Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A first look thru the Nikon v1....

So, over the next few years, I will be out of a backpack, for the most part. In order to capture this amazing experience, along with my new-found interest in photography, I wanted to get a new camera...a REAL camera...not just a "point-and-shoot", or my iPhone, which have been the cameras of choice up to this point.

After asking every photographer I know for their opinion, I began researching DSLRs - thank you, Google, YouTube, etc. My options basically came down to a Canon Rebel (of course, there are a few different types) and a Nikon (again, soooo many types). I took a drive to the local camera store, to see in real life, what these cameras could do, how they feel, what they look like, etc, and to hopefully have the salesperson shed even more light on this confusing topic for me.

I held both Canons and Nikons and asked the salesman every question I could think of (I needed translation on some of his answers). These cameras looked great, and can do soooo much, but were kind of big and heavy (if travelling with this all the time). I finally told him what my situation was - with travelling and all - and so he pulled out the Nikon v1. This is a camera that is basically a hybrid of a point-and-shoot and a DSLR. It has a small body like a point-and-shoot, but interchangeable lenses, along with all of the options a DSLR has (point-and-shoot cameras are good, but only up to a point. There are many settings you have no control over - such as changing the aperature, the amount of zoom, and the quality of the photo.)

I finally realized that although a DSLR was my goal, it would be impractical while travelling. I wanted something that would force me to learn more about photography, while getting amazing shots, and not take up too much room or be too heavy. I thought the Nikon v1 would be the best choice.

Well, as luck would have it, the other day I was driving past another camera shop, and it was going out of business! I figured, if it was meant to be for me to get this camera, this store would have it. And yes, they sure did! And I got a great deal! I bought the Nikon v1, which comes with a 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. I then also purchased the 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 and 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 lenses. (I still want the 18mm /1.8 lens for super close shots!). I also purchased the Nikon 1 SB-N5 Speedlight (the Nikon v1 does not have a flash - so this is a removable flash). I also got a camera bag and UV filters for all 3 lenses.

I'll be taking a class soon on how to use this camera. As soon as I know more about my new camera, and what I'm doing, I'll write another post, a review, of some sort....

But until then, check out the pics I took while at the beach! I played around with the different lenses and settings - though at times, just got confused on what setting to use. But I had a blast, and am so far, pretty impressed with what this camera can do! And it will be PERFECT to use while travelling!!!!

You can also view these on My Picasa Page

Happy Hump Day everyone, 
and enjoy the rest of your week!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Light Art Photography

A few weeks ago, some friends and I went camping....which, first of all, was sooooo relaxing, and definitely needed. Unfortunately, it started raining early into the next morning and all day long the following day, so we all headed home. But either way, still wonderful to get away from the city and least for a short time....

But I digress... 

One of the girls I went with, Cherrie Lefevers (she has done some photography for me in the past, during my music daze), wanted to try out some "light art" photography....and I was supposed to help. I wasn't quite sure exactly what this was all about until we got in to the shoot...and I could see what she wanted....

We had to wait for it to be very dark outside, and then she put colored saran wrap on 3 different flashlights. The goal was for me to use all 3, in different shapes, movements, etc, while she took a picture. Then she wanted me in the picture as well, and so she would be using another camera to create the flash on my face.

If you're curious how this works - Cherrie put her camera on a tripod, and let the shutter stay open, while I played with the colored lights. for the flash thing....the other camera didn't work too well (if you look real close, you can see me in a few of the pictures). So we decided that I should just hold a bright white light to my face. We did all of this in one "shot" - basically with the shutter open the whole time.  (oh, there is SOOOOO much I still need to learn about photography, but SOOO excited!)

Now that we tried it out, and I have a clue as to what we're doing (as the "artist" lol), we will be doing a shoot again - and hopefully the pictures will turn out much better! 

Some things we've realized:

1) we need to find a second camera that has a bright enough flash to light up my face - this way I don't have to attempt to turn a bright white light on, and hold it there for about 7-8 seconds, and NOT move at all. (Plus, that light was soooo bright in my face, I could barely see!) 

 2) I suggested she shoots from further away, if possible....then I can move around - almost dance - with the colored lights to create a fun light trail. During this shoot, I had to stand in one position. 

3) I found that I could take one of the flashlights (red) and turn it on and off turn the shoot, creating "dots". I think we can do a lot more with this. (btw, the other flashlights were kind of hard to turn on and off, and so you can see where I picked them up from the ground).

For all the photographers out there, give this a try and make sure to send us your pictures! (and any other advice would be greatly appreciated!)

In the end, we had a blast! I could have done this for HOURS! So I'm excited to try again....

Stay tuned for more Light Art Photography 
by Cherrie Lefevers...

