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.

Artist Fellowship

Getaway Presents: Claire Gohst’s Playlist

Looking for a blend of classic and modern for your road trip to Getaway? On her recent Artist Fellowship at Getaway Blake Brook, Claire Gohst of indie rock project Paper Citizen put together her ideal escape playlist.

With a mix of classic hits and new indie rock tracks, Claire’s playlist is a great listen for a pleasant, upbeat drive to our Outposts. Listen along for some tunes from the Beatles, George Ezra, and Paper Citizen herself.

Artist Fellowship

Getaway Presents: Evelyn Frances’s Playlist

If you’re looking for a gentle singer/songwriter playlist for your escape into nature, then we’ve found the perfect playlist for you.

Evelyn Frances, who’s escaping to our New York Outpost this August, put together her favorite tunes to listen to while she’s relaxing. Featuring Bjork, Maggie Rogers, Mountain Man, and more, her playlist is great for your mornings at Getaway.

Artist Fellowship | Features

Artist Fellows of Getaway

With the hustle and bustle of city life, we know it can be hard for artists to find uninterrupted time to create. That’s why we created our Artist Fellowship Program, to give creatives a space in nature to work on their projects. We love seeing what our artists come up with and we’re excited to share some of our recent fellows.

Illustrator and New Yorker Cartoonist Jeremy Nguyen has been drawing since he was a kid, but he didn’t start working his humor into his art until he was a teenager.

“I really try to look at everything and anything,” Jeremy notes. “Something can strike me about a current event, or a new exercise fad, or seeing someone mad for getting too much ice in their iced coffee. I love finding jokes in the minutiae, but I also love taking on broader ideas and contextualizing them in ridiculous situations.”

Jeremy, who recently escaped to Getaway Catskills, believes in taking frequent breaks and enjoys taking naps, grabbing coffee, or grocery shopping for restful moments. His dream projects include drawing a graphic novel, illustrating a board game, and collaborating with his favorite brands for global campaigns.

Zai Divecha has been a full-time sculpture artist for four years and in the beginning of her career, she worked primarily with metal. After feeling frustrated by the heavy machinery and toxic chemicals in her work, she decided to move to another medium.

“At the beginning of 2018, I made the switch to working with paper, and it changed everything,” Zai reflects. “I felt more engaged with my creative process, more playful and happy in my day-to-day life, and way more proud of the finished pieces.”

“Lately I’ve been making these white, monochromatic, textural sculptures and installations out of paper,” Zai said. “The process itself is meditative and calming, and my hope is that the finished pieces make the viewer feel quiet and peaceful inside.”

Zai, who recently escaped to our New York Outpost to create, said her dream is to create a large paper installation for a wedding.

“I love being able to subtly affect people’s moods with my work. It’s the best compliment when someone says, ‘I saw your work the other day, and it made me feel so calm,'” Zai says. “The idea of making something that could serve as the backdrop for an emotional life milestone appeals to me.”

Looking for a creative break of your own? Book your escape now.

How to Getaway

The Art of the Girls’ Getaway: Dog-Friendly Edition

Sometimes there’s nothing better than escaping the city with your girlfriends and reconnecting in nature. Whether you want to explore a new hike together or just spend some wifi-free time bonding, we’ve put together a list of our favorite ways to spend a girls’ Getaway.

Play Cards

Going wifi-free with your friends is a great way to rediscover fun games, like cards. Every cabin comes with a set of cards and without the distraction of phones, you and your girlfriends can focus on the fun of the game and each other.

Explore Together

This is your chance to get outside and appreciate the beauty of nature together. Gather your friends and bring your pup along for a fun hike. We recommend packing a picnic, with dog treats for your furry friend, for when you all reach the summit.


Recreate the sleepovers from your teenage years by doing a face mask together. If skin care isn’t your thing, bring along some essential oils for an aromatherapy night. Have some self-care time together and pamper yourselves on your well-deserved break. If you brought along your dog, we recommend giving them a dog toy so they can feel special too.

Activity Time

Every cabin comes with a set of activities, ranging from word puzzles to questions to ask each other. Laugh over questions or put your minds together to solve the puzzles. Some activities are pup-friendly, like going forest bathing or tracing constellations. If you’re looking to bond with your fellow humans, give your pup this dog bone to keep them occupied.

Just Be

Don’t be afraid to do nothing together. Feel free to just relax together and snuggle up your pups. After all, you should go home feeling rested and recharged.

Ready for a girls’ Getaway? Grab your friends and hit the road. If you’re looking for more dog friendly tips, read more from our friends at Chewy.

Artist Fellowship | Features

Artist Fellows of Getaway

With the hustle and bustle of city life, we know it can be hard for artists to find uninterrupted time to create. That’s why we created our Artist Fellowship Program, to give creatives a space in nature to work on their projects. We love seeing what our artists come up with and we’re excited to share some of our recent fellows.

Painter Amanda Nolan Booker has been painting and drawing ever since she was young. However, it wasn’t until 2016 when she decided to go back to school and pursue painting full time.

