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 http://arokerartist.blogspot.com/
Nic from Finders Keepers Art Project http://fkartproject.blogspot.com/
And my friend Emily who is living in Spain right now http://mividaenespana.livejournal.com/

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!

March 07, 2007

Hurry-up Weekend!

Things I've Learned:
1) When backpacking, it's recommended to only carry 1/4 of your weight in your backpack.

2) If you're backpacking or camping and you're trying to light a fire, bring a set of those birthday "trick" candles that don't go out when you blow on them. That way, if you're match keeps getting blown out, or if they get wet, etc., you'll have the birthday "trick" candles to add some extra lighting support.

Oh, how I wish the weekend would get here soon! On Friday, I'm leaving Salt Lake to head-up to Jackson Hole, Wyoming...woohoo! I'm going up there to go snowshoeing at the Grand Teton Science School and to also go dog sledding. I went on the trip last year for work and it was one of the most amazing trips of my life! I never thought that I, a girl from small-town Missouri, would go on such an amazing trip with great people and now I get to go for a second time!

I'm also looking forward to this weekend because Sunday is one of my favorite times of the year. Sunday is the day we get to "Spring" our clocks forward. Some folks might think I'm a little crazy for being so excited about this one day because we also lose one hour of sleep. I'm so excited about this time of the year that I could care less about losing an hour of sleep, I could lose a whole day's worth of sleep and I'd still be incredibly giddy. Losing one hour of sleep for one day to gain an hour of extra sunshine in the afternoon is a heck of a trade to me!

I like this day not only because I gain some extra sunshine, but because it's the sign that Spring is soon to arrive. Don't get me wrong, I like winter, especially in Utah as everything is beautiful covered in snow, but I can't hold my excitement back knowing that Spring and all the wonders that come with it, are fast approaching. Right now I feel like a kid in a candy shop as I'm daydreaming about the day that I get to wear a short-sleeved t-shirt, drive in my car with the windows down while listening and whistling to some great music.

February 27, 2007

My Job Rocks!

Things I've Learned:
1) About 100 inches of snow has fallen in Utah during the month of February...amazing!

Wow, so my job rocks! My job is a lot of work, long hours, little pay and all worth it. Working at SPLORE is perhaps the hardest job I ever have (or ever will) love. There are so many reasons why I can explain that I love my job; so many experiences that I have been a part of and will always cherish. One such memory happened last week. I was taking a group of elementary kids (both with and without disabilities) indoor rockclimbing. These kids were amazing and they taught me so many lessons.

So often it's hard to find people without disabilities wanting to hang out with people with disabilities, let alone kids! However, this group all became friends and all shared each other's successes, creating great commaradie. If one kid was climbing, all of his peers would chant his name, cheering him on. Sometimes a kid would get scared to climb higher, or didn't think he could make it to the top, that was when his classmates would yell back, "you can do it, you can do it, keep going...THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CAN'T."

Wow, the insight of a 1st grader. I often wonder, "who gets the most out of a SPLORE trip? The participants or the staff and volunteers?"

February 20, 2007

Feed Burner

Things I've Learned:
1) White rhinos aren't actually white. Being lost in translation, "white" was originally "wide," describing the mouth of the rhinos. What was first called the wide rhino, got changed to white rhino.

OK, so for a quick update. I don't have much news, or a very long entry, but I wanted to all to know about a new update to this site. If you look to your right, you'll see a link to subscribe to this blog. All long as you have a Google account, you'll get updates of this site.

Woohoo! Now I just wonder if anyone still reads this and if you'll actually subscribe??? ;-)

In the meantime, I'll find something to write to entice you all to sign-up for this blog (did I mention it's free?). Also, stay tuned as I hope to add some more updates, content and update the look of this site.

