Category : Self-Care

I went to undergrad with the intention of getting a biology degree and going on to medical school. I did earn a biology degree, but realized very late in the game that medical school wasn’t the best fit for me. I worked full-time in D.C. for a few years after graduating, trying to find my way, (re-)discover my career path. About two years later, I knew I had to go back to school. I realized that psychology was where my interest lie, and that I wanted to go to graduate school. Unfortunately, I had ZERO undergraduate credits in psychology.

So, I went back to undergrad to earn a second degree in psychology and determine what type of psychology to pursue in graduate school. During these two additional years of undergrad, I discovered Counseling Psychology through a fabulous mentor. I was on fire about this field and the work that I could do. I realized that becoming a university professor where I could do research and teach was my ideal career. I then applied to doctoral programs and was accepted at my “dream school,” the University of Missouri-Columbia. I again worked with an amazing advisor who continues to be my mentor to this day. After five years of classes, a dissertation, and then a one-year full-time internship at the University of Oregon, I earned my Ph.D. With the faculty job market being super competitive, I then took a post-doctoral position for a year and half where I conducted more research and worked with clients, becoming a Licensed Psychologist (if you’re keeping count, we’re now at 9 1/2 years). Then, I landed “my dream job,” an academic position in the Counseling Psychology graduate training program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

I started my position in 2007, and not long after, I was diagnosed with cancer. Needless to say, this put a kink in my plans. I took care of myself, stepping back from work to do so, and was able to add time on the proverbial tenure-clock to get better. After a difficult year (and then some), I got back on my feet and got back down to business. And, six and half years later, it’s paid off.

Yesterday, I got the official news that I am promoted and tenured to Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Exp600_Champagne-Tofino_rsIt’s definitely time to get the champagne. This celebration has been 16 years in the making. WOOT!

Huge thanks to so many people who have helped me along the way in this journey. It’s an understatement to say I couldn’t have done it without you. xoxo


Friday, March 7th, 2014 19
Posted in: Film, Polaroid, Self-Care, SOOC

Our splinter group of Shutter Sisters is continuing our new tradition of sharing 10 photos on the 10th of each month. We started with sharing 10 photos from our time together in Tofino, then followed that up with 10 festive photos enjoying the holiday season. This month, with the new year upon us, we decided to focus on “restart” as a theme.

As I’ve said before here, I do love a fresh start, a clean slate, a new page on the calendar. So, how have I been I been restarting this year? First, the holiday decorations were carefully put away…

600-Color_Vintage-Ornaments_rsThen new words, new sources of daily inspiration have been sought. Although secure is my word for 2014, “ease” was in the running for quite some time. Ease is another one of my core desired feelings and I am inviting it mightily into my year and my daily life. Interestingly, I am seeing how secure embodies and allows for ease. 

Ease_rsMy ritual of morning pages and journaling continues to sustain me and provides a secure foundation from which to enter the world each day…

Trust-Process_rsAs does recommitting to my self-care and getting back on the mat. I took a candlelight yoga class for the first time this week and it was divine…

Candlelight-Yoga_rsAnd last, it wouldn’t be winter in the Midwest without a little snow, restarting my appreciation of the seasons and their secure rhythms…

Snowing_rsThat’s what my “restart” to 2014 looks like so far. You might be saying, “What?! Wait! There’s only 5 photos here! Where are the other 5?” My answer — they haven’t unfolded yet. And ordinarily, I would have frantically taken 5 more photos to make sure I had 10 to share — after all, this IS a 10 on 10 post! But, I’m restarting. I’m allowing ease into my life. I’m feeling secure in my work and who I am. And so, I’m staying loose, and letting 5 be okay this time around.

To keep the blog-hop going, click on over to Lindsey’s blog to see her 10 on 10 to restart this new year!


Friday, January 10th, 2014 15

During this overly busy time of the year (for many of us), it may feel unthinkable that you could do something for yourself. But today, I want to remind you that we can only be our best selves when we are in a good place — emotionally, physically, spiritually (broadly defined). I want to whisper in your ear that it’s okay if you take a break. You can sit for a moment in that patch of sun and catch your breath amidst the swirling of the season.

PX70_Cool_QuiltSofa_rsI’m over at Mortal Muses today, encouraging us all to take a moment for ourselves. I hope you click HERE to check it out.