*Here is the link to the pics, if you want to see bigger versions:*

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Burgess Falls Hike

I just went hiking at Burgess Falls in Sparta, TN. It was an amazing-weather kind of day, and thought I'd bring my good buddy, Bear, along. He's about 16 now, so we weren't able to make it thru the whole trail, down to the big falls. He was pretty worn out from the few climbs we did! But I definitely plan on going back at some point to finish the trail!

Click on the picture below, and it will take you to the album on my Facebook page. Or click on the second picture to view the album on Picasa...

AND for those interested in, or have been using, the Hipstamatic app for the iPhone, I posted which lens/film combos I used for each photo. I have every single one they offer...and believe me, it can be quite confusing! I've started making "favorite" combos, so I can switch more easily between each option. 

For today's hike, I decided to try out some of the newer lenses/films/paks I've gotten, and also I did not want to take any b&w was just too beautiful of a day for deep, thought-provoking b&w pictures :)


**Click below to see the album on Picasa (if you don't have facebook)**

Burgess Falls

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pinterest Busters!

Hello Pinterest people!

I was talking with a friend, and we came up with the idea of having guest bloggers for a section titled 
"Pinterest Busters"! 

Ok, so basically, try out a DIY recipe/craft/etc that
you find on Pinterest - and then write about it! Did it work? How could you make it better? Etc.....

So get your P-busting on, and let's hear how it went! 

Email me any questions, the guest blogger post, etc. at 

p.s. click below to find me on Pinterest!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Volunteer Around The World!

Have you ever wanted to see the world...and at the same time, help others? There are TONS of opportunities out there where you can volunteer your time to help someone, and at the same time, experience new countries, cultures and people. 

I have started to put together a list of great organizations (with more added everyday)...thru my facebook and twitter pages (you can subscribe to these lists as well). I wanted to share these with you - and if you know of any others, please send them my way, and I will add to my list!

For facebookers:

For twitterers:

And for those who are not on either, check out the tab "Volunteer"
here on my blog!

Go BEYOND yourself....see the world and lend a helping hand!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Follow ‘The Bike Rack Test’ And You’ll Always Pick The Best Bike Rack For Your Needs -by guest blogger Steve Richardson

*Thank you to guest blogger, Steve Richardson, for this post! He loves all things bikes, but when his bike rack fell off loaded up with 4 family bikes, as he headed down the highway looking forward to a vacation, he’s since got a bit geeky about bike rack essentials! Check out his site at, on Facebook: Best Bike Rack Reviews, or Twitter: @bikerackreviews*

When you need to buy a bike rack it’s not easy. The most reliable way to go about making the right decision for you isn’t clear or it is at best confusing. Reading 5star and 1star reviews for the same bike rack doesn’t help and you know that relying on manufacturer’s sites will not deliver unbiased information. Of course it will accurately list features for specific products but that’s about it.

And yet the importance of ending up with a good bike rack that is capable of transporting your bikes without problem is extremely important because the problems that can arise aren’t pretty.

Bike racks that are unfit for purpose can cause problems
Serious problems:
  • Damaged bikes
  • Damaged car
  • Stolen bikes
  • Stolen bike rack
  • Bikes fall off, potential accident
  • Bike rack falls off, potential accident
Less serious problems - (hassles):
  • Difficult and time consuming to attach
  • Difficult and awkward to load bikes
Because a bike rack may be expected to transport thousands of dollars worth of bikes and an unfit for purpose bike rack is a disaster waiting to happen, we say it’s very important you know how to pick out the best bike rack for your needs.

We have introduced a method that removes the uncertainty surrounding choosing a bike rack by introducing a much more scientific approach to the process that gives you certainty and a confidence to know what you are looking for and how to fine it. The method gives you all the information you need to disregard those racks that don’t pass The Bike Rack Test. Plus you are presented with all the essential information in a format that lets you compare bike racks that are fit for purpose and to end up with the best rack.

The Bike Rack Test
Collecting the information you need. Does a bike rack pass the test and how does it compare with other bike racks that also pass.
What you discover about each bike rack: 
  • Where to attach the rack and why - the pros and cons associated with each location
  • Does the bike rack deliver the 7 most essential components
    • Quick and easy to install and attach
    • The attachment system and how snugly it clamps
    • Fast and simple to load & unload bikes
    • Bike loading technology will fit many bike sizes and frame shapes
    • Strong and secure 2x locking
    • Well designed to stop damage
    • Anti-wobble/sway/vibration etc. technologies
  • Does the bike rack pass the 7 essential components
  • Grading system for each bike rack allows you to accurately compare bike racks against one other
  • The final outcome – you end up with the BEST bike rack!

The Bike Rack Test does away with uncertainty and gives you a firm foundation to objectively compare bike racks.

Less reliance on subjective and inconsistent comments is a good thing. Less reliance on sales and marketing literature increases objectivity. What you have is real test that breaks down into manageable sections essential components that every bike rack must deliver well. The process can give you confidence in making the right decision for the right reasons.

