A Lesson In Finding Your Own Way

Meditation and contemplation

While in Hawaii, I hiked down to Queen’s Bath, a shallow pool of ocean water surrounded by igneous rock on the island of Kauai. But, I didn’t actually go to Queen’s Bath.

There were too many people.

Initially, when I pictured myself basking in the blue water of the tide pool, I imagined being surrounded by sweet silence save the crashing waves. I quickly realized I had not accounted for the fact that there would be other people around and laughed at myself for thinking I would find solace at one of Kauai’s most popular tourist destinations.

Instead of following the crowd, I climbed down some lava rocks and watched the life force of the ocean rush in and out of a small cove. I sat there for about ten minutes admiring the strength of nature.

Then, two young local boys ran and jumped straight into the cove as if they had no fear of being swept out into the Pacific with the strong force of the waves.

I thought, “maybe I could give it a try.”

I walked around the ledge to where the boys had jumped and that’s when I saw it: a calm jacuzzi sized pool hidden from public view. I abandoned the idea of jumping altogether (easy, because I didn’t really 100% want to in the first place) and instead submerged my body in the tranquil water of the hidden pool.

I laid down and allowed my body to float, blissfully checking out from everything and equally, connecting to all of it.

Sedona: Between Earth & Sky

Sedona

Sedona, or “Slow-dona,” as some of the locals called it, has proved to be one of the most peaceful places I’ve visited thus far. Life has a seemingly effortless and natural process of unfolding there. Those I’ve spoken to who have moved to Sedona from elsewhere claim they have been “guided” to Sedona for one reason or another. My mom and I planned this trip back in January and we totally understood the vibe of being guided out there.

One of my 2018 intentions was to travel to the Western United States. After putting that  out to the Universe, I saw an advertisement for a yoga retreat in Sedona and wanted to go, but it seemed a bit too costly to make it a reality. A few days later my mom called and asked if I would like to meet her in Sedona instead of her coming to visit me in Florida. I responding with a resounding “YES!”

There’s something—some high energetic, magical quality—about Sedona that extends beyond the physical. It can’t be explained, it’s something that needs to be experienced. I recommend Sedona to anyone looking for a relaxing, self-reflective, healing vacation.

Below is a guide based on our favorite things we did during our time in Sedona.

WHAT TO DO

LITTLE HORSE TRAIL TO THE CHAPEL OF THE HOLY CROSS

You can drive right up to the chapel, an architectural landmark built into the red rock. Orrrrr you can do an hour hike from the center of the vortex (a place of powerful Earth energy) out to the chapel. If you have the time, do the latter. We stopped about half way to admire the tall red rocks, sat down and did some chanting meditation. Right before we were about to move on, my mom insisted she get a picture of me doing a yoga pose in front of the rock. I positioned myself with my arms reaching outward. Upon later inspection of the photos, we noticed an orange orb (denoting protection) in the direction I was reaching. The trail, the nature, the chapel, the energy, all made for a Divine experience.

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AMBITABHA STUPA AND PEACE PARK

Windchimes and prayer flags line the perimeter of the park and in the center stands The Amitabha Stupa, a monument imbued with the power of higher consciousness to honor the Buddha. As I walked the path that surrounds the sacred structure, I was met with feelings of grace and gratitude. The peace and stillness of the park make it the perfect place to practice meditation and send prayers.

INTUITIVE READINGS AT THE NEW AGE CENTER

Intuitive readings are like spiritual “check-ups.” They provide insight into your emotions, energy, and overall spirit. I used to be wary of readings, but overtime I have learned there is nothing to fear because it’s all done in the interest of your highest and best Self. You can call ahead to make an appointment, but I chose to do it right then and there with one of the readers who was available. In one half hour session, I laughed, I cried, I worked through some major mental blocks, and obtained extreme clarity. 10/10 recommend.

