WHAT DOES GIVING BACK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

Why should I or how could I... give back? Have you ever asked yourself that? No big deal if you haven't but I can assure you it's a worthy investigation for your soul. 

The secret to living is giving
— Anthony Robbins
Inspirational Addict Blogger and Wellness Influencer Andrea Bogart talks giving back with recent Sonoma Fires on her mind as a new Sonoma Mamma with Erik Almas

Are you a helpful human? I’m a helpful human. I know I enjoy doing things for others. I'm sure we can share in that confidently right? I also can admit there have been times in my life where I thought I was too broke and way too busy making ends meet to give back in any sort of way. I snarled at street beggars and would think to myself “do better, try to get a job, I am”. I wasn't compassionately thinking about what their story may be. Those were very limiting beliefs. I am happy to say, that young and narrow mind of mine has expanded quite a lot since those days. It’s hard though… sometimes you just don't see how to help others if you’re struggling yourself. Let's grab a little insight together on this.

Ask Yourself A Few Things

Is there a cause you know your heart is drawn to? What are your passions? If you had a million dollars to spare what contributions would you want to make? What do you care about? Where would you like to make an impact? What does your spirituality look like? Feeling inspired yet?

The Northern California fires that just blazed in like a hurricane over wine country and my new home have given me reason to pause. I'd like to take how abundantly blessed we've been through it all and find ways to give back for those who've lost so much. I've never had to emergency evacuate before. Nor consider the safest decisions to quickly make with a newborn and partner you love dearly. I've never had a home of my own that I had to think about loosing so fast. I tend to think anyone who has experienced this would agree, you very quickly realize the only thing that matters is your families safety. While it's difficult not to implode with sadness when there is so much suffering in the world, you can shift a lot by focusing on gratitude and sharing that energy with others. Incredible strength has come from our Sonoma community in group and individual efforts. We've returned to signs of thanks for our firefighters and first responders posted everywhere and a sense of warmth engulfing this town with supportive conversations, smiles and waves to every passing neighbor, offers for home cooked meals, places to stay and introduced to loads of resources where people can help in a multitude of ways. Examples of giving back surrounds us.

Inspirational Addict Blogger Andrea Bogart and wellness influencer in Sonoma talks giving back after Sonoma Fires. 

I joined The New Hollywood; a501c3 non-profit organization which is dedicated to supporting socially conscious storytellers and change-maker’s in 2014. I was so inspired by this group of women from the first meeting we had. They all have incredibly busy lives and manage to successfully wear several different hats AND are part of charity organizations doing a wonderful job supporting things they are passionate about. I got curious about how I could do more to give back and what that could look like for me. Inspiration is always a helpful tool when it comes to taking action yourself. Being a part of this group, hearing about what so many others do on small and large scales gave me insight to look and see how I could do the same. It's infectious. 

Get Your Wheels Turning

My passions for teaching yoga, writing children's literature and acting have lead me to give back in all those areas by volunteering my time with aligned programs. These are really enjoyable ways to give back for me. What do you love to do?

If time is not available but monetary donations make more sense in some instances, I like to know what percentage directly get's given to the cause. Don't be afraid to get clarity on that. Watch out for things that say "some proceeds or a portion of" if you in-fact would like to know your offerings go fully into what you're supporting. 

I love doing a major house cleaning a few times a year and donating requested items to the Veterans. They will pick up boxed or bagged goods at your door and you can schedule it. What may not be of use to me anymore may be extremely useful to someone else. This is a great one for kids to participate in when cleaning out toys. 

Depending on your spiritual path and what your practice is... prayers cost nothing and are filled with intentions and love. Our family is especially grateful for all the prayers sent our way during the past few weeks and we plan to keep that prayer train moving. There is a lot of healing knowing there's positivity being sent your way, not to mention what you can put out there for others. We often have our greatest healing happen when we take that which feels heavy off of ourselves and redirect it into love and gratitude you can share. 

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Thank you for stopping by Inspirational Addict... If you have any comments or fun you'd like to share with me please do. It's lovely hearing from you guys. Sending lot's of love out there into the world. Blessings and hugs.

XO ANDREA

 

 

Getting To Know Sonoma Wine Country

Isn't there just something so divine about being in wine country? If you've never been... grab your sun hat & some comfy shoes and let's take a stroll through Sonoma, California. 

Photo by Erik Almas

Photo by Erik Almas

After being born and raised in Missouri and spending the last seventeen years in Los Angeles, I can't say I saw moving to Sonoma's historical and lush wine country in my deck of cards... but here I am— and feeling truly blessed. With two beautifully renovated vacation rental properties on Airbnb and traveling back and forth from here the past two years, we've fallen in love and decided to stay. 

Fresh air, slow drivers, organic food, hiking, biking, an active community, vino tastings galore, views to die for and romance at every turn... a sense of peace, tranquility and tenderness engulfs my soul in this sweet town. It couldn't come at a more perfect time as we embark on parenthood and start our family life here.  I'm soaking it up one day at a time and thrilled to share some of our favorite discoveries.