As a consequence the whole process is more methodical in choosing the best bike rack, and that leads to the best bike rack being picked out for your needs which is what it’s all about.

When you use ‘The Bike Rack Test’ you’ll be able to pick out the best bike rack for your needs

Learn how to use The Bike Rack Test by following the link.

Happy cycling,
Steve Richardson
Transporting your bikes safely 

Friday, July 6, 2012


Sometimes, you have to realize.... and accept....that you did the best you could with what you had and what your life was offering. And sometimes, it's no one's fault. It just was what it was.

And the fact that you know now, it would be better, doesn't change the past. But from here on out, it will always be better than the past...because you have learned and have grown stronger and better!

And now, it is what it is...

be AMAZING that you know better!

(and don't forget to smile along the way!)


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Yeah, I juice.

I think it's ironic how the term "juicing" can be taken 2 different ways (1 - steroid use, and 2 - extracting the juice from vegetables and fruits), and yet both are used to describe a way of becoming "powerful".  Have you ever thought about vegetables and fruits making you powerful? Well, you should! There are soooo many benefits from these food groups....from general support for your immune system,  to weight loss, to cleansing, to increased energy and many more! Oh, and will start to notice a beautiful glow to your skin!

Using a juicer (imagine that!) to extract the juice from fruits and vegetables, you can enjoy a nice glass of premium vitamins and minerals. There are 3 types of juicers. Here is just one site to learn about the differences: Joyful Juicer. Basically, there is one that just extracts the juice - leaving the pulp behind, one will grind up every part of the fruit/vegetable, and the last is one that is best for smaller leafy greens, such as wheatgrass. Read the link for more info...

*Side note: If you use the extractor-type, you can use the leftover pulp in sauces, lasagnas, etc!

So, one of my first questions in learning about juicing, was WHY?? Why not just eat the fruit/vegetable? Well, although eating them whole is a wonderful way to get your nutrients, a benefit of juicing, is that those nutrients will be absorbed by your body much more quickly, since it doesn't have to breakdown the food. 

A few things to also remember when it comes to juicing....

Jack LaLanne Power Juicer
- Although it would make life easier to make up a big batch of the juice and refrigerate it to drink throughout the week, this is not a good idea. When the juice is exposed to oxygen and light, the nutrients start being broken down, and so the effects of them decrease.  Therefore, after juicing, you should drink it immediately. (This is also why eating fresh vegetables are the best - as soon as they are picked from the garden. The longer they sit, the less effective they are. But, then again, please don't stress about this. Eat your vegetables!!! This is MUCH better than NOT eating them.) 
- Try different combinations!! I have found, personally, that as long as I include a red delicious apple (I prefer these over granny smith, etc.) that the end result juice, for the most part, tastes like apple juice. Also, beware of using too many fruits in 1 juicing. Fruits have a lot of natural sugars, and for those who need to watch their sugar consumption, (really, everyone should be aware of this), it's best not to have too many fruits at once. 

I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to shopping for vegetables to juice! I have tried almost everything!! Here is a list of a few ingredients I have tried:

- Spinach leaves (make sure they are the fresh ones, NOT the packaged kind. The ones packaged don't seem to have enough water to create juice from)
- Green and Red leaf lettuce
(before stirring)
- Kale (again, the fresh bundles)
- Apple (red delicious)
- Kiwi
- Blueberries
- Strawberries
- Carrots (carrots have a lot of sugar as be careful with how many you use!)
- Cucumber (one of my fav to include!! It makes the juice taste light and fresh!!)
- Bell peppers (green, red, orange, and yellow - just a small piece, since it is pretty strong-tasting!)
- Broccoli
- Celery
- Tomato (I like using Roma Tomatoes)
- Asparagus
- Sweet potato (yes, I juiced it!)
- Beet (not one of my favorite flavors, but I like using the leaves!)
- Ginger root (use only a SMALL amount...believe me! lol)
- Garlic clove (again, only 1 little piece! Believe me, I tried a little more one day, and I think I was sweating out garlic all day long! ha!)
- Orange (this seems to only work well with a fruit juice recipe - NOT with the vegetables, in my opinion)

*Another side note: Since I don't have the type of juicer for wheatgrass, and other grasses, I went to Whole Foods and bought bottled wheatgrass juice, and just added it to my homemade juice. I have also tried adding some aloe vera juice (great for your digestive system!) and a little flax seed oil (contains Omega-3 fatty acid). I have also tried including some protein powder (french vanilla flavor) for times when I want a meal replacement - this way, you have something other than just the veggies. It, actually, didn't taste too bad!

Juicing does take some time, and can be messy. One thing I have tried in my time management of juicing is that once I get home from the grocery store with the many bags of veggies and fruits, I separate the ingredients for each "juice session" in to ziploc bags. This way, when I'm ready to juice, I just grab one of the bags and get to work! 

