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Photo Journal of Seattle, Raw Food & Forest Fun

We are deep into late summer. Autumn sneaks just around the corner, teasing us with amber and crimson leaves that dangle from Sonoma County’s twisted old trees. Fall has come early this year, and I couldn’t be happier. I love this time of year; I love autumn and everything it embodies. But, before I cast my farewell kisses to our beloved sweet summer, I would like to share one of my highlights from the season of the sun.

In August, near Lammas, I traveled to Seattle to visit friends and family. As you may know, I used to live in Western Washington, in Seattle and in Bellingham. I love this entire area, for it brims with woodland magic, luscious gardens, deep azul waters and the mystical, tree-clad San Juan Islands. The whole area feels like the womb of Mother Earth- vibrant, abundant, beautiful and pregnant with life.

My time spent in this area was chock full of raw food gatherings, spiritual events and forest frolickings- everything I love! Here is a photo journal, a small taste, of my time in the Pacific Northwest with my spirit sister, Giacinta.

*Note: Most of these photos were taken either by me or my dear friend, Giacinta, with our iPhone cameras. Enjoy the perfect and a few not-so-perfect shots of some very perfect moments. 🙂

 

First off, I’d like to say thank you to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) for offering raw food snacks. I found vegan raw bars and kombucha while waiting for my plane. A great way to start my travels off right!

Raw Food Snacks at SFO

Raw Food Snacks at SFO

Kombucha at SFO

Kombucha at SFO

 

On my first day in Seattle, synchronicity would have it that a recipe for a Raw Vegan Orange Chocolate Torte should fall into our laps. Of course, we went right out, bought the ingredients and got to work. This is it…

Raw Vegan Orange Chocolate Torte

Raw Vegan Orange Chocolate Torte

Garnished with Shaved Chocolate and Curled Orange Rind

Garnished with Shaved Chocolate and Curled Orange Rind

The original recipe for this torte can be found HERE. We made the exact recipe, tasted it, and decided it needed more. To this recipe we increased the raw cacao then added carob, cinnamon, cayenne and vanilla for depth of flavor. We also exchanged the agave for maple syrup. In hindsight, dates would have been the best choice for sweetener. At some point in the future, I will remake this torte and post a proper recipe. Until then, know it was delicious and made a grand appearance at a few raw food gatherings with some very happy friends.

Shana & Giacinta in Orange Chocolate Bliss

Shana & Giacinta in Orange Chocolate Bliss

 

During one of our in-state journeys, we made our way to North Bend to pick fresh organic blueberries from Bybee Farms nestled at the base of gorgeous Mount Si. (Pictured Below). If you are in the North Bend area and would like to learn more about how you can pick your own berries, click HERE.

Mount Si

A field of Blueberries at Mount Si

This day was one of my favorite days, a highlight indeed. I was surrounded by rows and rows of blueberry bushes and clear skies filled with sunbeams, bumble bees and the sweet scent of fruits and leaves all coddled by the majestic Mount Si. It was incredibly soul-filling!

Organic Blueberries

Organic Blueberries

Shana Picking Organic Blueberries

Shana Picking Organic Blueberries

If you could zoom in on my Café Gratitude shirt, you would see that it reads, “What are you grateful for?” My answer, “Blueberries!” 🙂

A Bounty of Organic Blueberries

A Bounty of Organic Blueberries

As you can imagine, we ate blueberries for days. This is one of the meals we enjoyed among friends, each one of us contributing fruits and vegetables for this shared offering of fresh picked garden greens, blueberries, mango salsa, avocado and zucchini in pesto. Delish!

Summer Foods

Summer Foods

 

We were serendipitously blessed by a full moon during my time in Seattle. I love full moon energy and love to channel this powerful force during my meditations and healing Reiki sessions. With this being said, we participated in a full moon group meditation to honor Mother Moon in the height of summer as symbolized by my favorite flower, the sunflower. This is the candlelit, celestial altar that centered the meditation.

