Whole Awakenings

I’ve been sitting here and wondering how to start this, and realized I should just start with a hearty HI!


A whole HI, if you will. A hearty HI, and a whole HI, equals a wholehearted HI. And that’s really why I’m here today. It’s to tell you everything I hope and dream for the next year or so, and if I were to label it under one word, what would it be?


It would be WHOLE.

Second place might be awake, because every time I think about this or put it into words, I think of the movie Wide Awake and the movie Awakenings. Then there’s this gem of a song by Ben Folds. I sometimes feel like I sleep through parts of life.

“I know it seems that I don’t care
But something in me does I swear
I don’t remember all last year
I left you awake to cry the tears”

It’s funny to me how you can sleepwalk through certain aspects of your life, while putting others at front and center attention. You don’t even realize it. And then when you realize it – usually through no credit to yourself – it seems so OBVIOUS. Why? Why didn’t you notice? Why did you sleepwalk through parts of life? Why did you leave others awake? Alas, as a wise friend said, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just do better. Fuller. Wholeheartedly. Longer, harder, louder.

(Bear with me – those three words come up later.)

For the better half of last year, or the worse half, I was sleepwalking through parts of life. I had enough work to do to make me cry, daily. I think it could have sunk a ship. Blogging has busy seasons, photography has busy seasons, but nothing prepares you to do them at once. Then when you get offered a data entry job that would literally sink a ship (tons of boxes of papers), and have to do that on top of two very busy seasons of careers, well, you could cry. But there wouldn’t be time for that.

So you just laugh maniacally.

I have big dreams for this blog, both in terms of coming right back to the heart of it – this weird free-writing I do with relevant(ish) photos – and the career work I do here. I do it with all my heart. Whether it’s the blog, or other social media platforms – it’s more than a career; it’s love. It’s more than love; it’s a career. I feel meant to be connected. The fact that I can get paid to do that is a little unreal, but it reminds me of what I let slip slowly away from me at the end of 2016.

Doing things with my WHOLE heart – and not just to get them done.

Before the holiday break, I worried I had forgotten how to feel. We saw Rogue One in the theaters and it hit Cassidy hard, among others. I felt broken by not being able to wrap my head around it. Weeks later on New Year’s Eve, Cassidy’s good friend suggested that maybe the movie didn’t give the emotional foundation to care so much about the characters. Or maybe it did, but an alternative to me being “broken”, is that different things hit us differently at different times.

And maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

I really believe that every numb feeling, and idea or emotion that doesn’t quite reach my heart or eyes, means I care too much. Sometimes it pays for me to be covered in Band-Aids, and only sometimes lifting them up – slowly but surely – rather than ripping off all the things. Movies and books, love and laughter, celebrity deaths and scary political elections. Travel dreams realized, and travel dreams still to become. School starting, and the endless, slowly rotational act of letting them go.

Little by little.

Piece by piece.

Better by better.

Milestone by milestone.

Breath by breath.

What does it mean to do things with my WHOLE self? It’s about honoring the whole deal, and taking it that extra step. The little things are the big things. Skim a blog post? Nah, read it. Better yet – SHARE it. Take that love to FB, Instagram, and Twitter too! Outside the career love, take those steps with every aspect of everything. What’s the summary of that?

Not only am I not going to phone it in, I’m going to take extra steps. LEAPS.

I want to..

Hug for a little longer

Kiss a little harder

Laugh a little louder

Dance a little longer

Love a little harder

Sing a little louder

Oh, and drink water a lot more

Eat a lot better

Exercise a lot more and for a lot longer…


Waking Up Your Big Travel Dreams.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SToKCoffee #cbias #CollectiveBias

Last night I met an online friend I’ve shared hopes and dreams with for over three years now.

It was intense and comfortable at the same time, and it felt totally natural to show her all the things we’ve talked about, or that she’s seen on social media, for years now. The strawberries bursting out in the garden. My kids and their inquisitive eyes and questions. The loft office where I do all my writing and thinking. The pie bar in town, and the cookie shop one town over.

The photos hanging on our walls.