Another fun thing I have recently tried, due to our summer heat wave, is to FREEZE the juice!! I made popsicles!!! I look forward to these when I get home from a work after driving in the 106 degree weather! Now from what I have read, it seems that freezing the juice immediately, will help it hold on to the nutrients, so they're not broken down. You may want to google for more info.....

(after freezing...the juice seemed to separate)

There is a TON of juicing info out there on the benefits, the best juicer, recipes, etc. It can be a little overwhelming. I would suggest just starting, and then play around with ingredients, types of juicers, etc. But most importantly, have FUN!!!

Here are a few sites you can check out for more juicing info: 
(by the way, there are also Juicing apps for your phone!)

Good luck, enjoy, and remember to SMILE - you are doing something healthy for your body and soul! 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The danger of a single story

I went to an expo this learn more about my upcoming adventure...and
one of the panelists suggested looking in to this story. I am so happy this was brought to my attention! Many people, including myself, have very limited views on various cultures, people, countries, etc. 

Please take a moment and watch this video...
It's a little long, but worth EVERY second!
There is NEVER just ONE story...of a people, place, etc...

I hope this will help open your eyes, mind and heart to this big, wonderful world we live in! And hopefully it will leave you wanting to learn MORE about what you think you already know....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Something Happened on Race Day (written by Cortney Jacobsen - my sis!)

*This is a post from Pixie Medley - a blog written by my sister -
about her experience in the competing in her first Half Iron Man! (7/18/11)* 

Something Happened on Race Day

I rocked a 70.3. That’s what happened on race day.

The short version…
I completed my first Half Iron triathlon this weekend in Lake Chelan, WA. And I accomplished my goal – I finished injury-free and strong, sprinting (well, at least in my mind it felt like a sprint) to the finish line. My race highlights:
  1. Seizing “my moment” by passing several competitors in the lake. This was accompanied by a silent thanks to Mom and Dad who forced me into swim class when I was 5 years old.
  2. Playing bike tag with Judy, a new friend I made on the course. I passed her on the climbs and she took over on the the downhill. It went this way from miles 4 through 33.
  3. Screaming “Hellooooooo Sunshine” at the top of my lungs, riding through a tunnel at 39.2 mi/hr. after leaving the rain behind.
  4. Seeing the bright smiles and hearing the cheers of my friends (Josh, Matthew, Stacey, Ramona, Joan, Aron) as I made my way onto the run course.
  5. The 8-yr-old boys at the running support stations, who were frantic to find me electrolyte pills after I politely declined their water. I simply needed something more powerful.
  6. The blanket of humility that covered me as each person who I passed on the swim caught up with me – and far exceeded in overtaking me – after, oh, about mile 5 on the run.
  7. Singing to myself the two lines in “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” that I actually know the words to over and over and over and over and over and over and over…………
  8. Finishing. I know this is trite, but it is a tremendous feeling. And the cherry on top was my man hugging my sweat-drenched, rancid being, and reviving my numbness with a feast of Vitamin Water, Snickers, and Tom’s Jalepeno potato chips.


The longer version…

One year agoI completed my first Olympic distance triathlon (.9 mi. swim, 26 mi. bike, 6 mi. run) in Chelan, WA. I finished in a decent time and was pleased with the overall experience. I watched the Half Iron men and women cross the finish line and declared that anyone who did a 70.3 (1.2 mi. swim + 56 mi. bike + 13.2 mi. run = 70.3) was extreme. That is, more extreme than I imagined I could be. I was excited and inspired by triathlon, but content to focus on improving my Olympic time.

Five months agoit was time to register for the 2011 ChelanMan and I was antsy to put my hat in the ring for a second year. But when I went to the website to register, the “Half Iron” button was so darn close to the “Olympic” button, that I thought, “Olympic? Half Iron? What’s the difference? So the race is a little longer. It’s not a big deal. I can do it. Lots of people do it.” So there you have it, that’s how I got myself into this predicament.

Four months ago I started telling my friends and family that I was going to do a Half Iron race in July in Lake Chelan, WA. As soon as I say something out loud – especially to the people I love – there is no backing down. I was locked in. I started a fairly intense training program (a modified version of this one Most people thought I was over-training. I was. But looking back on it now, I am very glad that I did. I would not have changed a thing about those early training days. They set a strong base for, what I learned to be, an intense physical challenge. Come race day, I had few concerns about my physical abilities. All of my jitters were about my nutrition – my ability to remain hydrated and cramp-free for 6+ hours of swimming, biking, and running.

