I’ve been drawn to the idea of taking a solo vacation for about a year now. I don’t recall when I first felt it exactly, but I saw it in my mind many times. Beautiful scenery, rest, relaxation, reading, writing, outdoor exploration, disconnecting from the busyness of life. I didn’t have a strong pull toward any specific place, I just felt the urge to take a trip by myself.
Toward the end of the year, I kept being led to Sedona. I had no idea why. I’d only heard it mentioned in a Houndmouth song and honestly knew nothing about it. I didn’t even know it was in Arizona. It just kept popping up into my thoughts. I Googled it, and quickly realized that this was my place. It had all that I was looking for and I felt it through the photos on my phone screen that it was my place.
My soul sister, Ashli lives in California. We met 13 years ago at a temporary job I worked and quickly became friends. We’d only spend 6 months together before she moved away to New Jersey. And then New York. And then London. And then San Francisco. But she never left my heart, and we always have a way of picking up right where we left off each time we see other, which is hardly as often as either of us would like.
In a text conversation with her at the end of November, I mentioned my vision of taking this solo vacation. Being born a mere 14 hours apart, we decided to celebrate our January birthdays by taking a trip together. I pitched Sedona to her and the little bit I’d learned, and plans moved into motion. Flights booked. VRBO secured. It seemed too good to be true.
Work life and home life the weeks leading up to our trip had presented a good amount of stress, and I’d found myself in a bit of a funk prior to flying out Wednesday morning. I longed to be in a place of silence and solitude. Reid was completely supportive of the trip and could see how badly my soul needed it.
When I booked my flights, I didn’t select any of my seats on in advance and accepted taking it as chance where I’d sit. As I boarded my first flight in Greensboro to Charlotte, I realized I was sitting in the very last row – with a window seat at least. As I walked down the aisle to my seat, I spotted a familiar face from church. I smiled. He smiled. What are the odds that I’d see someone I know on this flight? The gentleman in the aisle seat in the back row had barely enough time to get up to move to make room for me to squeeze in before the flight attendant said, “Sir, I’m actually going to move you over here. These 2 seats are open for standby. This way you two can have a bit more room.” Score. I had both seats all to myself.
Our flight was delayed by 50 minutes, which didn’t bother me in the slightest. It gave me more time to sit and read my Bible, journal, and read a book I couldn’t wait to sink into to. Time that seems to be difficult to find in my normal life. So, I was grateful for the delay.
I landed in Charlotte with just enough time to dart to another terminal to board my flight to Phoenix. I grabbed a seat close to the boarding gate, put some Burt’s Bees on my chapped lips and chugged some water. I looked over my right shoulder and noticed a petite woman standing, seeming as if she had something to say. I smiled, and asked her if she knew where the restroom was. She pointed down the carpeted stretch of the terminal and I realized there was not enough time before I had to board. I will just go on the plane. She began to tell me that she missed her last flight because she went to the wrong airport in Washington DC and had to take a later flight. Her brother had just passed away. She was on standby for this flight and she wanted to go home. She began to weep. Hugging her seemed like the right thing in that moment. She thanked me. God, please make a way for this woman to get home, and bring her peace.
My 4 1/2 hour flight from Charlotte to Phoenix was as perfect as a middle-seat flight that long can possibly be. My new AirPods (birthday gift from my love) came in handy as I listened to the few songs I had downloaded on Apple Music on repeat. Bit the bullet and paid $16 for in-flight internet and spent 2 hours cleaning up the 5,000 emails in my Gmail, unsubscribed from a hundred emails I never read, and began to organize myself digitally. It felt cleansing, refreshing, and wonderful. To my right, a precious elderly lady who played Candy Crush on her iPad the entire flight, reading her Nicholas Sparks in between losing lives. To my left, a middle-aged male who read the newspaper and magazines. Both were pleasant. Quiet. And still. It was perfect.
As our flight landed and people began to move about the cabin, I looked 3 rows ahead of me and saw the lady from the boarding gate who was on standby. I smiled. She made it home. My heart swelled.
As I walked through the airport to the next terminal to board my last flight to Flagstaff, I texted Ashli to let her know when I would land. I texted Reid to let him know I had landed again. I enjoyed the fast pace of the conveyor belt walkway that airports have – you know, the ones that get you there just a tiny bit faster than walking with your own energy – I enjoyed the ride and watching the people that passed by.
