December 15, 2006

Susie at Random

Things I've Recently Learned:
1) "Mele Kalikimaka" means Merry Christmas in Hawaiian.
2) Since piglets grow soooo fast, 147 piglets were used to make the movie "Charlotte's Web"
3) This was from an email that I received from my cousin: "The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin . . . "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder in your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or you may know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then--to learn.” (Merlin to Arthur in "The Once and Future King" by T. H. White)

So, in the "Blogging World" I've noticed that there has been a neat trend that has been going around; it's called, "tagging." One blogger will be tagged to write 5 Random Things about themselves and then they'll tag their friends to do the same. I wasn't "tagged" to do this, but I saw this on other sites and thought it looked fun. I'm not going to tag anyone else to do the same but if you think this is fun, go ahead and add it to your site...just let me know so I can go and check it out.

#1 I am addicted to Tang
Yeap, you read it right, it's the astronaut drink. I'm not addicted to anything else but I love sugar-free Tang. My parents bought Tang one day on a whim just to try a new sugar-free drink, I had a little bit too and now I'm known to drink 2 liters a day!

#2 I am a Missouri Master Naturalist
Even though I currently live in Utah, I grew-up in Missouri and I love the outdoors of Missouri so much that I decided to take some classes after college graduation to become a Missouri Master Naturalist. Missouri Master Naturalists are volunteers in Missouri that learn all about Missouri's natural history, flora and fauna, water sheds, soil, geology, etc. and then apply what they've learned throughout their community. In a week I'll be helping with a controlled burn and I'm very excited.

#3 I had an imaginary, imaginary friend
What's that mean? Well, when I was little, I would hear my parents talking about how "so and so's" kid was so cute and funny with their imaginary friend and I started wondering why I didn't have an imaginary friend and I felt left out. I thought that if I were to be a "normal" kid, that I should have an imaginary friend. So I thought about the situation for a bit (and realized that I the concept of an imaginary friend was goofy) and decided to tell adults and other friends that I was normal because I have an imaginary friend. And if anyone was wondering, my "imaginary" imaginary friend was a little old Irish man in a kilt that played the bagpipe and wore a pinch-bill cap...his name was Bob.

#4 I'm a Gypsy
My mom's side of the family is Bohemian and Bohemians are often called Gypsies. I have never traveled to Europe, but Prague, Czech Republic is #1 on my places to travel.

#5 I'm a ENFP
On the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, ENFP stands for Extroverted, Intuition, Feeling & Perceiving. According to the website,, I am, "Outgoing, friendly, and accepting. Exuberant lovers of life, people, and material comforts. Enjoy working with others to make things happen. Bring common sense and a realistic approach to their work, and make work fun. Flexible and spontaneous, adapt readily to new people and environments. Learn best by trying a new skill with other people."

December 06, 2006

Thinking About Paths

Things I've Learned:
1) The black-throated sparrow can survive in the desert and low-water conditions by, eating insects and green vegetation and then metabolize moisture from their food. They can also reduce losing moisture in their waste by one forth when water is scarce (Naturalist's Guide to Canyon Country).
2) The Plains prickly pear has a larger inhabitated range than most cacti. It can be found from southern sections of Canada to Texas. Unlike most cacti, the plains prickly pear can survive at, or below, freezing temps (Naturalist's Guide to Canyon Country).
3) The dry, fluffy snow that makes the "famous powder" in Utah is called Talcum Snow.
4) In 1976, the Chicago White Soxs baseball team's uniform included shorts!
5) While taking a "Blog Hiatus," I learned that I really enjoy Nordic skiing.

This past weekend I went to Millcreek Canyon to go Nordic skiing with some friends and I had a blast! It was more fun that I expected, to tell you the truth; at first I couldn't imagine that trying to "jog" up-hill on skis in the freezing cold could be much fun, but I proved myself wrong. Now by no means am I claiming to be any good at this sport, in fact, a friend compared me to a clumsy duck on ice-skates. Never the less, this new adventure was a lot of fun and it's a new activity that I intend on doing more often.

