Valley of the Sun ~ Phoenix, AZ

We drove into Phoenix on a rainy day, but having lived in Phoenix for roughly 20 years of my life, precipitation is always welcomed by those living in the Valley of the Sun.  Given that we had been in colder climates recently, a little rain was not a deterrent to us.

Most of our time here has been focused on sorting through items in our storage unit and closing that out, with many trips to local shelters, which we are sure will be greatly appreciated as this market was hard hit by the housing crisis.

We also were able to spend an evening with friends Carl and Marcia and felt fortunate to be able to do so, given that everyone is busily preparing for the holidays.  Marcia, always the trooper, had just had knee surgery two days before, but that did not discourage her from joining us for dinner.  We had a lovely time at P. F. Chang’s and caught up on what has gone on in each others’ lives.

Marcia & Me

An event that was taking place while we were in Phoenix was Las Noches de las Luminarias (the nights of the lights) at the Desert Botanical Garden.  These gardens are some of my favorites and we absolutely loved this event when we last attended it.  It did not disappoint us this time either.  It was a magical experience to wander through the 50-acre garden with more than 8000 luminarias lighting the paths.  With 10 musical groups performing nightly throughout the garden and a delectable dinner provided, it was a truly enchanting evening.   Anyone visiting Phoenix should put this on their must-see list, as it is a wonderland of arid plants from around the world, aromatic herb gardens, wildflower gardens bursting with color, artwork, and birds of the southwest.

From here we are heading to Sedona, where we previously lived, to spend the holidays with friends.  Since we had almost no time to get out and enjoy nature this visit, we plan to come back in a couple of weeks and hike to our hearts’ content.

Happy Holidays

As most of you know, we headed north of the border in early December to spend time with family and friends during the holiday season.  The first leg of our journey began in Phoenix, where we had stored our vehicle and personal belongings.  When we opened our storage unit and began to pare it down even further, we were struck by what minimalists we have become, which made me reflect on what is important to us and what we all (if we are honest with ourselves) at times lose sight of, with the hectic event that has become our daily lives.

We spent the first two days in Phoenix with our good friends Carl and Marcia, whose kindness and generosity of spirit are so uplifting and my hope is that each of you have someone in your life who gives so freely of themselves as they do.

Carl, Marcia, Jassmine (Jazz), Me, and Terry

From Phoenix we headed to Sedona for several days, to spend time with our friends Rosie and Jim, as well as Barb and Pete.

Rosie and Jim, as always, were generous with their time and opened their home to us. Jim went out of his way to keep us fed, cooking for us and others daily. Thank goodness we hiked most days to counterbalance the additional calories we consumed.  I don’t know what made my stomach hurt more; too much of Jim’s good cooking or his wacky sense of humor, which kept us laughing.

Me and Rosie
Jim and Rosie's Christmas Steer

Last, but certainly not least, are Barb and Pete, two special friends that we always look forward to spending time with in Sedona.  Most of you have already heard me speak of Barb.  Barb is my anam cara, my soul friend, who has been ill for many years.  She and her husband Pete have such courage and strength in the face of adversity.  I pray that I could conduct myself with the same grace that they do everyday if I were faced with the same challenges.

Pete and Barb
Barb's Amazing Nutcracker Collection!

We are fortunate to have friends spread across the country, as well as friendships developed in Mexico.  Kevin and Erin are two we met in Mexico, friends and mentors, who so generously give of their time and their knowledge and made our transition to Lakeside so easy, and we feel blessed to have them in our lives.

It would be lovely to spend the holidays with all our friends but obviously, this is unrealistic, so here is to all our friends fondly remembered at this time.  May we all step away from the stress of the commercialism of the holiday season and take a few moments to practice loving kindness for family (those close to us and those estranged), friends, and all those known to us and unknown who are suffering  at this time.

This year we are fortunate to be spending the holidays with family, unlike years of the past.   May this season find you embracing family and friends and may 2011 bless each of us with a sense of peace as we navigate through the waters of our lives.

Happy Holidays!

Friendship in the Valley of the Sun

There is nothing more to be prized than true friendship.  ~Saint Thomas Aquinas~

September 7th and 8th ~ our last two nights in the states for awhile

We spent the last two nights, before heading south of the border, getting reacquainted with friends Marcia and Carl.  When I think of true friends, I think of those who you may lose touch with for a time, but when you come back together or connect on the phone, it is as if time has stood still, and you pick up just where you left off.  This is the connection we feel with Marcia and Carl.  They generously opened their home to us and they epitomize all that is important in life, a warm, loving, giving spirit and a wonderful sense of humor.  All that we could do for them in return was to offer them a good meal at a lovely restaurant before we left.  What a great way to spend our last nights in the states!

Lu and Marcia
Terry, Lu, Marcia & Carl

Until we meet again, much joy and happiness!