Sunday, November 18, 2012

Grateful Thirty

As I am rapidly approaching my thirtieth birthday (eek that is even a little rough to write out)... I have decided to take a moment before Thanksgiving and reflect on a few moments over the last year that I am grateful.  Indulge my photo moments to help create the perfect picture with my thoughts: 

(none of these will be in order of importance)

 30.  My little Lady!  I am grateful for a fabulously fun car that has everyone remember a moment from their past and share it with me... it's as if I get to re-live everyones perfect moment in time!

29.  My best friend Brett who can always make me laugh, even in the mist of a complete breakdown!  Someone who is always there to listen to me laugh and cry.  

28.  My brothers and sisters!  Individually for all listening to me and talking me through all of life's decisions... and especially for offering advice even when I can be so stubborn ;)

27.  Girl friends!!  

26.  Spring Training and orange blossoms! March in Arizona. 

25.  Fenway... baseball with my dad. 

24.  Huntington Beach.  Alycesun.  

23.  My little perfect brother ;)  But seriously. 

22.  Too Big Buddha 

21.  Dancing on the Great Wall of China

20.  Aaron and all the amazing people I met while traveling through Asia... and the delicious Indian food in Korea!

 19. Serenity in Beijing

18.  Tree hugging at a Buddhist temple in Korea

 17.  This moment was one that made me discover my love for the people of Japan.  The most kind gentle willing to help anyone, kind of people.  

16.  Girls cruise!  

15.  Meeting Madona in Sedona on a hike!

 14.  Travelling to Utah football games with my Utah boys!

 13.  Days at the pool and 3D movies. 

12.  Jo- the amazing artist that you are!  Some hilarious moments... this just is a taste.  HAHAHA!

11.  My New Zealand friends in SLC enjoying some Utah football!

10.  Aura readings

9.  Alex, someone who helps me see my crazy and laughs with me!

8.  Driving with mom... after the slammer! LOL

7.  All of my nephews and nieces   

6.  Elyn... gosh I love it when this girl calls me!

5.  The Bodily family.  Cooking, traveling, playing.  I love this family like my own!  

4.  Campfires when I thought camping was over for the season!

3.  Ben pretending to be a woman for our race, encouraging everyone to finish and do their best!

2.  A group of girls who indulged me and ran a race that none of us ever thought we could!  What a great group of people!!

1.  A new group of crazy friends that reminded me to enjoy life to the fullest and not care what anyone thinks!  

So although there are many more reasons to why I am grateful, I hope this shows that I am so happy about my life and all that I am able to accomplish and do.  I have an amazing family and incredible friends who are there for me all along the way. 

The greatest lesson I have come to recognize is that life is about the COURAGE TO BE IMPERFECT!

Monday, June 25, 2012


“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc

Tokyo is the number one most populated city in the world.  And the thing about it, is that most people do not have cars.  So how do they all get around???  Well we saw and experienced this... SUBWAYS!  If you are traveling in peak time literally expect to be smashed against the windows of your train.  It was insane.

Look in the windows of the trains... 

We started out the day in Tokyo walking around the area near our hotel.  Grabbed a few snacks for the remaining days and then headed to our farewell dinner.  We ate at a traditional Japanese house.  The food was delicious and of course since we didn't have to pay, we all enjoyed it a lot more :)  Our dinner was a tad interrupted by our neighbors whose parents let them play video games alone in a room.  They were yelling and having a grand old time.  So we couldn't hear ourselves.  Patience wore thin... ha.

The following day we went to the University visits of Aoyama Gakuin University and  Rikkyo University.  First was a bit unexpected the Aoyama University was a Christian college in the middle of the city.  It was unexpected only because we had been learning so much about the traditional Shinto and Buddhist ways that to experience such Western ideas was a surprise, but a pleasant one.  It is always good to see that once again as humans we all find our way to worship.  We all need our own personal way to respect and learn what values are important to each of us.

At Rikkyo University we were able to really sit with the students again and learn with them.  We had lunch and then discussions.  It was so fun to just have fun, real conversations.  I very much enjoyed hearing their views on education and how they viewed both their traditions and ours.

My fellow Barista!

The final day and a half was spent having fun on our own.  Aaron, Daisy, Jay and I went to Shibuya to the shopping district.  It is here that is the famous cross walk with all the people going in every direction.  It was pretty fun to see.  For the rest of the day we walked around and just enjoyed the atmosphere and people watching.  the following day we woke up and went first to the Sky Tree (the tallest building in the world).  It was pretty tall... even from afar!  Then onto another Shrine and a bit of last minute shopping.  Finally we stopped at Harajuku, a crazy little shopping area... in which I LOVED!  Definitely I could have stayed here for ever, if my bags weren't already ready to explode!  Next we went to a shrine called Meiji.  This might have been the most beautiful shrine I have seen, as far as natural beauty goes.  The trees were so tall and arched over the walk ways to the shrine.  It was incredibly beautiful!

