Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today I grudgingly boarded Northwest flight 357 on my way to San Francisco to pick up the 10 girls I would soon be leading and living with for the next 4 1/2 months. I was reluctant to leave me new found friends in Rochester and was not sure about why I signed up to go to China again, after all I had already seen the sights and experienced the life 2 years before, and in my opinion that was enough for me.
After a LONG and sleepless flight to Taipei, and eventually Shanghai we would soon arrive at the Tsing Ying School in Changzhou, China where a NASTY "western meal" would be waiting for us (which I regretfully made the girls eat the next morning... I am SO sorry).
Our teaching builiding
Here is a brief list of things I miss about Changzhou, China (not in any particular order):
1. The dumplings
2. Hanging out with the girls
3. Getting to see all of the girls grow through their experiences in China.
4. Going to church
5. Riding the bus
6. The street vendors
7. The time I had to relax and refocus my life
8. The chaos and randomness of every day life

Compared to my first trip in China this second trip was amazing and it has everything to do with the 10 amazing girls I went with. I could not have asked for a better group. They did everything I asked of them (even when it was ridiculous and I changed my mind a million times) and NEVER EVER caused drama amongst themselves. I seriously love them all so much and couldn't imagine what my life would be like without them in it. I have learned great important lessons that have been instrumental in changing my life for the better.

P.S.: Clearly I didn't post a picture a day. I apologize, life has been crazy since my internship started and I am still trying to get into a routine. I'll hopefully start posting them soon.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Let the games begin!

Tomorrow is the start of my internship, which could be postponed until I feel ready... but I don't know if that day will ever come. It could wait until I feel rested... but I don't know if that day will ever come. It could wait until I feel more grown up... but I don't know if that day will ever come. So I guess I'll have to suck it up, wear my big girl panties and try not to look completely disgusting on my first day of work (which is hard when all my hair wants to do is look like I stuck my finger in a light socket).

In other news, upon finishing a conversation with a dear friend I realized that I am living in one of the most beautiful places on the earth and I am taking this opportunity for granted. So I decided that in order to stop and smell the flowers (literally) I am going  to post a picture a day. My hopes are that these pictures will give you a little taste of what I get to see when I look out my window or walk out my front door. However I am NOT a professional photographer, in fact I am not even an amateur photographer so if you are going to critique and judge these pictures because of the lack of professionalness you can sop looking right now.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Week #2

I wish I had some witty introduction to hook you guys into reading the rest of this post… but unfortunately I do not. Life here on 7 Kailuana Place has been rather uneventful the past week. I did go with some of the other caregivers to Waikiki beach, which is where I discovered that I get motion sickness when sitting in the ocean for an extended period of time and I started to learn how to play the ukulele.

I have come to the conclusion that transitions are uncomfortable and challenging, but it is during these times of uncomfortableness (yes, I am aware that “uncomfortableness” is not a word) that I am able to learn the most about myself.  This transition has been particularly challenging since I had phenomenal roommates and friends in Rexburg. One of the hardest parts about moving to Hawai’i was not having my roommate Jess, who was the best roommate I could ever have asked for. Anyone who knew us would agree that we were quite a pair. Our personalities were complete opposites yet we had many similar interests and communication styles that just seemed to work.
This transition to Hawai’i has left my emotions in disarray and chaos, but nothing a little running and sitting by the ocean cannot fix.
My dearest Jess and I hiking R mountain
Here are the top 5 things I miss
1. My friends: I could not have asked for a better year! Between China, roommates, Family Home Evening brothers, and friends in the ward, I felt an abundance of love from everyone that the Lord guided into my life.
2. Roommate bonding: I miss dearest Annie asking us “so what was your favorite part of the day” every night. I miss staying up way to late on weeknights, and laughing until we were crying. I miss Cassidy’s random facts of the day. I miss our sing along’s and dance parties and most of all I miss spending time with Sami, Annie, Jess and Cassidy!
3. Running routes: I know this sounds weird, but there were 3 or 4 routes that Jess and I had that I absolutely loved. I have NEVER found any other routes that I love as much as those.
4. The lack of humidity: This may sound vain but I miss being able to do my hair without it looking like I stuck it in a light socket. I miss being able to straighten my hair and have it stay that way.
5. My therapeutic recreation girls: I spent more time with those girls than I did with my roommates sometimes! With only 7 of us in the class we sure got to know each other really well and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Now to balance those out here are the top 5 things I LOVE about Hawai’i
1. The ocean: I love going to bed to the sound of waves hitting the shore and waking up to the sunrise over the ocean. I pretty much just love the ocean (unless I am in it because then I get sea sick… not fun)
This is the view from my backyard
2. The smell: Unlike China it smells amazing here, probably because there is a plumeria tree on every corner. There is something so refreshing about the air here, it makes me want to spend every minute outside!
Okay, so try not to judge my photo taking capabilities,  I'm not a professional. This is a plumeria from the front yard
3. Riding the bus: Ever since Changzhou, I have loved riding the bus. I do not know why but there is something so relaxing about sitting on the bus and tuning out the rest of the world.  I especially like it when there is a long walk to the bus stop and I focus that time on meditating.
4. My curly hair: Because of the humidity my hair can get much curlier than it ever would in Idaho… that is if I defuse it. If I don’t it’s just a disaster!
5. Lastly I love the fact that I am 100% sure that this is where I am supposed to be in my life which helps comfort me in my moments of despair. It helps me realize that there is so much I can learn from those around me and about myself.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bucket List

