Venues-Milan, Italy

Venues-Milan COVER

Venues- Milan, Italy.

by Micha Wilhoite

Milan, Italy, otherwise known as the fashion capital of the world. Many fashion lovers dream of Milan and the treasures they will find there amongst the famous shopping plaza Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The truth is, treasures will be found in Milan, fashion will be found, Italian architecture will be found, the adventure of being in the hustle and bustle of the city will be found, a blend of modern design and historical familiarity will be found, and yes even some really, really good cappuccinos will be found.

Picture this, a busy city. One minute you are riding a crowded tram trying to navigate through heavy traffic It stops for a brief second and you must hurry to get out at your stop or you miss the opportunity. You make your way through the rest of the city by foot, walking fast as is the flow of the city, and try to avoid being hit by a Vespa that’s zooming through busy traffic You dodge the Vespa, turning into a narrow alleyway, and suddenly it’s like you are in a different place at a different time. The atmosphere becomes serene as you look around at the beautiful, looming, traditional,Italian style architecture. The traffic noises become more distant and almost soothing. The sun shines in over the top of the buildings to illuminate the alleyway, birds chirp, and suddenly it hits you, you are in Italy! Charming, romantic, passionate Italy.

At first glance Milan is modern and industrial, but as you make your way through the city to the Galleria, you find that Milan keeps much of its historical charm intact. The famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the cathedral “Duomo” are prime examples of historical Italian architecture within the modern industrialism.

The Galleria itself houses numerous high-end designer shops as well as infamous cafés and restaurants. As a lover of fashion, I made this vast plaza a top priority during my stay in Milan. I was not let down, the atmosphere and architecture in themselves are worth seeing. The galleria is one of the world’s oldest shopping centers, it was built between 1865 and 1877. The atmosphere within the structure is romantic, charming, and historical (with a contradictory modern vibe). The structure itself is made up of two glass arcades that intersects into an octagon, topped with a glass dome and cast iron roof. This central covering to the Galleria covers the streets that connect two other historical structures- The Piazza del Duoma and Piazza Della Scala.

Read the rest of the article along with facts, tips, and a snapshot of Micha’s trip details (on pages 13-15 of the Independence Issue) here.

Micha Wilhoite

Micha Wilhoite grew up traveling throughout Europe. She is a travel enthusiast and enjoys sharing some of her travel experiences in our “Venues” column.

Author Micha Wilhoite enjoying authentic Italian Tiramisu in Milan, Italy
Author Micha Wilhoite enjoying authentic Italian Tiramisu in Milan, Italy

Freedom From Styling


Freedom from Styling by Andre Aronica

It’s that time of year when the sundresses and sandals come out, pool parties abound, and casual backyard gatherings redefine your weekends. You don’t have to sacrifice great style just because the temperatures are reminiscent of the surface of the sun. Try letting your hair show its true colors! Is your daily routine to spend 45 minutes taking out that gorgeous natural wave?

Instead of being chained to your flat iron or blow dryer, try adding Aquage’s Sea Salt Texturizing Spray while your hair is still wet, scrunch it in, let your hair air dry, and voila gorgeous natural waves perfect for an afternoon soiree! Prefer more of a structured, polished look? Opt for a side swept braid with an embellished headband. The key to creating a refined braid is the right product. Start with Unite Eurotherapy’s Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner to lock in your hair’s much needed moisture. Next add a smoothing cream while your hair is still wet – we like Unite’s U Luxury Moisture Shine – and braid away! Once the braid is complete, give it a quick once over with a light hold hairspray like Aquage’s Finishing Spray and for healthy shine, finish it off with an aerosol shine spray; our favorite is Beyond Shine from Aquage.

If your skin is feeling the heat, try a hydrating treatment free from chemicals and added fragrances that can further irritate your skin. Our favorite series for parched summer skin is Eminence’s Arctic Berry Peptide System. Read more on pg. 33

Aronica,Andre (1)
Andre Aronica Andre Aronica is the owner of “Dre’s Hair Salon &Spa”(Scottsdale, AZ). Andre has over 25 years of experience behind the chair and a portfolio backed by numerous celebrity clientele. Andre has driven his salon to be one of the industry’s leaders.