The are of Shibuya shopping/crossing

Our rash decision on a not so delicious $9 drink

Seriously thats how tiny it was... LOL

The last few hours a typhoon had rolled over Tokyo and so when we went out it was raining like crazy, while blowing the water directly in your face (as well as our umbrellas).  We made it to dinner without getting completely soaked, but on our way home we were drenched!  We ate at a delicious Chinese restaurant and the lady was so excited when we spoke the little Chinese we knew! (My Dan... settle the bill, etc).  It was so fun.  Once again such a great learning experience that we are all people who appreciate a little understanding of each other... that's it.  If we can just learn about each other and what we know or don't know it makes things so much better.  Maybe it's just me, but definitely what I have gained from the experiences on this journey.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro

JAPAN... I've waited so long to get here and you're more than I could have hoped.

Day 1 - upon arrival we decided to just get out and do our best with the language. YOLO (You Only Live Once). We went to a mall near our hotel and tried to find some local food. This was an experience in itself!  We ended up at a restaurant and we couldn't read the menu and the owner and waitresses didn't speak English...we did a lot of pointing.  But the owner was so amazing.  She was so patient and willing to help us.  We all had fun and laughed a lot.  She taught us  and ended up having a great time with everyone in this tiny restaurant.  Already I was in love with the people of Japan. 

Next we decided to venture out to the Osaka castle.  We thought, subway, easy!  We can do it was a bit more difficult than that.  None of the signs are in English nor are the ticket booths, but soon people noticed us struggling and helped point us in the right direction.  We got our tickets and with only one transfer we would make it.  Along the way I made a friend who liked my camera. He walked into the train and came straight to me, (no personal space boundaries).  He wanted to know where I was from and about my camera.  We talked with him and his mates for a bit.  He was learning English so we were good practice for him.  I Loved him.  Soon (2 hours later) we arrived at our destination, the Osaka castle.  As we are walking up I see some kids doing flips on a tree, so I started taking pictures of them.  Quickly one of the kids came over and started talking to me.  But he realized quickly that I only spoke English, so a girl came over when he called.  I asked if they were gymnast...oh no, they do parcore.  Never would I have imagined to meet a group of people doing parcore outside a Japanese temple.  They told me to hurry up to the castle cause it was about to close and I'd see them after.  I did as I was told. 

Parcore - for real.

The amazing lady who showed me where to take the best photos!

The view

After the beautiful temple, things just keep getting better.  Everyone was waiting for me as usual because I was taking pictures.  I was trying to get shots of a man feeding birds and they would come right into his hand and eat, it was fantastic.  A Japanese woman came up to me and pointed to a lake behind me and so I began to take pictures, but she said 'no'.  I was she started walking around the lake and then stood there, I assumed she wanted me to take a picture of her, so I did an waved.  Ha.  The she gestured to me to come where he was, and so I obeyed, these people have yet to lead me astray.  When I got there I was in awe. The view of the temple in the lake was so incredible! I sat there for a minute and then the woman waved and left me. I took some photos and then went to meet everyone.  I told them of my experience and they wanted to see what I saw.  So we went and got some group shots. 

Jay, Aaron, Kathy, Daisy and me

We made it home almost perfectly and got dinner at the market close to us. And went back to sleep. 

Day 2 - Kansai University 

We spent the day at the university learning about their education and goals for their future, both the administration and the students.  It was pretty fun and interesting, but for me the best part was the evening spending with the students, having real conversation about real life things.  We met some very fun and amazing students, had conversations about things from family life, school, plastic surgery, goals, etc.  It was a great evening.  Hopefully we can keep in contact and learn from each other continually. 

Some of our incredible Japanese friends

I love people and coming to Japan and being able to spend time getting to know these students just makes me realize how important all my travels have been in creating the person I am today. 

Day 3 - Kyoto
Today we took a journey to the Shrines and Temples in the capital city, Kyoto.  It was raining ALL day, which almost made it a little bit more magical.  We went to 3 of the thousands of honored spaces.  Each varied in meaning and had different energy to them.  I savor the honor and respect that people bring as they pray to the different diety or kami.  My favorite was at Kiyomizudera and was the love shrine - Jishu Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking. In front of the shrine are two stones, placed 18 meters apart. Successfully finding your way from one to the other with your eyes closed is said to bring luck in finding love. I did this and supposidly I will have the luck of the diety Jishu to find my love.  My fingers are crossed xoxoxo!

