Featured Artist

Making Sense of Life: Elizabeth Martina Bishop, Author, Performance Poet and Visionary Artist

Born in the forties in New York City, this world traveler once taught for the Peace Corps and even did some midwifery! She has a colorful background as an Author, Performance Poet and Visionary Artist. Find out what brought her to Sedona and how, like Ilchi Lee, the Call of Sedona keeps her coming back.

Elizabeth Martina Bishop

LT: Elizabeth, you are a prolific Sedona writer! Please tell us about your career as a poet.

EMB: My writing career really doesn’t exist; it’s just something I like to do as kind of a retirement hobby. I did fifty books in the last two or three years. I think it started in the bookstore in Boulder, Colorado, because when I was working there I had a room where I did readings for people. In between the readings, I began to write a lot of poetry, because it’s sort of like ‘what you put out comes back.’

And so I began writing short stories and poetry there, and it just kind of grew. With the degree I have now it’s kind of not so easy to be a poet. Because there’s a lot of research and a lot of discipline, and a disciplined organizational kind of writing that isn’t so poetic. But I found it to be a good balance for my writing. So I continued writing even though I’m doing a doctorate now, “Women and Spirituality.” It’s a very, very disciplined degree with lots and lots of cerebral and mental logistics that are involved. But I still write every chance I get, poetry and so on!

Elizabeth Martina Bishop books

LT: What brought you to Sedona?

EMB: I was teaching on the reservation for fourteen years and one day my car broke down. This is maybe twenty years ago; I used to come for the weekend from the reservation. My daughter had music lessons here so I came every weekend for seven years. Then one year, the car broke down. It’s the classic Sedona story: My car broke down in Sedona and I couldn’t leave for three days because I had to wait over the weekend to get the car parts. Nothing really happened, I just had more experience of Sedona than just a quick turnaround, and I knew I liked it.

LT: So, down the road you relocated to Sedona?

EMB: I was in Boulder and I decided that I wanted to get a second doctorate. California is closer to Sedona than Boulder; I started going back and forth from Sedona to San Francisco over the last 6 years. During that time I acquired my third MFA degree in writing, and I’m closing in on my second doctorate. I guess it will be 1-2 years more; I’ve almost completed all the course work.

LT: When did you actually move to Sedona?

EMB: Again, did I really move? Because I’ve been back and forth from San Francisco, and I took a year out in San Francisco, but on and off I was here for the last 6 years. I found going back and forth a little difficult, so I decided to do online education, and that way I could live here. I didn’t plan on it, no, it just sort of evolved. I had been working in a metaphysical bookstore in Boulder for 5 years, and I’d gotten out of the loop; you know I’d been a professor for many years. I got into retail, and I thought with computerized education, I should get back into it. And that’s how it kind of happened. I remember I was actually in Sedona when I was accepted into Naropa University in Boulder. I suppose there are a lot of synchronicities that occur here . . .

LT: Is there a common theme that runs through your work?

EMB: I don’t know that I have a theme. I just write about everyday life, you know; things that happen, little events. It’s just very kind of mundane. Little things that happen and I try to turn it into a poem. I don’t think I have a big message or a big theme, but I just like kind of turning what happens in life into something imaginative or interesting or educational.

LT: I would say that in itself is a pretty good “theme,” because we often overlook those little mundane things that make up the days of our lives.

EMB: Yes, you know, little mundane things are the things that turn into poems for me. And one of my teachers that I had, Jack Meyers used to say that he saw his life come into balance because he was a poet. Like when he was working on a problem he could write a poem and then somehow, transmute the energy so that life made more sense. And I think that I agree with that statement: poetry does make life make more sense.

Elizabeth Martina Bishop books

LT: What projects are you currently working on?

EMB: I’m working on a book, a calendar of A Poem a Day for a year, which will be ready in the next month. I usually try to do two books a month. I self-publish. I originally didn’t self-publish; I was published by St. Martin’s Press in 1976 and it was a bestselling book on Ireland. So, after that I didn’t feel I had to prove something. I mean it would be nice, to publish regularly with them, but I’m quite happy self-publishing (Roadrunner Products), and I sell my books at fairs, and so on. The books are also available at Sedona Healing Arts, at Amazon, and on my website at http://elizabethmartinabishop.com/

LT: Please share your thoughts on how Sedona may have influenced your work over the years.

EMB: I think I can say that Sedona is a very healing and inspiring location for artists, I think traditionally that’s been so. I don’t think there is any other place like it. Sedona jump-starts a lot of artists and causes you to want to create more and better work.

LT: Thank You, Elizabeth!

By Lynn A. Trombetta

Meet the Voice of One Sedona Experience: Shondra Jepperson

You may have heard or watched this talented Sedona performing artist, Shondra Jepperson on instructional videos produced in support of Ilchi Lee’s Dahn Yoga and Body & Brain training. Get to know this actor/singer/songwriter/musician a bit better in this recent interview about her Call of Sedona.

Shondra Jepperson

LT: Shondra, locals see you emceeing and performing everywhere in Sedona, it seems! What drew you here?

SJ: At the end of 2001, my sister & and brother-in-law and their poodle, and my husband Tom and I and our poodle, all still lived in San Diego. They had not been married yet, and were talking about moving to Sedona, and we told them, “You can’t go!” They’re really close friends of ours, as well as being family. They were planning to move to Sedona in 2002, and they kept talking about kidnapping us. We’d just laugh it off.

Then a succession of things happened. We’d been living in San Diego and Los Angeles for years, and we didn’t think we could necessarily work here in Sedona. But in March of that year, I turned on my computer and there it was on AOL: Top 10 Resorts in America. San Diego was #7 and Sedona was #1. So being that we work in the tourism arena with corporations and doing parties and things like that, I thought maybe this is something to check out.

I called the Chamber of Commerce, got their book, and started making phone calls and sending media kits for like two months. And then there were some things that happened: like my truck was stolen (and we were living in a beautiful area of San Diego), and our storage unit was broken into, and our lease was up and we didn’t know where we were going to move, and then we decided to take a trip to Sedona with my sister and brother-in-law to see how it felt.

So I’d made all these appointments, and met with people, and it looked good. About three weeks later Tom and I returned and found the place we’ve been living in for the last 12-1/2 years. We just bought a home, and actually, it’s the place that we’ve been sharing a wall with for all those years!

LT: So you were ‘on target’ in your first attempt!

SJ: Oh yes, and I’ve been intending and praying for all the years. We’d take the poodle kids and Tom and I would go out for a walk, and I would just be saying these intentions about “let us have the money when we are ready to buy.” We always thought it was going to be the one we were living in. It ended up being the one right next door, and it was wild! It just unfolded naturally.

LT: Of course, that’s Sedona!

SJ: Yes. When we moved here it was like on a wing and a prayer. The thing is that both of us got jobs the first week we were here. And then we had other things happen too that really put us into the papers and into work immediately, gigging and doing shows. So it just really, quickly unfolded fast for us here.