After this weekend I thought, 'Did I ever imagine that I'd find myself in the mountains enjoying Nordic skiing?' I've been in Utah for 11 months now and sometimes I still can't believe I'm here and seeing what I'm seeing, doing what I'm doing or experiencing what I'm experiencing. I mean, I'm a girl from a town of 500 people; Hawk Point, MO, a town I love and call home. As hard as it was for me to leave my corner of the world, I went to the "big city" of Springfield, MO for school and now I find myself 1300 miles away in the "booming" area of Salt Lake City, having an array of experiences of a lifetime.

Admist this reflection I think, 'Wow, how did I get here? What events in my life lead me to Nordic skiing in Millcreek Canyon this weekend? What has influenced or inspired me to be where I am today?' Could this be a debate of Nature vs. Nuture -- was I determined to be on this path? No, I don't think so, I think life throws all sorts of forks in the road that we decide (consciously or no) to take.

One path that I took to get where I am now is an academic path, a path of curiosity. I remember in 6th grade, me and my classmates took a test that would tell us what we're "supposed to be when we grow-up." I don't really remember what the test said, all I remember is that I tried to figure out the test so that I could be told that I'd have a "cool" job. Turns out, the test didn't really have any influence on me, but picking up a copy of National Geographic later that day did. For various reasons like getting to travel, write, meet interesting people, take pictures, and getting paid to do so, I decided that I wanted to be a photojournalist. I followed that academic path throughout high school, on my own and onto college where I got involved with a lot of volunteering which lead me to the possibilities of AmeriCorps. I found the perfect AmeriCorps program for me. A program that would foster my desire to travel and try new things, write and help others; and now I'm sitting here, writing about the journey I've been on.

The academic path, however, was not the only route of getting to where I am today. There have been many paths that I am grateful for, paths filled with choices, chances, people and inspiration. One of my favorite sayings is, "I'd rather regret something I've done that regret something I didn't do." My mom always said (and no, I'm not trying to sound like Forrest Gump here), is that she regrets not doing something like the Peace Corps. I didn't want to live with a regret like that and so I did some research on AmeriCorps and, as the old saying goes, "the rest is history."

For me, the decision to actually join and go through with the AmeriCorps adventure wasn't as easy as it sounds. I was worried about the whole thing; Would I like it? Would I do a good job? Could I handle being 1300 miles away from home? Through my wavering confidence, I heard an old Zen saying, "Leap and the Net will Appear." Take this chance, take this opportunity and something will catch you.

How did I decide to come West? I had never been out West and I was curious about the romantic ideas of adventure and expanding the free-spirit. Perhaps this was inspired from hearing the free-spirit tales and adventures of some close friends that I greatly admire or from reading about Muir, Thoreau or Kerouac. Either way, it's another fork in the road that helped me find myself where I am today and doing things I've never dreamed of doing: River rafting, rock climbing, dog sledding and even Nordic skiing.

Reflecting upon the paths I've stumbled upon, blazed or trekked through, I'm grateful to be where I am and I can't help but wonder what will happen when I find the next fork in the road?

November 08, 2006

Finding Writing Inspiration

Some things I've learned since last time:
1) People in Utah like to put their Christmas lights up early. This weekend there were a handful of houses already showing off their holiday lights.
2) The state flower of Utah is the Sego Lily.
3) The plateau striped whiptail lizard is a species of lizard that is only comprised of females. There are no male striped whiptails; the females lay unfertilized, yet viable eggs. The offspring are essentially clones of the mother!

Lately I've been in a writing slump. I guess sooner or later everyone goes through a writing slump but knowing this doesn't make the slump any easier. Last week I found myself at an outreach event. I admit, the event was pretty boring and long. All of the sudden I found myself upset at myself for not bringing a book or my journal to help pass the monotony of sitting at a table, handing out brochures and watching the hands of a clock that didn't seem to pass time. I kept thinking, "I really wish I was writing right now; I can't wait to get home to open my journal and put pen and thoughts to paper."

