Tuesday, November 5, 2013

From The Beautiful Town of Sedona

As I write this, I am sitting in front of a roaring fire in a beautiful rustic cabin nestled deep in the woods of Sedona Arizona.  The air is crisp and cool- perfumed with the familiar scent of the majestic Ponderosa Pine and the stately Arizona White Oak Tree.

I was ecstatic when we first started planning to take this trip.  Carlo, myself, Carlo's brother Gio & wife Krystle decided we were going to see what this "vortex" was all about.  We packed our bags, piled in the car, and started out on what would be an unforgettable road-trip.  We stopped at several places along the way enjoying the new sights and laughing non stop. 

My friends who love and respect me for who I am, not for who I've known or what I've done in life. If there is one thing I've learned in the last few years, true friends do not care what you have, or don't have - they care about you.  Friends I have lost over the years, were never friends to begin with. Quick to judge, to take sides, and to make fools of themselves. 

Sedona is an amazing location.  Gorgeous landscapes and colorful residents always willing to offer a kind "hello..." and offer up an interesting local anecdote.  We traveled to several of the popular vortex locations, and kept hearing the hardest one to get to was Cathedral Rock.  

Cathedral Rock is one of the most photographed sights in Arizona, soaring to a height of 4,921 feet.  It is considered a tough hike, short but very steep with patches of almost shear cliff side.  Although I am in the best physical shape I have been in years, to say I was a little apprehensive would be an understatement.

When we finally made it to the top of the great mountain the view from the top was breathtaking - figuratively and literally!!  The clouds had started to form and the the sun had started its long decent orchestrating the entire sky into a swirling mass of mandarin and deep purple.  The breeze cools my face and the smell of the desert pines is intoxicating.  Far off in the distance, one lone tree glowed like the brightest emerald you have ever seen.  It was almost as if this one tree was announcing to the world that we had made it - we were all alone at the top.  We came here to find the vortex of legend - and we came to find that and much much more.  The beauty around us was quietly exploding before our very eyes - and I began to realize this is what is sacred...  

As the old saying goes however, what goes up must come down and in this case going down was much more difficult than going up.  As you can see in the picture, there is almost no trail really, just a large crevice. But thanks to Carlo, my partner in crime - my best friend - and my partner, I made it down in one piece!! 

We were definitely sore the next day, but an experience like this happens once in a lifetime - as if all the stars were aligned and pointing us in the direction of amazement and discovery. 

Our trip is not over yet...  We still have many things to see, and tomorrow head to Jerome Arizona to experience a true "Haunted" town.  I will certainly update my blog to reflect our next adventure.  And thank you to Carlo Bautista for being the official photographer - and the biggest support I have!  

Carlo and myself say hello from Arizona!

I would like to end with my inspiration - Carlo - He said a most amazing thing to me... 

In the mountains there are only two grades: You can either do it, or you can't

"Don't fail now - fail tomorrow"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Weekend adventure to Santa Barbara!

Spur of the moment trips can sometimes be the most fun!  Carlo and I decided to go on an adventure and take the train to Santa Barbara for the day.  I had not been on a long train trip for over 20 years, so this was going to be a lot of fun.

We set out early, on the 8:00 am train since it is a good 3 hour trip.  It was a great experience, taking the train.  No worries of driving, just sitting back and watching the scenery flash by your window.  The colors of the coast are always so beautiful, any time of day!

Santa Barbara is a great place to relax and walk around, however the weather is a little touch and go.  Most of the day, the weather was cool and overcast but perfect for walking around.  We started with a nice lunch and a walk along the pier.  The pier offers a leisurely stroll, and we watch the bird swoop down and the fishermen cast their lines - the salt air was crisp and clean, the white caps of the slight waves were visible for as far as the eye could see.

We decided to take a walk into town - looking at the stores along the way.  Everything and everyone so different in this town.  From the rich of Montecito to the homeless who are so prevalent as you walk the streets, talk about a melting pot.  We stopped at a few place, and I still marvel at being able to shop at a normal store and buy normal clothes off the rack!!  I even walked right buy a french bakery as the smell of baking bread wafted out the door - I saw the eclairs in the window the cakes and tortes piled high with whipped cream - and I passed them all up.  Before we knew it, it was time to meet up with a relative who lives close to the area.  We had drinks and shared lots of laughs which was nice.  If there is nothing I have learned in the last few years, family & friend is the most important thing.  Never forget that!

A quick look at the time, we knew we better head back to the train station.  While at the station, we ran into someone named Kate...  Well, to keep things suspenseful, I will devote an entire blog about Kate - and the heroism I saw displayed on this early evening.  We just had enough time to hop on the train for the long trip back. The bright sky which had been following us around all day had started to turn orange and then red as the sun was setting over the water.

A quick funny story....  Later at night, the Amtrak is able to travel at a higher speed (90+ MPH).  Carlo and I laughed that we were traveling so fast that we may be bending time and who knows what we may see once we stopped.  We had visions of Twilight Zone, and the Train to Willoughby...  Well, as the train pulls in, and the coach doors open, low and behold in front of us stood about 30 people waiting to get on the train - ALL in 1700 period clothing!!!!  Seriously, men and women decked out in their "finest" standing there.  Obviously, they had come from an even at Disneyland, but image our initial shock.... An amazing way to end an wonderful day!!  Cant wait for our next adventure!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Weekend Fun!!