Yesterday 7:05am, I began my first Half Iron triathlon. About five minutes into it, I was reveling in my mad swim skills. I was basically kicking ass. Feeling strong, healthy, skilled, and motivated to take on the race course. I maintained this feeling through nearly the entire 56 mile bike ride. I made friends on the course, I sang to myself, I followed my strict “sipping scheduling” of four gulps of water/Accelerade every 15 minutes, I stayed true to my diet of Sports Beans, Clif Roks, and Luna bars. I actually was thinking that I was getting stronger every mile. I made it calmly through my T2 (transition from bike to run), passed my cheering posse on the way out to the course, and then proceeded to fall apart at the seams. Thanks to my fellow competitors, the race volunteers, my friends, and my own will, I managed to pull it together and finish respectably.

I just have one more thing to say about finishing this race. No matter what kind of shape you are in, how strong your legs are, or how much you love to run, I don’t care what anyone says – running 13.2 miles after completing a 56 mile bike course (with 3,300 feet of total climbing) is not a menial feat. This can only be accomplished with tenacity, strength, planning, and support from others.

Today … I am tempted to say that anyone who wants to do the course that I just did two times (i.e. an official Ironman race, 2.4 mi. swim + 112 mi. bike + 26.2 mi. run) is a masochist of the darkest kind. But I have learned what happens when I hang out in my cushy glass house, devilishly fingering a a handful of stones.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Negativity, you're exhausting....

Can I vent for a sec?

I have learned to see the positive in everything around me (well, I think I have always done this, but lately I seem to be doing it more). I like positive, happy people, things, ideas, etc.

But lately, especially thanks to social networks, I realize, even more, that sooooo many people stay in the negative. It's not the "dark" side, but it might as well be. I read people harping on the bad things  - in their lives, or ideas, religion, political views, etc, that they do not agree with - and to be frank, it's exhausting to read....over and over and over and over again.

I understand we all have bad days, or we feel strongly about something, and need to vent. By all means, vent away - keeping it inside is unhealthy. And having strong opinions and ideas is a very good thing! With people like you, with these strong convictions, things have gotten accomplished in this world. Lives have become better, cures have been found, change has occurred in our laws, and people have flourished to become the best they can be. 

But there's a difference between harping and complaining, and actually ACTING on your views. And many are just too lazy to ACT. I think they just like to hear themselves, or want to bring everyone else down, or are just looking for a reaction. If something, or someone, brings out negativity in you, and you find yourself complaining, and harping on the subject, DO SOMETHING about it! Figure out how to fix it, then let it go, and leave it behind.  Consumed by these thoughts will only make YOU more negative. And negativity results in unhappiness...for you AND those around you. And many don't want to be around this negativity...PLUS, nothing is accomplished.

Years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of losing friends because I was complaining constantly about my job. Actually, I didn't even realize I was doing it, until a friend brought it to my attention. No one wanted to be around me. It sucked. Which, of course, made me feel even more negative. In reality, at that time in my life, I was just an unhappy person. I guess once I was able to fix the unhappiness, the negativity slowly went away....

Instead of being negative, turn it into something positive and MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Life can be unkind and unfair, but listening to you complain, makes MY life unfair. I don't want to hear it. You bring me down. I want to SEE you change things. And if you don't know how to change things, ask, google, bing or yahoo away...there are options out there. And if you STILL can't find your answer, then let it go to life, and move on. 

There's bad stuff happening all around us. It's just a fact. But I, personally, am trying to spread the positivity...I figure, it's the least I can do - and this way, I'm not just harping on the negative people in my world....but trying to help them see the other side. Living in the positive makes everything else around you positive and wonderful! Try it might just surprise yourself! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spice up your pics!

Fun with editing pictures!!!
So, you don't have an iPhone, iPad, Android, or Photoshop on your computer?
No worries my friend!

Check out Photobucket's brand new photo editor!!

Here's an example of just a few things you can do to spice up your pictures...and believe me, there are TONS of options (make sure to check out the Advanced Editor).

p.s. it's all FREE!!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My journey to the center of an onion...thanks to a piece of straw

*This blog is about my own personal experiences. I write them, 1) it's great therapy, lol 2) when you have to explain or teach something, in turn it forces you to research it even more, and 3) I hope that I can inspire others to look at themselves, life, and all that it offers, and maybe, just maybe, go out on their own tree limb, and to become the best they can be! It's not about being the World's Top Model, Top Athlete, or President (though, if that is your dream and goal, then go for it my friend!) What this is about is becoming the best YOU. For YOU. This, in turn, will help you to be the best person for your loved ones, pets, career, etc.
So...after saying all of that...going beyond is not just climbing Mt. Everest. One part of it is going deep inside yourself and figuring out what makes YOU tick. And maybe, along the way, you find something you'd like to fix.
Well, this is my journey into the onion.....*

My Acupuncturist says that happiness is like an onion. It has many layers. (Onions also sometimes bring on tears...and hopefully when we get to the middle, the core, it's happy tears!)

