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"You gotta love the Victory Vomit" and other lessons learned in Sedona...

Victory vomit.

My son sent me a picture of it after his ascent to the top of a ancient volcano vent just outside of Sedona Arizona.  I seriously considered posting it. Instead you see the other photo of the magnificent view from the top which followed. 

His journey began while we were returning home from a glorious day in Sedona.  We were sharing stories with our nephew and his wife.  One of which recounted a road trip wherein our son, Matthew, had spent much of his time trying to get us all to guess how long it would take him to ascend nearby yet distant hills.  The usual sibling response was 30 or 45 minutes.  His response to that would always be "No, I could do it in 20 minutes easy, maybe 10."  This would be followed by an argument with his siblings until the next rise when it would start over. 

We were all laughing at Matthew's childhood naivete when he boldly stated, "You know what...I still believe I could have made it in 20 minutes.  In fact, see that volcano vent over there?  I believe I can make it to the top of that in 20 minutes...even 15 minutes."  To that his dad pulled over and said "Go for it." 

This was a ridiculous notion.  None of us could believe it when he jumped out and started across the desert.  His first obstacle was a large barbed fence he would need to climb in shorts and tennis shoes.  (I should mention here that it was this very same type of obstacle where he gave up five years ago along side the highway when his dad pulled over and ended the kids arguments in a similar manner.)  This time however, Matt was not to be deterred.  He made it over the fence and was off.  By now I had rolled down the window and was yelling for him to return to the car. I assured him that I loved him and that there was no need for him to prove anything. (Good "mom words"...)

Had it been any later in the year I would have insisted he return for fear of rattle snakes.  Today there was nothing to fear but a bruised ego and perhaps at worst a broken bone if he failed to navigate the last few vertical feet of the vent properly.  We waited. We watched. 

With only one short break as he assessed the last 50 feet or so which would include some more difficult climbing, 13 minutes later he was at the top.  It was a grueling 13 minutes.  It was so physically taxing that he literally vomited when he finally stopped.  He raised his hands above his head in victory and yelled out to the desert below.  It was a shout of triumph which would be carried away by the wind.  That was o.k.  (After all, he had just sent mom the victory vomit photo as proof)

Can you see him there?

  He looks so small  compared to his surroundings in the photo.   No one would notice him there.  This climb meant nothing really.  No one else cared at all. (Well, one pickup truck did pull over across from us out of curiosity.  I would like to think they were asking themselves, "Who is that courageous young man?" More likely they were trying to figure out what we were watching and when they realized it was just some "crazy kid" they moved on.)

 Contrast his perspective...

The view is grand.  The world literally lay now at his feet.  No longer was his vision obscured by the tall desert shrubs which had previously been an painful challenge to his ascent. He could now clearly see the surrounding landscape.

At some point, when he was about half way up the hill, we all started rooting for him to make it.  He later shared that it was at about this same point he had started to realize his goal was much further away than he had anticipated.  It was shear determination to prove himself the victor that pushed him on. 

It was a severe case of "I'll show you!" that preceded the victory vomit -- not the Prickly Pear Fries he had for lunch. 

When you are the youngest in a family with six children this ailment often compels you forward.  Taking you out of your comfort zone, through your apprehensions, to "What the hell was I thinking?" and then on towards "I'm not turning back now...I can do this."

I have been at the base of my own volcano vent for what has been very near a year now.  A lack of posts on this very site attest to my loss of words.  They were here swirling around in my head.  I simply could not formulate them into action.  In the past week two people I love called me out on this fact.  Noting "Why haven't you written anything since your mother died?"  I did not have an answer.  

With so many words rolling around in my head I needed something to pull the answer out of the whirlwnd.

While in Sedona that day, I was introduced to the infamous Sedona Vortexes.  These beautiful Vortex locations were pointed out to us by the driver of our Jeep 4X4 Adventure.  He was quite the character, "Max from Estonia."  Far from home, familiar with hard work, the taste of rat, and one who believed in the Vortexes ability to help people heal.  His jokes made us laugh as we all enjoyed our attempts to sort truth from fiction in his stories. 

This is Max:                                                  


This is us...feeling the Vortex??

Simple Definition of vortex

  • : a mass of spinning air, liquid, etc., that pulls things into its center (Think toilent bowl or dust whirlwind.)

A Sedona Vortex is a place in nature where the earth is exceptionally alive with energy.  The term Vortex in Sedona refers to a place where the earth energy swirls and draws to it’s center everything that surrounds it like a tornado.  It is said that at these beautiful sites, trees often exhibit this swirling or twisting of their trunks due the powerful vortex energy at the core of a Sedona Vortex. 

My photo evidence:

Are these Vortexes real?  I have no idea. 

Do I believe that the beauty of our world, the energy of good company, sunshine, and a loving "prod" brought about through connection can release you from a life Vortex? 


Do I believe that people have been drawn to various places around the world for thousands and thousands of years for spiritual refueling?

Absolutely I do. 

I have posted my own experiences with a few I have been privileged to visit myself.  Medicine Wheel in the Big Horn Mountains, the Valley of Fire in Nevada, an ancient Buddhist pilgrimage destination and a cliff where the ancient art of Hula is still taught on the Island of Kauai. And, of course now...Sedona.

There are also my personal spiritual "Vortex" locations:  the front porch of my cabin in the Cascade Mountains, in my kayak, at the family dinner table when we gather any given Sunday, my daily walks with the dog, a road trip anywhere, and always when I choose to really connect through conversation with those I come in contact with. (A shout out to all those who were willing to engage in great conversation that Sedona day.)

When I made the decision to begin this writing endeavor "Pursuing Peace" I knew it would require self examination and a determination to keep at the pursuit myself.  What was I afraid of? What would I write if I had no fear?  Enough about I just push open that scary door and face the monster?

Matt's call to my cell phone that late afternoon in Sedona opened the door for me. It was a brief communication,  "I made it.  13 minutes.  I'm going to throw up now."

I am just about to complete a three-daughter's-married-in-twelve-months year. My mom, their grandma, will not have been here for any of these beautiful events as her funeral fell in the same twelve months. I am also in the process of downsizing and selling our family home of 20 years.  All of these are good things.  Each has been a beautiful experience.   Even through the loss of my mom I often found Peace unexpectedly along the way.  However, I can see that the resulting emotional debris created a "life vortex" swirling a bit too close for comfort. Pulling myself away from it's force would require real effort.  Besides, those were my emotions, I wasn't sure I wanted them carried away...yet.

Matt was kind enough to send me a picture of the dreaded monster.  Yep.  The victory vomit.

Emotional climbs are a lot of work. You have to be willing to put in the equivalent of victory vomit effort. All the while knowing that the people around you, even people you love, don't get it.  Your goal is unappreciated.  This is your case of "I'll show you" and the you... is you

Making my way past "What the hell was I thinking?" and on to "I'm not turning back now...I can do this"  I know I heard the encouraging voice of Peace whisper"You can do this." (Had my son also recognized Peace cheering him on from amongst the cacti?)  I arrived at the point where the ascent was difficult but relatively quick (my 13 minutes).  The view from the top? I can see the whirlwind of my emotional debris traveling it's course and dissipating back into the landscape of my life. I am ready to make a triumphant shout to be carried away by the wind. (Perhaps while kayaking...that's peaceful.)

Can you see the dust swirling behind me? 

Perhaps it's a Sedona Vortex...

Is it time to create one of your own?





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