Dre’s Hair Salon & Spa
15551 N Greenway Hayden Loop, Suite
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Call Dre’s:(602) 368-2009
Visit our website:

Venues- The Royal Hideaway-Adventures in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico


I have to admit, I have inherited a bit of a travel bug. This travel bug was passed down from my grandma and my mom, who spent nearly every summer of my childhood traveling to a new destination, making sure my sisters and I were brought up with the same travel experiences. Now it’s too late; I am past the point of no return. I have become obsessed with the new cultural experiences that come with traveling.

My most recent traveling experience brought me to The Royal Hideaway in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. My husband and I were fortunate enough to be sent (by his work) on this all-inclusive getaway. I was thrilled when they announced we would be going to Playa del Carmen, a place I had never been and had limited prior knowledge on. The idea of experiencing a destination that is relatively unknown to me is invigorating and satisfies the small portion within my soul that is a wild adventurer.

Playa Del Carmen is about an hour from Cancun. It is located on the Caribbean Sea in the Gulf of Mexico. The community of Playa Del Carmen is a gated community within another community.
The community is home to large all-inclusive resorts, luxury vacation homes, and upscale condominiums. Playa Del Carmen is truly a traveler’s destination. Many Europeans, Americans, and Canadians frequent its shores.

Although I have been to Mexico many times (and love it), Playa del Carmen is not the typical “Mexico” I know. The quality I loved so much about Playa del Carmen is that it was the perfect blend of Mexico and tropical Caribbean. It had many charming qualities of traditional Mexican villages, food, and culture, but its Mayan and Caribbean influences along with the tropical weather and landscape made it so different than the Mexico I have experienced.

First of all, Playa del Carmen, unlike Cabo or even Hawaii, is on the Caribbean Sea rather than the Pacific Ocean. The Caribbean Sea is nearly translucent and the water is much warmer and much
more turquoise in color than the Pacific Ocean. The turquoise waters contrast against the white sand of the beaches creating a picturesque view. Because the water is fairly docile and very clear, snorkeling is very popular there. My husband and I even went snorkeling twice while we were there! Twice is a lot for someone like me who is very apprehensive about sea animals, but the water was so lovely that I was able to get over my fear long enough to see a sea turtle, two manta rays, and many species of fish.

Another quality that distinguishes Playa del Carmen from other parts of Mexico is the history and culture of the Mayans that inhabited the area. There are many opportunities to go to some of the various Mayan ruins near Playa del Carmen We jumped at the opportunity to go on a tour of the well-known Tulum Mayan ruins. We were taken by bus to the ruins of the ancient Mayan city where our tour guide explained to us how the Mayan culture blended with the Mexican culture and how the Mayans were brilliant astronomers, architects, and engineers, but perhaps not the best at predicting the end of the world.

Playa Del Carmen has a blend of the Caribbean and Mayan culture as well as traditional Mexican culture. Our resort was a 30-minute walk to the local village where visitors can do some shopping and experience the typical Mexican village. There were many members in our group who had never traveled out of country and were very apprehensive about going into the Mexican town. These group members said that the salespeople were very aggressive, and insulting. They advised us not to look at or talk to anyone. While it is true the selling style in Mexican towns can be very aggressive, and the salespeople enjoy some banter, there are ways to make the process more enjoyable. While in town, my husband ignored the advice we received and was very polite to every sales person. He smiled, looked at them, said “No, thank you” or “Thank you,” and even did the occasional joking around with the sales-people. We did not have the same negative experience that our friends did.

My advice to anyone who is planning on traveling to Mexico is this. Understand that the Mexican sales style is somewhat aggressive; they want you to come in their stores and buy from them first. Treat the shop owners and sales people with respect. Use your please and thank you’s, say no if you need to, but be polite. Do not go alone, especially if you are a woman. The salespeople do banter and try to get under your skin as a tactic to persuade you. If it becomes more than casual banter and becomes insulting or aggressive, do not react. That is when you should ignore them and keep walking. We were able to avoid a negative experience by being understanding of the culture and utilizing the steps mentioned above.

