November 12, 2008


Hey, I'm back! It's been quite awhile since I've posted on here, but now is as good of a time to re-start as any, right? Lately I've had some extra time on my hands (for the first time in years) and it feels great to have a little more time to be creative. Recently I wrote an article about what nature means to me spiritually; below are my thoughs. Enjoy:

A few months ago representatives from the Southern Utah Wilderness Association (SUWA) had a meeting at my church to talk about nature and spirituality. As I started to share my thoughts on these topics and really think about what nature means to me, I started to have a very cathartic experience. I'm not sure why this experience was so cathartic; perhaps it was because I was excited to share my thoughts and feelings with others in a safe and like-minded environment. Whatever the reason was, I was excited to have the opportunity to really think about this subject.

When I was younger I grew-up in the country and constantly took advantage of all of the nature that surrounded me. I could run with my dog to a creek to swim and fish, track deer in the woods behind my house or even just watch the lighting bugs and listen to tree frogs on my front porch. I am extremely fortunate to have grown-up in this environment and I am extremely grateful for the appreciation I have gained of my surroundings.

Nature and spirituality are two things that go hand-and-hand for me. It is because of the joy I find in nature that I gain a sense of spirituality. Within nature I find peace, joy, solitude, balance and a sense of meaning that isn't always easy to put into words but is easy to experience. As I looked around the room that day at others, trying to find the right words to describe what nature and spirituality means to me, I started to notice how everyone in the room is so different and unique. We each have different styles, different colors, orientations, thoughts, speech and so on. We are all diverse and unique, as so often times found in nature. How many hundreds and thousands of variations of insects, fish, mammals, birds, reptiles and plant life are there? Is any one of these things more dominate than all the others? No. Are all of these things found in a balance with one another, each having a job, a purpose? Yes. For example, I once heard that there are 800 different species of ants. Wow. And each ant species has a specific role in a specific environment. Everything found in nature and everyone found in the room that morning all have their own diversity, uniqueness, gifts and order. It's as if we are all a puzzle piece in a beautiful picture, all having a place and enriching the final product.

It is in this rich diversity and my own uniqueness that I rest assured that there is purpose in my own life (I may not know what that purpose is, but nature teaches me that I do have one). I look out a window and gaze upon a dying tree. Just because the tree is dying, does it have any less of a purpose? No. its days of providing shade and fruit might be over, but its gifts are not. In due time the tree will fall and start to decompose, giving nutrients and support to new life and being a part of an on-going and intricate circle. I know I fall in there somewhere too, as well as everyone else that was in the room with me that morning. A very young and wise little girl once said,"If we look for the beauty in everything, then the whole world is a treasure."

As many of you may already know, I am passionate about working with people with disabilities. I love bringing people of different backgrounds and the environment together in a community. So often, when working with people with disabilities, outsiders might wonder, "What's the point?" But I know that people with disabilities, just like anyone else regardless of age, race, orientation, beliefs, etc., can enjoy the peace, joy, solitude and beauty that only the transformative power of nature can bring. I've heard time and time again that while someone with a disability is enjoying a rafting trip down the Colorado River, or snowshoeing in the mountains; that while enjoying nature is when the person feels like they don't have a disability! The beautiful things about nature is that it does not discriminate. A shooting star will still blaze across the sky whether you're in a wheelchair or not. The sun will still set on the magnificent Fisher Towers in southern Utah whether or not your child has Autism. And snow will still cover the mountain, trees will still grow into the sky and the seasons will come and go regardless of your abilities or diversities.

Through nature everything finds itself in balance with its surroundings and in that balance there is a certain peace which keeps me hopeful that if others can find this balance, then the future looks good for all.

July 19, 2007

Toast and Thursday Thirteen

Here's a toast, a toast to life: I love it! Yesterday I celebrated my 25th birthday...I'm now a quarter of a century old! The past 25 years have been great and I'm very proud of how much I've grown in just the last two years.

