Guest Stories

Why Are We Setting Intentions Anyway? Connecting Your Goals to Your Truth

Wellness expert and coach Amina Altai helps her clients build healthy professional and personal lives. Among other things, Amina is a former Getaway guest and featured on our upcoming season of The Getaway Podcast. She shared with us her thoughts on intention setting and being your best professional self in this new year.

I’m a healthy business advisor and I help people feel really great in their work, whether it’s in the context of an organization or in their own business.  After being on the front lines of entrepreneurships for the better part of a decade, what I learned was that healthy people and healthy businesses are intrinsically tied.  In my coaching practice, I look at experiences holistically through a mind, body and business approach to growth. We evaluate clients’ relationship to themselves, food, work, movement, relationships—all of it.  Because it all impacts how we show up for our work and our purpose.

So when the new year rolls around and all my clients pile into sessions fretting about their new year’s resolutions and with a litany of work goals, diets and workouts to labor away at, I ask one question.  Why? What’s the point here?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that goals and intentions are a bad thing at all.  I commend the drive to grow and clearly, I value human transformation. After all, I’m a coach whose life’s work is to inspire people to be their best in work and in life. I fully believe that when we relinquish what weighs us down and fill our lives up in the right ways, we are freed to do what we’re meant to do in this world. Self-help equals world help in my opinion.

If self-help is defined as “the use of one’s own efforts and resources to achieve things without relying on others” or as a “self-guided improvement”—I’ve noticed there is a propensity to totally abandon the “self” in this equation. As New Year’s rolls around I see self-help bingeing—pre-ordering every book before it even hits the market, signing up for every boutique fitness workout ClassPass will allow, and binning everything that isn’t Whole30 approved.  Resolutions and goal setting can become a drug that eats away at the real you.

The only person that can thrust you into greatness is you. Your path can be inspired by, but not found on, the pages of just any book. And if you really wanted to #liveyourbestlife, we need to journey to the truth of who we are and why we do what we do. And no one is better equipped to guide you there than, well, you.  New year’s goals and intention setting can be incredible and valuable—there’s no doubt about it. However, like a quick-fix diet plan, goal setting and new year’s resolutions can be chaos if they’re not connected to the truth of who you are and your deep why. Resolutions and intentions by themselves are not enough. If you want to thrive, you need to have self-awareness around your goals and intentions too.

Why do you want what you want?  Is it what you need for your own personal growth or is it a societal, cultural, familial ideal you think you should want for yourself? I invite you to think deeply on that.

My time as a coach, as well as through my own deep soul searching, I’ve done some serious diving into why we want what we want. I’ve learned that ideals around work, weight and lifestyle are indeed learned but the precursor to those ideals are beliefs.  Our belief systems are learned from our families, caretakers, cultures and subcultures and they are often unconscious and unexamined. Beliefs about our self-worth, our value in the world, the work we do, and how we should look are all acquired. Growing up in a household where the story line is “we’re not enough” will likely cement the belief that you are not innately valuable.  So, you eat to comfort yourself. You overwork to remain lovable. You do what you think you should do to hide.  And then when you feel slightly out of control, you set goals and intentions to course correct the behavior instead of the belief. So as you scribble away on your new year’s intentions, I invite you to find your why and answer the below questions to set yourself up for a powerful and authentic 2020.

2020 Intention Setting Exercise

I recommend starting with a little celebration.   Taking a moment to feel joy for what we achieved often points to our why as well.  Take a moment to witness where you won big this year, what the circumstances were that supported these big wins and how it made you feel.  And then I want you to think about where you might have missed the mark and what you want to release as a result.  

Celebrate: What were your big wins in 2019? Why did they feel so great? What conditions were present for you to achieve this level of awesomeness?

Release: What do you want to let go of from 2019? Honor and release any shame from your lows.  Shame, just like beliefs, are often programmed into us as well.

  1. My Mission Is…
  2. My Big Juicy Vision Is…
  3. Who do you want to BE this year and why? Is this something that is deeply connected to your broader mission or is it programming from an old belied system? (Notice here I asked who you want to be, not just what you want to achieve or do) What do you need to heal or transform to BE this version of you in 2020?
  4. What do you want to create this year and for whom?
  5. How do you want it to take shape?
  6. What next steps do you need to take to become this version of you and serve how you want to serve?  What do you need to do over the next 30 days, 60 days, 90 days?
  7. What resources do you need to bring this to life? How can you creatively access or manifest these resources?
  8. My 2020 mantra is…

Now, I want you to think big picture for 2020.  I invite you to think of your broader mission and vision and how you’re doing to bring it to life.  You can do this for one specific area of your life, or all areas.

