A Sacred Retreat in the Red Rocks of Sedona, AZ

December 4 & 5  2019

And so begins the Multidimensional Goddess Retreat with  our guides Deva and Sharon.

https://www.wayofthesacred.com

There are hardly words to describe the beauty of Sedona for a first time visitor to this land of Red Rocks! We were grateful for a beautiful day in December. The sun shone bright and all that  was needed was a light jacket for the 58 degree temps. Driving through this red rock vista was nothing short of jaw dropping. I wondered if we had somehow lost time and had actually flown in on a spaceship to another planet.

I was spending  almost a week with a group of like minded souls-Lisa, Stacy, Nikki, Christina, (Deva, and Sharon, our guides)  for an adventure of spiritual practice, hiking the expansive lands, eating delicious healthy meals and, of course, we devoured luscious chocolate and did a bit of shopping.

My adventure began flying out of  Newark airport, NJ  with my friend Lisa.  We arrived in Scottsdale AZ  and stayed with my other beautiful friend, Stacy, whom I later adopted in spirit. We had a lovely dinner and then hit the hot tub!

The next morning Stacy made us pancakes and gave us the  gift of a guided meditation! We walked the golf course the surrounds her home and were in awe of the clean mountain air!

At 1:30 PM we packed up the car and headed to Sedona. Our adventure for the next 4 days would be guided by our spirited friends Sharon and Deva. Our small group of seven stayed at a  gorgeous creekside retreat, Junipine, off of Highway 89A.  We took advantage of the blazing fire, the rolling stream,  the scent of evergreen and the enormous red rocks right outside our door.

On our first night, we feasted on amazing homemade chili, salad, salsa, chips and chocolate for dessert! (thanks Sharon!) Our special evening ends with a prayer circle and the making of prayer ties.

December 6, 2019

After a yummy frittata breakfast and a packed lunch of  burrito rice, beans, cheese and snacks and we are off to hike these powerful mountains. We drive through the red rocks in silence to observe and surround our senses with the beauty that engulfs us on both sides. Hunter mountain and the Medicine Wheel are scared spaces in Sedona. Yes, the Vortex of Enlightened presence. Waves of compassionate to all beings is the message this area represents. This is the land of scared stupas. We are visiting the Amitabha Stupa. stupas are one fo the oldest forms of sacred architecture not he planet and haver graced the earth for over 2600 years.. We walk about a half hour up the mountain and spend the remaining couple hours in reverence and quiet reflection. The sun is shining and the skies are deep blue. We are grateful for this space and for Mother Earth.

https://www.tara.org/stupas/sedona-arizona/

Soon afterwards we enjoy our picnic lunch against the most awe inspiring view one can imagine. If you have not been here yet, it’s almost impossible to describe the powerful energy that runs through your body.

So, to sustain this feeling, we head to Synergy Lounge and Kitchen, for chocolate, of course! – A lovely organic coffee/chocolate cafe in the heart of Sedona. They offer, organic coffee, herbal Elixers, Kratom, CBD, and local artist events.  Hot chocolate and good friends make for a perfect combo!

http://synergysedona.love

And, what would the day be without a little browsing at Tlaquepaque! This is a shopping area designed by Frank Lloyd Wrights son, Lloyd. It’s decorated and festive  for the holidays packed with  cool galleries and shops. A perfect way to spend the rest of the afternoon. I can’t resist a rose quartz necklace, so I indulge. Stacy buys some crystals too. The most fun thou, was trying to pronounce and spell Tlaquepaque!

https://www.tlaq.com

We take goofy photos of ourselves and then have dinner at the Secret Garden, a cute cafe where we order appys and drinks for 1/2 price. As luck would have it, it is also First Fridays so all the galleries are open. We chat it up with artists and gallery owners. Heard some amazing powerful healing stories! Enough to write a book about!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch-we opt for a chill night and Sharon, Deva, Stacy and I have our own PJ party. We chat, eat chocolate, and of course, balance our chakras with Stacy’s new crystals. Yea, we are all good now.

December 7 2019

I’m up early for another day in ugly Sedona! After our delish breakfast and some caffeine, we pile in Sharons van and we are off to another sacred vortex  – Bell Rock and Courthouse Rock. We literally lay down of the rocks and Deva leads us into a 20 minute mediation as the sun shone on our faces and warmed out hearts. This is how to experience the magic of Sedona.

