Love What You Love | Sedona, AZ

My mantra for my 25th year thus far has been 'love what you love.'

Step one was figuring out what I love. Not too hard. Step two was allowing myself to love it; making changes in my life that reflected what I love. Really hard. I've had to move away from the sense of security that my mind so strongly desires. But, there is no greater sense of stability than remembering that at any moment you have the power to change your situation. That little voice of intuition is no longer drowned out and shut down by my logical brain. (There is still a conversation there, but it's much more equal than previous days.)

So, one thing I know I love is the desert. And another thing is driving long distances by myself. Hence, road trip. I've come to know myself as someone who craves periods of solitude, quiet, and space – there is something so calming for me about being able to see for miles, to move across a vast landscape. The day I spent driving from Berkeley to Sedona, AZ was glorious. I took my time, stopped and marveled, took photos, took mental photos, closed my eyes and breathed deep breaths. I listened only to either my favorite music or the sounds of driving. 15 hours went by fast and I arrived feeling energized, nourished, excited, and full.

I spent my two days wandering. Sedona is a place that attracts many kinds of people but also a certain kind. I think everyone who travels there is seeking to marvel. Whether at the supernatural or the natural, it's impossible to deny that this place calls to be marveled at. It can be experienced fully just by being there, and I found two days was enough to do so (though more time would surely have been appreciated). The reddest of rocks and cool green desert flora is my favorite color palette, and I dedicated my time to spending as much time as possible out in it. Although you could fill your time browsing crystal shops, snoozing in sound healing gong baths, and circumambulating a Buddhist stupa (yes I did all these things too), I would return to Sedona for the hiking. I had a fantastic Airbnb host that shared all her favorite hiking spots that are less inundated with tourists. Here are my favorites:

1. Boynton Canyon

As the location of one of Sedona's famed energy vortexes, this hike was more crowded than others. But even so, upon reaching the top of the Vista Trail I and my fellow Sedona-pilgrims were rewarded with gorgeous views of the canyon. A bonus treat was the lovely music to meditate to from a man playing a pan flute. (There's Sedona for ya.) Sitting under a twisted Cyprus Tree (the way these trees twist while they grow is said to determine where the energy vortexes are strongest), with the cool gusts of wind, I was sure glad to experience this aspect of Sedona that many come for. While the Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock vortexes may be better known, Boynton Canyon didn't disappoint.

2. Thunder Mountain/Chimney Rock Loops

Starting from the Thunder Mountain trailhead in NW Sedona, there are two loop trails, Thunder Mountain and Chimney Rock, that I did as a figure out. There's also a steep little offshoot on the Summit Trail which makes for a wonderful sunrise vista. I also had this all to myself, as well as most of the trails for the following few hours as I figure-eighted around. Also off from the Thunder Mountain loop is the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park. Prayer flags with personal messages are draped from tree to tree, and a central stupa with a red-rock seated Buddha seemed to fit in the landscape perfectly. 

3. Doe Mountain

A little ways out of town, I just about had this trail to myself at sunset. It's a quick hike mostly comprised of switchbacks with a little scampering required. Though it's only just over a mile to the top of Doe Mountain, I spent a good hour wandering around the mesa and taking in the 360° views of Sedona and beyond. It was truly incredible to watch the light change and the sun dip down the true horizon. 

There are obviously dozens more hikes in this corner of the desert, and certainly many I would go back to try, but these hikes gave me the time I needed to be in space, marvel at beauty, and remind myself how good it feels to love what I love.

Benefit Dinner | Sanctuary Bistro

One of my favorite current collaborations is with Sanctuary Bistro, an incredible local, plant-based restaurant that is beginning to feel like my second home.

pecan mousse amuse-bouche

pecan mousse amuse-bouche

While our relationship has been centered on creating the imagery for their upcoming cookbook, Sanctuary Bistro is also incredibly dedicated to hosting community events that highlight and support local businesses that promote compassion, environmental awareness, animal protection, and ethical food production.

