Sometimes we are so busy and excited about our hectic lives we forget that rest and sleep are one of the top priorities for health, wellness and prevention of disease. I pride myself on doing a great job of staying active and eating a mostly plant-based whole food diet. Although I am super busy I love my work so much that I don’t mind staying up late and getting up early……Making a difference is worth it.

Thanks to my amazing husband, Billy, of almost 30 years I learned that “Rested Toni” is someone I barely recognize….To celebrate my 50th birthday he arranged for us to be away at our island home Magic View Villa in St. John US Virgin Islands for 3 and ½ weeks. We have NEVER taken a vacation for this long. We normally go for a week and rent out our place the rest of the time (

Every morning we slept until we actually woke up on our own, a completely foreign concept. Sometimes we would wake up, watch the sunrise off our deck and go back to bed. Mornings were spent walking the hills in our neighborhood and then doing bands and body weight exercises on our deck overlooking the Pure Blue Caribbean Sea. I made a fitness basket to leave there for the guests with a yoga mat, bands, small weights, resistance tubing and perfect push-up handles. Exercising like this was fun and energizing….This was followed each morning by my Crazy Plant Lady Super Smoothie… (recipe here!) and hot tea sipped on the deck while reading one of the 8 novels I brought on the trip. I was forbidden to bring any of my nutrition or exercise journals!

After packing a simple, healthy picnic each day (click here for more ideas) we would head out in our rented jeep to hike one of the great trails on St. John which is two thirds National Park. Once sweaty and invigorated we would head to the “Beach of the Day”, always a tough choice since there are 39 pristine beaches on this unique island. A swim to one of the colorful buoys, a snorkel with sea turtles, a sandy picnic and then (my favorite) a nap on the beach. The nap is usually one of the drool running out the side of your mouth kind where you actually have a dream in the middle of the day…..amazing!

Back to our beautiful Magic Villa in time for reading on the deck, happy hour with the sunset and Kenny Chesney music and a 5 minute trip to Cruz Bay for dinner at one of the many delicious and interesting restaurants on St. John. Stargazing like you can’t imagine and bedtime usually by 10 pm. made our day complete.
Our days fell into a rhythm with different friends and family coming to stay in our guest room for a few days and then leaving.

Each day was a new adventure. My husband Billy and I became so in tune to each other and relaxed. We both cried when it was time to leave vowing to “hang on to that vacation feeling!”

Coming home to tax time and trying to catch up after being gone so long has been stressful. I don’t think we have gone to bed at the same time or woken up at the same time since we have returned home. I miss Island Billy and he misses Island Toni! I am determined to bring some of the St. John Magic and relaxation to our home life in North Carolina…..Really! I am working on a solution……just as soon as I return from this business trip, organize my office and finish the taxes!

With Positive Thoughts, Toni Tickel Branner aka The Crazy Plant Lady

Notes about Sleep

Over recent years we have come to understand how important good sleep is to our health and well-being. With good nutrition and exercise, sleep is now recognized as one of the pillars of good health.
A lack of sleep can have a major impact on mood, concentration, memory and quality of life. In addition, medical sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to contribute to other serious health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.large_6803488497

photo credit: martinak15 via photopin cc