Ode to the Journey

I wrote this a few weeks ago as a status update – but it was to long so I posted as a note, and then worked on it some more and this is what came out!


It’s the longest road that we have to walk alone. Twisting and turning, dark and hidden, on the edge of reason and all that we know. It’s the path unknown friends leave you behind on.  They’ll say come “this way” only to leave you behind, she’ll point out the direction without knowledge of where it goes, He’ll insist IT is the way. It’s the decisions we make when everyone else disagrees. The actions we take when everyone else shake their heads sadly and throw up their hands in vain with words of “what can we do”. It’s the words we speak when the rest feel that it is pointless and the words of hurt that we quietly let go so as to not cause more pain. All of this and more is the journey some of us know to be life that the world perpetually seeks as it happens under their very noses unnoticed and forgotten. It’s the holy grail of life, it’s the gold in the mine, it’s the dream within dreams, one’s heart’s desire never known to its body. It’s the truth seekers that take the journey wherever it goes; far from everyone, everything – they know and love in the name of survival of the soul. To the journey and to have the strength to prevail when all else has failed. It’s taking the daily grind and refusing to give in and give up. Not just taking the first step but the last as well. It’s about keeping to the journey even when in appearance all doors are closed and the end is near. Even when the path is stagnant and stale, the people interchangeable and shallow, the hardships overbearing and the light distant. It’s the journey of life and having the mind that you cannot not take it for else your condemned to a life of ignorance and despair. Seek the truths of life. Live the journey and never take a step back.

~an ode to myself


Summer Solstice Hike

~Summer Solstice 2011~

I am a fan of the “nature” holidays. In most cases they mean more to me than our “traditional” holidays i.e Easter, 4th of July, ect. Don’t get me wrong, I can get excited to see some fireworks or go to a halloween party. But for really marking the day for a particular reason I am all about the Solstice (Summer and Winter) and the Equinoxes. In my personal belief system they are important and overall they are just COOL!

The View from the Trail along Flat Top.

So Summer Solstice was upon me and in a way that was even cooler than usual… Here in Alaska the Sun is truly OUT 24 hrs on the Solstice (even this south in Alaska). Can’t really ignore that from the Earth. The days leading up to the longest day of the year are amazing, often find yourself wondering why Carr’s is closed and you still need sunglasses.  So I figured I would make an event out of it and go for a hike. Unlike the South were people go “why are you doing something on the what day?” In Alaska people get pretty pumped about it and have festivals and such. Way cool. My destination was Flat Top. A local very known well hike that I had made plans to do multiple times with multiple parties in the last six months and it always FELL THROUGH!  Yea it’s the middle of the week and I and other people work the next day, yea it would be way late till we even started since I wouldn’t be off work till 10pm. But it’s the Solstice ~ there would be light! Little did I know…in Anchorage TONS of people hike Flat Top for the Summer Solstice. Even late into the evening. It was more like a migration to Flat Top! But I had fun in spite of the herds of people running about. Some whom probably only hike once a year..or never again..or this was their first time… Besides the people it was a gorgeous hike and I plan to do it again and again! River came with (of course) and Reuben along with a few of his friends (who promptly left us behind when I had to slowly crawl up the steeper parts) who happened to be out that day. Flat Top is not a very long hike by any means, but it has a decent amount of steepness to it! http://www.localhikes.com/Hikes/Flattop_0380.asp Sadly with my hip and back problems uphill is VERY slow going for me. Not really a matter of being in shape (I ran down Flat Top after going up) as my body just cannot do a certain kind of motion repeatedly without stopping 😦 So I often opt out of hikes with others because I will slow them down (a lot) or I don’t want to be ‘that’ person who kept everyone else from being able to go farther or whatever.  But since this was MY hike I felt that people could deal with it! And Reuben very nicely waited for me as River darted back and forth (I think she hiked the dam mountain 3 times over!) to make sure I was okay.

The views as we made our way up.



Even at 12:30 at night the sky was bright and views great.

The Sun breaking through the clouds. The city of Anchorage are the little towers before the sun lit water.

Every few minutes the view changed just a little bit, revealing another side, another glimpse of our world. The sun looks like it’s smoking with the way the rain clouds were breaking up in front of it.

The closer we got to the top the lower the clouds were. Here a peak (I don’t remember its name) is rearing out of the foggy clouds.

We hit the top! All around there were MORE mountains, views of the cove, rivers and rolling hills.

The sun is getting close to being at its lowest point for the night. The lights of the city below are becoming visible. Random people have set up tents on the mountain, there are large groups chilling and waiting for the darkest moment of the night. Some hippies smoking, some guys drinking, a guitar player singing the worst country songs and little hipster girls trying to dance to his beat. It was epic.