You  can be happy about waking up, a song, your dog excited to see you when you get home, a lover, your job, your hair, new shoes, a new hobby, a travel excursion, money in the bank, the fact that your car made it thru the light before it turned red, just plain-old having a car, an old friend, a new friend, a night on the town, a cup of coffee, the same coffee on a beautiful morning while relaxing on your porch swing.

Ok, you get my point. There are TONS of things to be happy about. Well, I recently realized that I haven't been truly happy in about 14 years. For many years now, I have repeatedly asked myself, "What happened to the girl who used to always smile?? Who was so easy-going? Where did she go? And WHY is she not HERE??!!" And you know those people who are ALWAYS happy and smiling? Yeah - you know who I'm talking about. I would get completely annoyed by them at first, then wonder "God, does she EVER have a bad day?? How can you be human and NOT have a bad day?!", and then finally, ask myself "How do I get what she has?". But just because you're NOT depressed, doesn't mean you're happy. You may be unmotivated for work, your health, working out, seeing friends, complaining and being negative about everything, etc....So happiness is something that really can affect every aspect of your life....

And I guess hindsight is 20/20. But we don't ever really look back at our lives and patterns when things are going well. Only when we fall.

Honesty is always the best policy. Unless it's easier to lie.

I will try to make this short and sweet (believe me, I could write a book!). Basically, ever since college, I have been on a career path that took me to other states, grad school, and eventually, to Nashville. After 2 years there, I developed depression (though I never was diagnosed with it, I'm sure I had it) and other health problems due to the stress of the job. I was numb with emotion. Nothing made me happy. Nothing mad me sad. I was just existing. I changed careers and got involved in music and songwriting. I remember finally coming up from my depressed state, thanks to a man I had the pleasure of spending time with (almost moved to Italy! yikes!). I give him the credit for bringing me out of that dark place. I finally felt strong again - somewhat. I remember having "down" moments after this, and though I would fall pretty low, I was able to get back out pretty quickly. Slowly, over the years, I didn't fall as low. Though I had my moments, they were shallow and short-lived.

But I had no need to worry! There was school, job, and a new-found hobby in music to keep my mind off of all of that silliness!! ...and my parents thought I was a good liar...HA! I was the BEST to myself! Avoidance was the key for me. Don't go there - me, that is - and so no dealing with it. Concentrate on everyone and everything else. Ask how THEY are. Hope they don't ask how YOU are. And well, I'm a workaholic, so this was perfect. This was EASY. "Going there" would be difficult. And probably not so much fun. Music DID provide an avenue for me to vent my feelings. And as time went on, and I learned how to be a better songwriter, I realized I had to be more open and honest about feelings, the heart, etc. Dammit. Talk about therapy. And slowly I became more comfortable with putting in to words, my own thoughts and feelings - into song form, of course. I look back now, and realize that before I became a songwriter, I continually lied to myself about my feelings, and pushed them away, or down, or anywhere else they would go...except to my head. No need to analyze me. I'm just fine! (wow, was I lying).

Anyway, my point is.....I covered up my true feelings - about everything - and just consumed myself with work, music, oh...and failed relationships. 

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

I'll make this quick -
I dated a few, not too often, and for not a long period of time. I had the unfortunate luck of picking the wrong ones, I guess, or something (I'm still analyzing). Whatever the case was, they all went on to someone else, or back to someone else. (Side note funny story - one guy broke up with me, and I actually laughed! His reasons for leaving were exactly the same as the previous guy's. Wow.) And never once was I the "one" for them. I am now realizing that they weren't for me. But I guess I was looking to them to give me the attention, love, or something, that I was craving. And when they didn't, I gave more - thinking they would show their appreciation by giving back. And when that didn't happen, I would hide my sadness - because I didn't want to be "that girl" - complaining and bitching about everything, etc. In other words - I avoided the problem - and lied to myself, and in essence, them as well! I also am acknowledging that I may not have been the best girlfriend for them. I'm not putting myself down. I mean, I get the whole don't-cheat-on-your-boyfriend thing. Loyalty has never been my problem. But I think, because I wasn't completely open with myself, I was not open to them, had low self-confidence, etc. Hey, it takes 2 to tango. So we both did things wrong.  But I digress....anyway...this failure on the relationship boat had me sinking lower and lower and lower with each one. Each heartache got worse and worse....(if you don't believe me, ask my friends!).

Until "Raoul"....... (no, this is not his real name, I just like it lol)

The straw that broke my camel

Raoul and I dated almost a year. The longest relationship I had had in 16 years. And then it happened....

He broke up with me. Well, to be honest, it was more like a year and a half, long, drawn out, tormenting breakup.