Full August Moon Altar

Full August Moon Altar

 

Another amazing evening we shared, and one of my top highlights, was a shamanic full moon drum circle at New Earth Farm in Redmond, WA. (Click HERE to learn more about New Earth Farm) This drum circle took place on private property that held an organic garden and lots of deeply sacred energy. Snuggled in a ring of redwoods and lush ferns, surrounding a fire pit was a circle of stone seats. The fire was lit; we each took our places, called the corners, and drummed, rattled and rolled into the warm moonlit night. The energy that was generated from our primal music and our collective, harmonious presence was magical and not to be forgotten any time soon! I hold the healing vibration and memory of this evening near and dear to my heart.

Drum Circle Venue

Drum Circle at New Earth Farm – Photo by Tom Armstrong

 

When we weren’t gathering for potlucks, meditation or drumming, we were out and about in Seattle, eating. Three great vegan restaurants I would recommend in Seattle are Café Flora, Chaco Canyon, and Jodee’s. Here are some of the dishes from each restaurant…

Café Flora

Café Flora

This was one of the best things I ate the entire time I was in Seattle. This is Café Flora’s Beet Gnocchi in Pesto with an Herbed Nut Cream, (pictured above) which I shared with Giacinta and my sister, Angel. This was ridiculously delicious and I couldn’t recommend it more!

Chaco Canyon

Chaco Canyon

Above is a photo of some of the offerings at Chaco Canyon in Seattle. We noshed on raw vegan enchiladas, salads and green juice. Delish!

Jodee's

Jodee’s

And lastly, the above photo is of Jodee’s raw vegan pizza. Jodee’s, in Green Lake, specializes in raw vegan deserts and smoothies but once in a while she offers up Friday night pizza. This is a yummy slice of her Mexican Pizza.

The abundance of good, healthy, vibrant food gave us energy to run around and play in the forests. Carkeek Park in Seattle is one of my favorite little spots to visit. When I lived in Seattle, I would visit this park often to commune with the nature spirits, walk among the greenlings, hug trees and meditate. When I was here with Giacinta, we came and did much of the same…

Shana Lying Over a Creekbed on a Fallen Tree, Communing with the Leaves

Shana lying across a creek bed on a fallen tree, communing with the leaves

Shana giggling with the forest

Shana giggling with the forest

Giacinta in a creekbed at Carkeek Park

Giacinta in the creek bed, dotted in light

 

For me, no trip to Seattle is complete without gathering friends for a raw vegan ice cream party and who better to host this type of a gathering than my friend Jeff Rogers, AKA the Naughty Vegan. You can read more about Jeff HERE. Jeff is an amazing ice cream artisan. If you love ice cream, I highly recommend his recipe book, Vice Cream, found HERE. Jeff whipped up a Coconut Peach Ice Cream, Giacinta and I brought frozen bananas and durian, and everyone else brought a variety of frozen summer fruits. Another friend, who, like myself, graduated as a raw chef from Living Light, brought raw vegan caramel and chocolate sauces to drizzle over all the ice cream.

Jeff passed all the frozen fruit through his Champion Juicer to create a soft-serve style ice cream. (The Champion Juicer is an excellent machine to use to turn frozen fruit into ice cream.) This is the delightful mess we made in his kitchen and the yumminess that ensued…

Raw Vegan Ice Cream Party

The makings of a raw vegan ice cream party

A swirling bowl of ice cream

A swirling bowl of fruity ice cream

 

My last day in the Pacific Northwest was spent in Bellingham, one of my favorite places in Washington. I have lived in Bellingham and have spent much time in this area. This magical, quaint town and the surrounding woodlands have crept into my veins and won’t let me go. I love it here. Giacinta and I went to one of my favorite spots, to Larrabee State Park. It was here we soaked up the grounding energy of the boulders, the vitalizing energy of the ocean and the mystical energy of the rich forest.

Shana in Larrabee State Park

Shana in Larrabee State Park

Shana sprouting out of a tree stump in bliss :)

Shana sprouting out of a tree stump in bliss 🙂

Magical Trails...

A magical trail…

I’ll close this travel journal entry with one of my favorite photos, taken by Giacinta. Here I am in my favorite place, in the forest, becoming One with everything around me. There is no place I would rather be, truly!