LT: Has being here in Sedona changed how you present your craft?

SJ: Yes! In San Diego I spent a lot of time leading bands and being in other people’s bands, fronting bands; working as a single, working in duos, every possible kind of gig you can think of. All the theatre that I did kind of went to the wayside. I couldn’t afford to do it because no one was paying at the time. And all the voice-overs, I did them, but very sporadically. It was kind of a “love-hate” relationship working five nights a week in clubs, 9:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. It was hard, hard work.

Here, I get to do everything that I’m skilled for. I’m doing the voice-overs, I’m producing events, I’m working my own shows, Tom and I have our shows, Tom’s working four nights a week in a cowboy show and we’re both involved in our regional theatre and doing musicals. It’s been fabulous! Coaching, and DJ-ing, the writing, and two CDs now, the list goes on and on. It’s just a lot more expansive, and I really feel that Sedona works for Tom and me.

LT: What is the common thread that runs through everything you do?

SJ: The intention to serve. The intention to make a positive difference. We came here with that intention in mind. Our intention was to bring light with our talents to inspire, to motivate, to entertain in an uplifting way: to really move people in that direction.

And to serve . . . both of us feel very strongly about that. We do a lot of community work too. When people ask us if we “can,” we “do.” I don’t use the term “Free” because I don’t think there’s anything “free.” We both use the term “gifting.“ Your time and your talent are worth value, so “gifting.” And we both do a lot of that.

LT: Please tell us about some favorite projects?

SJ: Working with Tom and doing our own show is great fun. He’s a complete pro and it’s just a joy to be on stage with him. We know each other so well. The other person that I love to work with is Dev Ross. It’s the same situation. So whether it’s a murder mystery, or a musical show, or it’s producing an event, I love working with those two. And there are other people I work with too, a few other creative partnerships.

LT: So, it seems Sedona allowed you to blossom in every direction.

SJ: Absolutely! And that’s a beautiful thing; when you feel that you can do that and then you are also bringing people in that you know can do that too. I love working in groups and teams, and creative situations.

Right now I have two new partners. We’re doing “Experience Yourself” Women Retreats. That’s a huge project. We’re getting ready to do one in November. It’s a phenomenal thing; it’s a three and a half day retreat.

I’m coaching in ways that I’ve never coached before for finding your voice—more spiritually-based than singing-wise. I do coach voice and acting and all of that on a private basis, but this is really different than what I’ve been doing. The last three or four years I’ve been going more that direction with a lot of people coming to me who had been put down as children and haven’t sung for forty years! I remember one year I had five people come to me like that within a matter of three or four months, all the same story.

I’m also the Music Director for the Center for Positive Living Sedona. We have the Wednesday night in the Living Room Series of concerts that started a little over a year and a half ago, and that’s going really well. I’m writing a new CD, and I am writing a book, so that will be a lot of fun.

LT: If you had to describe Sedona to someone who has never been here before, what would you tell them?

SJ: I would say that Sedona is a magnificent place. It’s gorgeous, and it loves people who are about giving and serving. We have noticed that. Someone had already told us this, so we had come here with that in mind.

Besides the magnificence, the mountains, and the vortexes and all the beauty here, I would tell them that this is a straight and narrow: if you’re depressed, it will take you that direction very, very, fast and it will blow up into something huge. And vice versa, if you go into a positive direction, it does the same thing.

I don’t know what exactly is happening here, if it’s the history, or the science, all I know is that ever since we learned about “what you focus on is what you get,” I’d say Sedona’s about a hundred thousand times that way.

So, I would tell them, be very clear about why you’re here. Get involved. The way I always describe it is that it’s like a Marshall Stack on 10+, (a Marshall Stack being one of those huge guitar amps.) It is that, it’s on 10+, so wherever you decide to go with that, it’s going to just follow suit and magnify it!

LT: Thanks, Shondra. This has been fun. Are there any final thoughts you’d like to share?

SJ: I want to say that I really like working with the Dahn Yoga people, Sedona Mago Retreat, and Ilchi Lee. I’ve really enjoyed all of those voice-over projects, all of it!

LT: Thanks again!

By Lynn A. Trombetta

Capturing a Sense of Place

photographer Greg Lawson

Photographer Greg Lawson capturing his experience of a place in nature.

With the same kind of passion that inspired author Ilchi Lee to write The Call of Sedona, photographer, Greg Lawson shares insight into the independent career that has taken him worldwide to capture landscapes, seasons and wildlife in award-winning imagery for over fifty years. As part of the impressive array of breathtaking work that can be seen at Greg Lawson Galleries in Sedona, a photographic collection called Zona Sedona, Images of the Southwest focuses on the region we call home.

LT: Looking at your photographs, it would seem you’ve been nearly everywhere.

GL: Since I was a boy, my longing has always been for places. I used to go to the library when I was a kid and pour over books about places. And when my Mom bought me my first camera, we were in New York City, I was fourteen years old and I just started capturing those big city elements. The whole idea that I could retain them indefinitely was really appealing to me and it kind of set me into motion. The family I grew up in was artistic and independent. Everything we did, we did because we had a passion for doing it. That was wonderful for me. I fell in love with photography. The camera was almost intuitive in my hands. I felt a belonging, and it was easy.

LT: What brought you to Sedona?

GL: We came here four years ago. I feel personally like I am kind of an ‘earthling’ and I belong everywhere. Sedona is one of those places where it’s easy to come home to, whenever you go away. My family has always chosen to live in places like that. Sedona is a wonderful place to be; it has a wonderful spirit and the physical portion is very appealing to me because I am a physical artist.

LT: It is evident in your work that you yourself were first captured by the image, and then chose to capture the image. It appears much patience is involved.

GL: The really wonderful thing about photography is that because there is something like four billion cameras out there, or so they say, everybody takes pictures. So a lot of people when they look at a picture they think “snap shot.” They think that because that’s what they would do.

But I’m slow and meticulous. A lot of these pieces are old 4X5 camera pieces and the fact that it slows you down and forces you to be decisive about every step is a wonderful thing.

I carry that even into modern photography with modern cameras. I use manual techniques: I make the decisions on it. I like to compose and create and feel that what I’m capturing is really the essence not only of the place, but the essence of ‘me’ in the place. It’s like a personal expression—every one of them is that way for me. If you had a couple of days, I could sit here and tell you a story about every piece in here. They all have their own story to tell.

LT: Often with photography, we have a sense of “standing back.” But with your work, the sense of “standing in” is very powerful and the desire to be where you were standing nearly takes one’s breath away.

GL: I appreciate that very much. I have seen time and time again that people will actually become emotional in being able to be around all these wonderful places: to sense them, and taste them, and feel them. And those who can step in there with me, I think have been enriched by it.