Photo by Erik Almas at Sonoma's Best

Photo by Erik Almas at Sonoma's Best

Sonoma's Best

Lets hop on over to one of Erik and I's daily stops. A quaint little country mart with flying goat coffee (the best in town), a deli serving fresh ingredients and organic breads with a wine bar, tastings and cottages on the property for rental. The staff is our favorite and seemingly this spot has become our hub for making friends, meeting the locals and enjoying seeing the tourists dabble in all it's many offerings.  

I'm intrigued by experiences. While wine tasting is the heart of Sonoma and provides every bit of that, having not been drinking for the last nine months has lead me to appreciate the experience of a place even more. We love to get on the bikes and visit the local wineries giving us a little exercise and opportunity to explore our town. 

Photo by Erik Almas

Photo by Erik Almas

Scribe Winery

Scribe Winery is the perfect place to cruise up the palm tree lined drive way, lay down a blanket and cozy up with your partner or meet some friends to relax on the hillside overlooking the gorgeous vineyard. With cool vibes and being aesthetically pleasing the small garage like tasting room is worth popping in.  Order the charcuterie and assess your mood... maybe it's the 2015 Skin Fermented Chardonnay or the 2016 Carneros Pinot Noir... our group loved both when we ventured here last summer 2016! Explore the property a bit and fall in love with the newly renovated 100-year-old Hacienda, we'll meet you there! Reservations are required.

Scribe Tasting Room

Scribe Tasting Room

2016 Fun At Scribe

2016 Fun At Scribe

Bartholomew Park

A well rounded few hours can be spent biking to Bartholomew Park, hiking their 2.5 miles of trails above the property and end it with a wine tasting or just having a glass on their grounds. It's a stunning hike with the perfect amount of sun and shade, challenge and ease and views from the peak points and a cavernous trek through the majestic redwoods. It also happens to be where we got engaged... so it's quite special to us. 

Fairmont Mission Hotel & Spa

As I was introduced to the popularity of this this gorgeous five-star luxury hotel, I did what any ambitious yoga instructor looking to connect with her new community would do, and reached out for a position. Gratefully I was hired and have been teaching Yoga On The Lawn on the weekends until our baby girl arrived a few weeks ago and will start back soon. The yoga room is stunning and they offer such a variety of hotel activities and classes for guests and non-guests if you book a spa treatment. I've had the privilege of roaming this beautiful property, enjoyed meeting guests and scheduled my own pre-natal massage to get the full experience everyone was raving about. One of the coolest things is the property sits atop Boyes Hot Springs, a natural, thermal mineral spring that is now used to offer spa services at the hotel's Willow Spring Spa (Wikipedia).  After my delicious massage I enjoyed soaking and swimming in the geo-thermal pool and lounging about indulging in the organic choices from the Water Tower Bar. So even if your a local like me, ha local... this can feel like a great stay-cation.  P.S. come see me there for some yoga!

SWEET SCOOPS

Ok If you've followed me at all you know I'm an ice cream lover. I really indulged during my pregnancy. I'd be lying if I said that has stopped... now that our bundle is here. I eat very little dairy but this is where a girl gives in...me at least. Sweet Scoops is right downtown on the Sonoma Square among several lovely shops, great restaurants and yummy tasting rooms also referred to as the Sonoma plaza. Aside from being a homemade ice cream parlor, and the scent of warm waffle cones drawing you in, they use locally sourced, fresh ingredients and it's simply adorable. I can see my little girl twisting my arm to go here all the time, "Ok honey, I guess we can as long as we get two scoops." Favorite flavors are salted caramel and oatmeal cookie. 

Photo by Erik Almas 

Photo by Erik Almas 

Sonoma Fun Facts

  1. The State of California was founded in Sonoma
  2. It's been named the #1 wine destination in the U.S.A.
  3. It's the largest square plaza in California 
  4. It's been also named the happiest place in CA.

Well if those aren't enough reasons to fall in love with a town I don't know what would be! 

Don't forget to check out our Airbnb listings... the fun of renovating and learning with my fiancé on how to create something beautiful is worthy of it's own blog post, so stay tuned for that,  but here are the links to entice you to make your way to Sonoma for a vacation soon!

A sophisticated Wine country Cottage

A Luxe Country Getaway

I began writing this blog before our baby surprised us with an early arrival. I have paused to blissfully enjoy so much of mommy-hood these past few weeks... I've finally gotten back to it and finished this. Thank you for taking a little trip around Sonoma with me. I have to say.... I'm just loving everything at the moment. Truly grateful to have landed here with the love of my life and trusting this was the right place to be to start a family was the best decision our instincts made. If you make it this way, send me a message. If you've been her and you have some great recommendations for me... I'm ALL ears! Lot's of love and much more to come

XO ANDREA

BLISSFULLY ENGAGED & INSPIRED

Well, what can I say... I've been dreaming of the day I'd fall in love with the man I felt certain I'd get to grow old with. I've watched Father of the Bride more times than I'll admit, noted the song, When You Say Nothing At All and a few others as potential wedding tunes and looked forward to the day my Dad could walk me down the isle. We all enjoy a good love story don't we? Here is a little piece of mine....

