Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Holidaze!!

Christmas went and came quickly....but it was wonderful!
Between eating and celebrating, there wasn't much time for pictures, well, at least artsy-fartsy picture-taking....
But here are a few I was able to grab, in between the wine and the laughter....
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!
2012 should bring a very interesting year...and I'm excited BEYOND belief!!
(I will update you as the beyond-ness continues to, hopefully, a whole different level....)

A painting made by my entire family!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vinny & Katie

I wanted to quickly show-off some REAL-LIFE beyond-ness (is that a word??). This post is to highlight 2 people - Vinny Hickerson and Katie Davis.

Vinny, lovingly known as Bigg Vinny Mack,  has been chasing the music dream here in Nashville, and eventually made his way in to the country group, Trailer Choir. He has always struggled with his weight, but just let himself be the "big funny guy" - to friends and fans. Well, Vinny developed diabetes, and finally decided to try out for The Biggest Loser. This past season, Vinny was on the show, and made it to the final 4!! He ended up losing 184 lbs!!!! Vinny went BEYOND himself...and learned to change his lifestyle, to become healthier, live longer, and now can do things he wasn't able to do before! He is now also engaged. He has become an inspiration! Check out Vinny here: Vinny's FB profileVinny's FB page  and the Biggest Loser website.

Katie Davis is originally from Nashville. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a mission trip to Uganda. After high school, long story short, she goes back to Uganda to teach kindergarten for a year, then returns to the US to start college. After her first semester, she decides to go back to Uganda and help the children, by adopting 13 of them and caring for more! She has started Amazima Ministries as well to help raise money. Take a moment and check out her blog - the Journey. You can also get a copy of her book, Kisses from Katie. Her story is amazing!!!

There are so many ways to volunteer. I have already started on mine. My sister just told me of a website that offers volunteer work all over! Check it out:

You don't have to lose 180lbs, or move across the world to help someone....
All it takes is one matter how big or go beyond.....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I've been taking some "me" time's been nice. And with time on my hands, well, my head goes to lots of colorful places. :) I have been hoping, with all the hope one can muster up, and checking the mailbox and looking at the phone, that an opportunity of a lifetime will come my way!! But until then, here I sit. But I need to prepare. I've already considered all of my options with what to do with my car, pets, clothes, guitar - well, wait, the guitar will be going with me - and well, everything else in my life. But I still need to do one more thing before embarking on the next stage of my life....

I've met a lot of people in my short years of life thus far. And many have stayed with me, as our friendships have grown closer and closer. I am truly blessed. But there are some that have come into my life - for whatever reason - and are now no longer - for whatever reason. And I am no longer in theirs. Somewhere along the way, things went bad. I really do try to see every side of every situation. I have this curse of completely understanding where the other person is standing, and their position on our "misunderstanding." And I take full responsibility in my part of the "break-up." So here is where I falter...

Although I can understand their side, and have realized that I probably won't ever forget, I can't seem to forgive. Not just them, but myself as well. So, this is my next step in this whole idea of going "beyond." Ok, I never expected to have to face this, until this wonderful blog (I'm being sarcastic) that I have created. But I got thinking, and realized that this WOULD fit in to the "beyond" category, and it's probably something I should do, so I can start fresh in the next stage of my life...

So I have laid down my weapons, and my pride, and have come to peace with the past. I forgive those who have hurt me (I will keep those names to myself). They did what they had to do, or at least the only thing they knew to do.  I have also found a way to come to terms with my own faults, mistakes, hiccups, etc. I'm not perfect. Nobody is. And sometimes, I have felt so much, that I mess up. I've hurt people, though never intentionally tried. But none the less, I have. I have said things to people that I really shouldn't - I seem to have a problem with holding my tongue when I get all worked up over something, that now, looking back, I should have just walked away.

So I guess I have gone "beyond" now...beyond what I was planning, or thought I could do. I am my own worst enemy at times (well, a lot of times), but I forgive myself. I can only do what I can do. And I can only be who I am. And I want to be better. And that's good enough for me. I am hoping to start a new life, in a totally new way, with the past as it is, knowing that lessons were learned, rules were broken, and my life was affected. In the end, I gave my all...I gave my heart. That's what's most important to me.