This past weekend, they offered a Sunday benefit dinner in which all proceeds went to the Lindsay Wildlife Experience, a wonderful organization that both rehabilitates wild animals and educates children and adults alike about them. 

corn chowder with crispy yuba

corn chowder with crispy yuba

Kept running by hundreds of volunteers, this Walnut Creek organization is doing amazing work to remind us all about the importance of our shared ecosystem, and our responsibility to respect and protect our collective environment.

As always, Chef Barry & the team served up a delicious and gorgeous three course meal. An incredibly positive energy filled the restaurant on a gorgeous summer evening.

tofu scallopini with roasted veggies, mushroom sauce, and twice-baked potato

tofu scallopini with roasted veggies, mushroom sauce, and twice-baked potato

chocolate mousse with coconut cream & house-made almond butter cup

chocolate mousse with coconut cream & house-made almond butter cup

peach crisp & coconut vanilla ice cream

peach crisp & coconut vanilla ice cream

Stay up to date on their future events here, or stop in for dinnerweekend brunch, or sign up for my yoga class & lunch event!

Transitions | India YTT

Much has happened in the past few months! Last week I returned from three months in Rishikesh, India, where I trained to become a certified yoga teacher. I've never enjoyed talking about myself so I'll keep this brief and do my best to summarize. :) 

This past New Years' Eve, I bought a plane ticket.
In January, I gave notice at my full-time job.
And in February I flew to India to join a 240-hour teacher training course.

After graduating, the school I was studying with asked me to stay and help in the next course, and before I knew it I was teaching classes to the next batch of yogis. It was an entirely unexpected experience, but I couldn't have planned it better that it fell together on it's own. I am now back in the Bay Area, embracing the transition into self-employment, pursuing opportunities shooting with local restaurants and teaching yoga.

I'll make a new site when I get my yoga teaching business up and running, but until then, shanti, namaste. :)

The Loves on Vacation | Bodega Bay

My family and I spent a few glorious days in Northern California's Bodega Bay over the holidays. The town is just small enough that you don't feel guilty choosing to curl up with a book inside instead of going out exploring. You look out at the view, drive around the bay, enjoy some good food, and you've done it. Our little getaway was the perfect combination of introspective relaxation and family time, and was a great reset before diving into the new year!

STAY

Bodega Bay Lodge – highly recommended! There are many rooms, but it's spread out and still manages to feel small. In-room fireplaces, excellent customer service, rustic feel, and wonderful views. With the hot tub, spa, complimentary cocktail hour, and great restaurant, I didn't ever feel pulled to leave!

DO

Sonoma Canopy Tours – Before my mom treated us to spa treatments, my dad surprised us with a redwood forest zip-line adventure! We had an adrenaline- and fun-filled time thanks to the friendly and knowledge guides, well-organized program, and gorgeous vistas.

EAT

Howard Station Cafe (Occidental) – THE best breakfast restaurant I've ever been to, at least from a vegan point of view. But regardless, who doesn't love a place that serves their lattes in BOWLS and water in mason jars. The exterior is an old victorian house, and the interior has the colorful and eclectic decorations you can only find in a small town.

Amanda Biccum | Flow with Intention

This is Amanda, dear friend and deeply talented yoga teacher. After weeks of preparation – giving away her possessions, setting intentions, and throwing a number of goodbye parties – she has moved to India to continue studying and teaching in new ways.

She asked me to photograph one of her last classes in the Bay Area, and I gladly accepted. I've taken countless classes with her in this studio over the past year, and am so glad we both have a record of the amazing space and community she created.

I will miss her greatly, but am so grateful to know her. Follow her and her journey here – I know she'll do great things.

Citizen Fox Brunch

Citizen Fox—soon to be the hot brewery and restaurant in SF's Mission District—has been hosting pop-up brunches and dinners as they prepare to open in a few months. They've developed an out-of-control menu of drinks and dishes, all beautiful, 100% plant-based, and seriously delicious. I'm SO excited to be working with them on their photography and communications. Check em out!