Shana in the emerald forest

Shana in the emerald forest

My time in Western Washington this summer was abundantly full of my favorite things. I am brimming with gratitude for everything I experienced and for everyone who shared my journey. I am deeply grateful for Giacinta who walked with me along the way. Until the next time, dear enchanted Washington, I hold you in my emerald heart. Thank you. I love you.

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Moved by Spiritual Callings

Have you ever had a spiritual calling? Have you ever wondered what life would be like to follow these inner callings? Where would it take you? What would you become?

It wasn’t until I moved from my life-long home of Northern California that I can say that, yes, I know what it is like to walk away from EVERYTHING- stuff, family, friends, familiarity and comfort to follow a higher calling. Stephen and I moved to Western Washington merely based on intuition and a spiritual whim. From here, amazing worlds were explored and an unexpected journey was launched.

We were living in Santa Rosa, CA, in Sonoma County. We had taken a road trip out to Northern Arizona, thinking this area may be a good place to relocate. Immediately upon arriving, I had an adverse reaction to the area, in fact I felt energetically repelled by it. We spent a day in Prescott, a day in Sedona and then drove up to the Grand Canyon (…which I loved. More on the magic of the Grand Canyon in future posts). I loved seeing all these areas. I was intrigued. I was enchanted. And, I fell in love with the strong Native American spirit, but I was not called to stay and live.

One morning, Stephen and I were having breakfast together in a small town just outside of Sedona called Cottonwood. It was here I asked Stephen for one of his famous psychic readings. (I was too emotionally attached to the outcome to read for myself.) I asked him to give me a reading about what the best living environment would be for me at the time. I still have this reading, which I jotted down on a napkin.

He said I would be surrounded by trees, water and lush, rich earth that would grow anything. There would be vegetable gardens and fruit trees, wild life and open wilderness. It was during this reading over breakfast in a small desert town that Stephen and I decided to move to Bellingham, WA, sight unseen.

Bellingham, WA

Bellingham, WA

This was a rash decision based solely on intuition, prompted by a simple and playful reading, but everything about this decision felt right. It was a tremendous spiritual calling, though I didn’t realize it at the time.

By the very next month, our belongings were packed and we were driving into Bellingham, WA, which is located just a half hour south of the Canadian border and British Columbia.

Ever wonder if you are headed in the right direction? Doors will open. These doors didn’t just open for us there, they swung WIDE open.

When we entered Bellingham, we had one week to find a home. It was the very second placed we viewed to rent that we found one of the most beautiful homes I had ever lived in. We rented it on the spot.

Our home in Bellingham, WA

Our home in Bellingham, WA

This was our home- a gorgeous old, single family, Victorian house that had been converted into 5 charming apartments. It had a vegetable garden and incredible bayside, sunset views. We rented the largest of the apartments on the main floor, which allotted me my own healing space for my Reiki practice and a private meditation room. This home called us to it for many reasons. We were supposed to live here.

The backyard bayside vegetable garden

The backyard bayside vegetable garden

 

Sunset view from our living room

Sunset view from our living room

It was here that more magic came into my life than I could possibly explain. It was here I experienced so many spiritual shifts and growths, darkness yet brilliance, and dove into higher realms, experiencing firsthand the world of the elementals. Yes, we had resident Beings, nature spirits, who shared space with us in the garden and in our home. I could see them, and they did all kinds of tricky and fun things around the house. (More on this in future blog posts and articles) Stephen and I taught Reiki classes together, and I gave energy healings out of this home. We only lived here for a year and a half, but the mind-bending things that occurred and the spiritual leaps were life changing to say the least.

Being energy workers, both Stephen and I are intensely aware of subtle energies. The energy of the house, of the city of Bellingham, and of our neighbors shifted. The time to leave was near. We felt it. This was a gentle shift, but the universe was easing us into other opportunities. When the day came that our landlord informed me that he wanted to move his family into our space, I was already expecting this change. And, I was grateful for it.