Once I finally got home from a long day, I was excited to have the chance to write. After waiting hours for the chance to write, I sat on my bed and tried to think about what I would write thoughts seemed to jump to mind. For some reason, I seem to believe that everything I write must be poetic, "deep" or enlightening instead of just enjoying the act and process of writing.

My excitement soon turned into frustration because I couldn't find any "topics to muse about." I decided, "This won't be a deep entry, I'll just casually write about my day." And before I knew it, I had two pages of notes, ideas and ramblings and, truthfully, I felt pretty proud of myself. After two pages of what seemed to be nothing, I remembered an email I received earlier from a friend. It was one of those emails we've all seen several times; one of those filled with pointless survey questions. About half-way through the ever-so-enlightening-survey, filled with questions like, “what is your favorite food?” I came across a question that asked, "What inspires you?" I thought, 'Now this is really a question worth answering amidst all of this hooey.'

What inspires me? I said that people helping others inspires me. Good music inspires me. Passion inspires me. The perfectness of Nature inspires me, like the picture posted above. Good writing also inspires me which is perhaps the reason I had such and "urge" to write the other night. Earlier in the day I received another email from a different friend. It didn't ask me if I preferred vanilla or chocolate ice cream; instead, it was a report on my friend's travels through Europe, headed to Spain. My friend's writing of what she has seen, done, felt, etc. were all beautifully written in an email that I felt I was walking through. It truly was an amazing update of my friend's travels and thoughts, and perhaps it was the inspiration for turning "nothing" into four pages in my journal.

So, if you could be a crayon, what color would you be? :-)

October 31, 2006

Just Stuff


I know I haven't posted for awhile and I really don't have much to say today BUT I have been keeping track of all the new things I've learned while I've been on my "Blog Hiatus," so I thought I'd pass some stuff along. Enjoy! As I'm sure you've already noticed, I added some pictures on here as well because, quite frankly, I just like pictures :-)

1) The tighter you grip a ball, the slower the speed of the pitch.

2) Americans produce 210 Million Tons of waste a year! (Gross! My personal mission is to reduce my production of waste and to be more mindful of my environmental impact. I'll start listing ways that we can all make a positive difference in our world).

3) Genes account for only 48% of the factors that determine one's IQ.

4) The United States is the largest consumer of bananas. On average, we eat 26 pounds of bananas per year.

5) The Wellsville Mountains in northern Utah are the steepest mountains in the U.S. Their steepness is determined by their height and the width of their base.

October 27, 2006

9 Reasons Why I Should Marry Chris Carpenter

Things I've learned:
(Let me first say that I've been slacking on this a bit; I've been totally tied-up with work and any of my free time has been spent watching Cardinal Baseball. Woohoo, go Cards! Next week I intend to add more pictures, facts and entries; but for now, "Let's Play Ball!")
1) It is customary in Major League Baseball that the starting pitcher for the team is the one who selects what kind of music should be played in the locker room before the game.

OK, so I'm 24 and single, but I've just found the man of my dreams. It's Chris Carpenter, the outstanding starting pitcher of the St. Louis Cardinals. Why is he perfect for me, you may ask? Just read the 9 reasons why below:

1) He plays for the greatest baseball team in the world...the St. Louis Cardinals!!! And, (heaven forbid) if he ever plays for another team, I'll still support him. (Unless, of course, for some very Odd reason, he starts playing for the Chicago Cubs! A girl has to set her limits somewhere!)

2) I've always thought he's cute...beard or no beard.

3) He is a Cy Young Award winner!

4) I have his rookie card!

5) Chris Carpenter's favorite band is the Dave Matthews Band. How nice? Mine favorite band is the Dave Matthews Band too.

6) Just like me, his favorite cartoon is Tom & Jerry.

7) His favorite athlete is Tom Brady. OK, Tom Brady isn't My favorite athlete, but I Do have a lot of respect for the guy. Once we're married, of course Chris Carpenter would be my favorite athlete!

8) He is afraid to fly. I might not be afraid to fly, but I'm 24 and I've only flown twice in my entire life...both times in just this past year! I am scared of actually going through airport though; they're all so big and confusing. This fact might not be completely compatible, but it's close enough.