In the "Blog World" there is a meme called Thursday Thirteen. I haven't done one before, but there is no time like the present, right? So my first Thursday Thirteen will be a list of good things to come in the next quarter of a century:

1) Visit Prague, Czech Republic

2) Fall in Love

3) Learn to play a musical instrument...right now I really like the harmonica

4) Buy some land

5) Adopt a dog from a shelter

6) Take a hot air balloon ride

7) Study paintings in Florence, Italy

8) Write more Thursday Thirteens

9) Get a really fancy digital SLR camera

10) Become a Naturalist and work for an outdoor/environmental education program that helps people with disabilities

11) Raise some honey bees

12) Get off the "Grid" as much as possible with a hybrid car, solar and wind energy

13) Continue to laugh, love, live and learn everyday!

May 29, 2007

I've Been Tagged...

So, my friend Jess, "tagged" me. I'm supposed to list 10 weird/random things about myself and then tag others to do the same. Jess is my best friend, she knows me pretty well, so it might be a bit of a challenge to list 10 things. But I'll give it a try, into the "weird" depths of Susie; Enjoy!

1) I love pretty much all food that is the color orange. Yeap, if it's orange, I'll probably like it: carrots, TANG, squash, cheese, etc. About the only thing orange I don't like is orange soda.

2) I do not own a thong...I just don't see the point
(hope that wasn't too much info!)

3) When I was a little kid, my mom loved the show "Hill Street Blues" and so I wanted to be a cop when "I grew up"

4) I hate (and hate is a strong word that I try to avoid), Ground Hog's Day. I think it's the most absurd holiday ever. Folks get dressed up in a Tux to pull a vermit out of it's slumber and hold it up in front of a bunch of camera lights...why don't we get this excited about Earth Day???

5) I would love to one day be a bee keeper. I love honey (eventhough it's not orange) and I think bees are amazing insects.

6) I've been on TV 6 times.

7) I cried when the Sports Announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Jack Buck died and to this day I still get a little teary-eyed whenever I hear sound clips of him yelling "That's a winner!"

8) I can pop my right shoulder in and out of place.

9) I have a pet rock that sits on my desk at work...he's called Fraggle.

10) My first concert was to go see Reba McEntire...with my mom.

And to be sappy, I'm going to throw in #11 and say that I have the best friends in the world. They don't always realize it, but I really do have amazing friends!

Ok, now I tag:
Yellow over at A Roker Artist
Nic from Finders Keepers Art Project
And my friend Emily who is living in Spain right now

It's your all's turn. I've read all of your blogs, but now I want to know more about you!

May 02, 2007

Like I said before, My Job Rocks!!!

New Findings:
1) The Navajo describe rain fall as being either male or female. Male rain is the thunderous down pours; testosterone giving off energy. Female rain is a gentle rain that the Earth can soak-up and use to nuture new growth.
So, some of you that know me know that I work at an amazing organization called SPLORE. SPLORE is a non-profit that provides outdoor recreation to folks with disabilities. The Story below is from a local news station doing a story on us. This is just a tiny example of what we do. We've been around for 30 years this summer and there are several other stories that can be told, but I wanted to show an example to all of you. My job rocks and I'm soooo happy that the news finally put a positive story out to the public instead of all of the negative "stuff" we hear all the time!

The direct link to the story is:
(Watch the video!)

April 18, 2007

WooHoo for Camping Trips

New Things I've Learned:

1) The desert is amazing!
2) A dry wash in the desert usually has a trickle of water running through it at night. There is no water running through the wash during the day because trees and plants like cottonwoods are photosynthesizing during the day and using all of the water that passes by. However, at night, the cottonwoods are Not photosynthesizing and therefore are not using water and the water trickles through the wash
3) I want to write a children's educational book

I love getting away. I love going some place new to explore, learn and relax. I love wide-open spaces. I love mini-vacations and road trips and this weekend that well was nicely filled. I went to the deserts of Utah, hiked in Bell Slot Canyon, camped under amazing stars, woke to one of the most amazing sunrises I have seen in my life and turned into a kid again playing in Goblin Valley. I had been longing to get away, see and do new things and enjoy a little solitude. I could write forever about how much fun I had, all of the new things I saw and learned, how theraputic this trip was for me, but for right now, I just wanted to share a few pictures with everyone.


A picture of the dry wash and the water-guzzling cottonwood tree

Disco Sheila flying high!

Goblin Valley!

Just thought this was a cool shot through the Goblins.