Next stop is a visit to Rachels Knoll.

It’s hard to leave here but alas, we must. We enjoy our packed lunch (hummus wraps, an apple and energy bar- yum!)  overlooking  lush green canyon/golf course views.( I secretly wanted to play a few holes, but couldn’t jump that far down!)

Sharon and Deva have held out a surprise for us today. After a short stroll we lay down our blankets on the red rocks once again and are treated to a crystal bowl healing session.  It’s agreed, zoning out, is good for the soul! Mission accomplished.

But the magic does not end there. At 3 pm we head off to Crescent Moon Rock to  view the infamous Cathedral Rock at Buddha beach. If I didn’t have my camera, I think I would have gone mad! We sit along the nearby flowing river journaling, mediating and just being in nature and in awe of the magnificence of this mountain.  The sun is starting to fade and the air is a bit cooler than we we arrived but my heart and soul are warm. I’m good. Still not believing what I am seeing. Someone pinch me please!

Yes, we are all tree huggers! Deva is hugging this one for us!

And Nikki can’t stop smiling!

So, of course, a visit to Sedona wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Crystal Magic and the Crystal store. Some of us have Aura readings and we all check out the crystals and purchase a few for gifts. I’ve never seen so many precious stones in one place!

https://www.crystalmagic.com

Dinner at Chocolatree was another special treat. This place just oozed with love and had a vibe like no other. Not to mention that the food was incredible!  Just wish there was one in New Jersey! If you go to Sedona, do not miss this place!

Veggie Burger!

Biggest Burrito I’ve ever seen!

https://chocolatree.com

December 8 2019

Private early morning meditation by Stacy for me! Yeah! Followed by a sweet smoothie bowl!  (blend frozen fruits of your choice, banana, 1/4 avocado, – blend and add almond milk to desired consistency. Place in a bowl and add walnuts, dried cranberries, granola, chia seeds, cinnamon, etc.. too yummy for words! I made this at home and also added cacao powder and a teaspoon of  almond butter) (yeah, I need to write a recipe book!)

Today we spent the day on our own and walked Upper Sedona. Stacy and I did some shopping and visited her friends Stephanie and Rob who live in Sedona. So fun to meet them, their cats and dogs and check out their 12 foot Christmas tree! We also did some Buddhist Chanting. Another treat!

We shared dinner tonight  at an excellent Thai place – “Uptown Thai”.. My curry bowl with tofu was perfection.  We ended with a chill evening pulling tarot cards. Always something new to learn about yourself.

Our closing ceremony with Deva and Sharon was powerful and healing. We burned our prayer ties in the fire to let go of all that no longer served us. Later we shared our reactions and asked what out spiritual names were.

Stacy- Daisy

Deb – Dancing under trees

Lisa- Whispering Bear

Nikki- Jasmine dew drop

Christina- Rosalynn.

We had a few laughs about out newly found names too!

December 9

Today is check out day.

After breakfast, we spent a quiet morning relaxing by the fire and learning EFT technique ( tapping) with Sharon. Very informative and healing. We had planned another short hike but due to the previous days rain, we opted out. Instead, we walked to the river, threw in our roses and had a small ceremony of our own, watched some kayakers and took a few photos.

So hard to say goodbye to this land and awesome friends, but no crying aloud. Just hugs and a farewell to clean mountain air and all the beauty that goes with it.

Stacy and I take off back to Scottsdale but on the way we stop at Airport Mesa, another jaw dropping vista overview for a picnic lunch.

Stacy meets an older couple with a dog and asks what her name is. Of course, its Daisy! Yup, the universe is talking to us and lets us know that we better take notice. On the drive back, we also see a sign on the highway – Daisy Blvd. We go to the food store “Sprouts”  and see a bunches  of daises. (these signs keep coming for the next couple weeks)

Our “Daisy”

So, the Sedona adventure has come to a close but the memories will last a lifetime. Thank you Deva and Sharon for all the love and goodness that you shared to make this a beautiful trip for all us sisters! Looking forward to more healing journeys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Fingers, Frozen Toes -The Windy City-Day 1

 January 2013
Frozen Fingers & Frozen Toes in the Windy City- Day 1
Chicago, IL

 

 

 

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Chicago, IL

Day 1
A quick getaway was in the cards and Chicago was on my bucket list for the longest time. So the bags are packed- thankfully with my down coat and warm boots! Anytime is beautiful in Chicago but winter adds another layer of clothes and challenges. Although I may have been a bit whiny about the sub zero temps, the Chicago folks are not! They seem to hardly notice but, of course, they are so bundled up you can hardly see their faces. North Face must make a bundle here!