February 07, 2007

Learning to be Small

So, I usually start off each post stating all of the new things that I've learned lately. This time, however, I don't have much to report along the lines of new facts I've learned (unless you want to learn that Alanis Morissette has a twin brother named Wade). I have learned a lot though since the last time I wrote, but instead of learning random facts, I've learned a lot about myself.

I took an amazing hike this weekend (the pictures above don't do the hike justice). Lately, I've been hearing a lot about a place in Utah called Donut Falls. Donut Falls is a waterfall that runs across the top of a slab of granite rock. The granite slab creates a cavern, which opens up and you can walk into a room. On top of the granite slab runs a creek and there is a hole on top of the slab that the water pours through. After hearing so much about this wonderful place, I decided to check it out myself.

At first, I was a little nervous about going on this hike by myself because I wasn't positive of the way. After guessing which paths to take and asking a few fellow wanders for some directions, I was on the right track. I finallly made it to the falls and realized that I had to scramble up (and thus also down) a few snow and ice-covered boulders.

Another group in snowshoes were also scrambling up the rocks at the same time. A lady turned to me and said, "You must be brave to do this by yourself." Joking back I told her that I was either brave or stupid. After the scramble, I reached the top and a state of gratitude and awe that I can't explain. The falls were beautiful and the scenery that I passed through behind me was powerful. I was so grateful that I made this journey and so grateful to witness such a great gift from God. I was also grateful that I went by myself; some time to pass through this wonder on my own, with solitude on the mind, refreshing my soul.

The hike back seemed shorter that the hike there (they always do). I was in a great mood and my mind was wandering from one joyful thought to the next. I started thinking about how I read earlier in a magazine that one of the readers' favorite things about the outdoors was the feeling of being small. At first I didn't understand what was so great about feeling small because sometimes that can be overwhelming. As soon as that thought crossed my mind, however, my attitude changed and I realized that I did like feeling small, feeling surrounded by beauty and wonder for miles around me. At that same moment, I looked to my right and saw this cute, little pine cone on the branch of a huge tree. This pine cone was so small compared to me (about the size of my thumb), and the tree on which it grew. It was at that moment, a sign, that no matter how small we are, we have a purpose and I'm where I'm supposed to be. Just that one realization made this an amazing hike, let alone all of the wonderful sights along the way.

January 26, 2007

Be Open

Things I've Recently Learned:
1) Years ago, Native Americans and Early European settlers used to make Birch Beer. They would boil down the bark and sap of a Birch tree, add some honey and then let it ferment.

There has been a motto going around work and I liked it so much that I thought I'd pass it along to all:

Be Open.
Because some visionaries are blind.
Because some communicators are deaf.
Because some movers and shakers are paralyzed.
Because the only true disability is a mind stuck in the closed position.

January 17, 2007

One Year! Thank You!

Things I've Recently Learned:
1) The Sugar Maple has been in cultivation since 1753; being used for landscaping, lumber and syrup!

So, one year ago today I made my move to Utah. For years, I always wanted to go on adventures, try something new and move West; but until last year, I would always get a little too nervous to make the leap and would some how back out.

So, today I'm celebrating me taking a leap of faith one year ago today. A leap that was exciting, rewarding, scary and uncertain all at the same time. A leap, that at the time I was so nervous to make, but am now so grateful that I did. Sometimes, as I'm wondering through the mountains or getting lost in the sun setting upon red cliffs, I still can't believe I'm here.

After all of the amazing things that I've seen and done, I still long for home. It might sound corny, but I truly do love where I'm from. At home, I become a victim of comfort. Perhaps it is the familiarity of knowing where I'm at, who I run into or just knowing what kind of tree I'm standing next to.

It's hard; feeling like I belong in one place, while longing for another. I have no regrets moving to Utah, in fact, I think it's the best decision I've ever made. It's hard to have any regrets when you hear and see you're making a positive impact on others' lives and thus your own. Nonetheless, longing may be one of the hardest emotions one can endure. Could this be where the phrase, "Patience is a Virtue" comes from? Even though I long for home, my family, friends and even my dog Maggie, I must be patient and focus on the now and soak-up the experiences I'm having.