We head off to the side away from people and gaze down at Campbell creek and take pictures! Reuben caught here in mid sentence!


Here I am in my plaid flannel shirt, Ariat horse boots (which aren’t that good for climbing rocks by the way), torn jeans and hand-me down backpack (thanks Danny) on top of the world (or at least the mountain) and feeling like royalty in land of wild things. And yes I am standing on the EDGE of the sheer. I like walking along line of life.

Reuben took this close up! I AM smiling on the inside people.

A good shot of me here (GO Reuben). The sun was almost as low as it got here and I was no longer hot from the climb up and now pleasantly chilly with my many layers.

Me again with the sights behind me

Anchorage way down there & Denali range behind it.

And on the other side (East) of the sun the water and mountains were still visible.

Everywhere I looked ~ Picture worthy

Below is one of my favorite shots!

Even famous authors have something to say about the Summer Solstice!

There came a Day at Summer’s full,
Entirely for me —
I thought that such were for the Saints,
Where Resurrections — be —

The Sun, as common, went abroad,
The flowers, accustomed, blew,
As if no soul the solstice passed
That maketh all things new —

The time was scarce profaned, by speech —
The symbol of a word
Was needless, as at Sacrament,
The Wardrobe — of our Lord —

Each was to each The Sealed Church,
Permitted to commune this — time —
Lest we too awkward show
At Supper of the Lamb.

The Hours slid fast — as Hours will,
Clutched tight, by greedy hands —
So faces on two Decks, look back,
Bound to opposing lands —

And so when all the time had leaked,
Without external sound
Each bound the Other’s Crucifix —
We gave no other Bond —

Sufficient troth, that we shall rise —
Deposed — at length, the Grave —
To that new Marriage,
Justified — through Calvaries of Love — ~ Emily Dickinson

And that is the night! At which point Reuben and I packed away the camera and started down the mountain. Scramble, run, run, scramble River Scurrying to keep up. Was a blast.

New Art

I’ve added some new art photos under the Art page (at some point I’ll figure out how to post things directly to the art page AND so that it will show up under home page for new postings…but at this point my non program savvy brain is doing it this way..sorry guys. I also plan to add a another adventure post about my trip to Portage (photos included) soon.

Be well, To the Journey where it takes you! ~Joannie (chalk stained hands and all)

P.S I LOVE the comments and snippets of thought my wonderful friends and followers leave me. It deeply moves me that people other than myself get something out of the things I write (and take pictures of). So thankyou again and again. It means a lot.

Fun Adventures in the Wilds of Alaska ~ With Friends in May

So here and there I’m going to try to “write” about some of the hiking, sightseeing or other interesting outdoor things I get into while I’m here working my ass off in Alaska training dogs and learning how to amongst humanity. Course my first thought is EVERYONE seems to have an adventure blog these days so it’s not really something I’m going to promote (including the last particular ass of an ex boy-friend!) except maybe my photos..I’m kinda proud (maybe little ego here) about them. My camera is an OLD ass digital and I say old because it’s only 5.0 mega pixels. You can buy something at Wal-Mart for twice the mega pixels and under 60 bucks! ~for all none camera/techie people mega pixels is the quality of the photo so the higher mega pixel the better quality photo, the more you can do with it in term of blowing up and. Most Professional cameras these days (depending on age) have anywhere between 13  to 22 mega pixel shots. Mine is just 5. So the timing, focus and lighting has to be GOOD in order for the photo to turn out. It’s not quite a point and shoot because of this aspect even though it’s an automatic OR manual digital camera. Lets just getting friends to take quality pictures has been something of a challenge here lately…but as you’ve noticed I found a few 🙂 As for the actual writing of the hikes, or whatever adventure I find, I’m not sure how in-depth or linear it’s going to be. So there may just be tons of photos! As usual just click on the pics to see them full size!

The one below is the mountain view from Jewel Lake dog park that we went to.

You may or may not have heard the my best of the best buddy Lorien was here recently to visit (end of May). Yup that’s my Bug (old odd nickname her family gave her) paying out the nose for plan tickets to come see my pain in the ass self. I was actually sick almost the entire time she was here.. even went to the ER. And then River got sick after getting into the neighbors trash… and had to be taken to the emergency vet… SOMEHOW in spite of all of this we still managed to have a good time and get outside for a little hike and overall interesting things around town.

