Bays, Biology, and Pygmy Bisons

Okay guys. This one is so important, I haven’t even taken a real shower yet… sitting here in my grimy travel clothes to get some important thoughts out. Let me tell you about a little camp, on a little bay, on a little side, of a medium-sized island, off of a big state called California. Lost yet? It’s the Catalina Island Marine Biology Institute.

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   Ask  yourself, if you had three science teachers who you absolutely adored, and they came to you with a plan to take a school trip to an island off the California Coast to go snorkeling and play with the Sea Lions, would you also stand up and salute the flag of the United States of America? Probably not, unless you were pretty patriotic and into that sort of thing… but you’d probably sign up wouldn’t you? Great! We have some common ground then.
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   Right off the bat we went snorkeling in blueberry-colored wetsuits. Loved it. A few hours later we went out again after the sun went down and when we had gotten the hang of it, we were splashing the water in the dark until we could see bio-luminescent glitter sparkling around our feet and arms. Later, we hiked to see the sunrise and instead of just that, we were given a morning light show featuring every color in the paint palette, complete with a molten-orange sun, which we realized was not the one moving, we were. For the first time, I actually saw the figures in the constellations as described by their names. A belt, a sword, a bull, a dog, there they were like glittering connect-the-dots with a series of confusing yet compelling stories attached. At another point, I thought I was really cool and painted the seascape while my feet contracted hypothermia in the sand. This morning, leaving, it felt like the final scene to a movie. We were piled on the ferry. We waved goodbye to our counselors and as we slowly slipped away, they waved back and dove into the ocean in waves.
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   Don’t you love being humbled by cool things? Nature for example. I feel like a krill or a plankton right now. I am nothing compared to everything, yet I am something and that’s important too. My religion teaches similar lessons, but it doesn’t sink in until applied and here was a prime example. I found peace in a place where I could accept myself and be boggled by Heavenly Father’s masterpiece at the same time.
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   Unbelievably sad on the trip back home, I wrote down some lessons I never want to forget. Mostly these are for me and my future self, but they’re also yours if you want them too.
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1) My she-homies and I were sitting on a bridge during some minutes of free time at some point with our feet dangling over a stream that led out to the ocean a few feet away, and ironically enough, we were talking about friends who we experienced bridge-burning experiences with and whether or not that was a bad thing. On one hand, some bridges have to go sometime, the “friends for a season” theory, and that can be totally okay and on the other hand, sometimes it’s better to work on the bridge and make it stronger.
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2) How important it is to stay busy, and not be idle. If you run out of things to do, leave your comfort zone. Be interactive with the human race. Push what you believe your limits are. Challenge old doubts and set new goals.
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3) Wake up early and crash hard each and every night.
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4) Kind of a weird but solid sea metaphor: Without Plankton, the entire ecosystem would crash and burn. Without the small things we take for granted, we wouldn’t be here. So appreciate them on a greater scale.
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5) Bison. I apologize, another metaphor. There are small Bison on the island, which are still huge creatures but I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I thought the counselors were having an elaborate leg-pulling fest when I saw one dozing in the quad when we came into camp. They’re pygmy bison though, their structures have shrunk to adapt to a smaller ecosystem. So don’t be like the bison and get trapped on a metaphorically small island, like your house or a small community. Let yourself move and expand. Maybe that means travel, maybe that means reach out to people you normally wouldn’t, whatever the case; give yourself room to grow and build a larger character.
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6) Your 20’s are a time to go and have an adventure. Take care of your body and get good at what you love while not being afraid to learn something new. Mix it with seeking a great education, and don’t be afraid of smaller schools.
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7) Take advantage of all the natural wonders in your community. Earth is a gift, unwrap it.
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8) Friendship shouldn’t have age boundaries. Don’t prevent yourself from building those bridges just because they happened to be born a year that wasn’t same year you were. And if those bridges stay strong, it won’t matter in 10… 20 years, and you’ll be so glad you made friends with a fifth grader on the way to Catalina Island when he’s a rock star Paleontologist and great listener who you’ll be able to call and complain to someday.
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9) Any idiot can take a picture. It takes someone special to sit, watch, and wait and for something beautiful. Those memories will be more useful to you in your brain storage than in your computer storage. Then take the picture, but let the memory of the moment sit with you.
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10) And lastly, sometimes social media can make us feel like we can never be alone. Like when we’re walking by ourselves, and see a stranger coming from the opposite direction, that we need to pull out a phone and pretend we’re texting or calling someone. You know yourself better than anyone, so why not get to know your own mind and strengths before you put them out in front of the world? Work on not just building a self-esteem, but retaining it, so that eventually, you can be sure of yourself in front of anybody.
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Slideshow time! To set the mood:
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Thanks dear reader for doing what you do best here… have an amazing week!
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-SJT
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p.s.
Oh yeah, guess who said yes?utahlogo
   When the family picked me up from the airport they said that a big envelope had come for me while I was gone with a big red U on the front. We got to the parking garage where I opened it and started bawling into my dad’s shoulder. I’m going to college.
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Spring Break Begins

