Friday, June 26, 2009

I Hear The Train A Comin'

Well once again I chose a job where it's sink or swim, and at the start at least I was able to tred water. We trained for a week on policies, emergency procedures, etc. while us host guides tried deperately to learn everything about Alaska that we can. Honestly I feel like I'm back in college again only this time I deserve a degree or at least a minor in Alaskan History! What makes it harder is that there is not an "official" history book so sometimes I get conflicting stories and views of what really happened or numbers that aren't always accurate. However it's been great to learn so much about the rail line and events that happened here in this beautiful state.

Now at the same time that I'm learning about Alaska I wan't to also be experiencing Alaska but my group was able to ride the train to Fairbanks on training and then have a whole day to do tourist stuff before we headed back "live" or with guests. I absolutely LOVED panning for gold at the El Dorado Gold Mine (I panned - well Kyle the boy that helped me - panned $19 of gold flakes) then we took a river boat down the Chena River and stopping at a re-created native village and seeing the dog kennels of an amazing woman who competed in the Iditarod.

And one of the highlights of the week too was that Anchorage hosted the World Championship Beard and Mustache Festival so some of us went downtown to the parade and took pictures with some of the competitors and we even snapped a great photo with the two time champion of the freestyle division!


I am in awe of Alaska right now - the weather has been beautiful, the landscape is breathtaking, the sun is always up it seems, and the people are friendly! It has been a great start. I had the only friend I knew up here take me around and introduce me to some people, my roommates are so sweet, I've seen moose and Mt. McKinley (or Denali as the locals call it), and we took the train for a practice run down to Seward - Alaska just keeps getting better!

And I celebrated my birthday here which is usually pretty chill but again I said the people are great I invited some friends from church to Moose's Tooth Pizza for dinner and 28 people showed up, after only being here 9 days so it was great to get to know them all and have a good time. On my actual birthday I was on the train but one of my favorite co-workers brought me a cake, it was so nice! So needless to say a great start to the summer!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Welcome to the Family Gage!

My brother and sister-in-law were blessed with baby Gage Shaun Grimmett on April 23, 2009 and we couldn't be happier with this little guy! I was able to drive over with my family a week later and then stay in Portland for about 10 days before I started work in Alaska.

We got to go to the park as a family and Shaun and I took Maisey to Sesame Street Live downtown which was so fun. It was so great to spend time with my family, they are just so important to me and I love being with ALL of them and I only look forward to all the vacations, holidays, and quality time that we get to have in the future. I honestly feel like it's only getting better the older we get and I'm so glad that my siblings are some of my best friends and that I couldn't ask for a better sister-in-law and now the best niece and nephew! Love you guys!

That's What FRIENDS Are For!

So needless to say I have the BEST friends, but I am truly blessed to celebrate that I have had four of my closest girlfriends for HALF of my life. We became complete as the Sullivan 5 the summer we were all 12 years old and we not only made it through Jr. High and High School we had so many GOOD TIMES! I was able to see ALL of them in the month of April and spend some quality time with them which was so nice. We are slightly in different stages of life and may live farther away then a 5 min bike ride but these girls are still my favorites and they have given me so much love and support and really are such a HUGE part of my life. DaNae, Celeste, Katelyn, and Lisa I LOVE YOU all so much! You are beautiful women and my best friends, thank you for your friendship it has blessed my life more than you will ever know!

On the Road AGAIN!

After my last week in Arizona (and don't worry it snowed on me in April - if you can believe that) but I got the opportunity to drive home to Spokane with all my stuff. Now I really have come to appreciate road trips and I think driving can be very theraputic especially for myself having time to think and I do occationally just jam out to a song in the car by myself too! But if I was going to drive all that way you better believe I was going to see everyone I could along the way.

So thank you friends and family in Las Vegas, Provo, Salt Lake, Idaho Falls, Rexburg, Boise, and St. John I know my visits were very quick but I had such a good time catching up and just being with you and laughing and visiting. I am so blessed by the friendships that are in my life and I couldn't ask for a better family as well, so thank you for making time for me and I'll hopefully see you all real soon again!

Back in Mexico

Ok still catching up but really quick - at the beginning of April I was able to go back down to Mexico with Kaiizen again and it was so good to see all my friends and ALL of the kids! They are so great and I just can't get enough of them. This was a small trip too and it was really weird not to know everyone before we went down but because they're were less people I got to talk to everyone and it was really fun being a bit behind the scenes for a trip.

Bombay wanted to paint my face and we got to color in the Nursery with the kids!