9) Last, but not least, he wears red shoes. How ironic, I LOVE red shoes. Every time there is a game on; I get a little superstitious (just like all baseball players are superstitious) and wear my old-school red Adidas sneakers.

So, as you can see, Chris Carpenter and I are a match made in heaven. Now, all I need to do is meet him. If anyone has any ideas on how to do that, please let me know and I'll make sure to invite you to the wedding of the century! :-)

October 08, 2006

Why do I Blog?

Some new things I've learned:
1) Most people associate the Kiwi fruit with New Zealand; however, kiwi was first grown in China and it was called the Chinese gooseberry. A kiwi needs at least 240 frost-free days to grow!
2) The Utah state tree is the Colorado spruce (Colorado?)

So, I have been blogging for a month and a half now, but what is my purpose for this Blog? I have to admit, I haven't posted as often as I would like, but I am glad I have stuck with my new task. And it turns out, there are several reasons why I like blogging.

One reason is because it allows me to put some thoughts down. There are several times throughout the day that I find myself just contemplating about various issues; however, I don't usually get the chance to express those issues or stories. One goal I had when first starting this blog was to keep track of all the new lessons/facts that I've learned. I must say that that goal has forced me to pay closer attention to life around me and it's been great having a record of the new things I've learned! Whether others find the facts "amazing" or not, I still think most of them are pretty interesting and you never know, one day I might be on Jeopardy and the answer might be, "The land where kiwis origniated." I could quickly reply to Alex and say, "What is China."

Another great aspect of blogging is that it allows me to totally be myself. That might be a strange statement to make because I always try to be myself, but I do find myself acting differently around different groups. (Susie, what's your point here, you're not making sense). What I mean is that some groups only see certain sides of me and each side is genuine, but it's almost like I get in a personality pattern with these groups because I know what each group expects me to be like. While blogging, it's just my thoughts, my words put out to the cyber world, a chance for new folks to not have any reserved expectations of me and therefor an opportunity to not hold anything back.

I love meeting new people and blogging allows me to connect with others. Just the other day, I came across a blog of a woman in Moab, UT...a place that I love and spent a lot of time at this summer. As corny as this may sound, this is a place to share so I'll share that other blog I found, it's called Novelist in Training and I highly recommend checking out her photographs of Moab because they're amazing. Another blog that I frequently check out and comment on is Christine Kane's Blog. She's an amazing singer/songwriter and her site was a great inspiration for me to start my own. Sometimes the world seems so big, but this allows me to still hear other's thoughts on issues and ideas I find interesting.

And the last, but not least, reason I like blogging is because I like to write. That statement might seem a little ironic if you went to college with me because you know that, eventhough I was a journalism major, I hated having deadlines and would greatly procrastinate on my assignments. The truth is that I really do like to write, but I hate being pressured. The pressure seems to take the enjoyment out of the writing and I don't feel as creative when I do so. Here, I can give myself the assignments and the deadlines are whenever I feel like presenting them.

September 27, 2006

Fall is here!

Some new things I've learned:
1) Do you think genetics plays a big role in your probability of getting cancer? Turns out that only 5% of those diagnosed with cancer can attribute their illness to heredity (from the book, "The Biology of Belief" by Dr. Bruce Lipton).
2 )Ever wonder why the closer you get to the equator, the spicier the food gets? It's because before refrigeration, meat would spoil and the hotter the weather is ( like it is the closer you get to the equator), the more spoiled meat you would have. Folks soon found that cooked spoiled meat tasted horrible and so they started using spices to cover-up the taste. The more spoiled the meat, the more spices to help the taste.

Can I just say that I love the fall? I really do. Does anyone know what I mean when I say that there is just a certain "energy" in the air in the fall? I seem to get motivated and have a lot of energy during the fall. Perhaps because there is so much to do. Now is a great time to go hiking, camping and exploring. To me, fall is that great time of the season where it's nice and cool in the morning so you can cuddle up in your bed with you blankets and start the day off with some hot cocoa. Then, as the sun goes up, so does the temperature, allowing me to do all sorts of fun outdoor activities.

