It’s about 10:30am and I made it to the American Airlines lounge in under 3 hours, door-to-door. When I booked my flight out for 2:30pm, I imagined I might get a hike in before I left. Since it’s raining, that wasn’t going to happen. If all I was going to do was sit around and read and write, I might as well do that where there’s free food and drink! I still have lounge access associated with Dan’s travel (thanks, Dan!) so figured I should take advantage of it while I can.

It was still raining a little when I left Sedona, and rained quite a bit on the way to and in Phoenix. As I left, I saw the mountains that I’d driven into yesterday when I went to Jerome. I hadn’t seen this at all yesterday due to the rain. For some reason I felt compelled to pull over and take a photo. So there you are.

I have 3.5 hours before I have to board. WordPress is blocked again here, weird, like it was at LaGuardia in July, so I’m writing this initially in Word and will transfer it later.

I was hoping for a quiet Christmas Day in the lounge. When I arrived, just about every seat was taken, it was loud, and bustling with activity. About an hour later, it had quieted down quite a bit, as you can see from the photos below.

That’s my stuff there on the right. It stayed empty like this for the duration of my stay.

The photo below is the essence of the last 2 hours I was in the lounge. I can’t remember the last time I just sat and read for 2 hours. It was lovely.

If you’ve been following awhile you know I always wrap up a trip with some final ponderings about it. I’m not sure where to start on this one or where exactly it will go. We’ll find out together.  

I’ve heard so much spiritual lore about Sedona over the years it was difficult to come here without any expectations, but I think I managed them pretty well. The timing of it was perfect as there has been stuff I’ve been thinking about for awhile which positioned it well as a form of retreat, which is how I intended it, and in fact how I used it to some degree. So I’ll talk about some of that and try to associate those things with what I’ve experienced the last few days.

The one thing I knew for sure is I needed a break. My fourth quarter was, in a word, overscheduled. I can’t remember a time of my life where my calendar was so ridiculously full All The Time. Or at least not a time where I felt it as intensely as I did the last few months. Or maybe I’m just getting old. But I really felt it this year and kept thinking “something’s gotta give.” Yet most of it was of my own making – I tend to take on a lot – so I didn’t feel like I could complain about it. I would be relieved whenever a friend would cancel dinner plans. Yay, an unexpected free evening!

So the whole theme of this trip was very intentionally: roll with it. Don’t over plan, don’t over book, take it easy. Even Onya, the psychic, pointed it out without me bringing it up. “You’re feeling like your time isn’t your own, and you need to figure out a way to have more ‘me’ time.” It’s true. I live alone yet feel like I don’t get enough alone time. It’s probably more that I have extremely high need for high quality alone time, and that hasn’t been happening. This trip definitely served that objective beautifully. Someone asked me the other day if I get lonely traveling like this and I didn’t hesitate: Not even a little bit.

For most of my 28 years of sobriety I’ve invested a fair amount of time in spiritual development through reading a wide variety of material and doing a fair amount of meditation, and doing both of those things daily. Somehow over the last few years those activities dropped off in both intensity and regularity. I was reminded of how disciplined I used to be about it when a sponsee commented on it at a meeting I spoke at early October. He reminded me that when I lived in Natomas, I didn’t even leave my upstairs bedroom in the morning until I was done with my reading and meditation. I picked up that discipline again right after that. Granted – no stairs to not come down in my current place – but I put the focus on reading and meditating first thing. Before I pick up my phone (which I’ve always intentionally NOT kept by my bed but in the living room) because after that it’s all over.

I’ve been very pleased with the results, feeling much more focused in general and a greater ability to stay present. And small shifts in other things hard to define, some of which I attribute to the book I picked up: a re-read of Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes. I’ve loved studying that again and it’s helped me increase clarity and intention. What’s my point? Since I was using this trip as a retreat, I made sure I continued the practice. Often it falls to the side when I travel, and this time it didn’t. And it was a good place to do it; the overall environment and the time I spent outside lent itself to practicing presence throughout the day and I was able to do that to a satisfying degree.

Chad, the Grand Canyon tour guide, defined the vortexes as spiraling energy and had decent scientific and spiritual explanations for it. It’s known that the amount of iron in the earth is more than other places – all that red everywhere is essentially rust – and all that iron affects the magnetic energy. You can read more about that here. All that aside, I was expecting to feel something similar to what I feel when I’m at Harbin Hot Springs – a certain energy in the environment that is peaceful in a way that you don’t experience it in other places. Honestly, I felt that driving into town as soon as I entered the valley. And there were various times throughout the weekend that it was more intense than others, especially at the Chapel of the Holy Cross yesterday. Like my experience at Harbin, the explanation for it doesn’t really matter to me. As with all things spiritual, I go with experience over science because the truth is there are some things science can’t explain.

All that said, the thing that surprised me about Sedona the town was how ordinary it was. Giselle, the chakra clearer, asked me what I thought of it and I said: if you were familiar with the Sacramento region I would say this reminds me of Roseville – a very corporate, uninteresting feel to it. She laughed and said “yes, I know exactly what you mean – we call it a spiritual strip mall.” And That’s It. There’s nothing about the town that’s all that interesting. But that’s OK. You don’t come here to experience the town. You come here to experience the outside. 

The Grand Canyon experience was Incredible and I’m glad I finally got to do that. I welled up with emotion at that first sighting and just stood there and stared for several minutes. That process repeated itself several times throughout that afternoon. The other time I’ve experienced that kind of overwhelming feeling – that I can easily recall at any rate – is at the Cologne Cathedral.

I believe that every meal that I had after the first one came from a recommendation of a local. That was new for me and I liked the way that turned out. I looked at Yelp only 2 times the entire trip.

Would I come back? Absolutely. This isn’t a yearly trek by any stretch, at least not at this time, but I would definitely come back and highly recommend it to people that like to do outside things. Whether you’re into the spiritual stuff or not is irrelevant. It’s beautiful country so if nature is your thing, this is worth exploring. If you travel for art, history, architecture, culture, food, etc., pass on it. Unless of course you’re interested in Native American art and history. A fair amount of that if you look for it.

Both the reading I’ve been doing and the work I did with Onya points to the opportunity for me to be more intentional about a great many things. I’m going to work on that. Will be interesting to see what’s next.

What’s next travel-wise you can guess if you’re a regular follower: what will be my 3rd annual President’s Day weekend trip to Puerto Vallarta. I hope you have a great start to your New Year and we will catch up with you then.

It’s now about 4:45pm Pacific time. I’m home, unpacked, laundry started, and ready to settle in for a nice quiet evening. It’s Always great to be home.

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