We stayed at the luxurious Royal Hideaway Resort. The resort is large and elegant, with beautiful gardens, six pools, a pristine spa, and, of course, beachfront views. The Royal Hideaway is an all-inclusive resort, which also means all the food and beverages were included. We dined like kings and queens. Not only was breakfast delivered to our room nearly every morning, but we were able to order room service 24 hours a day, or go out to the pool/beachfront and order any drinks or food from “The Deck” or “The Grill” restaurants. Once evening came, everyone would get fancied up and go to one of the five upscale restaurants that they had made reservations for. The staff was so obliging to our group (my husband’s company), they even arranged private dining rooms for our group several nights. The meals were all four/five course meals and would take several hours to enjoy the rich flavors. The resort’s restaurants offered a variety of food from a typical Mexican/American meal out on the deck, to the five-course restaurant meals that offered high-end Italian food, Asian food, Spanish/fusion food, and an expensive steak house.

During our stay, the staff of the Royal Hideaway also arranged a dinner show at their “Club Royale” theatre located in the resort. The word around the resort was that they would be showing a “Circus Show” during dinner. My husband and I were both apprehensive of the show, growing up with dance backgrounds/influences and having friends in Cirque du Soleil and Vegas shows. However, our group all decided to go so we joined along. Like most of the evening meals, the meal at the theatre five-course meal featuring veal or salmon as the main entrée. The food was very good, but much to our surprise, the show was better. The acrobats were incredible and the entertainment staff even put on their own little comedy show (which was hilarious) after the circus acts were over. The acrobats and even the hotel entertainment staff had so much talent. It was a surprising and fun night.

The Royal Hideaway and Playa del Carmen offered so many opportunities for tours, exploration, and activities besides relaxation. The resort had hired a staff exclusively for the booking of tours and activities for guests. Not only could guests could enjoy kayaking, jet skiing, scuba, boating, and snorkeling right from the hotel’s beach, but the tour guide crew could book adventure tours, scuba, snorkeling, Mayan ruin tours, and endless other activities for the guests right from the main concierge. Besides relaxing poolside and swimming in the ocean, my husband
and I were able to see the Mayan ruins, go zip lining, jump off a cliff into the water, and snorkel. The opportunity to do and see a variety of things was just one of the many reasons why my husband and I fell in love with Playa del Carmen.

I have been blessed to have experienced so many unique and beautiful places at such a young age. I will always look back in fondness at our experience at the Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen. Like all of my travel experiences, there is not just one thing about this location that will remain with me. Instead, it is the blend of knowledge gained, culture experienced, food savored, adventures sought, relationships made, and sights seen, that will live in my memory forever. I highly encourage traveling to The Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen, but I also
encourage travel anywhere. Every destination is an opportunity to grow whether it is a new city, state, or country.

-Micha Wilhoite
Micha Wilhoite is the social media and personal assistant to editor in Chief, Kris Costa. She has her bachelor’s ofscience in Marketing. Because of her European roots, she spent every other summer traveling though Europe with her family. She is a traveling enthusiast.
Contact Micha at

Act Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

“Instead of explaining why you’re complaining, change your reality altogether.”


When we think of what holds us back, we generally think of things outside of ourselves. It’s our rational mind’s way of finding a source for the “problem” and the ego’s way of shirking off responsibility and true independence. While the people, places, and situations around us may not be ideal, our reality is contingent upon the state of being we choose to create from within.

Many of us are familiar with those people in our lives who will seize any opportunity to complain about their current situations. Not only will they complain, but they’ll endlessly explain their justifications. When these people receive help, however, they typically reject it outright or don’t put enough faith and trust in the potential solution in order for it to make a significant change. This is because these types of people aren’t actually looking for their situations to change; they’re simply lost in their created cycle and refuse to make the necessary changes to get out. After all, doing the same thing over a long period of time can bring us to a nice sense of complacency, no matter what the situation is like.

The next time you feel the desire to complain or explain why you’re complaining, try using the same amount of effort to come up with creative solutions around the issue at hand. When we focus on the negative aspects of a situation, we will call more of that into our lives. Instead, focus on what it is that would make you feel happy, fulfilled, and abundant. Do this until you can feel it in a real, visceral way, and don’t be afraid to “dream big.” When you’ve captured that feeling, hold onto it and fuel that energy into all that you do, all that you feel, and all that you are.