Yep... I made it, eyes closed. 

Our last stop was to the Ginkakuji (銀閣寺, Silver Pavilion) is a Zen temple along Kyoto's eastern mountains (Higashiyama).  This Buddhist temple was unbelievably beautiful.  It was a garden, rock, trees and flowers.  I got some amazing shots that I hope turn out.  After our tour we headed back to our hotel in Osaka and grabbed food from the market (which we don't know what we are reading, so it's a lot of looking at pictures, ha).  Then we had our free 2 hours of Karaoke in a floor below our rooms. haha.  Once again Asian Karaoke is pretty fabulous.  


(these pics are from my big camera... no phone pics, thats why they finally look good!)


Day 1 - I think after Beijing Korea felt extremely welcoming. The first day was spent catching up on much needed rest...we went to dinner and had the very recommended bibimbap. Also we were able to try their kimchi, which I do not love :( 

Day 2 - We spent the morning with the Yonsei University, learning about their internationalization and touring the campus. That evening we had planned to meet up with Andrews friend who lived in Seoul. She took us to some cheap delicious interactive food. Daisy sat on the opposite end and had NO idea what we were doing (as usual) and so we just added the food that looked best. The waiter kept coming over and helping(fixing) our dinner, haha. Eventually Jay told us to eat the rice with the raw egg in it... I thankfully said no, daisy ate a little. Jay proceeded to say, 'man the egg is sure overpowering in this' well about the time he finished the whole bowl our waiter came over and started cooking ours on our stove...LOL when he went to cook Jays table and it was gone he began to laugh and turned to us and made the throw up gesture...we were all laughing so hard! After dinner we went to Sing Sing karaoke. Karaoke in Asia is so much better than in the states, private rooms for just your friends and whatever music you want (just like my amazing times in New Zealand), it was a blast! 

Day 3 We went around on a little tour of soul. We started at a buddhist temple. This was a very special moment for me. I really appreciate the teachings of Buddha. But more than that is the energy that is with his teachings and specifically when the respect and faith that is happening during worship, is felt. 

Next we went to the main temple. It was beautiful. After our tour we were taken to eat a traditional Korean BBQ. Now once again we sat far from anyone who knew what they were doing, so the waitress was laughing at what we wanted and tried to help us. We ended up with delicious sirloin, we each got 4 bites with lettuce. It cost about $18 a person...maybe not the best idea for food cause we went right after to get food, lol. 

Our final meal in Korea was actually spent with Daisy, Aaron, Jay and I. We went and had Indian food. It was seriously amazing! Makes me so excited to start planning my trip to India! Then Daisy and I went shopping while we were waiting for my friend Jason to get off work and we could see him.  While shopping I wanted a dress from a street vendor, I pointed it out and asked what the price was?  He laughed and replied, 'not for you, you too big!  You need STRETCH!' and pointed to a big stretchy dress.  LOL  Asia is not a good for my self-esteem :(  haha.  Then Jason ended up coming to our hotel at 11 an we're able to catch up. (he is my friend I travelled to Ecuador with). We packed our bags and were ready for Japan in the early morning!

Yonsei University

Buddha Temple... maybe my favorite moment in Korea.  Such an amazing energy here and so many fantastic people here worshiping. 

Sing Sing Karaoke

Our delish Indian food

Monday, June 11, 2012

Acid Rain

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

Day 1 - Beijing. Wow. At first glance it is a bit dirty, lots of pollution and even more people!  But looking at it from a deeper perspective you find tradition, family, country and love for it all.  We started in Beijing down a dark alley in route to our hotel.  A bit nervous to where we were and what our adventure would end up like.  Our first day we met with University students from Peking University (supposedly an equivalent to Harvard).  The professors who spoke with us did the lecture part of the presentation, which was very enlightening to see their ideas for future as well as learn about their past.  But the most nirvana was from the question answer session with 3 of their students.  They spoke to us very directly and honestly.  Told us of their hopes and aspirations for the future of their families and the tomorrow for the country.  When a 'politician does something that the people don't agree with they only criticize them for the act and then believe that they will do better next time.  I think this is a great demonstration of their willingness to give people second chances and forgiveness which we don't see much from Western culture.  The students also said their pitch for life is hope and the prospect for a democratic future.  From a typical American perspective we see their lives and political system as something that needs to be 'fixed' or changed.  Where they see definitely things that need to be worked on (as we all do in our situations) but they see a very meaningful past and even more promising future. 