Friday, December 13th, 2013 0

I’ve written before about my longing for connection, for kindred spirits, for sisterhood. I’ve shared with you my loneliness of living in an unfamiliar place, of having a small circle of local friends. These longings and loneliness have propelled me to go outside of my comfort zone and outside of my own town. These feelings have given me the push I needed to create communities of connection, to seek out kindreds and sisters. This began by attending retreats and gatherings, and doing so helped me begin to meet “my people.” From there, smaller groups of sisterhood were born.

One of these groups evolved from attending two photography retreats hosted by Shutter Sisters. While attending the second retreat with about 80 women last October, a small circle of us found ourselves at dinner enjoying margaritas, raucous laughter, and each other. As we ate and drank and carried on together, we birthed the idea of splintering off and creating a smaller creative community for ourselves. Within the evening, the Canadians in the bunch decided we would descend on British Columbia for our inaugural gathering. Over the past year, we stayed connected, made plans, rented a house, and bought plane tickets. And a few weeks ago, our idea manifested itself.

Many dreams and projects were shared during our time with one another. One of those ideas was that the group of us would dive into the 10 on 10 project, sharing 10 images shot on one day or in one experience on the 10th of the month. As our first post for 10 on 10, we decided we would each share photos from our time together in BC. Without further ado, here are my 10 on 10 from British Columbia and this magical retreat that was born of kindred spirits coming together for sisterhood, photography, and self-care. (BTW, you can click on each photo to view them larger!)

Paparazzi_rsIt didn’t take long for this group of photographers to whip out our cameras and start shooting. I think we looked like a group of paparazzi the entire time we were together. After taking the ferry from Vancouver to make our way to Tofino, we stopped at Cathedral Grove, an old growth forest with trees older than 800 years. The massive trees were amazing and the light among these old beauties was nothing short of magical.

Through-Trees_rs

Web-Flare_rsAfter our three hour drive, we arrived in Tofino, our home away from home for the next few days.

Tofino-Sign_rsAnd this was the scene RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR DOOR.

Flops-Ocean_rsOn our second day, we ventured to some natural hot springs, a journey requiring another boat ride to get there. Being out on the open ocean, we were surrounded with beauty in every direction. The mountains, the ocean, the fog…breathtaking.

Out Boat Window_rs

Cherish_rsThe small cove that houses the hot springs gave us more opportunities to capture the natural beauty that is British Columbia. I had considered not bringing any cameras with me that day as rain was in the forecast, but fortunately I brought one. I would have been so saddened to have missed this reflection shot.

Tara-Reflection_rsAlthough we had an epic storm come through, and I do mean EPIC, we were blessed with many moments of sun and gorgeous weather. And this crew of women did not disappoint with the COLOR that they packed to wear.

Boots_rsAmidst the shooting, the relaxing in the hot springs, and the indulging in yummy food and deep rest, we deepened our friendships with one another. We shared our work, told each other our secret (and not-so-secret) creative dreams, and opened up about our struggles. Indeed, a new sisterhood was born in British Columbia.

CoralBabes_rsAlthough we’ve been home for only a few short weeks, I’m already missing these sisters. I’m grateful for our ongoing connection and I’m so excited about the new adventures we have in the works. Thank you Cherish, Corinna, Debra, Lindsey, Tamar, and Tara — stay loose. xoxo

All of my photos in this post were shot on 35mm film with my Canon AE-1 using either Fuji 160 or Portra 400 film. The film was processed and scanned by Indie Film Lab. I have Polaroid photos to share with you from the trip and a few more 35mm pics, too. In the meantime, head on over to Lindsey’s blog to see her 10 (or maybe more) on 10 of our BC adventures!


Sunday, November 10th, 2013 14

A few weeks ago, Tony and I headed to Chicago for a little get-away to celebrate our anniversary. It was a whirlwind, 36-hour trip, but a fantastic weekend to enjoy some more “just us” time. We got a chance to eat some yummy food, visit the Art Institute and check out the new-to-us Modern Wing, wander the city, and just hang out together. The weather was beautiful with lots of sun and cool autumn breezes.

We grabbed coffee and some pastries our first morning, and headed to Millennium Park. It was fun checking out “The Bean” and playing with reflections.

PX70_CP_The BeanAfter taking in lots of awesome art at the Institute, we wandered up to Navy Pier (which sure has changed in the 10 years or so since we were last in Chicago!).

PX70_CP_Chicago Ferris Wheel

PX70_CP_Chicago SkylineAfter a celebratory dinner at The Publican, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the Chicago sign at night.

PX70_CP_Chicago SignWe had a fabulous time — even if we didn’t actually see Earth, Wind, & Fire (had I only known). And, I have more photos to share that I took with my Canon AE-1 film camera, so stay tuned!