Ironically, many of the times we face opposition or feel as though we’re dealing with a problematic situation, we’re not dealing with our own issues at all, but rather the issues we’ve taken on from others. For example, we all have met people who’ve said “I wish I could do ______ with my life.” Though what’s filled within the blank often seems farfetched, most times it’s quite achievable, albeit sometimes by being tweaked a bit. As beings living on this Earth and within the scrutiny of “society,” we tend to shoot ourselves down before we’ve had a chance to fly. We think, we feel, and we stop. What we should really be doing is thinking and feeling less about our current situations and instead take action to gain tracking on our future. Then, once we’ve made several real attempts, we can better gauge where we are and what we can put in place to get to where we want or need to be.

Your effort should always be indicative of what you desire. If you’re willing to complain about something 10 times a day, you should be just as willing to put the effort forth to usher change into your life 10 times a day. If these numbers don’t match, be honest with yourself. The goal is to reach a point in which you don’t feel it necessary to complain at all and naturally strive to change your life in positive, impactive ways. If you’re living solely in your mind rather than creating your physical reality, you’ll never be satisfied. Don’t be afraid to make what seem like mistakes, either. Be brave enough to step outside of your comfort zone and share yourself with others and with the world itself.


The body is an extraordinary vessel that gives us the opportunity to experience life here on Earth. It heals itself and asks for very little. Though our bodies are not who we are on a soul level, they must be respected. It’s important for us to treat them with the right care and consideration in order for us to optimize our Earthly experience. Know what you’re putting into your body. You wouldn’t blindly take up someone else’s belief system that’s thrown at you, and the same should be true for your body. This holds true on both a physical level and how you view your body.

When you’re choosing the foods you eat, research what they contain. Try your best to eat a healthy, well-rounded diet. So often we deem food and exercise as “things for other people,” but simple changes can have profound effects – not experienced or felt until they’re put into practice. The better we treat our bodies, the higher our energy will be, and the more adequately prepared we’ll be for the challenges we face and the things we’d like to accomplish.

Be sure to not let the opinions or lifestyles of other people overtake you. Though you should be receptive to science and information provided to you, it’s incredibly important to live life on your own terms. If people around you have a body image issue, don’t take their issue on yourself. Be comfortable in your body, listen to it, and work in concert with it. The more in sync you are with your body, the more you will be in all areas of your life. The best practice to put in place with the body is one with discipline. If you’re not a person who naturally thinks to exercise or eat properly, start making a list and follow it one task at a time without glossing over all of it and feeling overwhelmed. Some people have a hard time taking initiative on their own, so seek out community and try to get a friend or a group together to exercise or construct some meal plans together. Not only is it helpful to have people in your circle who are on the same page, but it’s fun and exciting and will help elongate the momentum you build.


Taking action on a soul-level is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Your soul is who, what, where, how, and why you are. If you don’t connect to it, your foundation will be rocky at best. Because the soul is not a physical entity, people often make the mistake of thinking it’s wishy-washy and can be viewed and treated as such. That mentality can’t be farther from the truth, and should instead be approached with as much discipline and severity as any other part of your life. Grounding or centering yourself will help you cope with the stressors and drama of living life as a human being. If you’re sensitive, you’ll pick up on other people’s energies easily and sometimes it’s hard to tune these frequencies out. Most of us in our daily lives encounter a vast array of people, both online and off. Without noticing it, we’re picking up on the vibrations they emit – and usually, we’re taking them with us into our very private, sacred places within us without even noticing it. This is one of the root causes of having anxiety or feeling “off” without good reason. If you’re feeling this way, start to peel the layers off like an onion. Whenever an untoward thought or feeling creeps its way into your being, single it out and affirm that it is not a part of your life path or what you need to experience at this time. Keep repeating this until you’ve sent away all that no longer serves you.

