What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

Within the past year or so, I have been thinking more and more about who I am as a person, a spirit, and a purposeful being on this planet.  Most likely this has been from a deep study of yoga (physical and scriptural), growing interest in alternative living, and my hoop practice.  Of course, I think one of the main theological questions among us is why am I here?  It is normal to wonder where you are going in life.

Edvard Munch "The Scream" depicting existential angst.

The thoughts were really sparked when I happen to have a conversation with my Dad about some things last summer and he commented something like: "when are you going to get a real job (I was working as a doggie daycare sitter and office assistant at the time- now I still do the office there but I work as a waitress, too)?  You are going to need a real job to buy a house and raise a family."  You see, I don't want a "family."  I love my boyfriend and after almost five years of being with him, if I was ever going to marry someone, it would no doubt be him.  But, kids?  Really?  Nah.  Not me.  I'm not part of that middle class, two story, 2.3 kids statistic. 

Father Knows Best

Just got a dog a few weeks ago and that is pretty much like having a kid.  Only your kid doesn't bark all day so the neighbors hear her or rip your trim off the door by some heroic feat.  Ha...  She is awesome, though.

But back on track here.  I have thought about different "careers" since I was in college.  I have a degree in Interior Design, unfortunately it is hard to get into the field unless you have experience and which if you are trying to get the job for experience, it obviously doesn't work.

So what do I want to be when I grow up?  Well, my "dream" career, one that is not completely impossible, but probably isn't feasible- to own/create/run a wellness center with 2-3 studio rooms for classes (yoga, hooping, and others); a cafe/bakery with healthy, all natural, and organic foods and beverages; retail shop with candles, herbs, crystals, handmade or eco clothing, and upcycled/restored furniture along with other items; health consultants; and a general gathering room where people can meet, eat, surf the net, and have an overall place to establish community.  My intention for real means of living would be to make clothes/accessories and then supplement my profits by teaching yoga and hoopdance classes.  And maybe doing some painting and drawing, too.  Pretty much just being an artist.

KK Ledford, my yoga and spiritual inspiration.

A lot of resources for "finding myself" have been popping up lately.  I have been reading a lot from The Organic Sister.  She is an awesome chick who has a wise and unconventional way of living and helping others.  Her posts are not only beneficial, they are also deep, though-provoking, and inspiring.  Her recent posts have been really hitting close to home and it seems like a sort of page from the universe.  In addition to Tara's website, I have been watching videos from soul art studio.  Laura's story is amazing and she has a spectacular way of also helping people is a different way.  I encourage you to watch these videos and really follow along with what she is saying.  I just finished video 3 and want to do the body mapping project before I move on.  It is almost impossible to ignore the words that these ladies are speaking straight to my spirit.

The Unicorn and the Pink Dragon- Laura from Soul Art Studio.

I have had a lot of things going on in the last few weeks.  Some positive, some not; even some life changing things.  In addition to that, my boyfriend has been working out of town and it has given me more time to sit by myself and think a lot.  Which could be good and bad.  It helps I have a partner-in-crime now, though.

It's funny because I have always felt I was self-expressive and true to myself, but the more I grow up and the more I explore internally, I realize I really have been nothing but the outside layers of my spirit; layers that have cloaked my true-self by my parents and those with whom I grew up around.  I read Don Miguel Ruiz's book The Mastery of Love and he really explained in simple terms why most of us are the way we are.  The book is really interesting and I recommend reading it.

In the coming months I plan on tweeking and experimenting with things in my life in hopes of becoming a more happy, fulfilled person.  I am going to try to hoop more, do yoga everyday, enjoy one dessert a day, read, not work so hard, and stop dwelling on things I cannot change or do anything about in that moment.  I will also breathe a lot more; in every stressful situation, before I go to bed, and anytime I want to just let out a sigh.  Not only that, but I will paint or craft when I have the time.  These things I want to do more of will not be all done at once, but instead be supplemented in and enjoyed when it is available.  What's the point of stressing that I should craft more or practice hoop more if I am so mentally and physically exhausted and I don't feel like it, then beat myself up for it?  Ah... just restating that intention and seeing it in words gives me such a release.