If you’re looking for the perfect place to set your New Year’s intentions, you know where to go. Make your escape today.

Local Guides | New York City

Where to Find Balance in New York

We all could benefit from bringing more balance into our lives. Our busy work and social calendars can burn us out and tire us out easily. That’s why we’re bringing you a series of recommendations for the best places to find disconnection and balance. We still believe leaving the city is the best way to recharge, but that’s not always possible, so it’s important to find sanctuaries even in the middle of our cities.

Here are some of our recommendations for our favorite places to rejuvenate in New York.

For Meditation


With a mission of making humans feel good, MNDFL is the perfect space for someone looking to integrate meditation into their routine. In addition to a variety of classes, the space also offers space for self-guided practice when there are no sessions.

For Yoga


New York has an endless supply of wonderful yoga studios, but a great one to try is Yoga Vida. With a wide variety of classes and a mission to make yoga accessible and inclusive, it’s the perfect place to find your new yoga community.

For an Immersive Wellness Experience

If you’re looking for a new and different way to relax, consider Modrn Sanctuary. The wellness center aims to be “a haven for those looking to calm their senses and relax.” With everything from personal meditation domes to Himalayan salt baths, it’s the ideal place for anyone looking to explore the newest trends surrounding a balanced lifestyle.

For Greenery


For those looking to head, the best place to disconnect in the middle of the city is Central Park. While some parts may be filled with tourists during the warmer months, there’s still plenty of space for you to take a break from the hustle and bustle and go for a stroll.

City Escape

These are all great practices to build balance back into your routine. Sometimes nothing beats a quick and simple escape from the city.

Atlanta | Local Guides

Where to Find Balance in Atlanta

We all could benefit from bringing more balance into our lives. Our busy work and social calendars can burn us out and tire us out easily. That’s why we’re bringing you a series of recommendations for the best places to find disconnection and balance. We still believe leaving the city is the best way to recharge, but that’s not always possible, so it’s important to find sanctuaries even in the middle of our cities.

Here are our recommendations for our favorite places to rejuvenate in Atlanta.

For Meditation


Get in your daily dose of deep breathing with Sacred Chill West. This yoga and meditation studio offers classes for all levels and will teach you comfortable seating options and tips before leading you through a lightly guided session.

For Yoga


If you disconnect through strengthening your body and sweating it out, check out Dancing Dogs Yoga. This studio offers a “kick-ass, feel good yoga community” and Baptiste Power Vinyasa classes for a range of levels.

For Walking

Atlanta Outpost

Take a break by taking yourself out on a stroll. The Atlanta Beltline is the perfect place to walk, take in the sights, and relax. With plans to connect 45 neighborhoods by the time it’s completed in 2030, this project will become one of the easiest places in the city to decompress.

For Learning

For Learning

If you need some help learning how to reintroduce balance into your life, sign up for a course at the Mindfulness Center of Atlanta. With everything from one-day retreats to eight-week classes, the center works to encourage well-being and healing as a way to enhance therapy and medical treatments.

Getaway Atlanta

These are all great practices to build balance back into your daily routine. Sometimes, though, nothing beats a quick and simple escape from the city.

Boston | Local Guides

Where to Find Balance in Boston

We all could benefit from bringing more balance into our lives. Our busy work and social calendars can burn us out and tire us out easily. That’s why we’re bringing you a series of recommendations for the best places to find disconnection and balance.

We still believe leaving the city is the best way to recharge, but that’s not always possible, so it’s important to find sanctuaries even in the middle of our cities.

Here are some of our recommendations for our favorite places to find restoration in Boston.

For Meditation


If you’re looking to practice your deep-breathing and meditative skills, sign up for a class at Mindful Boston. The meditation center offers everything from beginner classes to professional training. If you’re new to the practice and just want to try it out, check out their free weekly community nights.

For Greenery


We all need to spend time outside. Large parks and gardens are there for when we can’t go all the way to a state park, and the Boston Public Gardens is the perfect spot. Find a moment of solitude by taking a nap under a tree or watching ducks play in the pond.

For Walking

Walk Outside

If you’re looking to take a solo walk, consider taking a trip to the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. There are miles of trails to follow and plenty of beautiful plants and trees to stop and admire.