Lorien! My BBF

So This is Lorien for those of you who are trying to place the name..if you haven’t met her yet I’m sorry. You’ve basically missed out on my better half.. Seriously. Anyway! The winds were blowing a bit this day in May and as usual I took a great photo wind and all! (okay I’m gloating here)

Below~ Us at at the dog park, we got a dog parent to take one of us! She is so tan from the TN summer sun ALREADY in May (okay she is always tan compared to me..) I look like a ghost next to her!

Friend that I’ve made up here Reuben took us to Thunderbird Falls (a short but very pretty hike off the highway). We needed a short easy place for us to go (not always easy to find here in the great AK) since I was just back with the living after battling at least 2 different infections.. Thunderbird Falls it is. Barely two miles and VERY easy walking. I felt great. Though I still managed to turn it into a 5 hour hike by stopping and insisting on pictures or getting to know the new plant I’d just found. Now Lorien is very used to my randomness and actually tends to get into it with me and we just kinda comb the area for interesting things to learn and notice. Reuben was interested for the first 3 hours. By the fourth and fifth I think he was gone..Pretty sure the banging sticks against trees like a four-year old is a sure sign. But nevertheless he said he enjoyed himself. The Thunderbird Falls trail is a VERY groomed, wide and almost handicapped accessible feeling.. (I’m awful I know). But we went pretty late and since it was the middle of the week there weren’t many people on it and all but one group were walking back so for the most part we were alone and River able to run free (this is before she decided to eat trash) off leash.

Reuben! (I also took this one)

Great fun was had all around and we didn’t get back into Anchorage till after 12am (gotta remember guys its super light until at LEAST 1:15 this close to the solstice. We were than forced to eat at Village Inn since besides icky Denny’s they are the 24 diner.

Lorien, River & I overlooking the ledge (this off of the trail) at the river. Photo curtsey of Reuben.

Thunderbird Falls from a distance (below)

Lorien & I in Tree. We can often be found in odd places chilling!

Lorien & I on a rock the is overlooking a drop off (it’s hard to tell from the angle). I have a knack for finding the edge of things on getting on them. Lorien on the other hand likes her feet firmly on the ground. So above a certain height I cannot get her to join me. River and Reuben on the other hand were always down for some cliff walking!

Lorien in MY Tracker  hat as in the Tracker School via Tom Brown Jr (We really like this it’s mine by the way) and it’s always getting passed back and forth!   Lorien actually attended the Standard class with me at Tracker so it’s pretty meaningful this is to us.

This AMAZING tree we found along the way (there are many great trees in the area-but this one stood out for obvious reasons!) Everybody got a turn in it and I had to adjust the camera since we were now down “in the woods” the light was way different so while you’ll not see them here, I’ve quite a few blurry pictures before finding the best one to work without a flash. Below~Reuben checking things out that Lorien and I made a big deal over 🙂 and thought was utterly amazing.

Lorien checking out the tree. It was absolutely amazing on the inside.

And of course they grabbed a shot of me in tree only looking out from on of the many spaces (what does one call said peep holes in the trunk of tree?) that line the trunk (only one was big enough for smallish people to squeeze through). Lorien took this picture ~ She is pretty proud of it.

Even in May there was still some leftover ice along the riverbank that is always in the shadow of the mountains. It was a tad slippery but kinda cool since it was pretty warm out (around 60-62). I snapped this of Bug (Lorien) as she was checking out her own camera (it was having a dying fit).

So Thunderbird Falls isn’t the biggest waterfall I’ve seen in a while (Bald River Falls in the backyard of TN farm make this guy look a little puny) it was still beautiful and a joy to see! Below is a closer view of the falls. I do have to wonder where the name came from since it wasn’t that loud. It’s a story I’ll have to look up!

The River Rat & I checking things out. Reuben took this (and all the blurry ones not one here LOL) while I’m not smiling but I won’t say it’s a bad picture 🙂

Reuben experiencing the mist coming off the falls. I snapped this of him when he wasn’t expecting it.

River in the river!

The River dog checking out puddles along the river at the bottom of the falls. She had an absolute blast the entire time 🙂 darting about, sniffing things out and exploring. She is pretty good about staying in sight so I rarely needed to call her back (I’m not letting her out of my sight with about every predator being bigger than she here!). Jackie (brother #1 (second oldest child)) loves to call River eagle bait. Which she is not..

So the falls and river are in the canyon in between the hills. If you go off trail you can find the edge along the canyon pretty quick (in some places it’s a sheer drop). The sun was just starting to cast its setting light on the mountains and trees. End of May, would have been almost 11 pm and it’s just setting (it’s much later now).