\My goals for doing a hoop class soon is still in the works.  I am trying to find solidity and frequency in my practice before I am dedicating my hooping to others.  I feel as if it would be more authentic and real.  The hoop jams are still definitely going on.  I also talked to a regular at work today that I am very friendly with.  He's an older guy, in his fifties, but he is trying to get back into photography.  He started talking about how he wanted to broaden and fill his portfolio.  I mentioned that if he needed some work that I would be willing to pay him a little if he came out and took some cool hoop pics for my website when the snow melts away.  He said he would definitely be interested!!  I gave him my website link and also told him to take a look at Hoop City to get a good idea and possibly some inspiration from the photo gallery there; and to also get a real feel about what I meant when I said I was a hoopdancer...

So, lots going on.  I am going to try to keep posting as much as I can.  I really want to designate Sundays as recipe day so that I can post some of these yummy recipes I have been trying out lately!!  New moon on Sunday.  Perfect day to really set my intentions for the coming months.  I think I might do a New Moon hoop meditation to charge it up a bit.  Look for the post on the website as usual for hooping and the moon phases.


Oh, it's a Dog's Life

Pics from taking my girl out on my day off.

Where we goin', Mom?

Yay, we're going on a walk!!

I love the pagoda at the Iditapark

Every day thing, how we hang how we hang...

I'm not posing; I'm watchin' the guy play hacky-sack at the skate park.

I still wanted to find the time to get inside my hoop...

And eat some caribou dog in my kong.


My New Love

I haven't been online much lately, because I got a new doggie!!  She came up on my boss's email (she is on a bunch of different email lists) for needing a new home and my boss said she would be the perfect dog.

Her name is Vera; she is an Eurasier American Eskimo mix.  She has been through a lot in her few years, but she has an amazing potential to be the best dog.  It took her a little while to warm up to the both of us, especially Bill being so big and hunkering.  She listens to us, knows tricks, plays well with our neighbor dogs, and can even be off leash in our backyard and not run away.

Today is day four and will be her ultimate test.  I am going to work for about 6 hours and daddy won't be coming home a lunch to make sure she isn't getting into anything.  Sunday we left her alone for a test run for a couple hours and she jumped up on our counter (how?  I have no idea) and ate a 1/4 stick of butter.  Luckily, that was all she ate considering some of the most toxic items were up there, too:  grapes, potatoes, garlic, onions, and two chocolate chip cookies. 

Yesterday she did better, only biting a little hole in the bread bag.  We don't really want to have to put her in a kennel all day and would much rather let her roam the house while we are gone.  That is what all the pets I have ever had did, though kennel training can be very beneficial. 

Bill is going out of town today, again on Friday, and then all next week.  Hopefully she will miss him and not be timid again around him when he gets home.  She loves him though and I told him the more he did with her, the more she would love him.  He has been taking her out for play dates, car rides, and play wrestling with her.

In the summer I am hoping to do some agility with her considering the amount of energy she has and how athletic she is (hello- 3 foot high counter top).  More to update soon; time to go love on my girl before I get ready for work....


Iditarod Update

Taken from iditarodblogs.com.

Found out this morning that my musher has scratched.  Zoya Denure scratched from the race late last night due to one of her dogs collapsing.  You can read the article here in detail.  I am sad to see her discontinuing, but I think she has a heart of gold.  The fact that, even though she could continue the race and just leave the dog at the checkpoint, her concern and willingness to give up all the hard work her and the dogs have done to prepare for the race to watch over her sick dog is what mushing is all about.

Taken from iditarodblogs.com

Zoya is my favorite musher because she and her husband run a kennel for retired/given-up/rehomed dogs.  I loved the fact that her teams consisted of shelter dogs and rescues.  Yay for rescued puppies!!  It says in the article that she is thinking about just running the shorter, couple hundred miles races instead of the Iditarod.  I am on her side either way, but I would love to see her come back in a few years and place in the top ten or something.

Taken from flickr- GipsyGold

In other news, it seems that the Bordetella, aka canine cough, epidemic has reached the sled dog teams.  Multiple mushers have scratched due to their dogs showing symptoms.  It could be catastrophic if it spread down the trail, resulting in hundreds of dogs being infected.  Bordetella has been rampant here for the last month, moving slowly up from Anchorage.  Bordetella is a highly contagious sickness that is comparable to the human flu.  Dogs get vaccinated for it just like we take flu shots, though his strand that is infecting the dogs is a new, stronger strand that the vaccine doesn't even touch.

As of last night, Trent Herbst is in first, but he has not taken his 24 hour layover (nor Kelley Griffin- my boss' good friend who is running with our mushing gear) unlike most of the other mushers in the top ten.  It has been said that they are being very aware of their dogs health with this rumor of Bordetella and the conditions of the trail up ahead.  They are taking their long layovers early, focusing on feeding, massaging, and loving on their dogs to keep spirits, and health, high.