And to quote a new song I just wrote with some amazing writers, JP Williams and Lizzy McAvoy:

I know my heart gets in the way
Sometimes my pride comes out to play
I stay too long when it's best to walk away
But hey, I'm just human 


Monday, December 5, 2011

Blueberry Oatmeal Scones

I'm not a cook, but cooking classes ARE on my list of things to do...
But I do like to bake...well, the few times I have. I've been wanting to make something with blueberries and oatmeal, 2 of my favorite things to eat! And, again, thank God for the iPhone apps, I came across a recipe, on the Allrecipes app, for Blueberry Oatmeal Scones (Blueberry Oatmeal Scones from . I wanted to do something other than muffins, so this was perfect!! it goes....

On a rainy day like today, what would be better than some baking? Well, I guess a movie, fire in the fireplace, a bottle of wine and some good company, which might just make today even better, and it's still early! lol - but I digress....

Anyway...I wanted to make these scones somewhat healthy, or at least not so unhealthy. I did some research, and found that I could substitute agave for the sugar - but they say not to use as much - in other words, 2/3 cup of agave for 1 cup of sugar. (Just a side note - agave comes from the same plant used to make tequila! woohoo! My kind of sweetener.) But seriously, agave is considered a "natural" sweetener - but the research is still out on whether or not it's any better than sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. It does have less calories and a lower glycemic-index rating, but again, it's still up for debate as to whether this is really any better than plain sugar.

The recipe also called for butter and milk. As for the milk, I assumed, that when baking, whole milk would be best. But I couldn't bring myself to get I got 2% instead. As for the butter, I've googled my butt off trying to find out if there was a healthier alternative, but it all came back to the fact that I was BAKING. So - the best thing to do, really, is use butter. Margarine and other oils contain more water, and so don't work as well when baking. At least that's what google says....
I'm still new to this whole baking thing, and I do love to experiment, but one step at a time....

In one of the reviews of this recipe, which people loved, one woman added vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. I love combining flavors...even if I'm not sure if they'll work, but who wouldn't mind a little vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon?? Not this girl! So, I added about 1/2 tsp of each (though I probably could have added more), and decided against the pecans (not much of a pecan fan).

They turned out great!!! I think the agave was a good choice, and the scones were not too sweet...though I could have handled a little more sweetness.  I'm excited about my first scone bake! This is a pretty good way to get some healthy stuff in you, and still enjoy it. It's made with half whole wheat flour and, of course, the oatmeal...which is great for you.

So this, my friends, was a success! Until next time...
(and yes, I'm still shocked I was in the kitchen for more than 2 minutes to make coffee, like I normally do)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ok, so if you know me, you know that the last, almost decade of my life, has been given to music - writing, singing, learning guitar (actually, learning writing and singing too!), and everything in between and more - recording, touring, etc. This has all be wonderful, and I don't regret one minute of it! I have learned a TON, and have been able to feed my creative side, and enjoyed every moment! But recently, I have been doing a life-check. Am I living life??? Am I getting out of it all that it offers? The reality of it, is that I have been chasing the music dream, but am also single, still renting, and have student loans to repay. Which means I need a full-time job. Not to mention, I don't have some rich investor to pay for my recordings, touring, etc. Soooo...that means, Johanna has to find the money. Ok, no problem. I want this! But the problem that has occurred, which I realized during this "life-check" is that I was so busy with music and work, that I had no extra time for anything else, really. Though I did try once in a while, I guess I lost balance somewhere along the way. Plus, as a wise musician-friend once said to me, "How can you write songs about life, when you're not making time to live it??"  Oh so true, my friends!

This blog has started to become something more than just about hiking. It's about going out there, trying new things, whether it's something as small as baking (stay tuned for my next post!!), or as big as moving to a new country. It's about really, truly LIVING. So the next few posts will be my attempts at new things, or things I have sort of tried, but this time around, I am going BEYOND......