Plus I brought over two other trailwalkers from Arizona and we added another friend Justin in Huntington Beach. The highlights of this trip were definitely Disney murals in the Nursery, Fear Factor with the kids, Kaiizen Idol (Josh and I did a duet to "A Whole New World"), dancing with the kids, listening to the Kaiizen band play "Disturbia" - Budinger taught the kids while he sang, SO FUNNY! Teaching Chewy how to start a fire and just sharing the experience with both old and new friends! Seriously such a great trip and I'm sad I'm going to miss the next one again too but I'll find a way to get back down there after Alaska!

Matt and Jonathan taught fire skills and Justin and I helped too with the Little Mermaid mural!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wedding and Snowmobiling

So in February I had a two week break and I got to go home to Spokane to be with two of my friends as they got married. Congrats again Anna and Robbie I was so happy to be able to celebrate with you - and yes once I get married we can be "couple friends" too!

Karmen, Me, Annie, Kellie, and Katie

After the wedding I was able to go down to West Yellowstone and go snowmobiling with my friend Joe and his Uncle and cousin. Complete with great weather and a couple stops at the same Denny's - it was such a good trip!

Pics from Arizona

My only picture on the trail, with Jonathan (day 15 for me!)

Doing what we do best on our off weeks - Kareoke!

Ramsy and I visited with Santa (notice the short sleeves in Dec.)

Went hiking with the crew to Camelback Mountain!

Trail Name

This is something that I was gifted while I worked at Anasazi, I used in when I would make a speaking around the fire or in some of the ceremonies that we did as part of the walking in the wilderness. This is so special to me but I wanted to share it, it was given to me my second week and when they read it to me I couldn't help but cry because it was absolutely perfect! So here it is:


Through our walkings with you, we have seen and felt some of the many seeds of greatness within you. We have sat together and thoughtfully pondered these seeds of greatness and have decided to give you the Anasazi Trail Name. The name we have chosen for you is GOOD HEARTED WILLOW!

GOOD - When we think of good, we think of goodness, and we've seen the goodness within you. We have witnessed your selflessness on many occasions. Those that are selfless are good. We also have felt your strong desire to help things go right, so that goodness may abound all around you. We also wish that you always retain a remembrance of all the goodness the Creator has provided for you and those you love. We challange you to strive to emulate goodness in all you do.

HEARTED - We know you desire to have your heart in the right place. The location of the heart is the focal point of our thoughts, desires, and intentions. We've seen your intentions and desires manifested here on the trail, and we know you are in the right place. The heart is also a symbol of purity, and greatness, and we have witnessed these qualities within you. May you always keep your heart pure to be entitled to special awakenings that the Creator has for you.

WILLOW - According to native folklore, the Willow tree is reveared to be nurturing, motherly, thoughtful, wise, and kind. The Willow provides shade, comfort, security, and is giving in nature. Often times we see the Willow as a protected place to ponder. You also, Janel, like the Willow have these same attributes, and characteristics, for we have seen them. Continue to let them grow. There will be storms to face, and you may sway and bend as the wind blows harder, but you can always remain strong, as the Willow as you stay true to these values and characteristics.

GOOD HEARTED WILLOW we give you this name so you may have a belonging place within Anasazi. And we wish you will always walk forward in you life's walking and nourish all the many seeds of greatness within you.

We are honored to have walked with you!
(Given by: Eager Warrior of Light and Beautiful Firefly)

Anasazi Update

Wow I don't know how to do this but I've gotten way too far behind so this section will be just a recap about my time at Anasazi - a wilderness therapy program located in Arizona! Which is actually better because I don't think I could adequately express it in words!

Week 1: Moving/Training/First Week as a Trailwalker

I have never felt more alone in my life moving to an area where I didn't really know anyone and really the first time I had left my solid support group of constant friends/family! Out in the field I actually wanted to get bit by a rattle snake so I could "honorably" leave the trail. But I learned that I had come to grow and progress and that usually stems from hard things so I stayed on - probably the best decision I could have made.

Week 2: A Name and a Place

Well I walked with just one girl young walker this week and it was great how we connected. The hikes were still difficult but managable and I realized it's not even about the physical challanges at all but really tackling the emotional and mental challanges that plague our lives. (The copy of my name will be listed above - and it's perfect!)