For Yoga


If you prefer to disconnect through mindful exercise, check out Down Under Yoga. The local studio boasts a large group of skilled yoga teachers and aims to “help people and communities realize the best version of themselves.”

Boston Outpost

These are all great practices to build balance back into your routine. Sometimes, though, nothing beats a quick and simple escape from the city.

For Your Free Time

Getaway Presents: Breathwork 101

We met Kathleen Booker ahead of our National Day of Unplugging meditation event at The Assemblage in New York. We were immediately struck with her calming presence, and her incredibly intentional approach to breathing. She put the whole room to ease.

As she led a group of around 40 of us in a blissful meditation, she invigorated the whole room with her approachability, energy, vitality, and warmth. It is just this spirit that have drawn many towards her. Most recently, she was invited by Oprah to host a breath work healing workshop at a screening event for a documentary around childhood sexual abuse.

As a survivor of abuse herself, Kathleen recognized that the audience was triggered. Dealing with their overwhelmed energy, their anxiety, and their stress, is where Kathleen shines. She’s found the healing power of breath, and she’s living proof of that herself.

We asked Kathleen to give us the rundown on breath work strategies we can use at home.

A Note From Kathleen:

The Breath has supported me to release a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety from the trauma…Thanks to the Breath, much healing has taken place within my mind, body and emotions.

I dance with joy in celebration FOR myself…I am CONFIRMATION of the powerful healing of Breathwork.  I have had a personal Breathwork practice for over 15+ years.

Your Breath Heals: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Now let me be clear, there is still more healing for me to do.  However, I am NOWHERE near where I was 10, 5, or 1 year ago — Thanks to the Breath.

World renowned integrative medicine doctor Andrew Weil, M.D. says “Practicing a regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”

Breathwork 101

Medically speaking, Conscious Connected Breathwork releases cortisol/stress from the body and increases the good feeling endorphins in the body.

This is called homeostasis/balance in the body.  With Breathwork, peace will prevail and permeate your mind and body.

Results from Conscious Connected Breathwork:

  • Releases anxiety/stress
  • Enhances sleep
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Sharpens focus and concentration
  • and MORE!

How is the healing with Breathwork showing up in my life?

Gosh…Can ya say happy?  There is a flow pervading happiness within me that has become my default energy.

And…Synchronicity of incredible opportunities are showing up: being invited to be a healer at Oprah’s event!!!

My relationships are deeply authentic and loving.  I speak my authentic truth with heartfelt ease, and I am boundless energy!!

Breath Heals.

I always share with my clients: life is gonna life…Stuff is gonna happen. 

However, the Breath gives us the ability to respond, not react, to what happens in life.  This is the distinction.  The response comes from a place of inner peace, balance, and focus – that is the power of the Breath.

Your Breath is your key to a Life Lived Vivaciously!

Local Guides | Washington, DC

Where to Find Balance in DC

We all could benefit from bringing more balance into our lives. Our busy work and social calendars can burn us out and tire us out easily. That’s why we’re bringing you a series of recommendations for the best places to find disconnection and balance. We still believe leaving the city is the best way to recharge, but that’s not always possible, so it’s important to find sanctuaries even in the middle of our cities.

Here are some of our recommendations for our favorite places to find restoration in D.C.

For Meditation


Get in your dose of deep breathing and relaxation at recharj in downtown D.C. With a goal of delivering “peace of mind in a noisy city,” this studio offers everything from meditation classes to power nap sessions. Join a class or schedule a private session and let your everyday stressors roll off your shoulders.

For Greenery


One way to relax is by making sure you get a healthy amount of nature and sunshine. Take a break from the city and stroll through part of this 1,754 acre park. Rock Creek Park was one of the first federally managed parks in the United States and it currently offers hikes, picnic spots, and even horseback riding.

For Yoga


If you’re looking to disconnect by strengthening yourself and your body, book a class with Down Dog Yoga. With four locations in the D.C. area, this studio offers classes in Baptiste Power Yoga, blending “strength, sweat, and spirituality.”


These are all great practices to build balance back into your routine. Sometimes nothing beats a quick and simple escape from the city.

For Your Free Time

Easy Tips for Staying Balanced Throughout the Day

Holistic health consultant and healthy lifestyle designer Paola Atlason doesn’t believe in just taking vacations for balance. She practices self-care every day and incorporates balance into her daily routine. Paola will soon be unplugging and de-stressing in one of our cabins. But in the meantime, Paola is sharing with us her tips for bringing the best parts of Getaway into our daily routines.