When you experience thoughts or feelings that make you uncomfortable but are in fact lessons you need to experience, simply quiet the mind and step into your own private stillness. Then, ask what it is you need to learn from this lesson and how you can process it in an non-harmful, peaceful way. This method can be put in place in all areas of your life with all issues. Remember that the experience is not the same as how we interpret it; though Earth can be a very rigorous and grueling place to grow and evolve, we endure experiences because they’re for our higher good – or someone else’s. If you have a traumatic experience but process it in a healthy way, you can then go on to share the experience with others in a beneficial way which can help prevent pain and turmoil in their lives.

Another great way to connect to the soul is by means of breathing exercises and meditation. So many people write these two things off because they’ve been branded as something exclusive to monks or spiritual masters. On the contrary, these two processes are readily and easily accessible to all. When doing a breathing or meditation exercise, focus on quieting the body down. Get yourself into a comfortable position that won’t distract you in any way. This can mean lying down, sitting upright in a chair, sitting pretzel-style  on the floor, or any other position that resonates with you. There truly is no wrong way – it is your experience, and yours alone. When you’ve gotten comfortable, visualize a white light pouring in from the top of your head down through to your toes. This represents pure, cleansing energy that helps to wipe out all the debris within you in all forms. Once you’re filled with this light, take a deep breath in through the nose and visualize this air as being entirely pure, safe, clean, positive, and invigorating. Hold your breath for a few seconds and then exhale through the mouth. The exhale should represent the emptying out of anything negative or that which you wish to do away with. The meditation part generally happens quite naturally after the breathing exercise. Simply relax and enter a very serene, safe place within you that isn’t contingent upon anything Earthly or man-made. Most people find this to be a place of rejuvenation and will receive some of their best ideas for creative projects or future endeavors.

After you’ve connected with your soul, you won’t differentiate you and your soul as being apart from one another. You’ll simply feel connected, whole, and at one with the Universe. All of the best and most important work comes from this place within you, so trust in it and allow for it to grow into something magnificent.


“I am fully capable of taking charge of my life. I’m making the commitment in the present moment to use my energy for the betterment of my life as opposed to the destruction of it. I become the reality I allow for, and I choose the reality that serves my highest good and the highest good of those around me.”

Kaiden Blake

Kaiden Blake, recognized internet personality and artist, is currently anticipating the release of his forthcoming book. Kaiden’s incredibly strong bond with his fans, inspire personal empowerment across the globe.

Ultimate Self-Defense


Imagine you had the ability to embark on a journey into a brave new world, one in which you have never seen or heard of, one in which you do not speak the language and no one even really resembles you. The purpose of your journey is to navigate this new world, its terrain and elements, master its’ inhabitants’ language, and align with its’ culture. If successful, you have would have the opportunity to experience a new world full of natural beauty, empathetic compassion, soulful inter-connection and a myriad of physical sensations. Additionally, this new adventure holds the potential to learn skills and concepts beyond your current imagination. Your mind would expand exponentially. Best of all, this new environment is one full of hope, excitement and support where you can live, learn, grow and love in peace and safety. 

What would you feel like and how would you behave once you have returned from your journey? How would it change you? Would you want your loved ones to go to the same place and have the same experience that you had? Would you dedicate your time and effort in assisting with their ability to journey as you did?

The fact is that we, as human beings, have already made the jump into that journey.

The day before you were born, you were very much alive. You did not breathe as you do now, but absorbed your oxygen and nutrients from the fluid that surrounded you. What you heard of the sounds of the world, and whatever you could see, also first passed through this same fluid. You had virtually no control of your body, knew nothing of the new world’s language, and had no idea what another human being even looked like. The journey you were on was completely foreign. If there were a way to infuse the knowledge to the vulnerable you that in 24 hours you would be breathing not water, but air for oxygen, eating food, learning the basics of a foreign language, navigate obstacles, see, hear and feel through new, yet undiscovered senses, in a land you could not even imagine, life would certainly at that point be utterly and completely unrecognizable to you. Yet, that is what ear  and every one of us have done. Our truth and very existence changed in yet a few precious moments. I wonder how many of us would  have in fact been brave and courageous enough to have been born, if given the choice?