Monday, November 4th, 2013 6

How do the days keep slipping through my fingers? Where do 24 hours “go” in each revolution of this beautiful earth? As I sit here on this chilly, mid-October day, I’m thinking about summer and the third Tribe retreat. I’m trying to savor the time spent back in July with such kindred spirits on the coast of Oregon, my happy place.

PX680_old_CannonBeach_rs

I’m reminiscing about dinner together on the beach, chats on the turquoise couch, walks into town filled with laughter.

PX70_CP_Manzanita-Boat_rs

I’m reflecting on celebrating dreams fulfilled and mourning one of our sisters not being able to be with us this year. I’m holding on to the ease and security that was born within me that week, those core desired feelings that I struggle some days to maintain.

PX680_old_Melissa_rs

I’m missing my sisters, their friendship, our connection. I’m reminding myself of how they buoy me when life feels stormy and difficult.

PX70_CP_Buoys_rs

I’m remembering to keep my heart open, to choose love.

PX70_CP_Choose-Love_rs

I’m feeling grateful for the space this group has created with one another, and for all that these relationships bring to my life. I’m aware of the evolution of our friendships, as well as the changes that occur within each of us and in our respective lives. I’m excited to see what lies ahead for us all as individuals and as a group.

PX70_CP_Cannon-Beach-Sunsent_rs

I’m already counting the days until we’re all — all — together again.

I’m so delighted to share that our group has a collective written piece and photographs in the Autumn issue of Mingle. I hope you check it out.


Monday, October 14th, 2013 13

Remember when I told you about the Best. Hike. Ever.? You know, the one where you wake up around 2am, slurp down some coffee, get your hiking gear, and head to the trailhead to start your hike by 4am. The one where you hike through the forest and up the mountain in the pitch black of night, headlamps on your forehead illuminating the trail at your feet. The one where you keep looking over your shoulder, peeking behind you to check the sun’s progress to the horizon, urging your legs to move faster so that you can get to the top before that beautiful ball of fire emerges. The one where, this year, the wind was so intense and it was so cold, that we asked each other over and over if we should turn back. The one where the gift of seeing the alpenglow at sunrise on the face of Long’s Peak is so incredibly worth it that we pressed on. Yeah, that one. It’s such a beautiful and amazing experience, Tony and I couldn’t resist returning to this favorite hike during our “just us” trip to Colorado.

PX70_CP_Sunrise_rsI’ve lugged my 35mm camera on this hike before (see the first two photos HERE), but I’ve never tried any photos with my Polaroid cameras. This year, I brought along my beloved SX-70 camera and attempted two shots. I was worried with the darkness (it was sunrise after all) and the almost-freezing temperature that both attempts would be futile. Fortunately, I was wrong. The first image is of the sun just beginning to alight over the peaks of Twin Sisters, and the second is of the alpenglow on the face of Long’s Peak.

PX70_CP_Alpineglow_rsWell worth the few hours of sleep, the insanely early wake-up call, the windy climb, and the frozen toes. Best. Hike. Ever.


Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 2

Oh, friends. I know I’ve been a bit quiet here of late, but I’ve been engaging in some serious self-care and re-charging. Some of that has looked like this…

I have so much to share with you. More soon. xoxo


Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 2

Tony and I took our annual trip to Colorado this summer to spend a week hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. This year marked our sixth of this tradition, an upside to having moved to Nebraska and being a day’s drive away from the mountains. Unlike our previous five years, though, our dear friends who introduced us to RMNP and with whom we typically spend this sacred time couldn’t join us. The dates just wouldn’t gel to allow all four of us to be together. Bummer! But, not wanting to miss out on this important week of re-charging right before our respective school years commenced, Tony and I decided to head to Colorado, just us.

PZ680_CP_Tony-Me-CO_rsAnd this week in Colorado together…I have to say that it was one of the best weeks we’ve ever spent with one another. I know that the two of us live together, and that it’s “just us” all of the time. But not in this way. We rarely have a full week with one another that isn’t also filled with work tasks, responsibilities, and other commitments tugging at us. I travel and escapade quite a bit, yes, but WE hardly take a trip TOGETHER that doesn’t involve visiting family or friends. It’s actually very rarely “just us.” So this week together in the mountains felt…quite magical.

PX70_CP_Tony-Rock-CO_rsWe hiked, made dinner, played Scrabble. We laughed, a TON. And we talked, like really talked about all kinds of things. I felt so connected, so relaxed, so grateful. After all these years together, I fell head-over-heels in love with Tony all over again. Pretty great, “just us.”


Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 8