We decided to head to Palm Springs for the weekend - do a little shopping, dinner & drinks.  It has been awhile since I have been to Palm Springs and I was a bit anxious about the trip.  We first hit the outlet stores where Carlo did some serious damage.  Its a  truly amazing feeling to be able to walk into a store and try something on - not a "Big & Tall" store.  But alas, after a few hours of shopping it was lunch time!  For lunch, we headed to Native Foods in Palm Springs.  Another terrific lunch at what is quickly becoming one of our most favorite places!  After lunch, we decided to hit some of the local "drinking establishments" which was interesting.  It was cool day in the desert but after a long day it was time to head home.

We both had such a terrific time, it allowed me to reflect on how fortunate I am!  Sometimes, we forget to thank those who are closest to us, people like Carlo, my Mom, My Brother and all my friends - I feel so blessed that people have stood by me trough thick and thin...  Sometimes I wonder, "how much more weirdness can they take" but they keep going.... and going.... And for that, I simply say "Thank you!"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vegan?? Me a vegan??

It's no big secret that I have a weight problem...  Although it's no excuse, it didn't help that I surrounded myself with people who embraced my size...  In fact, they did more than embrace it, they celebrated it - had parties about it, formed clubs because of it and have websites devoted to it.  I guess I never identified with those groups, not because I thought I was not heavy, but just because I didn't understand it.  Everyone wants to be wanted, but I certainly didn't want to be wanted because I was fat - that makes no sense.  I wasn't always huge, but I certainly had gotten out of control.

I have blogged before about depression, and why I started to loose weight, however after a certain period of time I started to remember what it was like to be healthy and feel healthy, and it started to feel good!  Although I had lost a good deal of weight (100 plus pounds) I still was not as healthy as I could be.  During an annual physical, I got a clean bill of health aside from my blood pressure which routinely ran around 200/110 - much too high.  The doctor surmised that it was a combination of stress, weight, food choices and genetics which were contributing to my blood pressure issue.  At that point, I made a decision that although I had lost a good deal of weight, I was still not living a healthy life - I drank too much coffee, too much soda, and ate all the wrong things.  

I started slowly at first, no soda, cutting back on the coffee, trying to not take stress so seriously...  and from there it just snowballed out of control - and that was a great thing!  I stopped eating read meat, and then stopped eating meat all together...  I cut back on cheese, and finally stopped that all together too.  And it was not easy but I do have to give credit where credit is due as my partner Carlo was the single biggest encouragement anyone could have asked for.  He is a vegan now as well, starting a bit before I did - and there was no one who was as supportive in this journey as he was.  

So now, its all about eating healthy, staying active, and not sweating the small (and big) stuff!  Life is just too short to be unhealthy and unhappy and certain too short to let specific people bother me.  Carlo and myself make it a point to search out the best options for us, and you would be very surprised at how easy it is to eat  like this.  This weekend, we went to a new place for us, Native Foods, and the food was amazing.  Who would have thought vegan food could taste so delicious and for those who may think they need animal protein to be healthy, do a little research and watch Forks Over Knives - it was a transforming experience.

So, today my blood pressure is more controlled and I feel better than ever!  I am going to start doing blog posts about the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle and I welcome you to join my in my journey!

Here is a sample of the delicious food at Native Foods - it's the "Chic'kan Run Ranch Burger" with Sweet Potato fries.  We ate at the Costa Mesa location, but there are several around Southern California.  Try it once, and I promise you won't be disappointed!

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Weekend At The Beach!

So I spent most of last week in New Orleans - was able to take in the sights and have some fun.  I ventured into the Old Absinthe bar, and although I do not drink much - I love Absinthe and this is the place to get it!

They have an amazing selection of the good stuff, so I decided to have some fun and try the Pernod.  Here is a picture of an Absinthe Louche.  Its a rough drink but for some reason I love the taste and history behind it.  If you have never tried it, please do but be really careful!  Overall, NOLA was fun, but totally different after Katrina - still lots of devastation which I was surprised about.

Since I had been gone most of the week, Carlo and I decided to go to the beach this weekend.  It was beautiful in Orange County (as it usually is) and after a long week, what better way to spend the weekend.  Laguna is nice this time of year with a perfect climate.  The water is a bit too cold for swimming but it was nice to walk mile after mile feeling the cool breeze and ocean spray.

I have recently become fond of the beach, I guess it must have been spending time in Hawaii.  So relaxing and calm - listening to the waves roll in and out.  I have been practicing meditation and Yoga and this was the perfect place to do it!  It also helps support my healthier lifestyle - I am a Pescetarian now but since Carlo my partner is vegan, I usually eat Vegan.  I think it is part of the reason I have been able to loose weight, although every day is still a struggle.  After our long walk, we finished up with an amazing Vegan lunch at a local place called The Wheel of Life!  Who would have thought you could find a place that has over 4 pages of delicious vegan dishes.  If you did not know what you were eating, you would think it was meat, but this is so much healthier and you feel good after eating it.

A part of me wants to move closer to the beach - but only time will tell I guess and a lot of things need to happen for me to see that through.  I am at a new beginning in my life and its nice not to have certain things hanging around my neck, like the past.  Once we learn to let go of crazy things and situations and those who have done us harm, we can move to a place of healing and forgiveness.  I have spent the last 3 years of my life fighting and although I have won the war, its bittersweet.  We must rebuild and understand that when the universe tries to sell you crazy, you just need to ignore it.  If I have any regrets, its not leaving certain situations sooner - but what does not kill us, makes us stronger and I am definitely as strong as I have ever been, physically and mentally.

So here's to an amazing week!  I still find it amazing I get so many readers - almost 200,000 since I have started writing - and although I do not publish many of the comments, thank you for all the kind words!

I wonder where our next adventure will take us?   Costa Rica?  Fiji?  Tahiti?