Tag Archives: Arizona

Photos of the Week: Namaste

“The word of the day is ‘will,’ meaning ‘the faculty of conscious choice and deliberate action,” my yoga instructor said last night to a room full of aspiring yogis who sat with eyes closed, legs crossed, backs straight, pulses steady.

I sat front and center on my blue mat, listening to her voice and letting her words sink in. She has a way of saying exactly what my spirit needs to hear, always, and this moment was no exception. I hadn’t been to yoga in months, and as I laid down to rest at the end of our practice, I asked myself, “Why? Why did I stop doing this?” Somehow, I’d lost the will to continue the practice, the work of turning inward, connecting to my body and my spirit. I stumbled and wavered, but today, after months of struggle, I think I’m back on the path.

Outside Yoga Oasis Central, Tucson, Ariz.; May 6, 2012

It is easy to stray, to let old patterns work their way back into our lives, to forget where we were headed and get distracted along the way. Sometimes, we lose the will to continue toward, through, within our vision. Yet we can always unearth and renew that will inside of us, if we make the conscious choice to do so.

Outside Cafe Desta, Tucson, Ariz.; May 6, 2012

“You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.”


Will yourself onward, live deliberately today, tomorrow, and every moment afterwards.





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First Impressions: Tubac

I wrote this piece for one of my journalism classes. I could only scratch the surface of the issues here, and I’d like to follow up with more stories that explore the ideas I encountered on my trip. Until then, enjoy, and please, as always, tell me what you think! 


Tubac, Ariz. is a catalyst for reinvention, a kernel of creativity, an oasis in the midst of chaos.

Nestled in the desert just 45 minutes south of Tucson, it attracts artists, retirees, tourists and small-business owners from around the world who keep its small community of about 1,200 thriving year-round.

In the summer, fauna and flora paint the surrounding landscape green and pepper it with yellow blossoms. The sun is relentless, but the dusty pink earth keeps the town cool. Shop-owners, neighbors and visitors mingle in the shade between galleries and boutiques. Ceramic pots, larger-than life sculptures and trickling fountains decorate the streets.

However, this laid-back historic town lies within the Sonoran desert, which, according to some, is becoming more and more like the Wild West everyday.

“In certain places it’s nice and peaceful and lovely,” said Zack Taylor, vice chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, “but in other places it’s lawless.”

Taylor, who retired from his position as a U.S. Border Patrol Supervisor in 2003, said while those in Tubac keep an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude, illegal activity thrives just beyond their community.

That is why he supported a bill proposed by Rep. Peggy Judd that would have required the Department of Homeland Security to disseminate safety warnings about illegal activity it deemed potentially dangerous to the public.

“What we see on TV, we see in our own backyards,” Judd said. “People say nothing is happening, but things really are.”

Fearing Judd’s bill would deter tourists and hurt businesses, the residents of Tubac and other border towns voiced their dissent, and the bill was dropped.

“Everybody recognizes that that bill was an absolutely foolish thing to do,” said Shaw Kinsley, director of the Tubac Presidio State Park and president of the Tubac Historical Society. “This area is perfectly safe, and, in fact, the area across the border is as well.”

While Judd’s bill died, the conversation surrounding security and illegal activity in Southern Arizona is fresh as ever. As a native Arizonan who’d never traveled south of Tucson, I decided the best way to weed through the controversy would be to find out for myself what the region has to offer.

A day-trip to Tubac gave me only a taste of Southern Arizona living, but it was just enough to feed my curiosity.

All About Lifestyle

Most businesses in Tubac don’t open their doors until 10:30 or 11:00, so arrive a little ahead of lunch-time with an appetite.

Before your meal, head over to the K. Newby Galleries and Sculpture Garden on the south side of the village, past Tubac Road. In the garden, which features sculptures of all kinds, I found elegant copper figures, a cartoonish dairy cow peering over a blue metallic horse and kinetic pinwheels that stood together like groves of trees.

A path leads to the gallery, where you’re likely to meet Leroy Doyle, one of the “old-timers.” Doyle came to Tubac in 1989 to be an abstract artist only to fall in love with the other side of art– retail. He’s been working at the K. Newby Gallery for 23 years.

“Tubac’s got to embrace you, you can’t embrace it,” he told me.

For Doyle, Tubac is about a lifestyle.

“I like everything about it,” he said. “I like meeting the same people everyday at the post office. I like going out to dinner and knowing people sitting in the dining room.”

From the gallery, walk over to Shelby’s Bistro for Southwest flavor and a diverse menu of salads, wraps, pizzas and burgers. If you’re in the mood for salad, try the “Wine Country,” $11.99. For a heartier, spicier lunch, try the “Tequila-Lime Chicken Wrap,” also $11.99.

Make sure to save room for dessert. While exploring the plaza next door, Mercado de Baca, I stumbled upon The Chile Pepper Coffee Cup. This cafe is home to the “Iced Choffee,” a Tubac original. It’s a glass of cooled Mexican hot chocolate and frozen coffee cubes topped with whipped cream, $3.50.

See Some, Shop Some

For a dose of history, visit the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, the first state park in Arizona. It exists to maintain the ruins of the San Ignacio de Tubac, a Spanish Presidio that was established in 1752. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for youth 7 to 13 and free for kids 6 and under.

Fashionistas will enjoy Jane’s Attic, a thrift shop where both vintage and contemporary styles fill the racks. All of the merchandise comes from Tubac residents, according to Jane Lowder, the shop’s owner.

Lowder moved to Tubac from the Bay Area,  leaving a career in finance behind. She didn’t know what she would do when she settled in the village, but she soon discovered it needed a retail boutique.

“I just decided I was tired of the rat race,” Lowder said. “So I thought, what the heck I’ll throw in the towel and see what happens.”