DAY TRIP TO THE LOWER ANTELOPE CANYON, HORSESHOE BEND, & THE GRAND CANYON

Okay, not going to lie, this day was pretty intense. We totaled about 400 miles (5 hours) in the car, but the views were so worth it. We drove directly up to the Lower Antelope Canyon and got the longest part of the drive out of the way early. The Lower Antelope Canyon is a canyon carved out entirely by water. The smooth rock ebbs, flows, and swirls around mirroring the fluidity of the water that created it. Unfortunately, state law prohibits anyone from entering the canyon without a tour guide, so we had no choice but to cram into the tight space with a lot of people more concerned with taking photos of the Canyon than the canyon itself. Honestly, I was pretty annoyed about the people at the time, but thinking back, I only remember the beauty of the canyon, so if you can handle confined spaces with a large group then 100% do it! After the Lower Antelope Canyon, we headed South again and drove a tiring 8 minutes to Horseshoe Bend where we found some space to breathe. Then, we got back in the car for a two-hour ride to the Grand Canyon. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for what I saw because WHOA. The canyon stretched on for miles and miles making it impossible to comprehend the enormity of it. My mom and I remained silent on the edge of the rock and basked in the beauty of the scene in front of us with one thing on our minds: nature is heaven.

THRIFTING

There is plenty of shopping to do in Sedona, but no need to get caught up in all of the touristy shops. I found some real gems at the thrift and consignment stores scattered around the city. Gently used holistic food and healing books for $1 each, a designer dress for $15, silver earrings for $5. Thrifted items are inexpensive, good for the environment, and wayyy more treasurable than anything you’ll find in a destination themed gift shop.

EAT AT CHOCOLATREE

If you know anything about me, you’d know I’m crazy for cocoa, so I had to check out ChocolaTree, a café and shop specializing in homemade chocolate and vegetarian eats. They import their cocoa from South America and stone grind it on site, a process that typically takes a few weeks. You can totally taste the difference in their chocolate and the chocolate you’d get from the grocery store. It’s rich, it’s raw, it’s full of antioxidants, and it tastes the way real chocolate is supposed to taste. The best part about this place? They ship worldwide, so you don’t even have to leave your house to enjoy their delicious sweeties! Shop here.

WHERE TO STAY

THE SKY RANCH LODGE

I owe this one to Mom. I was in charge of flights, she was in charge of stay and she knocked this one out of the park. Located high above the rest of Sedona, the Sky Ranch Lodge promises awe-inspiring views. We had an incredible stay. The rooms were clean, the grounds were beautifully manicured, and the staff was beyond friendly. When we weren’t out and about, we either chilled poolside or relaxed in the wedding area. When the views are this good (↓) there really is no need to venture out!

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Namaste,

Mary

Key West

Key West is home to the southernmost point in the continental United States. But Key West is not just geographically unique. The island is a tropical paradise full of pastel conch style homes, more boats than you’ve ever seen in your life, brazen roosters, and a bunch of other eccentricities. It’s a definitely a place to check out. Here’s why:

Life is now in Key West

Island living tends to differ from life on the mainland. At all times, fisherman are heading offshore, tourists are sipping frozen fruity drinks on the beach, and locals are hanging out at the bars. The only thing people are concerned about is enjoying life. Which is why in any other part of the country, a disco ball hanging from a tree may strike you as odd, but here it’s just a part of the island decor.

Key West is well established in the arts

Whatever your taste in art may be, there is bound to be something you appreciate. There’s art in the familiar sense— galleries and exhibits can be found up and down Duval Street with displays of abstracts paintings and bronze sculptures. There’s the art of fishing, as Key West is the fishing capital of the world. And, there’s the art of sex. Sex shops and tranny shows are fairly common, further proving nothing is really taboo in Key West.

The food is killer

Casual, upscale, fast-food. Lobster Benedicts, conch fritters, grouper sandwiches. It’s all good. If nothing else, Key West is an ideal place for a culinary adventure.

Things To Do:

  1. Visit Mallory Square for breathtaking sunsets and nightly entertainment courtesy of Key West’s finest street performers
  2. Spend some time at the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory for a peaceful experience
  3. Take a boat trip offshore to do some kayaking and/or snorkeling.
  4. Take a day to visit the Dry Tortugas National Park
  5. Go to Fort Zachary Historic State Park

 

Namaste,

Mary

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