Balance, Happiness, Peace



Land of the Midnight Sun

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This summer I took a trip to Alaska to visit my Aunt and Uncle. What a great time! We started the trip off with some kayaking near Denali, rafting in Talkeetna and a stay in their beautiful cabin! What a beautiful state, I didn’t want to leave. I think the only reason I came back was because I missed my dogs so much.

Anyway, I feel like Alaska really spoke to me. Something about the place made me slow down, calm down, and feel a little more at peace. I’m sure the nature played a huge part in that! Seriously though, instead of letting road rage take over and the need to get places faster, I felt myself relaxed and often found myself going below the speed limit. There is so much you can miss if you’re in a hurry. Alaska really has it all. The mountains, the ocean, the wildlife, it’s incredible!

Before going to Alaska I finally felt like I figured out what I want to do with my life. In this aspect, Alaska shook me up a little. I came back to good ole’ Tennessee feeling a little lost (again!) and also kind of dejected. Tennessee is beautiful but it’s nothing like Alaska. Maybe it’s because everything is so new to me but I suddenly didn’t want to go hiking with my dogs or anything. My excuse is always “It’s too hot and too humid!” How lame. I still feel a little “lost”. I’m not sure what I want to do and everything I think of I’m not sure how to get it done. I definitely need a way to find my motivation but I’m so worried about the future. I’m slipping a little out of the present here, which definitely explains my sadness, and thinking about the what ifs. What if I end up in a job I hate? What if I spend my whole life working with no time for my martial arts, my dogs, hiking, writing, etc? If that happens then I lose my identity. Who would I be? I want to find a way to be myself and do the things I love while still being able to pay the bills.

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The Tao Te Ching teaches not to dwell in the past or future and I definitely agree, but planning should still be considered. Somehow I have to find a way back onto the path. I need to get out of my head and experience the present time. I will find a way to do it, even if it takes some time. Sometimes we’re up and sometimes we’re down. It’s all about balance. I must stay positive, work hard and I’m sure everything will come together. I hope, however, the  path leads me west to those incredible mountains and breathtaking scenery.

“The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.

So sometimes ahead and sometimes behind,
sometimes hot and sometimes cold,
sometimes strong and sometimes weak,
sometimes on top of it, sometimes under.

So don’t strain, spend too much, be smug”

For more pictures from Alaska check out my Instagram!!!

I’m Back

Wow! I haven’t written since last year! I sort of ran out of things to write! I say that but really I was just going on my own journey, discovering who I am and just really living it up. I’ve changed a lot since the beginning of 2016 and I must say I love who I have become. Recently I’ve looked back at the person I was and see how much I didn’t like that person. Now I love who I am! ❤ Everyday I work to make myself even better!

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I’ll post a few pictures but I have a lot to say, so for now think of it as a sneak peak. I’ll be posting every other day hopefully but at least once a week. Most of these posts will be about my amazing summer, my dogs and more about my journey. Hope you continued to read! I’m excited to write again.

Follow me on Instagram! That’s where you can see more pictures and more about the places I’ve been!


Lessons Learned

IMG_20151022_172750[1]The further I delve into the Tao the more the world amazes me. It seems I learn something new everyday, or at least every couple of days. Yesterday held yet another lesson for me , and it’s one that I hold dear.

The dogs and I hiked the three balds hike on Roan mountain, we finally made it all the way to the third bald it was a little over four miles round trip. The dogs were exhausted but they really enjoyed it. I had the chance to practice Tai Chi on top of a mountain today, it was hard. The ground was soft, uneven and the grass thick and tall so it grabbed your feet. It was perfect for practicing Tai Chi! While resting at the third bald and enjoying the amazing view from the top of the world a couple and their dog walked up. We had a conversation about hiking and about doing what you love. We agreed that all we wanted was to do what we loved. She said she was lucky enough to have a job she loves and is good at. That’s what I want too.

I didn’t think much of what we talked about until later that night at the Japanese Culture Society club meeting. We watched a movie called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”. It was a very enjoyable documentary and it taught me even more about doing what you loved. There are a couple of things Jiro said that stuck out to me but the one that hit home is the one I want to share most. Jiro said:

“When I was in school… I was a bad kid. Later, when I was invited to give a talk at the school, I wasn’t sure if I should tell the kids that they should study hard… or that it is okay to be a rebel. I wasn’t sure what advice to give the kids. Studying hard doesn’t guarantee you will become a respectable person. Even if you’re a bad kid… there are people like me who change. I thought that would be a good lesson to teach. But if I said that bad kids can succeed later on like I did… all the kids would start misbehaving which would be a problem. Always doing what you are told doesn’t mean you’ll succeed in life.”

I am one of those people who hates studying. I’m also bad at, mostly because I usually just don’t know how to study. It’s part of why I switched my major from Exercise Science to English. I loved exercise science but it was too much work for me and IIMG_20151022_171328[1] didn’t think I would ever get what I wanted out of it. I switched and I feel much better. I don’t have to study so much and I still do well and I have time to do all of this hiking with my dogs. Anyway, I think Jiro is right. Just because you get a four year degree in college doesn’t mean you will get a good job and it doesn’t mean you’ll get a job in what you learned. If you weren’t a good kid, got bad grades or broke the rules it doesn’t mean you can’t change and be successful.

Something else he said, which I also love is:

“Once you decide on your occupation… you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success… and is the key to being regarded honorably.”

I’ve learned about how in many Asian cultures you have something you are good at or that you like and you practice that one thing for the rest of your life and you try to become the best at that one thing. Jiro shows that in the documentary and with his words. I don’t know for sure yet what it is I want to do but once I decide, that is what I will do and I will do my best to become great.