Sunday, November 27, 2011


This Thanksgiving was a quiet one...but very relaxing and nice!
It was a beautiful day in Nashville, so I went on a hike, back to Beaman Park, along the Henry Hollow Loop trail. I would say this trail is "moderate" hiking...some hills...but definitely not hard. 
I was actually going to go camping a few days before Thanksgiving, but Mother Nature did not agree with my rained for like 3 days straight.
But this hike was just enough to get it out of my system...and I'm hoping to 
still get to go camping this year before it gets too cold. So, hopefully, my next post will be from a campsite!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!
I ended up spending mine with a good friend, which was definitely needed, as my life is going to be taking quite a turn over the next year....stay tuned for the updates!

Monday, November 7, 2011

BEYOND myself....

Ok...I like to help people. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, hope, and an overall GREAT feeling, knowing I have given my time, efforts, and heart, to someone in need.
But to be honest, usually due to social media, I feel bombarded by event invites, messages, etc., in ways to help. I can't seem to make up my mind which organization to help, or how to help. And although I have had personal ties to certain groups, I still feel overwhelmed by all of it!
But I want to help.
I want to really go out there and HELP people. I want to make a difference...not just thru my every day work, but BEYOND that...thru volunteering, etc.
But where do I begin??

I had tried to sign up for Habitat for Humanity, but it ends up that usually they need volunteers on Saturdays...which is one of the days I work. Uggh...all I want to do is help!!! So I started getting frustrated....

Then I came across a link on my facebook news feed (though I don't remember ever "like"ing the page, for Safe Haven, here in Nashville. 
It's a shelter-to-housing program, helping homeless families with children, achieve lasting self-sufficiency.
I had always wanted to help in something of this nature, so I emailed the contact person to become a volunteer! If you live near Nashville and want to help, click on the image below for more info:

The next day, I saw a story on CNN about Amit Gupta (AmitGuptaNeedsYou)...a young man who was diagnosed with leukemia. He has started a blog, and has been using other social media, to get info out to the general public about becoming a bone marrow donor...and hopefully finding a match.
Now, I don't know Amit, but after he explained that it's a very simple process to donate (basically, it's like giving blood), I thought...I can do that! Whether it's going to help him, or someone else....
this is something that I can do to help!
So, I've just started the process and registered to become a donor.
For more info about becoming a donor, click on the image below:
 One last organization I have become involved in, is Musicians On Call.
This is a great organization that brings volunteer musicians to the bedside of hospital patients (in Nashville, it's through Vanderbilt)...whether it's in the main hospital, dialysis unit, long-term care facility, the Childrens' Hospital, or the VA. I've had the chance to play for these patients...and although it was hard to see these people in pain, or bad health, it was amazing how playing just 1 song, could bring a smile to their face! These patients, their families, and even the hospital staff, enjoy and appreciate it sooooo much! I've even had some patients take my guitar, and play a song for me! Now that's therapy!!! I have always felt at peace, after giving back in this way...and it cost me nothing!

For more info on MOC:

I'm learning that there are ways to help....even if your days are filled with meetings, kids, gym, church, pets, and more...and at the end of the day, still trying to find time for yourself.
And maybe you feel you don't have the money to donate to any organization...or maybe you don't even know which organization to help! But it doesn't matter. What I'm learning, is that if you pick one group to help, eventually, you may come across, or eventually feel a strong pull towards, a group in which you can some way...even 1 day a year. 
There are animals, people, nature, etc....SOOOOOO many ways to give back to your community and world - with your money, time, talent, etc. And at the end of the day, you may just be surprised how helping someone, just for the sake of helping, can put a smile on your face!
So go out there, go BEYOND, and give back...because even if you think there is no way you can, believe me...there is ALWAYS a way you can help!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall Focus

So, without going into a long story, I've had a lot on my mind. I have a potential opportunity that will take me, this time next year, to another land, people, culture, ideas and experiences - for the next few years! I'm very excited about the possibilities that are out there, especially since I've started this blog - which is all about going beyond...

Well, as I said in a previous post, as a Capricorn, I like to plan. So...*sigh*...this potential opportunity has my brain going at 150mph. And I needed to give it a break. And as I've begun to learn, hiking is a great way to get away from everything, and just be. But this day, I knew trying to "clear" my mind was NOT going to work. I had to put my brain to work on something else...something specific. So this hike was going to be about focusing on the details along the trail. I've already learned that the more you start looking for the details, the more you find. This was perfect for what I needed that day! Now, it's still fall, so bear with me as I have more "fall" pics...But still, so beautiful!!!