I love watching the leaves change, it's one of my favorite activities and I'm looking forward to observing the fall in Utah. Just this past Monday, I took a group for a "stroll" up Big Cottonwood Canyon. It was great to see all of the colors from the aspens and maples in the canyon while still being surrounded by green pine and spruce trees. The air smelled great too...fresh and full of life. Tonight I look forward for going up Millcreek Canyon with some friends to see some more leaves, start a campfire (which always smells great), roast some marshmallows and just soak up the atmosphere.

Some more things that I like about the Fall is apple and pumpkin picking, making homemade pies, getting up early to spend the whole day at church to make apple butter, hayrides, tracking deer, watching the geese get ready to fly South for the Winter and the list goes on and on...

Another great aspect about the fall is that now is when the baseball season gets exciting. I get all caught up in the playoffs and the World Series, especially when the St. Louis Cardinals are involved!

Perhaps the only thing about the fall that I don't like is that I know the days are getting shorter and that cold weather is soon to come. This will be my first fall in Utah and already, on September 15th, snow dusted the valley and there is now snow on the mountain tops...I don't know how I feel about snow this "early" but it sure is pretty. On the upside, if farmer's tales have any truth to them, it shouldn't be too bad of a winter. According to folklore, you can gauge how bad a winter will be by how much black is on a wooly worm, like the one above. I'm going to trust the farmer's almanac and say that the little guy's orange stripe pictured above is a sign of a decent winter...I hope so! But whatever happens, I'm sure it will be pretty and my 9&1/2 Wide Clodhoppers will be excited to put on some boots and check things out.

September 20, 2006

What is an Adventure?

As always, I start of my blog with new things I've learned. I think this is important because it makes me pay attention to my surroundings and it keeps me from forgetting what lessons I've learned. So, something new I've learned lately is that 1) The average human body is made-up of about 50 trillion cells! 2) One climbing pitch is equal to one-half of a rope length. One rope is about 60 meters long, so one pitch is about 30 meters long and 30 meters equals about 90 feet.

I love my friends. I have some of the best friends in the world. They support me, they make me laugh and they also make me think. One thing that my friends have made me think about lately (whether they realize it or not), is determing what exactly is an adventure?

A lot of the time we describe an adventure as taking on a new endeavor, traveling, seeing and doing something new and exciting. I have to admit, so far, I have considered my whole AmeriCorps service an adventure. I nervously left home, a place I love with folks that mean a lot to me, to move 1300 miles away to a place I have never been to, to do an array of projects that are fun, challenging, unknown and rewarding.

Right now I'm in that interesting stage of life where my friends are getting married, having kids, succeeding in their jobs, buying their first house, completing graduate school, etc. (Which, by the way, Congratulations to Nicole and Jeremy on the birth of their little girl this morning. Welcome to the world Dorothy Ann!) Lately a lot of my friends seem to be in awe of the continuous "adventure" I'm on right now, which is ironic because I think they're the ones on a real adventure. So this makes me think, "What is an adventure?"

One dear friend of mine says she loves hearing about what I've been up to and that now, because she's limited on her activities due to "life," expecting a boy in November and moving, she said she vicarously lives through me. I told her it's strange how life works because for so many years that I talked and longed to go on an "adventure" like AmeriCorps, I lived vicarously through her. One of the reasons I joined AmeriCorps was because my friend inspired me to live freely and I'm forever grateful to her wisdom and spirit. I also find it funny that she says her "adventures" are on hold for the time being because of her pregnancy...I told her motherhood will be a whole new adventure, full of twists and turns, but none the less rewarding.

