combsMy number one experience that immediately jumps off the map at me is my trip to Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville, IL. Even though I live in Kansas City, MO., and it was quite a drive, the experience was more than well worth it.

I love to drive so that in itself was fun. Walking the grounds of what is a sacred site to the Native Americans who lived and died there is an unforgettable experience. I could so feel the reverence and the beauty there. Knowing the story underneath what almost happened there makes it even more unforgettable to see and appreciate this beautiful place. The white man almost destroyed the entire place by bulldozing the mounds until they were stopped. In our ignorance we didn’t know what this place represented. I’m so glad someone intervened and saved this spectacular expression of Native American life. I plan to return soon.

Another place I absolutely love is The Spirit Of The Woods Retreat Center in DeSoto, KS. I was looking for a place where I could hold the retreats I do. Even seeing pictures of this place the beauty and the feeling of Nature’s beauty leaped off the page at me. I knew I had to go there. I have since been there several times and will return soon. You can do retreats there, or business meetings. It is a gorgeous redwood looking house with an outdoor fire pit and many other amenities, and space to walk, sit or meditate.

Another place I absolutely love is the Sagebrush Exchange about 45 minutes east of Kansas City, MO. This is another one of those places where just seeing the pictures I knew I had to go. The first time I went there and opened the door to the room where we would be holding my retreat I stopped in my tracks and just gasped as I saw the gorgeous room and the wall to wall examples of the original artwork adorning the space. It was breathtaking. Then we walked out the door and went to a small crystal labyrinth. I was spellbound. The energy coming off the rocks was so palpable I was awestruck. I thought if this is what it feels like standing outside of this labyrinth what in the world does it feel like to actually walk it. There is also a huge seven circuit labyrinth a short distance away that is marked by ceramic artwork that details the meaning of each circuit.

Another place I’ve been many, many times is Unity Village in Unity Village, MO. It’s the world headquarters of Unity School. You can walk the 1,500 acre campus. You can stay in the Hotel and Conference Center that is the first Leed Certified hotel in the Midwest (that is a Green, eco-friendly building). It’s a gorgeous place with beautiful rooms, a beautiful indoor fireplace with easy access to spectacular food at the Unity Inn. You can also visit the beautiful Rose Garden where visitors come from all over the world to walk the grounds, and the labyrinth and stay for retreats and other activities. There’s a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool, indoor exercise rooms, and many walking trails to experience Mother Nature’s awesome beauty.

Another place I love is Powell Gardens outside of Kansas City on I-70 east. It is a beautiful place with walking trails, beautiful trees and flowers, an awesome blue butterfly exhibit, and other exhibits that exemplify Mother Nature’s awesome beauty and variety.

These are just a few of my favorite places. The sweet irony is going anywhere in Mother Nature’s beauty is just a step away as we exit our homes. I appreciate the beauty that is so accessible and so constant.

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Cathy Combs is a freelance writer and workshop architect specializing in personal empowerment and spiritual community leadership development. She lives in Kansas City, MO.

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