Happy July 4, Happy Anniversary and I can’t believe she said that!

This past week was a big one. Not only was it Independence Day, but it was the 17th Anniversary of Sedona Soul Adventures going live on the internet – July 4, 2002! We specifically wanted it to be on Independence Day!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and got some rest and relaxation, and that you were able to reflect on the amazing liberties and freedoms we have – we are truly blessed.

Last week I spent time reflecting on all that has happened over the past 17 years and while I was doing that, I had the most amazing thing happen. I was at a gathering for women in California, and I was in a small group when someone asked me about my work. I told them about Sedona Soul Adventures and one of the women said, “Yes, I did a Soul Adventure 10 years ago.” To which I replied, “What?!!?”

She said, “Yes, I did a Soul Adventure 10 years ago and of all the things I’ve done in all the 10 years since, all the workshops and all that, it is hands down the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.”

Well, of course, that was just the most amazing thing. So we spent time talking and she told me all about her life. It turns out that after her Soul Adventure, she has made the most amazing life for herself. She’s become a very sought-after publicist in Hollywood and I was so impressed by her roster of clients. She started a new business a few years ago and even she is amazed at how well it is going. She’s in a wonderful relationship and she told me that none of this would have happened without her Soul Adventure.

We had already been there for three days and when I asked her why she hadn’t said anything to me, she said she didn’t want to intrude on my privacy (she’s very conscious of that with her own clients). She said, “It’s so funny, I’ve kept up reading your newsletters all these years, I know everything about you — I know about Richard, I know about your dog, I know everything. It’s actually a little stalky!” 

It was so cute because then she told me, “I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt with you, but I couldn’t, because it’s always at the time of the Oscars and my clients are always at the Oscars! But they moved it up one week this next year, so now I really want to make it happen!”

Oh my Goddess, can you imagine this? I didn’t get to meet her when she came the first time, because I was in Peru with my group. To run into someone ten years later and have them tell me that this changed their life and that the transformations have just kept on coming all these years — well, all I can say is, Happy Anniversary! What a fitting thing to happen right at this time.

If you would like that kind of transformation, the real, long-lasting kind. Please give us a call. This is not unusual, this is what happens all the time, all day, every day.

Or if you’d prefer, call us toll-free at 1-877-204-3664 (US and Canada). For our friends outside the US and Canada, call 01 928-204-5988 or click here and one of our Retreat Guides will call you.
They’ll connect with you (or both of you if it’s a couples retreat) in deep conversation. Then they’ll custom design the perfect retreat for you, working with our Master Practitioners here in beautiful, mystical Sedona to.

Wishing you a week filled with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

I was lucky enough back then to connect with Jorge Luis Delgado, our shaman and guide. Jorge is a master and as everyone in all my groups always say, they can’t imagine doing Peru without Jorge, that it quite simply wouldn’t be the same. That’s a photo of my fabulous 2008 group.

On my first trip in 2008, I met his wife and son, who at the time was 14, a gangly teenager, and he spoke great English. He and I started talking and sat next to each other on our bus ride from Lake Titicaca to Juliaca.

We started talking about American politics, as the 2008 election was in full swing, and Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton were slugging it out in the primaries. He asked me if I thought it was possible that Obama might be nominated and possibly win, and we had a very spirited and enjoyable conversation.

Jorge told me later, “It’s so strange, I’m not sure how this happened, he’s so interested in American politics and all kinds of things from other countries.”

Over the years, I’ve always asked Jorge how his son was doing and the news just kept getting more and more interesting. He did very well in school, went to University, then ended up living and working in Japan, spent some time in China, and learned to speak Japanese and Chinese fluently. Now this year, he decided to return to Peru and he’s working with Jorge!

He was working with a Chinese group and he came to the airport in Cusco when we were about to depart for Lake Titicaca, and we got to spend some time talking. What a joy to see and feel what an incredible young man he has become.

I asked him why he had returned to Peru and he told me, “I want to really learn all the spiritual teachings.” Isn’t that fantastic? This gangly little kid I met 11 years ago, has become a worldly, accomplished man interested in all aspects of the world, including spirituality. He said he plans to stay here for about two years and then he’ll be off to some other place in the world.