I chose to go to Beaman Park - about 10 minutes from where I live. Unfortunately, I only had about an hour to do this, but that was ok. The hike today would not be about was about focusing in on the details of Mother Nature. I definitely will be back for a regular hike thru the trails....

I didn't make it very far on the trail...due to the time constraint, and the fact that I kept stopping to take pictures. But I didn't care. And even though I was in the woods, there was lots of sunlight shining thru the trees...which made for great picture-taking. This sun allowed me to really play around with the angle at which I was taking pictures....and found out very quickly that it has to be AWAY from the sun. I know, sounds stupid, but I remember hearing photographers talk about whether the "lighting" was good enough to get a good shot. So, yes, I had to make sure my back was to the sun, so that whatever I'm shooting at is "lit up"...otherwise, it's just shadow that you'll be shooting...and that doesn't lead to brilliant colors and details! I know, probably a simple concept, but I guess I had to find out for myself....

I used, again, the Hipstamatic and Retro Camera apps on my phone, which I am slowly beginning to master. I also wanted to take "normal" camera pics. The iPhone really takes a good picture, but since I've found a TON of other camera/photography apps, I decided to use some of them to enhance the pictures' colors, brightness, etc. more thing about my day that I have to share! This is under the category of BEYOND!
I had my first visit to an acupuncturist (East Nashville Community Acupuncture). It was amazing! The girl had me lay down in a recliner in a room with other patients...very quiet and serene (one guy was even snoring!). She put the needles in, to help the problem I was having, and I ended up lying there for about an hour. I could feel some pressure at times at the points where the needles were, but eventually, I felt a sense of balance - all over. Apparently, that is when I would know my treatment is over. I was soooo relaxed! And even noticed I had a smile on my face when I left...weird, huh? She told me that my Heart Meridian was blocked. Ha! I could have told her that! It's funny....the last few times I've had a health problem that needed some attention, it had been after a period of stress (a break-up and a job, the first 2 times). This time...well, you can make your own guess...from my "diagnosis" from the acupuncturist. It's amazing how internal stress, etc. can eventually lead its way to the outside, creating physical, health problems. I'm even more of a believer now, of the impact of stress in our lives, and also the healing power of acupuncture (of course, along with other medical treatments, exercise, massage, and so many more!).

I guess the reason behind this blog has become even more apparent, and important, to try new things...beyond what you're used to...with the goal of getting everything out of this life that you can!

Below, is a slideshow of the pictures I attempted to take....trying to capture all the details!!! Enjoy!! (Can also be found in my Picasa Web Album)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Long Hunter State Park

on the Volunteer Loop Trail at Long Hunter State Park in Hermitage, TN
I had the day off yesterday, and since it was such a beautiful day, I wanted to check out one of many middle TN hiking trails! I called my good friend, LaToya (LaToya Tramill), and we decided to go on a little longer hike, since we had the day to play...
We chose the Loop Trail at Long Hunter State Park in Hermitage, TN.

I knew this day would come, and that my old tennis shoes would
not work...I needed HIKING shoes!
Merrell MOAB Ventilator Mid

I went to REI, which is huge outdoors store here in Nashville. I figured, if I'm going to buy outdoor shoes, this would be the best place to learn about them. As soon as I walked into the store, a child-like excitement came over me. I had no clue yet what was in store for me during this hiking/backpacking adventure I'm embarking on, and I had no clue what gear/clothing I would eventually need to get, but I wanted to buy everything! I was like a kid in a candy store!