In fact, we call this gallery “Passion for Place.” I love to go to places; that has been my passion since I was a kid. My greatest education has come from dipping deeply into cultural environments that were foreign to me and coming away from it with a feeling almost like ecstasy, because the big thing I’ve learned from traveling for the last decades, is that as different as things are, they’re really not so different. We have a collective “oneness” that needs to be appreciated. And the photography is a nice way to share with people the passion of a particular place, or the power of a place. People can get right inside that [photograph] and when they do that—when they connect with it and they connect with you, that’s what it’s all about. I love when people do that.

LT: Your wildlife photography speaks volumes of the “oneness” of nature.

GL: With wildlife I enjoy walking with them and talking with them and watching them open up, or depart, whatever it is, but when you do make a connection with a wild creature, it is I think the most beautiful experience possible. There’s a picture where I ran into a mother bobcat and her three kittens. I went back and visited them every day for eight days, I noticed over time they would let me in. One time the mother just took off and left me with the cubs. The last day I saw the whole family, the mother just came up to me like a housecat and she brushed against my leg. It was like she was saying “goodbye.”

Some people might criticize me for this and say I’ve ruined their lives by exposing them to humanity. But I disagree, I think this is a spin that certain scientific types have put on it, but I don’t agree with it at all: We are nature, they are nature. The wrongness comes from divorcing us from them and fencing us away from them. If you look at the historic native peoples, for example, they worked around in the fields with the animals. And they honored them even when they hunted them, there would be reverential appreciation for the ‘being’ that they were. I think it’s the way to be.

LT: It is possible to enjoy their beauty without interfering with their life, especially as the animal is given the choice to reveal itself to a gentle spirit like yourself who carries that “Oneness” within and means no harm. And what a gift to the world these candid shots of nature are, especially for those who cannot hike into the wilderness!

GL: I think you are right. I feel the same way. In fact, just like people do, we make the choice to let people in or not. We are all just creatures, and I think that we have a great privilege. I’m not an activist, but I promote the idea of peaceful co-existence of all people and all creatures of the earth. This little website that we have created is really promoting that ideal.

LT: You are referring now to your latest project?

GL: Yes, Aprinia.com. I’ve had this coming on for thirty years. It actually came out of the fact that I’ve visited many places on the earth. We’re born into a society or a culture. When we were young and went to school, we were told by our educators that certain things are truths. This happens in the cultural arena, the religious arena, and in the political arena: we are defined by “something.” I started thinking about the fact that everyone I meet everywhere has these certain attributes that seem to be pretty much consistent throughout all people. It doesn’t matter what language they speak, or where they live on the earth, they have certain inherent qualities that are good qualities. And I kind of came to thinking about them as people living by certain principles.

When I started thinking about that, the power of principle, it was just kind of an awakening for me. Principles are wonderful, and simple, and easy to abide by, and they are aligned within all of us. Sometimes we meet people who are very principled, and sometimes we meet people that may not have too many, but still everyone has the capacity to do good because there is an inherent reason for it.

Aprinia.com is now a place that you can recognize as a virtual nation, a place of coming together. Like, for example, the sunflower has petals reaching out in every direction, but they’re just connected in one little place. That’s what I want Aprinia to be. Everyone can feel a connection to it, because it’s not promoting anyone’s ideal, it’s only promoting what we have in common. It’s very simple but very powerful, because we all have it.

LT: Are there any final thoughts you would like to share?

GL: Back to your original question, I know a lot of people come to Sedona because they feel that there is a powerful attraction—I feel that kind of attraction almost everywhere I go. I feel a sense I can relate to the power that exists almost everywhere, and it is sometimes very moving to me . . . even in places people might disdain, or look down on because they are simple or too plain. They are not plain to me. One time, when we lived on eight acres, I told my wife, “You could lock me up here for two years, and I’d never complain about it,” because every scoop of dirt contains life and magnificence and wonder. I really do feel that way! I’m a simple country boy, and I appreciate the land, the earth, and spirituality. I have that blessed mix that makes me content.

The wonderful thing, I think, about doing the kind of work that I do photographically is that the challenge is before me to convert what the camera gives me into the experience that I really had, and this is where the art comes in, or a big portion of it. Yes, you have to be motivated to go. Yes, you have to plant yourself in a particular position. Yes, you have to capture the instant. But the camera’s so weak and miserable and pitiable that it cannot possibly display the power of the moment! You have to instill it with what was there, and yet the obligation that I have is to do that without pushing it into realms. I mean for me, my art has to make you sense that you’re there, in a real place, and you’re not being entertained by that which is not real.

It is Nature which serves us so well, and I want my work to convey that power. The presence of Nature is unbelievable, unimaginable! For me it ‘does it’ for all of us if we let it. When people can allow someone else’s artwork to take them there, to let them soar, to let them fly, it’s a beautiful experience.

LT: There is no doubt you have accomplished that!

GL: Thank you.

By Lynn A. Trombetta

Student of Ilchi Lee Fulfills Dream at Sedona Mago Retreat

Sayong Kim at Sedona Mago Retreat

Just west of the city of Sedona, Sedona Mago Retreat sits on 163 acres surrounded by sweeping views of breathtaking copper colored countryside. We recently interviewed Sayong Kim, COO of Sedona Mago Retreat about what it is like to be living his life mission. Here is the story of his Call of Sedona:

LT: Please tell us some details about what brought you to Sedona.

SL: When I was a member of Korean Dahn center, I heard about Sedona, and I came with the program of Sedona Meditation Retreat in May 1996. Ilchi Lee, Dahn Yoga founder and author of The Call of Sedona, was my guide at that time, and I was very impressed with his teachings. I wanted to become his student and planted a small seed in my heart that someday I would come back to Sedona to meet with him.

I came to Sedona in 2002 from Phoenix. I had been working for Dahn Yoga as a Dahn master for several years, and my teacher, Ilchi, and other masters encouraged me to apply for the position COO of Sedona Mago Retreat, where I thought I could do something good for people through the activities of that non-profit organization.

And I came to love Sedona!

LT: As a new C.O.O. of the organization, the everyday management of Sedona Mago Retreat must have seemed a daunting task in the beginning!

SL: At first I felt a huge burden about the management of this huge property and organization on my shoulders, and was walking through nature and climbed on top of a small mountain near Sedona Mago Retreat. I looked down on our land. It was so beautiful, and in one moment I raised my hands between my eyes and our land, and I could cover the whole land with my small hands! I realized that our big land and this organization is not a big burden and I could manage it well, and made up my mind to grow this organization and take good care of our beautiful land. Now 12 years have passed since I first came to Sedona Mago Retreat. I know that I am in beautiful nature and that I am [here] for the beautiful vision: Love Humanity and Love the Earth.

LT: When and how did you first become involved in practicing Dahn Yoga?