The bell rang yesterday and the classes erupted into the halls like water bursting from a crumbling dam. It was hot outside and people stopped in crowds to hum and bubble about their vacation plans. We walked to Starbucks to get some sugary drinks and celebrate. We sat, sipped, and talked about world politics and tanning.

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Iced Passion Fruit Tea… decaf :) #tumblrstatusss

Night-Time Epiphanies

Hit the Regina Spektor Radio on Spotify, pop over to WordPress, “New Post”. I got words today man!

Hey this fire
It’s burning
Burning us up
Hey this fire
It’s burning
Burning us up

The fire of words baby! I swear they’re eating at my soul this day and unless I pour them out on my keyboard I may be ashes in minutes!

Night-time epiphanies. Have ’em? Thought processes really do take place at night, when things are quiet and muscles are tired. Well, your brain isn’t a muscle. True story bro. Something about the dark and waiting for unconsciousness to come… thoughts run into genius strands that are so frustratingly forgotten the next morning. Solution:

Write it down! I had to turn on the light a few times but it was soooooo worth blazing my eyeballs out. Otherwise you’ll think you’ll be able to decipher your writing that was written in the pitch-black darkness, but really you won’t. (Testify: middle bottom picture, middle of pad.) Anyways, there was something my half-conscious self came up with last night that I liked.

More sleep.
More water.
More grains.
More Color.
More right.
More clear. 
 

Read it over again. Now you should know that I love self-improvement, and at night like think of ways to make SydneyJoTo a better SydneyJoTo. That’s pretty much all this list is. An eclectic gathering of goals for the soon-to-be sophomore.

(pssssst! Stop reading here if you gotta get to doing, or stick around if you’re seat’s comfy enough or if you’re a teenager.)

More sleep.

Most Teens stink at time management. So usually it’s the latest thing in the day that takes the hit. Bedtime. I think ending school at 3:30 is dumb. Why? The average American household has dinner from 6:30-7 o’clock. That’s leaves a succinct 3 hours for homework, sports games/practice, friends, and travel to and from all of these. However! Many families with teens have dinner later, like from 7-8, even 9 o’clock as to not disrupt the order of early evening activities. Why don’t we just try that?! The trick must be getting all of one’s homework done before the dinner bell rings, so one can have some restful family time after dinner and then hit the hay.

Ask your boss-people if a later din-din is right for you. Side effects may include an earlier, less desperate night’s sleep.

More water.

Utah. Geeze Louise. Water not only tastes fabulous there but an excessive amount is also vital to one’s happiness at that high and dry

Water. Go get a glass NOW.

altitude. I stayed with my Aunt K. who taught me the importance of the “H2O Diet”. She told me that before going anywhere, drink a glass of water. Then when you’re done with that, drink another one. This was a few days before volleyball camp and she knew this advice would later prove valuable during my sweaty court antics. Also, I’m pretty sure water has an effect on one’s happiness. After camp, I kept up on the water intake. It’s bad but, Water made things clearer. (El-Oh-El!) But seriously, there is something about more agua in the system and  I’M SURE THERE’S A SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE OUT THERE SOMEWHERE that ties water with happiness! If over 70% of the human body is made up of water, then why not be constantly trying to maintain that? Especially since water has ZERO cals and other junk. It’s the purest and best thing for you on the planet. Plus, dehydration is found frequently in TEENS! Read about it here. With all the other social/educational/hormonal crap we’re dealing with, I’m sure water intake is very low on the priority list for most teenyboppers-and-poppers. Not good.

