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  • Jenny

35. Life in the Afterglow: A Sedona Awakening

When I first decided to go to Sedona for a meditative retreat hosted by a good friend of mine, something deep within knew it would be a very important event—but I had no idea how truly profound and life-changing it would be. Here I was, in one of the most spiritual places on the entire planet, with access to vortexes, healing energy and lightworkers, and I knew it was a calling to go

deep within and allow the transformational experience to unfold.

I went with an open heart, open mind and courage to change my life. And change my life, it did.

I was challenged on every possible level: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, socially. I learned surrender; I allowed faith; and I accepted truth. I had never been hiking before in my entire life, and I did the research, got my hiking boots, took the advice of getting a walking stick and exercised a little each day in the weeks leading up to the trip so that I wasn’t completely overwhelmed.

I was ready for exhaustion, dehydration—and I will admit it—defeat. I was ready to accept that I would not make it to the top, but that doing my best was all that counted. But the morning before the hike, I shifted that negativity. I called upon angels, something I rarely did, to guide me up the mountain; to help me to see it through to completion and to fight through any challenge, because dammit, this was a lifetime opportunity and I was not going to be a quitter. And I have to say, changing that mindset changed the entire experience.

I barely struggled (thanks to my nifty little walking stick and double bottles of water). There were some rough patches, but I fought through them. And as we got to the top, the terrain was tougher, the rocks bigger and the incline steeper. I was so close, and there was no way I was stopping. So many epiphanies

occurred along the way, one of which was my turtle totem reminder that “slow and steady wins the race.” I let go of the attachment that I had to keep up with everyone else.

This was MY journey, and it became so clear how it was a metaphor for my life journey; my constant pushing forward in a rush, wondering am I there yet?

And missing the beautiful opportunities to stop and smell, see, taste, hear, touch the detours. So I stopped when I needed to, and broke away from others when I needed to, and I made it to the top.

Now you would think that was it—the accomplishment of reaching the top! But oh no—my fearless friend had another plan in mind (and true to nature, I let him know exactly what I thought of his crazy little plan).

He wanted to go up even higher, across a path a little more dangerous to get to—a place even more

breathtaking in the vortex. I resisted—I resisted with every fear, doubt and worry in my entire body. I felt the tears well up inside me, and struggled with my decision as I looked at the unprotected slope. And then courage started building up in me, and I heard the whispers “you can do this, you are safe.” So I took my time, looked fear in the face and took a risk that paid off beautifully.

I was on top of the Boyton Canyon, overlooking the beauty of Sedona, and that took my breath away. We enjoyed a beautiful meditation as the sun beat down on us with its blessing, and the winds played with our hair in symphony. How proud I was of myself for pushing past what I only thought were my limits. How safe I have been playing life all of this time.

But that was not the end of my battle.

I knew in my heart the whole time that going back down would be my greatest challenge—and it was. But it was also my greatest triumph. I suck at receiving, at asking for help, at allowing vulnerability.

But as I was ready to descend, full of fear and anxiety of falling to my death and leaving my children motherless, I drew strength from the people around me. Hands reached out—literally—to walk me down difficult passages. Strangers cleared paths and braced themselves to guide me safely down. I let humor and wit take over as I allowed the most raw, vulnerable part of me to be exposed, and to graciously accept help.

I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t feel guilty that others were committed to helping me. I didn’t feel ashamed that I was really, really scared and needed someone braver than me to rely on. And I cannot tell you how deeply that moment changed me, and the gratitude I felt for all of those loving people. It was such a blessing to feel that deep sense of love and compassion from others who genuinely cared about my well-being. An intimate moment I will never forget.

Once I passed that challenge, I felt like I could fly.

I faced fear, I faced potential failure, I faced risk—and I survived in every sense of the word. Although the rest of the travel back down was not without its challenges, there was nothing I couldn’t face. A little dehydration, frustration and exhaustion started to creep in, but with the bond of a new friend, and taking the care to listen to my own body cues, we made it through. I learned so much from that one experience—and it set the tone for the rest of the retreat.