Practical and easy self-care tips for staying balanced throughout the day

One of my favorite ways to recalibrate is by being in nature. As a New Yorker for the past 20 years this is not always easy, so I rely on a handful of self-care rituals to keep me grounded throughout the day.

I would first like to demystify what “self-care” means- it simply refers to any practice in which you feel cared for and supported. It doesn’t involve costly products, it doesn’t have to be time consuming, you can do it from the comfort of your home and in your own time. It should be practiced in bite sizes, throughout the day, every day – not saved exclusively for Sundays.

The most important ritual is to begin the day with a focus on yourself. Those few minutes spent in nurturing silence set the tone for the rest of your waking hours. The following is my trusted 3-step morning routine, one that I’ve practiced for years and still brings me joy:


By placing attention on the breath upon awakening, we welcome clean energy into our bodies. Conscious deep breathing oxygenates the blood and ignites internal heat, which is very important during the cold winter months.

The Technique:
While laying in bed take a full deep breath in for a count of four, and slowly release for a count of six. Feel free to sigh or open your mouth as you exhale. Repeat for 4 to 6 rounds and as you scan your body, smile, stretch and indulge.


As you open your eyes, in your mind list three things you’re grateful for. This easy yet highly effective practice changes your brain chemistry and shifts the focus onto the positive. Keep it simple to begin with (I’m often grateful for my hands and sunlight). Once you get going, your list will grow.


My favorite hands-on ritual is “dry skin brushing”. This practice promotes circulation and detoxification by stimulating the lymphatic system (aka the body’s washing machine). Using a natural bristle brush – before you shower – with firm yet gentle strokes start at the bottom of your feet and brush up the legs, torso and arms, and back down the neck and chest towards the heart.

Paola Atlason Head Shot

For detailed step-by-step instructions and brush recommendations please visit my blog.

Features | Guest Stories

Guest Book: Jeri Choi’s Family Friendly Tips

Jeri Choi has stayed at Getaway DC a number of times and we love how she’s made a new tradition for her family of four (soon to be five). We asked Jeri to share more about her experience with Getaway, as well as her favorite family-friendly places to stop along the way.

“Are we there yet?! Are we there yet?!”

Only 15 mins into our estimated 2-hour drive and we were already hearing the chants and giggles get louder from our 2 kids in the backseat.

The kids were so excited. We were on our way to the Getaway.

My husband and I try our best to catch up and talk to our kids at dinner each night and then pick up the conversation as part of their bedtime routine. We listen to them talk about their day, read them a book, and pray for them. But that time is never enough—there are always more stories from what happened at school and more jokes they want to share.

Especially during certain seasons of busyness, we find that we can lose ourselves crossing off to-do lists, following a strict schedule, and living by our Google Calendar all while making sure that the kids are fed, clean, and generally doing well.

It was one winter, during a particularly busy time, that my husband suggested we go away for a few days as a family. A getaway to the Getaway, to retreat as a family of four.

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Our very first trip actually took us close to 4 hours to get there. We stopped multiple times for bathroom breaks, for coffee, for gas, to change a diaper, and eventually got stuck in traffic because of the rain.

It was horrible. It’s not what I had planned or imagined. I wanted the two days away to be the best—about us, disconnecting from our busy lives and reconnecting as a family. But here we were, in traffic, spending the majority of it in a parked car on the highway.

The last stretch of traffic made our kids really antsy so we decided to take just one more stop before heading to our cabin. We stumbled upon a shopping center with a Target, about 35 minutes from the Getaway.

The kids ran down the aisles, getting out all their wiggles, following us as we looked around for diapers and milk. Moving through the aisles, our kids got a hold of different snacks and toys and continued to ask me if we could buy it. Annoyed from the rain and the cold, I didn’t even hear what they were asking, just responded with, “No. We have to go.”

Our daughter grabbed a box of cereal, tugged on my jacket and asked, “Can we get this for breakfast? I’ve always wanted to try unicorn marshmallows!” I quickly snapped back, “No! I planned to make pancakes so we’re having pancakes for breakfast.”

I saw her put it back on the shelf and she hopped back onto the cart as my husband pushed it. He turned around and smiled at me. I walked towards him and he put his arm around me and said to our kids, “Hey guys, let’s hurry up here so we can go!”