SL: In 1981, I got sciatic neuralgia, and I suffered from back pain for the next 15 years. I had met so many different types of oriental and western doctors who helped me a lot, but they could not cure my pain. I started Dahn Yoga in Korea and healed my back within two and a half months with the practice. The next year, I became a Dahn master. In October 1996, I came to the U.S. where I can help people—like the help I received from my teacher and masters in Korea.

LT: The countryside surrounding Sedona Mago Retreat must offer you great inspiration.

SL: Every morning I look at the mountains toward the city of Sedona, eastern mountains from my house, which are Thunder Mountain and Secret Mountain and other red rocks in front, and realize that I see one of the most beautiful places in the world. I feel very grateful for the circumstances and surroundings around me. I am aware of how all our activities are for the grand vision of Sedona Mago Retreat. This awareness helps me come out of my small ego-boxes, moment to moment. The place where I am and the vision that I focus on are the lighthouse in my journey.

Sayong Kim - Cathedral Rock

LT: How does the energy of Sedona influence you day to day?

SL: I do many hours of office work every day, and have lots of meetings every week, and offer many different types of programs depending on the schedules. When I do the office work, like any other COO of an organization, I can have a lot of stress.

Whenever I feel stressful and negative emotions, I try to smile a few seconds to release the heavy energy and practice the simple Solar Body exercises that my teacher, Ilchi, taught. While I am doing those exercises, I feel the energy of Sedona helps me to awaken more deeply. Everyday can be stressful, but as long as I do Solar Body exercises and I am in Sedona, I am sure that I can manage myself better than in any other place.

LT: As you go about your tasks, what phrase are you most often heard offering?

SL: “Enlightenment is a choice.” This is a message I got from my teacher Ilchi. Everything is my choice. My life is also my choice, and the choice brings me the responsibility for the results of my choice.

LT: Sayong, what would you most like to tell our readers about Sedona?

SL: Come to Sedona at least one time in your life, especially when you feel down because of many issues. For me, the nature of Sedona is special; here I release my worries and concerns easily and regain my inner power for my vision and goals.

LT: Please share with us what your passion is as you live your life in Sedona.

SL: I thank you for this opportunity to reflect on my life while I answer your questions! I want to make myself better, and help more people for their betterment through all kinds of activities at Sedona Mago Retreat.

I want to recover my true nature with and within the work I am doing every day. Whatever I do here, whatever we do here, I want it to help people and the earth and future generations. I can feel my true instinct for benefitting all as I live in Sedona, which means that Sedona helps me to connect more deeply to my true nature.

Every morning I pray for my soul and my family, my community, and our supporters and the earth and our grand vision. And we, all Tao masters at Sedona Mago Retreat, offer our prayer every morning: “May all people, all life forms, and all beings be well!”

LT: Thank you!

Like Ilchi Lee, Guitarist Patrick Ki Traveled from Distant Shores to Heed His Call of Sedona

Patrick Ki’s musical journey began in Hawaii where he spent his youth and developed his signature sound, encompassing the influence of that beautiful island. Like Ilchi Lee, Ki traveled far and wide until ultimately he too heeded his own Call of Sedona. Here this gifted guitarist and internationally acclaimed recording artist shares his impressions of the energy and the beauty that is Sedona.

Patrick Ki

LT: Pursuing your music set your journey in motion. Please tell us about that.

PK: Right after high school I was super serious about music and I left Hawaii and I went to California to attend a music school out there. I graduated and then got a scholarship to go all the way to Boston, to go to Berkelee. I finished up a Bachelor’s Degree in music there. After I graduated, I was successfully freelancing in a number of different bands and doing studio work. But I wasn’t happy with it as a place. Being from Hawaii, the winter weather was just unbelievably cold and long for me.

Also, I think the whole thing of living in a city, over time really began to wear on me, even though in a career sense I was doing really well. I was playing in one particular band with a Native American drummer who’s from a pretty well-known music family in the Southwest. He one year took his vacation in February. When he came back, he was showing me these pictures, and he had this unbelievable, incredible tan! I was so jealous because we’d had a long winter already. And he’s showing me these pictures of this place that he went to and I’d never seen anything like it! It was photos of Sedona, and it wasn’t even any of the red rocks, it was just him out on the land, in amongst the junipers and the pinons. Those trees and open space really struck me—really moved me. And I said, “I’ve got to check this out.”

LT: So, when did you come to Sedona?

PK: One winter, about a year later, in January 1987, I had just finally had enough, and I decided that I was going to go check out this place, and Arizona in general. So I loaded up my car and drove on out, like a Beverly Hillbilly. It was a pretty snowy winter with lots of snow the whole way. When I drove into Flagstaff it was late in the afternoon in the middle of a really big storm. I think they got like 17 inches of snow, and it was so bad they actually closed the canyon and 89A. I had to come down 179, through the Village of Oak Creek. By this time it was dark, and as I was driving, the clouds were so low to the ground that you couldn’t see any of the mountains at all. I’d never ever seen any pictures of the rocks, so I had no idea.

LT: Visitors often tell the story of arriving at night and “discovering” Sedona’s red rocks by the light of a new day!

PK: I’d got a recommendation to stay up at the Airport, on the Mesa, at Sky Ranch Lodge. Which, as it turned out, was a great place to be. It snowed most of the night and then cleared up, and the next morning there were blue skies. I walked out of my room and looked at the vista and thought, “Oh, my God!” All the rocks were out and they were snow covered. It was just unbelievable! You couldn’t be anymore awe inspired by your first real look at Sedona. That was my arrival here!

LT: Airport Mesa offers a stunning, panoramic look over the landscape of Sedona that Ilchi Lee speaks of in The Call of Sedona.

PK: Even if you have seen it in pictures, when you first get here and you really experience it, it’s amazing. Because it’s not only one view, it’s views from all around, in every direction that you look. I think that’s the thing that keeps me here: I don’t tire of the fact that everywhere, as you go about your daily business, you’re always looking at something really incredible. We’re all so lucky because this is all available to all of us every day!

LT: You have released nine recordings of your music and have become a mainstay of the Sedona music scene as resident musician of the famed Tlaquepaque de Sedona shopping destination. Did it all come together easily for you, as far as your music career here in Sedona?

PK: I was fortunate to find a place, and work, but it took me a long time to figure out, or accept that I think I was meant to live here. Shortly after I got here, I was very concerned that it might be, in terms of a music career, too small. I really thought I was going to move down to Tucson, which is larger than Sedona. I loaded up my car again and went to Tucson. But it just, unbelievably, didn’t work out for me. I couldn’t even find a place, which that blows my mind. A couple days later I came back up to Sedona, and I just realized that I think I’m meant to be here, for whatever the reason. And after that so many doors started opening up for me in terms of playing music, and also starting to meet real amazing and fantastic musicians who lived here at the time! Some of them are still my best friends.

LT: What are your favorite things about living here?