It was a bit of a dream to meet her, and I didn’t think it would happen so soon. It was a dream to show her the life we have made here, and to hear about the one she has made out there. All of the familiar and still exciting parts of this life – the strawberries, the writing, the photography, the love. What was so cool was that she was on a road trip with her husband, fulfilling one of his life dreams to visit a museum in The Berkshires. It jumpstarted my brain and my heart, as I have been thinking lately about the honeymoon I never took with Cassidy and how we’re planning it now. It’s one of the biggest dreams.

If not the biggest dream. It’s Alaska.

Lately I feel like I’ve been waking up my dreams, one by one. I’ve felt like I’ve been on a path of momentum with my career and relationships for the last year or so. Of course I’m afraid of slipping backwards, and sometimes I do, but I’m realizing it doesn’t really work that way. We’re always inching forward, I believe. We’re always on a path – working and figuring things out. I started my blogging business a little over a year ago. I started my photography business about three years ago. I like to play the long game, which is necessary with two young kids, but I love watching my dreams “wake up.” I feel more alive.

Travel makes me feel more alive. And I love to do it creatively, because I can’t go anywhere without my camera. I always hope to live my life on the edge – of my own comfort zone, and of my wildest dreams. Here are my favorite travel photo tips:

1. Get up early. You just never know what you’ll see at dawn, will you? One of my dreams is to get boots up to my waist (does that exist?) and sit with a tripod and a zoom lens in a lake at dawn, just to see what kind of wildlife comes through. By the beach, you can see sunrises. If you’re hiking, rock climbing, or on a mountain, the morning light will take your breath away, just as much as whatever you’re doing does. I firmly believe that to really “get” a new place, see it at dawn.

2. Choose the right kind of lodging. There’s a saying about getting a room with a view, isn’t there? In Ocean City, Maryland, once, I chose an oceanside motel at the absolute wrong time of year for swimming and tourism, (but right for pricing) just so I could sit from my balcony and watch morning dolphins swim by. Every morning, it was like they’d wave as they passed me by. Whether it’s the mountains, the oceans, or whatever else grabs your fancy, consider what you’ll see right from your room.

3. Talk to people. I’m an ambivert, which means I can absolutely thrive off of alone time, or being in the midst of people, and sometimes that changes by the hour. By the minute! When I’m in a people mood, there’s nothing like talking to the people around you. Whether they’re locals, or other tourists, you will be inspired to hear and discover stories taking place around you. You could find a subject right there on your vacation, or find out about a hidden secret or gem to photograph.

4. Change your perspective. I’m all about the bird’s eye view, but I also really love to get low and see what’s above me. I’d say I do that so much, that I have to remind myself to go above, just as much as I go under. And all around. Just LOOK.

5. Don’t stop. Don’t stop traveling. Don’t stop shooting. And realize that “exotic” can be found anywhere. It can be someone’s backyard, just the way your backyard is exotic to someone else. This world is varied, alive, and thriving. There are stories to be told anywhere you look. I love to travel light with the equipment and look for stories everywhere I go. I’m a big fan of filling up the frame, or changing perspective to show something small in a large field. Don’t stop looking at this world.

Something cool, along the subject of travel and creativity, is SToK™ Cold-Brew Iced Coffee, which is simply made for people like me – who need an endless stream of inspiration and lightning bolts. You know I’m picky with my coffee.

That’s because I have to be. I get my SToK™ Cold-Brew Iced Coffee in the refrigerated aisle of my local Walmart.

Look at it. It’s just waiting for you. Whether you’re a photographer like me, or a computer game designer, web designer, painter, or rock climber, you know you often need something to take your hobbies, creative skills, and careers to the next, geeked-out level. SToK™ is that geeked-out coffee that helps you go, wherever you will go. Whether that’s morning moose, morning dolphins, or night-time cityscapes. Whether that’s on the yellow brick road, or way off the beaten path.

SToK™ is slow brewed, like all of my better ideas, and I have a lot of hare-brained ones too! That’s all ok. It’s just pure coffee, with no weird ingredients. They use an Arabica Blend and it’s a Brazilian Blend Flavor profile. And oddly, I had a dream two nights ago that I was in Brazil trying to post on Facebook that I was in Brazil. Perhaps I’ll get there someday. Maybe you will too.

What is your favorite creative outlet? Do you have any summer travel plans?