I contained my excitement, to stay on task, and walked straight back to the shoe area. Ok...lots to choose from! Thankfully, an employee came to my rescue. I explained to him that I needed boots, but had no clue where to begin. He wanted to know what my plans were for hiking...was I going on trails, rocks, overnight, etc. Well, gosh, I wasn't exactly sure yet, but knew I was out for some adventures, so I told him I wanted something somewhat in the middle....good for almost anything - at least right now. I also liked the idea of high-tops, to give me some extra ankle support. So he brought out 2 different kinds. One was kind of stiff, which I knew was necessary, but didn't think my feet would like them for too long. I decided on the Merrells. He also informed me that I would need wool when trying to find the right size, he gave me a pair of wool socks to use. Ok, so obviously they have to fit. BUT you also don't want your toes to touch the front when going downhill. Well, wouldn't ya know it - they had a fake rock you could stand on, pointing downhill, to try out the boots! It was a perfect fit! It was probably the quickest sale this guy has ever made. I know I could have done a ton of research, looked into different stores, online, etc., but I believe in listening to those who know, from their experience, and then forming your own as you go along....So these boots would be a good place to start. The one thing these boots are not, is waterproof. But I'm not planning on braving the weather too much and hiking in the least for now.... my boots, and my GPS to find the state park...I'm ready!! I made sure I had something to eat ahead of time, and had a bottle of water...and my camera, of course!

LaToya and I easily found the park, followed the signs to the trails, and found a parking lot. We decided to make one last pit stop in the bathroom, and check out the map of the park - to find exactly where our trail begins. They had a few trails...some were "loop" trails - where you end up back where you started, while others are a straight shot from point A to point B. There's actually even a camping area, with trails leading off of it. I'm excited to go back and camp here! It's a very pretty state park...

posted at the info center.....yikes!!!
Here is a sign that was posted at the info/map area...I wasn't too sure what to expect on the trail, so I tried not to think about these critters too much!!

The trail we wanted to go on, which I found at, was the Loop Trail. It's approx. 4 miles long, and supposedly would take us about 2 hours. (Pets are allowed on this trail.) It's considered a "moderate" trail. Seeing as how my last hike was an "easy" trail, I was ready to see what one calls a "moderate" trail..and try out my new boots!

So, in order to get to our trail, we had to get back in our cars, and drive out the front of the state park, to another location down the road...

The trail started off pretty flat and easy. I was feeling pretty good - I thought, wow, this is "moderate"?? But as time went on, we did have to climb a little, on some rocks, making sure to watch our steps. It was a beautiful day, beautiful trail...some in the woods, some near the water (Percy Priest Lake), and during parts of the trail, we were on a cliff high above the water. It was a perfect day for this! I wore jeans and a t-shirt, with a light long sleeve shirt underneath, in case it got chilly in the woods. I also wore a hoodie around my waist - again, just to have in case it got cold. But I definitely didn't need to worry about getting cold. It was a warm day, plus we were working up a little sweat!

So the hike took us about 2 1/2 hours. We stopped at times at the water, or to take pictures. My 20oz. bottle of water was enough for me, at least for that hike. Part of me was scared to drink too much water - I wasn't about to squat in the woods when nature called! As for the "moderate" trail - I was happy to realize that it was not too hard for me to do. I got a little out of breath, but really nothing big at all. I'm curious to see what a "high" level trail is like!

Below are a few highlight pics from the trail, again, using my iPhone camera. At times, I just used the regular phone camera, and other times I used the Hipstamatic app and Retro Camera app. There are also a few pictures that I took with the regular phone camera, and then edited with an app, to bring out certain colors, etc. Again, the whole editing process can be so much fun!! Not only do you have a cool picture to begin with, but you can make it into something even better! I can't wait to get a "real" professional camera!

Fall colors!
Mini frog!
check out how the only part of this pic that is in focus, is LaToya...pretty cool!

And here is a slideshow of the rest of my pics from our hike...(from my Picasa Web Albums)
We had a great time, and I think I've gotten LaToya interested in hiking as well!!!
It's really a peaceful feeling to get away from the world for a little...

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Just a quick update....
As a Capricorn, I need to plan, at least a little...So, after some surfing on the web, I've come up with a basic plan to further my adventures. 
Here are a few sites I've found that I will now start using to find info, trails, etc...for not only hiking, but camping, backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing, and more!

And wiith my new hiking shoes, I'm ready to GO! - a great overall site for info, finding trails, etc. There is also an iPhone app - which I will definitely be using!  - more info on trails, gear, and even travel guides - in the US, Europe, and beyond, using LonelyPlanet (may use this for my Europe trip!!!) - trails in your local area!