I grabbed a quick salad and as I walked to my gate, I heard a familiar voice. “Are you on my flight, my love?!” It was my Ashli. Reunited at last, and it felt so good. A hug that seemed to last for 7 minutes quickly turned to conversation that took many turns in a short period. Our conversations are always authentic. Always deep. Always magic to my soul.
We switched our seats around so we could sit together and chatted the whole half hour to Flagstaff. We exited the plane and found ourselves in the tiniest, most precious airport imaginable. With baggage claim and the car rental desk right in front of us, it seemed like a dream.
Since Flagstaff was expecting snow in the upcoming days, the convertible she rented for us as a surprise wasn’t available, but a shiny black Jeep Wrangler Sahara was! We immediately took the top off, bundled up in our scarves and jackets and made the drive to the Grand Canyon. The Enterprise clerk suggested we take 89 all the way to the Desert View entrance – “because that’s just where the best views are”. In part due to the conversations taking place and not paying attention, we missed our exit and ended up arriving at the main entrance to Grand Canyon National Park instead. No big deal, we will just drive through the park and enjoy the views along the way to Desert View.We pulled over to put the top back on (it was pretty cold), got stuck in the mud, realized we were in a Jeep and quickly escaped. We had a good laugh.
Our unplanned detour worked to our benefit, as we could stop at several view spots along the way and get some great pictures, while taking in the serene beauty of it all. As luck would have it, we found our way to Desert View, almost exactly at sunset. Seeing the Grand Canyon with snow was a bonus and one neither of us expected. We both talked about how magical it would be to be the only people there. The silence. The tranquility. The vastness of God’s creation out in the open. It was breathtaking.
We hopped back in the Jeep to head back through Flagstaff on our way to Sedona. Scored dinner at the most incredible eclectic restaurant, SWITCH. Potato Leek Soup with Apples, Pickled French Fries, Sunchoke Panna Cotta, Braised Cauliflower, and Orange Granita with a Root Beer Sauce. IT. WAS. DELICIOUS.
On the hour drive into Sedona, my eyes were heavy. My body thought it was 11PM, and I’d been snoozing for sure if back in NC. But I stayed awake as Ashli navigated the windy roads through Sedona. I can’t wait to see this place in the daylight.
We unpacked, washed our faces, brushed our teeth, and tucked into bed. I was wide awake at 6AM the next morning, made some green tea, threw on a hoodie and toboggan, grabbed my Bible and phone and came outside to watch the sun come up. The sky was glorious. The millions of stars from the night before were fading into the distance as the sunlight kissed the sky. The mountains came to life as the light peeked over their tops. The clouds were like an abyss of cotton candy and tranquility, blended into the most beautiful sky I’ve ever laid eyes on.
As 10AM approached and my night-owl, late sleeping soul sister continued to rest, I was hungry. We hadn’t picked up any food yet for the house and my body thought it was noon. Must get food.
I showered, took the keys to the Jeep and headed out to get some breakfast. I had spotted a place called Wildflower Bread Company on our way in the night before and learned on Google that it has the “best breakfast views”. So, I ventured off on the 10-minute drive with the windows down to grab some food. When I pulled into the parking lot, I hopped out of the Jeep, not really knowing where I was going within the shopping center. I noticed a man getting out of a beautiful convertible to my right. We made eye contact, quickly. No smiles exchanged, we both just kept going about our journey.
I walked into the restaurant to get in line to order my food and noticed the same man in line in front of me. The cashier commented on his accent. “I took French in college, but I don’t remember much”, she said.
“I’m actually from Holland”, he replied.
He got his bread loaf to go, I ordered my frittata and latte and headed to a corner table outside on the veranda. Just as I was snapping my first breathtaking photo of my breakfast view, I looked over my shoulder as the same man walked outside. With arms extended, he said, “Isn’t it amazing?!”
“Oh my goodness, it really is.”
He came over to my table and sat down. It was an immediate level of comfort that is difficult to put into words. He asked where I was from and what brought me to Sedona. He and his girlfriend had lived in Sedona for 8 years; they moved here for spiritual reasons. He went on to talk about how the energy in Sedona is so very healing, and how many people visit and leave with their lives transformed. I mentioned that Ashli and I were interested in some energy healing while we were in town, and that we had a place in mind. He told me that the place we were considering was “okay”, but if we wanted a truly amazing experience, we should check out his friend, Cherie, instead. He gave me her contact information and I put it into my phone. There was an immediate sense of trust that I should listen to his guidance. This is God’s grace, guiding me in this moment.