After one year of being in Utah, there are those that I owe some thanks to. Thank-You to my family for supporting me in this transition. Thank-You to my friends for always being there for me and for supporting and encouraging me. Thank-You to some amazing folks that I've met along the way to keep me motivated. And Thank-You to countless others that have inspired me in ways unimaginable.

Journeys conjeur-up a lot of emotions, but in the end it's about growth and learning and right now, I'm doing a lot of that. I'm no longer a victim of comfort and I find myself wondering, 'What's next?'

January 09, 2007


Things I've Learned:
1) Steel is the most recycled product in the U.S. After the collapse of the World Trade Centers on 9/11, a lot of that steel was melted down, recycled and is now being used to build the new USS New York naval ship. About 24 tons of steel from the WTC will be used to make the USS New York!

So, for the last three weeks I have been at home in Missouri for the Holidays. Whenever I get the chance to go home for awhile, I love reminicing about the past and this includes looking through old pictures, notes, etc. Well, this time I found an old poem I wrote. By no means do I think of myself as a poet, it's an artform that I never really got into. Nevertheless, I thought I'd pass it along...


I am but one of hundreds, thousands, millions of snowflakes
All scurring to the Earth below.
Each on unique, each one beautiful, each on serving different intenetions.

One my spiral down to delight the mittens of a child
One may glisten in the aged eyes of wisdom
And one my comfort the remaining leaf of a gingko.

I am but one of hundreds, thousands, millions that make a journey.

I may flutter down to a desolate lake
Transform the placid surface with a ripple
Extending out to the edges and tickle the feet of cattails.

I am but one of hundreds, thousands, millions of different, unique and beautiful snowflakes.
Alone we might have different effects, but as a whole we transform the scenery.

I am but one of hundreds, thousands, millions...
Making a Journey
And touching the environment around us, as we haphazardly fall from the sky.

But for now, I am just one of those millions
Masked by the beauty and confusion around me.

January 02, 2007


Things I've Learned:
1) There actually are quaking aspen trees in Missouri; however, they are only found in the very Northeast corner of the state.
2) Harps have 47 strings and 7 pedals.
3) 2000 years ago, midwives would cut the umbilical cord of newborns with a hard-crust of bread! Using a disposable crust of bread was much more sanitary than a sharpened stone.

OK, so it's the New Year. A time to have a fresh, new start, a time to reflect on the past and resolve for the future and get all sentimental about various stuff. If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked, "So, Susie, what's your New Year's Resolution?" well, I'd be able to afford liposuction rather than actually sticking to a resolution to lose weight. Basically, everyone has the same resolutions, I call them the top three: lose weight, make lots of money at a new job and stop smoking or other bad habits.

For the past couple of years, another blogger, Christine Kane has been picking words to be mindful of for the coming year instead of making resolutions that just seem to get recycled from one year to the next. I thought, 'hey, I can handle a word to live by.' So for 2007 my word will be persistence.

Persistence, the act or quality of being steadfast, especially in time(s) of discouragement, opposition or obstacles; to perserver. I picked the word persistence because so many times I'll get excited about trying something new or starting a new project and then flake my way out of continuing with these projects when things get a little "hard." I have learned that I am an incredibly good rationalizer. If, for some reason, I'm feeling too lazy or unmotivated to do something that I know is good for me and growth, I can always rationalize my way out of what I should be doing.

My intent for being mindful of the word Persistence is to become more steadfast in living a more healthy and conscious life. I intend to be more persistent with my artwork, my friendships, my exercise, work, and yes, Blogging too! (This should make my friend, Emily very happy!) I hope that being mindful of the word presistence will teach me more about myself, the world around me and maybe even teach me about a few more words such as courage, determination, conscousness, kindness, or growth.