At the time, we considered moving to Arizona. After a year and a half of darkness, I ached for sunnier landscapes. We also considered moving back to California, but I intuitively knew it was not yet time to return, though I was homesick. Instead, we decided to move an hour and a half south to Seattle. I had friends, raw potlucks, raw vegan restaurants a-plenty, and lots of things to do there. I missed being in a bigger, more metropolitan and cultural city that offered a plethora of activities to choose from.

We left magical Bellingham and our quiet yet grand South Hill neighborhood. We left the bay and the wild, green gardens, the spectacular sunsets and moved to the city. I had never lived directly in a city, and I wanted the full big city experience. (Be careful what you ask for!)

We moved to Lower Queen Anne just 2 blocks away from the Seattle Space Needle, smack dab in the heart of the city. Our apartment was built at the turn of the century. It was an old brick, four story building. It had no elevator but it did have a couple of resident ghosts, one of which lived in our unit. We were, of course, on the top floor and the laundry room was, of course, in the basement. Parking was a space we rented a block away. Needless to say, there was a lot of schlepping going on, schlepping laundry and groceries up and down streets and endless flights of stairs. This was quintessential city living.

Metallic Seattle Space Needle and City Center

Metallic Seattle Space Needle and City Center

The romance of this lifestyle withered away very quickly for me. I didn’t mind the physical requirements of it, but I did mind the grey. Seattle is a grey place with eight months of rainfall. Our apartment faced east, so gone were our glorious sunsets and the glowing, crimson sweetness that cracked the cloudy horizon at the end of each day. My world in the city became drab. The surrounding buildings, asphalt, skies, and concrete- everything around me was one note. I desperately missed living in the forest and among my faery-luscious, GREEN trees. There were wonderful mossy, forested parks in Seattle, which I loved to hike and meditate in, but my actual city living environment and view… as my crime-writing sister would call it… it was all gun-metal grey.

Six months into our city living, we had the opportunity to shorten our lease, which gave me a new lease on life and new possibilities.

I would like to add that Seattle is a very magical place, and I do not wish to down-play this. I did have some very amazing experiences there. I still love to visit and a part of my heart and spirit will always be in Western Washington along with some family and many great friends. But, one lesson I definitely learned during my time there is that I need to live in more natural, wild settings. I thrive in nature!

One of my favorite places to visit, the Faery Bridge of Carkeek Park in Seattle

One of my favorite places to visit, the Faery Bridge of Carkeek Park in Seattle

It was time to move. In retrospect, I feel we placed ourselves in this environment, all of it from the city to the old apartment, so we would be more inclined to leave Washington. You see, I was in love with the magic of the forests, the waters and the islands around this area. However, I had spiritually learned what I needed and it was time to go. If my living environment wasn’t a struggle, it would have been easy to remain complacent and stay longer than I should have. This was an important lesson. It was a lesson about seeing the gifts in the challenges, about non-attachment, about letting go, about embracing forward movement and about taking giant leaps of faith.

Signs are everywhere. Subtle energies are always at work around you. The question is, do you stop to listen? Do you scream out, “Why Me?” in the face of hardship or do you take a look at the bigger perspective, the bigger picture? We are each exactly where we need to be. If you are in an undesirable place, your pain and discomfort are signs to reevaluate life direction and will influence change, especially if you have the gumption to listen and to follow your heart, your gut and the messages around you.

It was time to go. To where, we did not exactly know. California? Arizona?

One morning, the energy to move and shift was strong. It was palpable. I pulled out one of my decks of Tarot called Earth Magic Oracle Cards. I love these cards partly because my Reiki practice is called Earth Spirit but also because I have an innate and very spiritual connection to earth. Earth is magical in every way. So there I was with my Earth Magic Oracle deck. With the question in mind, “Where do we move next?” I meditated, I sent Reiki to the situation, and then I pulled one card…

From the Earth Magic Oracle Deck

From the Earth Magic Oracle Deck

Um, Universe, could you please be more specific, gee-wilikers!