As I was reading through my old blog I realized that I had set some goals that I finally achieved!! As several people once told me, "Tiffanee, you know what you want and you get it." While that may or may not be true here are some things that I have completed and some things that I hope to complete here in Hawai'i.

1. Not fail my classes this semester (both winter and spring semester) Completed July 23, 2010
2. Finish all my general education classes to get my associates: Completed July 23, 2010
3. Get my bachelors degree: Will be completed November 12, 2010 
4. Find an internship: Completed April 23, 2010
5. Complete all 10 items on my "Hawai'i to do list

Here are a few from my bucket list.
1. Graduate from college with my bachelor's degree: Will complete November 12, 2010
2. Go on Spring Summit: Completed May 2009
3. Live in Hawai'i: Completed August 11, 2010
4. Become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist: Will complete November 12, 2010
11. Get out of debt
12. Run a half marathon
15. Learn to speak another language

As you can see I still have a lot to accomplish, but I am slowly starting to cross things off of my list. Hopefully I will be able to cross off a lot more as time goes on and I have more wonderful experiences.

Horses and beaches and harbors… oh my!

A lot has happened in the past two days! Here are just a few of the highlights

1. Rita’s son owns a ranch up by Laie and he took us on a trail ride. It was my second time ever on a horse, and I happened to get the one that was the most stubborn out of all of them. Regardless of the fact that I felt like my horse was going to throw me off any minute, the view from the top was breathtaking. I could try to describe it but as hard as I tried it would never suffice, so I’m not going to waste your time or mine.

2. On the way home we stopped at a beach on the north shore called Waimea Bay. The big thing to do at this beach is to jump off a 30-foot cliff into the ocean, however I get no satisfaction out of throwing my body off of a rock into the air, so instead I sat at the edge of the water while the waves came in and out. Some would say it was not as exciting as cliff jumping, which may be true, but it is definitely more relaxing, which is something I need at this moment in my life. I have a lot of big, life changing decisions to make at this stage in my life and I enjoy the quiet moments on the beach to ponder about life.
3. Yesterday was my 23rd birthday! Knowing that there were a myriad of activities to participate in, I decided that to start checking things off of my “Hawai’i to do list,” and go to Pearl Harbor Memorial. Of course my camera died the moment I walked in so I have no pictures of this excursion, but to make this post a little more interesting than the last one I will include pictures I got off of Google. It was a humbling experience to look out on the harbor and realize that hundreds of men sacrificed their lives so that I can enjoy the freedoms that I do. Right before getting on the boat to see the U.S.S. Arizona memorial there was a plaque that had pictures of the crew doing their normal morning routine, not knowing that in a few short hours over half of their crew would die. Out of everything that happened that day those pictures touched me the most and made me realize that I do not know what is going to happen 10 minutes from now, so I need to make sure I am living each do to the fullest. Later that day I was able to get onto a boat that took me over to the U.S.S. Arizona memorial, where I saw the submarine that took 1,177 men’s lives on December 7, 1941, I wish there was a word stronger than thank you to express how I feel about those men and women who serve in the military and sacrifice their lives. 

The memorial they built over the U.S.S. Arizona

The names of the men who lost their lives on the U.S.S. Arizona
            On a less serious note there were men from the marine corps driving the boats that took us to the memorial, and on the way back there was one who was so extremely good looking, I could not take my eyes off of him. He was seriously the hottest man I have EVER seen. Then on the way home I “splurged” and bought an already cut mango for my birthday and it was heavenly! 