So lets all keep the dogs and the mushers in our thoughts and send them all positive, healing energy to get them back home safe.

More on the Iditarod and other Kellyness to come later.

Oh, oh; I almost forgot.  Have a new vid on Hoop City.  Check it out if you are interested.  Nothing fancy, just some fun.


Iditarod- The Last Great Race on Earth

This past Sunday, Bill and I went out to Willow to see the restart of the Iditarod.  Every year during Fur Rondy, the ceremonial start of the Iditarod takes place.  I had to work on Saturday so I missed it, but I was glad I got to go up to Willow.  I am going to tell you a little about the Iditarod, some misconceptions, and share some pics and vids that I took at the race.  Note the dogs' reactions when pulling up to the start line, during the count down, and mushing away.

It all started in 1925 when the bush village of Nome was stricken with an epidemic of Diphtheria.  With Nome being accessible only by plane and trail, it was up to the relentless dog mushers to carry the serum.  Part of that same trail the original musher took is still a part of the Iditarod trail today.  During the ceremonial start in Anchorage, the number one bib musher still symbolizes that fearless dog sled team who saved Nome.

Jamaican Newton Marshall showing his lead dog some love.  Something that I saw every musher do- run up and down their lines at the start, giving love to their team.

Now, the race takes place every year with mushers who still have that same fearlessness.  Teams from all over the world (Alaska, some states down in the lower 48, and seven international teams- Jamaica, New Zealand, Norway, and Canada) compete in the 1150 mile race across western Alaska.  The race is a long adventure lasting over a week, with the fastest race time being 8 days 22 hours held by Martin Buser in 2002.  These sled dog teams cross over some of the toughest terrain in the world; through deep forests, frozen rivers, freezing tundra, and over wicked mountains.  There are checkpoints along the way that mushers check-in with and take breaks.  There are also required layovers, one for 8 hours and one for 24 hours.

Musher handlers help keep the dogs from pulling so hard at the start.

Lance Mackey, four time consecutive winner of the Iditarod.

Woman have and still do race in this amazing feat:  Mary Shields being the first woman to finish in 1974, Libby Riddles the first woman to win in 1985, and Susan Butcher winning the race four times (the record in 5 wins and 4 consecutive wins).  This year 13 women are racing.  Now that is awesome. 

More sled dog love.

A lot has been in debate over sled dogs and mushing over the last few decades.  Abuse, neglect, horrible living conditions, and belief of "making the dogs" pull sleds are a few very misunderstood associations with dog mushing.  Yes, you have your, excuse the word, jackasses, who do not understand how to run a kennel in the correct way like this idiot (as a side note here, for those that do not know, there is a LONG list of requirements, permits, and regulations that go with running a kennel.  Here in Alaska they are trying to enforce these rules, sometimes not always as strict as they would like due to limited resources and man power.  I do not agree with how the borough handles some situations like with that musher a few years ago.  I do not stand by their decision to not only allow him to maintain his kennel, but to help him "down-size" is pretty much outrageous.  This is just one of the very few extreme circumstances where people with little to no experience are building kennels for the wrong reason- for money and not for love).  But, people who are truly into mushing for the right reasons take better care of their sled dogs than most people take of their pet dogs.  For a dog team to be fit and able to run any distance, whether that be for racing, sport, or for fun, they must be in the best condition and health that they can be.  It is very expensive to not only start a kennel, but to maintain one.  The initial cost of even building a kennel can cost around $35,000 with monthly estimates being as high as $10,000.  Now, for someone to spend that kind of money on dogs really have to love mushing and sled dogs.

Dallas Seavey giving his team some last minute pets.

Not only are sled dogs health closely monitored during the year, but at every check point dogs are looked over by highly skilled volunteer veterinarians who makes sure that all dogs stay in the highest of health.  There has been dogs die during the race in it's history, but none of these to my knowledge were from neglect.  I have a book by the famous musher Jeff King, who writes in his bibliography the devastation and sadness that came over him when he lost one of his dogs on the trail (if you are interested in reading a fascinating story about dog mushing and the Iditarod, check out his book:  Cold Hands, Warm Heart).  It does happen as in any sport that sometimes the athletes get hurt.  Yes, sled dogs do die on the trail yearly, with the exclusion of last year's race where no dogs died.  This, of course, is a field day for animal rights groups who, from the lower 48 mind you, want to pitch a fit about the race being full of abuse, neglect, and such.  They obviously have never seen the race, nor stepped foot in a kennel (which I have been in numerous).  These dogs are breed to live in the conditions they do, to run as far and as fast as they can, and to love every second of it.  However, many mushers quit the race each year when they know that their dogs' health is in danger.  Most likely causes for these deaths are the musher inexperience or freak accidents (as with what happened to King).  The Iditarod committee has made the entries more intense, helping reduce the number of inexperienced mushers. 