Outside of her shop, my newly purchased purse and jacket in a bag by my side, I asked her how she perceived Tubac’s relationship with Mexico and the border.

“I think we both feel that we need each other,” she replied. “It’s a relationship that I think really needs to be helped somehow.”

Meet the Artist

From Jane’s Attic, walk across the street and pay a visit to Purcell Galleries, where you might even meet the artist himself.

When I stepped through the door, Roy Purcell, the man behind the famous murals of Chloride, Ariz., sat painting golden cactus blossoms. Vibrant images of nature burst from the wall behind him. In the next room hung etchings of mythological goddesses, said to be the largest etchings in the world.

Purcell left a 35-year career in Las Vegas to “reinvent” in Tubac. He’s always been drawn to nature and the Sonoran desert never bores him.

“I came for the beauty,” he told me. “I wanted a place to put roots and further develop my career.”

As I began to explain to Purcell why I had come to Tubac in the first place, his director, Brent Land chimed in.

“Are you talking about the travel warning bill?” he asked. Land lives in Tubac proper and served on the town’s chamber of commerce.

“As a merchant, I think that really hurts us,” he said. “That bill would’ve made us a ghost town.”

Heading Home

If you plan to stay for dinner, try the Italian Peasants Pizzeria, next to Tubac Market. Every person I spoke to recommended it. You’ll find everything from New York Knish, $4.99, to a 10 oz. Peasant Burger, $10.99, to Shrimp Scampi, $19.99.

Remember that you’ll have to pass through a Border Patrol checkpoint on your way north. The checkpoint was south of Tubac until the government moved it further up I-19 several years ago.

As I approached the uniformed officers and the frantic drug dogs, I remembered my conversation with Lowder:

“It’s scary for a lot of people who aren’t living with it,” she told me. “You know, we’re living with it everyday now so we don’t even think about it anymore.”

“What are you living with?” I asked.

“We’re living with the reality that we have a checkpoint north of us, that anytime we travel north we’re going to have to go through this checkpoint and answer questions. ‘Are you a U.S. citizen? Where are you going?’”

When I pulled up next to the Border Patrol officer, who still wore impenetrable, black glasses despite the setting sun, I rolled down my window, waiting for questions. Yet all he said was, “How you doin’, ma’am.” I replied, then he waved me through.

On the other side of the line, I recalled Lowder’s voice once again:

“Why do they believe me if I say I’m a U.S. citizen? And why do they not believe other people?”



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Kenya Dig It?

I left the golden grasslands of Kenya to find myself back in Arizona, packing my bags yet again to embark upon another journey: my second year in college, my foray into journalism, my ceaseless internal tempest pulling me in and pushing me out, out, out into unknown waters. All the while, my heart longed for Kenya, the Maasai Mara,  the warm, loving faces of the young women and men I befriended there.

Luckily, my work in Kenya followed me to Tucson. For the past seven months I have been producing, slowly but surely, a video about the Nabolu Girls’ Centre, Women’s Empowerment Breakthrough and the Kenya Dig It? project. The energetic, exalting voices of my Maasai sisters have been tickling my ears and the smiling faces that go with them have been beaming up at me from a computer screen the entire time. Because of this video, the love and friendship I found in Kenya has never left me, and it never will.

Share this video, spread the word. Check out the Nabolu Facebook page, go to our website. If you feel the desire to help, then help, in any way you can.

Most importantly, ask questions. If you want more background on Maasai culture, girls’ education in Kenya, the Nabolu Girls’ Centre, Women’s Empowerment Breakthrough and why you should care about all of this, feel free to get in touch with me. If I don’t have the answers, I will point you to someone who does.

And remember, this cause is both local and global. Supporting this project helps girls in Narok as well as girls in Arizona pursue their dreams.

Kenya dig it?

Smiles and all the best,


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Photo of the Week: It never gets old

A painted sky. Catalina Highway, Tucson, Ariz.

When I was a young, angsty teenager, I was ready to pack my bags and get out of this hillbilly state. I hated Arizona, and I couldn’t wait to leave.  Now, things are a little different. While I don’t plan on living in Arizona forever, I know I will always return to it, always call it home. Not simply because I’ve grown up here, but because this place never gets old. Only in Arizona can you drive one hour and see everything from saguaro cactus to pine trees. Only in Arizona can you bask in the sun and play in the snow in the same day. Only in Arizona can you find such diversity of landscape, cuisine, culture and people.

It’s a remarkable place, and it has stolen my heart.

I hope you find something to marvel at this week. Look around, the world is full of wonder.

Smiles and all the best,


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Photo(s) of the (last) Week


Yes, I’m aware that it’s Tuesday and I’m late posting the photo of the week. No, I did not forget. I’ve just been so busy with Christmas festivities that I ran out of time! And honestly, blogging is not my day job. However, in an effort to make up for it, I’ve posted several photos from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I took lots of pictures last weekend! These are only a few. Enjoy!

Christmas Eve cookie making

Each year, my little sister, my mum and I make a huge batch of sugar cookies using an ancient recipe. The pages of the recipe book are golden and frayed. Frosting fingerprints from years past obscure the text and sprinkles come trickling out when you lift the book from the table. Making, rolling, baking and decorating these little sugar cookies are, and always will be, one of my favorite Christmas traditions. This year, we even whipped out the dinosaur cookie cutter!

Christmas Day in Prescott, Ariz.

I’ve lived in Arizona my entire life. So, every year I get a warm, sunny, Arizona Christmas. I can’t remember ever waking up to snow on Christmas morning, and I’m not sure what I’d do if I did. Blue skies and sunny mornings are what I’ve grown up with and what I’ve grown to love.

Where ever you are, I hope your December 25th was full of warmth. Now, onto the new year!

Smiles and all the best,


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