It was decided that morning that we were going to Arizona. Upon making this decision, I remember looking out the window and saw 12 crows perched on a bare-branched, winter tree. Being that Crow is my main Animal Spirit Totem, this very much felt like an acknowledgement and blessing of our new direction. 12 is also the number of perfect, harmonious completion.

A tree of crows

A tree of crows

We were lucky enough to have an opportunity open for us to stay in Prescott, AZ, for 2 months. Another sign we were on the right path, everything immediately opened right up for us. Within one day, we not only decided to leave Washington but we secured our next location out of state and gave our landlord notice. The day started with an oracle card reading and ended with plans to start packing.

Both Stephen and I work from home with his life coaching practice and my distance healing work, so we can be very mobile and live anywhere. We started to pack, but the month it took us to organize the move was a very topsy-turvy time. Despite the oracle card reading, I decided that I wanted to move to California. I went as far as to tell all my friends and family I was returning. I researched storage units and ordered the moving truck. The plan was to drive to California, place all our things in storage, then drive on to Arizona to stay in the home that was available for 2 months. We would have our vision quests and anything else that may open for us. After the 2 months, we would then return to California to live. This was the plan… or so I thought.

There’s a little saying that goes something like this: There are plans, but then there is life. And my life path had another direction and purpose.

While packing our apartment, I was in the bathroom. The overhead cupboard door was open. I was bent down, filling boxes. Can you guess what happened? I swung my head up as I stood and cracked my forehead on the corner of the solid wood cupboard door. This was a severe injury that left an indent on my forehead as a purple lump immediately formed. I had a concussion.

Head injuries are interesting things both physically and spiritually. The concussion affected my eyesight, my ability to focus and my ability to continue packing. I sat down for several days to rest, forcing me to pause and evaluate our movements.

I take nothing for granite. I know injuries and sicknesses are significant signs, often depicting that one is moving in the wrong direction. It was during this introspective time, sitting in a torn-apart apartment, surrounded by boxes and chaos that Stephen and I decided to take a leap of faith, cancel our California storage, redirect the moving truck destination, and move directly to Arizona instead of California. This was the correct and intended path. Both Stephen and I collectively felt a very strong calling. We were each spiritually drawn to Arizona for more than just a 2 month stay.

We originally thought we would move to Sedona, especially with the spiritual, metaphysical and healing work that we do. With this in mind, we stored our things in that little town just outside of Sedona, Cottonwood (and so we came full circle, returning to Cottonwood). We stayed in Prescott for those 2 months, allowing us to catch our breath after the move and to enjoy our new surroundings.

Eagle Blessings over Lake Watson in Prescott, AZ

Eagle Blessings over Lake Watson in Prescott, AZ

It was here that I read, meditated, hiked, photographed, sun-soaked and visited Sedona. The distance from Prescott to Sedona is similar to the distance from where I lived in Sonoma County, CA, to San Francisco. It is a little over an hour away. This is an easy drive from one magical place to another. I love Sedona like no other place, but a very surprising thing happened; I fell in love with Prescott. So, we stayed and found a permanent home for ourselves.

We are here now in Prescott. There is so much I could share about the powerful lands around us and our time here, but I’ll save this all for future blog posts. Just know the magic and spiritual nudges continue… in my life and with my healing practice.

Timing really is everything. Years ago when we first visited Prescott to consider living, we were energetically pushed away. The timing wasn’t then right. We needed to be in Western Washington, both of us, for the time that we were. And, we left Washington at the absolute perfect time. Stephen accomplished exactly what he needed to, and I experienced one of the most cathartic spiritual experiences of my life while there. It was like a spiritual schooling of sorts. It was something that couldn’t have taken place in any other location. I needed the separation, the darkness, the rain, the forests and the magic to support my spiritual shift and growth. Plus, life-long friendships were found.

Thank you Western Washington for your darkness, beauty and woodland magic. Thank you Stephen for your flexibility, spontaneity, out-of-the-box thinking, your gypsy spirit and for your unyielding, compassionate support. And, thank you Northern Arizona for being exactly where I am supposed to be right now.

Shana in Sedona, AZ

Shana in Sedona, AZ

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