“My work deals with memory, perception, and experience,” Amanda said. “I’m inspired by the everyday, in the mundane, but I’m equally inspired by mythology and storytelling. I want to account for the things that make up a life which are not easily defined or depicted.”

Amanda prefers to escape anywhere that’s quiet, so our Atlanta Outpost was the perfect spot for her to take some time to create.

“I work best when I’m alone and can listen to music and/or have conversations with myself out loud,” Amanda says. “Even if I’m not actively painting and just need to brainstorm, it’s important that I find a place for uninterrupted reflection.”

Six years ago, Richard Bonasoro turned his backyard into a small farm in the hope of growing his own food and living a healthier lifestyle. During this project, he started thinking about what he was putting on his skin as well.

“I started looking into soap making and finally made my first batch of soap right in the backyard in my garden,” Richard said. “I wanted a bar of soap with ingredients you could recognize without Google: organic olive oil, organic coconut oil, essential oils, and herbs and sometimes even vegetables from my garden.”

As part of his fellowship, Richard picked up his work station and moved it to Getaway Blake Brook. The soap he made there, inspired by his stay, combined pine, fir, needle, cedarwood, and cypress together with a lemony scent.

Richard, who owns and operates the Backyard Soap Company, says his dream creative project is to build a backyard garden utopia that’s inspired by The Secret Garden.

Interested in tapping into your own creativity in nature? Escape today.

Artist Fellowship | Features

Artist Fellows of Getaway: Leah MacDaniel

While Virginia-based photographer Leah MacDaniel specializes in wedding photography, she has always had a passion for landscape work as well. As part of our Artist Fellowship Program, Leah recently took to Getaway Shenandoah for some uninterrupted time with her camera.

Leah, who owns and operates Flit Photography, she starting taking photos after she inherited a set of antique 35mm film cameras from an aunt who passed away.

“For a long time, those cameras felt too special to use, so I kept them carefully packed away and dutifully moved them with me from place to place,” Leah said. “However, when I started my journey with minimalism, I decided that I could no longer hold onto these cameras just as a sentimental token – they either needed to be useful to me or they needed to find a new home.”

Once she took the cameras out for a spin, Leah started sneaking around at night to search for new places to photograph. She began experimenting with portraiture after one of her friends let her photograph them.

“I am a firm believer that every person should have at least one portrait of themselves that makes them feel amazing,” Leah said. “I would love to be able to use portraiture in an affirming way to help trans youth feel comfortable and beautiful.”

In the short term though, Leah’s been dreaming of photographing a styled bridal shoot in a swamp. First though, she’ll have to find a client with the same vision.

While Getaway allowed Leah to be both bored and uncomfortable, it also allowed her to grow and enjoy the space she needed to create. Leah frequently craves solitude in nature, so our Outpost was the perfect place to escape to.

“As an introvert, my internal batteries get drained pretty quickly,” Leah said. “I don’t have to do anything fancy. I just need a quiet space where I can be alone with my thoughts and tune in to what I really need.”

Interested in a creative break of your own? Escape today.

Campfire Cooking

Wine Pairings for your Campfire Cookout

Those of us immersed in the buying, selling, growing and making of wine are often called on to answer the all-important question of what to drink in every given situation. So, we at Early Mountain winery in central Virginia are thrilled to share our recommendations for the campfire. Some reflections:

You are an expert
Every wine drinker is an expert in their own tastebuds so speak with confidence at your favorite wine shop- sharing what flavors you generally like (feel free to use beer, cocktails, or wines you currently love as a reference) and don’t apologize for your preferences. If you like sweet and
fruit driven flavors, citrus, spice, or a bit of edgy bitterness a knowledgeable wine salesperson can guide you appropriately. We promise it will work better than grabbing the prettiest label.

Consider the food
Don’t get hung up with “rules” but some basic reference points can help guide you – sweet flavors (s’mores, anyone?) do best with fruit driven or sweet wines (Lambrusco, fresh young reds such as the Early Mountain Soif blend). Grilled pineapple shines with a demi-sec sparkling or Chenin Blanc. Grilled flavors sing with wines touched by smoky oak (Cabernet Franc, barrel aged Chardonnays). Mild flavors of seafood and veggies benefit from a zip of acidity (Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng).

Drink Local
We encourage you to skip the supermarket mass brands and instead pop into a local wine shop or local winery to see what is happening close to your Getaway. Whether central Virginia, upstate NY, or Texas hill country, the last 10 years have brought an incredible surge in passionate quality winemaking in lesser known regions. And many of these wines don’t make it beyond their state borders, so make your Getaway a chance to discover something new.

And we’ll let you in on a secret – any wine tastes better when you’re relaxed, tuned out, and surrounded by friends. So pretty much any choice will be a win.

Find out more about Early Mountain here, or book an escape to Getaway Shenandoah and be sure to check them out on the way there or back.

Early Mountain Vineyards is just a short drive from Getaway Shenandoah, and home to an award-winning tasting room and sprawling vineyards. We asked them for tips on how to pair wine for your next campfire cooking session.