Photo By  Tania Soderman

As a woman in my 30's, may I give recognition to an old English phrase from 1892 extolling the virtue of patience, "All things come to those who wait" often used as "Good things come to those who wait" [Wikipedia], both of which I'm fond of and have always found inspiring. I know we can all attest, one's romantic life isn't just rose petals and dreamy moments but I believe when you allow yourself to be open, get clear on who you are and trust the timing of your life— when the good arrives, you are ready and it will light you up and fill you with love and gratitude beyond measure. 

Photo by  Tania Soderman

I was pretty certain after a short time, Erik was the one. So aligned as we'd share our hopes and dreams. It became evident we both were excited about getting married, starting a family,  continue to support and challenge each other and look forward to the years of growing wiser and older through it all.  Even after countless conversations, laughs and smiles about looking forward to doing all these things .. nothing prepared me for the emotional moment he surprised me with popping the question, "Andrea Bogart, will you be my wife"? A blubbering and ecstatic "yes of course I'll be your wife" came out of me. 

Our families; my mom and dad, his mom and grandpa, all were in Sonoma for a few days overlapping one another's travels for Thanksgiving and we were so excited to have them meet and visit our Sonoma home. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend together and planned to continue to relax, walk, shop, eat and hang together on Monday.  Our families came up with a few reasons why they couldn't go on our favorite hike with us mid-morning. Not thinking anything of it we took off to quickly do it on our own. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, I was in my usual Aloyoga attire and Erik in sweats... we were off! The hike takes us about 45 minutes usually and sits in the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains of Sonoma Valley. We often stop and take some yoga photos and I force Erik to do some Instagram stories with me and we repeatedly talk about how much we love the variety of what nature showcases on this hike. The sky above is a perfect blue with powdery white clouds, the water is flowing through the creek from all the rain, giant mushrooms are sprouting along the path, I'm snapping photos of clover patches & yellow leaves the size of my face, the sun is glistening upon the dewy ground and red berry trees dazzle against the lush shades of green. My soul is soothed. 

 At the half-way point is an adorable, little pond we always stop at. As we neared it this day, I see an old wooden canoe. Blonde as blonde can be I say, "what the heck is a canoe doing here"? Erik says "come on, let's take it out". I reply with a concerned "honey, we can't just take out someones canoe". I notice a pep in Eriks step and as he spins around with a huge smile on his face. Walking closer, I now recognize it's the vintage canoe we shot a piece for our wine launching Stories By The Glass recently and in it laid one gorgeous white rose.  I'm feeling so many things at once; confusion, oh my gosh what's he doing, overjoyed, emotional, shaky, madly in love, nervous, excited, how did he manage all this... lot's of rapid thoughts. He takes my hands we climb in and paddle out. The water calms, I suddenly feel so at peace looking into the eyes of this amazing man. Loving words are exchanged. A stunning ring is placed on my finger. Tears of joy have filled our eyes. I want to leap into his arms but the wobbly canoe advises otherwise. We laugh and enjoy it.  We're Engaged! 

Photo By  Tania Soderman
Photo By Tania Soderman

Photo By Tania Soderman

Photo By  Tania Soderman

Glowing with happiness, Erik informs me our wonderful and talented friend Tania Soderman is hiding in the bushes taking photos, along with the three hardworking gentlemen it took to get the canoe there and Howard the canoe owner.  As we got out to finish the hike and they all emerged from the forrest. I was astounded at the help and generosity he had from several friends to pull this off. And now we are to finish the hike and head home to an intimate engagement party that's waiting for us, Erik explains! What!!!? Am I in a romance novel?

I see my family and his, dressed up waiting for us on the patio that's lined with gorgeous roses everywhere. As I hug him again I'm completely flooded with emotions and I spread that joyous, messy cry to our families. Continuing in, there are dozens of white roses showcasing our beautiful home, additional smiles and congratulations from some close friends that have joined and one of our favorite Sonoma restaurants, The Girl And The Fig is catering. It's all so touching and special. I pull myself together with a quick shower and change out of my yoga attire and into something more suitable and enjoy celebrating all together over an incredible meal and champagne toasts! 

This has been one of the most special times of my life. As my loving brother says, "sis, you've found someone that really shows and expresses how much you mean to him and that's awesome". I cherish how blessed I am to have someone like Erik and I will strive to always make him feel that, as always he does me. I've gotten choked up over and over again writing this. His grandpa asked if it felt different now. I think the most exciting difference for me is calling each other fiancé out loud... it's so fun and exciting to hear it and say it. I love it! Not to mention the rush of love we've felt pouring in from all of our friends, families and those supporting the next steps in our journey is incredible. 

Everyone helped so much and played a part and pulling this surprise off and I'm incredibly thankful. A special thank you to Howard, for so graciously gifting us that canoe. It's magnificent & we have such a special connection to now. And Erik... there is a lifetime of love that awaits us and I'm so very happy to share it with you. 

Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star
— E.E. Cummings

I hope love inspires you everyday in some way. Let it guide your heart to wondrous places and share it with the world. Thank you for stopping by and if you have a favorite love quote or song or story you want to share in the comments, please do! I enjoy our little Inspirational Addict community and hope it grows and grows!