5 things I learned from a month in Sedona
1. Do all of the things. Now.
It sounds cliche, but it’s true. Seize the day. Don’t wait. When you only have limited time somewhere, do as much as you can squeeze into your day which feels joyful.
Even if you don’t think you have time. Or it requires a little cash. Or if you think you’ll do it next trip, next year, next time. Do it now.
For example, in 4 weeks, we carved out time and:
- rode horseback (Scott’s fave!) through the dry Verde Valley
- toured the impressive and engulfing Antelope Canyon with a Navajo guide
- took a bumpy Jeep ride through the Verde River (literally right through it!)
- toured 4 Sinugan (Native American) ancient ruins including Palatki, Hananki, Toozigut, and Montezuma’s Castle to see the pictographs, artistry and architecture of people living in the area from 1100-1400 (amazing!)
- took my first ATV drive down the scariest ravine ever (petrifying!)
- hiked most of the popular red rocks in Sedona – Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Butte, and Thunder Mountain
- soaked in the energy at several vortex sites (the energy really does feel less dense there – it’s not just woo-woo!)
- went to Saturday sound meditation classes at Infinite Light Healing Studies Center
- learned about Navajo jewelry, sculpture and art in the Tlaquepaque Center
- watched the hot air balloons in the morning and sunsets at night from our back deck (and also saw 10 javelinas, including 4 nursing babies, walk through our backyard!)
- explored the area with Scott’s brother from Boulder who came to stay with us for a week over Thanksgiving
Whether you’re at home or on the road this holiday season, how can you create meaningful experiences? Build memories? And do all of the things with those you love?
2. Challenge yourself to try something scary or new.
We all hear this one all the time, but when was the last time you really stepped out of your comfort zone and into feeling differently?
When was the last time you tried something new?
According to statistica.com, in the past 5 years, only 54% of Gen Z, 46% of Millenials and 38% of Gen X were open to trying something new. I’m proud to be one of the Gen Xers who branched out a bit…
- For me, it was new to go ATVing on DUSTY (really challenging!) trails in the desert. It took me from having sweaty palms at the start to smiling with joy at the end…under my bandana which made me look like a bandit.
- And I tried new foods like cacti fries, local Wild Tonic jun-kombucha (my new obsession!) and the fruit of the prickly pear cacti (so refreshing – like if a kiwi and a pomegranate had a baby – Scott loved it in a margarita!)
Trying something new forces you to grow.
As writer Sendhil Mullainathan says in a New York Times article, “Experimentation is an act of humility, an acknowledgment that there is simply no way of knowing without trying something different.”
It’s good to humble ourselves and try things that are different sometimes.
3. Be open to making friends with random people you meet…like on a hiking trail.
It’s easy to forget that every friend was once a stranger.
Read that again.
Every friend was once a stranger. So you can meet strangers in the craziest of places and then they become friends.
- Like Barrie Bernstein who we met while staying at the Red Mountain Resort in Utah this summer on a hiking excursion to Bryce Canyon. We kept in touch over the summer/fall and realized she would be in Sedona for Thanksgiving so we met up with her to hike more trails.
- Like Leisa Peterson, author of The Mindful Millionaire, who I briefly met at a conference hosted by Carolin Soldo several years ago. I reached out to her because she lives in Sedona. We got green juice together one afternoon which later led to her and her husband Tim inviting us over to their house for dinner.
- Like our new friends Karen and Ian Sadler who we literally crossed paths with on Little Horse Trail because we asked them to take a photo of us and we offered to take theirs. That turned into a 20-minute conversation which led to us going on 4 hikes together to some of the most majestic mountains – like Cathedral Rock and Courthouse Butte.
These friendships felt particularly important considering how separated from people we’ve all felt over the past few years. It felt good to get connected again. (If you’re concerned about our close quarters, we’ve all been va##ed.)
Where can you keep your eyes and heart open and be surprised at who you might meet?
4. Add depth by learning the history.
History adds so much more meaning and depth to the places we visit. Scott and I totally geek out on it.
Near Sedona we learned about 4 significant historical sites which were engineered by brilliant Native Americans over many centuries. They all were designed by the Sinagua people (Hopi are their descendents) based on the placement of the sun at various times of year for heating/cooling purposes and access to water for living and farming.
- Tuzigoot National Monument is a 110-room Pueblo village built in the Verde Valley between 1050-1380 AD. You can still see the stone walls of the rooms.
- Palatki and Hananki Ancient Ruins contained pictographs and petroglyphs that were created between 500-1425 AD. I was awed by the artwork on the walls depicting planets, animals, mountains, rain, snakes and water (all of which were critical) near the Grotto which was used for spiritual ceremonies (and still is used today).
- Montezuma’s Castle isn’t a castle at all, but rather, a well-preserved multi-story adobe home built HIGH into the mesa wall between 1100-1400 AD. It’s very near Beaver Creek which provided much-needed water to them and nearby Arizona Sycamore trees provided shade.
It was so interesting to learn about the people and their ingenuity who were here long before us. It gives such a richness and appreciation for those who have lived in desert climates in this country for hundreds and hundreds of years. It reminded me of how Native Americans have been treated so unfairly and unjustly throughout history. It’s heartbreaking.
Are you a history buff too? Do you like learning about who came before us and showing respect for what they built and how they lived?
5. Take time to see the country and be prepared to be surprised.
As you likely know, my husband Scott and I love to travel. So after being cooped up for most of the past 2 years, we decided to drive (yes, drive!) from Maine to Arizona on a 5-day cross-country road trip.
I’m glad we did it – but, whew! Driving 8-9 hours a day was too much! (Not sure we’ll ever do that again!) However, it gave us a chance to see the country, which was the goal.
We chose to drive from ME to AZ to visit states we had never been to before.
We were surprised at what we saw along the way.
- Who knew cotton loves the soil in Oklahoma? Did you know that? I had no idea. Growing up in the Midwest, you only hear about growing cotton in Georgia and the Deep South, not Oklahoma.
- Who knew there were so many windmills for miles and miles in Northern TX in the state known for oil and gas?
- Who knew there is a gorgeous Buddhist meditation stupa called the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park tucked into the pine trees in the middle of West Sedona?
- Who knew that desert flowers were still blooming in NOVEMBER?
All of these things completely surprised me.
While traveling is still limited in some parts of the country right now, what can you get out and see this winter?
What can you learn about the environment around you that you may not have seen or noticed before?
These are the high points but my mind, heart and soul learned and healed on so many levels.
Scott and I feel incredibly grateful to be able to spend a month in Sedona. I am thankful that I am a Legal Coach and Attorney for entrepreneurs, coaches and healers with a business built over the past decade which (finally!) allows some time and location freedom. We do know that it is a privilege and it was our holiday gift to each other this year.
It gave us the opportunity to have new experiences, see the world with a fresh set of eyes, and build memories that we will remember forever.
Is there anything special you can do this year – whether a big trip or a day trip! – to see the world with fresh eyes – or to build memories that you’ll have for a lifetime?
Here’s to happy holidays filled with new experiences and feeling grateful!