PK: For such a small town, Sedona has an amazing pool of talent, musical and other talent as well. For a town our size, I think it’s unbelievable. We have some really inspired and super talented musicians that live in this one place. Also, I’ve never lived in a place where all of the musicians are so connected as a supportive community. Every other place I’ve been there’s always been more of an element of competition. But here, there are so many wonderful people, not only wonderful musicians, but I think that they are wonderful as human beings too. I think that of the people that are called here and make the choice to live here, a lot of them are very outstanding and unique individuals in their own right. It is a very cool community in that regard.

Sedona’s not for everybody. If a person really is longing for the excitement and thrill of, for example, a lot of nightlife and club activity, or a lot of shopping, or if they need to be around throngs of people, and find that stimulating and exciting on a regular basis, it’s really not what we have here. And I think that, over time, that kind of “weeds out” a lot of people who find that it’s just a little too small and slow for them.

But if you are an individual who loves nature and wants to live in a super beautiful environment, and obviously there’s a spiritual aspect to living here that is undeniable, for anyone who’s open to it, there’s a certain vibe here and it’s a really inspiring place in so many ways. I think that those who do stay are a unique brand of person.

LT: You touched on the spiritual aspect of Sedona’s energy, please expand on your thoughts.

PK: I do think that there’s a very unique energy here that I think a lot of people who live here experience. It’s almost like there’s no way that you cannot have a more inward knowing of yourself, because we don’t have all the external distractions and luxuries and activities that so many people could use to just be on this treadmill of a much faster-paced life filled with all the trappings of society. We just don’t have that here, so it’s much more of a reflective place, much more about getting to know who you are, I think, and why you’re here. It really makes you question that! For example, if you think about your career, you don’t come here with a million career choices – you’ve got to figure out what it is that you’re really here for. What your purpose is. It makes you think about life in general and of course, spirituality and your place in the universe.

LT: Having lived in two amazing places on the planet, please tell us about the contrasts as well as the similarities, energetically speaking, between Hawaii and Sedona.

PK: Hawaii is an awesome place. I was surprised that so many people have this kind of comparison between Hawaii and Sedona. They are very different, obviously, Hawaii with the ocean and the tropical nature of it, and Sedona with the high desert and the mountains and the rocks, the beautiful clear air that we have here. I think that when I first got here, I was enjoying the contrast of something totally different than I ever thought I would experience. I never thought I would live in Arizona, or Sedona! Any part of it is unique, but Sedona’s so different that I was really enjoying the contrast between the two places. I’ve been here for almost 28 years now, and I still really enjoy that contrast.

Because all my family is from Hawaii, I travel there regularly every year. Ideally, I’d like to spend my time fluidly between the two places, because they are just so different. I don’t think you could ask for a fuller life, but I would still choose to be based here, and just be able to travel there.

It’s a very big world out there. There are a lot of energies of different places [to experience], but these two places in particular, knock me out! If I couldn’t do any more traveling and just went back and forth between the two, I don’t think I could be any happier than that!

LT: Thank you, Patrick!

By Lynn A. Trombetta

Slacklining the Canyons of Sedona: Calm Mind Prevails for Wilson Cutbirth

While others picnicked in Oak Creek Canyon, 23-year-old Wilson Cutbirth tightened the rigging on the a narrow, springy rope he had strung between two trees and settled into the grass with his laptop computer. We had just missed “the show,” when he traversed the line, but my curiosity was piqued. At my inquiry, he shared photos of himself, high above beautiful canyons, balanced on a line that spanned the width of each photo. I soon discovered that, driven like Ilchi Lee to experience some of the highest points of Sedona’s landscape, this young man has seen Sedona from a holistically different view. Here is the story of his exciting sport and how Wilson heard his own Call of Sedona.

Wilson Cutbirth Slacklining in Sedona

LT: Wilson, the photos you have shared are amazing! It’s difficult to imagine the breathtaking feeling of walking on a line over a canyon. Please tell us more about this fairly new extreme sport.

WC: Yes, it takes you to quite an unreal mental state! When I have the line lower to the ground it’s called Slacklining. So, Slacklining would be at ground level, like what you saw me doing at the park that day . . . . Highlining would refer more to rigging it, like the Slackline, but high off the ground.

LT: You do some outrageous climbing in addition to the Highlining. How did you get started?

WC: Highlining ties into a way to exhibit that adventurous lifestyle at a different level than climbing. I lived in Maui for 3 years after I graduated high school. I got into it there—just starting by rigging a little 50 foot long slackline [between native trees] on the beach in Hawaii, and then that grew bigger to rigging them high off the ground between valleys, enjoying the aesthetic features of the land. I was also doing it high&mash;like above waterfalls.

LT: What called you to Sedona?

WC: Since I grew up in Cornville, I knew the kind of aesthetics that are here in Sedona. Areas such as the Spires, and there are some different mountains and wild rock formations that exist around here that have perfect gaps between them to put a slackline between. They are uniquely different than anywhere else in the world. After doing it in Hawaii for a while I came back, moving into Oak Creek Canyon, to start Highlining in Sedona.

LT: When you are on the line, crossing a canyon, there’s no safety net, correct?

WC: No safety net. There’s a safety leash that attaches to you . . . a normal climbing harness with a 10 foot long leash. So if you fall, you fall 10 feet and then dangle on the line.

LT: Wow! So if you fall, you climb back up, work your way back up onto the line?

WC: Yes, stand back up on the line.

LT: Is this a really popular sport? How many people would you estimate are doing this?

WC: At this point, the population of actual Slackliners is very small compared to other extreme sports. It’s certainly growing, but it’s fairly new. It hasn’t been around for very long at all.

LT: Do you have a group that you go out with—where all of you are into doing this?

WC: Yes, I have friends, although not many local people, that I go out with. Since there is such a small community of Slackliners around the country, most of the people I do it with are from other states. We all meet in a specific location.

LT: What other locations, besides Sedona are popular for Highlining?

WC: Yosemite National Park is a popular one. Others are Moab, Utah and Smith Rock State Park in Oregon.

LT: So, what rock formations are your favorites for Highlining here in Sedona?

WC: Spires Canyon, but others too. You’re kind of looking for something that appeals to you—like two points you can go between that you’d just enjoy to be “in that space” with it.

Wilson Cutbirth highlining in Sedona AZ

LT: As if words could ever describe what it feels like to be poised high on a line, between two towering red rock formations overlooking Sedona’s magnificence, would you please tell us what it’s like?

WC: People generally assume that it’s an adrenaline based sport, but really it’s kind of the opposite. If you’re on [the] line and you get to the point where your adrenaline has kicked in, that’s the point where you lose concentration and then you fall.

It’s more of a meditative, very focused, very calm mind state. All the euphoria and adrenaline and all that, that all kicks in the moment you step off line on the other side of the gap you’re walking.

