Author: leslieschipper

48 Hours in San Francisco

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I promised to update my travels in real time, but I’ve found it difficult to do as every weekend has found me back on the road or on a plane. That little responsibility called a job has me tied down during the weekdays and the weather has been TOO BEAUTIFUL in Seattle to even think about staying inside come 5 o’clock. However, I’ve finally been able to upload my photos and reflect back on some weekend warrior trips.


A month ago, a small group of us flew down to San Francisco to surprise Jared’s brother for his birthday.  Growing up near the Bay Area, I have spent my fair share of time in the city,  yet every trip offers new perspective, hidden gems and new neighborhoods to explore.  It would be impossible to create an extensive guide for exploring the diverse districts and the countless breweries and restaurants to try. In an effort to keep it simple, I’m giving a breakdown of the most mentionable moments of our 48 hours in the city.






City Views from Parc 55


Parc 55 Hotel: If you are looking for something central, Parc 55 is hard to beat. Situated right in Union Square (the most visited neighborhood in SF) you’ll find Bart station, the 9-Story Westfield SF Centre and some of the cities most popular restaurants and cafes. Which leads me to…



Dotties: Be prepared to wait in line and definitely bring a snack if you are prone to getting “hangry” (hungry + angry). We took the suggestion from a barista and waited , waited and waited for the restaurant to be able to sit our party of 6. Mistake #1, split up if you have a large party. Breakfast turned into lunch but I have to say it was worth it. We definitely ate enough for 2 meals and still had food to take home. Known for their baked goods, we succeeded in ordering 6 muffins.  With flavors like red velvet and blueberry cream cheese we had to try one of each! I would be more strategic in my approach to eating at Dotties again, but I would definitely do it (in my stretchy pants).


Rouge Ales Public House: After a longer afternoon of walking up and down San Francisco’s hilly streets, nothing satisfies thirst like a solid beer. We sat outside in the sun, toasted to Jakes birth and enjoyed the giddy feeling of beer buzz and sunlight.


Sightglass Coffee // Ritual Coffee Roasters:  Because adventures don’t really begin without coffee.


Andy’s Coffee Roasters was my favorite. Small and cozy, the husband and wife team working behind the counter own the quaint shop in the Sunset District. Away from the hustle and bustle of the loud city and only a few blocks from the surf, if I lived in SF you would find me here on the daily.



If you’re traveling on a budget, Fishermans Wharf provides free fun with street shows and people watching. A run through Golden Gate Park takes you away from the concrete jungle and into green, with over 1,000 acres to explore. And in true fashion of keeping close to the Sea, a stop to walk by the Ocean and pick seashells and sand dollars is a must.


Till the next city venture, I want to know where you go in San Francisco. Tell me your favorite sites, dive bars, swanky clubs, museums, and districts. Ready, get set, GO!

Motivation Monday : Project Gratitude

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It’s one of my favorite words and a strong guiding value in my life. I don’t know how many times a day I quietly send a thank you to the creator for the AMAZINGNESS that keeps unfolding before my eyes.  With Thanksgiving around the corner, our awareness shifts to being thankful because the external world promotes Thanksgiving holiday complete with turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie! ( 3 very great things to be thankful for ;) ) But what about every other day of the year? My good friend and editor of Vibrant Wellness Journal came up with “Project Gratitude”, to celebrate thanks and giving for an entire month.  If you’re feeling inspired, join me in Project Gratitude by sharing images//photos//quotes//writing about what makes you feel blessed =) Hashtag #projectgratitude and your post may end up on Vibrant Wellness Journal :)

Although the project doesn’t officially begin until November 1st, I’m bubbling with appreciation so I’m starting early!

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Today, I am thankful to have spent the weekend with my yogi community + Paul Miller Ortega as we were initiated in the practice of Neelakantha Meditation. There is too much to say and not enough I couldsay about the experience.  So instead of using my own words, which could never do justice, I will quote Paul, “Our practice of Neelakantha Meditation is an ancient, beautiful, sophisticated, and deeply refined method by means of which we come to know this transcendental, mysterious, deeply present reality of everything everywhere. The first and most important place we come to know it is within ourselves.” A lifelong journey I am more than ready to begin. :)

What are you feeling grateful for today?

Aloha Friday : Break up with Boring

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This weekend  I urge you to break up with boring.  Step away from your rituals and comfort zone.  Find an area in your life where you’ve felt less than satisfied and give it some extra love. Life is anything but boring, don’t treat it as such.  We hold the responsibility to wake up and LIVE each day to it’s maximum potential.  Don’t let everyday obligations crowd your schedule and force out the necessity for FUN.  Actually, if you’re going to add anything more to your agenda, it should be time to engage in some unexpected shenanigans.

Anyone have epic plans this weekend?! Share your ideas! Aloha nui xoxo

Dirtbag Darling spotlights || DAISY ||

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Who is Daisy? Daisy is my boyfriend’s 1979 VW bus that has been supplying the stoke to not only him and I, but friends and family since her purchase this past January.  She is a true adventuremobile, a bus who has seen more states and sights this  year than some have seen in their entire life.  I’m super blessed to have a man whose love for nature and thirst for expanding experiences reflects my own- keeping us planning for the next big trip and daydreaming about all the places that need to be explored.