To make it very clear, sled dogs LOVE to run.  These dogs were bread to run and have racing in their genes.  If it wasn't for these great races such as the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest, these bloodlines would have been lost.  If it isn't a dead giveaway watching these videos of the dogs lining up at the start line that running is their passion, I don't know how to break it down any simpler.  My boss has three sled dogs and I am in an immediate position to tell you, there is nothing more that these dogs love doing than running (ok, well, they may love getting petted and a good belly scratch).  And if it isn't evident how much these racers love their dogs, then I guess you haven't look deep enough at the photos.  My words are words, but the emotion and pure energy that these photos display speak more words than I could ever write in this post.

If you would like more information on the Iditarod, check out the webpage.  Also, if you would like to follow along with the standings, meet the mushers, and see history and other great information, do some browsing on the site.  Peace out.

Random picture of me in the parking lot in front of a snow wall.  The snow was piled up like this around the whole perimeter of the parking lot and also down the middle.


New, New, New

I have been getting comfortable in my new job as a server and yesterday I had some of my own tables while training!!  I think I did a pretty awesome job considering that it was only my third day.  Friday will be the first "non-training" day and I will actually be able to make tips.  I do, however, work this Saturday so I won't be attending Rondy, but at least I have off on Sunday and get to go out to the Iditorod start (yay!!).  I am definitely going to take some pics and I plan on writing on a somewhat tough and confusing subject:  dog mushing.  If you do not live in an area where dog mushing/dog kennels are predominant, then a lot can be misunderstood.  So I want to bring about some clarification.

Sunday's hoop jam was a pretty good success in my opinion.  My neighbors came out and hooped for a while and some friends attended, too.  I got my neighbors really excited about hooping and I think they are now more willing to recruit their friends to jams, classes, and workshops now that they have a taste of how truly awesome hoopdance is.  I plan to extend the invitation to the public for the hoop jam at the end of this month, in hopes to gain some interest in classes.  I am very excited.  Check out my photo album on Hoop City for the pics I took.

On another note, I have been working ridiculously hard on my website.  I think I have found a layout and design that I am happy with.  I am going to start doing posts and announcements so that people can become more involved on the site versus it just being static pages.  I plan to add a little more oomph to it, but I am satisfied with what has become of it as of now.  If you are a website designer or even html/code friendly and would like to give me any tips or tricks, I would sincerely appreciate it.  I am not at all computer illiterate, but when it comes to coding, I am pretty lost.  Thank god for google.

I wanted to share some pics and things from the Iron Dog that I went to a few weekends ago.  I got so busy, but it is an amazing thing.  It is a snowmachine race that starts out in Big Lake, paves the way for the Iditorod to Nome, then over to end in Fairbanks.  All in all, the races covers over 2000 miles.  And what is the craziest part?  It takes about a week, the riders are required to takes a minimum of 50hours in breaks (spaced through out the race at specific check points), and their average speed in 90 mph.  Yes, it is pretty insane.  You can check out the website for the Iron Dog to get a better view of the extent of the race, see the map (go 5o "for race fans" and click on map and checkpoints), and even check out the racers.  Bill wants to do the trail team (which is a group of riders that just takes the trail to Nome and isn't in the competing group) next year.  If I had more experience on snowmachines, I would, but it is pretty hardcore going out there this time of year.

So here are some pics I took that I never got a chance to post.

Bill and I


And here is a random pic of me on the snowmachine when we were out at the cabin last weekend.  It was cold and blustery, so I am all geared up to the point I feel like Ralphie's brother in A Christmas Story haha.

And as a side note, the boots I am wearing are waaaaay too big.  I know they look like clown boots, but they are good for -60 degrees and when it is freezing and your riding on a snowmachine, you DON'T want your feet to be cold, so I borrowed Bill's bunny boots.  Interesting thing about bunny boots:  they are a huge accessory up here in AK for the winter months, especially for things like dog mushing, snowmachining, and any outdoor work during the winter.  They were originally made for US soldiers to use when dropping out of air planes.  For more info check out the wiki page for bunny boots.  There, a short history lesson of AK :).