OK- no more whining-

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My friend Gisela who is brave enough to drive to JFK airport NYC, picks me up at my door at 4AM and we are off. There is no traffic so its a breeze to speed over the Outerbridge Crossing in Staten Island. No problems on the Verrazano Bridge in NY either. We reach the parking garage within an hour and they shuttle us off to the airport for out flight on Jet Blue. Which by the way was quite a deal. $69 bucks each way! We are in the air at 7:15 AM reading our travel books and before you know it we are in the Windy City!

( BTW- Do you know why it’s called the Windy City? It’s not because of the wind-
“If you had always assumed that Chicago earned its nickname as the Windy City from the chilly gusts coming off Lake Michigan, you would be wrong. The city is windy, according to most local legends, because of the hot air bellowing from politicians.” )

So- we land and the pilot announces that the temp in the Windy City is ONE degree!

I nearly have heart failure but good thing I did not- needed the energy for the six block icy walk to the hotel.

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If you want to save time and money, take the subway Blue Line to Jackson Station and then the Red line to Chicago Station from the airport. It’s about 45 minutes or so. And will take only $2.25 from your wallet as opposed to over $50 for a cab. But, if you are with rich famous people, a cab would be fine.

Our hotel, the Residence Inn on Magnificent Mile rocks! It especially rocks since I used my Marriott points and so it cost me nothing to stay for 3 nights! And to top it off, our room is ready at 10:30 AM! (normally a wait is in order till 4pm) I needed to thaw out since my fingers nearly fell off on way to the hotel. And yes, I had gloves on.

Since we bought a Metro Card at the airport- $20 for 3 days- Gisela and I are set and ready to head downtown. We take the #147 bus and decide on lunch and a much needed adult beverage at the famous Millers Tavern. A 1925 establishment that has great food and of course famous T-shirts.

Welcome to Miller’s Pub

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After much nourishment, we are ready to ride the famous LOOP elevated rail around the downtown area. It’s a good way to get a feel for Chicago. We see Grant Park where the Skating rink is. I am amazed that folks are actually flying around on skates in below zero temps!

grant park chicago

Next stop- we depart the subway and visit the famous Billy Goat Tavern:

Home


Remember the Saturday Night Live Skit? Cheezburger, Cheezburger, Cheezburger?
http://www.billygoattavern.com/legend/s nl/

Lights out early tonight! (after a Cheezburger, of course)

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Old Town, Chicago- Day 2

 

Old Town
Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL


Not easy to wander the streets of Chicago when you fingers are falling off but we did manage to get to the Old Town Ale House, which of course, was on my to-do list. No question about it. A subway trip gets us there in no time. I would have loved to see more of Old Town (northern area) which is a great area to walk around, but that will have to wait till next time- in the summer!

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However, the Ale House was not only famous – the La Premiere Dive Bar since 1958- but filled with walls and walls of paintings of political porn by local artist- Bruce Elliott . We lucked out too because he was sitting at the bar throwing down a cold beer!

Home

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As a lover of the Blues, there was no way I was leaving Chicago without filling my soul with my favorite music. Before leaving NJ, I stumbled across the Green Mill Jazz club. On Saturdays they had free shows at 3PM. No brainer. http://greenmilljazz.com/ We arrive plenty early and it was a good thing since the place was nearly packed! I was assuming it would be a hole-in-the-wall with three guys in flannel shirts drinking Bud lights, but I was so wrong!

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Gisela and I order a glass of wine and surprise- the show starts and it’s a comedy show of the finest kind. Very political, very funny and mostly devoid of Republicans, I believe. Learned a few new curse words too. Highly recommend for a good time. Funny ****.