Thursday, August 12, 2010


First let me apologize for the lack of interesting pictures in this post... hopefully my words alone will not be too boring for you.

I have good news and bad news… the good news is that I arrived at 1:25pm Hawaii Standard Time (5:25pm Mountain Time). The bad news is that I left my camera cord in Minnesota so it might be a while until I give you pictures, which is really too bad because it is BEAUTIFUL here! This truly is the opportunity of a lifetime and I feel incredibly blessed.

The flight was uneventful. I was sitting next to the perpetual sleeper so even though I had to go to the bathroom on hour number 2 of the flight, I was unable to go until hour number 5, when he woke up and actually went himself, which as you can imagine was a little uncomfortable. I got off the plane, got my bags, and was greeted by Brenda, Kari, and Sarah who gave me two leis they had made earlier that morning. I’m really sorry about the no pictures thing, but I’m sure it will not be the last lei I receive.

Hawai’i is 4 hours ahead of the mainland, which means I am experiencing jet lag, something I thought only existed if you were traveling out of the country (such as China, Europe, Russia, Tadzhikistan, etc…). As I am experienced in jet lag I knew that the best thing to do is to not take naps and go to bed and wake up at as normal hours as possible for where I am living. So last night I stayed up as late as I possibly could (which happened to be 9:30 HST or 1:30am Idaho time, which my roommates will tell you is a miracle for me). Because of the early bedtime I was wide awake this morning at 5am (8am Idaho time). I feel like I am in China again, probably because the only other time I have experienced jet lag is China. I will be sad when this jet lag departs. I really enjoy waking up early without an alarm, and since I will be leaving the house at 6:30am for my internship it would be nice to consistently wake up at 5am.

For those thinking this trip is just going to be a vacation and I will have all the time in the world to explore O’ahu, think again. I will be at my internship, Monday through Friday 8am-5pm. After which I will come home and watch Rita, the elderly lady who I am living with. I am so excited to get to know her, from the short time I’ve met her I can already tell she is going to be a blast!

Things have been a little crazy (but fun) in the Smith household. After August 25th there is just going to be me and Jerilyn (another girl from BYU-Idaho) until then there is Kari (my teacher who is here visiting her mom), Brenda (another care worker), Sarah (another care worker), Jerilyn, and myself.

For those wondering what the weather is like… it’s beautiful! It’s about 85 degreesish, slight breeze, and lots of humidity (I feel like I am in Changzhou again). The doors and windows are kept open constantly and because Rita’s backyard (refer to picture below) is the ocean that means the constant sound of waves rolling in and out.

Well I think that is enough of my ramblings. I just wanted to let you all know I have arrived safely and Hawai’i is really as beautiful as everyone says it is!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dream Big

24 hours from now I will be boarding flight HA7 in route to Honolulu, Hawai’i. There definitely was divine inspiration involved in getting me to this point. I have had a desire to live in Hawai’i since I experienced my first Rexburg winter in 2005. I tried several times, once by applying to BYU-Hawai’i for fall of 2006 and again in 2008 when I was convinced that I was going to drop out of college, move to Hawai’i, and attend massage therapy school. I figured my dream of living in Hawai’i was a little far fetched and I should probably just stick to the mainland. Imagine my surprise when 4 years after my first attempt to relocate I find myself given the opportunity to live in Hawaii! As of tomorrow I can now cross off the second line my Bucket List, “Live in Hawai’i.” Some may call the sequence of events a coincidence, however I call them tender mercies from the Lord.
It started in January when I began looking for internships. Having no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go it became very difficult to narrow down the options. Having 5 years experience with community recreation (thanks to another series of tender mercies) I knew that I should do a clinical internship so that I am more marketable in the future, however I had not ruled out community internships. Since 99% of all therapeutic recreation internships are not paid finances would also be a factor that I would weigh in on my decision. After taking everything into account the top spots I was looking at were The Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, Craig Hospital in Colorado, a hospital for spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries, a community inclusion program in Colorado, and The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Please notice that Hawai’i was not even on the list!! Then one day I was talking about internships to one of my TR friends who casually mentioned that the Shriner’s hospital in Hawai’i accepts interns. As I was days away from sending in my applications to those 4 locations I decided to call Shriner’s hospital on a whim. I was slightly disappointed to find out that they would not be able to take interns from BYU-Idaho. Before I ended the conversation I asked if there was anybody else on the island that did accept TR interns. She gave me the number for Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific and the rest is history, I filled out the application and waited patiently to find out if I was accepted.
During this time I received an e-mail stating that there was an opening for a student secretary in the recreation management office so I applied. It actually wasn’t much of an application, it was more of an e-mail stating I was interested and a “when can you start” with Scott (oh how I love that man!). I really was not planning on getting a job, and still do not know why I did it other than it was a tender mercy from the Lord, because without it I would not have been able to come to Hawai’i. It was the last day of the winter semester when Kari approached me and asked what my plans were for the fall. (This is probably a good place to say that Kari usually invites a couple students each semester to go live with her mother in Kailua, Hawai’i). I told Kari that I was looking at an internship in Honolulu, and she said, “well if you do you are more than welcome to stay with my mom. I’ve been wondering who to get for the fall and your name kept popping in my head.” Tender mercy… I think so!
Things just fell into place from there, I got the internship, I had a place to live, and I had the finances to take care of myself (let me point out that I had no clue I was going to go to Hawaii when I took the job, but the Lord knew). That just showed me to never give up on a dream, even when I don’t think it will ever come true. It reminds me of this song.