I.      LOST it.     COMPLETELY.

I won't bore you with the gory details. But it was not pretty. I questioned EVERYTHING. Him. Me. How could someone breakup with ME?? How could he not like ME?? He said I was the best gf! So, what that hell does that mean?? What did I do wrong?? Was I not pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, thin enough. You name it, I asked it. And I even had answers to most of the questions! (yes, typically, at this point, the answers were all the same - I didn't feel I was much of anything - to be honest). As the year and a half lingered on, I went further down, and around, and everywhere but up. I traveled thru every stage of grief - shock, denial, pain, guilt, anger, bargaining, depression..and finally acceptance. I think I even made up some of my own stages. I couldn't understand how a person (who, supposedly cared for me at one point) could treat another human being the way he treated me. How he took advantage of my feelings for him. And didn't even see what he had done to me. And on top of it, I ALLOWED him to do this. This new-found fact made this whole experience even worse and harder for me to handle. I became someone I didn't like, didn't even know, and surely didn't want to be around. But I was stuck with me.

I'm a believer that whatever you're feeling - sad, happy, excitement, depressed, indifferent, sympathy, etc. - you should go there. And LET yourself go there. Know that it's OK to go there. Well, I went there all right! And by going there completely, I was able to get it all out of my system, so the only way to go at that point was UP! I hit a point where I couldn't go any lower (emotionally and mentally). I sat there one night and realized - "Well, shoot. Now what??"

And this is where my healing hour at a time, one day at a time. (Again, I could write a book on this, but I'll keep it short. haha! I just realized how loooooong this post is...oops! Believe me, this IS the Cliff's Notes version). I do want to point out that the one thing that truly helped me was acupuncture. I'm addicted! It has helped me so much! I see her for lots of different things, but as far as my emotional state, before acupuncture, I would have good days - I'd be positive, happy, motivated to keep working on myself to make ME better. And then I'd have a bad day, and throw all my progress out the window. I didn't care at that point. But thanks to my weekly visits with Judy (my acupuncturist), I slowly became more stable. More even-keeled. I wasn't bouncing off the walls, all happy-go-lucky, but at least steady enough to FINALLY make progress.

Avoidance is the an imaginary lock.

I have learned that avoiding problems only makes them worse. It doesn't "unlock" anything. I can say now, I hope, whenever there is a problem at work, with friends, family, etc., that I feel strong enough to speak up and address the situation. No matter how big or small. Communication is the key. Especially with yourself. I think the hardest thing in life is to be completely, and utterly, open and honest with yourself. No one else has to know your thoughts. But having a "come-to-Jesus" meeting with me, myself, and I is crucial in figuring out what you want in life, and how you plan on getting it. Then, slowly, you can share your newly-found feelings with those close to you. I took time away from everyone (except for the fact that I had to work). It wasn't out of depression that I secluded myself. No. Not this time. I, I NEEDED to be alone for a little to figure out what I want. I'm too easily swayed by those around me. I had to find this on my own.

I then tried to only surround myself with positive people and ideas. I made a conscious effort to avoid negativity. It's amazing how that simple thing made all the difference in the world! I started noticing things I hadn't in years! I noticed the sun, the stars, the moon, every flower I passed, every road sign, every person. I started seeing the colors all around me - from the gray highway, to the green grass on the side of the road, a lone yellow flower in the yard, a red bird in the tree, to all the colors in a supermarket. I painted my toenails a fun sparkly green! I started buying clothes that were bright colors - not blacks and grays. Again, it's amazing when you surround yourself with color, how your world TRULY becomes even MORE colorful!!!!!

I am continuing to try to see the positive in everything, and it has changed my whole outlook on life. I wondered, at the time, why the break up happened to me? I mean, I'm a good person. But maybe I HAD to go thru this in order to come back out on top...finally. Raoul was my piece of straw. I had to go to the lowest point to know where I NEVER want to be again, and be forced to become happy once more! I work every day at remaining happy. I take time for myself - closing the world out and just be. I stop and take a deep breath when I feel the negativity coming back - and find the sunny side to stay on. I am learning and growing more every day! I know I have so much more to do in this world...and very I'm excited to stay on this bright, shiny, sparkly path!

I hope that my personal story can help inspire someone else, who fights their own demons every day, to find their own path to happiness. Every person is different. You have to find what works for YOU. And be honest with yourself...and you'll make wonderful strides!!!
This blog is just a small part of my path back to ME. The old Johanna. The HAPPY girl!!!

p.s. Check out the widget on the sidebar of this blog for some great books to check out!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stone Door

(Oh no....I've figured out how to make a slideshow on my out!)

I got the chance to go hiking at Stone Door in Beersheba, TN! There are a TON of trails and camping sites in this area...and I can't wait to get back...especially for some camping!
But until are some pics of the hike....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wish, Hope, Dream

This was painted on the wall of the Safe Haven Family Shelter where I volunteer....
I love it!

