Gurney’s Montauk Retreat with Fern Olivia: A Recap

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If you follow me on Instagram, you have likely seen lots of photos popping up from my time at Gurney’s Resort & Spa last weekend for Fern Olivia’s wellness retreat. While the projected forecast left a lot to be desired, it turned out to be a nice weekend after all—with only intermittent showers and overcast skies.

My day began with a just under two hour drive out to Montauk, which may not sound ideal, but once you make it out to the Hamptons the serene surroundings make driving a pleasure. Each time I head out East I always relish the slower pace of life that you begin to encounter. The East End of Long Island has a noticeably different feel from the rest of the Island—and is a completely different animal when compared to New York City. Regardless, I embrace the leisurely drivers, the windmills that I pass along the way, and the sense of excitement that overcomes me when I begin to see water on the horizon.

Hampton Coffee Company

Mornings out East for me always begin with a stop at the Hampton Coffee Company in Southampton, irrespective of my final destination. There, I ordered an iced coffee and chocolate croissant for the road before continuing on for the remaining 45 minute drive out to Montauk.

The last time I was at Gurney’s was for a friend’s Sweet Sixteen party, so you could say it has been a while. I had heard that the resort had undergone some recent renovations, so I was excited to see what the establishment looked like today. As I drove down the hilly Old Montauk Highway after breaking away from the long, straight stretch of Sunrise Highway, I instantly felt like I had departed from mainland Long Island. The rolling landscape gave way to spectactular views—which are absent on my daily commute.

When I arrived at Gurney’s, I was greeted by a valet who parked my car…and waited patiently as I tried to stuff fifty outfit changes and four pairs of shoes (none of which I wore) into a single weekender bag. Once in the lobby at Gurney’s I stood for a moment, silently taking in the breathtaking panoramic views.

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Erica, who works with Fern, came to take me to the morning’s first activity—yoga in a studio overlooking the ocean. There, I met the other participants who would be joining us for the day. As I took a seat on my mat I felt an immense sense of gratitude. I was grateful that Fern had included me in this retreat; for the beautiful space that I would be practing in that morning; and to be surrounded by a room full of wellness warriors.

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The yoga class was restorative in every way, and before I knew it, the hour and a half class was over. Next it was time for brunch. Despite having had a bite to eat on my way there in the morning, I had worked up an appetite after yoga. Gurney’s put out quite a buffet spread—eggs, bacon, pastries—you name it, they had. And if they didn’t, you could order it.

After our delicious brunch and getting acquainted with everyone, I knew that the beach was going to be my next stop. I had been eyeing the soft sand since I arrived and was just waiting for the weather to improve before venturing out.

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Beach, Montauk, NY

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The moody skies briefly gave way to some sun. I wasn’t sure which direction to head first and felt as though I could just walk along the shore for miles. Concerned that I would miss out on the next activity—spa time—I stayed fairly close to the resort. In between taking copious amounts of beach photos, dipping my toes into the somewhat frigid water, and finding some driftwood to sit on and take a rest, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would have rather been that day.

Fern and I made plans to hit the sauna at 1 pm. I hurried back to the room and changed before walking over to the spa area for a sweat session. Gurney’s spa was a happening place that day, with women waiting for their treatments, but it didn’t feel crowded. The atmosphere was relaxing and inviting—the perfect setting for pampering.

The dry heat of the sauna felt good after being out on the windy beach. After the sauna, we spent 20 minutes in the steam room, before freshening up and heading to our next event of the day.

Despite bringing enough outfits to live in Montauk through the summer, I forgot to pack my makeup bag so I could touch up as needed throughout the day. I was fully expecting my new Armani Silk Foundation to be running down my face after the sauna and steam room, but to my surprise it actually held up well.

Our last official item on the day’s itinerary was a natural beauty workshop. We sat out near the beach club on a deck overlooking the water. Fern started off the discussion by asking what beauty meant to each of us. While I can’t remember my answer verbatim, the definition of beauty has changed for me. As a 30-year-old cancer survivor, beauty to me is no longer about wearing a ton of makeup—something I had embraced throughout most of my twenties. Today, I am proud to show the imperfections in my skin, skip makeup entirely when running errands, and wear lighter foundations with fewer ingredients. Beauty to me is being happy with the person I see in the mirror because I know that true beauty is within and radiates out. I am happy and healthy, and that makes me feel beautiful every day.

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Fern then discussed her line of essential oils, which I have incorporated into my own beauty routine since first meeting her last year. Her Ajai Alchemy line is made with therapeutic grade ingredients and each blend is blessed with the Ajai Alai sound current. I have been using Grace Alchemy, an essential oil with Egyptian rose geranium, patchouli, and Australian sandalwood for a year now, and I feel like it is my signature scent. In January, during another of Fern’s events, I purchased a bottle of her Solar Sun Protect. During the cooler months, I wear it on my cheeks over my highlighter for that dewy glow. But during the summer, I plan on applying it under my makeup to give my skin a little extra protection from the sun.

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As the evening began to wind down, the weather turned cool and rainy. But the night couldn’t end without celebrating our beautiful Fern’s birthday. In honor of her special day, I brought her some of my favorite fudge from Chocology (thanks, Chocology!). They make their fudge with Belgium chocolate and goat’s milk, so I knew Fern would enjoy the sweet treat. We returned to the room for celebratory drinks and reminisced about how we all felt like we were back in college hanging out in each other’s dorm rooms.

When the weekend concluded, I felt like a kid leaving summer camp. Monday’s post about community over competition was inspired by the women I met and the friends I made at the retreat. Their positive energy and ambition surely rubbed off on me, and after doing yoga with Fern, I left with a renewed outlook on my health, this space on the internet, and on my future as a creative entrepreneur. I left the retreat knowing that I was moving ahead in the right direction, feeling inspired to continue with my yoga practice, and loving the life I was building.