This lesson reminds me of a part of the Tao Te Chin from Seventy – Four the last verse says:

“There is always and official executioner.

If you try to take his place,

It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood.

If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter,

you will only hurt your hand.”


It’s short and sweet this time but still I learned a lot today!

Also, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is on Netflix if you are interested in watching!

Check out my Instagram for more photos from the hike! It was a beautiful day!

Secret River


Today we hiked to Laurel Falls, it’s a place we go to pretty regularly but today we found two new short trails that came off of the main trail. We followed them down to the river and saw parts of the river we had never seen before. It was beautiful!

Aside from the new trail and sights we saw, when you go out hiking enough times you’re bound to have some crazy stories and meet interesting people. Well today, I met an interesting person on the trail and I’d like to share it.


On our decent to the waterfall we came across a hiker and his wolf dog. He had clearly been hiking the Appalachian Trail for a few days, the pack on his back was almost as big as he was. He called his dog to his side to keep her away from mine and immediately he starts telling me about wolf dogs. He told me about an organization that I think he called Wolf Dogs of Hell Town Buddhist-Jew. He told me about a few wolf dogs that he had in the past and about how his dog has bad allergies or mange.

The story gets weirder. He tells me that the feds are the ones that gave his dog the mange. He says, “They’ve been trying for a while now to get me off the trail. I’ve been hiking the Appalachian Trail since 2011 and the feds will try anything to get me off and now they’re attacking my dog.”

At this point I’m thinking he’s just a guy who believes in conspiracies and such, which is fine. But then he continues.

“I was in New York and there were dead animals everywhere and of course she (referring to his dog) rolls in them to get the scent. The feds planted them there. I know it. I used to live in DC and work for the government, my mom worked for the government, my dad…it’s the sad truth but there are people out there with an evil agenda. And if she’s got the mange and her fur is coming out it makes me look like a homeless man who doesn’t care about their dog. It gives me the wrong image and that’s just not true. It is what it is I guess. Anyway, they had tried to question me on a murder case a few years ago.”

At this point schizophrenia is starting to make it’s way into my mind. I get a little nervous hearing about the murder case. He keeps going though and after that it was really hard to follow him and understand him but what he said was along included: porn, selling to the adult industry. He was tempted but in the end it’s selling temptation and he couldn’t do it with a good conscience. Believe it or not I’ve been celibate for over five years now. This journey has been very spiritual for me..

That is pretty much how it went. Ha-ha. Interesting to say the least and whether or not he was a good person or not I don’t know. I tried not to judge him but I still felt uncomfortable and kept my knife out the rest of the hike. I honestly think he was harmless though. I do think something wasn’t right with him but if you’ve been in the woods for four years with just your dog I might go a little crazy too.

Most people you encounter hiking are just like you. They’re just out enjoying nature, getting some exercise, maybe they’re on a journey. I don’t know. I do my best to keep an open mind with everyone I meet. I’ve met very nice people and very weird, but still nice, people on the trail, it’s part of what makes hiking fun.

Anyway, today was fun and different. We had a nice time.

Follow me on Instagram to see more photo’s of the dogs and our hike!

Buddy says Namaste y’all!


Water flows, waterfalls


Compression/Twisting Falls is absolutely breath taking. My experience there was unlike any other I had before. I have mad respect for the power of water It’s beautiful, it flows easily, it’s gentle but the next thing you know water is roaring, it’s angry, it’s violent and above all it’s deadly. While at compression falls I felt everyone of those things coming from the waterfall. It’s a fairly large waterfall but absolutely beautiful. I sat for a good forty five minutes withmy dogs on a rock just watching the waterfall.

I have never felt the feeling of “free” before. You know when someone says, “I just feel so free!” or something along those lines? Well I had never felt that way until I  went to compression falls. I felt free! I felt completely in tune with nature and with myself. I was overjoyed and even cried (I’m such a baby). Seriously though, if you ever get the chance go see this waterfall. It’s very secluded, you have ZERO cell phone service (which isn’t really a bad thing) and the trail to get to the falls is STEEP! And I mean steep!

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Here (above) is Elk River falls. The hike couldn’t even be considered a hike but the falls and the river are gorgeous. This is also along the Appalachian Trail so after you see the falls you can walk a little ways down the trail to get to AT trail. I enjoyed these falls, it was calm and quiet but much busier (people wise) than Compression Falls.


Last waterfall for tonight, this is Red Fork Falls. This was a very enjoyable hike. It wasn’t too long to get to the falls but long enough to be a hike and I feel the trail ranges from easy to moderate. This waterfall is a lot of fun because it goes on for a while! You have many tiny waterfalls leading up to the big waterfall which continues to flow down into more smaller waterfalls. It’s great!

Check these places out if you enjoy waterfall hunting like I do!

For more pictures of the hike and waterfalls follow me on Instagram!

The Face Of Happiness


I’m starting this blog to share my journey with anyone interested! This will include blogs about hiking, fitness, bouldering and of course (most importantly) my pooches! Now, to introduce the star:

BUDDY! He is my four and a half year old American Foxhound. We adopted Buddy a year ago but he and I have already bonded so much! He’s my best friend, my baby my everything! He’s a great dog and companion. Of course this will also feature my newest pup Top

Toph is Rat Terrier mix, I adopted her from the shelter about two weeks ago and I have discovered I am not much of a puppy person. She’s annoying ha-ha but she’s growing on me and loves our hikes!

Anyway, more pics to come! We go hiking every week and I always get pictures. I will post some pictures of my hikes from the last couple of weeks along with newer hikes!

Follow me on Instagram for more pictures! /https://instagram.scom/jl30stmar

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