Thanks Dirtbag Darling for sharing Daisy’s story and being a source of inspiration for the ladies who love a challenge and the great outdoors!

Check out the story at Dirtbag Darling and look around to get tips on everything from climbing, hiking, traveling, gear, health and fitness.

Motivation Monday: Return to the Present

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feeling most present surrounded by God’s creation. I’m called to explore & wander.

“To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water.  The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace & beauty available now.” – Thich Nhat Hahn

Looking back on my emotionally charged month, I recognize that my moments of anxiety, suffering and unhappiness all have deep roots in looking too far ahead towards the future.  It has been a challenge for me to remain present, focused on the NOW because mentally I began checking out as soon as I set my departure date to Seattle.  My mind is full of clutter planning for the weeks ahead- job searching, house hunting and day dreaming about what my days will be filled with.  (So far, I have created a mental list of hobbies to fill my winter days with including becoming a master health chef, rainy art days, hours devoted to improving my writing one espresso shot at a time, meditation meditation meditation and road tripping the PNW Coast.)

My dilemma is tangible.  My mind is not separate from my body and yet they are in two completely different places.  I am aware that NOW is all I have, that THIS moment is filled with joy and happiness if I only shifted my attentiveness to it.  So why do I continue to obsess about what will happen in two weeks and what life will look like in six months?  Right now is enough.  Actually,  it’s more than enough, and I’m learning to embrace it. ALL of it – the beauty and the struggle, the peaks and the valleys.  Remembering that no feeling is final, and tomorrow will come soon enough.

What keeps you grounded in the present moment? How do you tune into life “as is” right now? Where do you find content?

Aloha Nui and Happy Monday! xo

Happy Aloha Friday!

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.: views from Stairway to Heaven :.

“live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each… Open all your pores and breathe in all the tides of nature, in all her streams and oceans, at all seasons.” – Thoreau

As one season of my life quietly transitions to the next, I embrace the possibilities of the current juncture.  Although my physical location may change, I take with me infinite experiences that have shaped my being.  My eyes have photographed stunning images that will dance in my mind long after I depart. I’ve memorized mountain ridges and waves, westside beaches and glows from a boundless sunset.  I could never truly leave as pieces of my heart are dispersed all over this island.

I resolve to be more like nature with the intention to live a season in it’s entirety and recognize its temporary existence.  What fear should be held knowing that each cycle blossoms fully before evolving into the next?

Wherever I go,  I bring with me abundant aloha- the buoy to my soul.

Malas & Mantras – Om Ganesha

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“Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha”


This mantra is a salutation to the remover of obstacles Lord Ganesha.

Ganesha is one of the most popular and well known deities honored throughout India and Hindu cultures.   Easily spotted with his large elephant head and pot bellied human body, Ganesha is also the God of success and revered for his wisdom and cleverness.  These qualities combined with the ability to remove obstacles lead believers to a ritualistic practice of  invoking Lord Ganesha before beginning any auspicious work or activity, having faith that he will bless the path of new ventures.

Head over to the Vibrant Wellness Journal  to read more about japa, meditation and chanting.  Vibrant Wellness journal is a holistic health, green living and clean eats guide where I regularly post and share my love and knowledge on all things yoga!

Motivation Monday: Awakening the Mind State

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PC: Mike Keany [Wa’ahila Ridge]

“The whole path of yoga begins with these little daily experiences of waking up.  Awakening comes, in yoga, not at the end of the path; rather, it is present from the very beginning.  Ramakrishna, perhaps the greatest Indian mystic of the last two centuries, was fond of saying, “Only the divine can worship the divine.” In the experience of samadhi, in other words, it is our awake nature that recognizes itself in the mirror of consciousness.  In these moments, we are dissolved back into the One that is our source.” – Stephen Cope [ Yoga & the Quest of the True Self ]

We’ve all had our experiences of samadhi (bliss or union with the divine) and in these moments we know who we really are.  We rest into our true nature and recognize in the deepest part of our soul, everything is as it should be.  There is nothing to accept and nothing to reject. Life just is as it is, and that’s perfect.  These tasted moments of union may be brief, but they are the reminder that we can arrive and awaken everyday to our life.  It’s not enough to just show up. We have to engage and shake from the dream of separateness in which we usually live.

Sometimes this concept seems so simple to me. Other times, it’s a calculus equation I can’t begin to disassemble.  But in these succinct moments, there are no partitions or boundaries. I feel  a break through from daily life and grind.  I’m not worried because the illusion of separateness is broken.  I am aligned with the present and I know I am provided for.

Yoga puts our experiences of enlightenments at the center of our being and it’s difficult to turn back after that.  All of us who have had these experiences know, in spite of our denials or rationalizations, that we are changed by them.  Exiting out of samadhi and landing back into ordinary consciousness, we’re not quite the same.  We’ve seen truth and are not so concerned with the small picture anymore.

 I have moments where I can’t unroll my mat, I don’t want to chant, meditation is unbearable and I’m unmotivated to teach.   But yoga remains because it is my mode of transportation to truth.  Bliss may only come in moments, but the imprint it leaves on my spirit is permanent.

Happy Monday // aloha nui!

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