After all this, we are in need of food to fill our bellies. Of course we have no desire to eat normal food that we can get anywhere so upon a recommendation from the nice girl at the subway stop who looked up directions for us on her IPhone, we go to her favorite place, which happens to be right across the street!
Demera- an Ethiopian restaurant. What a treat! we order Messob and it so tasty. Spicy veggies and meats that you pick up with some type of bread to eat and your fingers. No forks necessary. http://demeraethiopianrestaurant.com/

 

As I am quite stuffed, a walk back to the subway is in the plan and we are off again for the finale of the night. Awesome LIVE Blues at the “Blue Chicago”on Clark Street in River North. Real Blues, real people who connect with the audience. Yup, this is what I came to Chicago for and this club did not disappoint! http://www.bluechicago.com/home.html
Check out the website and listen to the blues!

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Crash into bed at 12:30 AM..It’s still cold outside!

Time for Art in Chicago- Day 3

Time for Art!
Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL


After another hearty, delicious , free breakfast at the Marriott, we are off and out in the cold once again. We take the bus to the Art Institute of Chicago. A nice ride down Magnificent Mile. It is open at 10 am and we are there shortly afterwards. (One small hiccup, however, nearly ruins the day. Gisela discovers that her wallet is missing from her bag- a quick taxi ride back to the hotel saves the day. It had fallen out of her bag while we used the lobby computer! Thankfully, it was still on the chair and the day was saved!)

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The museum was outstanding! Lots of great lighted space, amazing artwork and sculptures. Great gift shop too, of course- Must always check out the gift shops! We were even allowed to take photographs which surprised me. Be sure to put this museum on your bucket list. Well worth it.

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Once again, in need of food and drink, and since we are close, we decide to walk back to the Billy Goat Tavern. Geez- something about old historic funky places, I guess that we can’t ignore. Or was it those famous hot dogs? I also cannot resist the famous Billy Goat T-Shirts, so I get three so a few special guys I know.

On the way we are finally able to take a few photos since the temp has climbed to about 20 degrees and I can actually now push the button on my camera without too much discomfort. We pass Grant Park, the skating rink, some cool sculpture’s the fabulous architecture and of course the famous Bean! A photo opp is absolutely a must! Incase you don’t know the Bean is a metallic sculpture that reflects the Chicago skyline. Awesome.

the bean chicago

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Another short bus trip and we are walking in the side entrance of the John Hancock Observatory. We are told by a wise woman on the bus to go up to the 96th floor and have a drink at the restaurant/bar instead of going in the front door and paying an entrance fee. Of course, you must buy a drink there. No brainer. The view is beyond spectacular! Since we arrived at 500 pm, we got the best of both worlds- daylight and nightfall. A perfect combo. We have a 360 degree view of the windy city while we sip a cabernet. The distant views are breathtaking. We can see for miles and miles. (don’t seem to be able to spot New Jersey though!) Even the ladies room had floor length windows -( another wise tip from the bus lady)

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It’s very hard to leave our little perfect table near huge glass windows, but alas, we must. The night is young and there is more Chicago to explore.
Last stop of the evening- a subway ride to, of course, another blues club! How could we not?
This time it’s the Kingston Mines. Found it in the guide book. Very cool, Very blue.
We hit the sack at 11:30 dreaming of the sights and sounds of our last night in Chicago.

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Tomorrow is another day.

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Is it day 4 already?

Is it day 4 already?
Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL


Boo- Hoo….We will be on a plane back to reality late tonight. But, in the meantime, there is still time to wander and see some more of Chicago!.
Today after another great breakfast (gotta love the Marriott), Gisela and I are off to check out the art galleries in the River North section. This time we walk since its not that far from out hotel. It is, however, still friggin frezzing! (but who is complaining? lol)

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So, now there is good news and bad news. The bad news (should always get that out of the way first IMOP) most of the art galleries are CLOSED on Mondays! Who knew? None of the guide books nor the front desk at the Marriott mention anything about this. This was a huge bummer, since I was really looking forward to it, and being the girl scout that I am, I always do my homework. Somehow, this got lost somewhere. But, the good news was that we did get to see a few and also checked out a very cool Paper Store in the area. Lots of creative ideas to float about in my head!

Next stop the Chicago Cultural Center. Never thought it would be so amazing! This should have been the first stop on Day One. It’s not only a place to view great art but also there are tons of information on what to do and see in Chicago. Even the ceiling here was a piece of art! A must see if you go to the Windy City.

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Finally, I must bid farewell to Chicago (until my next visit in the summer!) but before we take the train to the plane, we stop once again for a great brew and lunch at Miller’s Pub. It seems only fitting and full circle. I have all my brochures ready for next time and I can’t wait.

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