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If you are looking for a resort out East, I highly recommend a stay at Gurney’s. The resort is like a peaceful oasis, and you can’t beat the balcony views and direct access to the beach. Gurney’s has every amenity you could ever wish for—a spa, an indoor and outdoor pool, and delicious meals—all with great views of the ocean. Leaving was no easy feat. I wish I could have stayed out there forever!

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A special thank you to Fern Olivia for having me out at the retreat and for sharing her birthday with us. And lots of love to Erica, Megan, Sari, and Suzie for making this incredible day even more special!

Take Me Back to Summer

It’s only a week after the official end of summer and I am already missing it! It seems like there has been no gentle transition to fall temperatures; the weather has changed suddenly – too abruptly for my liking. What happened to sweater weather? I’m about ready to reach for my winter coat in the morning. With any luck, Mother Nature will remember that it’s not supposed to be this cold and give us some warmer weather — after she gets done dousing us with rain for the next several days…at least in these parts. Here’s hoping you all have a great weekend and that the weather is better wherever you are!

Fall Sunset

{Fall Colors}

Horsein Around

{Looking for a treat}

Happy National Coffee Day


Endless Summer

{Missing Summer}

Summertime Sadness

Summertime Sadness

Ah, those first few days after Labor Day are the hardest, aren’t they? You’re still wearing your summer clothes, but you notice that the weather is starting to change. Chilly mornings slowly turn into shorter days. Let’s not even talk about the fact that Halloween decor has already been out in stores for a couple of weeks now!

I’m not quite ready to fold up my chambray, hang up my jeans, and slip off my white sneakers (which I bought only recently) just yet. So can we pretend that summer isn’t over…at least for another few weekends? I’m okay with my days at the beach ending (now that I got my first summer sunburn…in September!), but let’s keep those relaxed summer vibes and easy dress codes going for as long as the temperatures will allow.

Who’s with me?

Beach Time

Beach Time

As you read this post, I will be sitting on the beach enjoying the sun’s rays and the ocean’s sounds. I’m not trying to make you jealous, but rather it should serve as a gentle reminder to get out over the weekend and take in the sights and sounds that make you happy. I don’t even remember the last day that I took off from work to simply enjoy the day. Those rare days “off” during the week are usually related to doctor’s appointments and follow-up care. But no longer could I sit idle and let the summer keep passing me by. Today, I am looking forward to unplugging — not checking my phone a zillion times (maybe just once or twice), answering emails, or replying to texts.

With any luck, a day in the sun — removed from technology — will help me recharge my batteries and kick start my weekend. The beach and a good book are just how I like to spend my summer days, and I often wonder why I don’t make more time to do such simple things.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, filled with good weather and the time you need to feel rested and recharged!

Waiting for the Weekend


This week has been long, stressful, exhausting… (insert any other adjective you feel is appropriate). The other day, I decided to try a body burn class. Although it was only half an hour, it was the most tiring 30 minutes of my life. I have to hand it to the instructor–she really crammed an entire body workout into a small amount of time.

Needless to say, I am thankful that the weekend is upon us and I feel I have earned some well deserved rest and relaxation. My weekend agenda is usually occupied with trying to accomplish things I have no time to do during the week, yet I can’t help but want to hit up the beach when I hear predictions calling for a nice day. Since we have been inundated with rain all week, it would be nice to see sand, sea, and of course, a little bit of sun!

Here’s what I predict my weekend will look like:

– Retail therapy at H&M (possibly Vine & Roses and The Loft for good measure!)

– Brunch with a good friend

– Morning yoga class

– A trip to the beach

Happy Friday!

Summer Beach Essentials


What better way to welcome in the official start of summer than a day at the beach! After careful planning, and much anticipation, my three-day weekend concluded with some rest and relaxation at the beach. The weather was perfect – near 80 degrees and sunny with a nice breeze to keep me comfortable for a day of fun in the sun.

I practically grew up going to the beaches in Long Beach, NY as a child, and my love for the sand and water has remained well into adulthood. I remember waiting for the weekends to arrive after a long week of school and being disappointed if the weather were not perfect. My mother and I would spend the morning packing for the day and lug beach chairs, umbrellas, and coolers across the boardwalk until we claimed our ‘spot’ on the sand.

Now that I am older, and usually don’t have too many free days to devote to laying at the beach, my essentials include:

A good beach bag: Although I am not a huge Vera Bradley fan, my friend gave me a bag as a gift last year and it has become my go-to summer tote.

Sunglasses: I never leave home without sunglasses, but my Coach ones have become my loyal sidekick! These shades were well worth the money, and they have been to many states and countries in the eight years since I purchased them.

American University beach towel: As a gift prior to transferring, AU sent me a towel over the summer and it has been to many beaches since I received it.

A good book: Right now I am reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.

A good magazine: I love Women’s Health magazine, and usually keep a copy in my car to peruse at my leisure.

Beach cover-up: I purchased a teal summer dress from H&M last season and love it because it works at the beach, and also when running around doing errands on a hot summer day.

C Wonder flats: I was in heaven when I first found the C Wonder store in Southampton a few years back. My gold flats are the perfect summer sandals as they look great with a tan and go with everything.

Sunblock: I have been using Neutrogena’s Ultimate Sport Sunblock spray SPF 100+ for years. It’s waterproof, easy to apply, and lightweight on your skin.

Lots of water: This goes without saying, but it’s really important to stay hydrated when you’re in the sun all day!

Hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day!

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