Week 3: The Boys

My first time walking with boys I was nervous but the second night I made fire and they really appreciated me. My trailwalking partner was so great and we communicated so well - honestly every week I feel like I'm in a psuedo marriage and learn so much about relationships and families. We experienced the coldest night on the trail (frost on our sleeping bags at 8:30pm) and almost slept cold the next night but one of the boys made fire completely in the dark and that whole process will be one of my treasured memories from the trail.

Week 4: Anything you can do . . . I'll probably break my ankle

I walked with the boys again, I love talking to them/teaching them to respect girls and to be motivated in the important things in life (seriouslly they feel like little brothers). Well we had one INTENSE day to put it lightly and the storm was rolling in so we were trying to hurry and the last mile they all made a jump from this rock shelf over this 6 ft pond to keep hiking down the stream bed. My turn last and I lept for it and hit the sand bar only to hear the loudest snap come from my leg and I immediately collapsed. I was 98% sure I just broke my leg and started crying because I knew how difficult it would be to get me to a hospital from where we were. However we waited a few minutes and I was able to continue limping the last mile while one of my partners carried my pack. Not broken just a bad sprain and the boys were able to help me those last two days which brought us all closer together.

Week 5: Bring on the awakenings!

Without a doubt a week to remember, I was hiking on a sprained ankle my partner had a hurt back and we were with 4 girls. However once we got started so did my awakenings and as I shared them with my group I recieved so many more including such a peaceful experience while walking down to fill up my canteens (to be honest it was an awakening on marriage!). This was also my first week to name one of the young walkers and what a great experience - these girls and this week I will NEVER be able to forget!

Week 6: All Girls!

My first time walking with all girls and rather uneventful week except I hiked them about two days worth all at once and so they really showed their strength as I was not LOST but took them "another direction". Actually the highlight of the week was when after one firecircle we started into an improptu compliment circle where everyone gave a real heart felt compliment to EVERYONE - what a night!

Week 7: On my own!

Well I started off with one trailwalker/ she got pulled from the group (we only had 1 sinagua women - 18+ age group) then I walked with Phil my friend from Spokane, and he got pulled and finally I finished by myself. But we had great discussions about life, sang a little Taylor Swift and worked on our books and skills.

Week 8: Rabbit Stick

This was my second week on a double (I had one day inbetween) and so I got to do the intake for a young girl. The food was more limited which was even harder but so rewarding to teach her how to make fire and use her knife safely and get her ready for her experience out in the wilderness - I got to walk with her two more times so very fulfilling to see her walk through the program.

Week 9: Unexpected Turns and Rattle Snakes

Well the week started off great (walking with just one sinagua women) and we had some great conversations. Then day 2 my trailwalking partner fell and really hurt his back so we rested a day but he still couldn't move well, so we split up his pack and backtracked to get him out and some medical attention (my pack probabaly weighed over 60 lbs. that day!). Then I finished out the week again by myself but the conversations were great and the alone time actually let me think about A LOT of things. Also I was able to ready Elder Eyring's book "To Draw Closer To God" it was so great and really inspiring!

Week 10: Double the FUN!

Well I got a surprise at the end of week 9 - a girl had to stay out and it naturally fell to me so I accepted, my first honest double! But it led into probably my best week ever. The girls (ALL 5 of them) were great and we had some pretty hard things to deal with but we made it to our destination completely on their determination to push through sprained ankles and vomiting, etc. My trailwalking partner was absolutely amazing - so positive, we really shared the responsibilities equally, had great communication, was in tune spiritually, and we were the BEST team! After 16 days out in the wilderness it was so comfortable and I was actually sad to leave that week but was so thankful for everything that happpened!

Week 11: SNOW - Really?

It had to happen, I had a week were I really struggled. I knew it was my last and I was trying to be ALL there ALL week but we had a girl decide to sit in the worst place we could possibly be, people got sick (including myself), and a storm rolled in where it rained all night and then SNOWED in the morning - that's right in APRIL in ARIZONA! Luckily we were able to teach the girls to play mafia and had fun with them and sill talked during the day and worked on skills so we were productive but it was a struggle I won't even start to lie. Eventually I left with the girl that was in her Dawnstar (or last week) so I got to take her to her family camp and then walk her parents into her - SO REWARDING! Also I got to do her final ceremony and take her back into civilization - it was great because it was also my last week so I felt as if I was concluding my walking as well.

Honestly this is all just the tip of the iceberg for this experience, if you have any questions please ask and anyone who had four months to spare, it is a bit intense but so worth it and I know it is an extremely inspired program and the families that choose to walk forward it can really make a difference in their life.

I am Good Hearted Willow and I have Spoken!