LT: Thank you, Wilson!

by Lynn A. Trombetta

Ilchi Lee’s Sedona Experiences Inspire Healing Center in Uptown Sedona

In uptown Sedona sits a charming little gem of a business called Sedona Story. Step inside and you’ll discover a small retail shop inspired by the messages Ilchi Lee has received from his experiences in Sedona and shares in his work. Here you can purchase gemstone jewelry, including the rare aquamarine, metaphysical books, and CDs and choose from several upstairs clinic services to nourish your physical body, your energy body, and your spiritual body. Enjoy this interview with spiritual healer/director, Banya Lim L. Ac, as she shares her own call of Sedona story.

LT: Please tell our readers about the connection between Dahn Yoga founder, Ilchi Lee and your work at Sedona Story.

Banya Lim, LAcBL: The store itself is very much inspired by Ilchi Lee and Ilchi Lee’s story in Sedona. He has received many messages since he moved here, and a lot of things that he has created in his work were very much based on, basically, the messages he has received. And this is something that we want to convey to other people.

LT: How do you share those teachings and experiences with visitors to Sedona?

BL: People come here for many different reasons: just to relax, for spiritual quest, to heal. Main purpose here is to help them connect to something deep within so they can discover their own soul journey.

There’s a unique energy here in Sedona, and we are trying to help people to experience that from many different aspects: By taking them out into nature, to energy places in Sedona; through guiding them to open their energy channels, especially through trainings; and sometimes by delivering messages through readings and healings.

LT: Please tell us more about yourself as a healer.

BL: I am a multi-generation acupuncturist; I came from family who practiced acupuncture, mainly from my Mother’s side of the family. I never met my Great Grandfather, and only I met my Grandmother briefly, so most of my learnings were handed down to me through my Mother. I was an apprentice to my Mom since I was seven years old.

Actually, she wasn’t an acupuncturist, she was a teacher in high school and word got out [about her healing work] and people began looking for her and inviting her. People would come from all the places and wait for her in the room, living room and outside of the house. And I was assisting her when she would do the healings.

First time I did acupuncture was when I was seven: Once when I was helping my mother, one of the old ladies waiting said, “I know you do acupuncture. Why don’t you do acupuncture, because I cannot wait for her.” So I explained I wasn’t licensed, ‘I’m only seven years old,’ but that was the first time I did acupuncture. And people kept asking about that, but finally, the police came and said we weren’t supposed to be doing that!

That’s how it started. Most of the importance of and philosophy of and mindset of how to do acupuncture and how to be a healer, a lot I learned from my mother. For me, she is one of the most compassionate people I know. Oftentimes I think, “It’s not the technique, or skills, it’s your heart and the compassion.” That’s what she had and that’s what I always wanted to learn.

LT: And the journey that brought you to Sedona?

BL: I was born in South Korea, and I grew up in New York. I had my practice in New York for 11 years before I moved out here. I’m also a fourth degree black belt in a martial art, Tae Kwon Do. So I had a martial arts school and an acupuncture clinic in New York City.

But I felt, although this is ancient practice in arts, some essence was missing. There is an energetic and spiritual aspect of things that I had been looking for in the martial arts that I practice and the acupuncture that I was practicing. And I really wanted to infuse that into the work that I did.

I was looking for it, and I found it in Dahn Hak practice. I have to say that I learned pretty much everything about energy, what I was looking for—the energy and the spiritual aspect of this old tradition and art—through Dahn Hak.

LT: For those who aren’t familiar with the term “Dahn Hak,” this is the practice now commonly referred to as Dahn Yoga.

BL: I started with the BR Clinic, and I’ve practicing in Sedona for 11 years. Sedona Story has been open for 8 years. So I was running BR Clinic and Sedona Story, but now I am mainly in Sedona Story. It is a two-story building; downstairs a store, upstairs a healing center.

If you visit our website, www.sedonastory.com, you will see menus for the services that we have here. Many of the main ones are done by me: Spiritual Acupuncture, you actually are getting acupuncture, but rather than taking just the physical aspect, we are going to the root of the issue. We are made up of three bodies; physical body, energy body, and spiritual body. By working through spiritual body, we can heal the energy and the physical aspects of the person. Spiritual body consists of information, so we are working on information of the person.

Energy Healing is basically LifeParticle energy healing, and this is a “hands-on” healing, while Spiritual Readings are an intuitive reading.

LT: How has being in Sedona changed you and your practice?

BL: Once I was in a movie that premiered in the Sedona Film Festival, a documentary of a collection of healers. When they came and interviewed me, they asked me questions that I felt were very important questions that I should ask myself. One of the questions was why I do the things that I do and how I have grown from it. I wanted to be sure and wanted to have a measurement of how I grow: how I grew from yesterday to today, how I’d see it. Instead of answering, I asked them to interview me again the next day instead, because I really wanted to think about it and meditate on it.

So what came up was very, very simple: it was love. I want to use that as my measurement, and I kind of check myself from now to yesterday, the year before, five years ago, ten years ago. And I have to say I definitely grew and I definitely love more now than before. And through love, true healings happen. I have to say going to Sedona taught me that.

Coming back to what I usually say, about people coming to Sedona and just looking at the beautiful scenery, it is kind of a shame. People sometimes just tour and sight-see and then leave without realizing that there’s a lot more here for their soul. That if they can be open to the possibilities, and open to listen, open to receiving, they can receive more than just a view of the beautiful scenery.

LT: Banya, are there any final thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

BL: Everything kind of fell into place, and I was working a lot after 9-11. I was living in New York City. I also lost many friends in the tower. I just want people to stop hurting themselves and hurting each other. One of the things I realized is unless we change our consciousness—all of our consciousness, this hurting and destruction cannot stop. I want to keep growing and expanding my consciousness and, at the same time, do everything I can to assist others to come out of their pain and expand their consciousness so they can heal themselves and so they can heal others.

LT: Thank you, Banya!

Dear Reader,

Do you have a special story of what brought you to Sedona? We’d love to hear from you! Please comment below, and don’t forget to share this with your friends.

By Lynn A. Trombetta

Bronze Sculptor Chris Navarro Heeds His Call of Sedona – Often on Horseback!

What does a life-size T-Rex Dinosaur have to do with it? Read about this intriguing sculptor to find out!

Lynn Trombetta: Chris, the simple story of your Call of Sedona was that you saw the opportunity to open a gallery here, in this beautiful place. Could you please tell us more?

Chris Navarro: I came to Sedona 14 years ago, in 2000. I came to Tlaquepaque because a director of my gallery in Taos at that time who used to also work at Tlaquepaque told me there was a spot opening up: “It looks good; it’s a beautiful place.” They had just poured the slab—there wasn’t anything there, so we were the first gallery in that spot, in that new auxiliary building, right below the brewery.

I owned a gallery in Taos, I was living in Wyoming . . . I still live in Wyoming part time. I just went and looked at that spot, and I thought, ‘man this is beautiful!’ You know, I do a lot of big, outdoor sculptures, and kind of specialize in large monuments, and Wendy at Tlaquepaque said I could put them out front there and have a sculpture garden. How many galleries get to have a sculpture garden? That’s what cinched it for me; getting the sculpture garden.