DiscoverTNTrails - for those in the TN area

These are only a few sites I've found....but there are tons of sites out there with info that can help...

I'll keep you updated on my next hike. I've already picked out a few trails...and will begin hiking longer trails, along with camping, etc. I have to get SOME in before this cold TN weather comes in!!

Keep on trekking....

Monday, October 10, 2011

With the day off from work, I decided to go out for my first hike. It was a beautiful day here in Nashville, and took the opportunity to go to Whites Creek...just around the corner form my house. There was no one else on the trail, so I took my time...and lots of pics! Here is what I learned:

It was a 2-mile trail. This should have taken me about a half hour. But instead, took about an hour and a half..due to my needing to snap some pictures of the beautiful nature! I found that I'm not as out of shape as I thought - which was a great relief - with some hills and all. I definitely need to get hiking shoes. My old sneakers did not enjoy the walk as much as I did. Besides that, the 2 things I completely forgot to bring was water and bug spray. Note to self: these are very necessary! Ok, so I'm an I know for the next hike! Other than that, it was a great day, with beautiful scenery! Fontanel also has a Disc Golf Course that I would love to come back and try - even though I'm awful at throwing a frisbee. But anyone who is in the Nashville area, should definitely come out here...for a walk, tour, disc golf, food, or music. Check it out at The Fontanel Mansion. Time to "step-it-up" for the next hike....

Below is a slideshow of a TON of pictures I took. I realized, as I went along, that the more you start really looking at the details, the more details jump out at you. In the beginning, it was just about getting a "cool" shot. Then I became obsessed with the lighting. Then it became the contrasts in colors. Then it was the different textures and shapes of nature. So, now I realize I have alot to work on...and become better at capturing many of these in one shot. The time-consuming part was editing them. I end up taking a lot more than I actually use, because you never know exactly how the picture will turn out.

I used, mainly, my Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. I do have many other apps which I like, and will show their uses in another post.  But for those of you who have the iPhone, I highly recommend it. I've added captions of the exact film and lens used for each picture, in case you're curious. The only problem with this app, is you can't zoom...or at least, I haven't figured out how to zoom lol! The other problem is that I have 8 different films, 9 different lenses, and 7 different flashes. I didn't use any flashes because 1) I was outside, so I figured it wouldn't work and 2) I already had sooo many options, it was hurting my brain by the end, trying to decide which combo to use. It seems I have found a few favorites...the John S, Lucifer and Libatique lenses, and the Kodot, BlacKeys SuperGrain and Pistil film. But, even after saying all of that...there were still so many combinations that come out really well. And many times, whether the shot will come out as you think, depends on the lighting. So, the pics I've added to the slideshow I thought stood out, or had some cool feel/look to them. I guess that's how a photographer decides on which shots are best! lol  I've also decided that I REALLY want a REAL camera. The iPhone camera and apps are fun, but I know there is soooo much more I could do with real lenses, zooming, etc...(I'll need to take a class to find out all the other Enjoy, and keep shooting....cause you never know when you'll get that great shot!! (These pictures, along with others I've started taking, can also be found at: My Picasa Web Album)
(Also, if you'd like to vote for one of my prints, you can do so here - and thank you in advanced!: The Big Hipstamatic Show Contest)

Around Nashville...

Here are some pics I took around Nashville....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

First attempt..

Here is my first attempt at photography, using the Hipstamatic iPhone app 
(just one of soooo many fun camera apps!) 

Saricorn Photography

I've started playing around with photography....
Though have only begun with a small camera and my iPhone camera, (there are so many fun apps!),
I will be upgrading to a professional camera.
Here is where I'll be posting my attempts at photography...

More to come soon!

Team Green

I will be tracking my experience here, as I learn about
hiking boots, tents, trail safety and more....
One thing I've decided to do to assist me in learning about all
this outdoorsy-stuff, is to join Team Green here in Nashville!
They offer all kinds of activities, from hiking to rock climbing, 
to canoeing and more!

Stay tuned for my adventures...

For those in the Nashville area, check out this site...
It is also a great source for finding ways to live healthier and
become more environmentally conscious...