So there was my physical and spiritual challenge—pushing my body, and having faith in myself, others and God. I then faced some hardcore emotional challenges when I went for an energy intelligence massage at the spa, and that was no easy session.

Sure, the place was beautiful, the scents of lotions lovely and the heart of the healer kind. But that was some of the hardest work I have ever done to heal myself, and I put every ounce of energy into what felt like a 10-year therapy session.

Deep, deep rooted issues came to the surface, and I had to face my darkest enemy: myself. Not my childhood issues with a parent; not a wound from a bully at school or a broken heart from a past relationship. I came face to face with me. My judgments, my anger, my frustration, my lack of faith, my self abuse—all of it. I was made to sit back and forth between two chairs facing my two selves: responsible, serious, somber Jenny, and happy, adventurous, playful Jenny. And it was painful to watch the two of them go back and forth in disharmony—but I have to say, this was the most brilliant technique for self healing I have ever experienced in my life.

By the end of the session, I had found peace between the two sides of me, and joined them together. And from that point on, I felt the change in me. A heaviness lifted, a love restored. And an openness to all that is that I have shut out for way too long.

And by the way—did I mention that was only ONE day? Whew!

I was exhausted. But then I was also energized by this new state of being that I had become. It made my mental and social challenges feel like a breeze, because I just became myself with no excuses, judgments or desire for approval. I was able to enjoy the presentations of the retreat leaders on a much deeper level. Usually I would go in with the perspective, “I know most of this” but instead I stayed wide open to hear all of the new possibilities to expand my mind and belief system. I found them fascinating—and I also found new information and alternative concepts I never heard come flowing in to my awareness from my conversations with others at the retreat, fueling my love for learning with excitement.

I love, love, love being intellectually stimulated and learning new things, and welcomed a thirst for

knowledge that I would take home with me. I think what amazed me most about this whole experience was the level of comfort I felt around complete strangers. I am surrounded by people I have never met before (in this life), and yet I felt safe and open, like I can say or do anything without a care. Though I

still needed a few prickly pear lemonade vodkas to loosen me up to dance in front of others—but hey, I didn’t say everything was completely cured (*wink*). We are always a work in progress.

What I did realize in this space was that my radar was activated, affirming my intuition about people—not from a place of judgment, but from a place of understanding and honoring boundaries. I need to trust myself, and release my attachment to wanting approval from others who don’t nurture my soul back.

It was from this experience that I also had a revelation about the relationships in my life on a grander scale.

I will admit I got the excited goosebumps when someone “recognized” me from my Confessions show, or elsewhere. It was pretty cool—but it also didn’t give me the fulfillment I thought it would. It gave me gratitude and appreciation for the compliment, and a sense of making a difference in others, but it also left me realizing that it’s not what is important. It’s not about the viewers, it’s about those who genuinely support me and are there by my side. I need to embrace them, and nurture my relationships with those closest to me instead of juggling acquaintances—as lovely and special as they are themselves.

I came home feeling as close as ever to my dear friend who took this adventure with me, and realizing how blessed I am with quite a few true friendships like hers—and how I need to pay more attention to them and make the time to spend with people I love. I already started by connecting better with my children, and letting them be to make their own decisions and mistakes—something else I had an a-ha moment about.

Trying to control the people that I love out of my intense love for them and wanting what is best, instead of just allowing them to be, in their path, to grow as they were meant to, blossoming outside of my well-intentioned expectations and advice. And I have already seen the difference in what that shift has made—I empowered my children, and what a beautiful site to watch them grow instead of watch them “behave.”

I have no doubt I got more out of this trip than I even imagined.

I have made decisions that are aligned with my own integrity and value system—decisions that previously left me afraid of being alone or rejected. I have taken on a more surrendered state of consciousness, working in the flow of challenges instead of stressing against them, and seeing the magic of allowance take away the obstacle. I have called on my angels every day to help me, and allowed them to pull through without my resistance or interference. I feel connected to others in a genuine way. I feel empowered and courageous. I have faith in my God and His love for me.

And thanks to the blessed experience under the pristine stars of Sedona, I have an abundance of love for myself. And that, my friends, was the biggest conquest of all.

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