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Getting the flavor of...The om of Ojai

Seated at the bottom of the Topatopa Mountains, Ojai is a haven for philosophers, artists, and anyone seeking a little relaxation.

The om of OjaiIn the little California town of Ojai, “serenity prevails,” said Madeline King Porter in the Los Angeles Times. Seated at the bottom of the Topatopa Mountains, this town just north of Ventura is a haven for philosophers, artists, and anyone seeking a little relaxation. My “home base” for the weekend, Pepper Tree Retreat, was originally the guesthouse of Jiddu Krishnamurti, the Indian teacher and philosopher. Welcomed with a hug, I could feel the “peace and harmony” immediately. I stayed in that “lovely frame of mind” as I set off to meet local artists and visit their studios. Ojai hosts an annual Studio Artists Tour, but most artists welcome visitors year-round. I walked among Sandy Wolk’s “primitive, soothing” sculptures, admired Leslie Clark’s “startlingly beautiful scenes” of Saharan nomadic life, and visited the Beatrice Wood arts center to observe the work of Ojai’s “best-known artist,” who died in 1998. “Ah, the serenity”—found in just one afternoon. (Contact: ojaivisitors.com)

Buffing up on a Florida beachMy trips to Florida usually entail “sipping cocktails and reading trashy magazines on the beach,” said Nancy Trejos in The Washington Post. Not this time. I was taking a “deprivation vacation,” subjecting myself to a trend that has turned stays at some fitness camps into stiff tests of willpower. Upon enrolling in Core Fitness Solution, a fitness boot camp in Madeira Beach, I swore off caffeine, carbs, sweets, and alcohol, and promised to wake up at 6:30 a.m. each day. And for three days, I did. I sweated through four to seven fitness classes a day, ate chef-prepared low-calorie meals, and met with a nutritionist and a life coach to learn healthful habits. Each night, I went to bed in pain. One morning, I made a quick escape to grab a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Yet, when the weekend was over, I had not only lost a few pounds, I also walked away with a new plan for a healthy lifestyle. “We’re not looking for perfection,” I was told. “We’re looking for better.” (Contact: corefitnesssolution.com)

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