So here’s my list of top ten things I hope to do in Hawai’i
1. Go to the Polynesian Culture Center
2. Learn to Hula. 
3. Go to the Laie temple
4. Go to the Pearl Harbor memorial (completed 8/14/2010)
5. Black Sand Beach
6. Attend a Luau
7. Hike Mauniwili Falls
8. Fall in love with a hot Polynesian man
9. Honolulu Aquarium
10. Hike to the lighthouse and whale watch

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Recap Through My College Years

As many of you might know I recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with my Associates degree in General Studies and my Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management emphasizing in therapeutic recreation (always such a mouthful to say!). I started off as a shy, young freshman in August of 2005 and now in July 2010 I have graduated as a confident and capable adult (or so they tell me). The past 5 years have definitely been a journey, with lots of ups and some downs and plenty of learning experiences. Here are some highlights of that journey
June 2005: I got a phone call from the BYU-Idaho nursing department asking me if I would come join the nursing program. (I had always dreamed of being a nurse and was slightly disappointed when earlier in the year I had received a letter stating that I was not accepted into the nursing program. Imagine my surprise when they ask me to come out several weeks before the summer session was supposed to start). I politely declined and decided that I would do a year of generals before re-applying for the nursing program.
High School Graduation June 4th, 2005

January-ish 2006: At the close of winter semester I decided “heck why settle for being a nurse when I can become a doctor.” And then went about choosing Recreational Management as my major “so I could focus on my harder pre-med classes.” This is actually a hilarious thought because as those who knew me in high school would attest I couldn’t STAND being outside, going without a shower, hiking, bugs, anything outside, etc… I was one of those at Girls Camp who complained the WHOLE time, and thought it was the most miserable experience of my life.
February 2007: I was still unsure about where my life was supposed to go so I deferred from school this semester to travel to Kunming, China and teach English with the ILP program. This was the first decision that I made that would play a major role in later decisions.

September –December 2007: I still was unsure about what I should be doing with my life and after I had particularly hard and emotional time transitioning from life in China to life in Rexburg I was ready to throw in the towel and just get my associates degree in general studies and then move to Hawaii and go to massage therapy school. Luckily I have a great friend Heidi Obray, who had me over for dinner and (along with her husband) convinced me that I should stick out school, get my bachelors degree in anything, and then move on from there, and after I shed a few tears at the thought of staying in Rexburg for one more year, I went home and re-arranged my schedule, adding one class that would change the course of my life forever. That class was experiential education, taught by the department chair of Recreation Management, Brother Jex.
My Experiential Education Class Winter 2008
April 2008: It was through experiential education that I feel in love with the recreation management program. Until now I had only taken one class: basic skills, an introduction to camping via backpacking in the cold and snow, let me just say it wasn’t enough to make me want to do anything outdoorsy again. Brother Jex is the most loving man I have ever met, he was so compassionate and caring towards the students, you could feel the love just radiating from him. I learned many great things from his teaching, not just what he said but also what he did. He didn’t believe there was a “right answer” or a “wrong answer” which is a philosophy that I feel is lacking in the school systems today. Towards the end of the semester I started to have another, “oh crap, what am I going to do with my life moments” and I found myself sobbing as I sat in his office a made a list of the 5 things I wanted to do with my life. It was at this moment that I became slightly curious in the therapeutic recreation program, but because my mind set was to get out of Rexburg as quickly as possible, I quickly threw that idea away. Also, having no idea what Spring Summit was, but seeing the picture boards everyday in class, I decided that I wanted to apply. However it was several weeks past the deadline and they already had the team picked out, so I would have to wait until the following year.
October 2008: On a whim I decide to join Steve's canyoneering class, having no idea what it is or what would be required, I just knew it meant a fun trip. As I told others in my class, “I thought it was walking around canyon rims and looking in.” Oh how little I knew. That trip almost killed me, literally. I was not prepared for the strenuousness that is canyoneering. There were down climbs, and up climbs, and blisters, and hiking, laughter, and tears, and feelings of hopelessness, and jokes. If I had to attribute one even that changed the course of my college life, it would be this 4-day trip into the canyons of Southern Utah.
The girls on our canyoneering trip November 2008