Another dear friend of mine said she always knew that I would do something Huge (meaning moving to Utah to join AmeriCorps). When in reality, I think she's the one doing something huge. She's expecting her first child in February and her and her husband just built their first house. Another friend of ours is about ready to celebrate a one-year anniversary of helping start a real estate business and metting her goal of buying her first house by the end of the year!Huge doesn't have to mean that you're "changing the world" or doing something few others have done. Me and my friends are all in a spot where we are doing something huge. To me, "huge" means making progressive steps in our lives, taking on endeavors that make impacts on our personal lives. Although we're all taking on different things that are "huge" I'm so grateful that we're all able to share these moments together and celebrate each other's accomplishments.

So, I'm really not sure what the point of this post is; perhaps part of it is to brag on my friends, or to make others ponder what an "adventure" is. Whatever meaning you find out of this post, I hope you consider what kind of an "adventure" you want in your life. It doesn't have to be as big as joining AmeriCorps, having a baby, building a house, starting a business, etc. Life is full of possibilities, see where your feet take you. The soles of your feet is full of excitment, lessons and adventure...have fun out there and don't live vicarously through others, blaze your own pathsI!

September 12, 2006

5 Days in Moab

Some new things I learned over the weekend:
1) There is a mountain range West of Moab, UT called the Henry Mountains. The Henry Mountains are the last mountains in the U.S. to be names and they still have a wild heard of buffalo roaming the hills.
2) The Earth rotates at 900 mph (wow!)
3) Pistol Budding (see the picture of the Aspen Tree above), is when a tree is growing on a side of a hill and their first grow to the side and then straight up. The trees do this because their roots are actually planted up the hill but due to erosion and moving soil down the hill, the tree is pushed further down the hill until it can start to grow upwards again. This is a sign of unstable ground.

So, this past week I haven’t posted much because I’ve been in Moab, UT. I was unable to get to Internet access, I didn’t watch any TV and I enjoyed sleeping outside for four nights.

Moab is a small community in the desert of Southeastern Utah. It is full of great people, art and history. I was there for business but had a blast while I was there as well, meeting new people, sharing laughs, rafting and hiking through beautiful country. I went to Moab to pick-up donations for SPLORE’s auction that is coming up soon in October; to my surprise, most of the stores we went to were more that happy to support us. Everyone I met was friendly to talk to and they all enjoy the good work that SPLORE does.

Westwater Canyon Rafting

While I was down there, I didn’t do just work of course; it’s Moab! On Friday, some of our staff and volunteers took a trip down Westwater Canyon. Half the time it was cold and rainy, the other half of the time it was sunny; but most of all it was great. I loved seeing the clouds come in and over the canyon and then the sun breaking through to show the bright, beautiful colors of red sandstone rock and black, shiny Pre-Cambrian rock called Visnu-Schnit (bad spelling). Visnu-Schnit is the oldest Pre-Cambrian rock to appear in North America and it’s only found in three places in the U.S., including, Westwater Canyon and the Grand Canyon. The massive amounts of rainfall in this delicate area created a lot of flash floods and mudslides that are incredibly rare and beautiful to see. One mudslide erupted as we floated around a bend and the landscape gave way!

But perhaps the highlight of this rafting trip was getting dumped after going through the Sock-it-to-Me rapid and then being pushed into the magnetic wall where we high-sided, resulting in me falling out and floating down the canyon. Yesterday, I reported on this excitement if you want to learn more.

Best of all, this trip was a way to thank our volunteers for their support and a way to celebrate another great summer of providing outdoor recreation to people with disabilities.

Hiking in the La Sal Mountains
So the La Sals is a beautiful mountain range located on the outskirts of Moab. Surprisingly, these mountains are covered with aspen and spruce trees despite the fact that the La Sals are located in a desert. Some SPLORE volunteers, staff and I decided to take a hike up in the mountains. We drove about 10,000 feet in elevation before stopping to hike. Lets just say that chubby girls from Missouri aren’t used to hiking at this altitude. Hiking somewhat steep trails, my legs quickly started to burn and I was huffing and puffing like none other. After taking a few rest stops, I kept going, pushing myself because I knew the rewards will be in the effort. We hiked to Blue Lake (as can be seen in the picture above) and were surrounded by nature, solitude and beauty every step we took.