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Random Acts of Beyondness

I've just started a newsletter, thru this blog! I'm excited to have this as another way to spread the love (or cheese! lol).
There are sooooo many ideas and sources of inspiration out there (hobbies, ideas, travel, etc.) and I can't blog about ALL of them, (though I would love to try!), and so this is a wonderful way for me to share more little bits and pieces o' fun!

And I promise, the emails will not fill up your inbox!

Sign up 1 of 3 ways:

1. Click here: NEWSLETTER
2. Use the form at the top of the right column of this blog
3. Scan this QR code:

Thanks again for checking out my blog!

If you have any ideas you'd like me to cover on here, please send 'em my way! Also...if you're interested in being a GUEST BLOGGER, I would LOVE to share your story here! :)

Have a great weekend....and do something wild and crazy...go BEYOND!

Monday, March 19, 2012

My First Mountain Bike Race - by Gary Shaw

written by guest blogger Gary Shaw - Shaw 'nuf beyond

 Well, I made it through my first mountain bike race today (7-19-2004). It was the annual Fun Fest Bike Rally held at Bay's Mountain Park in Kingsport, TN. I wish I had knew beforehand a little more about what to expect and I would have trained harder.

Back when I first rode Bay's Mountain's trails, I  headed up the main hill first thing. Boy was it steep, and long. I topped the hill, after many stops on the way up to get my breath, and rode down the first trail back to the truck and headed home. It was only 4 miles, and I thought I was going to die that day. But I lived, and came back more times to push a little farther. I went all the way around later,which was about 8 miles,  stopping often to catch my breath.

I found out about the race, which is 12.6 miles, and I thought I would give it a try as I wasn't getting any younger at 46 years old. I started riding the race route and made it in about 2 hours, then later 1:50. Well, 3 days before the race, I rode it like I was in a race and made it in 1:35! Boy, I thought I was really getting it now. I found out later that the top 50 to 60 year old men were riding it in less than an hour! Like they say, ignorance is bliss.

The day of the race, I had to work 6 hrs. that morning, which didn't help matters any. I got there early- too early, and had to try to keep the butterflies from getting the best of me for an hour. I lined up about 2/3 of the way back in the pack, knowing I wasn't going to be competing for the top places. Also, I didn't want to get ran over when I had to stop and rest on the big hill.
The race started and we were off! The pace was a little faster than I expected, but I was keeping up fairly well. The faster ones were out of sight, and the crowd started to thin out a little now. A few were passing me, and I even passed some. Well, I couldn't just let everyone pass me, so I pushed myself to go into another zone I had never been before. It may have been that 16 year old girl passing me that made me push myself a little harder. Well, I passed her back on some of the faster sections, and she would pass me back on the hills when I had to push my bike.  After about 4 miles, we came to the big hill. I already was huffing and puffing before I got to it, now I sounded like a vacuum cleaner turning on and off. My heart was really pumping now. I finally had to get off and rest, and so did a few others. But they didn't stop, they kept going, pushing their bikes along. Hey guys, don't you know we're supposed to stop and rest? I finally started to pull ahead of that girl, but ever time I slowed on the hills and had to catch my breath, she would show up. Back in the saddle again, we finally made it through all the major hills. Nothing but rocky downhills and gravel roads now. I was giving it everything I had, because we we only had about 2 miles to go. I passed 3 or 4 people on this last section, then finally crossed the finish line! People were standing around cheering everyone on as they made it in, which was pretty cool. I saw the clock and my time was 1:20. Wow, that was way beyond what I had hoped for. That time wasn't near good enough for a trophy, but I was ecstatic about the whole thing. About 3 minutes later, the young girl I was dicing with finished, and I found out later she won her age group.

Sitting there alone, I had no one to tell me "you did good", but I felt pretty good inside about doing something extreme, and going beyond what I thought I could do. It wasn't as exciting as dirt bike racing from my earlier years, but it was the next best thing. I raced again the next year, and only made it in 1:21, and blamed it on getting older. I skipped the next year, and at 49 years young, I did it again, and turned a time of a little under 1:19, my best time. I haven't done it anymore, just mainly for the fact the 50-60 year old men are quite a bit faster than that, and I have to work much more now, and at 53 years of age, I find it much harder to push myself to train that hard now. But, going beyond in whatever you find yourself in is so satisfying and worth all the effort it takes.

Thanks to my friend Johanna, who allowed me to post this to her blog, and encouraged me to start my own, and who inspires many of us to go beyond...

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Theo Jansen

"...and always strive to push the boundaries of what we know..." 
- Theo Jansen.
Here is what happens when you combine art and engineering....

Monday, February 27, 2012

Liu Bolin - the Invisible Man

This artist, Liu Bolin, is so amazing, I had to share!

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

free hugs!

just having some fun with iPhone photo app effects!

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