So go drink some now! I’ll wait.

More grains. 

If Manna was bread, (which it probably was) it took this form.

 Again, Aunt K. But also my mom. You see, I’ve just begun to hate white bread. It’s this little flower of hate that was planted by these two lovely women and has been watered by my love  for health food ever since. Oatnut bread is too good to cheat on with that white fluffy stuff that has absolutely NO nutritional value. So dear reader, I invite you to hate white bread with me. And feast on Oatnut for your breakfast toast instead. And then for your sandwich at lunch. Take a break for dinner. Teenagers, there is no “w” in pb&j. However there is a “b” which stands for bread, which could easily mean “Oatnut bread”… if you wanted it to.

More color.

I can’t stress this enough. There is color in the world but when the world chooses to paint something beautiful whether it be on the ground, down an alley, or in the sky you’d better darn well appreciate it.

Colors.

More right.

Not less left, but rather more doing the right thing. The Right Thing. We all subliminally know what that means, whether we want to or not. Some would argue that everyone has different priorities, and therefore different ideas of right and wrong. But I don’t think so. Balance. There’s a balance everywhere, and when you start looking for it, you’ll find it, especially in people. Somehow there are happy stories and there are sad stories and there’s the untold stories of people just making it through. But those are just stories. Whether the story happened to a loved one or a stranger you are still you. And you always have a choice. We all do. And so we control the balance of right and wrong. It just seems that the gusts of the world head in the wrong direction and so we have to lean against it. That’s when I come in with my belief of Heavenly Father and Satan. The Gusts are from Satan and the freedom to be blown away or lean against it comes from Heavenly Father. Then, Heavenly Father will go so far as to give you something or someone to hang on to, or will even lead you to a non-gusty area! That’s all called faith, take it or leave it.

More clear.

So I’m rested, hydrated, healthy, appreciative of the world around me, and I’m trying to do the right thing. That lifts a fog, and what I see now gives me something real to write about.


P.S.

This concludes my 100th post and first year of blogging! I would like to thank my dear dear dear readers, hug my mostly supportive parents who thought this would be just another phase, and my poor computer that has put up with a year of frustrated writers-block-induced-head-banging. This kid loves you all!

{Edition}

Just heard this song on Spotify: thought it applied perfectly to my “theory of balance”. That’s it :)

I Left My Heart @ Camp Ritchie

So last post, I was ready to leave for Girls Camp, and now I’m home and exhausted. Allow me to fill you in on the Oreo filling :) (Ah! Quickly before sleepy Sydney falls asleep on the couch!)

We left in cars. I with my mommy and three friends. All crammed in our little civic and making friendship bracelets.

 

We got there unpacked, boring boring boring. Well here’s what happened on Tuesday and what I wrote in my journal;

July 24th

Today I got tired of people. People are tiring sometimes, especially teenage girls, I’m tired tonight from archery and BBs, plus rappelling but also I started to get annoyed at people’s imperfect-ness. Then we had devotional. It was about a story about a town of wooden people called “Wimmiks”, who judged one anthers actions and appearances using stickers. Kinda mean huh? We do that too shockingly enough, just in a more subtle and mental way. And I realized I had been a Wimmik by thinking that my ways of sinning were somehow more acceptable than the other girls ways of sinning. Just because you sin differently from others doesn’t give you the right to judge them or get tired of them. That’s god’s job. I was humbled and bummed out. Realizing your wrong and being chastened will do that to you… but it makes us better people. But I was still left with a dry, dusty feeling that reminded me of Rango. I just prayed for some intimate inspiration. Hopefully I’ll find it tomorrow but it’s dark in our cabin and Sarah’s complaining about my headlamp light. We’re all exhausted. Thanks for listening.