January 2009: In an effort to graduate and not come back for another semester I decide that I would take 21 credits (the normal is 12-14). After this I would only need to do a senior internship, which would consist of my going back to China through ILP as a head teacher. I also made it into Spring Summit so I was working out several hours a day to prepare for the 35-day trip in the desert of Southern Utah. This made for incredibly long days; I would often leave the house at 7:30am and not make it back until 7 or 8pm.
April 2009: I knew my life would change by going on Spring Summit but I never knew just how much it would change. There were moments where I literally thought I was going to die, whether by dehydration on desert survival, free climbing up a canyon wall, or hitting my breaking point while mountain biking. There were moments that I could not be happier, and there were moments when I did not worry about what I was doing the next day or what I had done the previous week, the only thing that was important was what I was doing in the moment. I became an expert at sleeping outside, squatting, and putting mascara on in the van’s side mirror. About three weeks into the trip Janell came up for the rafting section. I began talking to her about my desire to do therapeutic recreation and with the help of my teachers Steve, Melissa, and Janell I made a decision that has lead me to where I am today. Although it would be painful I was to postpone my graduation and take the final two semesters of classes for therapeutic recreation.
I love these guys so much
The Group on the White Rim
August 2009: Even though I would not be using head teaching as my internship I still went to Changzhou, China, and had the most amazing experience. Those 4 months allowed me to grow so close to the Lord and develop leadership skills I would not otherwise have the chance to. Those were some of the hardest days I have ever had to experience, it can be a lonely job being a leader, but I would not change those memories and opportunities for growing for a million dollars. Those experiences and those girls are very close to my heart and I love them so much! I know that the Lord guided all of the people that I met, whether it was the girls I worked with, or the boys in the ward, or even the families were able to meet through the church.
The Lunch Crew

January-April 2010: I arrive back to Rexburg for what I am 100% positive will be my final year. I am living with Jess, a girl I met in the ward in China, and I am placed with the best roommates and I have a pretty great schedule (no classes on M/W/F)! On the first day of therapeutic rec. classes I knew that this was the career path that I needed to be on and I am so grateful that the Lord put those wonderful teachers into my life to help guide me to where I need to be.
April 2010-July 2010: Despite many tears shed I finally complete all the requirements to graduate (minus my internship). With the help of my amazing teachers I complete in 2 semesters what most sane people complete in 3. This required me to take 19 credits of upper division classes, while having a part time job, and sitting on 2 boards (I was the secretary for the Recreation Management Society Board, and I was the Educational Coordinator for Adaptive Services). There were days I just wanted to lay in bed and never come out, there were times when I started to cry in class (I don’t recommend this, it’s real embarrassing), and every day when I would go to class I knew that I was in the right place at the right time and there isn’t a better feeling than that. I had the BEST roommates ever (beside my freshman year), the best friends, the best ward, and the best memories.
I love these girls so much!

And these girls too!!
The Therapeutic Recreation graduates with Janell

August 2010: Through a series of tender mercies from the Lord I will be leaving for Hawaii on Wednesday morning to complete an internship with the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawai’I. I will be doing recreational therapy with spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries, and general rehab patients. The story of how I got this internship is really cool, at least I think so, and one day I will share it, but for now a 3 page recap of my life is probably sufficient for this post. My goal is to update much more frequently, because even though I generally don’t think my life is that exciting, working in Hawaii will be pretty exciting and what comes after Hawaii will be exciting (mainly because I have NO clue what that will be).

Overall I have enjoyed my time at BYU-I and have been able to grow in many areas mainly because of the people the Lord has placed in my life that have taught me so much. I am so grateful for them and for the impact they have had on my life. I truly am so blessed.