Chris Navarro with Moose sculture

LT: Was that your first time to see Sedona?

CN: I’d been to Sedona several years before—I used to show in a gallery there for a while. I’d drop work off and I’d think, ‘Man, this is a pretty place. And the Wyoming winters are pretty rough: man if I could live in Arizona, I’d really like to live in Sedona!’

So I kept that in the back of my mind and then the new spot opened up. There was really nothing to see at the time [at the site], but I just kind of visualized how it would be, and I thought ‘What a pretty place to live and I’d like to open a gallery there.’ I just had kind of visualized it. As an artist you visualize a lot of things, so I was able to visualize that being there. That’s when I decided to go. We’ve been there for fourteen years now! It’s a great spot, and Sedona is so special!

LT: You’ve given us a fun image of one of your recent bronze works that is now on display at the Tate Museum Casper Wyoming!

CN: Yes, It’s called “The Essence of Rex.” The life size T-Rex is half skeletal on one side, and fleshed out on the other. And then I put a led lighting system on the inside so it lights up at night. It’s so unique, I’ve never seen another sculpture like it, where you see the anatomical, skeletal side on one side and completely flesh on the other. (NOTE: The 3-ft. maquette version is on display at the Navarro Gallery Sedona.)

Ilchi-Lee_The-Call-of-Sedona_Navarro-pulling_t-rex

Ilchi-Lee_The-Call-of-Sedona_Navarro-riding_t-rex

LT: How has being in Sedona influenced you as an artist?

CN: I just love the landscape around here. I just feel more energized when I’m in Sedona. Don’t you? It’s such a pretty place to live. You run into a lot of artists that live in Sedona. Part of it is just because of the natural beauty.

I live in a beautiful spot! The road dead ends into my house and there’s US Forest Service all around. I love it! I have horses, so I always keep my horses out there at our property. I get to ride my horses around Courthouse and Lee Mountain. There are beautiful horse trails all around there.

Chris Navarro with bucking horse sculptureSedona just has a kind of a quality to it that I’ve never found any other place I’ve lived. I just feel good when I’m in Sedona. I try not to over think things too much. I don’t try to over analyze why this or that, you know. This feels good, it is good. Same thing about my artwork, I just sort of let it flow.

LT: The horsemanship is definitely reflected in your work.

CN: Yes, horses have been a big part of my life. Plus, you know, I take my horses back and forth. I rope a lot and there’s a big roping culture in the wintertime, so I do a lot of competing in roping. I go down to Litchfield Park and rope around Phoenix, and Wickenburg, Arizona is probably the roping capital of the United States right now!

There are a lot of people who ride horses in Sedona, on those trails. I always run into them. Being horseback in Sedona is a pretty cool way to experience it!

LT: Thanks, Chris!

By Lynn A. Trombetta

Fiction Author Rebecca Tinkle Accepted Ilchi Lee’s Call of Sedona

Rebecca Tinkle shares the spiritual and mystical details of what she calls “a complete recycling and evolutionary leap” that resulted from her Call to Sedona.

Rebecca Tinkle

LT: Rebecca, please tell our readers about the profound changes and series of events you experienced following a tour of South Korea that led you to move to Sedona.

RT: In 2008, I had gone to South Korea. I was a young girl who was going to Dahn Yoga classes, and I was so in love with the energy and the principles that Dahn Yoga was helping me to familiarize and integrate into my life. Just from going to a couple of yoga classes a week in Denver, my whole life was starting to transform. I just started to bloom and shine and really come into my own, because I had never focused on myself before in a very real and grounded way.

I had always been interested in spirituality but it was more . . . kind of mystical, airy fairy, and “woo, woo.” I was fascinated by it, and with Dahn Yoga I was able to experience not only the intellectual concept of energy, but the actual feeling of that energy in my body, in my heart, in my soul, between my hands. It was real! I was hungry for more experience. I’d heard there was a Korean Meditation Tour where we’d get to meet Ilchi Lee for one of the sessions. So I booked it—I was so curious to see how the thing I loved so much and had brought me so much value had started.

On the very last night of the tour, Ilchi Lee was holding a lecture. It was the only time we saw him in the whole time we were there. He led a training and it was really good. At the end he offered to open everyone’s seventh chakras. He went around the room and put energy into everyone’s brain, just by tapping them on the head. As he approached me, I was focusing and coaching my brain, thinking, “Rebecca this may be the only time you ever get to meet an enlightened master. Please be focused, take as much energy as you can, don’t waste it.” It was almost like praying to my soul to be present and not waste this opportunity.
He just tapped the top of my head—it was like a one second interaction.

LT: A lot changed for you following the tour and your experience with Ilchi Lee . . .

RT: Yes, after we returned to the U.S. I was sick for 2 weeks. When the haze of illness passed, I woke up to a completely different world. I could now see and feel energy, feel vibration, I could clearly see consciousness. I went through a four-year integration period.

During that time I became an author; I was never a writer before, never! It was then that I wrote my first book. One of the gifts that I have is I dream things, and every night I would dream the next scene of the story. So I began writing it down and it became a book, Eve: Redemption.

During regular yoga practice in 2012, I learned Ilchi Lee was doing a book lecture for The Call of Sedona. It had become a best seller. He came to Denver, and I stood in line to meet him. I was anxious to meet him because literally within one second of his attention [in Korea], he had changed the entire trajectory of my life! Even though he had never really “met” me, he was so important to my growth.
I was able to share the two minute version of my story with him. We talked a bit longer with my center manager, Ilchi, and a translator. At that time, I was working on developing the book that I had written into a film, which ended up not ever happening, but at the time I was working with a producer, and Ilchi Lee was working on the CHANGE film. He invited me to come to Sedona and work on the film. So I literally received the Call of Sedona from the writer of the The Call of Sedona, Ilchi Lee!

I worked on the film as the associate producer. What that meant was I was doing phone calls and getting coffee, sweeping the floor after the filming. It was an assistant position, where I learned the ropes, so to speak. And I’ve been here ever since. I’ve gotten to work with him and the companies that make his media products. It’s been such great experience.

I thought I had grown so much just from that one second of interaction in Korea, but the amount of maturing that I’ve done since I’ve moved here and worked with him and his students here—it’s incredible and remarkable. I am actually a much better human being since I’ve moved to Sedona! I was pretty good before, but I have just grown and matured so much and my life has changed—a complete recycling and evolutionary leap.

LT: Please talk a bit about your experience of Sedona.

RT: I’m an Empath, so living in the city was very hard. I felt the condition of all the humans around me. The energy of all the humans was louder than the energy of the earth. So there was a lot of static, and I couldn’t really feel the essence of the earth. When I moved to Sedona, it was like an epiphany—I felt the vibration of the earth, and not the people.