-JoTo

P.S. Happy 12th Birthday Tyler!!! xoxo :)

July 25th

I’m sitting in my friend’s car on our way back from our 4th year hike. In  a car? I thought you were supposed to be oblivious to all forms of civilization for a week! Yes indeed a car. So you drive down 88, past Kirkwood Ski Resort and Caples Lake, and turn into the El Dorado National Forest parking lot. Past the bathrooms, there’s a 2.5mi trail, that brings you to Winnemucca Lake. The lake could give a Polar Bear hypothermia, but it’s the journey there that makes the journey worth it. We hiked through the prettiest woods you’ve ever seen. Brother W. said, “It’s like we’re walking through a painting”, and seriously, Monet should have checked this place out. Wildflowers outnumbered grass blades and ferns sat scattered like leafy watchmen. Pine trees aren’t exactly Cherry Blossoms, but they looked really good with colorful Indian Paintbrush gathered in bushels around their roots. Fallen logs, ancient and a soft white, lie dappled with sunshine falling from the canopy. As we trekked up and up the uphill, the Pines thinned and we were in an open meadow, aka Poppy-Town. Flowers galore covered the grassy hill like a little city of colorful people. Instead of busting places in little cars and taxis, they all stood static until alternating breezes urged them to dance. We heard running water, and to our delight ran a good-sized summer stream, running the way we would take home. It ran happily over rocks and through small granite formations creating baby waterfalls. Framing the whole stunning picture stood something entirely muting. Mountains patched with icy snow, straight out of the sound of music, or even a dream. sound of music winnemucca hikingsound of music mountains are big had

It was all uphill though, and the girls were tired. I however was high on beauty.

“This is SO Pretty! Look, BUTTERFLY! Augh, I could just live in a SHACK here! Appreciate! Appreciate! Appreciate!” I would squeal pointing to a cluster of flowers or a pool of glossy water. As I was gleefully sharing my feelings, Brother W. stopped me.

“You think THIS is cool? Imagine heaven, and the kingdoms in heaven. No one can even imagine.”

I almost cried when he said that. I’m such a marshmallow. If God could craft such a beautiful place as this, Earth, then what has he crafted for us AFTER this? This is just the Basement!!! Although I may melt my marshmallow-self by just thinking about this, I have been inspired. My soul has drunk from the well of happiness. This was the answer to my prayer. This WAS the answer to my prayer.

Tonight at our fireside I learned that before you go to bed, put on your “PJ’S”.

P- Prayer

J- Journal

S- Scriptures

Cute huh?

July 26th 

Today, the boy-scouts appeared like strapping young specks on the beach across the lake and the girls turned into boy-deprived banshees. We had been at waterfront, basking, swimming, paddle boarding, and kayaking when it looked as if boys started to appear across the waves. We went mad, yelling out “BOYS!” to those unaware. We began paddling in circles, or at least trying to stay in line of sight of the boys camp, without going so far as the speedboat would have to come over and embarrassingly scold us. Turns out, the boys hadn’t sat out just to watch our girly youthfulness or wondered which of us were old enough to date… they were too busy waiting for us to GET OUT! We realized this once our final whistle to get out blew and we scrambled in shivers to the rocks for our towels and shoes. We sat on the rock overlooking the lake, cold, sad, and wet as we watched the strapping specks do cannonballs into the water and tear away on sailboats. To our dismay, scout masters don’t approve of co-ed swimming. Dang.

My journal goes on into hardly legible entries about BB guns and Crafts that clearly display my exhaustion. However, the last night, Friday night, ended on one of the best notes of my life so far. Testimony meeting. It was more than a genius’ idea to end camp with such a spiritually strengthening activity. But again it was more than even that, to another-worldly extent.

Testimony meeting was incredible.  My heart swelled with not pride, but sisterhood and daughterhood, being a daughter of God and a sister to all of these wonderful people here. I’ve never felt so close to God before, but I’m sure the altitude is a contributing factor (; It’s so easy to feel so so so spiritual at camp, because all distractions are gone. The Media, Social Networks, material possessions, CARS are all irrelevant for six days. All that’s left is kindness and love  in the form of delicious food, under the stars and in clean air that provides for the very best of thoughts. It’s more than beautiful, it’s of God. The trick is, (and it’s VERY tricky) is to bring those same thoughts home. Like maybe… in the form of a Journal.

It’s hard to believe until you’ve felt God. If you don’t know where to find him, look to little children or the wilderness. You’ll feel his embrace in the form of Life. I know this to be true. Every last syllable.