Delicate Arch by Moonlight
Once I got back from hiking in the La Sals, I met up with the rest of the SPLORE group. I was exhausted from being out of shape and hiking at that elevation. A friend suggested the idea that we hike to delicate arch at midnight, using the full moon for light. I had already seen Delicate Arch on an earlier hiking trip and thought it was wonderful. Now I had to decide if I wanted to let my body pass-out or keep pushing myself and not live with the regret of how this magnificent formation would look lit by moonlight.

We started the hike and I was surprised at how fast we got there (despite my struggles from the first hike of the day). Heather and I both commented on how fast the hike went compared to the first time we went to Delicate Arch. Nearing the top, I started to remember how awe-struck I was when I first went around the last curve in the trail to be revealed to this sandstone wonder. Again, I went around the last curve and was mesmerized at how grand the arch looked at 1:30 in the morning, lit only by a full moon. I must say, this once in a lifetime moment took my breath away.

We all sat at the top for awhile, all in our own peaceful thoughts and becoming belittled in the grandeur of our surroundings. We ended by letting out shouts to see who had the best echo. We were all alone in one of the most amazing places in the world…we had it all to ourselves and it’s a memory I will never forget.

The best part of this whole adventurous weekend wasn’t just spending time with good friends, seeing beautiful scenery or creating lasting memories; it was that I got to do all of this because I joined AmeriCorps. I’ll admit it, joining AmeriCorps and moving to Utah was out of my comfort zone, I was scared but now I’m completely grateful that I took a leap, trusted in faith and myself and have love ones to support me.

September 11, 2006

The Magnetic Wall

(The first picture is of the rapid called Sock-it-to-Me; it's from the all about website. The second picture is of Funnel Falls from the Canyon Voyages Adventure Co. website)

So this weekend we went rafting along the great Westwater Canyon. It was a blast! I rode in a 16 foot paddle raft so I was really close to the action…perhaps too close as 5 out of 7 people (including me) high-sided and got dumped in a class-IV rapid called Sock-it-to-Me. We went through the rapid ok, but then the waters slammed us into some rocks called the magnetic wall. Below is a video of someone else going through the same rapid. You’ll see that they get pretty close to the magnetic wall…which is where I fell out. It was still a blast though! And luckily I got back into the raft before hitting another rapid.

To see the video, Click

To see more of where I went, Google Westwater Canyon and click on Google Images.

And if you're wondering, YES, I would do it all over again!

September 05, 2006

There is always a meaning

My newly gained knowledge: Before the use of refrigeration, sailors would board giant turtles onboard their ships. The sailors found that turtles could live a long time without food. This allowed the sailors to always have a fresh supply of meat on-hand that they didn’t need to freeze or feed. (Sort of a morbid fact, I know, but I still found it as being new information and pretty interesting).

I always start my journal entries off by listing the things I’m grateful for (this is a great exercise recommended by Christine Kane’s blog). I then go onto to write about the new facts/lessons I’ve learned for the day (i.e. turtles living on sailor ships). After exercising these practices, I then usually go into my more traditional form of journal writing.

When I write in my journal, often times I seem to have the idea stuck in my head that I have to have something “important” to write about. Yesterday, however, I couldn’t find anything poignant or poetic or enlightening to write about so I just started to write about the small random things going on in my life and thoughts.

Turns out that nothing that I wrote about yesterday lead to any “breakthroughs” in thought, nor did it turn out to be poetic or seemingly insightful, but what I did learn is that I just enjoyed the act of writing. I enjoyed the transformation of words in my mind being transferred to paper via a pen in my hand. I enjoyed the basic art-form of creating symbols that had messages that could be read by others. I especially enjoyed listening to my wind-chimes haphazardly sing as a gentle breeze floated through the house to make the legs of the chimes dance.

So, even though last night’s journal seemed like it started out pointless, with me writing about my sadness of Andre Agassi’s retirement, I still gained a lesson. I still found an artistic release and I still enjoyed a wonderful habit. There is always a meaning in the things you do.