The flight to Beijing

Our hotel and our delicious breakfast

Next we went and met with the Bureau of Education for China.  By this point we had heard a lot of lectures, so it was difficult to pay attention.  But our presenter had a lot of information for us regarding the history of education in China.  We made it through the lecture and headed out to find some delicious food.  

Daisy kissing the fish head and my delicious mango coconut bubble tea!

That night we went and walked around some shops near a lake.  We experienced the point to the image and hope you enjoy what they bring you.. for dinner.  It ended up being very fun and delicious.  The food cooked on our table as we sat and enjoyed conversation, dumplings, dumplings and more dumplings!  There are some very good dishes here and thankfully we have been able to try quite a few. The pictures I am attaching should show you some of what we are eating. 

Day 2 - Beijing.  Um... today was a busy and HOT day!  We started the day at the day at the antique markets, bartering like we were in Mexico except saying no is a whole lot harder!  There are about 1000 umbrellas set up with little trinkets underneath.  All the locals are smoking and it is hot and humid... so the fun of it didn't last too long.  Soon we headed out and met up with our Asian student guides for the Temple to Heaven (TianTan).  This is where the Emperors of Ming and Qing dynasties would make offerings to heaven to pray for good harvests.  The structures were very beautifully built and extremely colorful.  We walked around here for about 2 hours seeing all the different offering locations.  Next we had lunch at a local food court... our guides ordered for us and told us what we wanted to order was for 'people with LARGE appetites' emphasizing the large, LOL.  It was a pretty average size meal, hahahaha.  

The Temple of Heaven

Our 'large appetite' meal

Soon we were on our way to Tiananmen Square where Ming is buried/set out for display.  Here is where we entered the Forbidden City.  The Forbidden City I wish I had done a bit more research before going, but we still learned lots as we walked around as much as we could.  So in there is where the Emperor would live out his entire life.  He was not allowed to leave.  I figure that if there was a place you had to spend your life, it would have been here.  It was incredibly intricate in color and detail.  The best part of being inside is that for all of the time of the reign of the Emperors, it was actually as it's title, Forbidden no one was allowed to enter.  The feelings here were pretty empiric.  

Now we were pretty beat and as we were getting on our bus it began to rain.  As we arrived at our hotel we the rain hit us and we decided that we still wanted to head to the Silk Markets.  We grabbed some umbrellas from the front desk and hit the street running toward the subway (know as metro).  As we ran the rain water hit the back of my legs and it began to burn.  I didn't think much of it at the moment, but as the night progressed it got worse and worse.  My legs began to get a rash and not a normal bumpy but a deep veiny red rash.  I scrubbed my legs with boiled water (because the water in Beijing is not okay to drink or put in your mouth) and soap.  Finally 4 days later the rash is almost gone.  Seriously... acid rain?? who does that happen to? Oh me. LOL.

The Acid rain effects

Day 3 - Beijing.  Today we woke early and headed to a section in the Great Wall of China.  What an incredible piece of history.  The section we visited was tucked away in a beautiful mountain area.  It was absolutely magnificent!  I think this may have been my favorite moment of Beijing.  Then we got to ride sleds down the hill.  What a perfect day.  

Beautiful mountains surrounding the Great Wall

The Great Wall of China

On a side note...

Why does everyone wanna wake me up while I'm asleep?  Seriously on the plane to Hong Kong, as I previously mentioned my fabulous Loas friend woke me up so that I 'wouldn't be tired upon arrival in Hong Kong.  On the next flight from Hong Kong to Beijing I happened to sit by the plane talker.  Now really I'm not sure if any of you have experienced this kind of person when you fly, but these are the people that continue talking... even when you put your head phones in.  This man showed me all 300 pictures he had taken traveling around and explained every detail.  Then when I finally was able to fall asleep about 10 mins into it he nudges me and says 'sorry, I didn't want to wake you but do you have a pen'.  Awesome.  The continuation of jet lag and being woken up incessantly happens.  Thankfully I am able to fall asleep quickly and to any noise and no matter what lights are on.  

And on the topic of sleeping, as many of you know I am a sleep talker and occasionally a sleep walker.  I have had some crazy things happen already.  1.  In Hong Kong I opened the door in the middle of the night to let someone in (no one was there).  2.  I swore my roommate turned into a black man, seriously I do remember waking up and standing up and kind of freaking out because 'why would she let someone else sleep in our room'???  She wasn't there... lol.  (that wasn't real, it was her in the bed the whole time).  3.  Then of course just the random thoughts and giggles that happen on a normal basis.