He looked at me mid-bite of my home fries to say, “You know, when I saw you get out of your Jeep, I knew there was something you needed from me. I didn’t know what it was but when I saw you again inside the restaurant, I trusted my intuition and I approached you.” He and his girlfriend, Iona, rent out part of their home on AirBNB. He passed along their business card. Well, I know where I will be staying next time I’m here. I can’t wait for Reid to visit this amazing place. The views were breathtaking.
Huib told me about the myofascial release work that he does–that he and Iona are healers themselves. He talked about how our society today is so very quick to hear from doctor that their hip needs to be replaced, when taking a whole-body approach to determine the root cause of the pain or symptom is more effective. Music to my ears, and I couldn’t have agreed more. I mentioned how chiropractic care was a big part of wellness for my family and that I didn’t rely much on manmade medications. “I knew that when I saw you”, he said.
Huib told me about free spiritual classes that were held every day in Sedona. I tucked the card into my wallet and couldn’t wait to get back to Ashli to share about all my new findings.
As I finished my breakfast and savored the moment of solitude and reflection, I sent a text to Cherie, the energy healer. We were chatting on the phone within 15 minutes and appointments for sessions the very next were booked. I drove back to our house and couldn’t help but thank God for the miracle I’d just encountered.
Ashli and I headed out to Safeway to get groceries for the next 4 days, came home and unpacked them and headed back out for some Sedona exploration. We spent a few hours at The Chapel of the Holy Cross. I’d seen a picture prior to making the trip, but never could have I imagined the breathtaking site in person of what I’d witness: a giant wooden cross, dropped into the face of the mountain, overlooking the serene landscape of Sedona. On the other side of the cross, a massive artistic form of Jesus himself, hanging on the cross. As I entered the chapel, I became warm. Tingly. Comfortable. Immediately at peace. It was such a welcoming place of worship, and it was truly an honor to be in such a space with so many others from around the world.
I approached the alter and prayed for what felt like hours. Moments of tears, moments of smiles. Intertwined with full gratitude and moments of thankfulness to God for the miracles before me. Being in the presence of the land in Sedona has a way of opening the heart, quietening the mind, and awakening the soul. I kept picturing Reid there with me, and manifested a vision of our return together in the very near future.
We came upon Tlequepaque Arts and Shopping Village. The smells of The Secret Garden Cafe led us to an unexpected happy hour, where we enjoyed some delicious tapas and refreshing beverages, and we were back home before the sun set.
What’s a girl’s trip without wine? We played Trivial Pursuit, sang in the kitchen, laughed, cried, and enjoyed the presence of being together. It felt like home in that moment. We decided that we’d have weekly FaceTime date night form this point forward, as we both realized the necessary healing our friendship brings about for the other.
The next morning, we headed to the Sedona Community Center to check out “A Course in Miracles” and “A Course in Love”. We’d spend the next hour and a half amongst the most open, authentic, Christ-centered individuals. Sharing. Healing. Praying. It was divine. And who would be in the chairs beside us, but none other than my friend Huib from the bread company, and his girlfriend Iona.
At the end of the class, he said to me, “So now you see that meeting me yesterday was no coincidence, yes?” A single tear formed in my eye as I soaked in the truth of what was being spoken to me. As it turns out, Huib and Iona were hosting a dinner party at their home that night. Ashli and I received an invitation to join 7 others and were excited about what the night would bring.
After the class, we ventured the 5-minute drive to our energy healing appointment and met Cherie. I’d read her story on her website prior to our appointment, but in person, she truly was a breath of fresh air. Of authenticity. Of openness and of wholehearted healing. She works out of her home, and it was an inviting, safe, warm, joyful space that brought about a level of trust and comfort for both Ashli and me. I felt connected to her instantly. And the work she’d do on me would leave me transformed. As God would have it, Cherie would be one of the dinner guests that night and we’d be fortunate to spend more time in her presence.