Sedona has really helped me to become grounded in my body again. I feel like it’s a modern-day Eden. Living here I often wake up at 3 a.m.—there’s like this transference of energy—my body is buzzing with energy like I am a battery being charged up. I’ve also become more physically active because I’m full again—my body wants to move again—I’m not so drained all the time.

Visually, it’s gorgeous. The emphasis of my life in Sedona is not people, but it’s the earth, and myself and the earth. Unlike the city, there is less pulling and pushing of energy between people here. It is a hint or a glimpse of the way we were supposed to live.

LT: Sedona has inspired your latest book, The Secret of Mago Castle.

RT: Yes, the story is actually set in Sedona. It’s about a woman named Angeline that’s called to come here. She discovers that connection with the spirit of the earth, with “Mago,” and that it’s her destiny to be like an avatar for Mago—to be Mago’s voice for the world.

She then meets four other people here in Sedona who were also called to Sedona; people who she was literally destined from the beginning of time to meet at this time on the earth. When they join together, they work to improve the consciousness, not only for Sedona and for the United States, but for the whole planet.

LT: This has been wonderful. Any final thoughts you would like to share?

RT: I’d like to say that I’m grateful that a place like Sedona exists on the earth. Sedona is a window into what it must have felt like to live on the earth before the rush of industry. It’s a return home.

LT: Thank you, Rebecca!

An Ancient Call to Sedona Beckoned Photographer Susie Reed

Photographer Susie Reed shares her Call of Sedona, a call that changed her art and changed her life.

LT: Susie, how did you first learn about Sedona?

Susie ReedSR: I first learned about Sedona in 1993. I was running a small business in Marin County, CA and my office manager came to me one day all excited; she wanted to go to Sedona, her friends had gone and it was so great, she had to go right away. Within 2 weeks she came back and she showed me these photographs she took with her little pocket camera, and then I was like, “I gotta go to Sedona.” I’d never seen it before; I didn’t know what it was. Christmas of that year we came out here and we arrived at night. We woke up in the morning to all of the beauty here, and I just fell in love with it immediately. I started to make annual pilgrimages out here, before I finally moved here at the end of 2005.

LT: You have photographed various subjects through the years, but discovering Sedona’s Native American rock art and a series of events changed the course of your career. Please tell us about that.

SR: At first I was completely satisfied with photographing the landscape. I call Sedona “a photographer’s paradise.” We were out here at Christmas in 2009 and we drove up to the end of this dirt road and we saw a sign that said “Palatki.” We hiked in, and we went up this hill and I remember you could like feel the presence of the ancients. And then we got up to the top of the hill and discovered all this amazing rock art that we had no idea was there.

That was a real big experience for me. When I got home, I looked at my pictures; I was even more taken with them. It’s just interesting to see how when you frame out the rock art in the photograph, you can almost see it better. I just got hooked. And then when I’d come to Sedona, my primary focus got to be photographing the rock art.

LT: The rock art images at the site are truly amazing; it is easy to understand how they would inspire you!

SR: I think they contain a power and energy from when they were originally created that is timeless. What we see today when we go out to most of the rock art sites is they’re faded from exposure to the sun and weather, and unfortunately in some places they’re defaced with graffiti, sheared off canyon walls or lost to development. It’s really kind of a shame. But there’s just something about those images that I think is timeless, and I think some of them were probably made by the shaman of the tribe and they’re very powerful, healing images.

Native American rock art

LT: Please tell us about the point when, like Ilchi Lee, your Call of Sedona became a life quest.

SR: So, I went back, probably a year or two after the trip where we first came across Palatki, and I was out here by myself and the place I was staying had one of those little travel magazines with a small article about rock art and they mentioned this one site that wasn’t open to the public and something in me went, “I gotta go there.” It was the same thing as when I thought, “I gotta go to Sedona.” So I spent about two and a half years over several trips here, trying to find where it was, and eventually I found out that the Forest Service had taken over the property. So I called and went through a whole chain of people before I got to a lady who agreed to let me go.

I drive out there and park at the gate and I see there is a Forest Service truck on the other side of the gate. And this man gets out, and he comes over and I tell him what I’m doing, and he says, “I’m out here to give a tour of our new sites to some of the forest service workers and the docents, would you like to join us?” Like perfect timing! It was Peter Pilles, the head Archaeologist in the Coconino National Forest.

So I went on a tour with them and I was so grateful that he gave me this opportunity that I brought him some photographs on my next trip, and this relationship developed between he and I where he essentially became my mentor. I’d never studied archaeology; my degree is in fine art photography. I started planning trips to Sedona based on arrangements I made with Peter to shoot archaeology digs, field schools, a restoration project at Honanki, a docent training at Palatki and more. Over the years, I’ve donated hundreds of photos from these shoots and others to the Coconino National Forest archives.

LT: You mentioned that, unfortunately there have been times when visitors to some sites have caused intentional damage to the rock walls and art.

SR: Once I was talking with Peter and he was telling me that this site had been graffitied, and I was really upset. I asked him, “Are we better off keeping these places hidden?” And he said, “No, education is the way to go.” Based on Peter’s influence, I really learned that one of the ways to preserve these places is through education.

So when I do talks, I always let people know what happens when people go in and graffiti a wall or do damage. It really has turned me into a conservationist and preservationist. I do think it’s important that we go visit these sacred sites, and they just don’t stay empty, because I think it keeps the energy in those places alive. To me, going there is like going to church.

I realized at one point when I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to share the rock art photos, I thought, ‘you know, I can share these photographs, people can still see and experience the rock art and we can leave these sacred archaeology fragile sites untouched.’ So people can still experience what‘s there without having to go physically to the place.

I’m really thinking the ancients still want some of that to be seen. I guess in some ways that’s why so many doors have opened up for me to get my work out into the world. It’s almost like they have an energy—there’s something energetically in them that we respond to, whether we consciously get it or not.

LT: Please tell us about your current projects and what may be on the horizon for you.

SR: I’ve been nominated for the Sedona Mayor’s Arts Award in the Individual Category, which is an honor. At their last ceremony, they showed a video about me and my photographs that helped people become more aware of the rock art. I feel like I have a partnership with the ancients whose rock art I depict. I think, ‘if they were sitting in the room, while I’m working in my studio, would they be pleased and excited about what I’m doing?’

I also photograph a lot of the landscape and teach photography. I was lucky; in 2009 I got accepted into Goldenstein Gallery, where now I’m one of only three photographers she exhibits.

I also do some customized jeep tours. I kind of fell in love with the land all over again, going out on tours, like when I first came here. For a long time, most of my photography was rock art sites, but now I go out to all the amazing places on the land. It’s so beautiful and healing, and no place is ever the same twice.

I love going out on the jeep tours, especially with people from out of town, because it helps me to see it new and fresh, how I used to feel when I’d come to visit: How special it is to be at these places!

LT: Thank you, Susie!

By Lynn A. Trombetta