Guess what: Flight cancellations can happen to anyone! Sooooo, I’m here in Aspen instead of back in real life in Houston… and honestly? I don’t mind. This gave me a chance to sit back and think about 5 of the most meaningful reasons why I really love Aspen.
Aspen Chapel is a beautiful, holy space that was inspired by the Wayside Chapels scattered across France. These chapels – often converted from windmills (Mills of Peace) – are interfaith spaces for wayfarers to come and rest their hearts, connect to their higher power and find community of care.
Aspen Chapel offers visitors a myriad of opportunities to connect – in an age where many churches are defined by who they do not include (heartbreaking), Aspen Chapel is defined by inclusion. My favorites are their Vipassana meditations, concerts (the acoustics of the space are absolutely therapeutic – it is like a sound bath!) and their love-based Sunday services.
Getting real here: I spent nearly 3 years looking for my church home in Houston, and for me, Aspen Chapel is the feeling of coming “home.” Although perhaps it is that I, too, am a wayfarer and a traveler at heart.
Aspen is SO dog friendly – all of the luxury establishments boast about their menus and amenities for our four-legged companions and many bars have regular “yappy hours” – all evidence of the larger culture. The town has such a heart for animals. When we brought our dog, Loki, we quickly learned that the community of dogs in Aspen is as welcoming as the chapel – even to our special-needs rescue.
Insider Tip: at a non-predetermined time in the late morning (or sometimes early afternoon), dog owners congregate in Wagner Park and take their dogs off leash for a dog party of fetch, frisbee and friends!
Openness and Acceptance
Aspen balances a small town feel with thought-forward community beautifully. Rumor is that in the early days of Aspen, the “black sheep” of prominent east coast families came to Aspen as their refuge. In 1979, Aspen hosted the 1st Gay Ski Weekend.
Aspen has also become a place of healing – offering options like ayuverdic healing, equine therapy and access to marijuana-derived treatments like CBD-oil. Of course, just being immersed in nature can be healing itself! It is empowering to take control of your health in the integrated way that works for your individual unique path and I love that Aspen offers those tools.
Connection with Global Thought Leaders
You have probably heard of the Aspen Institute – “gathering diverse, nonpartisan thought leaders, creatives, scholars and members of the public to address some of the world’s most complex problems.” They offer the chance to get involved through thought- and action-provoking events throughout the year. There is also the Aspen Brain Institute who hosts one of my can’t-miss favorites held in July – BrainLab!
There are other fabulous organizations like Lead with Love – they facilitate events and retreats around the world. This Valentine’s Day, Ben and I attended Loving Fearlessly, an event led by an awesome couple, Lori & Jeff, of Aspen Relationship Institute. One of my favorite parts was their definition of Love:
“Love is consistently choosing the most generous interpretation of someone’s behavior.”
Immersion in Nature
For those of us who would prefer to be barefoot outside and still love climbing trees, Aspen is a place to replenish reserves and feed our souls. (The magnificent Maroon Bells are a photographer’s dream!)
There is a way to connect for everyone: skiing, snowboarding, hiking, snowshoeing, rock climbing, white water rafting, kayaking, camping and even sunrise yoga on a mountain! For days that require us to be less feral, it also has a few fabulous golf courses and world-class tennis masters who take up residency during the summer.
Lots of places have great food, dangerous shopping and moving art… but the nature, soul and community here reminds me: there is only one Aspen.
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