After our energy healing session, we needed nourishment, and took Cherie’s recommendation and visited ChocolaTree. With a table in the garden out back, we’d enjoy fresh ginger lemonade, live spring rolls, vegan chili, goddess salad and the kindest people in the world it seemed. The décor and little ornate signage all around the building caught my eye. Even the parking spaces spoke to me.
We had just enough time to rest at our getaway home, reflect on the day, and just be in the presence of God and each other before we headed out to dinner.
We arrived at Huib and Iona’s home promptly at 7PM and I nearly ran the Jeep off the side of the mountain as I took in the views on the drive in. Ashli was mid-sentence, talking excitedly about something I honestly don’t even recall. “Ashli, stop. Take this in.” It was majestic. It seemed as if we were in a movie, traversing through Hollywood Hills, or somewhere we weren’t meant to be. I had chills as I made the drive through the gate of their home.
The company we’d meet that night was nothing short of delightful. Everyone within those walls was open to trusting intuition, open to trusting God, open to healing, open to authenticity, open to divine grace. I instantly had a vision of visiting this home again, this time with my husband. Throughout the night, I continued to talk about the idea of living there. The energy was calling me. It felt like home. It felt like where I belonged.
I mentioned how several times while in Sedona, I’d seen 11:11 on the clock. 2:22. 3:33. 4:44. 5:55. 11:22. The synchronicities the universe presented to me only reiterated that I was right where I was meant to be and that everything was unfolding exactly as it was intended to unfold. For through God, there are no coincidences. I knew this before, but now there is no question.
Ashli and I ended up making appointments with Huib for myofascial release the next day. It’s funny – I’ve heard my massage therapist talk about it before, and just sort of brushed it off. I thought it was massage work on the face. Little did I know that it moves connective tissue in the body to expose emotional trauma and stale energy. Very similar to massage, but much more transforming. I’ve never cried during a massage session. During this, I cried. Beautiful tears trickled down my cheeks as I released old stories, lies I’ve told myself, broke free from patterns of unhealthy thinking. I felt release on the table in that session. I felt healed. I felt my heart open and each breath that I took in: life. Each breath that I exhaled: things that no longer served me. It was a deep expression of love and awareness that I never expected.
As we left the house that day, I could tell Ashli had been transformed, too. I’d stumbled upon a hot yoga studio that morning while she was in session, and during my session she did a little hiking and journaling at a trail nearby. We both spent the morning in our own healing spaces, doing what our souls needed. No judgement. Very little words. Just being.
At the dinner party Friday night, as I soaked in the library of books adorning the shelves, Iona and I were in conversation. She said something to me that I won’t soon forget. “There are different levels of consciousness that we as humans can experience. When someone can’t hear you, or can’t see you, it’s not their fault. Because that is the level of consciousness they are in. They can’t help it. So we must love them right where they are.” Those words moved me. And will resonate in my heart forever. I often feel like I’m misunderstood, alone in the world, unable to be seen for my authentic self by many in my circle. I realized that this is likely due to not living my authentic self. For trying to please others. For saying what I think people want to hear rather than what’s really in my heart. For melting into the vibrations of others rather than holding my own energy and protecting it. That night in Sedona, I felt I’d found my tribe.
Coming home from this trip, I know and accept that I’m not the same person who left just five days ago. Sedona transformed my spirit. Awakened my soul. Healed old wounds. Re-wrote my story.
I’ve missed my family, but I didn’t want to come home.
I see our life here.
I see my children here.
I see my husband here, and long for him to come visit with me –soon. To experience the journey in his own way, on his own time. For his soul to be quenched, too.
I pray that the healing and divine transformations that Ashli and I discovered in Sedona will remain in our hearts forever. That others will travel to this magnificent place to find their own healing. That we may remain in our true self and express a deeper love to everyone around us. I pray blessings over every single person who touched our souls on that trip. That God may cover them with peace, protection, wisdom, grace, and miracles every day.
I’m grateful for trusting my intuition and going where I felt God leading me.
I’m grateful for a friend who trusted alongside me.
Our openness led to vast moments that transcended the understanding of our own minds. It led to a deepening in our friendship we didn’t fathom existed.
It reminded me of the power that lies within trusting the Holy Spirit to lead and guide, and reminded me that planning isn’t the plan at all. The process is the plan.
Thank you, Sedona. You are our miracle.