As we were checking out, our son started to cry. He was hungry. We were all hungry and we needed to eat dinner. In the same shopping center was Panera. We made our way over and sat down in the booth. Our daughter at this point was tired and started to wind down, putting her head on the table. Trying to revive her excitement and also to remind myself of why we came, I kept telling her, “Just wait! As soon as we get there, we are going to have so much fun!” She looked up at me and said, “Mama, but this is already fun!” Her face brightened up as she looked at me and continued to tell me stories of what happened at school—right where we left off the other night before bed.

I tried to hold back my tears as I was trying to eat my broccoli cheddar soup. The idea of wanting rest and connecting with my family looked effortless in my perfect schedule. I wanted to cross off my to-do list of our trip to find rest when really that would never give me peace.

Obviously, not following it made me unhappy—living like this would never make me happy. I needed to lay down my selfish and unreasonable expectations for myself, as a mom, as a wife, and for our family. There will always be a to-do list but only one moment in time when our kids are little. I just needed to be present for my daughter, for my family.

I apologized to my daughter for my crabby attitude. And my very keen daughter responded, “It’s ok mom. I forgive you. I get like that when I’m hungry too!” We left Panera with full stomachs and a new sense of excitement. Our last 30 minutes in the car were filled with singing, guessing games, and laughter. We were enjoying each others company and even decided to make one more stop at Sheetz to grab ice-cream for dessert!

We pulled up to our cabin and unloaded our bags. The kids had so much fun holding up flashlights for us to see the path from the car to the door. We were all wet and cold, but our cabin was warm inside and greeted us with a pleasant smell of wood and fresh bedsheets. We washed up, put the kids in their pajamas, and talked some more in bed. Right before falling asleep, our two-year-old son said, “this is the best ever.” And it was. It was the best ever.

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Since then, our family has gone two more times. We book our trips when we know we’ll have a busier season coming up for us. It’s become our new tradition. On the way to our cabin, we’ll all take turns sharing knock-knock jokes that we’ve been saving up, talk about school and work, share our hopes and dreams. We stop by that same Target from our first trip where our kids will each pick out a snack of their choice along with a box of cereal to eat for breakfast the next day. Then we make our way over to Panera to grab a bite to eat while talking about what we want to do during our stay.

Here are a few places we’ve stumbled upon either by accident, because of a bathroom break, or because one of our kids yelled, “Can we go there?!” We hope you and your family enjoy them as much as we do during your Getaway. We can’t wait to go back again but this time with our new baby!

Culpeper Colonnade (15295 Montanus Dr, Culpeper, VA 22701)
The shopping center we always stop by on the way. About 35 mins from the Getaway; has stores from Target, Dicks Sporting Goods to Panera, and Chik-fil-a.

Yoder’s Country Market (2105 S Seminole Trl. Madison, VA 22727)
It’s a market, deli, petting zoo, and also has a playground! For lunch, we drive 12 mins from our cabin to Yoder’s Country Market. The deli has great food and we’ll take some time to shop around for some snacks. The kids love the free petting zoo behind the market and when they’re done watching the goats and peacocks, they’ll make their way over to the playground. We’ll also grab Trickling Springs ice cream to enjoy on the rocking chairs in front of the market.

Moo-Thru (11402 James Madison Hwy. Remington, VA 22734)
Our family loves ice cream! We try to stop by Moo-Thru either on the way to the Getaway or on the way home from our trip because of the distance- about 45 minutes from the Outposts. If the weather is nice, the kids will run around outside or we will take a break under the pavilion to eat a packed meal and
enjoy our ice cream.

Sheetz (7020 Seminole Trl. Ruckersville, VA 22968)
I know its just a gas station and convenience store but its open 24 hours! It’s inevitable that you’ll forget to bring something, especially if you have children. We’ve made so many runs to Sheetz for all sorts of things, even in the middle of the night, just 15 minutes drive from the Outposts.

Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive (Swift Run Gap Entrance Station at Rt. 33)
The kids love to explore around our cabin and take pictures of interesting finds. We also run into other people staying at the Getaway walking their dogs and the kids love greeting them. But if we need to get out, we drive 15 minutes to enjoy the beautiful view at Shenandoah National Park.

S’mores and campfire (at the cabin)
One thing we look forward to is the campfire to make s’mores! Getaway is so kind and gifts you a s’mores kit, however, make sure to pack extra graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows because if you’re anything like our family, we can always eat more s’mores!