-Sydney

Oh and on the way home we stopped at the Ghirardelli Factory. (AKA the place where they make the best Hormone Replacement)

 

The night before GIRLS CAMP!!!

“Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end- the middle’s the most important. Think of… an Oreo cookie! Right now we are in the middle of our lives, and this is the time that matters most. We’ll get to camp tomorrow, and we’ll leave on Saturday. It’s up to YOU what you do with that creme filling.”

Words from a high-adventurer of a sister in the stake, witty and smelling of Hawaii and full of jokes as well as inquisitive wisdom. It was a great talk. Anyways, I’m leaving for camp in the morning. With my dear non-member friend K. who is absolutely stoked about spending a week in cabins in the Sierras overlooking a lake. Yes, a sparkly cold lake. Our volunteer cooks are also food gods. I have to go to my restful slumber party now (excitement will keep my eyes open anyway) but before I do, I want to wish you all a happy mid-summer, and a happy mid-life! Please, Enjoy the filling :)

(Via Sodahead)

Camping @ Hendy Woods (Hillbillies & Hippies)

See the Mistake? Apperantly you’re a hillbilly if you can’t.

This post is a week overdue lovelies, sorry about that. Well part two of the California trip was fun. Down and dirty fun not the classy kind of fun that happened during part 1. We camped down the road from weed-town (and not the dandelion kind) but all we could smell was campfire smoke and vineyards. It was a gorgeous ride up, but I was a car bum and procrastinated taking pictures for the ride home. Ha, the ride home was horribly foggy and I was horribly sad. Well here’s what happened before that.

Hendy Woods is known for the notorious Hendy Hermit who was said to live, well here:

I was telling my mom that campsite camping is just like living in a neighborhood, just without the soundproof walls. Every loud voice, cry, shout, and native american war cry is heard by EVERYONE! Especially your next-door neighbors. We had three somehow. One of which was a group of young people who didn’t seem to know that quiet-time started at 10. We’re sure alchahol had something to do with the volume oh and they had a beagle. Ever heard a beagle try to bark/howl? Ugshhhudder.  The other two neighbors played battle of the guitars we observed. One cool dad would play some Coldplay, the other would pull out a campfire favorite and back and forth when the other went quiet. It was really nice accompaniment to breakfast, lunch… dinner.

There’s this awesome little swimming hole that runs off from the Navaro river. We hike down there from off the road and Bob Marley’s blasting. Should’a known.

Tadpoles! This was a pretty sweet highlight of the trip. And this trip was a highlight of my life. Why? I’ve been so swarmed with school and the world and human stuff it was invigorating to leave it all for… well clean air. Coming back I cared less about how my hair looked but appreciated that it was clean at all. I hold a respect for the Hendy Hermit. Maybe he lived by something we’ve all forgotten. That we are made of nature so why not embrace it? Hm, NOW look who’s sounding like a hippie?

Team PEETA!

Hunger Games.

You know what it is and what it’s about because the whole world has taken the time to tell you the whole story. Katniss in district 13, eating squirrels because there’s nothing else… (Yet somehow she can afford that stylish leather jacket?) Well it whups Twilight big time. Don’t get me wrong, Bells and Edwardo are cool, but tree climbing with a bow and arrow without having to drain a deer of it’s crimson life juice for energy is pretty sick. Katniss can live on apple juice.

I think Hunger Games changed my life. Yes. I think I sleep better knowing Wash D.C. isn’t filled with neon, pale-faced, Elizabethan clowns and loony jackals with too much time to get fancy with the facial hair.

Going hiking suddenly sounds like a good idea, because I know now how to sleep in a tree if I get lost and need to spend a night in the woods.

Oh and braids are hot now. Exceptionally. Hot.

“Edward or Jacob?”- is like asking…

“Bat or muscular wolf?”

Gale or Peeta?”- is asking…

“Tall+ dark+handsome or Sweet+ brave+strapping?”

A more even playing ground.

Hunger Games Peeta Gale Hot guys

EXCEPT Gale is a silent, sullen and jealous for most of the movie (Guy on left)

while Peeta is running around in the forest with Katniss, faithful as a puppy. (Guy on right)

Watch Hunger Games. ASAP. I promise you’ll have the strange urge to camp out in a cave.