Remember what I said about have a knack for finding edges and then leaning over them? Yeah.. couldn’t get Lorien out on this one 🙂 It was a decent height. Easily hundreds of feet (maybe more?). Reuben took this picture since Bug was staying “away”  from the edge. The moss and loose shale would kinda crumble under you and it was on a downward slope – hence why I’m on my belly and not standing. We were slowing working our way back to the car since the sun was going down and we’d been out for hours already (Reuben had starting banging sticks and tossing rocks off the ledge by now..)

Last but not least! one of my favorite shots of the sun through the trees! The light was beyond amazing and we ended up taking around 220 pictures (including bad ones) for this rather short prolonged hike. I felt so great out in the woods even knowing the bears are waking up and hungry. At one point I commented to Lorien that I rather would like to roll in the dirt like a horse (or dog for all non equine people) to coat myself with wonderful scent of the woods and to “wash” the city off of me. I didn’t actually.. I was a little afraid of what Reuben might have said not to mention the waiters at Village Inn diner…

Originally written for some friend’s on FB

I was moved to write a little something that turned into a lot after receiving emails, texts and phone calls over the last few days from friends, co-workers and family who needed someone to talk to. Someone to listen. I of course did all those things. But I also felt that maybe I should share what I have done in their position, what I am doing and striving for. Maybe it could be of use to them? Maybe not. But I wrote it and posted it on Facebook. Then thought I might as well put it on the blog too since it grew from a “few tricks” to the recipe of how I go about life… My only hope is that no one thinks I am giving advice or sound like I’m telling you what to do. I am only sharing what was said to me and what I say to my self.

Face Book Post~

Family, Friends, and people I don’t know as well; You’ve said things and done things, I’ve seen some things, heard some things, and thought of you as I wrote this in hopes of giving you something positive. So please take whatever you can from this, and forget the rest.~Joannie

Life, the very thing that we strive for also kills us. Here lately I have notice, been around or involved with people who are struggling with LIFE. They often say that the problem is their love life (or lack of), job (or lack of), school (or lack of), Money (always lack of), family problems (everyone has them guys…) friends (or lack of) and the place they are in. What I see is something else entirely. The problem is the person himself. The problem is that she cannot have a LIFE because she doesn’t know who she is, why she is and where (non physically) she is.

As a “young” person (as we are referred to these days) I have been THERE and then some. Everyone has problems, and then there are the problems that make other people go.. Well maybe I could have it worse after all. I will not say my problems are the worst of the worst. But I know they are not everyday ones. But this isn’t for me; this is for the friends, family and individuals that are in the place of stagnant negativity of life. Those who feel stuck, frozen, trapped and helpless. This is for the people who are angry at what they have been given in the form of life (whether past or present). This is for the people who are sad, unhappy, and maybe even hopeless and on the verge of giving up or passively have. For those who are asking why bother? No one cares, I am not strong enough (whether for that moment or change of life), and it is pointless this life. I write this for those people. Because this is what I do to live.

Those who believe that “IF” they had [insert external need] their lives would be good, okay, better, what they want (think they need) and that with this “thing” they could go on in this life and be happy and who they are meant to be. I write to those who think all this.

I write to anyone who is unhappy with his or her life and wants to hear what I have to say.

First off, happiness is an EMOTION. It comes and then it GOES. You cannot be in a perpetual state of happiness at all times. Realizing this will set you free from the constant exhausting state of searching for happiness. It starts from within.

Now you need to realize and SURRENDER to the fact the YOU in YOUR life is the only thing you can CHANGE or CONTROL (with both there are still some things above our ability to change or control and therefore must be given up to whomever your higher power is). Without this, everything is stemming from ego, ideals, preconceived notions and not the self.

To be happy you must first be OKAY with yourself. Maybe loving you is something you have/need to work on. It tends to take time. But accepting that you, as you are now, are okay (for now) is the first step to be able to feel happy. Baby steps. Be okay. Accept. Love bits of yourself here and there. Don’t over kill you won’t love yourself over night. You first have to accept yourself, then be okay with yourself, than like yourself. Once those are real and true you can go after the final goal of loving yourself wholly. But right this moment. Baby steps. Be okay-accept. Accept-be okay. However it works for you.

NOTHING will make you happy. NO-ONE will make you happy. Only you can experience happiness. Once you have achieved that, you can SHARE it with others. But the emotion is YOURS and YOURS alone. Yes we are all alone. And until we are accepting of that we cannot be with others in a true self form. First just be with yourself. LITERALLY just BE. Don’t run, move, hide, distract or push away the true you. Just be.

Motivation. Is what separates a person who can experience happiness and change and those who cannot. Motivation comes in all forms. But for it to be TRUE and ego-less your life’s motivation cannot be a romantic relationship. That involves ego and instinct. Same with having you child be your only motivation. It is NOT their purpose in life to make you happy. To put such a burden upon a single person is unhealthy and unintentionally hurting they’re very being.

