I recently took a trip to Sedona with three of my girlfriends for an entire week. We all had different but profound reasons for needing to get away, and we were all seeking our own version of enlightenment.
If you’ve never been there, Sedona is known for its stunning natural beauty, along with a reputation as being a new age mecca of sorts. It has vortexes, psychics, yoga and meditation studios on every corner, and even alien encounters, if you are inclined to believe in such things. In keeping with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it is also very well-to-do. I doubt too many people living in Detroit are shelling out $40 for photographs of their auras.
People who know me know I like to poke fun at stuff…and this trip provided plenty of opportunities to do so. But I did come away with some incredibly profound insights and new discoveries, some of which I’ll share, and some of which I won’t (what happens in Sedona, stays in Sedona, after all – unless it’s fodder for my blog).
Laughter Truly Is The Best Medicine. I remember when I was very ill many years ago, I was given a book that changed everything for me. It was Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins. If you’re not familiar with the book, based on personal experience, Mr. Cousins expounded upon the idea that positive energy – one endorphin releasing catalyst being laughter – can produce healing physiological responses in our bodies which can effectively combat illness. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen it in my own life and in other’s as well. If there is one predictor of longevity, it is the ability to roll with the curve balls life throws you…and what better way than by laughing at this mad, mad world we all live in? During the time I spent in Sedona with my girlfriends, I have to say that I laughed often and I laughed deeply. Like pee your pants deeply. And it was an endorphin releasing high that no prescribed drug could ever have given me.
Truck Stops Are Actually Vortexes to a Parallel Universe. And a truly frightening universe. One in which biscuits, gravy, red meat and cigarettes comprise the 4 basic food groups; a universe in which people walk barefoot into public restrooms and consider flushing “puttin’ on airs”; a universe in which teeth are optional but beer bellies required. I get how elitist that sounds, and I own it – reallyI do. But after driving for 13 hours and hitting multiple truck stops, sometimes simply to use the restroom, sometimes to purchase my road trip free passes (People magazine and Bugles – don’t judge me), I began to wonder…who are these people and where the Hell are they going? Because I definitely don’t see them anyplace other than at truck stops. Is their universe one big highway with a never ending parade of Love’s and Flying J exits? Inquiring minds want to know.
Irony is Alive and Well. As I mentioned, Sedona is somewhat of a paradox. On the one hand, you have this extremely spiritual, Zen-like vibe about town. But on the other hand, when you see the majority of people walking around in $100 yoga pants and toting $5 bottles of artisan water, it reminds you that it’s a little easier to be enlightened, eat only organic, free range food, and explore your inner chakras when you have oodles of money. A perfect example of this paradox is when we visited the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The Chapel is a Sedona icon, a structure that incorporates its natural surroundings seamlessly with both architectural and artistic integrity. But as visitors revel in the simplistic, innate power of the chapel, you cannot help but notice the obscene shrine to narcissism just a few yards downhill.
Rumor has it that it belongs to Nicholas Cage, or to Johnny Depp, or perhaps to the developer of Lasix eye surgery. I don’t really care if the fucking Dalai Lama owns it. Unless it has facetiously placed fountains of Neptune and his minions, a duo of white tigers roaming the grounds, and the ghost of Liberace haunts the premises, it is a gaudy and atrocious eyesore in an otherwise pristine and beautiful setting. Vegas? Hell yes. Sedona? Not so much.
Menopause Blows…No Really – It BLOWS. Just remember all the people that told you childbirth wasn’t so bad, and breastfeeding was as natural and intuitive as breathing or taking your first steps – admit it: they fucking lied to us. I’m going on the record here – menopause is the icing on the giant shit cake you inherited simply by being born without a Y chromosome. Get used to it. Between menstruation, childbirth and PMS it’s a wonder we don’t commit Hari Kari with the onset of puberty. But to me, it’s really a testament to our resiliency and our strength, as well as the stunning capacity of our tear ducts to keep the water works flowing. And because we all possess that dreaded condition known as Hormones (gasp!), I think woman generally bring a higher level of commitment to our relationships than do men. One crazy knife fight can be chalked up to a hormonal imbalance…after that – and only after that – do we start questioning the value of our friendships. Now that’s bad ass.
Planning is Good, But Spontaneity is Much Better. I’m okay with planning, but to me there is a difference between being prepared for rainy days, and scheduling each and every moment of your life like someone still high off a Tony Robbins motivational seminar. Some of the best things in life are odd, strange and unanticipated. If you get to the point that you are unwilling to be open to those experiences, then you, my friend, have jumped the shark of life. Better to be like a child, full of wonder and blind, dumb faith in a world with equal shares of absolute miracles and lesson learning debacles.
Forget the Life Coach and Dr. Phil – Drag Your Ass Into Nature If You Are Struggling With Something in Your Life. I don’t care what it is – physical, mental, spiritual – there is nothing that a little perspective won’t put into its proper context. Example: it’s hard to look at a redwood tree or an ancient rock formation that has been around since before Jesus was born, seen wars, revolutions, natural disasters and inventions that would literally change life on Earth as we know it – and somehow think that the fact that you can’t get a wi-fi signal on your flight is worthy of even a minute of the universe’s empathy. We are privileged like no previous generation, and frankly have a frame of reference that involves a little too much navel gazing …don’t let it be at the expense of a larger understanding – an understanding that we are but a speck on a speck of a planet in a giant galaxy within an infinite universe. In other words – get over yourself and treasure the gift that is your tiny place in this incredible vast expanse of the mysterious unknown we all share.
Female Friendships are Like Plants – They Can Be the Very Air That We Breathe, But They Need to be Nurtured and Cared for in Order to Grow and Thrive. My last bit of insight is probably the most personal to reveal. I think that woman, much more than men, have a tendency to have unrealistic societal expectations to live up to. I know that men do too, but believe me – the pressure on women is exponentially greater. It might involve body image, it might be the common theme that women are only an object d’ art for men and nothing more, or perhaps it is even the idea that we as women are all in competition with each other, and that if one woman succeeds, it follows that another must fail. I don’t believe this personally – but unfortunately I know plenty of women that do. To you women, I say next time you are sipping red wine with your girlfriends, stop the petty gossip and jealousy at other women’s success. Get real, get raw, and get vulnerable with your fellow sisters. Forget the Y chromosome – If you don’t embrace that simple truth incorporated in our female DNA, you will never be a true feminist or the fabulous goddess you aspire to be.