September 01, 2006

Perfect Titan

What have I learned new today, you may ask? Well, keeping up with my ideal that we learn something new everyday, I learned something about one of my favorite sandstone structures in Moab, Utah. Pictured above is the area called The Fisher Towers. They are marvelous red sandstone structures in southeastern Utah. Until recently, I had no idea each tower had a name. Turns out, the biggest tower is called Titan. The Titan stands at 900 feet tall and it is claimed to be the largest, free-standing sandstone monolith in the United States. OK, so some of you reading this might not think this fact is cool, but since I travel past this perfect scenery while rafting down the Colorado River, I find a great appreciation for new information to share with others.

You might have noticed that I called the scenery perfect. So many wonders in nature can be considered perfect and often times we use the word perfect in daily life. We’ve all heard the saying that “Practice makes perfect” but let’s see if I can persuade you to shift your thinking into saying, “Practice make better, not perfect.”

First off, applying the word “perfect” to ourselves carries so much pressure. The word “perfect” carries so much clout. We live in a society that places so much attention to someone’s image and talents and so when they “faulter,” it surprisingly comes as such a huge shock to everyone, including the individual’s ego. To me, having the title of “perfect” leaves no space to relax.

We all have dreams and goals that we strive to achieve. Sometimes we’ll reach our goals, sometimes our goals change, but it’s inevitable that our venues and pathways to our dreams and goals will change. It’s the changes in the pathways where we learn invaluable lessons. If we were perfect, not only would we not need to change pathways (thus not gaining great lessons), but we’d already be at our goals. What would we strive for if we’re already perfect?

The word “better” leaves room for improvement, it leaves us with challenges to go after and chances for growth. “Practice makes better” is such a more positive and healthy way of thinking that “perfect.” Now, just because I’ve personally ruled out “perfect” from my lifestyle, doesn’t give me an excuse to be lazy and not strive for growth. After all it has taken Titan 1000’s and 1000’s of years of being transformed by sand, wind and rain to be majestic as he is today (and a thousand years from now, who know how beautiful he’ll look).

So, don’t put the pressure or the unrealistic ideals of “perfect” on your shoulders, but practice bettering yourself in all aspects of life…including happiness.

P.S. I’m really enjoying keeping a journal of the new things I’ve learned each day and I encourage you to do the same. It’s pretty fun. Just pay attention and keep track of the daily lessons you learn each day; and don’t forget to share what you learn too!

August 31, 2006


So, I have big feet. Over the years, they have respectfully become to be referred to as my “9 & 1/2 Wide Clodhoppers.” But I don’t mind their size; metaphorically speaking, they have taken me a lot of places and they’ve covered a lot of terrain to get me to where I am today. Lately my, “Big Bertha platforms” (Ok, that nickname I just made up, but I thought it was funny) have also been blazing new paths as I’ve finally found the courage and have decided to break out of my comfort shell, try new endeavors and learn more about myself and what I really want to get out of life and the pathways I have to take to get there.

My 9 & ½ Wide Clodhoppers are also one of the many reasons as to why I’ve started this Blog. I’ve had some encouragement from family and friends (you know who you are!). But I also realize that I like to write and need more practice doing so, I love life and I believe each day is a gift and needs to be noticed, and I have a lot of random things going through my head that I just need to get out every once in awhile.

I’m not sure where my feet will take me next or what the focus of this Blog will be. I do know, however, that throughout life we can all leave our “footprints” behind for others to follow, but I believe that the details that are in the footprints that we leave behind and the “terrain” they cover each day are the meaningful parts on the pathway through life. We’ve all heard the saying that we’re supposed to learn something new each day. I believe that statement; it’s just a matter of paying attention to those lessons. (Like today, I thought “clodhoppers” were spelled with a B, but it’s not, it’s spelled with a D…silly lesson, I know, but I did pay attention to learning something new!).

Perhaps daily lessons will be the focus of this Blog. Wherever this endeavor turns out, I do intend to ask and answer questions, learn more about myself and embrace the details of my size 9 ½ Wide Clodhoppers!

August 24, 2006

just a test

this is just a test so I can get things started...more to come soon