Find what motivates you to live. To feel. To experience. With a person who is suicidal, your family (or children) and friends as a whole can be your motivation for now. For now it is okay. But eventually you need to find the true motivation for YOU and not just the lives of others. At rock bottom it is reason enough to live, it is okay. Not forever, but for now.

Focus on that motivation (the one that is there when everything else is dark, you cannot change how you look at the world or how it affects you but that one thing can bring a whisper of motivation). This is your starting point. From here on out, everything you do will incorporate this motivation (hopefully there is more than one) and the lesser ones that make you happy with your EVERYDAY life. Your choices, decisions, and reactions. No matter the pain, sadness, anger you find/feel/are thrust upon. Keep this motivation of life in sight. Be with those emotions. JUST BE. And LET THEM GO when they will leave. Don’t hold on to them. You don’t need them. The world does not need them. Set them and yourself free. Surrender your control of them and just be. Don’t react. Don’t run. Sometimes, don’t even speak.  When you can, write or draw or tell a story about them to let them go. But don’t act with them. Just be. Your family hurts you, put the distance needed so that they cannot. But hold on to it. Your friends use you, hurt you, and are not supportive of you. Put the distance there. How far, long and what kind of distance is up to you and the situation. Just up and running will not solve your problems. But if the situation is as such that you cannot be (because of their impact physically) then moving physical distance may be needed. But just moving will NOT solve your problems-that’s running. Things need to change on the inside. Let go of everyone and everything (not forever or physically just emotionally) and if the situation calls for it then physically let go or stop all interaction. Please remember it is easy to overact when in this state so try not to rush but go slowly as possible so that you know when is far enough.

This song captures what I am trying to say by just be beautifully (not to mention it’s one of my favorites.

These are the lyrics from it:


“You can travel the world but you can’t run away

from the person you are in your heart

you can be who you want to be

make us believe in you

keep all your light in the dark

if your searching for truth

You must look in the mirror

and make sense of what you can see

just be

just be

they say learning to love yourself

is the first step

that you take when you want to be real

and flying on planes to exotic locations

won’t teach you how you really feel

face up to the fact that you are who you are

and nothing can change that belief

just be

just be

cause now I know it’s not so far to where I go

the hardest part

is inside me

I need to just be

I was lost and I’m still lost but I feel so much better”


Link to this song: http://youtu.be/qEYueRVuqmg

I listened to this song OVER and OVER again. I traveled and felt EXACTLY what it says, you can’t run away from the person you ARE.

Do what you have to. And JUST BE.

Find that motivation-whatever it is. Mine is my siblings and a promise I made. My motivation to keep going when everything is too much and I need something to pull me out of the darkness for at least just a bit, I dance. I dance hard, without purpose, or ego. I dance and throw my emotions into each step. I let the music tell me what to do. I simply just dance. Just be in the dance. No thoughts. No stopping of the emotions that come and go. I just dance. Full physical movement. The zone. I usually dance alone. I usually dance off away from others, as they are not important in their thoughts of me. I simply am dancing. Once my body is exhausted, the emotions have stopped coming up (because I let them flow) I can now again remember my life’s motivation and why I must endure and prevail.

A quick note on motivations, they sometimes change, and you often add more, alter the ones you do have. It’s OKAY. Everything changes. Everyday is different. There are no two flowers with the same petals, no two trees with the exact same form. Everything is different from the other and everything changes. Adapt. Stay true. Know who you are. Compassion for where you are ~J

More Pictures!!!!!

More pictures (rather randoms ones) because I know not everyone had FB! Enjoy (and comment) 🙂

Either Lorien or Reuben took this of me while on our way to Thunderbird Falls this May (I’ll post an actual written post for the adventure soon!). Was great fun.

Again~click on photos to see full size!

Small river in the woods, a sight that can be found just about anywhere here! So pretty and wild.


Spring seems to have skipped into summer but the flowers are finally coming out!


The sun doesn’t fully set this time of year, but it hides behind glorious mountain peaks like this along Seward Hwy.

Back in January (2011) Jewel Lake dog park


Okay long overdue Pictures! Enjoy (click on photos for full size effect)

This is a picture I took while running errands (in my car) around Anchorage. It’s from April during breakup season. Lots of clouds and interesting effects on the mountains.


May 2011 : The view of the Inlet off the coastal trail (downtown Anchorage).

River & I at the Jewel Lake dogpark late May


The view off the trail to Thunderbird Falls outside of Anchorage. The sun was setting casting wonderous light on this peak.

Me overlooking the river from Thunderbird Falls. So pretty