It’s reminiscent of my godson, Anthony, who I also got to see on this trip and what a joy that was. Back in 2008 when we went to Amantani for the first time (a very rustic, beautiful island in Lake Titicaca where at the time they had no electricity and no running water), we did a very special ceremony and we spent the night in the home of his family.

Anthony was 6 months old at the time, a tiny, adorable baby.

I spent a large amount of that evening holding him and at times I was crying gently and processing. His parents, Juana and Joaquin, don’t speak English, but in some way we really connected.

It turns out that two days later they were doing a ceremony with Anthony that is somewhat similar to what we know as baptism.

They asked Jorge to ask me if I would like to be a godmother for Anthony because they felt I had such a strong connection to him. They said they didn’t want any obligation from me, just the spiritual connection. I was honored and the ceremony was very beautiful.

After that, I would see Anthony every year and I’ve also happily contributed to the family and Anthony’s education. This photo is from 2014, when I brought him some blowing bubbles. At that time, Anthony was six and he told me he wanted to become a doctor. He also said he was learning traditional Peruvian dance and he enjoyed that very much.

Starting in 2015, Anthony started going to boarding school on the mainland so that he could receive a really good education, so he was never at home when we would spend the night at Juana and Joaquin’s home on Amantani. But this year, what a surprise. They brought him, along with his sister, to Chiquito where we had a reunion.

He showed me his school Certificate of Excellence and his parents told me what a good student he is. One of the members of our group interpreted (thank you, Rhonda!), and he told me again that he wants to be a doctor and how much he still enjoys dancing. But now he also really enjoys football (soccer).

To think that this boy from a small island, where they have almost no electricity or running water and when you take a walk you continually run into people who are herding sheep and donkeys, is going to become a doctor…this reminded me of Jorge’s son. Anthony’s energy is so sweet and pure, yet he is also a determined little boy and I can’t wait to see how this unfolds.

Another really fun thing we do every year is to go to Seminario Ceramics in Ollantaytambo. Pablo Seminario is one of the premier ceramic artists in the world, his works are displayed in various museums around the world, including the Field Museum in Chicago.

When I brought my first group in 2008, when we were returning from Machu Picchu by train after a very long day, Jorge asked me, “Would you like to go to the ceramics place?” Not having any idea of what an incredible place this was, I said no because everyone was tired.

One of the members of the group, Jennifer Watt, overheard us and said, “What are we talking about?” and I said, “That we’re not going to the ceramics place.” She said to me in her usual very direct way, “Who made that decision?” and I responded that I did. I then said if she wanted to go, we’d go and I am so glad I did. His work is so incredible and over the years, I’ve brought many of his pieces to my home and each year he speaks to our group and we have a wonderful interaction with him and his wife Marilu.

After that trip, Jen and I became great friends and in 2010, I asked her to lead my Peru trip two years in a row (I had Egypt in March, Peru in April and Bali in June, and it was becoming too much to handle), she loved Peru and she had experience leading groups. She did a fantastic job and from that, got a job leading trips to Peru, especially for high school and college students and teachers.

She has now been to Peru 54 times! And one of the things she has incorporated into the tours is an intensive piece of learning about traditional ceramics through Seminario! She, Pablo and Marilu have become great friends.

So when we were there last week, we took a photo of all of us to text to Jen saying, “Wish you were here.” Jen had just been in Sedona the week before visiting us at our home and we showed Pablo this photo of Jen and our friend Ranjita (who had been on the Peru trip with me in 2008 and again last year).

I told Pablo this is the view from our home, and he and Marilu should come and visit us in Sedona. He said, “If Jen will bring me, I will come to Sedona!”

So it’s so incredible to me, all these connections that started with this first trip and have woven their way through my life, and all these other lives, through the years. Not to mention the other close friends I have made through these trips, people who came on the trips, people I love who are a huge part of my life.

Because at the end of the day, all of this is not so much about the sites (although they are absolutely incredible), it’s about the amazing people we share them with and keep connecting with.

This year again, our group has bonded in such a beautiful, special way. One of the women said to me yesterday, “I can’t believe how I love everyone in this group and feel so close to them. Doing this with other like-minded people has just been so wonderful.

Debra Stangl
 

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