There are other times in history where truths have changed. In Galileo’s time, the truth of the world was that its’ surface was flat. If we traveled to the “edge,” it was believed we would simply fall off into an endless abyss. Today we all know that concept was not the truth, simply “the truth of the time” and what the masses believed in, so for a while, it became their truth. What kind of spirit, fortitude, and belief in oneself, must it have taken for his theories to be pushed through until proven.

Then there were the myriad of courageous explorers in days gone by who traveled and colonized new lands. Armed with tools, ships and the like, their beliefs and sheer will were probably among their most important assets to continue onward. They just kept pushing forward toward a new world, a new life, and new truths. 

The funny thing about some truths, is that they are not just there waiting to be discovered. There is no concrete substance to a truth that one seeks and then finds. Truth exists only in the minds of those who believe it, and the resulting culture is the manifestation of those thoughts and beliefs. Truth is evidenced into existence through action and behavior.

Fast forward to 2014 and our cultures have their own sets of current truths. One truth is that we live in a place of much beauty. Our lands are graced with natural beauty from majestic mountains to red rock canyons to turquoise waters and pure sandy beaches. We are blessed with an abundance of colors, changing and blending constantly everywhere, different species of life to live amongst and learn from, and the power of self-renewing passion and inner strength, that we can draw from and share with others of our own kind. Yet, there are other truths. The truths that some subscribe to that cause humans to choose to kill each other, imprison each other, torment, deny, and destroy each other. Clearly the former are simply supplied to us, luckily we come by such beauty naturally. Violence is always a choice. One that begins in the mind, out of fear.

The day before we were born we had no choice, and we had no fear, only progression. There was only one way to go, forward, and why not? Hopefully, that transition was into loving arms and a new beautiful world full of hope and possibility. That was the truth for some people, and not for others. Clearly then there is no one truth, and the only thing we can control is ourselves. There is only your truth that you bring to the world through your thoughts and your actions. This is our choice as human beings.

What would you choose if you had no fear? What could you become? Would you choose to shine with beauty as a gift to all those around you if you knew you would be accepted? Would you, like Galileo, take the natural gifts in front of us and pursue new ways to interpret and combine these elements to open up the boundaries of our environment? Or maybe it is simply enough to see the need in just one other person, and respond. If you are reading this, you probably have been around long enough to figure out, that there are many improvements we can make in the way we are living today and we could all use a little more grace.

No one asked you years ago if you were brave and courageous enough to leave the only home you ever knew and be born alone into a strange new one.Today, however, you can ask yourself if you are brave enough to choose a new attitude of enlightened empowerment, enhanced encouragement, deeper consideration, empathy, kindness, and support. If we did accept this challenge, that would certainly be the ultimate form of self-defense, because we simply would not need any.

How brave will you be in 2014?

You Are Worth Defending!


So what are we all about here at MSSD? Are we aggressive, headstrong, adrenaline junkies just looking to change the world? Actually, yes, when it comes to protecting you and your loved ones, you bet!

So why are the people behind MSSD on this mission? We are on this mission because you are special. Emotions and creativity, expressed through our bodies and capabilities, are worth defending and in this far from perfect world (whatever that is) there are people creating circumstance to take those very concepts away. We are not OK with that.

So what is worth defending? Your freedom is worth defending. Your freedom to live your life in this world any way you like, as long as you are not dangerous to others or yourself while in the journey. Freedom from judgments, harassment, emotional harm, physical violence. The freedom to be who you are. Without these freedoms and others like them, we are not living fully, but just existing, moving from place to place like the quarter in the shell game, pushed and directed from another’s motivation. Usually, their motivation is not inline with our true selves. Then we are cheated, and so is the world.

When you go to bed at night, you close and lock your doors, (hopefully). You do this because you need to be protected while you sleep, so your mind can relax and your body can replenish while you settle. You need to be safe in this place, so you can wake up in the morning and be all that you can be. Our bodies are our shells, and if we don’t learn the skills we need to keep them safe, how will we share our unique selves with our loved ones and the world?

So those of us behind Mindset want to help you make your self-protection a more natural process. We are not going to persuade you into taking a fight into the world. Far from it. What we want is for you to be free to be who you are, so you can help make this world a better place. And, we want to give you tools, to protect your precious self, because there is not one person in this world who has a right to take you, your loved ones, or your freedoms away!