Me, standing on top of ancient volcanic ash over-looking the Muddy River

Our lunch spot gazing off to the snow-capped Henry Mountains

Just me enjoying a climb in a beautiful cottonwood tree
Bell Canyon

March 30, 2007

Disco Sheila!

Some New Things I've Learned:
1) There are about 200,000 Catholics in Utah

The other day I was "Blog surfing" (that's a technical term I just made up by the way) and came across one guy's site that said, "Screw it, it's nice outside, I'm not writing today. Instead, I'm going to grab a beer, my sketchbook, a chair and head outside."

I sorta wish I would have took better note of this site so I could have checked back later to learn how this guy enjoyed his day off in the park. However, I decided I didn't want to learn how his experience went and instead I created my own lazy day in the park.

The weather has been getting much nicer here in Utah and I, for one, couldn't be happier. (Tulips and daffodils are starting to bloom, the red bud tress are living up to their names and the grass is turning green! Green, I love the color green and today, as I was driving back from a rock climbing program, someone was cutting their grass; what I wonderful smell I've been missing!) In celebration of the nice weather, I decided to buy a kite. I went the the park with some friends and we let the kite fly while we enjoyed a sun bath, the Spring air and just the wonderful outdoors.

I decided to name the kite Disco Sheila because she's bright and colorful and has some pretty cool moves when she's up in the big blue sky!

Disco Sheila and me; despite the scary butt-shot of myself I still thought this was a pretty cool picture. Check out the mountains, the pond below, am I lucky or what?

It had been years since I had flown a kite but I soon remembered why it is so much fun! It's an easy activity to do, the kite is pretty entertaining to watch, you're outside and it's a relaxing activity where can go into an almost meditative state...all of which is highly enjoyable to me. I'm lucky enough to be in a setting where I could fly Disco Sheila and then gaze at the snow-capped mountains in the background, or get distracted by the park's lake at the bottom of the hill filled with ducks, geese and sea gulls (despite the fact that I'm NO where near a beach, it sure felt like it because of the sea gulls always calling and soaring above). In the end, I'd always come back to watching Disco Sheila and her bright colors and being very happy about my Spring activities.

This weekend, I hope you say "screw it" and head outside too!

March 20, 2007

Wow, Last Weekend!

New Things I've Learned:

1) Aspen trees grow in groves; meaning that several trees can all be connected through a root system. One way to tell which trees in an aspen grove are all part of the same root system is by observing when their buds appear on the branches. Trees with the same root system (or trees that are all part of the same grove) will all bud at the same time whereas another aspen grove might bud a day or so later.

In my last post, I wrote about how I couldn't wait for the weekend. I was looking forward to day-light savings time and going on a dog sledding trip. I was not disappointed with my anticipation of the weekend, as I had an amazing experience! I could go on and on about the trip, but I thought I'd highlight it with pictures. Enjoy!

The group from last weekend's amazing trip!

The beautiful and mesmerizing Grand Tetons. We spent Saturday afternoon snowshoeing in Grand Teton National Park! (I think I was drooling a bit when I took this picture, I love this place!)

"The Grand" Teton Mountain (Can anyone believe I actually came back after this trip? I had a hard time leaving)

On the reins of dog sledding. It's hard to put into words just how amazing it is to go dog sledding. The dogs love what they do, it's an amazing feeling to be driving the sled and your surroundings are breath taking!

Puppy love! Me and the lead dogs of my team: Eske and Cree.

The view from the Grand Teton Science School in Kelly, Wyoming. Just think, this might be my new front yard for a year!

Like I said earlier, there are so many things I could go on and on about concerning last weekend. If anyone has any questions about my adventure, please don't hesitate to ask. I love talking about this and I could post my responses.

P.S. There were two highlights of the trip that cannot be explained in pictures. 1) I received a letter from one of the participants I was helping. I'm not going to write exactly what she said (that's something I want to keep for myself) but she just wanted to thank me for helping her have an amazing experience. I cannnot explain how much the letter meant to me, but I will always treasure it as, eventhough I love my job, it's hard sometimes and receiving a letter like this can really change one's perspective. 2) I had been praying for some kind of clarity on what I should do after I finish my year of AmeriCorps. Part of the trip last weekend included staying at the Grand Teton Science School and I gained an interest in going to Graduate school there to gain skills in nature interpertation. Not promising I'll go there, but it's something I'll be thinking about!