a small little Mexican fishing town called La Paz. True, there may have been love in the air, as my recent visit was a honeymoon excursion, but I’m not the first person to fall in love with this unique fishing town located on the inside tip of Baja California. John Steinbeck, the legendary author, depicted La Paz in his novella, “The Pearl.” He described the air there as “miraculous.” I, too, was affected by the soft, summer breezes, the peaceful solitude, and a sophistication that might surprise you.

Only two hours away from Cabo, La Paz offers all the luxury of its neighboring resort towns. More importantly, I found that travel inside Mexico was effortless. There are many reasons, from swine flu to politics that travelers are side stepping areas of Mexico. However, my trip succeeded in debunking many of these myths. For example, we opted to fly out of Tijuana and found the airport to be safe and clean. A direct flight on Volaris gets you to La Paz in less than two hours. Immediately, as you descend, the most gorgeous body of water will mesmerize you. Imagine a shoreline with light blues and emerald greens that exemplifies an ‘untouched’ non-tourist feel. The vibe is much like that of San Diego; people are friendly, shops and streets are well kept, and a feeling of well-being surrounds you.


For the conscientious traveler, “deals” can still be found. A ‘surf and turf’ dinner costs only $35.00 American dollars. Margarita’s are big, authentic, and always happy hour price. There are many ways to explore this small town. You can walk the streets or rent a boat to the tiny islands and swim with the sea lions. At night time, you can hang out near the sea shore and enjoy the local residents and their culture. My favorite restaurant is El Patron, which is located right across the bay from Paraiso Del Mar. This wonderful resort is located across the bay of La Paz and provides its own private and secluded beach. Golf cart taxi’s take you everywhere within the resort, and a pleasant ferry ride gets you into town. The peninsula also has a fabulous golf course and a wonderful restaurant under a tiki hut.

So, the next time you’re plan a getaway and seek the finer things in life, don’t forget the simpler pleasure of La Paz. My ten day stay in La Paz brought more than sun and surf. The equivalent of an Australian “walkabout”, La Paz offers weary travelers a chance to rejuvenate, take in the luxuries of nature, and truly recharge. Remember, finding your peace of mind is a short flight away and a secret I don’t mind sharing.

This story originally appeared as feature cover story here: Things to do in La Paz